Content is the driving force behind what has made the internet the ultimate source of information and unfortunately misinformation. With search engines crawling millions of content pages on a daily basis, how can you make sure yours stands out?
Gone are those days where you can just stuff some keywords into your content and expect to see your webpage on top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). If you do that these days, you are not only sabotaging your SEO efforts, but also making it easy for search engines like Google to penalize your website.
In today’s writing content for search engines, you don’t only need to consider the latest algorithm updates from Google, but you also need to consider the needs and search intent of your target readers. But, these are still not enough. There are technicalities you need to consider if you want your content to rank on top of the SERPs.
Before we delve into the technicalities in writing better content for the search engines, let us first make a quick list first of the algorithm updates rolled out by Google that are aimed to combat low-quality content. These algorithm updates can help you fully understand why high quality content is always the king in search engine optimization.
Google actively penalizes websites that publish low quality content. By rolling out these algorithm updates, they are telling the whole internet that their main priority is to provide the best experience to their users by making sure to only rank high quality content in the SERPs. Here are the Google algorithm updates rolled out to weed out low quality and spammy web pages.
This algorithm update ranks web pages with high quality content and demotes those ones with low quality. A few factors that can get a website penalized by Google Panda (aside from low quality content) include thin content, unhelpful or untrustworthy content, duplicate text, and spun articles.
If you got hit by Google Panda, it’s important to determine which specific web pages contain problematic content, remove them, and start publishing high quality content. This is the only way you can recover.
This algorithm update specifically weeds out web pages that promote pornographic, casino, and high interest loan content. But, only those with web pages that use shady SEO techniques are being penalized.
You can only recover from this penalty if you stop doing black hat SEO practices. You can still rank in the SERPs as long as you optimize your content ethically.
This update helps those websites that prioritize content over ad revenues. This means that it pushes down those websites overladen with ads to the bottom of the SERPs. Aggressive website advertisement usually triggers this algorithm update. Other triggers include low-value content and poor user experience.
To recover from Fred, you only need to do the opposite of what you did before you were penalized. It’s okay to put ads on your website but don’t overdo it. Minimize pop ups and boost user experience by publishing valuable content and reducing any kind of nuisance that may hinder your visitors from staying longer.
With these algorithm updates in mind, it won’t be difficult for you to analyze how to create better content for the search engines.
There are technical factors that we need to consider when writing better content for search engines. Every time you write, you should not only think of your target readers but also how search engines will read your content.
Here are ways to create better content that search engines and your readers will love.
This step is the most crucial if you want your content to gain visibility in SERPs. Despite all the recent changes in Google algorithms, keywords still play a key role in search rankings.
Once you have a topic in mind, you need to make sure the keywords you will use are the ones being used by your target audience, but at the same time make sure the competition is not high. You can do this by using a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner. See screenshot below.
From this example, you need to use keywords that are popular among your target audience but with a low or medium competition. For “Social Media Company New York,” you can see that there are three related popular keywords (with a monthly average search volume of 10K to 100K) with medium competition, which are “marketing agency,” “digital marketing agency,” and “marketing agencies NYC.” You can then use these keywords in your content.
Another way to search for keywords is by using Google Related Searches. For “Social Media Company New York,” here are its related searches:
You can use the selected long tail keywords displayed in the screenshot above as your secondary keywords. This would help search engines to better understand your content and eventually it also improves your chances of getting high rankings in SERPs.
Search engines nowadays are way smarter than in the past. With Semantic Search, they can now return results that can accurately answer a searcher’s intent. And, this is how you should write your content. You should take into consideration the intent of your target audience.
To determine a searcher’s intent, you need to learn the top 4 types of intent which are Informational, Navigational, Investigational and Transactional.
Searchers who are looking for general information about a specific topic are people who have Informational search intent. They are not planning to buy anything. They are there to gain more knowledge or information. For example, a law student who wanted to learn more about the United States Bill of Rights would key in “United States Bill of Rights”.
Those with Navigational search intent are people who want to go to a specific website. For example, if a law student wants to login to his Bank of America online account, he would key in “Bank of America login”. The intent of this searcher is to access his online bank account.
On the other hand, people with Investigational search intent are those who are planning to buy something but are not still sure, thus they look for information to research further and make a more informed decision. For example, a law student who spotted a nice laptop in the mall would go online and search for information about that laptop. Keywords that he or she would use include “Macbook reviews”, “Macbook with best specs”, and similar phrases.
And last, but not least, is the person with Transactional search intent. These searchers have the intention to buy your product or subscribe to your service. For example, a law student, who has already done a research about the laptop he wanted to buy, will key in “where to buy Macbook online” or “On Sale Macbook”. If you are running an e-commerce site, your target audience are those with transactional search intent.
Knowing the different types of search intent can help you create high quality content that can accurately target your prospects. Let’s say for example, if you are an online shop owner that sells MacBooks, creating content around keywords that shows transactional search intent should be your top priority.
You should also build content for those prospects with investigational search intent. This is considered nurturing your leads as you are helping your prospects come up with a more informed decision before they decide to buy your product. Featuring satisfied customer reviews from past customers on your blog, for example, is a good way to nurture your leads. These prospects are already planning to buy. They just need more information to fully make up their mind.
