Content and SEO – the two terms go hand-in-hand when it comes to landing on the Search Engine’s radar.
I know that is too much information for kick-starting the explanation for the importance of content in SEO.
That is, however, the ultimate aim why we are diving into this concept and understanding the role of content in SEO.
Content and SEO, SEO and content on the web; both fit.
They just fit. But they need to fit well in order to perform. When they fit really well, they can catapult any website to the top of search engine rankings. But when they fit horribly, they can cause penalties that would put you in trouble.
Let’s get down to understand how the combination of content and SEO can make or break your SEO strategy.
As we dive, we will gain an understanding of what is content, the value of content in SEO, and how to develop SEO-optimized content.
What is ‘Content’?
Well, there isn’t any exact definition of content. But there are some legible definitions flying on the web that have been defined by experts.
Business Dictionary defines content as “Text matter in a document or publication in any form. Content is both information and communication: the sum of total freshness, readability, relevancy, and usefulness of the information presented, and the manner in which it is presented.”
There is another definition of content on the same site which is really a cute analogy, “Glue that makes website ‘sticky’ makes visitors return, and keeps them from leaving.”
But there is still something missing while you define content.
According to the Social Trigger’s founder Derek Halpern, content can be of any form – audio, video, text and it informs, teaches, entertains, or enlighten people who consume it.
Putting the three definitions together, it sums up the meaning of content up to a great extent.
SEO Value of the Content
Before we get into understanding ‘SEO value of the content’, let us first understand what type of content does SEO value.
Quality content is the key to winning the heart of SEO. There’s a lot of content present on the web all of which does not lend the required quality.
By quality, I closely mean content that is useful, that is relevant to the reader.
Now, let us get into the SEO value of content and how does the two work together.
As the name goes ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’ – it is all about the optimization of what is present on the web to land on the top SERPs.
Let us take the king of search engine Google. In a day, Google processes over 3.5 billion searches.
When Google processes the search queries, it answers the most relevant search results. Now, what are all these answers that we get when we fire a search query on Google?
The answer is simple – ‘CONTENT’.
Google was co-founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1998 with a straightforward mission:
“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
The Google mission revolves completely around information, around content and it is the same yet today.
To accomplish the ‘useful’ part in its mission statement Google keeps updating its algorithm. Relevant and useful result is what Google has aimed for and that’s when SEO comes into play.
SEO optimizes the ‘content’. It helps Google understand that it is the relevant search result by optimizing that particular ‘content’ or that particular ‘answer’.
Content is the medium on which SEO performs optimization. So, if there is no content there is no need for SEO.
By content, I mean all these forms that you see on the web or that you upload on the web.
The Significance of Optimizing the Content
Content can exist individually even without his friend ‘SEO’. But content without SEO, without optimization, will just exist which is not enough.
If you want your content to be ‘useful’, you have to optimize it – By useful I mean, ‘useful’ to yourself in boosting search engines rankings, and ‘useful’ to people who fire a relevant query to which the content you have created is the answer (which ultimately will help you in rankings again).
It’s a loop. It’s interrelated. To simplify, I can say optimizing content will help you in rankings.
And when you are on the top of Google searches you are getting an “invisible and magical throne” that will benefit you and your business in multiple ways. I must say you are fortunate if you get the throne and could successfully keep extending your reign of ruling.
How to Write Optimized Content?
In the previous section, we have known the importance of optimizing the content. Now the question arises, how to optimize it? Let me take you in detail through it.
Well, it is a process.
1. Determine your topic by performing keyword research
Since we have to create audience-centric content, we need to perform in-depth keyword research to ensure that the content we create can be found via search engines.
While you choose your keyword and topic, keep following aspects in mind:
- Try to focus on choosing long-tail keywords
- Use a credible keyword research tool
- Your topic and keyword should be in congruence
2. Ensure optimal readability in the outline and format of your content
As you develop the basic outline of your content, make sure that you present the core intention of that content by breaking it down into small chunks.
