Effective search engine optimization (SEO) can drive a major increase in traffic to your website. But it’s not just about getting more people to land on your webpage—search engine optimization is really about getting the right people to your website.
The right SEO strategy will ensure your site has high-quality content that brings in potential customers, makes them excited about your product, and guides them to the next step in engaging with your organization.
Quick Definitions for SEO Terms
- Search engine optimization (SEO): The process of improving a website’s ability to rank highly on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Search engine optimization is done through a combination of strategies including research, keyword targeting, content writing, link building, and metadata incorporation.
- SEO content writing: The creation of the text that a visitor to the site will read in order to learn about a subject. Great content writing will include targeted keywords while also being accessible, informative, and useful.
- Search empathy: Understanding the mindset and intent of the searcher. Avalanche Creative prides itself on using search empathy to determine what searchers are looking for and how best to meet their needs with content that promotes our clients.
Qualities of Strong SEO Content Writing
Great SEO content writing has three main qualities that ensure the reader will stay on the page, engage with the material, and be likely to follow the “call to action” to interact with the organization and its product.
If the content on your website is too generic, it may not provide the visitor with the information they are looking for. More importantly, the writing will be unlikely to persuade the reader to engage with additional content or contact the sales team.
The Importance of Keyword Targeting
In order to place your website in a position that will be easy for your potential customer base to find, you will need to incorporate long-tail keywords into your content. A keyword is the word or short phrase that a person types into the search bar when they visit Google. If you want to bring people to your website, your content will need to include the keywords that they are using to search. Incorporating a keyword several times, and in the right places, will help your webpage climb the ranks of Google’s search engine results page.
A short-tail keyword is a short and generic search entry that a lot of people are using. A long-tail keyword is a longer and more specific phrase that is more likely to connect the searcher with the content they are looking for. “Headphones” is a short-tail keyword, while “wireless headphones for iPhone” is a long-tail keyword.
Incorporating long-tail keywords into your content will make it much more likely that the people who visit your website are interested in making a purchase.
If a visitor to your site doesn’t find the information they are looking for, going back to Google is always just a click away. Informative content will keep the reader engaged and encourage them to continue exploring the website. It will also help prove to your audience that your organization is a trusted expert in the industry.
What Is a Good Content Length?
The length of the content for most of the pages on your site should be at least 1,000 words, though some websites aim for around 1,800 words. Your website should have enough information that the visitor will stay on the page and feel rewarded for the time they spent there.
Quality content will set your website apart from your competitors. If a visitor to your website doesn’t have a positive experience, they are unlikely to stay and even less likely to come back. If Google’s algorithm sees that people aren’t sticking around, it will damage your ranking on the SERP.
Your website should answer the reader’s question with detailed answers, provide important context, and give specific steps for a solution to their problem.
Does Readability Affect SEO?
Yes! If your reader has trouble understanding your content, then Google will likely have trouble, too. Your content should be written for a general audience, not industry experts. It should also be easy for your reader (and Google) to scan through your article to locate the exact information they are looking for.
The content on your website should be professional and match the tone and style the reader would expect from your industry and organization. It should also be accurate and reliable so the reader develops trust in your organization.
Top 10 SEO Best Practices
1. Target a Main Keyword
While it is useful to use multiple keywords in your content, you should select a main keyword based on your research. Having a main keyword will help you focus and structure your content, and it will provide a measurable goal. Your objective is to rank that webpage for that keyword; including related keywords is a bonus.
2. Follow Logical Header Structure for SEO
Developing a logical header structure for your content will make your webpage easily scannable for both your reader and Google. Use an H1 header for your main title, an H2 for each section, and H3s for subsections. If you need to further divide your subsections, use H4s or a bulleted list.
3. Incorporate Keywords Naturally
Effectively incorporating keywords in your content is all about placement and balance. You’ll want to use keywords in your main title and in some headers. Then you’ll want to use them in your bulleted lists and body of your text in a way that works with the natural flow of your piece. But you do not want to your keywords too many times. That is called keyword stuffing, and will not only cause your content to feel stilted and awkward, but it will also cause Google to rank your page poorly.
4. Use Internal Links
Internal links are hyperlinks in your text that will take the reader to another page on your website. By using them effectively, you will be able to guide the reader to the products they may be interested in or to your website’s contact page.
5. Use External Links
On the other hand, external links will take your visitor to another website entirely. Placing external links to trustworthy websites for government agencies, academic journals, or newspapers will lend your own website credibility in the eyes of Google and your readers.
Be careful not to link to other websites that are competing for the same keyword, and always make sure to have external links open in a new browser tab so the user doesn’t leave your website. Avoid linking to webpages that may change over time to ensure you don’t have to go back and fix it later.
6. Include a Call to Action (CTA)
Every content piece on your website should have a clear call to action directing the reader to take the next step to engage your organization. That next step may include calling your customer service or sales team, filling out a form, subscribing to your email newsletter, or navigating to another page. The call to action should be clear, inviting, and towards the end of your content—after you’ve already convinced them of the value of your product or service.
7. Write Metadata for SEO
A website’s metadata includes the title, description, and URL. Placing keywords and valuable information is important for catching the attention of Google and your reader. Each item also has an ideal length. Page titles should be 50–60 characters, descriptions should be 130–160 characters, and URLs should include five to seven main words (no prepositions, articles, etc).
8. Include Alt Text for Images
Alternative text is a brief description of the image on your page. It will appear if the image fails to load, and a text-to-speech audio version of it will be played if the site visitor is using a screen reader. It makes your webpage more accessible and can help your image rank on the SERP. Be sure not to keyword stuff in your alt text!
9. Look at Competitors per Piece
One of the best ways to understand your reader and develop search empathy with them is to analyze your competitors. Look at the top three to five pages on the SERP for your keyword. Be sure to look at the top results that aren’t placed there by ads, but at the “organic” search results that were ranked highly because of their content. Read over their websites and look for content that is low-quality, short, aimed at the wrong audience, untrustworthy, or slow to load. This will help you figure out how to get a leg up on the competition.
10. Write for Searchers, not Search Engines
At the end of the day, remember that your target audience is not Google, but a potential customer. Before posting your content, make sure it is engaging and flows naturally. Developing a great editing process with people you can rely on for helpful feedback is an important step of the process.
Build Your SEO with Avalanche
If you’re ready to take the next step in building great content for your website, Avalanche Creative would love to talk with you. Our content writers are experts at making informative, engaging, and valuable content for a diverse range of industries.