Google has been incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in their search algorithm since 2015. They called it RankBrain. Just like any other search algorithms released by Google, it was deployed to help process more relevant search results for their users. Along with links and content, RankBrain, according to Google themselves, is the third most important search ranking factor.
RankBrain’s machine-learning ability enables it to gain knowledge about the real intentions of searchers and the specific type of information they are looking for each time. To create content with RankBrain in mind, you should make sure that it is one of a kind, very useful and can easily engage your target audience.
You can make sure your content is RankBrain-friendly or AI-friendly by following our Google friendly steps below.
Use Phrases and Long Tail Keywords – You cannot fully determine search intent using simply keywords alone. You should incorporate phrases and long-tail keywords into your content to optimize it for Google Search. Every time your website is ranked on top of the SERPs, this pattern is used by RankBrain to predict future similar queries.
Use Google Keyword Planner – You cannot just predict which keywords perform well and which ones do not. Using tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you determine which keywords have a high volume of monthly searches and which ones you have a higher chance to rank well in SERPs. Creating content around these keywords can help you determine what your potential customers are really looking for and allowing you to create highly targeted copies.
Write Naturally, Think About Your Target Readers – RankBrain is designed by Google to mimic how people process content, which translates to the content that gets the most engagement is ranked higher. Why higher? Because this shows that your content is useful and informative. When you create AI-friendly content, your main priority is to write for your target audience, so remember to just write naturally. Don’t get too obsessed with technicalities. Just put yourself in the shoes of your target readers.
Don’t Forget to Write for Mobile Users – In the past few years, many studies revealed that mobile usage has already surpassed that of desktop’s. When you create content for search engines, it’s also important to take into consideration how it is searched and viewed by mobile users. Many mobile users do it using Voice Search and creating content with this in mind can help boost your ranking in mobile searches.
Informative, Intuitive and Well-Researched Content Is The Real King – Content is King. No, scratch that – informative, intuitive and well-researched content is the real king. Content that delivers value is consistently the real king since time immemorial. Google’s RankBrain is created to weed out spam, tricky and low quality content that swamped the internet to make way for high quality and useful ones – the ones that bring value to users. How can you add more value to your content? Continue reading below.
Creating better content for search engines means putting more value into it. A more valuable content brings useful information to your target readers and at the same time helps your brand get more visibility in SERPs. It’s a win-win! Here’s how you can do it.
Include links to informative resource pages – Don’t forget to insert outbound links to informative web pages that you feel can help your readers to further their knowledge.
Offer free eBooks or any downloadable materials – Giving your readers freebies such as an eBook, an Audiobook, or even a link to a YouTube video where you personally discuss everything you write in your blog post, can really make a big impression on them.
Make it longer – According to research, search engines prefer to rank long-form content than shorter ones. Web articles which are longer than 1,000 words are ranked higher compared to those with fewer words.
Review and proofread it – Getting rid of any grammatical errors and other factors that can affect quality is very important in creating better content. Optimizing your content for real people is the same as optimizing it for search engines. From a marketing standpoint, it’s also a representation of your brand, which makes it imperative to always proofread your content before publishing and syndicating it for release.
People often drop or leave a web page when they find the article they are reading boring and uninteresting. Making your content more engaging is actually not easy, especially if you are in a niche that requires you to write using a serious tone or in a more professional manner. But, there are ways you can still do it.
Tell a Story – People are always fascinated with stories. You can start your article with a story about someone who used to be like this and then become like that. This can help you capture their interest to continue reading until the very end. You can also share your own personal story or just an imagined story that relates to the topic that you tackle.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Funny – Humor doesn’t get old. Surprise your readers by inserting a bit of funny jokes or puns here and there. This doesn’t only prevent them from getting bored, but also helps them learn more effectively.
Use Enticing Graphics – This step is actually a must especially for long-form content. Strategically placing the right graphics can help your readers consume your content easily without getting bored in the process. Visual stimulation should be done to hook them effectively and prevent them from leaving and increasing your bounce rate.
Do you know what makes reading very tedious to many? It’s actually the fact that when they see an article, all they see are streams of words, gazillion of words that seem to never end. This is why it’s very important that when you write one, make sure that you format it for lazy readers.
Structure Your Content Using Headings and Subheadings – Tell your audience what your main topic and subtopics are by using headings properly. H1 for the main topic, H2 for the subtopic and so on. Also, make sure to write shorter paragraphs. Don’t make it too long. This helps prevent your readers from getting bored.
Use Lists and Bullets to Highlight Important Pointers – Most people don’t go into detail in reading long-form articles. They skim through your content and will typically find it more efficient to read bullets or lists because it’s easier to read.
Add Visuals – There’s a reason why many individuals are addicted to videos. A lot of people are visual creatures. Reading texts alone won’t stimulate their brain, which means it’s also important that you know how to incorporate proper visuals into your content. Make sure to put them strategically to attract and engage your readers.
Taking into consideration all these factors, it is safe to conclude that writing better content for search engines ultimately means writing better content for real people. With search engines already mimicking how search users behave, there’s no other option anymore but to focus on creating content that delivers real value.
When you create content that delivers value, you are telling your target audience how serious you are in helping them create solutions for their problems. Remember that people always appreciate high-quality engaging content and it will ultimately lead to gaining more interest and engagement for your brand which naturally boosts your visibility online.
How about you? What are some of the things you do to create better content for the search engines? Share your experience by commenting below.
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