Let’s be honest: running a business is hard work. With all the things you’re juggling, The LAST thing you want to worry about is how Google is reading your site. That’s Google’s problem, right?
Unfortunately, throwing your offerings up on the World Wide Web and crossing your fingers isn’t going to cut it, which you probably know if you’re reading this article. You’re going to have to take some specific actions to drive traffic to your site.
Adding content to your site is one of those specific actions. But how does one even begin to create content that makes sense to search engine, sells to customers, and doesn’t ruin the user experience of your site?
Luckily, our team at Leverage Marketing has helped more than a few sites build out content that boosts search engine optimization efforts and helps businesses communicate their brand voice effectively. We’ve collected some of the common questions we are asked about SEO-optimized content so you don’t have to be in the dark.
Why Do I Need Content for SEO?
The answer is simpler than you think. Basically, search engines (like customers) need to know what you’re offering – you’re not going to rank #1 on Google if Google can’t tell what you’re selling. Thanks to this little bit of reasoning, when you search for “computer monitor”, you don’t have to weed through 20 pages of lawnmowers and blenders to find a site that sells computer monitors. Seems really obvious, right? That’s why we need words on websites – Google reads words just like you and me.
Here’s a fun fact: Google has begun to understand not only the words we type into the search bar, but the context and meaning of searches as well. In other words, Google is learning what the searcher’s intent is when they type in a query. That’s a big reason why it’s important to create great content, instead of just slapping a bunch of keywords onto a page. Google is trying to understand your site in the way your customers do, and Google, like your customers, demands high-quality content.
How Much Content Do I Need Per Page for SEO?
There’s no true one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To help search engines figure out what your site is all about, you’ve got to give them something substantial to work with. That means on all the major (and sometimes minor) pages of your site, you should consider having some decent content for Google to dig its robot claws into.
There’s a good way to figure out how long your content really needs to be. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does the reader need to gain/learn/acknowledge from this page?
- What questions might potential readers have when getting to this page? What if this is the first page on your site they see – is there enough info for them here?
- What unique information can you offer on this page to give your reader a richer experience?
Once you’ve told the reader what they need to know, answered their questions before they have a chance to ask them, and offered all the information that makes the user experience on your site great, that’s probably a good stopping place.
Really try to get inside your user’s head here. You may assume that everyone knows all the basics about waffle makers, and that they don’t need to be informed of the differences between non-stick and stainless steel when they visit your product category page, but that just isn’t true for every single visitor – some people are looking for info that you should be providing. And don’t forget to tell them why they should buy from your site instead of your competitors’, or what your free shipping deal is, or how they can join your loyalty club for 15% off. There is almost always a reason and a way to add valuable content to a page – and if there isn’t, you might want to consider why that page even needs to exist.
Finally, remember that you are adding content for your users, not for search engines. Sure, adding good content will help your site’s performance, but that’s because Google and the other search engines are seeking out sites that best fit searchers’ queries. If your site ranks #1 for a keyword but your users aren’t finding what they need and are bouncing back to the search results page, you can safely bet that you won’t stay in that #1 spot for long.
What Are Some SEO Content Best Practices?
When you’re creating content for your site, keep in mind a few things that will improve both your user’s experience and your rankings:
- Do: Add a few keywords. What does your user type into Google when looking for this page? You’ll want that phrase in your content, too.
- Don’t: Participate in “keyword stuffing.” If your content is unreadable because it has so many keywords stuffed into it, you’re going to provoke the ire of search engines, who correctly read this practice as spam.
- Do: Put at least some of your content near the top of the page. You want your content to be one of the first things a search engine (or a user) reads.
- Don’t: Put ALL of your content at the top of the page. Don’t sacrifice your user experience for SEO – make sure your users can find what they’re looking for.
- Do: Make sure your content is readable and accessible to all users. Choose easily-readable fonts and font colors, and take advantage of features such as the alt attribute for photos, so that every user can understand your site.
Can I Do SEO Without Content?
Sure, knock yourself out. But just know that your results aren’t going to be anywhere near as great as they’d be by implementing a supporting on-page SEO effort.
Off-page SEO tactics, such as link building (gaining links from other reputable sites on the web), are certainly very important to growing your site’s authority, visibility, and ranking over time. However, only performing link building efforts while leaving your site sparse on content is sort of like going to a Halloween party as one member of a group costume. Sure, going to the party as a salt shaker is fine, but the costume makes a lot more sense with another person going as a pepper shaker. So yeah, you might see results from link-building alone, but if you want to really get the most out of your efforts, just tell Google what you’re selling.
What About Hidden SEO Content?
I get it – you don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of your site with a bunch of boring words. Why can’t you just make all those words the same color as your background or stick them somewhere in your code where your users don’t see them but search engines do?
Short answer: don’t even think about it. Search engines view this kind of behavior as spammy and deceptive, so it won’t give you the long-term rankings boost you’re looking for. It will probably even earn you a big demotion that buries your site on the 25th page of Google. Fun stuff!
And really? You have no way to work in content that offers a better experience for your users in any part of the page? If your site isn’t designed to incorporate content or inform users… what’s the point?
Still stuck on how to make SEO content work for your brand and your site? The Leverage Marketing team has all the savvy to help both users and search engine bots fall in love with your site. Check out our Content Marketing offerings, or just sign up for our newsletter for a regular dose of digital marketing knowledge.