Writing has drastically changed with the implementation of search engine algorithms. Content used to be all about the reader, and it now needs to also appeal to algorithms; otherwise no one can find you.
How do writers marry the two?
How do you write for an algorithm while making sure that your audience can connect with your content?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most well-known method. Writers develop content for the targeted audience. At the same time, they need to insert the appropriate keywords to appeal to the search engine’s algorithm.
However, there many other methods and tips you can use to increase engagement and clicks from your audience.
Today we summed up 11 tips to help you think beyond basic SEO and create fantastic content that satisfies both people and search engines.
1. Understand Your Audience’s Needs
Many brands are faced with difficulties when it comes to communicating their message. Even though internally, there is a deep understanding of the product or service and the benefits, companies have a hard time getting the message across to their audience.
The best way to overcome this struggle is by using focus groups before you launch an official message.
Focus groups can help you by giving you precise feedback on possible missing information, over-complicated descriptions, lack of details, and other critical information. Their feedback depends on your questions during the sessions.
A popular method used by many companies includes the creation of multiple client personas. A client persona is a process by which companies take a microscope and examine their audience in-depth. For example, they make educated assumptions on who is their most likely client and build a story around that person, thereby visualizing their future clients.
Client personas include:
- Interests and hobbies
- General backstory
- Marital status
- Other details
It is similar to building a protagonist profile for a fictional book. Once there is a clear picture of who the targeted ‘person’ for the content is, then it is much easier to write relevant content.
2. Shorten Your Message
Brands publish content daily under the assumption that most people know everything about their brand and their mission.
However, daily new people will land on your site.
This means your content needs to consider a balance between existing and new users.
The best way to achieve this is to refine your message to the point where an entirely new person, who has never heard of your brand before, understands what you are all about with one or two lines of content.
Every time you publish some new, use your refined message in your content as early as possible.
This method will help you:
- Establish consistency in your brand,
- Engage new users fast
- Remind existing users why they choose to follow you
- Connect with your audience while allowing room for using SEO and other techniques
Once you make sure your core message is in place in your content, it frees you up to ‘please’ the search engines.
3. Focus on Value
Writing is essentially a simple act. It consists of putting one word after another until you have enough words to publish.
However, not all words are equal.
Brands need to focus on their goals and communicate them clearly to their writers or content agencies. When they have a goal in mind, then words are upgraded to offer value.
Respect your audience and your clients. They have limited time, and they are deciding to give you some of their time. It is your responsibility to make every word count.
What is value?
The answer lies in the goal behind your content.
Are you educating your audience?
Are you helping them solve a problem?
Are you providing entertainment?
Are you publishing research?
Value can be found in anything from simple articles with inspirational advice to articles with practical tips on building wealth.
4. Learn how to Pick Your Keywords
Identifying the right keywords requires research and planning.
There are several tools to help you locate the most relevant keywords.
- Google Keyword Planner
- Autocomplete in Google
- Forums and Boards (see what people are talking about and identify new buzz words)
- Ubersuggest Tool
There is no need to use all of the above; however, settle on a couple of ways that appeal to you and be consistent. Know ahead of time what keywords need to be used in the content and allow a few sentences to accommodate these keywords.
Manual keyword mining methods such as forums and boards will lead to more ‘natural’ keywords that might be easier to plug in your content.
5. Know Where To Use Your Keywords
Keyword use can be optimized to help search engines ‘like’ your brand more.
Where should you place your keywords for maximum effect?
Consider having the most popular keyword/s in the title tag, or as early on as you can in the article. However, do not sacrifice common sense and readability to get the keyword in there as soon as possible.
Algorithms are getting smarter by the second, and search engines will eventually take points away if you compromise your content quality for the sake of keywords.
Consider the following content locations for keyword placement:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Image/s file names
6. Include Visual Content
Visual content is eye-catching and will help your brand communicate the atmosphere of your message more effectively.
Just like music is composed of the silence between the musical notes, the empty spaces between words form content.
Using images to break up chunks of content to help your readers pause and understand your message. Also, images can help with SEO optimization. You can optimize images by adding keywords to the image file name.
7. Add Design Elements To Your Content
Like images, other design elements can help you break up chunks of content, so the readers have an easier time digesting the information.
Design elements can include:
- Bullet points (similar to this list)
- Format variety (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Bold / italics/underline
The goal is to make a visually pleasing article. Most readers decide if they want to read something by merely scanning the format of the article. If it looks too dense, they are likely to pass.
8. Use Internal Links
Using internal links will keep your audience engaged on your site for more extended periods.
If a user is already engaged with a particular piece, then why not guide them to other similar pieces you previously published?
9. Create A Brief For the Writer
A brief, or otherwise known as ‘guidelines’ optimize the writing process. If all elements needed for the article are known ahead of time, it is easier to design and execute a quality article that works well for search engines and audiences.
What are some elements you can include in the brief?
- Meta description requirements
- Branding guidelines (tone, styling, etc.)
- Image file names (if images are required)
- Possible CTAs (calls to action)
10. Read The Content Out Loud
As a brand, before you publish anything on your website, read it out loud and make sure there is no room for error. Punctuation can make or break a deal.
- David likes to eat people and birds. OR
- David likes to eat, people, and birds.
Leave no room for scrutinizing. People are too eager to ‘cancel’ things these days. Proofing is best done with a third party and not the writer.
11. Use A Content Calendar
Alleviate stress and chaos from the writing process by producing a content calendar at the beginning of every month. If you are working with an agency, communicate to them that you would like to know in advance what articles will be coming in during the next four weeks.
If there is an in-house writer on the team, request a content calendar for approval every month. Content calendars help with writer’s block, duplicate content issues, and optimize content strategies.
Companies need to focus more on creating value.
Value will ultimately bring in more leads and help with the conversion process.
Optimizing content for search engines is a technical process that can be sorted out by utilizing tools and knowing where to use your keywords.
If you need help with your content strategy and engaging your readers, contact us today.