1. What does "content" mean?
  2. What is the SEO Value of Content?
  3. The importance of optimizing content
  4. How to create optimized content
  5. How to optimize your content after it has been created
  6. Why is content important for SEO?

If you want organic search visibility, rankings, and traffic, you need to make a commitment to consistently creating optimized content.

Content and SEO.

At best, they form a link that can catapult any website to the top of search engine rankings.

But that's only when they're at their best. Because when they're at their worst, they can cause Google penalties that are next to impossible to fix.

The purpose of this chapter is simple; to give you an understanding of why content is important to SEO and to show you what you can do to make sure they work together in harmony.

As we dive in, we'll get a better understanding of what content means, what SEO value it has, and how to create optimized content that will land you on the search engine radar.

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Let's start.

What does "content" mean?

A precise definition of the content and one that all marketers can agree on would be next to impossible.

While challenging, Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, has gathered some definitions of content from marketers around the world that provide us with a solid starting point.

Actionable marketer Heidi Cohen describes the content as follows:

“High quality, useful information that delivers a contextual story with the aim of evoking emotion or engagement. Delivered live or asynchronously, content can be expressed in a variety of formats, including text, images, video, audio, and / or presentations. "

While Cohen's description is accurate, it is important to understand that content found online is not always high quality and useful.

There is a lot of bad content that does not offer the reader any relevance or usefulness.

In a simplified but similar definition, Social Triggers founder Derek Halpern says:

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"Content comes in every form (audio, text, video) and it informs, entertains, enlightens or teaches the people who consume it."

Once again, Halpern describes content that is at least relevant and useful to the intended audience.

If we avoid describing “quality content,” we can be more direct by looking at the dozen different types of digital content.

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of ​​what content is, while also understanding some of the different formats it can be presented in.

But what exactly is their value to SEO and why is it so important that they both work together?

What is the SEO Value of Content?

Google, the king of search engines, processes over 6.7 billion search queries every day.

And since this is search engine optimization, they are pretty good at answering that question.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998 with a mission:

Google's mission

This mission remains the same to this day. However, the way they organize this information has changed significantly over the years.

Google's algorithms are constantly evolving to produce useful and relevant results in a split second.

The "useful and relevant results" that Google seeks to provide is the content that is available across the web.

This content is ranked according to its usefulness and relevance to the user performing the search.

And that means, for your content to have any SEO value at all, it has to be beneficial for the searcher.

How do you make sure it's beneficial? Google is helping us with this answer as well.

Her recommendation is that when you start creating content, make sure that:

Why content is important to SEO

Having these elements in place will maximize the SEO value potential of your content. Without it, however, your content has very little value.

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Creating great content isn't the only piece of the puzzle, however. There is a technical side that you need to consider as well.

As we talk about this later in this chapter, Maddy Osman has put together a comprehensive resource for assessing the SEO value of a piece of content that explains the topic in more detail.

For now, we can conclude that the SEO value of content depends on how useful, informative, valuable, credible, and engaging it is.

The importance of optimizing content

The reason optimized content is important is simple. Without them, you will not rank in search engines.

As we briefly touched on, it is important to understand that there are several factors at play here.

On the one hand, you have content creation.

Optimizing content as it is created is done by making sure your content is audience oriented and based on the recommendations in the previous section.

But what does audience-centric mean and how does it differ from other types of content?

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Audience oriented simply means that you focus on what the audience wants to hear, rather than what you want to talk about.

And as we noted earlier, producing useful and relevant content is the name of the game if you want to rank on search engines.

On the other side of the optimization equation is the technical stuff.

This includes factors such as keywords, meta titles, meta descriptions, and URLs.

And that's what we'll talk about next when we look at how actually optimized content is created.

How to create optimized content

There are a few steps to follow when trying to create optimized content.

They include:

1. Do keyword research and determine your topic

While we've already established that your primary goal should be to create audience-focused content, keyword research is required to ensure that the resulting content can be found on search engines.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing your keywords and topics:

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  • Focus on long-tail keywords
  • Avoid highly competitive keywords with massive search numbers
  • Use a proven keyword research tool
  • Match your topic to your keyword

2. Develop your outline and format for optimal readability

As you create your outline, be sure to format your core content so that it is broken down into small pieces.

Online readers have incredibly short attention spans. And they won't stay if your article is just one huge paragraph.

