It’s 2019, and though the term “SEO” has become nearly synonymous with content, it remains elusive. Writing for effective SEO is something of a Herculean task; many a good content writer has worked hard to find that perfect balance between delivering content with substance and maximising results. But why is that? What makes this idea of writing content for optimised search-engine results so difficult to wrap our heads around?
Well, for starters, as the number of search engine factors advanced, the Google algorithm updates became more complex, and more businesses began adopting SEO. In a largely cluttered marketplace, the need for good content remains monumentally important; on the other hand, the need to distinguish one’s work in terms of visibility has grown exponentially. The strategic use of keywords in your content is an acquirable skill, but it takes a considerable amount of time, effort, patience, and awareness of the content landscape to get there. Here are 10 steps to guide you in your path towards effective SEO:
1. Research Keywords
Use keywords to identify and research specific words that internet users are inserting on search engines. Focus on long-tail keywords, of 4 or more words; the search volume is lower while having a high rank on the SERPs. You can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest.
You should also try and group the maximum number of short-tail and medium-tail keywords in order to cover more ground and analyse every opportunity to get past the hurdle of search volume and keyword difficulty.
Another strategy that works is keeping a close eye on your competitors, to check out which keywords they’re using to generate traffic. The idea is not to emulate someone else’s content but to study and understand their approach to cracking the marketplace.
2. Use the Right Keywords to Reach the Right Audience
In order to reach the right people through your content, it is of utmost importance to narrow down exactly what it is that you’re trying to achieve. A few simple questions can put you on the right track:
- Who is your audience? Can they be categorized into different segments?
- What kind of information do they need? What kind of answers to they actively search out?
- Why are they looking for that information?
- What are the exact keywords they’re using to look for this information?
3. Choose SEO-Friendly Titles for Your Posts
The title, without a doubt, is the most important aspect of an article or blog post. It serves as the “face” of your post, providing the context for your search engine to understand where your content belongs.
To create truly SEO-friendly content, you’ve got to understand the context of your blog post and proceed to pick the most appropriate keyword which suits it. Ensure you do not exceed the character limit for your title, to avoid having it cut.
4. Identify Trends, but Distinguish Topics That Stand the Test of Time
Trends are undeniably an important aspect of the content landscape. Just as the seasons come and go, so do trends, but similarly, they are relevant, vital and potent during the “trending” period.
You can use Google Trends to study exactly how your keywords are trending across specific blocks of time. It is near impossible to only pick keywords that trend upwards, but when combined with topics that are relevant across longer periods of time, you can create powerful content.
5. Develop Your Content Strategy
Having a well-defined, streamlined content strategy is indispensable. The delivery of great content is always for a specific purpose, so it is really important to start out by defining your goals.
By focusing on your niche or specific target segments, it becomes much easier to quantify the results of your approach, and therefore, helps you work out where you’re going wrong and where there is room for improvement. This helps you grow as a content writer, and you develop a solid framework for measuring results, listening to your audience, and receiving valuable feedback.
6. Write SEO-Friendly Content
Content is king. And that applies for writers across the board, irrespective of their chosen domain, individual style, or preferred genre. The key to effective SEO is having SEO-friendly content stand out in the cluttered marketplace.
Your keywords, carrying with them a clarity of purpose, must be consciously woven into the fabric of your content. A keyword tends to stick out like a sore thumb when it isn’t embedded in the heart of your content strategy. That is why it is really important that you don’t “insert” keywords, but “use” them. They must serve a function.
7. Personalize Your Content, Focus on Readability
No one likes to read long, rambling posts filled to the brim with technical jargon, no matter what the subject matter is that your content addresses. Though it is intangible, there is such a thing as the “soul” of your content; it helps you realize that reading is an experience like any other and that you are working within a limited but powerful medium of engagement.
With this in mind, it really helps to add a personal touch to your content. A lived experience is always more relatable to the reader than one which is observed from a distance. Make your posts more readable by using headings, short sentences, simple words, allusions, and clear paragraphs.
8. Master the Art of the ‘Hook’ to Make Your Content Interesting
Hooks are a very interesting aspect of what makes content tick. While keywords always bring your focus back to the subject matter, hooks can breathe life into the content without compromising on topical relevance. A more commonly used substitute for ‘hook’ is the word “catchy”. It is really important to find that sweet spot where keywords and interesting phrases complement each other perfectly, and balance each other out. This helps you keep SEO-friendly content engaging and alive.
9. Identify, Integrate and Project Relevant Stories
Relevant stories are a very powerful tool for teaching, persuading, and engaging your readers. By using relevant stories, you widen your reach with varied audiences, helping you break barriers and crossover wherever possible. As a writer, it is essential for you to soak in stories from friends, co-workers, customers, and employees– you can deepen your content by injecting them in subtle and useful ways.
10. Leverage All Kinds of Media
The more media types you can bring into your content, the greater the impact it will have. Everyone consumes and digests content differently online. Some people tend to gravitate towards audio and video rather than articles because they are more direct forms of communication. However, people continually seek out information, and there is no greater medium to transmit information than the written word.
Therefore, to broaden the appeal of SEO-friendly content, it is important to identify and integrate other kinds of media on the basis of how they relate to your keywords. This includes videos, images, charts, graphs, audio clips, GIFs and infographics. By leveraging other media types, you add layers to your content, and you can distinguish your content from the clutter that’s out there.