In the ever-changing world of SEO; elements and techniques that once were guaranteed to boost your rankings may not have the same impact or even have an opposite negative impact! Despite the ever-changing atmosphere in online presence and visibility, content has always been king. Although the technique in which content is written has changed over the years, the purpose and importance of content remains the same.

Content is one of the most important aspects of your online activity, and you should have a content development plan in place to ensure that engaging and high-quality content is published on your site on a regular basis. However, this does not mean that you should be writing content for the sake of writing content. The content you create for your blog, knowledge base, or webpages should be of interest to your target audience and be able to be used as a resource of information. For this reason, it’s vital that your content is written with your users in mind first, and the search engines second.


Why You Should Write Content for Users, Not Search Engines

Remember that everything on your website should be there for a potential customer, so it should be useful and provide the user with the answer to their question. If a user can easily identify that your page is visually appealing as well as providing them with all the information they are looking for, your webpages serve a purpose rather than writing a vague text heavy page that will ‘please’ Google.

10 years ago, it was a two-step process to gain more traffic

  1. Rank well
  2. Gain more traffic

This is no longer the case. The process is much more user focused:

  1. Write pages that are valuable for users
  2. Increased rankings
  3. Improve your pages for users Google have sent
  4. Further increased rankings
  5. More traffic
  6. And so on…

If your website is ranking well, but the users that come through Google to your site are leaving disappointed, Google will deem your pages poor quality, and in turn show your site less and less, resulting in less traffic.

So, how do you write great content for your users?


3 Things to avoid when writing content for your website:


Over-use keywords

A common tactic in the early days of SEO which is now a black hat technique that will get your site penalised by one of Google’s many algorithms. Include your keywords within the meta title and description if possible and within the body text where they would naturally appear.


Writing content only for search engines

Similarly to the above point, your content should be for your target audience first and the search engines second. It is very obvious when content is written purely for search engines! Whilst internally linking to service and product pages on your site is recommended, promoting what your business has to offer in every piece of content can be seen as ‘pushy’ and make your content feel as though it is purely promotional. Consider your website and social media demographic before starting to write up content.


Writing content only for users

A lot of time, research and money can go into creating a strong content development plan. It would be short sighted to only cater for your audience when you could be reaching a larger audience and further readers/customers by optimising your content for search performance.


The Key Principles of Great Content


Optimise Your Meta Data 

Meta titles and descriptions are essential for SEO and users. Whilst providing search engines a definition of what the page will be discussing, it is also your only method in organic search to convince a user to click through. You’d optimise your PPC ad, so why not your organic search listing? A good title and description can be the difference between users clicking through or not so it is essential that thought is put into this before publication. Recently, Google have increased the character limit for titles and descriptions which gives you further leeway! Title tag lengths are now 70-71 characters and meta descriptions are up to 100 characters per line. When deciding on a meta description, rather than explain the content of the post you should use encouraging and engaging words to promote rather than explain. Make the user think they need to read it!


Know Your Target Audience and Write for Them

The most important part of creating content is who you are writing for. You should always write for the user first, and the search engines second. In depth analysis should be performed on your website, social media channels and other traffic channels to see which posts are most popular with your target audience so you can write more of what they want! If you are an established business with a good social following, this analysis could be made easier by running a poll on Twitter encouraging your followers to vote which type of your content they prefer. If one type of content receives a high number of votes than another, you know to write more of this. If all come out fairly equal, you should continue what you’re producing and consider more options further down the line.


Be Mindful of Keyword Insertion

Historically, keywords have been seen as the holy grail of SEO performance. Whilst keywords are still very important to your performance in the SERPs, you should always write for the user first and insert keywords where appropriate within the text and other elements on the page. Google’s extensive algorithms can now detect context so exact matching keywords in your content has less of an importance.


Utilise Your Anchor Text

 It is common that anchor text variations often feature phrases and words such as ‘read more’ and ‘here’ however this is bad practise and you are missing out on potential SEO benefits. Ideally you should be linking internally via phrase anchor text terms. Our article on the benefits of internally linking discusses the importance of anchor text further. To summarise, anchor text when linking to another page on your site should be done so via a phrase whereas links to your site from another website should do so via branded anchor text such as your URL or brand name.


Provide a Solution

Content should never be written purely for the sake of getting something in front of your audience. Your content should answer a question or provide a solution, going into more detail than your competitors – don’t just rehash the same information that is already out there to stay relevant! Expand, build and update content when further updates on the topic arise. A great way to stay current and up to date is to set up Google Alerts on topics of interest to your audience so that you are one of the first to cover the topic, increasing likelihood of social sharing, citing and you being seen as an authority.


Have a Voice

On social media you develop a persona/voice to engage with your target audience, so why should this be any different for your on-page content? Depending on the topic and your target audience, readers generally respond well to an upbeat and familiar tone of writing rather than a very formal and analytical approach. A great method of appealing to your reader’s interests is to tell a story such as a previous client or situation relevant to the topic to make it more real to life. Make predictions to create discussions in the comments and give your honest opinions (within reason!) to build a relationship with your audience.


Be the Difference

In the midst of a digital age, it is surprising how little we utilise rich media to engage our audiences and expand on points with further information and diagrams. A great way to help you create great content is to not stop at text copy, use audio clips of a relevant podcast or embed a YouTube video to further back up your article. Break up large chunks of text with rich media images, GIFs, flowcharts and infographics.

Content has never been as important as it is right now, if you don’t keep up and expand your content development strategy then you will fall behind.