Search Engine Optimization (SEO) appears to have a mysterious streak to anybody who is new to digital marketing. There are a number of rules to SEO content writing which aren’t entirely transparent and change regularly.
However, with a little bit of learning on how they work, you can write content that draws in traffic from organic searches.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Every time you enter a search query on a search engine such as Google or Bing, you are presented with a list of search results related to your search term. Those results appear in that order because of SEO. In essence, it is exactly what it sounds like; optimising the content in your webpage for the search engine. Based on it, the search engine can categorise and index pages and show the most relevant results at the top.
Why should your website be optimised for SEO?
To stand out among thousands of posts and blogs related to your topic, you need to optimise your website for search engines so that users can find you more easily. This means that just with a few tweaks, you can have increased traffic to your site as shown by this Backlinko case study. It shows that SEO optimisation can deliver an amazing 385% boost in organic traffic.
It is also noteworthy as shown by stats on Search Engine Journal that 70-80% of users go for organic search results instead of paid ads. Therefore not optimising your page would have you miss out on a major share of traffic.
How a search engine works
There are several factors that search engines take into account while deciding which site goes where. The whole process can be narrowed down to three things; crawling, indexing and querying.
- Crawling: A software program called a “spider” is used by search engines to find content and create entries for an index.
- Indexing: The website's content is analysed by the search engine to determine what it's about. It then indexes or organises the content in the site so it can quickly retrieve it for querying.
- Querying: When you search something online, the search engine presents you a list of results that best match your search words. These appear on what's called a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
What is a search algorithm?
A search algorithm is a program for analysing unique characteristics of all the pages it indexes. It helps the search engine give the best results to a query on top of the search. The algorithm of a search engine such as Google is top secret and only known to a very few.
It is also updated frequently, so the SEO writing community is always on its toes to improve their content. However, by studying how content performs, analysts have come up with a few conclusions on what characteristics of WebPages are favoured by Google.
Attracting Google’s Attention
Moving to the crux of the matter, how do you write SEO content to increase your ranking on the search engines and attract more traffic your site?
It is impossible to fool Google with large numbers of pages of low-quality content stuffed with keywords. It demands informative, high-quality content that users find helpful, and unless you've written some great content, you will not rank high in a query.
Here are two important characteristics of content that we know are appreciated by Google.
- Length: There appears to be a sweet spot to aim at if you want your content to show up on the top of the SERP. Keep the word count of your prized content pieces at around 2500. That number was derived out of a survey of 160,000 pages by serpIQ.
- Freshness: Google craves for freshness. Keeping your website updated with fresh content periodically is the ideal way to appear fresh and active. Every time their spider crawls your page and indexes it, you get a freshness score which is a factor in their algorithm. Your site will appear stale if it’s not updated every week.
How to use Keywords
In SEO copywriting quality and length of content take precedence, and then come to the keywords. Keywords are popular words or short phrases that are most used in search queries. By doing research on the most used keywords, you can put in the right words in your content that drive the most traffic to your website. The way it's done is by writing content that incorporates keywords naturally in the sentences and paragraphs. You should, however, avoid keyword stuffing, which will lead to Google penalising your site.
Getting the Title Tags Right
In short, a title tag is the title of your article or page. Your title tag is what appears on the SERPs when you search for your page or share it on social media site. It’s critical that title tags are concise and precisely describe the content in your page for both SEO and good user experience. To optimise title tags for search, keep them between 50-60 characters, so they don't become unnecessarily long and get chopped off in search results. Adding keywords at the beginning of the title tag is also a good practice.
Writing a Meta Description
Before getting into Meta Description, it helps to know what a snippet is. A snippet is a brief summary of your webpage that Google displays beneath your title tag on the SERP. It gives users a preview of the content of the page before they click on it. A Meta Description similarly is a brief description of your page, composed by you. Using keywords in Meta Descriptions optimises the search engine resulting in better traffic.
Using Links to Boost SEO
Links are among the top three search ranking factors for Google. Having links on your site can give great value to your SEO. Links are divided into two types - internal and external links. An internal link connects one page of your site to another. An external link directs the user to another, outside the domain. Google favours content that links to external sites with credible content. It shows the search engine that your content has well-researched information from reputable sources. The best practices are to add links to related sites and avoid adding too many.
A great SEO article balances quality content and SEO strategies to let your page stand out among the thousands of other pages. Although your content is meant to rank you better in the search engines, your primary goal should be reader-centric quality content writing. Done right, SEO and content complement each-other to boost your SERP rank.
How many of these SEO writing facts did you know already? Let us know below.