Humans or algorithms: Which master must your content serve?
For your content to rank well in search, appeal to the right audience, and generate leads and sales, it needs to please both search engines and people.
Sound impossible? It’s not. Creating SEO-optimized content that’s reader-friendly just requires a little know-how. Below, we share seven rules you can follow to serve both masters. Dominate search. And sell more!
- Follow Google’s rules. If you’re still keyword stuffing, you’re shooting yourself in the digital foot. Today, the search engine will actually penalize you for the practice. If you want your content to be truly SEO friendly (and rank well), follow Google’s rules. Their webmaster guidelines clearly spell out approved SEO practices.
- Do your research to define primary keywords. Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to develop a list of core keywords and phrases you want to rank well for:
- Bear in mind that long-tail keywords may provide your best opportunities for ranking well. While they may have a lower search volume, they also have less competition – and give you a better chance of ranking high in results for your exact right audience.
- Consider user intent. Think: What phrases might someone type into a search engine if they were looking for my content/product/service? Will my content satisfy a user who searches for the keywords I’ve included in it?
- Game the system. Google actually provides clues on user intent right in its search bar (check out the autocomplete results as you type in a search term) and at the bottom of search results pages (searches related to “your search term”).
- Include semantically related keywords. Modern search algorithms use machine learning based on semantics (logic that deals with the meaning of words and phrases). Search engines like Google serve up search results based on what they think people mean when they type queries. To rank well in more of your target audience’s searches, go beyond synonyms. Include semantic keywords, which are collections of words or phrases that are related either conceptually or in meaning.
- Get creative. Google isn’t the only place to get great ideas for making your content SEO friendly. Here are a few more sources for keyword planning, semantic keywords and determining searcher intent:
- Industry associations and forums. What questions does your target audience pose? What types of keywords do you find on association websites and blogs?
- Check out the terms the competition uses in its web copy, blog posts and more.
- Like Google, Amazon’s search bar has autocomplete functionality and related searches/recommended products. Pay attention to the keywords used and incorporate the ones that make sense for your business.
- Structure your blog content properly. Divide your posts into an introduction, body and conclusion (which includes a compelling call to action). Use H1 formatting for the title, and then use H2 and H3 formatting for the content subheads. Search engines index H1, H2 and H3 subheads, so mix keywords into them whenever possible.
- Create properly formatted list articles. Creating articles that answer a specific search query and putting them in a list format makes it easy for Google and other engines to crawl and extract answers. Writing list articles (like this one!) will help with overall search rankings.
- ALWAYS write good content that humans find irresistible. While your content must be SEO friendly, it must also be interesting to real people – because your customers are human! Write conversationally and focus on content that’s relevant to your audience; then incorporate semantic keywords throughout. When you write naturally for humans, you’re automatically improving your content’s “searchability” and performance. It’s that simple.
Need a smarter SEO strategy?
SEO is continually evolving. How can you stay dialed in – and rank above your competitors?
Trust our experts! BARQAR uses a strategic, six-step approach to ensure your SEO stays on target. Contact us for a free SEO audit today.