One vital element of Google-approved search engine optimisation (SEO) is the creation of original content that is relevant to your audience. For that content to deliver the best possible outcomes, it often needs to be helped along by some simple tweaks. And if implemented correctly, a reader will not even notice these tweaks. The content will be engaging, informative, and easy to digest, but at the same time, it will also attract the attention of the search engines, like Google.
So what are these subtle SEO strategies?
Speak to the needs of your audience
Because Google’s objective is to keep searchers happy by delivering the results most relevant to their search query, your content must cater to the needs of your prospects. Write content that is helpful, informative, and up to date. Whenever possible, don’t repeat what they can find elsewhere – be unique.
Content such as this that puts your readers’ needs first will help to build a strong, healthy, and ongoing relationship with PEOPLE (not search engines!) who will stay and return to read more.
Understand their needs and wants (their pain points) is vital to answering their requirements. Often these pain points are obvious: to grow their business, to get more subscribers, for their phone to ring, to create a bigger online footprint, or to rank higher than competitors in search engine results. But there can be others: to become well, to learn about a particular topic, to lose weight, and so on.
If you are looking at B2B marketing, a visit to their and their competitors’ websites can reveal much. If your audience is consumers, then you might look at journals and magazines in the relevant niches, and, most notably, the social media groups and pages that cater to these groups. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips if you take the time to look.
Of course, if you engage a great content writer, they will no doubt do such research when preparing their content for you, but giving them initial direction is so very important.
Use the right language
Now I’m not talking Swahili or Lithuanian here, but rather, speaking in a way that your target readers will understand. For instance, if you are a lawyer speaking to the man-in-the-street, don’t use complex legal jargon; make it easy to both read and digest. But if you are a health professional writing for other health professionals, then you need to use the correct professional terminology that they would expect.
Make it easy to read
Many novice digital marketers don’t understand the concept of ‘stickiness’. They don’t realise that Google doesn’t just measure visits to a website, but also other data, including how long visitors stay, and how many pages they visit.
1. Use sub-headings
Often people who are reading on screens will skim over a page, often unconsciously looking at how long the content is, and at the sub-headings to get a sense of what info is being delivered. They will then decide whether to begin reading in detail or skip to the sections that might answer their immediate question. If they are given the answer, they will likely explore the rest of the page to see what other information is provided, move on to other pages and, best-case, phone or email you.
2. Bullet points are better than comma-spaced lists
The use of bullet points also breaks up blocks of text and can avoid the too-long paragraph issue. Consider the paragraph:
“Our firm provides legal services to the good people of Austin, Texas. Our lawyers work in family law, personal injury law, workers compensation, and criminal law. Our criminal defence lawyers have many years’ experience in defending those who have been accused of theft, assault, break and enter, and more serious charges.”
and how much easier it is to read with the help of bullet points:
“Our firm provides legal services to the good people of Austin, Texas. Our lawyers work in:
*personal injury law,
*workers compensation, and
Our criminal defence lawyers have many years’ experience in defending those who have been accused of
*break and enter, and
*more serious charges.”
Bottom line here is that if your content is easy to read, the longer readers will stay on the page, the more likely they will engage with you, and the happier Google (and you) will be.
Be (or know) an authority
You (and your writer if you are outsourcing to a content writer) need to know your stuff, or how to find authoritative information. Ensure that the content you publish is accurate, and where appropriate, link to a non-competing authority, like a government authority, standards association, or an industry association.
Authority posts will help to establish this status with the search engines as well as your readers, and linking to an authority site will get a “pick tick” of approval from Google. If you can create in-depth posts, do so, but deliver it in an easy and confident way with a focus on helping your reader rather than preening yourself.
Using Videos and Podcasts? Transcribe them!
Popular as they are with modern marketers, videos and podcasts aren’t for everyone. For those of your target audience who prefer to read at their leisure rather than listen, always provide a transcription of your audio content. That’s what the experts do – and there is another reason for it.
Having a video or link to the audio on your page is fine, but the search engines won’t recognise what it is about – keywords, semantics, etc. But if you provide the transcription, it gives the information that the search engine bots can understand, therefore helping them to determine the value of that page.
Finally, I can’t impress too much on anyone the need to proofread their content before publishing. Any content that my team and I create is sent to another team member whose only job is to proofread. I then read it as well and make any further changes necessary. There is nothing worse than a grammar or spelling mistake to create a mental stumbling block for many readers; it interrupts their thought flow at a time when you want them to keep reading to the end.