Optimising Your Textual Content
Something I talked about briefly in my last post was that of Optimising Text Content on your web pages. It is also something we've discussed before on SEOAndy and on the Boagworld blog. In this post I want to take you down the route of how to begin optimising your existing content and give you some ideas of how to create great content going forward. Your textual content is one of the top factors search engines use to rank your website compared with all others, and in particular those within your niche market. In addition to this, your content needs to be compelling to users because that is what they have come to see on your site. From these two point I am sure you already understand why your content is so important for your website and how if you don't have good content you probably won't do so well.
Know the Mantra: Great Content is King
My mantra towards SEO has always been Content is King, however I recently updated this to Great Content is King. The reason for the update is that images are content, your navigation and logo are content, but it's not the best content and it's not what you will be ranked on. You in general will be ranked on your textual content, but to rank well this text needs to be great and rank worthy. So lets take a look at a few things you can do to improve the text content on your website.
Write for Your Audience Knowing your audience, as mentioned on the boagworld blog, is very important. It means you can target your content easily and accurately. To develop a sense of who you are writing for create a persona for your audience, for example the persona for users of this website (from my view point) is: Men and Women, aged 20 to 40, who are either business owners or internet marketers. As you can see it is fairly vague but accurate enough to enable me to write interesting content targeted at those users. A great example is this post which is targeted at business owners of start up businesses.
Make Your Content Easy To Read Writing great content is not easy, it never will be. But easy to read content makes your work accessible and understandable to your users. This is where knowing your audience comes into play, if you know your audience you are targeting your content to them and for their "education" level. This put simply means you are talking to them on their level and not a complex level above them (which they don't yet need to know) and you are not dumbing it down so much it sounds like you are talking to them. Again SEOAndy is a great example of this, we cut out all the jargon and try to keep things simple enough for almost anyone to understand.
Stay on Topic One of my pet hates in visiting as many websites as I do for research for both blogs here and working on other sites is that you read so much crap that isn't related to the topic in hand. For example, why on earth if I am researching about Barak Obama would I want to know about cute cats - it makes no sense, yet there are examples of websites talking about obama with pictures of cute cats on them... please note, if you landed on this website looking for them try another search term ;)
Stick to a "Known" Format Put simply, this means that you need to keep a format of text throughout your website. For instance, this website uses clear headings and sub-headings, sub-titles are in blue and the content is fairly informal (which makes it easy to read). If I changed and just put out page upon page of just plain text it would be understandable if I lost thousands of visitors because I was suddenly not talking to them and it would be confusing and annoying. So please ensure your content is written in the same tone and format across your website.
Use Relevant Terminology This again goes back to a known format, staying on topic and easy to read content. Terminology is something that changes, again with educational level, but you can cater to multiple audiences with varying amounts of knowledge in your niche. For example "SEOAndy is a blog about search engine optimisation (SEO)." - in this example the term search engine optimisation is for beginners who may not know about the shorter term SEO, but a more advanced reader in the niche of SEO would know what it meant. In this sentence it caters for both beginners and advanced users.
Keep Writing Fresh and Unique Content This one is fairly simple. Great content will not write itself, and it will not refresh itself to stay relevant to your users - it is therefore very important to keep writing new content (SEOAndy posts 3 or more times a week, usually) which is relevant to your niche and targeted to your audience. Creating Unique Content is not easy, but once you've had some practice you will be able to roll out unique content based on your research. A good way to practice is to start a blog, as it develops you will be relying less and less on quotes from your research and more on your own experience in the subject field. For example for this post I looked at what I'd already written in a few previous posts and thought about what I had learnt since then and how to form it correctly for my readers - that was my research.
Things to Avoid When Writing Great Content
Now that we've looked at a few ideas of what you can do to improve your content and your content writing skills lets take a look at a few things to avoid. Ignore these at your own peril ;)
Do Not Babble Dancing around the push (as it's known in the UK) is a little like those in power who are meant to be debating but would rather filibuster to fill the time and waste the debate away - so nothing gets talked about. This again comes back to staying on topic but it's important not to talk about 17 different things in one page or post, when actually you are meant to be just talking about a single topic.
Do Not Write in a Sloppy Way From someone who doesn't proof read all of his work this is quite hard to say (but do as I say and not as I do). Always proof read your material, or have someone else to do it. They will spot your typo's and grammatical errors (something I am prone to, as I have dyslexia). This will improve the quality of your content and they will also point out what they do and don't understand and this can help you to go back and add or subtract content to help make your content truly great.
Do Not Copy or Rehash Content When you stumble across a great post you may want to copy it, plagerise it or even just reword it all to make your content. But doing so adds little value to your content for your user. It also means your content is unlikely to rank anywhere near as high as it could if you had written the whole piece yourself or you hadn't copied and changed another article. This also means, Do Not Duplicate Content across your own website(s).
Do Not Keyword / Keyphrase Stuff Your Content If you keyword stuff or force keywords into your content you will likely find your content reads unnaturally or is hard to follow. For example if I stuck "great content" everywhere i said content this article would read oddly and would also decrease the trust worth of the post. People want natural flowing texts, as do search engines.
Do Not Embed Content (Text) in Images If you have a featured image like this post, then great it may have text in there, this is not a problem. However if you have images in your main content then you don't want to have 500 words within that image, those words should be in actual text. You can of course use the "Alt" tag in the images, but this should be no longer than 140-ish characters (the size of a tweet). Think about it, if someone wants to reference you in a piece of research or other work then they may want to quote your content, don't make it hard for them. Also remember although images can be found in search the content within them is generally not found in search.
What is Your Tip?
Do you have any tips or ideas for creating great content that you would like to share?