Keep the language simple. Try to accommodate more real-time examples, humanize the content, add quizzes, and put relatable and captivating graphics to engage your audience.
Also, it is best if you keep your paragraph length shorter. Add sub-headings as you divide the content into smaller pieces.
The attention span of online readers is very low and you need to follow the above tips to keep them engaged.
The user engagement time on your website has a direct influence on the rankings as you can see the results in the below graph.
Image courtesy: WordStream
3. Stick around the topic and targeted keyword
While you are writing the content, you need to make sure that the content copy revolves around your chosen topic and the targeted keyword.
Anything off-beat and random is not appreciated. Stick to the point and avoid adding everything in a single piece of content.
Also, if you are targeting multiple keywords, all of them should be relevant to the subject of your content.
4. Add relevant links to the external sites
As the credibility of content is a significant SEO factor, it is important to link the content to authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant sites to help Google ensure that the content you have developed is credible.
Make sure that you put a link on the words that are relevant to the page on which you will be sending the user.
In this sentence “Content is the King of the SEO Game”, you can put the link of an article stating the importance of content in SEO. Suppose the article you are linking has the title “Why is the Game of SEO all about Content?”, then this is the way you shall put the link.
“Content is the King of the SEO Game. It is the most significant factor for impressing Google. “- Link the highlighted and underlined portion. It makes exact sense.
How to optimize the content once you have created it
The previous section was all about optimizing the content while you create it. This section is about optimizing the content after you have created it. It’s more into ‘technical’ part of optimization.
The four main steps of optimizing the content are –
- Title tag
- Meta Description
- Name and Alt Tag
Let’s get into them in detail.
1. Optimization of Title Tag
The Title tag is the clickable headline that appears at the top of each search engine result.
The highlighted portion here ‘Basic SEO Fixes to Boost Google Rankings’ is the title tag:
Title tags are important because they define the core motive of your content and tell what your content is all about.
Here are the key-points to optimize the title tag:
- Be specific and represent the core motive of the content in the title
- Try to accommodate targeted keyword in the title
- It is recommended to keep the title under 69 characters
- Avoid stuffing multiple keywords
2. Optimization of meta description
The small description that appears under title tag and URL in search engine pages is meta description.
The section highlighted in the below image is the meta description:
Meta description does not have a direct impact on rankings, but they do affect the clicks that come to your page.
It gives a brief idea to users about your content. The more relevant and captivating the meta description the more clicks you are likely to get. And click-through rate will directly impact your rankings.
Google has also released a blog stating recommendations for creating better meta descriptions.
Here’s how you should optimize the meta description:
- It should be a short and specific overview of the content
- Include targeted keyword as well as other relevant keywords. (Whenever a user sees the search result, the keywords will be highlighted.)
3. Optimization of URL
URL is another factor which indirectly has an impact on rankings as it is a deciding factor for a user to click on your content.
For optimization of URL, the readability is important as mysterious and long URLs usually scare off users.
4. Optimizing name and Alt Tags for any graphics or video
Whenever you upload an image or a video or any other graphical form of content on the web, search engines form a unique URL of that image. In that process, search engines read the image filename and assess the relevancy.
Make sure that the name of the image reflects the core motive of your content or the targeted keyword. (The name of the image is taken as default in the Title Tag of the image.)
You also need to tag the image properly as Alt Tags helps search engines see the image on your site. Tag the image with a proper and relevant keyword that has relevancy with the image content.
Image courtesy: Yoast
SEO and content are like the lifelines of each other.
Content needs SEO to be visible and to fulfill the ultimate motive of its creation (ultimate motive – to be read by the people or to reach to the audience).
And SEO needs content to live by the ultimate motive of its existence (ultimate motive – to optimize).
Content is the chief medium on which you apply the SEO and that very well signifies the importance of content in SEO.
To the bottom line, SEO has a long journey. But content is the evergreen partner that walks with SEO to the destination.