Content is King when it comes to SEO
This is Part 2 of our series: Search Engine Ranking Factors (see part 1)
How confident are you that you are providing your visitors with quality content? Is your website filled with content that can be found on other websites?
You need to give people a reason to come back to your website, or to even stay a few minutes on your website reading your content. Search engines also judge how long people stay on your website. If the bounce rate (the rate of people leaving your website after having only viewed the landing page) is high and people aren’t spending a lot of their precious time on there, it will tell the search engines that you website is of low quality.
So how do you judge if content on your website is of high standards? Firstly, is it unique? If it is copy pasted from another website, there is a very high chance search engines will slap you with a penalty. Worse, you may even have lawyers knocking on your door and surely you wouldn’t want that to happen. Secondly, does it help answer questions that visitors may have? One of the main reasons of high bounce rates is that they don’t find anything of relevance for them, so they get out from your website.
The third determining factor, which is also the most important, is the “viral-ity” of your content. Theoretically, the more viral your content is, the more people perceive it as something of high quality.
Here are some ideas on how to generate high quality content:
- Don’t write stuff that hasn’t been written over and over again by a million of other bloggers.
- Don’t write articles that read like it was written by a robot. Try and compose your article like how you would converse to a person. Be engaging and be funny.
- Out of ideas? Write what your readers want to read. Ask them what topic you should cover next. They would be more than willing to chime in.
- Format your articles so they are easy to read. When you have an article with a lot of bullet points, headings and such, don’t just throw it into your website without any formatting at all. This gives you a very bad impression.
- Get a guest blogger. They will always have their interesting takes and stories to write.
Researching Content and Keywords for Exposure
This is probably the most crucial SEO tactic, following the creation of good content; keyword research. There are literally hundreds of tools out there you can use to discover keywords that people are using as their search query.
When creating content, you want to base your articles around those keywords. If they are looking on how to lose weight, write an article about how to lose weight. When you do this, you are helping to answer their questions. Of course, you don’t write an article on how to add 50 pounds to your bench press when they are looking for tips on losing weight. While you do need exercise to lose weight, they are not simply looking to get stronger on their bench press.
After you have done your keyword research, use the keywords you’ve discovered in your article. If you have created articles based on the keyword before, I guess it is a good idea to go back to edit them again. If you want your articles to be found, it is good to use these keywords in your article.
What kind of keyword density should be aiming for? Well, most people prefer 1-3%, but whatever the percentage is, just make sure your articles flow smoothly and make sure they do not look like they are keyword stuffed just to get the keyword density up. When search engines notice that your articles have suspiciously too high a keyword density, you may get penalized. Not only that, keyword stuffed articles usually cannot be read at all by humans.
The key is to use keywords in your article, but use them only when its necessary. Don’t let keywords or key phrases ruin your sentence structure.
Do Your Articles Hook Readers into Reading?
Quality and engagement go hand in hand. It is not high quality content if the readers are glued to their seats reading. Search engines even have their algorithm in place to gauge how engaging your articles are.
I’ve mentioned about how high bounce rates signal to search engines that your website has low quality and irrelevant content. This also holds true for the engagement of your articles. Think about it, if the headline catches my attention, I’d probably click on it. When I start reading it and the first paragraph is enticing enough for me to carry on, then I’d stick around longer. If I liked what I read a lot, I’d browse through the website looking for more content to read. What does this mean?
You see, without me realizing, my attention was captured by the content and I ended up spending more time on that website. Search engines want to see your website with visitors like that.
“But, I don’t know how to write engaging content like that!” Well, writing a persuasive and engaging article is a skill that needs to be learnt, but here are some tips to help accelerate the learning process:
- Write with a human reader in mind: This is the single most overlooked fact. When you write, write so that a human can read it, not search engine spiders. Spiders can’t read but your readers can. When you write for a human, think about what kind of articles interest you. How do they read? You will notice that the article is often funny and its often entertaining.
- You are not writing a medical journal: I can’t remember a time when I could stay awake for more than a minute reading scientific journals. They are just so boring and there is nothing in there that really persuades me to read on. Here’s a tip, ask questions that will keep your reader curious.
- Start with killer headlines: Headlines are what reel you in first. If the headline is boring, who would want to read it. Come with a something controversial. Something that, when people read it, they would be all riled up with curiosity and they can’t help but click on it.
- Follow up with a strong lead: Describe how it felt like when you had your first ice cream. Something to trigger memories in the mind of your readers. Also include as many “What, Where, When, Which, Who and How” in your article. This is the most crucial to keep readers reading the whole article, so don’t be shy to include any of your controversial points (but remember to back them up) or any interesting stories.
- Quote a famous person instead: A simple quote can add a lot of interest to your article and it also adds a “human touch” to it. It is a lot better than using boring and trivial information like time and date, or some irrelevant statistic.
- Leave them hanging, or give a call to action: If you are writing a blog post, finish your article with an open ended question. This could also be beneficial for getting extra comments on your blog post. If you want your readers to click through your link to another website to buy a product, you need a strong and impacting call to action. Tell them if they don’t click the link, they wouls miss out on the biggest opportunity of their lifetime. Instill feelings of regret.
Eat Fresh, Keep Content Fresher
Here’s something no one really knows about, and its called “Query Deserved Freshness”. A fancy name for a pretty simple concept: if a topic or a search suddenly becomes unusually popular, Google will search for any fresh content on that topic and then give that a high search engine ranking.
If you are lucky, you might just have the right content to prepare your website for when “Query Deserved Freshness” knocks on your door. It helps to post new quality content every now and then, since you don’t know which topic is going to be hot anyway.
Do note that, if this does happen to you, your top search engine ranking may last for a few weeks, maybe one, a couple of weeks or a month. Then it will drop. No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that the popularity on that subject has just tapered off.