[SEO] Optimising Content For Search Engines

How do I rank higher on Google?

Over the years I’ve sat in a lot of client meetings, post the launch of their website – often years down the line and the biggest thing on their mind is – How do we rank higher with Google? -When this happens I always reviews are technical SEO (page speed, page build-up etc) and User Experience (Customer journeys). Both of these supported by looking at any analytics available (like Google Analytics). Why? because a technical SEO audit will take me a few minutes without any input from the customer – and UX for an in-depth analysis that meets the needs of the clients c customers then this can take a while but again measuring a few identified journeys against best practice can also be done quick quickly.

Where does good content come into getting good organic search results?

Well, it’s something I mention to the client early, but it’s normally one of the last things I directly help with (outside of.. .Where the hell is your content?! – Is that copied from a manufacturers description?!). Good Content is rewarded. There is such a thing an SEO optimised content but it’s not what it was 10 years ago (or even last year where people would try and give Google want they think it wants creating these keyword-stuffed hidden paragraphs of Rubbish), these days SEO optimised content is well-written content that visitors to your website (your potential customers) find useful. So SEO optimised content, which we’ll call customer optimised content is built up of title, text, images, videos – basically, anything that’s on-page (Often referred to as on-page SEO). Good content is something that adds value for the person on the page – It can be short, it can be long, bullet points, paragraphs and it’s all about the quality rather than the quantity. The question I asked people when they’re looking at their website is – Is your content adding value? Is it Cool? Is it Interesting? or is it waffle that you yourself would never read and is ‘just there for Google’

Do you already have content that’s just there for Google?

If you do You’ve failed. I don’t care that it worked 5 years ago and that you paid an SEO company and it ‘gave good results’ – You’ve failed. Sure years ago you could get results from Google by ‘playing the game’ but these days it’s just too smart. Why are you not ranking well on Google – I guarantee that your content is at least one of the reasons.

So what is Good SEO Content (Customer optimised content)?

Step 1

What is your page actually about? What is its purpose? Take that purpose and break it down to keywords and phrases. What question does your websites page answer? More so, Who is your audience and what level is their knowledge – Beginners, euthanasia, experts? Once you have this then you start to get an idea of what visitors/customers will be entering on Search Engines to find you.

Step 2

Start the written content and try to get to the point as clearly and as quickly as possible, You should write just enough that you feel you’ve answered any questions highlighted in the First Step and ideally without repeating yourself or waffling. Again just think is what I’ve written going to be useful and interesting to the reader or confusing (more so if you find yourself thinking – I wrote this for Google – stop). Try to make sure that you’re writing in terminology that your audience identified in Step 1 would understand and find useful. If aiming at the more experienced user then make sure you’re engaging them and not boring them with a simple overview (bullet-pointed features for example) or if they’re novices/beginners then make sure you take the time to explain a little more,  avoid the use of unexplained acronyms and most importantly…

Step 3

STRUCTURE YOUR TEXT. The structure of your text is so important, you need to make sure you break up your text into clear and direct messages. Including the use of a headings structure (H1, H2, H3 etc),  paragraphs with spacing, bullet points and supportive imagery or videos only where needed (no one likes seeing the 5th random stock image in a row) You need to make sure you’re talking to the customer/visitor and not a passive generic wall of text.

Step 4

Re-Read your content and check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and generally how it flows from start to finish. For grammar and spelling, I find that Grammarly free is fantastic for helping with this (the paid version is also good but wait for a sale!). Think it’s too boring but you’ve got a dry subject to talk about in the first place – Get creative. Don’t go nuts with synonyms but change from a factual style of writing to a more playful and discussion. Let the visitor know that your organisation and the person who wrote the text they’re reading have a personality. Remember if you’re writing the content for a product review, or product description (for example, could easily be a service etc) that if you’re referring to a product that’s not on the same page that you provide an in-line link to it. Again don’t go over the top and try and link as much as possible and cram it in but think about the visitor’s journey – how much are you making their life easier if you provide a link (and if you’re linking offsite remember to get it to open in a new window so you don’t end your customers/visitors journey with you by clicking on the link). Remember that getting a good rank on Google (and other search engines is great) but getting potential customers to love what you’re saying and selling so much that they share it directly themselves to other potential customers is a direct win to good content.

Step 5

Measure Success – Taking the keywords and phrases you created in Step 1 – Use a Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) tracker (There are plenty of premium offerings out there but for a simple solution I recommend ‘What’s my SERP’). A SERP tracker essentially tells you roughly where your website is ranking on Google (and other search engines) as a position number based on keywords you’ve provided and then it keeps track of them. If you’re re-writing existing website content then make sure you get an idea of where the page you’re editing is ranking for a keyword at the moment – If it’s ranking somewhere in the top five then you should be far more cautious about updating it (after all, if it’s ranking well now then altering it could make it go down or up), If it’s not ranking at all or ranking poorly at least you know where you started. Look to check your rankings on a weekly or monthly basis, In the case of Google any changes to the ranking don’t happen immediately any change you make can take weeks to affect where it is ranked.

What else is it worth thinking about when it comes to ranking?

There are plenty of indicators that affect Search Engine rankings and content is just one of them. As I mentioned at the start of this article – technical aspects like the speed, How easily you’re displaying content to google to read (such as sitemaps and wrapping relevant content in schema datatags) as well as how good your website user experience is (is it hard to browse, read the text, click the buttons etc), Is that the same on mobile as it is on a big screened desktop (Make sure that your mobile experience is as good as that on the desktop). One of the elements people often forget is that your competitors will be doing exactly as you are – Once you get to the first page of results on search engines for competitive keywords it’s a fight to stay there. The other element people most often forget is that in recent years Google has increased the number of paid ads at the top of any search results page which is pushing organic listings further and further down the page – but I’ll save that for a different article.