10 Tips to Create Great SEO-friendly Content

Jan 25, 2011 9:22 PM  By

Great, compelling content is the lynchpin to any good search engine optimization strategy. At the most basic level, strong content is easier to market.

For example, if the information offered on your website is relevant, interesting, engaging, easy to understand, and satisfies a broad need for information, others will be much more likely to link to that information. These types of links provide a company with inbound links—a critical part of what you need to rank higher.

One of the best ways to build search credibility is social media. A great blog post, for instance, is much more likely to get shortened, linked to, posted, tweeted, and re-tweeted, thus driving even more traffic to a website.

Likewise, high-caliber video and images are more likely to go viral with repostings on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other blogs and social media sites. The more interesting, exciting, relevant, and informative a blog’s content, the more people will read—and encourage their friends and followers to read. The lead generation potential offered by contagious content is still relatively untapped.

What’s more, content is important for SEO itself: The text of a given web page serves as the main data that search engine web crawlers draw on as they work behind the scenes to categorize the web.

While keywords and phrases are clearly important for catching the attention of search engines, truly SEO-friendly content must offer not only those keywords, but also be easy to read, compelling content for the average Internet user. Targeted and engaging content can better position a website to attract the categorization and attention it needs to thrive.

How to you find or create great content? Here are 10 tips and tricks to consider:

Know your space. Learning the ins and outs of your web space is crucial to effectively creating innovative and thoughtful content, so read blogs, online journals, and social media posts (and their comments) often and thoroughly. Set up an RSS reader or series bookmarks to keep tabs on relevant blogs and articles, and keep up to date on important magazine articles and industry publications.

Know what the hot topic-du-jour is. Uncover trends through effective use of social media and social media monitoring tools. Twitter, Google Alerts and Google Trends, Technorati, and many other sites, as well as more traditional news publications, give companies the resources necessary to tease out trends and effectively incorporate them into content. By harnessing social media in this way, businesses can improve content and SEO.

Be a good online citizen. Abide by SEO rules (you can read more on Google webmaster Central) and follow good SEO practices, including proper attribution. All good and reliable news sites use proper attribution, links, and identify sources. If you want others to link and attribute content to you, lead by example. Part of good content is good sourcing.

Shift perspectives with a novel approach. There are few topics in existence in the world that have not been written about and findable on the web. Taking that information and offering new perspectives and insights, or presenting it in a more comprehensive or easily understandable manner can make for compelling content that people will want to share. Original perspectives set you apart.

Edit, edit, edit! Great content is not just about a great topic; it’s about clean writing. Content riddled with spelling and grammatical errors lacks credibility, no matter how innovative or original the topic. Make sure that content is clean, revised, and checked, preferably by more than one person. Two sets of eyes are better than one.

Keep it simple. While you should not dumb down your content, try to make it accessible and understandable to an average Internet user. This allows you to expand your audience beyond those who are already knowledgeable and informed about your subject.

Write like a reporter. The best news articles start with an information rich paragraph (the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story), followed by the bulk of the story and news at the end. This so-called “inverted pyramid” style of writing fits SEO and works harmoniously with Google’s automated crawling and categorizing of news. This will also ensure that the most important information is readily visible to a reader.

Align your target keywords. Be sure to leave time for an SEO-focused edit pass. Integrate your target keywords and phrases that are relevant to your topic into your content. General rules of thumb: For every 400 words of content, include at least two instances of your target keyword or phrase.

Carefully draft headings and subheadings. Never use the same headline as a major news outlet, or your headline will never be seen. Your headings and subheadings should also make use of keywords and keyword phrases.

Follow both function and form. Enhance your written content with a variety of images, videos, and illustrations to help break up the text and make the data more palatable and inviting.

Anthony Joseph is vice president of marketing and customer experience at Optify, a provider of online software for enterprise SEO and real-time lead generation.