There are essentially two main goals to be achieved through writing content for your website;
- Encouraging traffic to your website through building links etc. and;
- Writing great content to keep your readers interested.
These two things seem relatively simple in isolation, and they are, but due to a harsh world of competition, it is a lot more difficult to write quality content that ranks well. Sure, getting traffic to your website might not be that hard and nor is writing good content, but writing good content and bringing users to your site and then making them stay, that’s the challenge.
This means that each website needs something special that makes people want to stay on it and, each website needs A LOT of traffic to ensure that it gets the conversion rates it desires. There are a lot of techniques that will ensure your site receives ample traffic but many will ultimately harm the SEO performance of your website in doing so.
The most important aspect of writing SEO-friendly content is to write for the users and not the search engine. Basic rules apply when writing content of any form to ensure that it is of a certain quality. This involves things like actually thinking about and researching what you are writing about. Look at previous articles on similar topics that rank well in Google and see what they have done well; look for similarities between these pieces.
Identifying the structure of the article prior to writing is also going to ensure that it is of a high quality. This gives it direction and shape prior to commencing ensuring that it remains on topic and concise.
Search engine optimisation is becoming more and more user focused and therefore a user-friendly article will rank well. There are, however, still some critical steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that your content is not only engaging, but favours search engine optimisation as well.
Optimise Article Length
Whilst the length of the article is central to creating high quality and engaging content, it is also important to note that Google favours longer articles. A minimum of 300 words is required to gain the attention of the major search engine. The optimal word count though is anything above 500 to roughly 2000.
It is difficult to put an exact limit on the word count as it depends on the content and the level of information required to gain a full understanding of what is being written about. What can be said though is that it is important to keep content concise and not waffle on about unnecessary features or ideas.
Link to Previous Content
There are a couple of benefits experienced from linking to previous content, most of all the fact that it creates authority around the subject. When linking to content that has been previously written by your or your organisation, it creates a depth of knowledge within the readers mind, convincing them that your business is in fact trustworthy.
Additionally, Google places weight on internal and external links so it will benefit the websites ranking as well. External links are helpful in generating credibility for your site as they indicate that the information you are providing is of relevance and necessity. They may not always achieve a noticeable difference in ranking score but it is helpful in gaining credibility and improving user experience.
It is important to stress, however, that when creating links, be it internal or external, quality must be prioritised over quantity. Poor links will only damage the sites reputation and ranking.
Finding the best keywords is pivotal to having a well-ranked article. The keywords used need to be relevant and attract the audience. This means that some research will be required prior to writing to ensure that people are searching for the keywords used in the article.
Finding the right keywords can be challenging if you don’t have any help. Have a look at our helpful guide to keyword research in ‘15 Things You Need to Know about Keyword Research’ to get you started.
There are also a few really helpful keyword tools to that will give you a variety of ideas as to which ones to use and where;
Long tail keywords (4 or more words) are going to be most effective as there is less competition but does require people to input linger search terms. Having a variety of keywords will be greatly beneficial in achieving a strong search ranking.
The length of the article will determine how often you include your keywords. As a good estimation, your keywords should be found in about 1 to 2 percent of the content. For example, a piece containing 1000 words, they should be found 10-20 times. What is important to note here is that the same keyword should not be used more than 1 percent of the time.
The title is the first thing that both the user and the search engine interact with making it a crucial part of any piece. It helps both the user and search engine understand what the article is about and ultimately plays a big role in its ranking.
On the search engine results pages, the title has a character limit before being cut off meaning that unless you want to title to be shortened, it needs to be concise. Including keywords in the title is also going to improve its SEO performance.
Heading help to create a solid article structure, making it easier for the reader to understand and move through quickly to get the key points. Most importantly, it helps to improve the SEO performance of the article. Google is able to more easily recognise the main topics within the article giving it a better rank.
Using keywords in headings is also highly beneficial for the ranking of the page to further emphasise the main focus of the piece. It is still important to not overuse the keywords and that the headings make sense. Don’t just use keywords in the headings for the sake of it.
Images help readers to understand and engage with the article. It provides a visual for them to relate the content of the piece to and create their own image of the information.
Using the correct alt attributes in your image will also benefit the rank the article receives from the search engine. Providing both alt tags, including the keyword, and title give the article additional power and make it more visible to the search engine.
The rapid rise in mobile searches is coming to its peak, so much so that it has been classed as an SEO trend for 2018 with desktop sites are becoming more and more obsolete. This means that all articles must be mobile friendly in order to rank well. Google’s algorithm actually favours mobile sites meaning that if your article isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s going to rank poorly.
Designing your articles so that they are also mobile-friendly is also going to be far more convenient for users who will be able to easily read and navigate through the article on their mobile phones. This helps to maintain user base and build it over competitors without mobile-friendly articles and sites.
For the article to be SEO-friendly, the URL must reflect this and plays a notable role. Confusing, ugly and long-winded URLs are not the way to go and have no impact on the SEO performance of the piece.
Providing a short, 3-5 word, URL containing your keyword(s) is the most effective method that sees results. This makes it easy for the user to understand and the search engine gives it weight.
As has been stressed throughout this piece, the cornerstone to a successful article is the quality with which it is written. In order to achieve higher website traffic and user engagement the content must be of a high standard.
Much of the SEO techniques outlined will not just improve the article’s rankling but also its quality as the search engine algorithms are aimed at identifying the most user-friendly and informative pieces. This also works the other way when writing with quality and not focusing as much on the search engine optimisation side of things.
Creating an SEO-friendly article is crucial but it is not all about the technical side of things. The main part is to create a really engaging, vibrant and interesting piece that makes people want to come back for more. This means that not only will they continue to read your content but they are also likely to pass it on to friends by liking, sharing and tweeting about it.
This is where the biggest benefit of high quality articles comes into play. Yes, it does need to be SEO-friendly to get traffic onto the website and that is very important. However, the biggest benefit is getting people to spread the content all over the internet via social media as a form of free advertising.
It is important to put time and effort into the writing of articles for your site as they have a long term effect on the quality of the overall website. In addition, each piece written needs to be able to be linked back to at a later date, further incentivising a quality piece.
It cannot be highlighted enough how important writing articles of high quality, that want to be read, is in order to truly see the benefits of the SEO practices implemented to see the article achieve a good ranking.
Did you find the information in this article helpful to ensure you have SEO-friendly content? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.