Quality content and technical SEO strategy...the greatest love story of our time. Together, they work to satisfy the needs of those longing for answers (or just a good read) and the search engines who so desperately want to find the most appropriate results for online users.
Alas, the world of digital marketing is a competitive one, and ranking high in search results takes work. This article will discuss the best ways to ensure that your content is SEO-friendly and give you the knowledge you need to outrank your competitors.
What is SEO friendly content?
SEO-friendly content is content which has been carefully created using a variety of SEO techniques in order to help search engines understand the content and rank it high.
There are, however, misconceptions about SEO-friendly content. For example, some digital marketers may believe that SEO content should be full of keywords and links; while these are important aspects which help with page rankings, SEO-friendly content should be written with both the readers and search engines in mind. In other words, the content should benefit the reader and answer their questions, not simply provide a page full of links to fool search engine bots.
Tips to make SEO friendly content
Conduct keyword research
Keywords are an important part of SEO and they can help you on your quest to make it to the top of the search results.
Here a few things that keyword research can show you:
- What people are searching for - pinpoint the exact phrases people are using when searching the web
- Search volumes - see how many people are searching for that particular keyword or question
- Competition - you are able to determine how difficult it may be to rank high for certain keywords. For instance, the keyword ‘shoes’ has a monthly search volume of 201,000 and is highly competitive. Therefore, searching for a more specific keyword such as ‘yellow shoes’ (which has a much lower monthly search volume of 3,600) gives you a better chance of ranking high. Essentially, you just need to have a little play around with words and select the most relevant keywords.
There are some other things to keep in mind to ensure that you are selecting the best target keywords. Try to:
- Focus on long-tail keywords - While these may have lower search volumes, they have a good chance of ranking on the SERPs. This is because there are plenty of people out there who will search more specific terms in order to find answers to particular topics.
- Take a strategic approach - You can identify which keywords your top competitors are not currently ranking for and cease the opportunity to get in there first! You could also target a specific location or take advantage of seasonal trends.
- Think about the user’s intent - It is important to consider what the user may be searching for so that you can tailor your content to be fit for purpose. There are five main categories of intent, this includes:
- Informational: The user is looking for information
- Navigational: The user may want to go a specific place on the internet (i.e. specifically a contact page)
- Transactional: The user wants to do something (for example, purchase a festival ticket)
- Commercial investigation: The user is looking to compare products in order to pick the right one for them
- Local: The user is looking for something in the local area (such as a restaurant)
When you find your keywords, you will then need to fit them in the following places:
- The content’s title, subheadings and throughout the content where appropriate (marked as header tags e.g. H1, H2 etc.)
- Meta title and meta description
- Image names and alt image tags
So you see, there are a whole host of things to consider when researching the best keywords for your content but it is just important not to overdo it, as this can negatively impact readability. A useful tool for you to use is Google Keyword Planner which is a great place to start your search for keywords!
Update existing content
It is important to update any old content so that it is still relevant for the searcher. Here’s how you can do it:
- Look for pages with potential to rank higher - you can do this with a useful tool such as SEMrush which shows you how your pages are performing. There are also free to use tools that don’t require any subscription such as this one.
- Amend the post where necessary - Apply SEO strategies such as link building, using keywords and adjusting the meta title and description.
- Change the publish date - this will allow search engines to re-crawl and re-index the refreshed content.
Check out the competition
Have a little peruse at your top competitors’ content and note down what they are doing that you think may be useful to include in your content. It is important not to copy others; you should simply take inspiration from their work. For example, have they included a FAQ section which has allowed them to further utilise keywords and answer questions with high search volumes? Introducing more content such as a FAQ section can be a simple, yet effective method to improve page rankings.
Make your content user-friendly
Ensuring your content is as user-friendly and easy to read as possible is key. This is particularly helpful for users trying to read your content on a mobile device where small screens make reading more difficult. Here’s what you can do:
- Use smaller paragraphs
- Use accordions to reduce the amount of scrolling needed on mobile
- Include lists and bullet point key information
- Use subheadings for new ideas/sections
- Highlight key information
Formatting your content in a clear and presentable manner will make life SO much easier for your reader. If they are greeted by a swarm of tiny words, they may begin to suffer heart palpitations and click straight off of your page, running into the warm embrace of your competitors...nobody wants that!
Including relevant and interesting images to accompany your pages can go a very long way. You can optimise your photos by adding keywords to the image files and through the ALT attributes. It may also be necessary to compress your images, as large images can actually slow down the load time of your page, damaging the SEO in the process. With this in mind, it can be a good idea to also include image descriptions so in the event that your image struggles to load, users can see what would have been there, providing them with context and hopefully persuading them to remain on your site. Essentially, it is your way of holding onto the user’s attention for dear life.
Link like a pro
Including internal links can help with page rankings and including external links to other valuable, trustworthy sites can also help to improve your validity in a search engine’s eyes. Internal links essentially tell search engines that your content is relevant and can also encourage users to spend more time on your website, helping to reduce the bounce rate and potentially increasinging the numbers of conversions.
Optimise the length of your content
Google tends to prioritise content which is longer and of high quality as this is likely to give users all the in-depth answers they need. That said, if you find yourself struggling to write an article, do not fall into the trap of padding out and watering down content - it all needs to be relevant and to a high enough standard to impress both your audience and the search engines! To get an idea of how long your content needs to be, check the word count of top ranking competitors.
Aim to get a featured snippet
A SERP’s featured snippet is a mighty honour to bestow on a SEO professional for their content. Optimising your content for a featured snippet is another way to rise to the top as Google perceives it as a quick way to answer a user’s query. This can encourage users to click onto your website, read through the rest of your content and spend more time browsing what else you have to offer. So, how can you identify an opportunity for a featured snippet?
- Use a SERP analysis tool such as SEMrush to discover if there is already a featured snippet for your target keyword. If there isn’t, you’re in luck...if there is, you need to make your snippet better than the current reigning one!
- Make sure you include the question that the featured snippet answers in your article’s title or subheadings and answer it directly beneath the heading. It is crucial that you provide a concise answer that can outrank the other featured snippet if you are going to see success. Try to use a similar structure to the current featured snippet as this was clearly done well in the eyes of search engines. The main featured snippet structures are paragraphs, lists and tables.
A final note on SEO friendly content
A final tip is to just try and put yourself in the user’s shoes. Ask yourself the following:
- What might they be looking for?
- What would they expect your content to provide in relation to their query?
- Is the content user-friendly, relevant and not bombarded with links?
If you’re looking to optimise your website’s content and improve your online visibility, our SEO team is here to help! Take a look at our SEO services here.