If you are a small business owner just beginning to build your online presence, you’ve probably heard the term SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization is a series of processes and recommendations that are meant to boost your position in search engine results. It can be an arduous process for those new to bringing their business presence online, but creating optimized content is exceptionally important. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take in the right direction without breaking the budget, such as including alt text, descriptive URLs, using schemas, and keyword-oriented page copy – and there are nearly unlimited sources available to help guide small business owners in the right direction. Improving SEO is not a one-size-fits-all process, however, below are just a few tips that may be helpful when writing content for your site.
1. Write for people, not Google.
Speak to Your Audience
One of the most important things to remember when trying to optimize for search engines is that, while your content needs to be easy for search engines to find and catalog, ultimately it is people who are reading your page content and (ideally) acting on it. Sometimes, page copy is written that is so focused on search engines as the primary audience that they do not feel readable or usable to human visitors once they arrive. Pulling tons of visitors with search engine optimized pages is a great start, but encouraging them to stay and engage is the real end goal. Search engines are extremely adept at navigating pages that contain the most relevant and useful content for their users- scanning for related words, variations, and other indicators. A well-written, current, and informative page that only includes the exact target keyword a few times will probably rank better and be far more useful to your site visitors than one that stuffs the target words in as many times as possible with little other meaningful or useful content.
Serve a Need
Possibly the best (and occasionally most frustrating) writing advice came from one of my favorite college professors. Before selecting a paper topic he would emphatically ask us to consider, “So what? Who cares?” Or, does this topic matter and, if so, to whom? What’s the point? This guideline has not only kept me away from writing some very boring papers but has also been an excellent guide when writing page copy for clients. While writing page content, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if the content serves a need and who it is serving – or “So what? Who cares?” If it informs, solves a problem, etc. for your audience – perfect! This is general advice that can be applied to most styles of writing, however, in terms of SEO strategy, it can help in the process of creating meaningful, useful, and actionable content for search engines to deliver straight to your audience.
2. Strive for “good” backlinks.
Building up domain authority with backlinks is a popular technique when developing an SEO strategy. And there are many tempting sources available promising plenty of backlinks for a low cost. Like any other part of SEO, good backlink building takes time and effort. Spammy, low-quality links from less than stellar sites, PBNs, and others can actually hurt your rankings. According to Google, the best strategy for link building is (again) producing current, informative, and useful content that can be linked to and shared. Don’t be afraid to guest post or share your content with relevant news publications and blogs!
3. Keep it succinct and relevant.
When writing content, you don’t have to write a novel. Unless you have a creative writing blog, then, by all means, novel away! It’s easy to think that more content means more informative and sharable content. However, according to this study done by Ahrefs, blog posts with excessive word counts are actually less likely to draw backlinks. Based on their research, there is a positive correlation between backlinks and content length, but that is true only up to about 1,000 words per page. While every page you write should include enough text to serve a purpose and provide useful information, limiting your content to concise, specific topics can not only help visitors and search engines identify important information in each page, but will also help your visitors effectively read, use, share, and act on your published content.
In A Nutshell
When writing content you would like to rank, don’t try to take shortcuts with questionable backlinks, overusing exact keywords while compromising usability, or sharing entirely too much information. Improving SEO is an iterative process that takes time. Ultimately, these three tips all relate back to writing content that can be used by your audience. Optimizing content solely for a search engine should not take precedence over optimizing for your human visitors. It is important to remember that the purpose of search engines is to connect their users with the most relevant and useful content for each query. Consistently producing useful, informative, and succinct content for your (human) audience is a positive step towards increasing your search rankings and keeping visitors engaged once they reach your site.