content is kingIf you’ve spent any time in SEO circles you’ve probably heard the expression “Content is King.” That’s because search engines are all about content – their job is to find it, index it, and match it as closely as possible to the search intentions of their users.  But Google, Bing and other search engines don’t see all content as equal. Content is King only when it serves the search engines’ goal of delivering high quality, authoritative and relevant results that closely match a searcher’s intent.  The higher the quality of your content, the more likely it will rank well in search results for your desired audience.

But what does high-quality content mean in the world of SEO? Correct use of grammar? Valuable insights? Newsworthy copy? A clever turn-of-phrase? Lots of SEO keywords?

The answer is Yes to all these questions. But quality is in the eyes of the beholder, and your target audience is the beholder you’ll want to please.  So, the first priority is to understand what information your intended audience will consider valuable.  As a marketer, you probably know that already, or you may want to do some customer research to get a better idea. There are also some important SEO-focused quality measures that will help the search engines to rank your blog or website higher. Not surprisingly, these are tips that most journalists use to make a story rank higher in the minds of their human readers too.  At the end of the day, these are qualities that make content worth reading – by anyone.

  1. Clear, focused content. As any good journalist will tell you, don’t wait to tell readers what your page is about – state your main point up front and use the rest of your article or page to back up that main point.  Search engines would agree.  They cannot display your content to searchers if they don’t know what it’s about. And they want to know that from the top. So, make each page distinctly about one topic, and select one or several keywords to represent that topic, then put those keywords where the search engines look: Title tag, <h1> and <h2> (heading) tags, first sentence, bold and bulleted text, and sprinkled throughout the page copy.
  2. Unique, original, and valuable content. The more you can differentiate your website or blog content, the more you’ll stand out.  And the more you choose topics that your readers value, the more likely they will be looking and will find you.  Like a newspaper reporter seeking a unique angle, search engines will likely give you more notice if you carve out a new or different perspective.  What’s more, if you have something new or different to say, your writing will more likely be shared on Facebook and Twitter, which will broaden your exposure and give you more clout in search rankings. So, write content with your own original insights, be clear about what makes you different, express yourself in unique ways, and you’ll be on your way to standing out and getting noticed.
  3. Fresh, new content. Ask any reporter – news is hot! Fresh, frequently updated content lets a reader know your site is vibrant, active, and worthy of repeat visits.  Search engines will read it as a sign of reliability and a signal to return to your site often.  If you can add content regularly (with a blog, for example, or new pages), you can expand your range of content and enlarge the “funnel” of keywords that point visitors to your site.
  4. Action-focused content.  Journalists know that action makes for a good story. Good marketers know that a “call-to-action” can turn a prospect into a lead and ultimately into a sale. It is also a good way to draw a website visitor deeper into your site, and convert them into a paying customer.
  5. Keyword-rich content. The journalist analogy is a stretch here, as reporters don’t intentionally fill their stories with loaded words for calculated effect (or do they?).  While human readers don’t fall for such tactics, search engines do, and they’ll rank you better for keywords that are prominently (but naturally – no stuffing!) featured on a page.

If you follow these tips, your content will be king and will serve its subjects well.  The next step is to make incoming links your queen.  But that’s a topic for another post.

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