I want to focus this blog on writing page content, but first, let me give a brief and general background of SEO and metatags. There are a number of metatags that can be placed within the head tag of an HTML document. In short, Meta tags are key things for all search engines that appear in the HTML code of a website page and they tell the search engines what the page is about. They are the first impression and point of contact for all search engines. Some examples of Meta tags are Title, Description, Canonical, Alt, Robots, and Keywords.
Back in the day, SEO (search engine optimization) meant adding as many keywords as possible on the page to match the keywords in the Meta tag “keywords”. The search engines simple ranked pages based on the repetition of these words. People began to use various tricks like typing keywords over and over and hiding them on the page. For example, if the page had background-color: white, and you made the font-color: white, users could not see them but the search engines would and used them in their rankings. It became a game of trying to trick the search engines. As a result, Google has stopped using the keywords Meta tag altogether. Keywords are still important (as I’ll explain later), but the Meta tag “keywords” is no longer used. Since Google is the most prominent search engine by far these days, I’ll focus on their new criteria for ranking web pages.
I recently took some college web design classes to refresh my knowledge and noticed a big change of focus in all web development that aligns with Google’s new search algorithms. It’s all about User Experience (UX) and User Interface Designs (UI). When I began designing websites back in 2002, quite honestly, it was all about what the client and designer decided was best for the users. The users of websites found and used what was available and everyone was happy. There were more users than there were websites for them to visit. I guess you could say it was a web developer’s market.
Times have changed quite a bit. Today the market is saturated with information and it is carried in everyone’s hands wherever they go from their smartphones. If you search for information and don’t find what you want immediately on a page, you can visit ten other pages within 30 seconds until you find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s actually quite amazing.
Now that the web is saturated with websites, it has become a user’s market and Google is totally focused on providing the end user with the best experience possible. This means that when a user performs a search, the goal in SEO (from Google’s perspective) is to return a page of results that are the most informative and rich in valuable information so that the user is completely satisfied by quickly receiving the information they desired and sought out. The goal (Google’s goal) is also to NOT rank high the pages that the developer obviously tried to outsmart the bots and weasel out of doing the work required to write good informative content.
This brings me to the purpose of this blog. How can you write your page content so that Google search bot’s eyes light up when they scan it?
First of all, it goes without saying that your content must be free of typos and be grammatically correct with proper punctuation. Proofread it, have your friend proofread it, then proofread it again!
Next, creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than anything. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means.
Although “keywords” Meta tags are no longer used in rankings, content keywords are heavily used in the Google search tools and ads. Once you decide on the keywords that your targeted users will use in a search (which should be done prior to writing your content), you can use these words throughout your content writing. There is a good argument for writing great content that is relevant to your service first, and then pull the keywords from it and maybe do some editing to make it all fit. Once you decide on them, adding them to the “keywords” Meta tag is a good way to keep track of what you decided they would be for purposes of ads, etc., even though Google will not use that Meta tag in their rankings. If you update your content and change your keywords, be sure to update the Meta tag just to keep track.
Knowing what your users are looking for is key, and remember that some of your users are more experienced in your services than others and will search using different (beginner) keywords. Therefore, write your content to cover both class of users by perhaps explaining the evolution of your services or products, which gives you the opportunity to cover all of their search words.
Your presentation should be as if you are not looking to sell, but instead looking to please. Of course you’ll have a call to action (“Call Now”, “Click here to order”, etc) on the page, but it should not look like you’re pushing that right away on your visitors. Since I am a web designer, I want to help to educate my visitors who may not fully understand web design and the process, and not expect anything in return. I love it when I need a new product for my home and I find a website that starts with relating to the problem I have that required me to need this type of product, then educating me about this type of product, how to decide which one I need, and even links to other products that are similar.
I could go on and on with examples of writing good content for SEO, but it’s a very simple concept. Write for the user as if you are the user. You want them to tell their friends about a great website resource they found because it is informative, interesting, and compelling. Businesses that get this are on the right track, not only with Google rankings, but also with building a user/customer base that will come back. When visitors feel like you truly care about their experience, they will respect and trust you, and ultimately you will profit.