Optimising your website content for SEO (search engine optimisation) can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.
With all the conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know who to trust. Which practices will actually help you properly optimise your website content for SEO, and which risk getting you blacklisted?
Here’s what we recommend to our clients.
But first… why optimise your website content for SEO?
The reason your brand or business has a website is so clients or customers can find you online… right? And the best way to ensure they find your website when they search for something online is to optimise your site for the actual words and phrases they’re using.
This is the fundamental principle of SEO. Any SEO activity aims to make your website more visible to people searching online for something that’s relevant to your business or brand.
SEO activities can include:
- technical improvements to make your site faster or easier to navigate
- links from other websites to yours to increase how important search engines think your site is
- creating quality content that contains a range of the keyword phrases people search for to help your website rank for those keywords.
From our perspective, all three factors are important. However, creating quality long-form SEO website content is the activity that can have the biggest impact on helping your website to show up in search engine results.
Our clients frequently ask us, “How do we optimise our website content for SEO?” The five tips below are exactly what we tell them.
So many marketers wait until the very end of creating their content to start thinking about SEO. This is not the way to go!
As Steven Covey famously recommended, start with the end in mind. Creating an effective content marketing strategy means starting with audience and keyword research. To do this, ask:
- Who is your audience?
- What are they actually searching for online?
- Where are they searching for it? Are they on Google, Pinterest, Youtube or somewhere else?
Only once you know all this can you create a content strategy to answer their specific queries. And only then will you be able to move them further down your sales funnel.
Once you know what keywords your audience is searching for, narrow them down based on what will get you the best result the fastest. Running after highly competitive ‘1000+ searches a month’ keywords is *not* ideal. Instead, target more achievable, smaller volume/smaller competition keywords to start with, then build them up over time.
One of the best parts of SEO is that it’s like a snowball. You might start with one tiny keyword, but over time – if you keep optimising – it just grows and grows as you can see from the results below. These were the Search Engine Visibility results for one of our recent clients. We began publishing weekly optimised website content for them from mid-February 2020 and you can clearly see the snowball effect it has had.
The next step is to actually write the quality content you’re optimising. But what makes a piece of content high quality? Here are the top three elements to keep in mind.
- It has a clear focus. Nominate one primary keyword phrase in each piece you write, and then optimise the content for that keyword. Don’t try to keyword stuff: remember that you’re writing for the reader first and Google second.
- It’s relevant. Ensure that every element of the content keeps your reader interested enough to stay and until they’ve read the whole piece. The longer they stay on the page, the better your content looks to Google. (And of course, if your reader likes what they see, they’re more likely to come back and potentially buy from you.)
- It’s long-form. Longer content gives you more opportunities to include relevant keywords in a way that sounds natural. It also increases the likelihood that your reader will trust what you’ve written by positioning you as a thought leader in your field. And of course, the longer the content, the longer readers can stay on your page (see Point 2 above).
‘On-page optimisation’ refers to all the things you can control through your own website – how and where you use keywords and internal links, your site’s loading speed (see Point 5 below), and more.
Some of the on-page areas you need to focus on – aside from the website copy that’s visible to your reader – include your:
- Page Title: this ideally needs to be 55-70 characters long and have the main keyword phrase at the start.
- Meta description: write this with your audience in mind, as it’s what shows up in the search results. Don’t forget to also include your main keyword in there.
- Image file name and alt text: name each image properly, including your keyword in the name, and ensure you fill out the image’s alt text field too.
If your site is on WordPress, we highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin. This lets you easily fill in all the necessary on-page SEO information. Here’s what it looks like on your page.
‘Off-page optimisation’, on the other hand, refers to how trustworthy Google thinks other people find your content. This kind of optimisation can be harder to actively increase, but there’s one area where you can definitely make a difference: building backlinks.
Building backlinks means asking other sites to link back to your content. Search engines assume that if people are linking to your content, they must see you as trustworthy and authoritative. And the more trustworthy and authoritative Google thinks your content is, the better you’ll rank.
Now it’s not just enough to create great optimised content (sorry!) You also need to make sure your website is technically healthy.
A healthy website is one on which content loads quickly for readers. If the loading takes too long, people will land on your page, get bored and click away. Google can see your page speed too, and it always favours sites with a fast load time in its search results.
A healthy website also has content that works well on mobile. Now that most people access content from their phones or tablets instead of a computer, your content needs to work for them too.
So ensure that your design is responsive, and that your forms and calls to action aren’t too small to easily use on a mobile.
See? It really is that simple! By setting out your strategy first and really honing in on your target audience, you’ll make the rest of the steps so much easier. As a result, you’ll optimise your website content as much as possible for SEO.
And if all of this sounds like far too much of a headache, get in touch with our team. We’ll ensure that your site is expertly optimised for SEO, which will propel it up the search rankings, and get more traffic flowing your way.