What’s more important in your content management strategy—quality content or good search engine optimization?
Not too long ago, the answer would have been search engine optimization, hands-down. Just about ten years back, almost any kind of content would do the job, no matter how low-quality or irrelevant. As long as it was peppered with keywords, it was searchable.
But today things are quite different. No longer can companies write content “for” search engines without giving readers something to latch onto, and in fact, keywords are so misused today that they barely even represent what a Google page really IS anymore.
Search engines like Google actually read and closely look at the content you’re posting in order to provide solid, informative answers to the public. This is done so that content will provide actual value to readers. Without that quality content, there’s no way you will have any real impact on your readership.
Besides making Google happy, content that is strong, readable, and helpful attracts inbound links and will build credibility and loyalty with your readers and customers. While SEO may help your rank a little bit, it’s that good quality content that’s going to cement your place in the search engines and keep readers coming back for more.
A good test to see how your content reads is to paste it into a Readability Score engine to make sure what you’re writing matches an average reading level.
Content should be coherent, interesting, engaging, and written by someone who knows what they’re talking about. The writer should know the subject matter pretty well.
If you yourself are not the best writer, consider hiring someone who can create good copy for you—someone who may even be knowledgeable about how to get the copy shared on social media platforms. Really think about what makes your company or website stand out. Find your niche, and concentrate on focusing your content around that.
It’s also important to remember to update old, outdated content, and to reference and/or link to your sources. Make sure your grammar, spelling, and formatting are correct. To make sure of these things, hiring a proofreader may be a wise move.
When it comes to SEO, stay away from “tricks” that claim to ‘get your ranking up’. They are always obvious, and tend to only work temporarily. It’s much more useful to generate good content that other sites pick up on and will link to and share.
It’s not that SEO is bad or wrong. It can definitely work! As long as you balance it with outstanding content. Depending too heavily on SEO can only lead to disappointment. You aren’t trying to win over a robot audience, after all.
When you combine both well-done SEO with great content, you’ll achieve stronger results. The two should go hand-in-hand.
If you’re set on writing your own content, and you want to incorporate SEO strategies but not lean too heavily on them, these are the tips to get you there…
Create Strong Headlines
Try to think of a headline that grabs a reader’s attention. Not just any reader, but a typical reader in today’s society. This means someone whose focus is being pulled in a hundred directions, who basically has A.D.D., and could be distracted by almost anything. Your headlines should be so intriguing that the person just has to read your post.
It helps to propose a question with your headline, such as “Why Hasn’t Anyone Heard the Most Shocking Mortgage Story of All Time?”, “Are You Making Yourself Look Older Than You Really Are?” or “The Truth: Why No One Eats at Ikea”. If one of your keywords fits into this amazing headline, great. If not, don’t force it. HINT: You can test out how effective your headlines are with this great headline analyzer from CoSchedule.
That means EVERYTHING. Which websites or blogs do you regularly return to – and why? How about your competition? Where do they stand with the great and powerful Google?
You can gather an insane amount of insight by studying what content works, and why…
- Do Google searches on your industry and whatever other topics are relevant to you and your brand.
- Notice which companies show up on the first page of each search.
- Check out those websites and the themes they use. Peek in at their blog. Peruse the content.
But, no matter how insightful or inspiring you find their pages, don’t you dare copy them! Simply take extensive notes and LEARN. You can’t gain a true following if you’re just a follower yourself.
This doesn’t only pertain to website content. Being well aware of what the public responds to is a good idea, in general. Always keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending, and never stop observing. Your writing will stay fresh because of it!
Give Your Readers an Answer
Any kind of answer! Information is a huge part of what brings readers back to websites and blogs time and time again. It doesn’t matter what sort of company you have—provide answers.
Every article, blog, or social media post you write should be giving something to the world. People want advice, tips, tricks, information, and especially wisdom! Borrow from another site if you have to. Just make sure you credit what you use with the proper links and references. (Because guess what! It’s good for your SEO.)
Accuracy is Key
This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised… Make sure that every ‘fact’ you leash out onto the world is correct, true, and real. Whether it’s general advice, statistics, reports, quotes, or facts about your industry, double check that you have it right. Whenever possible (and it should always be possible), link to your sources. Your SEO will thank you, once again.
Keep it Short
Let’s face it: these days, concentrating for a long time on any one thing is difficult for most people. Attention spans just aren’t what they used to be.
Let’s look at the act of reading. No matter how fascinating your written content may be, it needs to be kept short and sweet. Unless you’re writing a novel, the best content is well-written, direct, and to-the-point.
Studies show that oftentimes, when an individual sees a long block of text, they click or swipe in another direction. In other words, they jump ship!
It’s sad, we know. The written word is something we writers hold sacred. But, when writing for the purpose of marketing, it’s best to think less college thesis and more quick and snappy. At least for now.
Try not to lose hope in humanity and its weakness for the fast-paced. There are still plenty of us that love melting into a long heartfelt block of text. Once you find an audience that’s loyal, you can unleash the true power of your quill!
Turn Your Blog Into Eye Candy
Sure, great content can exist on its own but it doesn’t hurt to lure them in with a little luster! When your site is attractive, fun and easy to look at, people will stick around longer. Because as with most things in this world, the appearance is half the appeal. Supporting pictures, art, and/or videos can help, too.
Don’t Wait Too Long Between Blog Posts
How annoying is it to go to your favorite blog to eagerly read a new post—only to discover that they haven’t posted anything new yet? What a disappointment! It’s the worst!
Try your best to keep readers engaged and coming back for more. Great content goes so much farther with frequency. If you’re strapped for time or ideas, a simple photo or quote will do the job temporarily. We recommend that you “store up” posts for when you’re too busy. Giving your audience a reason to return will keep them coming back for more.
Figure Out What’s Working
By using a tool like Google Analytics, you can see what content is driving people to your site, and what readers are responding to. And you probably won’t believe this but… Google Analytics is also a helpful SEO tool!
Useful, engaging content should be your priority, but still make your online presence known with implementing good SEO practices. Use keywords, but don’t lean on them or make them stick out like a sore thumb by constructing awkward sentences around them. Quality content needs to always come first. Give your readers a reason to return.
Do you want to learn about other ways to increase your company’s influence with marketing? Check out the Marqana blog for tips, tricks, and advice on all your future marketing campaigns.
Images by Hector Parayuelos, Fotorus, Nathan Hayag, Balmore, World Bank Photo Collection, Gianomenico Ricci, Patrizia, Steven Guzzardi, Matthew Wilkinson, Julien Ducenne.
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