We bring to your attention the translation of the article by Nate Deima. Nate has experience in the field of SEO and B2B. He is a reviewer for Marketo and Search Engine Land, and also manages the client strategy in Propecta. In this article, he tries to find out what makes content “good” from the SEO point of view. The original is taken from the site: The complete guide to optimizing content for SEO (with checklist)
Effective content marketing is a means of achieving goals in modern SEO.
Just as wheels without an engine are not a full-fledged vehicle, content without a thought-out SEO strategy can not keep up with the digital market. And just like a motor without wheels, SEO without content is just a shiny machine that does not go anywhere.
Content needs SEO to stand out from the cloud of mediocre posts in blogs that the Internet abounds in these days. Google has announced that “content” is one of the three most important ranking factors for organic search.
But what does it mean? This does not apply to any content. Unfortunately, search engines do not offer optimizers checklists to create “high-quality content” and probably will never be. This means that those who search for such things, study the search results, Google analytics and create large spreadsheets that we secretly enjoy using, although they pretend to be boring, all in order to present a comprehensive guide to creating “quality” content for SEO.
THE FIRST STEP: OPTIMIZE YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
Too many marketers deal with content in the wrong sequence. They try to understand what exactly they just created and after that they enter into the text several keywords and links.
But an effective content-marketing strategy should begin with keywords and research of user intentions. As soon as you find out what questions your audience is asking, you will understand what kind of content you need to create.
- based on the understanding of the audience, as well as on the study of keywords and user intentions. Use the language of your audience and give them exactly the information they are looking for.
- helps the reader to perform a certain task. Long content (1,000+ words) is ranked better in organic search results, not least because it is detailed. Do everything possible so that the content does not lose focus.
- contains a convincing call to action or clearly spelled out steps. If you know your reader and how he purchases, your content can show them what they want.
THE SECOND STEP: DEVELOP GOOD CONTENT
A good user experience equates to good SEO. When users are involved, they consume more content, interact and share this content. Pay attention to everything – from the general structure to the details of the layout and make sure that you develop good content.
There are many opinions as to which characteristics make the content “good” or “tenacious”, or “advanced.” All of them are worthy of attention, and each piece of content must have at least a few of the following characteristics:
- simple / clear / consistent;
- reliable / effective / telling about experience;
- deep / thorough;
- new / unique (in terms of value, not just in content);
Continuing to develop content, consider the opinion of the audience: first of all, you write for people, not for search engines.
- Written for your audience, not for your colleagues. Make sure that the language is not too simple, but at the same time is not full of professional terminology.
- Content can be shared. Ask yourself a question and answer it honestly – would you share this content, and if so, would it be easy for you to do this? (is the Share button available?)
- It can be quickly viewed. Use short paragraphs, callouts, boldface, markers, numbered lists, citations, etc., so that the text can be easily perceived and assimilated.
- Uses strong headers. Create attractive, effective headlines, use keywords strategically, but do it naturally. CoSchedule has a great tool for analyzing headlines if you need help.
- Describes the ideal results, common disagreements and / or time frames in subheadings. Anticipate the hopes, fears and fears of your audience.
- Better than the current leaders in the search results. Watch your competitors. Browse pages that are currently well ranked by the target keywords. Ask yourself – is your content the best? Make sure it’s the best.
THE THIRD STEP: CREATE THE RIGHT CONTENT
Misprints in very good content – it’s always unpleasant. Although there is no obvious evidence that grammar is a signal of ranking, but it is rather a problem of user experience and trust.
In addition, quoting sources and links to other authoritative sources is good practice, but it is also an excellent SEO strategy. Outbound links show search engines that you know what to write about and that you are communicating with the right people.
- does not contain grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Reread the content. And then ask someone to reread your text again. (I’m not kidding, my mom recently sent me a screenshot of a grammatical error that I recently made in one of my posts on Facebook, which is exactly what you need).
- gives references to good, respectable sources. Wikipedia is considered a good source of information from the point of view of Google, regardless of what your school teacher said.
- the actual information is verified. Simply because all the others refer to some statistics, this does not mean that you, too, should do this.
FOURTH STEP: ANALYZE HOW YOU USE KEYWORDS
Of course, you started with keywords and with research on user intent, so it’s not about what keywords relate to a certain part of the content. It’s about how this keyword is used in the specified content.
It is true that the use of excessive number of keywords no longer works. This was not considered a good tone ever, but now, thanks to Google, it’s also inefficient (if not to say, dangerous). It’s also true that Google is very knowledgeable about keywords. However, this does not mean that the keywords are “dead.” This means that SEO-optimizers should learn to use them better.
(It’s also worth noting that users search for keywords: Google is smart enough to recognize synonyms, but when a user enters a keyword, he wants to see this keyword in search results.)
- Not oversaturated with the main keyword. There are no specific figures to calculate this. A good way to visualize is to use the Find function in the document and search for the keyword. If the text looks oversaturated, replace some words with synonyms.
- Contains thematic subsections according to the main keywords. Google better and better understands similar words. Do not be afraid of it.
- It naturally uses keywords and their variations in content. Do not overdo it. Use synonyms, abbreviations, plural and so on, as a normal person.
- The natural way uses the keywords in the text to the pictures. Image names, text and captions are strategic places to use a descriptive language. Do not overdo the use of keywords, but use them when necessary.
- It naturally uses keywords in headings. First, first of all for people, but if you can use a keyword in the title and / or H1, just do it.
- It naturally uses keywords in URLs. This will be easy if you used it in the header.
- The natural way uses keywords and their variations in the first 100 words. It should not look awkward, but do it to the best of your ability – put all your cards on the table as soon as possible.
Bonus: some aspects of technical SEO
Technical SEO is a completely different matter. Most technical SEO factors are problems with the site. It must be checked or cleared before you begin to optimize the content.
However, there are several technical considerations related specifically to the content. Do not ignore them:
- Content is quickly downloaded. You have three seconds or less. Make sure that pictures and other media files do not slow down the content.
- The content is well displayed on the mobile phone screen. This is unlikely to be a problem if the site has a responsive design. Most sites have this kind of design, but make sure that the forms and call-to-action buttons are available in the content, the images are centered and so on.
- The page is included in the XML site map. Help Google find and understand the content!
- Internal links point to content. Make sure they are relevant and use anchor text based on keywords, as far as possible / appropriate.
- URLs are short. The most popular pages have shorter URLs. The top-ranking URL contains an average of 59 characters.
GO AHEAD AND CREATE “HIGH QUALITY CONTENT”
They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but so they say those who have never been engaged in the ranking of content in organic search. In our case, beauty is in the eyes of the target audience – that’s what Google’s machine learning program understands.
Fortunately, RankBrain is pretty consistent, although still quite vague and fuzzy. This means that we can translate thousands of words, learn tens of thousands of results, conduct A / B testing of our own hypotheses and make a list of characteristics that Google will most likely like.
Start your journey in the world of SEO-content, combining it all from the very beginning. If you are working with a content marketing strategy that does not begin with an SEO study, start all over again. When the wheels and engine will finally work together, your trip will be smooth.