Now that you understand the Golden Rule of SEO, I’ll tell you the most common advice in almost every single beginner’s guide to SEO: Create quality content that is valuable to your target audience. When starting your SEO research, you will undoubtably run into this phrase many times, that’s because it’s true. It all goes back to building content for actual people.
How do you build valuable content and how do you know what is valuable? You can start by making a list of things (products, services, knowledge, etc.) that you offer that helps solve searchers’ problems or questions. Is your list composed of unique or hard to come by items? Perfect! That means you offer something valuable. Content creation for SEO is all about letting the world know about that value.
Your content should focus on the unique and valuable things you offer. This is important because unique content means less competition when it comes to keywords (we’ll get to that later). Less competition = higher results = more traffic.
Once you’ve identified your value, aim to create content that solves a problem or answers a question. If you have a brick and mortar business, what types of questions do your customers ask? If you have an e-commerce site, what questions do you anticipate buyers have about a product or service? Step into the shoes of your target audience and think like them. Don’t think like an expert in your field, think like a newcomer searching for information.
Creating Your Content
The next step is to actually create your content for SEO! That means writing words. Words are the heart and soul of search engine optimization because words are what search engines can actually read. Things like images, videos and flash may help make your site look pretty, but they do little to help with SEO because search engines can’t read them.* There are ways to enhance images for better SEO, but that’s another topic we’ll save for a different day.
*A note on images and videos: Images and videos are not bad for SEO! Images and videos can enhance the value of a page, which is never a bad thing. But avoid using images that are just text because that text is not readable to search engines. Instead, incorporate that get into the body of your page. When using videos, some SEO blogs suggest including a transcription of any words spoken in the video. This will not only help improve SEO, this can also help improve the user experience. Some people may be hearing impaired or simply prefer to read instead of listening to video.
When writing your content, a general rule of thumb is the longer the better. That doesn’t mean everything needs to be a novel, but longer content generally means more value. You want to cast a broad net that answers more than one question for a reader.
One reason this is important is because search engines track how long a user visits your website. If a visitor sticks around longer than a couple seconds, to the search engine that must mean your website successfully answer the searcher’s query. Once again, your goal is create a page useful for a real person. Longer content also means more words for search engines to crawl and more opportunities to utilize keywords.
Laying Out Your Content
Just like when brainstorming for content, when it comes to laying out your content always keep your audience in mind; that means: make sure your page is easy to navigate and easy to read. If it is easy for humans to navigate your site and find important information, then it should be easy for search engines to do the same thing. A few basic steps you can take to ensure your website is easy to read and navigate are:
- Use accurate titles
- Separate sections with appropriate headers
- Avoid long paragraphs
- Utilize bullet points or lists (like this one!)
- Link to related pages (when appropriate)