What Tools Can I Use To Improve My Content Writing?
High-quality content is readable, engaging, and fresh. Of course, what this actually means will depend on what type of content you’re writing and where it’s going to be placed. On a contact webpage, for example, you’ll want to ensure that users can access the details they need easily, whilst a social media post needs to be short and snappy.
Keep your readers, and Google, in mind at all times when you’re preparing content. From the moment you begin brainstorming ideas and choosing topics to the final edit, your audience and your rankings should be of paramount importance.
Google values original content, and your readers will too. Whilst hundreds of music sites may feature content about digital music, for example, find a way for your content to stand out from the crowd. Incorporating topical issues is a great way to enhance the quality of your content, for both your readers and your SEO. Current issues and the latest news are things your audience will be interested in, and Google values new content highly as well. Using industry updates or breaking news also gives you the opportunity to have an opinion on issues that matter to your readers and provide them with new insights and information.
How Does Content Writing Affect SEO
Effective SEO, or search engine optimisation, will help to get your webpages rank highly for particular search terms and keywords. However, there are a variety of techniques which should be combined in order to develop a comprehensive and effective SEO campaign.
After conducting initial keyword research and determining what key terms your users are actually searching for, you can begin your SEO campaign. Although there are various SEO methodologies you can apply, they can be broadly split into two areas; on-page and off-page SEO. Off-page SEO are things that, predictably, occur off of the webpage, so they aren’t visible to users. These may include backlinks, social media marketing, etc. On-page SEO tactics are things which happen on a webpage to enhance your rankings, and these are typically visible to your users.
Content plays a significant role in your on-page SEO. In order to appear in a high position on search engine results pages (SERPs), you’ll need to assess how every element on a page is optimised so as to comply with Google’s Guidelines.
As well as ensuring your content is relevant, informative, and engaging, it should contain relevant keywords where possible. However, keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs. Not only can it turn great content into incomprehensible gibberish, it can actually harm your SEO rankings too. Whilst keywords should be added to your content; they should be subtle and placed strategically and sparingly. Furthermore, keywords should always be used in an appropriate context.
When you proofread your content, it shouldn’t be obvious which words or phrases are keywords or terms. Both your audience and Google will quickly pick up on content which has been published solely to get keywords on the page, and they’ll punish you for it. Keep keywords minimal and contextual but ensure they’re there.
Basic SEO Content
Although your articles, text, and blog posts are valuable content, everything on your site is technically considered content. It should, therefore, be optimised for search engines. Creating a suitable page title and an excerpt describing what the content is about may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many webpages are lacking these straightforward SEO features.
In order to index webpages, search engines crawl the internet and use the information they come across to build their index and rank pages in relation to relevant key terms. By adding a relevant page title and meta description, you’re giving Google’s crawler, Googlebot, the information it needs to index and subsequently rank your webpages.
Similarly, adding a text description to video content and images is vital if you want your SEO to be effective. An increasing number of websites are incorporating video content into their digital marketing strategies, but forgetting to add a text description decreases the value of the content straight away. You could create an original, innovative, and funny video, only to miss out on the SEO benefits it brings because you haven’t added a text description.
Googlebot won’t pick up on the actual content of the video, but it will recognise the text description and the presence of the video content. As a result, an appropriate text description will ensure that your video content and images are counted when your site is indexed and ranked.
In addition to this, headings and subtitles should also be written with SEO in mind. These will reinforce the page’s purpose and relevancy to Google and other search engines, so keeping them keyword focused but natural and readable is important. Make sure you only use one Heading 1 (H1) title in your content. Google reads the H1 as the page title, so using more than one makes it confusing for the bots and devalues your content from an SEO perspective.
Creating Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions give you a great opportunity to advertise your webpages, tell users why they’re relevant and persuade them to click through to your site. However, there are some basic guidelines you should employ. Meta descriptions are generally limited to around 150-160 characters because Google will simply cut any additional characters off. Furthermore, as Google only usually displays the first couple of lines of a meta description, anything longer than this isn’t seen by users anyway.
Despite increasing the pixel size of meta descriptions, Google has muddied the waters somewhat when it comes to the optimal length. Some SEO commentators suggest that meta descriptions exceeding 200 words are now being published without being cut off, whilst others maintain that a 158 character limit is appropriate for the new SERPs design. To play safe, keep your meta descriptions to the usual 150-160 character limit until further clarification has been given.
In the meantime, remember that Google will switch your meta description out for its own dynamic description if it doesn’t think yours is relevant enough or provides a useful answer to the user’s search query. To avoid this, spend time writing effective meta descriptions for each webpage, and ensure they’re unique.
Creating Headline That Attract Clicks
Articles and blog posts will only be read by users if they can find them, but a catchy headline will compel them to click on your links instead of a competitor’s. In fact, headlines are so important that content writers will often spend as long creating them as they do on the rest of the article!
A headline which makes the reader curious is always a good way to increase click rates. Your headline should give users a glimpse into what they’re about to read, see or hear, but you don’t want to give too much away.
In addition to this, promising your readers value will give them a solid reason to click on your link and read the article. If you can identify a common problem users face and then promise a solution in your headline, readers will have enough of a reason to click that link.
Numbered headlines may be ubiquitous, but they’re everywhere for a reason; they work! ’10 ways to…’, ‘7 reasons why…’ or ‘5 strategies to…’, are common examples, but they tell your reader what to expect and give them a variety of options. Whilst one solution may not suit some readers, another one in the list will, and this ensures that every reader will get value from the post, thus increasing the number of users which are likely to click through your headline.
Blog Post Architecture
Blog posts are extremely important when it comes to content. The main pages of your website may contain service or product information, as well as contact details and information about your team, but this content won’t necessarily be updated on a daily or even a weekly basis. This limits the amount of fresh, new content on your site, which could harm your rankings.
By adding a blog to your website, however, you can add fresh content whenever you like. This keeps users happy by giving them new content to absorb and keeps them returning to your site and it also satisfies Google’s indexing algorithms.
However, your blog post architecture should be optimised to ensure you get the best results from it. Currently, Google is favouring long-form content over shorter posts, so more in-depth articles and posts can be beneficial. In any blog post, using subheadings and short paragraphs helps to make the content more readable, but this is particularly important when you’re producing long-form content. If readers are faced with a wall of text, they may automatically disengage. However, if you use subheadings, short paragraphs, bullet points, and numbered lists, this breaks the wall of text down and makes it far more manageable and attractive to read.
30 Point Content Checklist
We’ve created a helpful tool for you to use to better optimise your content. The Checklist contains 7 sections to assess your content on.
Search Engine Optimisation
Determine whether your content is searchable or not. Have you considered a keyword strategy and are you using your keywords as intended? Have you provided contextual metadata?
Measure the relevance of your content from topic title to ending remarks. Also, is it easy to understand?
Are your readers likely to be satisfied with what they have just read? Do they feel more informed having read your content and are they likely to continue reading your content? Are they engaged?
What is the purpose of the content? Does it put your reader’s needs first or your own? The primary focus should always be on the audience first, then on a blog subscription or other call to action.
How trustworthy is your content? Are your readers likely to trust it, or will they find it deceptive and unclear as to whether the content is fake or not?
Is the content a source of truth beyond your own blog. Are other websites linking to it?
Is the blog post written for someone who is a beginner on the topic, or is it written for someone who has more knowledge and is able to understand what came before?