What Makes Content SEO-friendly?
Guest Post by Mindy Schoenemann, owner of Sincerely Me. Mindy is a content writer, marketing strategist, and brand developer, and has an incredible knack for getting people noticed. Here are her thoughts on SEO.
It’s All About Connecting, Educating, and Engaging
How would you like it if your business could be found in a Google search? I’m sure it’s on your priority list since being found on the web is today’s equivalent to being listed in the phone book. Obviously, being found by potential customers is a good thing. But, how do businesses manage to make that happen? And more importantly, how do they rank while maintaining their brand integrity?
My first question for you is this: what’s the ultimate goal behind the content on your website?
I bet your answer isn’t SEO-friendliness. Your big-picture goal is to make more sales. You want to be SEO-friendly so your business can be found online so you can make more sales, I’m sure. But, how do you balance SEO, branding, sincerity, and more with website content? Where do you begin? How do you make a sale from your website?
Let’s talk about what goes into website content, how I make it SEO-friendly, and how I balance SEO and authenticity.
When I’m writing content for a client, there are a lot of things to consider before I ever begin. First, I think about the target market for the owner of the website. I make sure the target market’s concerns, questions, and needs are addressed in the content. Getting clear on this information up front helps me to plan the information that will be presented.
Of course, I also need to express my client’s why: Why they do what they do the way they do it. This why is what will transform a product or service from a product or service into an experience. This why is what will draw the right customers in to learn more and connect.
Next, I think about what value my client provides for their target market. Instead of listing out what my client does, I have to present the value they provide in a way that shows potential clients why they need what my client has to offer, and how it will benefit them to become my client’s customer.
Something else to consider is their overall brand message. Is one individual the entire brand? Is it a luxury brand? A local mom-and-pop shop with their own small-town brand? Everything I write needs to be in alignment with the company’s brand. Why? Because consistency is really important in building brand trust. If what I write doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the brand, then I’m going to confuse potential clients.
Keeping the brand message consistent across all platforms and web content is key to building brand trust.
Once I’ve figured all that out, what’s next?
Why do we hear about keywords so much? Because they’re important. Here’s the thing, though: We must use keywords in moderation. Period. Keyword-stuffing is a big no-no. Google really, really doesn’t like it and will penalize you for overusing keywords.
How many times should you use a keyword in one page of content? It depends on the length, but keep the keyword density between 1 and 2.5 percent. So, for every 1,000 words of content written, use the keyword 10 to 25 times.
Notice I keep saying keyword and not keywords? That’s because you can’t organically optimize your content on every page for every possible applicable keyword. It’s best to pick a couple of the most important keywords to focus on.
Mindy, you’re telling me not to keyword-stuff, but you’re also telling me to use a couple of keywords over and over. What’s the deal?
Well, don’t use them over and over exactly; use them strategically. By putting the important keywords in a header tag, a title tag, and interspersed throughout the content, you’ll be sending Google a message. That message is hey, this word I’ve used in all of these important places is relevant to the overall message of the content I’m talking about.
Relevancy is so incredibly important. Google doesn’t like when keywords are added to content in a way that isn’t relevant. It’s like stuffing—don’t do it! This brings me to my next point.
I should also mention that you need a minimum of 300 words on a page for Google to crawl the page and index it. It’s better to have 500+ words these days if you’d really like to hit the first page of results in a search.
Write content for a multi-page website all at once. Why? Because it adds something to it. It makes it all flow together better. It ensures that you’re using keywords in a way that is completely organic and genuine. By writing everything simultaneously, you’re also guaranteeing that you won’t duplicate content. Duplicate content is like keyword-stuffing in that it will do bad things to a site’s SEO. Google doesn’t like duplicate content.
Writing like this also helps to carry over the right tone from page to page. And for me, it helps me creatively as well because one idea feeds into another spawning something else entirely that makes the whole thing more than words.
You know what else is important to flow? Not flipping back and forth from first, second, and third person. If I keep mixing up my pronouns—I, you, we, they, them, she, me—eventually you’re going to give up trying to figure out who I’m talking to or what I’m talking about. The same goes for verb tense. You should be and will do and have done and did. Clear as mud, right?
It’s imperative to have grammatically accurate content that flows and is based in sincerity.
How much importance should you place on SEO? Well, let’s talk about SEO from a different perspective.
SEO vs. Sincerity
Let’s pretend that you jumped in a time machine and went back to high school. When you arrived, you discovered you had to write a paper for history. It was due in a couple of days, so you were short on time. As a result, you didn’t research your topic; you worked from memory alone (we won’t mention how long ago it was that I last took a high school history class).
While writing, you know you used all the right words that your teacher surely wants to hear. You chose the viewpoint that you assumed would be most popular with the teacher as well. And the bonus: you’re way better at English and grammar and such now than you ever were in high school. This should be a slam-dunk, right?
You receive a failing grade. Why?
Because although you used all the right words and wrote what you thought the teacher wanted to hear, there was nothing to back up your stance in the paper. There was no sincerity, passion, or facts.
Writing for SEO alone is a lot like this. To focus solely on SEO-friendliness means sacrificing other important parts of content. Things like brand trust, flow, relevancy, and more go out the window. It means you have less of a chance of creating a connection with your potential customer.
So, SEO-friendly content that doesn’t sacrifice these things … what does that look like? It looks like this post.
I’ve used my chosen keywords throughout the text, in a couple of the headers, and in the title of the post. I used it in a way that is sincere, genuine, and relevant. I didn’t force it.
Additionally, I was mindful of my target audience. Most of the readers for this website are those who don’t have the expertise of an SEO content writer or a web developer; leaving the technical jargon out was important. Instead, talking about SEO in a way that makes sense to regular people was a priority.
How did I add brand trust? I was straight-forward and laid it all out there, and I wasn’t purposely vague nor did I try to make it sound more complicated than it is: I was me.
Elements of Great, SEO-friendly Content
The title of this post is a question I’m posing to you now. What makes content SEO-friendly?
My answer: Sincerity combined with strategic use of keywords designed to connect with your potential customer. I prefer to write for humans, not algorithms. Why? Because what’s the point of being found if no one connects with what you have to say?