When online experts talk about “organic” or “natural” search results, they are talking about what happens when you type in a phrase on Google and get results based entirely on relevance rather than paid-for results triggered by the mention of specific words and phrases.
There’s an important lesson here for anyone that writes content for their own website; if you want to improve your organic search results you don’t have to game the system. Just write regularly and in your own words about your area of expertise and try to create interesting and relevant content that is worth reading; you’ll soon rise up the search rankings.
With every update, Google has taken another step towards recognising and rewarding quality content. Its aim is to make sure that online browsers are provided with the most relevant and useful results – not websites that are stuffed full of keywords and little else.
Instead of wondering what Google’s web crawling bots – or spiders – might be searching for; write content that a real person (in your target market) would want to read. And the best way to write naturally is to think about how you might speak to someone in person.
Headings are crucial, of course. If they don’t resonate with your readers, then they won’t read on. Which means they will miss not just your lovely words of wisdom but any links or calls to action that you have included in your content. And the more your content is read, the more likely it is to be shared.
More and more online searches are questions — such as “where can I buy this?” or “how do I fix that?”. This is partly driven by the increase in voice searches via the likes of Siri, says Atom’s web analytics manager, Denis Butler.
“People often type questions into Google so it looks for ways to provide better, more accurate answers,” says Denis. “Asking and answering questions, with FAQs for instance, helps Google to find your content.”
What about keywords?
So is search engine optimisation a waste of time? Absolutely not! Yes, you need to write readable content but there are lots of ways to improve the potency of that content, in search terms, without damaging its integrity or quality.
Using a keyword tool is certainly good practice; however, it’s not about choosing the most popular terms across the board and then creating cookie-cutter content that you can find on any number of websites. An online keyword tool can help you find which phrases are likely to resonate with your, very specific, audience. These may not be the most popular terms but their particular relevance to your niche is what makes them so powerful.
At the risk of repeating yourself…
Everyone with a business website has at least one piece of content that has really soared above all the others; for some reason it has resonated widely and it keeps attracting visitors long after it was written.
Finding new ways to cover the same subject is not “cheating” so don’t be afraid to write about that topic again and again – as long as you avoid duplication. In fact you are cheating yourself if you don’t mine this rich content seam for as long as it works.
Give your content wings
Not every piece of exceptional online content gets the attention it deserves, although social media can certainly help get the message across. The fact is that you have to give your content wings if you want it to fly. And you can do that with good old-fashioned optimisation.
Make sure every piece of content has clear and relevant meta data and descriptions; include quality links to other content and encourage links back to your own. In other words, give the search engines a helping hand so they can find your content more easily.
So when it comes to online content, write for the reader and let the words come naturally. Then make them fly with optimisation.
Rachel Miller is editor of Marketing Donut.