It's best to stick to paragraphs that are 1-2 sentences in length, although it's okay for them to extend into 3-4 shorter sentences.

You should also make sure to include subheadings and / or graphics every 150-300 words to break up the content even further.

As you can see from the graphic below, the engagement of the website affects the organic ranking.

Diagram time on site vs. organic position

And if you want to increase engagement, readability is vital.

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Example of properly formatted content

Here is an example of a page formatted for optimal readability:

Example of properly formatted content

As you can see, most paragraphs are only a sentence or two long.

The text is also broken down with subheadings every 100-200 words.

Badly formatted content example

On the other end of the spectrum, here's an example of a post that is likely to send readers straight away:

Badly formatted content example

In this post, the content itself is fine. The problem is the extremely long sentences and paragraphs.

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With better formatting, the author could easily increase the average time spent on site.

3. Stick to your topic and target keyword

As you write your content, keep in mind the importance of sticking to the topic and target keyword you have chosen.

Don't try to write about anything and everything in a single piece of content. Don't try to target dozens of keywords.

Not only is this a tremendous waste of time, it also prevents you from creating the "most useful and relevant" content on your topic.

Focus on what you've chosen as the topic and stay overly relevant to that topic and the keyword that supports it.

Brian Harnish's local beginner SEO guide is a great example of a writer remaining over-relevant for a given topic and keyword.

If you just look at its title, the subject and target keyword will be immediately clear.

Because of this focus, the Harnish guide is on the first page of Google for the term "local SEO guide".

Hyper relevant to the topic and keyword example

4. Include backlinks in your content

If you read the local SEO guide, you will find that Harnish has several links to external websites.

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Since Google made it clear that credibility is an important factor in SEO, linking to relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative websites can help search engines see your content as believable.

However, make sure that the words you use for the link are actually relevant to the website the user is being sent to.

For example, look at this sentence:

"You need to understand how to create a compelling headline for your content."

Whenever you're linking to a resource that shows the reader how to create compelling headlines, you'll want to link the bold part shown below:

"You need to understand how to create a compelling headline for your content."

In most cases, it is recommended that you limit your links to a maximum of six words.

How to optimize your content after it has been created

Now to the "technical" part of content optimization.

The most important steps include optimizing the following steps:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Url

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Let's see how to do each step.

1. How to tweak your title tag

When a user does a search, the title tag is the clickable heading they see at the top of every result.

For reference, this is the highlighted part in the image below:

Optimized title tag in search results

Title tags are important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they help search engines understand what your page is about.

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In addition, they can be a determining factor in the search result that a user selects.

To optimize your title tag, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it under 60 characters.
  • Don't include multiple keywords in the title.
  • Be specific about what the content is about.
  • Put the target keywords at the beginning.

The above example is good.

Here is an example of a day not following these guidelines:

badly optimized title tag

The difference between the two is clear and shows the importance of tweaking your title tags.

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2. How to optimize your meta description

Your meta description is the small snippet of text that appears below the title tag and URL.

When you do a search, this is the section circled below:

Optimized meta description

While Google has stated that meta descriptions have no direct impact on ranking, they do affect whether a user clicks on your page.

The click rate can also have an indirect effect on the ranking.

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For meta description best practices, you should:

  • Keep it under 160 characters.
  • Provide a brief, specific overview of the content.
  • Include relevant keywords (these will be highlighted when a user sees search results).

The above example shows a well-put together description. Here is an example of one that could use some work:

poorly optimized meta description

3. How to optimize your url

Your URL structure is another component of search engine optimization that indirectly affects ranking as it can be a factor that determines whether a user will click on your content.

Readability is most important here as it ensures that search users aren't put off by long and mysterious URLs.

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The following image is a great example of how URL readability can affect the way a user sees results.

URL readability scale

Why is content important for SEO?

The answer?

Because when content is optimized, your visibility improves dramatically.

And without visibility and visibility, your content is just one of the millions of articles published on the internet every day.

Nobody sees it.

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Nobody shares it.

Nobody does anything with it.

But it's actually easy to get visible once you know what to do.

Sometimes it can make all the difference, something as small as writing streamlined, unique meta descriptions for all of your pages to send a huge boost to Google visibility.

If you want visibility and exposure, you need to make a commitment to consistently creating optimized content.

Selected image source: Paulo Bobita

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