Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving field. But through all of the continual changes, one thing remains constant: the importance of high-quality content.
According to Google, content is one of the top three ranking factors it looks at to decide a site’s position in the search engine results pages (SERPs). That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, either. After all, content and SEO compliment each other like salt and pepper. People use search engines to look for answers to their questions and search engines then show the most relevant content to that specific query.
High-quality content is the foundation for SEO success.
What Is SEO Content?
First, let’s break down the phrase “SEO content” and define each separate term.
Now, let’s look at the whole. SEO content is content created with the explicit purpose of ranking high in the SERPs so as to bring in more organic traffic to the website.
What Factors Affect SEO Content?
Before you can begin to optimize content for SEO, you must first understand what factors play a hand in ranking. Once you have a firm grasp on these factors, any optimizations made will stand a better chance of impacting the ranking to score higher.
While Google considers dwell time an indirect ranking factor, it’s no less important. Dwell time is how long a user remains on a page on the website.
Dwell time starts the moment a user clicks on the site from the SERP, to the moment that user leaves the page. This metric informs search engines how valuable a user finds the content. Look at this way. The longer a user stays on a page, perusing the content, the more helpful the user must find the content.
The reason why search engines like Google consider dwell time as an indirect metric is because it can be subjective. Every site uses a different content strategy. A site that uses short-form content consisting of 500-word or less blog posts will obviously have a shorter dwell time than a site that focuses on 2,000-word blog posts.
In short, don’t alter all of your content to improve this metric if it doesn’t mesh with your content strategy.
There are a variety of elements which can affect page speed. From large image files to redundant coding to abundant plugins, they can all have a negative impact on the loading time of a site.
As of July 2019, Google switched over to using mobile-first indexing. The switch was then officially finalized in March 2021.
What this means is that Google indexes and ranks content from the mobile version of the site. Obviously, that means an entire website needs to be optmized to be mobile-friendly.
Google defines several best practices to follow to ensure a site is mobile-friendly:
- Ensure Googlebot can access and render content
- Content should be the same on both desktop and mobile
- Check structured data and have it be the same on both mobile and desktop
- Include the same metadata on both versions of the site
- Check the placement of ads
- Use best practices for visual content
Indexing is when a search engine finds content and then adds it to its index. One of the factors that search engines use when deciding what content is most relevant and accurate is the date by which the search engine indexed the content.
To have a positive impact on the index date, a website can implement historical optimization. Basically, by updating older blog posts with new data, search engine bots will crawl and reindex the site page once more. The crawlers look at the updated content and then decide anew where the site belongs in the SERP.
When you’re searching for an answer to a solution, you don’t want useless information cited from over five years ago. When writing blog posts, it’s always best to link out to reputable sources with the most up-to-date data.
Google considers recent data another indirect ranking factor. Search engines want sites to offer relevant, accurate information. By using recent data, search engines can deduce that the site offers helpful content that users want. Beyond that, using recent data will also help to improve how long a user stays on a page and also reduce bounce rate.
How to Optimize Content for Search Engines
As previously stated, high-quality content and SEO go hand in hand. If you aren’t offering valuable content that search engines want, then the SEO ranking will be low and users won’t click on the site.
Here are tips for how to optimize content for SEO.
Know the Target Audience
When writing blog posts, it’s imperative to know who the primary audience is. Understanding the target audience should guide the content strategy.
Try creating buyer personas that would be interested in the products or services offered on the website. This will shape the type of content written. In turn, this will help increase how many clicks and conversions you get.
Do Keyword Research
After you know the questions your target audience is asking and what type of content they’re interested in, you’ll have a better grasp on the keywords to use. Whatever you do, be sure to use keywords organically and don’t stuff them.
Use Headings Well
Headings organize content and add structure. The proper headings will help a user skim to the content they’re interested in. In addition to that, headings can also help search engines parse the primary topic of long-form blog posts.
There are times when search engines look for visuals, depending on the keyword. If you want to secure a spot in a video snippet or an image pack, then the content needs to include nice graphics, original images or videos, and also alt text for every visual element.
Alt text has a major impact on whether an image or video appears high in the SERP. So be sure that the alt text is short but descriptive. Alt text is also important since it’s what screen readers relay to the visually impaired.
Include the Keyword in Your Titles
The title of the blog post is the first thing that a user sees. It will affect whether the user decides to click on the site link for that article or not. To make a title catchy, try to lead with data, ask a question, or pique the user’s curiosity.
However, the title should also include the keyword. This is, first and foremost, the most important aspect as it helps the article to rank higher in the SERPs.
Beyond that, a good title includes a mixture of power, emotion, uncommon, and common words. You can use Coscheduler’s Headline Analyzer to help refine the perfect title for an article.
Pay Attention to Length
Nowadays, search engines like Google are looking for long-form content. According to research, the average first page result for an article contains 1,447 words. Many high-ranking articles reach upwards of 2000 words.
Think of it this way. When a user is researching an answer to a question, a blog post of 500 words or less isn’t going to be able to go very in-depth. At best, it’ll skim the surface and give a generic answer. The more in-depth an article can go, the more valuable the information will be.
Focus on Creating Content that Your Visitors Will Find Valuable
Since SEO is always changing, so too will your content strategy need to continually adapt. However, one thing that should always remain true is the value that the content offers to users. Always strive to craft content that readers will find both enjoyable and insightful. User experience is at the core of the service that search engines provide.