Writing content for the web that is both engaging to your readers and provides greater visibility with search engines can be a challenge. You need to captivate your readers with unique, creative content and share your passion on the specific topic you are writing about. But if no one can find you, what’s the point. In this column I will share with you nine tips that will help you achieve the proper balance between these two forces.
1. Write for your audience. I chose this as the first tip because it is the most important. Especially with the Google Panda updates, developing exceptional content is more important than ever. Your objective here is to forget for a moment about SEO and write engaging content that your audience will want to read. Poll your audience, listen to what they are saying on social networks, and discover their needs and wants. As you tune in to this information, you will have a better chance to creatively develop content that will be received well. Additionally, if you focus on being genuine and real, your audience will appreciate it and you will achieve better results.
2. Develop unique content. Now that you understand what your audience would like to read, find creative ways to deliver that information. The big question is how can you make it unique, enjoyable, and useful? If you are an expert on the topic, then you should have no problem coming up with good ideas. Here are a few:
- Slideshows. Create a SlideShare account and post your presentations.
- Develop an infographic. Here’s a great article on do’s and don’ts.
- Data/content visualizations. There are some good examples here.
- Well-produced videos.
- High-quality photography and illustrations.
3. Writing for the web. Writing for the web has to be approached differently. People like to scan content for informative headlines, well-constructed pages, and attractive images or infographics. Then they will choose to take extra time to read your content in more detail. So consider the following tips as you write for the web:
- Impactful and meaningful headlines.
- Bullet points and lists help to organize information and make it more readable.
- Use graphics, illustrations, and photography to help communicate your topic quickly.
- Organize your page into manageable sections to make it easier to read and gather your intended takeaways.
- Keep your article or post to a manageable size. Ask how much will your audience really read?
4. Picking the right keywords. To go along with the first tip, keyword research can also be a great tool to learn more about what people want and need. If people are searching on broad search terms like “bike” or “mountain bike,” that might suggest they are information seekers and are seeking basic information on those terms. If they are using very specific terms like “pivot mach 5.7 carbon,” that would suggest they are more advanced and are seeking more detailed content.
Either way, choosing the right keywords and mapping them to your content is very important to generate the proper relevancy and continuity. This is especially true since people who do a keyword search will be more engaged if they see the same keywords on your landing page.
5. Place keywords carefully. Placing your keywords in appropriate places will not benefit your readers but it is essential to gaining higher ranking and visibility. Holding fast to SEO best practices and getting keywords in your title and headlines will help the search engines better understand what your page is all about.
Please do not place your keywords in too many places, especially if it makes your content sound unnatural and forced. This is called keyword stuffing. Remember, you should give priority to your audience and provide them with the best, readable content first. Then, read through your copy and make modifications to then use your targeted keywords as appropriate. Once finished, read it through again to see if it sounds natural.
Finally, don’t forget to tag your images and videos with your targeted keywords as well. To do this properly, use a more descriptive tone than just a list of keywords. For instance, use “picture of us white water rafting at echo canyon in june” versus “white water rafting, echo canyon, colorado rafting.” By doing this, you increase your visibility to image searches.
6. Keyword competition. When doing your keyword research, be on the lookout for how competitive your keywords are. Don’t just look at popularity and search volume. If a search term is saturated with competitors, you might have a harder time gaining your desired visibility. Look for alternatives that are not as competitive. They may not have the same search volume but it is better to rank for a term that you can get a higher placement than a term that no one will ever see. Some good tools that will help you learn more about keyword competition are:
- Google AdWords Keyword Tool
- Keyword Discovery
These tips should help you take your content development to a higher level and at the same time help you become more visible. Feel free to share any creative ideas in the comments section that have worked for you.