The Importance of Content in SEO (and tips for writing it)
By Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital
Content and SEO— when paired properly, these digital marketing components can launch your site to the top of the search rankings. Unfortunately, if you ask ten different digital marketers to define content and why it’s important to SEO, you’re likely to receive ten unique responses.
Actionable marketer Heidi Cohen defines content as, “High quality, useful information that conveys a story presented in a contextually relevant manner with the goal of soliciting an emotion or engagement. Delivered live or asynchronously, content can be expressed using a variety of formats including text, images, video, audio, and/or presentations.”
While Cohen’s description is hard to argue with, many sites miss the mark on creating content that is both “quality and useful.” Content can come in many forms, from social media to images to (most importantly) blog posts. Writing for SEO might not seem like the most captivating material, but it can be critical to enforcing your digital marketing strategy. One of the biggest challenges that marketers and bloggers face is writing content that’s optimized for search engines, yet will also appeal to readers. While it might not require you to become the next Shakespeare, creating appealing blog content should incorporate some of your artistic writing capabilities.
Google’s methods of organizing information continues to evolve as they promise to deliver “the most useful and relevant information.” In order for your content to have any SEO value at all, it needs to be beneficial to the user performing the search. As Google recommends, content should be:
- Useful and informative
- More valuable and useful than other sites
- High quality
In order for your blog posts to follow these recommendations, it’s important to put forth a bit of creative thinking. Perhaps the most valuable characteristic to support a relevant post is its readability. Without formulating a post that puts the end-user first, it’s unlikely to generate any sort of traffic. Creating content that is both enjoyable and effortless to read satisfies these recommendations, and overall makes for a more engaging digital presence.
- Create an Outline
Before writing your post, consider its structure. What message are you trying to convey to your readers? Think carefully about your message. As Google advises, unique content should provide more value or a different perspective than other articles on the web. Easy-to-read posts also maintain a clear format, containing introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. Before sitting down to write an entire post, jot down a few bullet points on items to include in each section. You’ll immediately have a sense of direction and the post’s intent will be clear throughout.
- Use Headings
Headings outline the structure of a blog post, so be sure to use them. They help improve SEO value by including subheadings in a post to help it to be more navigable. It allows readers to quickly scan the page, yet still understand its message. Be sure that each heading is short and to the point, as anything too lengthy just seems bulky and unnatural.
- Keep Paragraphs Short
Everyone uses paragraphs, but they don’t always use them effectively. Each paragraph should contain one central idea or subject, without taking up half a page. Short paragraphs are utilized for the same reason as headings. They allow the reader to skim the post, but still understand what it’s actually discussing. Long, bulky paragraphs are difficult to follow, and can increase your bounce rate. Think of it this way— your readers should be able to read just the first and last sentences of each paragraph, and be able to summarize the entire piece.
- Link to Previous Content
If you’ve already written an article on a similar topic, be sure to link to it in your most recent post. Not only does is allow your reader to gather more information, but also is beneficial for SEO. Creating internal links directs traffic to your other blog posts, while distributing page authority throughout the entire site. Be sure that your links are relevant to the reader and fit the theme of the article.
- Update Content Regularly
Regularly updating content notifies Google and your readers that your site is alive. If content isn’t added on a regular basis, it can negatively impact search engine rank. A website that isn’t active will be crawled less frequently and will fall in its rankings. Search engine rankings aside, posting fresh content will keep your readers engaged and encourage them to visit more frequently.
As the SEO saying goes, “content is king.” In order to maximize visibility and exposure, content should be readable, relevant and useful. With a few simple writing practices, your site is sure to jump to the top of the search rankings in no time.
Amanda Peterson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital and software engineer from the one, the only New York City. When I’m not trying to find the best record store in the city, you can find me curling up to watch some Netflix with my Puggle, Hendrix.