Finding the balance between optimising content for users vs making your content SEO friendly can take some serious fine-tuning. After all, we all hear how SEO friendly content can reap rewards in generating audience-specific traffic to your website. Many will argue that SEO-optimised content can’t be user-friendly, however, the truth of the matter is you don’t need one or the other – you need both.
In this article, we’re going to share NOVOS’ top tips on how you can write SEO friendly content for search engines and your users.
Start with keyword research
Fast forward to the relationship between content and SEO in 2021 and anyone with experience in SEO will tell you that algorithms are leaning towards more thought-led types of content. Of course, keywords still have a huge role to play in dominating SERPs, but you will need to simultaneously have your target audience in mind when producing your work. What you can be mindful of these 9 things:
1) Understand the search intent behind your keyword research. For example, see the image below of the customer journey for a sustainable clothing brand. This is what we mean when we say to base your keyword research around what your user needs to know.
2) Check out who’s ranking top in search engine results and use it as a resource to make sure you’ve covered the same points in your article. And no – we don’t mean copying or duplicating content, flaunt your expertise and make it a better resource!
3) Don’t rule out long-tail keywords. Sure, they can be low volume but they can also be low in competitiveness too. Not only is it easier to reach number 1 in search engines for long-form queries it helps give your content a real sense of what it’s about which is great for when Google is using its algorithms to choose its sources.
Pro tip: You can research new variations of your target keywords using a social forum like Quora. People use this tool to discuss industry-related topics and they’re not limited by search filters.
There are also other resources below to help you do some nifty keyword research.
Use tools like AnswerThePublic, or Google Keyword Planner to find suitable keywords.
4) Search for the topic-specific pages you’re looking to cover on Wikipedia. This is a user-generated online resource that people trust. You can use it as a reference when covering topics to get ideas.
5). Google can literally finish your sentences. Google Autocomplete will provide keyword suggestions based on real user queries. Cool, huh? And super useful when trying to find that balance between users and keyword research.
6). Related searches on Google display 8 search results at the bottom of the results page. These are automatically generated based on Google’s algorithm to determine terms related to your search. This is an extremely handy resource to use to aid you in your keyword research.
7) Jump on other topical forums to see what questions and topics your target audience are asking about.
8) Spy on your main competitors and figure out which keywords are driving tons of quality traffic. You can use a free Google account to access the Google Keyword Planner Tool to help you do this research, in the Google AdWords interface.
Pro Tip: How to use Google AdWords for Competitor Keyword Research:
- Log into AdWords, navigate to the Keyword Planner, and locate the “Find new keywords” option.
- Then, select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.
- Once you’ve opened the form, click on the text field under “Your landing page” and enter your competitor’s URL, then click “Get ideas”.
- Google will crawl that URL and generate a list of keywords related to both the page and the website as a whole.
- When Google finishes and displays your results, click the “Keyword ideas” tab below the graph to see your list of competitor keywords and voila!
9). Find keyword ideas on Amazon – this is especially helpful if you’re an E-commerce business trying to drive product pages. Amazon has total domination of the organic search results when it comes to transactional keywords.
Use your Metadata correctly
Now, you’ve found your target keywords. Make sure to include them in the right places: Title, URL, meta description. Keep it between 150-160 characters, and within your content. Use your keywords in H1-H6 tags, image names and alt image tags.
If you need help keeping within these rules, there’s plenty of free meta writing tools that can help you keep within Google’s recommended lengths for titles and meta descriptions. Just be careful not to overuse your keywords whilst implementing. It’ll affect your content readability and can also come across real spammy. This can result in less chance of your blog post ranking in SERPs, which is exactly what we’re not trying to achieve here.
Ultimately, You need to create blog posts and other types of content that solve problems, or answer popular questions from your audience. Include your keywords throughout the content in a way that feels natural to the reader. You could get someone to proofread your copy to make sure it translates naturally.
Structure your content
Believe me when I say, structuring your content will make your life so much easier when it comes to writing. Firstly, you need to identify the main focus of your post. From there on, you can divide the other parts to help efficiency when writing. Once you structure your content, you can work on each part separately without overthinking.
Remember that each piece of content should include an introduction, main body and conclusion. You can divide the body into different parts and write your content in a way that captivates your writing style and tone for your brand.
Use a strong call to action
This is one of the most overseen things to miss when writing a conclusion (especially when you’re a beginner in SEO!). End your content with a strong call to action so your readers continue their journey through your website. This could be something like “sign up here” or other linking articles that push your reader further along their customer journey.
Pro tip: To hook your audience and increase your CTR, you can use emotional modifiers in your titles, such as “best,” “brilliant,” “funny,” “free,” “how to,” “tips” and so on.
Write compelling meta titles
Meta titles are super important not just for SEO – but also for the user. Descriptive and enticing titles can be the difference between users clicking on your article – or your competitors’ posts.
Pro tip: Increase your chances of ranking higher and encouraging CTR by following the tips below:
- Keep your title under 60 characters. Google displays the first 60 characters in the search results, and if you go beyond this limit, you’re at risk of your title being truncated in Google SERPs.
