How can you write SEO friendly content that can keep both users and search engines happy?
What are the 10 most important things you should know for writing content that ranks well in search and at the same time is useful for your readers?
#1 – Is your content unique and original?
Unique and original content does not necessarily mean that you have to propose something new or say something that no one said before; it means that your text should not be an exact copy from some other website or online source.
Google is very good in identifying duplicate content and there is no reason for them to rank a web page or website with copied content.
What they need in their index is web pages that answers people’s search queries and the more unique web pages they have, the more are the chances to keep their users happy and come back again.
Adding a link back to the original source does not make your content unique – one of the mistakes many bloggers make is to copy content from a website, publish it in their own and then add a link back to the original source.
While this is proper to do ethically, in terms of content uniqueness it does not change anything.
The content on your website is still duplicate and does not offer anything new to Google.
How do you ensure that your content is unique? – I use copyscape, a tool that allows you to enter a piece of text and it will tell you if it is ‘unique’ or not.
If not, then you can make changes until your copy is 100% ‘original’.
#2 – Do your homework before writing your post titles
The title of a post is important for many reasons and well structured titles will help:
- Search engines understand what the page is about
- Users understand if this is something they want to click and read
- Newsletter subscribers to decide if this is an email they want to open and read
- Advertising systems to decide if this is a page they want to advertise on or not
- It is also one of the most important on-page seo factors
So, how to you choose a post title that satisfies the above criteria:
- Do your keyword research to find out what people are searching that is related to the topic of your page.
- Search Google, Yahoo and Bing using your keywords to find related titles. Take note of the suggestions you get while typing keywords in the search box and also scroll down the search results page to see what other people are searching.
- Once you decide on the basic structure of your title (using the two methods explained above), try to make your title more social and attractive to users. Try to think like a user and judge whether your title would encourage you to click and visit that page.
- Make sure that your title length is less than 65 characters.
Important: While considering the above guidelines, have in mind that the order of keywords in a title is important – so try to have your keywords first and then the rest of the words.
For example: if your target keyword is “Google SEO”, then here are some suggested titles with the most effective being shown at the top of the list
- Google SEO Best practices
- Best practices for Google SEO
- How to Google SEO your website
- How do you keep Google Happy
Pro tip: For more examples on how to write SEO Friendly titles, read my SEO Tutorial.
#3 – Pay attention to your introduction
When crawling a webpage, search engines want to understand the context of a page and decide if this is something to include in their index, in the fastest possible way.
Your job is to help them by mentioning your keywords in an introduction style paragraph at the beginning of your page.
Have a look at the first 2 lines of this article and see how my targeted keywords “SEO friendly content” are included in the introduction.
#4 – Don’t forget about the body of the page
Having said the above (point 3), and as Google’s Matt Cutts mentions in this short webmaster video, don’t forget about the body of the page.
This means that while you should give the necessary attention to the title and description of your page, you should also consider adding your keywords naturally in the body of the page as well.
#5 – Interlinking is good for SEO
I am a big fan of internal links and I always advise my clients to use internal linking in their articles/pages to create their own small webs within their websites.
I wrote an article on internal linking guidelines you can take into account, but you can also take a quick look at any Wikipedia article to see how they are using internal links to ease user navigation.
#6 – Beautify the text
Back in May 2011, Amit Singhal (Former head of Google Search Team), published a set of guidelines for high quality websites on Google Webmaster central.
Not surprisingly, a few of them had to do with how the text/content of a page is presented to the user.
It is important when preparing your page to give some attention to detail and make it easier for users to scan through the text to find what they want.
Make the page look good by adding bold, italics, images, videos, small paragraphs and headings.
Let me clarify this, “If I beautify my text, will that give me better rankings?” . Of course not, but it can help in many other ways that can indirectly affect your rankings.
#7- Show the author name and bio
The web is no longer anonymous, this means that when publishing content on a web page you also need to show details about the author.
This is especially true for topics that are sensitive like health related topics, financial etc but in general showing the author information makes a page trusted.
The best way to do this is by adding a small author bio box below your articles, like the example shown below.
#8 -Use image(s) and optimize them
Images are good for the user as they make the content less tiring and easier to read. They are also good for search engines since it’s an additional way to understand more about a given page.
Best practices for using images in your content include:
- Use images you have the necessary copyrights
- Optimize the image size because you don’t want your images to slow down your website
- Use ALT text to describe what the image is about – you can use keywords as well
- Use meaningful image file names instead of numbers or unrelated characters
#9- Read it again
It goes without saying but you don’t want to publish something that has spelling mistakes, grammar errors, non-meaningful sentences or simply text that does not make sense.
Before hitting the publish button make sure that you checked for compliance to the guidelines mentioned above and that it reads well without errors or omissions.
#10 – Is your content better than the competition?
This is my last advice, but one that is very important.
We all know that there is a lot of competition on anything you publish on the Internet and search engines have a really tough job in determining what to show in their top positions.
In order to increase your chances of getting a better position in the SERPS, you need to make sure that your page is better than the rest.
You need to convince them that your content is more beneficial to the searcher than what it’s already in their index.
Of course, there are a lot more factors that play a role like domain authority, backlinks, who wrote the page etc but what you can do as a first step is to do some checks before you hit the publish button.
So, when you finish a page and it is ready to go live, search on Google for the title of your page and examine very carefully the websites in the first 10 positions.
Compare them with your page in the following areas:
- What is the average length of content, in terms of words? If your copy is much less, then before proceeding you may consider adding more content.
- What type of content do the other pages have? Do they have a lot of images, videos? How does it compare with your page?
- Quality of information? When it comes to quality of the information provided, is your page better than the rest and is it more helpful to users?
When we talk about SEO friendly content we mean content that can be easily understood by search engines.
The more they can understand about your page, the greater are your chances of achieving a better ranking in their search results.
Factors like content uniqueness, post title, introduction, body text, internal linking structure, appearance of the page, authorship and images are very important in SEO copywriting.