February 27, 2023
Writing SEO-friendly content for a website is incredibly important when trying to build a strong online presence. In fact, neglecting an SEO strategy is as fruitful as hiding a needle in a haystack, then asking your customer to retrieve it without a metal detector — no one’s going to find you.
Daniel, our senior account manager and content writer at Transform Communications, suggests a handful of things you can do when writing to optimise your content in a way that search engines will gobble up.
#1 — Human-first content.
Google is not a stupid robot we can fool by inserting a hodgepodge collection of relevant words — its algorithm grows smarter every day. More importantly, your customers and clients are also (we assume) not stupid robots and (again, we’re assuming) you’ll want them to read whatever you’re writing. The more human, creative, and interesting, the better. Your priority, always, should be to create valuable content that benefits the user.
It’s worth giving Google’s August 2022 content update a read for their most recent changes. This update works against content that is written for the algorithm alone, so you should always ensure that your content is genuinely useful and understandable by the human being on the other side of the screen.
#2 — Avoid keyword-stuffing.
There’s no magic formula to outsmarting search engines, and what may have worked in the past could now be a hindrance. Simply adding or repeating every relevant word you can think of into the content, like a tweet full of pointy hashtags, won’t hold a reader’s attention. It shows a misunderstanding of how the platform works, feels incredibly clumsy and difficult to read, and, in turn, it becomes less accessible.
Instead, conduct proper keyword research and utilise what you find on the appropriate blog post or page.
Some places to start finding your keywords:
- Make a list of broad topics that are relevant to your own.
- Expand each topic with a list of phrases you think your customers use.
- Use Google to test the strength of those keywords. (More results = more competitive.)
- Find out where you rank in your industry — software like Semrush or Ahrefs is invaluable for this.
#3 — Links are your friends.
Backlinks are fundamental when building domain authority. This is when links from other trusted websites (read: high ranking on Google) send people your way. This is why PR / media relations programmes (one of many things we can work with you on) are invaluable for SEO: high-traffic domains, like national newspapers and magazines, notably boost SEO.
Similarly, internal links that are helpful by pointing the user to other relevant pages on your own site (like the previous paragraph, where we showed you our services page) can help improve your ranking. These indicate you have a rounded knowledge of your area of expertise and are, therefore, more trustworthy.
We’d recommend linking to reliable external sources, too. These imply that you’ve done your research and stay up to date with the latest thinking on your subject matter. Every little bit helps.
#4 — Be consistent.
Search engines don’t mind whether it’s every month, week, or day when it comes to posting new content — whatever works for you, provided you’re consistent. Regular posting should enable you to cover a broad range of your most relevant keywords, too, without feeling the need to keyword stuff or worry that you’re leaving some behind.
#5 — Think accessibility.
Search engines are getting better and better at picking up on websites and pieces of content that consider the accessibility of its users. There’s no end to the list of things you could do to improve, but some key things to consider include:
- Organise your points. Generally, aim for: simplest at the top, more complex near the end.
- Readability. Use tools like Hemingway to check the reading level of your content and make sure the audience you’re expecting won’t be pushed away or flabbergasted by unnecessarily complicated language. In 2015, 1 in 6 adults in England had literacy levels at or below Level 1 (Literacy Trust), the equivalent of a child aged 5-7 — statistics like these should be kept in mind when deciding on the words you use, and the way you use them. Avoid turns of phrase and complicated metaphors in the majority of cases; easy to understand language should be a priority, even when communicating a complex subject.
- Layout. Use H2 and H3 subheadings (not just bold text), short sentences, and tight paragraphs. Bullet points are great, too — anything that collects individual points in an easily readable format will help people find what they’re looking for. If you’re interested in learning more about creating a truly inclusive and accessible digital experience, find out more about designing for accessibility in Creative Designer George’s blog post on Transform Digital’s website.
A successful SEO strategy can transform your organisation’s reach and reputation. At Transform, we’re experienced in delivering SEO strategies that are optimised for humans and algorithms alike. Interested in learning more about how we can help you? Get in touch — we’re excited to hear from you.