I know what you're up to. You are trying to lure Google into stopping by and spending a little time. That's okay! I'm not judging you. I'm just as guilty as you are!
But I'm just going to be completely honest with you.
You're going to have to put out a little bit.
I mean you're going to have to be prepared to uh..do a little something for Google in exchange…. Just sayin.’
I'm talking about content. Google’s going to be crawling all over you using nothing but the algorithm method. Reading every little thought running through your code.
If you give Google what they're asking for, you might find yourself reaching heights you couldn’t have imagined before: ranking #3, #2 maybe even up to the tippy top of the search engine results pages.
Ok. I am going to assume for the sake of this article that you have already done the “mind-meld”. The mind-meld is my name for the keyword discovery process. That is when you go ahead and look at actual data to find out whether or not anyone has ever even typed in the phrases that you're hoping to rank for.
Knowing these words or phrases is going to be essential for writing or rewriting content that is friendly to the search engines.
Because trust me you don't want to be Master of your own domain.
My general philosophy about writing for a website is to write for people. Don't write for search engines.
Real human beings are the ones who are going to make the decisions here.
Plus, you don't want to sound dumb!
We've all been to websites where they keep using their keyword phrase over and over. It just makes you look like you don't really know what you're talking about.
Also, you have to remember that today's algorithm is going to be yesterday's news. Search software is always being updated but it will always be built to reward good content that is trying to help people. Websites with real valuable information are always going to be seen as more deserving by the search engines.
You always want to keep in mind your call-to-action: What is it that you want people to do now that they're on your website? Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you? If so is your phone number on every page? Do you want people to fill out your newsletter form? If so, is that made crystal clear?
Your call-to-action is going to play a role too in the content you choose to create.
The search engines are really interested in one thing: delivering to their customer (the person doing research) a list of resources that will help them get the information they need.
Google is not interested in being spammed, tricked, or catfished.
SEO content should not be about hidden little tricks but about really looking to help your customer get the information that they need.
So this does not necessarily mean that have to take a wrecking ball to your
website go out and rewrite every page on the site.
I know I said no trickery so here are some tips on things to keep in mind.
Take a look at your current copy check to see if you have given it a headline.
For example, you might have an About Us page that has a couple of hundred words in it but has no headline.
Put a headline in there. Give it a “heading” tag or at least bold the text. The search engines can tell when you have decided to give a little extra love to a word or a sentence. Even more importantly, headlines will help your readers.
Make sure that page content delivers what the headline promises or people will bounce off of your page and believe it or not Google knows when that happens.
Try to get the keyword phrase in that headline and see if you somehow can get that keyword phrase into the first sentence as well.
Another thing you can do is look through your site for terms that are kind of generic and see if they can be more specific without looking weird to the reader.
So here's an example. Let’s say you sell women's apparel and you specialize in
women's knit apparel, are you just referring to it as “women's apparel”? If so, see if it's appropriate and easy enough for you to change it to the more specific phrase.
Here's another example: You are a career coach but if you specialize in being a career coach for actors. Go ahead and add those qualifiers that are specific so you stand a chance of moving up in the search rankings for exactly what you do.
Another tip is to look for places where you're using singular phrases and turn them to plural. You want to be able to use both because people are looking for “plumbers” and some are looking for a “plumber” (singular). Yes of course Google knows the difference and will try to help the user regardless but why not cover yourself with the exact phrase match?
You should also be sure to add your location. If you are a business that serves a particular geographic region you want to make sure that you mention that you are the expert in that locale. Put your street address and local phone area code into your footer on every page.
A while back, there was a website that wanted to be ranked for “Finger Lakes Tourism”. However, they weren't using that exact keyword phrase in a way that the search engines could really understand what they were about: The keyword phrase wasn't in the heading, the first sentence, or even in the body of the home page or on the "anchor text" anchor text (the words that a link is placed on, often something like "click here").
So we put the keyword phrase “Finger Lakes Tourism” in the main heading and in the first sentence of the welcome text. And instead of "click here" We changed that to “Finger Lakes Tourism Publication”. This was a while ago and that site doesn’t exist anymore but chose changes helped to start getting traffic from searchers.
Some thoughts on writing brand new content.
A great rule of thumb comes from John Steinbeck: "It helps to pick out one person. A real person you know or an imaginary person and write to that one."
So if you don't think of yourself necessarily as a writer or if you get stuck, just close your eyes and imagine one of your customers. It could be an actual customer or your ideal customer and imagine that you're talking to them. What would you want to say to them? That we can make the process a lot easier.
If you're starting from scratch and thinking “what kind of content should I put on my website?” I recommend that you think about one or two keyword phrases that could fit together in a piece of content.
Here are some ideas for new web pages that could be crawled through and that you could easily put keyword phrases into.
Frequently Asked Questions. FAQ’s tend to be filled with great words and phrases about what you are providing. It just happens naturally.
Interview the CEO. Record a 5-minute chat with the company leader about anything from “what problem does the company solve?” to “why did you want to work here?” You don't have to ask too many questions (four or five questions will get you a good enough article).
Testimonials. There is no better web content than testimonials. It is naturally filled with keywords and it lets others do the selling so you don’t have to. Just ask your customers to write to you with something that you could put on your website. One of my clients had a stack of letters from patients. We just type them all up and it turned out to be 12 pages of testimonials content!
Press Releases are great. If you are attending any kind of fundraiser or event. Hell if you are going to the opening of an envelope, write a press release about. It is going to be great web content. Remember to put that on your website first before it appears on a newspaper's website. And make sure it is rich text (easily copied and pasted) and not stuck in a pdf.
Try to give Google at least 250-words on each page. Less than that makes it hard for you to surround the keyword phrase with some meaningful words that give context.
Use phrases and not single words. Example: talk about “Taxidermy Services” instead of just mentioning “taxidermy”.
Do your best to keep the keyword phrase intact. Keeping the words together in the correct order that Google’s customer types it. Sometimes that's not going to be possible without seeming spammy. If you need to separate the words with a couple of words in between them it is not the end of the world
Use multiple spellings. If there are other ways to spell your keyword phrases (legitimately), make sure you are including all the ways that spell them. Just don't use both spellings on the same page because that will make you look dumb! And you can use common misspellings too if you make it clear that “these are common misspellings” (you REALLY don’t want people to think YOU don’t know how to spell your own goods and services.
If you are stymied by how to structure an article, find one out there that you like and copy it. A structure that appeals to you like a headline with a couple of subheadings or if you are someone who loves seeing bullet points...whatever you like to read is the formatting that you would most be suited to writing. Use that as your template.
Use the more descriptive phrases are the inside pages and the broader phrases are for the higher pages like your homepage.
Put keyword phrases on your Alt image tags. Alt image tags are those little captions that pop up when you put your cursor over a picture on a website. Google reads those too!
Use punctuation to break up a phrase. Google can't read punctuation (bless its little heart). So if you're getting stuck feeling like you are just repeating that same phrase over and over, it's okay to break it up with say a period.
Here's an example: Again, using the keyword phrase “Ming Wang Knitwear”. For years women have been wearing Ming Wang. Knitwear continues to be in style. So the keyword phrase is separated by a period but Google doesn't know or care.
So hopefully these tips will ignite a little spark so you can set Google’s insatiable need for more, more, more…