Anyone who knows anything about digital marketing will already appreciate that SEO is now often one of the most important threads of a business’s advertising strategy. And, whilst there are loads of content agencies out there who like to boast about how many ‘optimised’ articles they’re able to post on their clients’ websites each month, it’s much harder to find people who can both write well and have a good understanding of technical SEO.
At Bluesoup, we are proud of our ability to write genuinely engaging content that also ticks all the boxes when it comes to boosting our clients’ keyword rankings – and, whilst we can’t give all our secrets away, we want to share a few key tips that you simply have to follow if the articles you’re publishing are to make a positive difference to your site’s performance.
And, of course, if you think your business would benefit from some bespoke advice and our expert content creation services, why not get in touch to see how we can help? All you need to do is click here and send us a message.
The (in)famous algorithm which governs how highly a site ranks on Google has evolved in recent years to reward content that is well-written, of real interest to readers and, most importantly, relevant to future customers. However, whilst quality certainly now takes precedence over quantity, there are still a few fundamental technical SEO rules you’ll need to stick to for your content to fulfil its traffic and engagement potential.
As well as ensuring your articles are tagged up with H1 and H2 tags where appropriate, have clear meta titles/descriptions, and contain images that include descriptive alt text, spending some time carefully selecting which keyword(s) you want to optimise is vital.
To give you a very basic example of how this works, let’s say you run a European holiday villa company which gets 70% of its revenue from selling holidays to villas in Spain. Using keyword ranking software, you can see the term that drives more traffic to your site than any other (‘villa holidays in Spain)’ has dropped from position 1 to position 10 on Google over the last month; it will hopefully be obvious at this point that you need to write some great content which naturally includes this keyword or variants of it to help push it back up the search engine results pages (SERPs). You may have wanted to write an article about ‘villas in France’ instead, but that can wait until your main term’s rankings have recovered.
We’ve already touched on this above but, now more than ever, it is important that whoever writes for you always tries to pick subjects that could be genuinely interesting and informative to readers and has not been covered thousands of times before by other websites.
Let’s consider that imaginary holiday villa company again. The chances are that countless articles have already been written about ‘must-visit landmarks in Spain’, so putting another one out there – however accurate and articulate it may be – is only ever going to be of limited value and will, more often than not, get lost in the noise.
What may be more useful, for your business and your readers, would be to write an article on the best Spanish festivals taking place this year. By keeping things topical, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone: firstly, Google is obviously more likely to rank your content highly for certain phrases if there aren’t many other pieces online that cover the same subject and, secondly, writing something that’s fresh, informed by proper research and serves a real purpose is always going to be prioritised over generic articles that anyone could have reworded from Wikipedia!
As for style tips, there’s one golden rule that always needs to be followed: keep things clear and simple. You may be a vastly experienced writer, but you shouldn’t approach any content as if it’s a university dissertation or great work of fiction. Whilst keeping spelling and grammatical mistakes to a minimum is important (more on this later), just as vital is writing everything in a way that can be quickly and easily digested by readers who don’t want to work hard to get the information they require or, more to the point, simply don’t have much time.
One of the best ways to make your content more readable is to break it up into logical, easy-to-follow sections. Again, there are multiple benefits to doing this, the most obvious of which is that those who click on your article will appreciate being presented with a page that has a clear layout and will, hopefully, answer their queries without them having to do too much digging. These days, many internet users will decide within a couple of seconds whether the content they land on is worth persevering with, so it’s key that you make a positive first impression.
The other main reason why breaking your content into sections would be a good idea is that it helps Google’s ever-diligent robots to find it, index it and, ultimately, show it to your potential customers. Marking up your article with some basic HTML – an H1 tag for the title and H2 tags for each subsection – only takes seconds but could work wonders for your SEO performance.
You’d probably have thought that ‘avoid plagiarism’ is one tip we wouldn’t need to include in this guide. However, the sad fact is that there are still far too many articles out there which have either been completely ripped off from existing websites or, almost as irritatingly, virtually copied and pasted with just a couple of minor changes made for appearances’ sake (in the world of SEO content, Wikipedia has long been both a blessing and a curse!).
In a way, it is understandable why some writers resort to the lazy tactic of copying. As well as being the easy way out, many content departments are so snowed under that they simply feel they don’t have the time to thoroughly research and do a decent job of writing all the articles they’re duty-bound to produce.
A word of warning to anyone tempted to adopt this shady practice though – copying and reposting content is usually worse than not posting anything at all and could potentially destroy your SEO rankings; we know that the Google algorithm is designed to identify plagiarised content and to punish any website that hosts it by making it virtually invisible in the SERPs. It may be hard constantly coming up with new ideas and putting original work together, but do you really want to take the risk that the alternative presents?
Reading this may make you feel like you’re back at school, but it is so important that you read through your finished articles at least once – and ideally have someone else look at it too – before they’re uploaded. However good you may be, the nature of most SEO content creation jobs (i.e. having to write the equivalent of a novel every few months) means that the odd mistake will inevitably creep into even your finest work.
You might think that accidentally missing out a couple of words or having a comma in the wrong place isn’t a big deal but little typos like this can stack up over the course of a 1,000 word-plus article and having a significant number of copy errors could lead to your rankings being affected – not to mention that it looks unprofessional and can turn readers away from your site in an instant.
Although the best way to check what you’ve written is to have a colleague do it for you (fresh eyes can often pick up on things you may have missed), freelancers and others who work alone would be well-advised to download a piece of proofreading software that should catch any clangers. The most popular such program is probably Grammarly which, although not without its faults, is a decent ‘last line of defence’ against egregious mistakes – and it’s free!