- Use your target keyword at the beginning of your title.
- Make sure to describe the post’s content as concisely as possible.
- Make sure to preview it. As mentioned before, you can use free SEO tools to help you with this.
Optimise your meta description
Meta descriptions are a summary of your content that Google uses to show beneath your title in search results. This should include your target keywords, catchy copy to drive up your CTR. Meta lengths are recommended at 155-160 characters.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way of telling that Google will use the original meta description you’ve so carefully crafted. In many cases, Google will write their own version.
Use your header tags with hierarchy in mind. The title of a blog post should contain only one h1 tag on the page and include a target keyword. The main sections should contain an h2 tag, and subsections should be h3.
Make sure your header tags are different. Using similar tags can mislead users and search engines that you’re presenting the same information twice. If you find a crossover, it may be worth consolidating that section into one.
Tips on writing SEO friendly URLs
URLs play a big role in terms of ranking factors. The more relevant the URL is the better. This is because it provides a better user experience, especially when it comes to sharing links.
Include your target keyword in your URL. This will help search engines categorise your URL in SERPs.
Keep your URLs short and concise by removing unnecessary words. The average URL should be around 60 characters or three to five words.
Make sure to use hyphens to separate words. For example, https://thisisnovos.com/blog/write-seo-friendly-artcles
Avoid stop words, such as a, an, but, and or. Keep your URLs simple, compelling and relevant.
Pro Tip: Always use lowercase letters. Uppercase letters can result in redirects or 404 errors on some servers.
Use small paragraphs
It’s always best to keep your paragraphs short. From a user perspective, it makes your content easier to digest with each paragraph having its own idea (aim for 2-3 sentences). You can use different formatting options, such as bullet points, highlighted text and changing your font. This will make it easier for mobile readability and makes your content more visually interesting.
Search engines use alt text as information to understand the subject matter of an image better. Google can’t read the actual text in the images themselves, but they can interpret the content of images to define images’ relevance in the search results. So, you’ll need to name alt text and descriptive titles, captions and filenames.
The alt text is not visible to website visitors unless the image doesn’t load, then it’ll display for the users’ benefit.
Here is the example of an alt text for an image in HTML:
<img src=”novoslogo.jpg” alt=”thisisnovos agency logo”/>
External linking to sources that make sense to the user
Whenever you write a new blog post, it’s important to point to external resources. Using a descriptive anchor text is important as people can better understand what the link is about. Links can help your readers explore a topic in more depth while staying focused on the main point.
You can use external links to help search engines further understand what your article is about. When internally linking, you can use this to a similar advantage depending on the content you have available on your website.
Pro tip: Remember to link out to useful external resources like Wikipedia, as it will build trust and improve user experience.
Optimal content length
Quality over quantity is key here. First and foremost, you need to provide the most relevant content for your readers that satisfies their search intent. You can check optimal length for your given topic by checking out your competitors who are ranking on page one.
Typically, the minimum length for blog posts is about 300 to 500 words.This is because Google likes longer content as it tends to get more likes and mentions on social media. Thus, the longer the content, the better chances you have of ranking better in search results.
The optimal content length is around 2000 words. But it shouldn’t be your number one goal to write 2000 words every time as it all depends on the above factors.
Optimise your content for mobile
Optimising your blog/website for mobile devices is a must for search engines in 2021, as Google is now ranking mobile-friendly websites higher as a rule of thumb.
Mobile Internet usage is currently at 55.4% (July 2021 stats) which is a striking amount of the market share. Failing to make your website/page mobile friendly is a sure way to severe your chances of ranking.
With Google’s core web vitals update in June 2021 already rolled out, it’s never been more important to check your pages are functioning at optimal speed. You can check this by typing your URL into Google’s page speed insights where it’ll give you a list of improvements to make. This isn’t exactly a straightforward optimisation, so you may need technical help from webdev.
Update your content regularly
Let’s say your blog post does really well, you’re ranking 1st in SERPs, people are engaging, converting and you’ve had your fair share of social shares too. Unfortunately, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Google is always on the hunt for the next best thing in terms of resources, and you’ll always have your competitors trying to write something more valuable to overtake you.
Publishing regularly sends signals to Google that your blog is a good resource and it’s kept up to date which can help remedy this. Remember you can update blog posts by date, or even add extra bits of new information that have come to light.
Include schema markup
Schema markup sits in your website’s code to help search engines analyse your content. To give you an example: Schema markup can tell SERPs to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events. That, for the user, is incredibly helpful!
You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to add markup to your blog posts relatively easily. Also, don’t forget to test it with Google’s structured data test tool
If you choose to follow these tips on writing SEO friendly content then you’ll be sure to drive the right kind of traffic to your blog post and website. Sure, It’ll take a lot of time, toing and froing and re-reading of this article, but it’ll certainly be worth your investment in time.
Ready to go an extra step further? See our article on the best content marketing strategies.