The internet abounds with articles on how to write for SEO. Conventional wisdom says that search engine ranking is the only metric that matters. With a high ranking comes clicks, and with clicks come monetization and conversions. But writing for bots and SEO is hardly the way to optimize your content. There's little point in getting those clicks if your readers immediately bounce. After all, those bots may determine the rankings - but it's people who determine your success.
We don't believe in writing for SEO. Or at least, not solely for SEO. While we want our work to be surfaced by search engines, we also want it to be read, shared and enjoyed.
Here's how we create authentic content that appeals both to search engines, and to people.
Our Core Audience is People
First and foremost, we write for the people who'll read our content, not just parse it. We believe that targeted, relevant, compelling content has a far higher success rate than stuffing a blog post with keywords. When we write a blog post, white paper or another piece of content, we do it because we think it will be of value to our users. We tap into topical, timely and sometimes controversial issues - the ones that readers want to know more about. Then we make sure it delivers. Because content that creates an impact for our readers creates far more powerful returns than keyword optimization.
Great content results in longer visits, more newsletter sign-ups and more interest in what we do. It's a reflection of our expertise, knowledge, and value our company is able to provide. And in our minds, that's much more important than appealing to an algorithm. Humans are our primary audience. Search engines are a distant second.
But trust us - when you provide high-value content, and a lot of it, you'll rank well.
Google Wants Good Content, Too
Gone are the days when search engines ranked content based solely on keywords and backlinks. Google, Bing et al are all constantly tweaking and improving their algorithms to ensure that relevant, good quality content is served up to readers. After all, if they send users to low-value, poorly written content, people will stop putting their trust in search engines and will start looking for alternatives. It's in search engines' interests to guide users towards material that actually delivers on its promises.
So how do the search engine giants determine what to emphasize in their search rankings? Basically, they look at measurable factors that are indicative of quality. Take length, for example. A blog post that's at least 500 words long suggests that you're looking at something in-depth and valuable. Links from other reputable sites is another. If others are linking to you, there's probably a reason - your content is worth sharing with others. Readability is another factor. An article that's well-written features informative subheads and is broken up for ease-of-reading will get bonus points from our search engine friends.
Basically, if you're writing good quality material with a human audience in mind, Google will reward you for it.
Doing SEO the Right Way
We've established that SEO shouldn't be the driving force of your content strategy. But it can definitely be used to support your strategy. Think of it more like a series of guideposts than the destination itself. So how can you put this into practice?
First, identify what you want to post about, and figure out a high-value approach and takeaway. Once you've done that, you can explore keywords that may drive extra traffic to your blog post. Picking the right keywords can transform a blog post from a solid performer into a viral sensation. Integrate those keywords into your post - but don't force it. Second, build out your post so that it delivers value. Dial up the length, add high-value links, and support your post with graphical assets that drive home your point. Then add links, stats, quotes and other data to help get your point across. Data means authority - and search engines love authority! Finally, show your metadata some love. A great title and meta description can give your post an SEO boost, while also helping to draw readers to your site.
Keep at it, and soon you'll have a stable of content that both readers and search engines will adore.
Need some help with your content strategy? Get in touch!