Continuing our series of SEO blog posts, today we consider HOW to write good content for your site.
Note that this post follows on directly from our previous post entitled SEO: Content 1.
Please remember that we do not consider ourselves to be SEO experts. In this Beginner’s Guide to SEO we are simply aiming to demystify SEO for our members and to pass on some tips and information that we have picked up over the years.
(i) Content and SEO – how are they related?
To explain how Content and SEO are related, let’s take a traditional example… Let’s think for a few minutes about two writers, Sam and Jess, who are both publishing BOOKS on the topic of “Beginner’s Guide to Computers”.
- Sam (Poor Content, but Great SEO)
Sam puts no effort into the book. He repackages old and out-of date information that will not be useful for anyone. However, he launches a fantastic marketing and publicity campaign for the book. He has a snazzy modern cover for the book designed which disguises the old information the book contains.
Jess (Good Content and Good SEO)
Jessica writes a good beginner’s guide book and launches a complementary marketing campaign to launch the book. Jessica’s book does what it says it will do!
- Sam (Poor Content, but Great SEO = DISASTER!)
Many people may pick up Sam’s book in the store, but if they flick beyond page 1 it’s unlikely that they will purchase it. That said, Sam may achieve some sales due to the heavy marketing campaign, but his readers will soon realise that there is no substance to the book. They will NOT be fooled into buying Volume 2!
Jess (Good Content and Good SEO = SUCCESS!)
Jessica, on the other hand, has combined a well-written guide WITH a solid campaign to let the public know about her book. People who buy Jessica’s book are also likely to consider buying any future books she publishes too!
- The above example illustrates the importance of good quality content. In the same way that a badly-written book won’t hold your interest, a poor quality website won’t keep your attention either.
If your website is poor, the best SEO in the world won’t help you.
Sure, you may manage to get a temporarily high listing in the Search Engines, but it won’t last. In addition, listing highly in the search engines won’t help you increase conversions on your site. For example, your visitors won’t buy something on your site just because your site is #2 in Yahoo! Your visitors will only convert on your site if your site is useful and helpful to them.
Remember, in trying to fool the Search Engines with SEO tricks, you really only end up fooling yourself…
(j) Search Engines – What do They Think of Content?
As far as Search Engines are concerned, the more basic TEXT content the better. Search Engines love text because this is what they analyze.
The more text on your page, the easier it is for Search Engines to figure out what your page is about; the more confident the Search Engines can be that the content is useful; the more chance you have of relevant visitors finding you.
IMPORTANT! The text should, of course, be relevant and easy-to-read for your visitors too.
Listing reams and reams of keywords on your webpages in small or invisible text is not a good idea. It makes your site look shoddy and cheap and counts against you if the Search Engines find out about it too. After all, if your site is good and of value, why do you need to resort to tricks to promote it?
(k) But Adding Lots of Text Content will ruin my Website Design!!
If you have a very clean, minimalist-style website, you may not want to add extra text to it… That decision is, of course, entirely up to you but you should note that by using images only you are not giving the Search Engines much to work with.
After all, what good is a beautifully designed site if no-one visits it?!
If you fall into this category, you COULD consider keeping very little text on your homepage, but including plenty of text content on the inner pages of your site for SEO purposes.
(l) Ok, so HOW do I Create Good Content for my site?
If your site is “informational” (e.g. a database of recipes and cooking techniques) it is relatively easy to focus on content and creating it.
What do you do however, if like Carol’s (fictional) site, you sell woodcraft products?
(You can read about Carol’s site in section (f) of our previous SEO: Content 1 post.)
All that is required is come creative thinking!
Almost any topic you name can be written about and since your site is an extension of you or your business, you should be well-qualified to write about it!
First, Carol could make sure to write detailed descriptions of all the products on her website. (Remember Carol’s visitors can see the pictures on her site, but Search Engines can’t!)
Next Carol should consider writing other articles for her site. For example:
- how best to care for and protect wooden furniture;
- explanation of the different types of wood and the climates they suit;
- woodworm and how to prevent it;
- sustainable forestry;
- removing stains from wood;
- how to conduct simple repairs;
- the history of wooden furniture;
- the different woodworking techniques available;
- how to prevent wood from warping….
With a little effort, Carol could put together a helpful and valuable resource for visitors to her site, which will also act to help her site move up the Search Engine rankings. It’s a win-win situation.
And if Carol can do it… you can too!
(m) Good Content – TOP TIPS!
- Focus on creating the best site you possibly can. Create quality and the rankings will follow. To quote John from our Good Content example (see section (e) of our post entitled SEO: Content 1), if your content is GOOD, people will want it … and if people want it, then the Search Engines will want it (and list it highly) too.
- Try to regularly add new content to your site – the more often your content is updated, the better. (Make sure the content is relevant and good quality though!) Think about it. A site that is regularly updated is almost bound to be more useful and relevant to visitors than a site that hasn’t been updated since 1996!
- Remember that Search Engines can (generally) only see text! Use a text based webpage viewer to see your site through the eyes of the Search Engines. This will help you to establish if you are telling the Search Engines everything they need to know about your site. Make sure to describe your site and what you do. Here’s one viewer you can try.
- Think about the phrases that people would associate with your site and make sure to USE these phrases early and often in your content – but don’t overdo it! Think of Carol in the example above – initially her site didn’t actually mention the products that she sells anywhere! This meant that the Search Engines had no idea what her site was about. (You can read about Carol’s site in section (f) of our previous SEO: Content 1 post.) In the revised site content, Carol used “limited edition wood creations”, “wood creations” “handcrafted wooden products”, “furniture”, “bowls” – these are all terms that people might use to search for a site like Carol’s. Now the Search Engines can tell what Carol’s site is offering! (We’ll be covering more about keywords in a later SEO blog post)
- Use your creativity to turn your site into a useful resource which will be valued by your visitors and hence by the Search Engines – write as much useful content as you can! See section (l) for ideas. Aim for 250 – 1000 words of relevant, useful text content per page.
- Do NOT forget that rankings are NOT your aim, a more successful site is! (e.g. more sales, increase sign-ups etc)
- Do NOT get caught up in trying to work out SEO tricks. Your time would be far better spent creating more content for your site.
- DO use headlines, bolding and italics to emphasize relevant parts of your content. Your visitors and many Search Engines will consider highlighted text to be important and so will place greater emphasis on it.