“The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google.” That may sound dramatic, but it’s based in truth: 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results.
So, how do you get onto that first page? Well, with Search Engine Optimization, or SEO: the practice of improving the searchability of your content.
There are many legitimate (and not so legitimate) tools for improving SEO, but optimizing content is one of the most effective. This is because search engines want to rank the most relevant, useful, pages first so that users can find them easily.
Keywords, headings, links and images are all useful in signalling that your content is relevant to the search terms you’re targeting. Follow the simple steps below to make your content easier to find:
Knowing Which Keywords To Use
- How do you know which phrases to focus on for keyword optimization? Start by thinking like your target audience. Enter search terms that should apply to your content, and see which pages rank highest.
- Then, use a tool like Moz’s keyword explorer to find which keywords relevant to your content are most competitive, so you can decide what to prioritize. You should choose a mix of the most competitive keywords and ones that are searched less often.
- Favour phrases of two or three words. This allows you to be specific without excluding relevant searches.
- Choose a list of three to ten keywords for each article. Give yourself enough variety to avoid excessive repetition. Choose a main keyword to use repeatedly.
- Use a keyword roughly every 100 words, and try to include your main keyword in the first sentence.
- Warning! Don’t include keywords too often, and avoid keywords that just aren’t relevant. Stuffing an article with irrelevant high-ranking keywords is an unethical SEO practice that search engines look out for, and will harm rather than improve SEO.
Headings and Subheadings
- Headings make your content easier to read, and prevent readers from becoming distracted. An optimized reading experience is core to practising SEO in content.
- Headings give readers a clear indication of what a piece of content is about at just a glance. Make sure each section of content has a descriptive subheading.
- Use your main keyword in at least one of your subheadings for keyword optimization.
- Warning! Don’t go overboard with headings, you risk undermining the structure of your content and making it confusing.
- Use a hyperlink roughly every 300 words to optimize SEO in content.
- Hyperlinks typically take readers to previous articles or pages on your website.
- Hyperlinks can also link to external pages with related content that pull a similar audience to your target audience.
- Write anchor text (the linked text that readers see in your content) that is descriptive of the content, and preferably includes a keyword.
- Several brands have observed a relationship between an increase in social signals and an improvement in search rankings. Consider including links to social networks such as YouTube and Twitter.
- Warning! Be careful not to link to competitor pages.
Tips for Images
- Incorporate interesting, relevant images in your content to improve the reader’s experience. Improving the quality of your content is central to improving SEO.
- Add “alt text” (HTML descriptions of images) to improve the accessibility of your content and increase Google’s chances of finding it.
- Update and republish old articles with new content and images to increase organic traffic by as much as 111%.
- Warning! Never include images that are irrelevant to your content.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall