One of the more readily accepted paradigms of SEO (define) is that content is king. Of course, to crown our king, said content must be relevant to search engine users, accessible to search engine spiders, and contextually worthy of inbound links.
These preclusive caveats currently translate into the need to develop an expansive, targeted keyword strategy, avoiding frames, Flash, and AJAX (define) while encouraging good, old-fashioned HTML with solid CSS (define) structures.
Now all we have to do is produce great content. But what, exactly, is great content?
Consider this simple premise: great content speaks to the end user and encourages desired actions. Let's start with the first portion of our premise as a foundation for further consideration.
Talk the Talk
Content producers must know their audiences to speak to them. This doesn't mean copywriters have to be of the same ilk as their target demographic. Some of the best Web writers readily produce great content for the opposite gender, gamely entertaining and informing diverse age groups.
Regardless, to produce great content copywriters must be able to successfully speak to their desired audience in a language that appeals to the targeted demographic group. And for copywriters to speak to a specific demographic group, they must understand what the target audience searches for on the Web.
Consider how the elemental tone of good content varies for different end users among audiences searching for:
Keyword research is a precursor for writing great content. Just remember that when preparing content for a Web site, it's not always necessary to focus on weaving the most competitive search terms and phrases into the copy. It's possible to gain a significant amount of traffic overall from writing content that includes several longer, lower search volume phrases. Adeptly writing some content to include derivations of less frequently used keywords could actually help extend your reach further into your targeted audience.
When you're writing articles for the Web, short stories are better than novels. It's a lot easier to stay focused on including specific keywords and keyword phrases in an article that consists of 200 words than in one containing 2,000 words.
Using catchy, keyword-rich titles can attract some users to the content. However, if you want to keep users reading further down the page, you must keep things moving with subheadings and such.
Walk the Walk
Good content informs and inspirers readers. It entertains and amuses its intended audience. It's passed from user to user and cited by others as having worth. Great content, however, encourages end users one step further: to click that button.
Great content should always contain a call to action, something that encourages end users to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, read a whitepaper, join a group, add a comment, or just keep reading.
The difference between good and great content is great content is actionable. The story doesn't end with channeling its audience toward the content via search referrals. Rather, the story begins with it.
With a well-written call to action, end users continue on a path toward making a return on your investment in writing great content. Don't disrupt the flow by making it difficult for them to take the next step. There's nothing worse than disappointing your audience after you've worked so hard to merit their visits.
If you do one thing to grow your search engine referrals this year, focus on producing great content. Your efforts will be rewarded with actionable returns, as well as inbound links that will heighten your site's search engine visibility further.
Great content must be written for the end user. When the content is relevant to the reader, it has value. Search engines recognize the value of relevant content. Consequently, the more relevant the content is to users, the more likely the search engines will prominently serve up your great content in their results.
Let's all resolve to write great content this year. The search engines will appreciate our efforts by positioning our relevant results, and our end users will reward us by taking action on our requests.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
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P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.
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