Writing articles and posting them to your website can be extremely valuable to your business. Some of the benefits of content marketing include:
- It keeps your network and current customers informed of what’s happening
- It engages new customers as news about your company is shared and liked on social channels
- It creates an active and busy website which can lead to higher engagement and conversions from your visitors
- it can improve your rankings on Google when done correctly
Many business owners I know are confident they can write an engaging article for their customers and potential customers. The area they are not sure about is how to optimise the article for the search engines. Here are some simple steps you can follow to optimise your content marketing to improve your overall web presence:
1. Decide How Your Article Will Fit Into Your Website
Does your intended article introduce new information to your website or does it elaborate on what’s already there?
Without considering this you may shoot yourself in the foot by creating similar information to another page already on your site. The result is the “cannibalisation” of your site where search engines do not know which page to rank for a given set of keywords. When there is multiple pages on the same topic often the result is the rankings of both pages is diluted.
If your intended article is very similar to other content on your site you may want to consider setting it to “no index, follow” using a plugin like Yoast SEO (if you’re using WordPress). This tells search engines to crawl the page, but not to include it in search results. Then within the article create an internal link to your main service page to further signify this page as the authoritative page you want to rank for on this topic.
2. Find a Group of Keywords to Target
If your article does bring new information to the site, you can determine some keywords to target within the content. Use the Google Keywords planner tool to find groups of keywords related to your topic.
Keyword research is a whole subject in itself, but generally you want to find a group of keywords with:
- High Search Volume
- Low Competition
- Relevance to your Article
Choose a group of keywords and naturally use them within the article. Don’t over do it. Write for humans first and Google second. Just use them naturally in the Headings of your article (especially H1) and in the first and last paragraphs of your article.
Try not to target more than one keyword group per page or post. These groups of keywords are a good indicator of how Google classifies information into groups and should be followed in the structure of your site.
3. Write At Least 500 Words
In recent years the Google algorithms have placed more emphasis on quality content over quantity of backlinks when determining which pages to rank.
For example, It’s very rare to see pages that rank in the top positions with less than 500 words. According to some, this number is only going to increase in 2016/2017 with suggestions of at least 1100 words per page if you want it to rank.
Not only will thin (low word count) pages not rank, they may also hurt the overall rankings of your site. There is strong evidence to suggest that google has an overall quality score for your website.
Among other things, that quality score is based on the number of thin pages on your site. If a website has too many thin pages, it will have a low quality score and all the pages on the site will suffer in rankings as a result.
If you do have thin pages on your site such as announcements, shopping carts etc, set these pages to “follow, no-index” using a the plugin mentioned above (Yoast SEO if you use WordPress.) This tells google to avoid indexing this page and not including it in the overall quality assessment of your site.
The exception to this is the contact page. Google expects websites to have a contact page which is likely to not have much text.
4. Try to Include Original, Optimised Images
Include 3-4 images throughout your article. Where possible make these original images of your products, workplace, or people. While stock photos or free photo sites like www.unsplash.com are good back up options, they won’t provide ranking opportunities that original or unique images provide.
Optimise your image by reducing it’s size and compression. While size is going to vary depending on the layout of your site, a good guide is:
- 1000px wide for featured images and smaller than 100kb
- 500px wide for article images and smaller than 75kb
This makes a huge difference to the speed of your page which affects user experience, bounce rate and rankings.
Ensure that each image you use you provide an “alt text” description. This tells Google what the image is and is another important optimisation factor on a page.
5. Write a Unique Excerpt
The excerpt is the summary of your article which appears on the blog feed on your site. If you don’t give your article an excerpt it will pull the first portion of text from the article and publish it on the blog feed. The problem with this is that it creates duplicate content within your site which can affect the quality score of your site.
A good practice is to place the blog feed on the home page. This will keep your home page continuously updated with fresh content from your uniquely crafted excerpts. One of my clients in the Fire Protection Services industry uses the home page blog feed to great effect. You can check their company website out at FCF Fire and Electrical.
A home page that is constantly updated with fresh information tells google that your site is living, active and relevant.
6. Write a Compelling Meta Title and Description
The Meta Title is arguably the most important part of your article when it comes to optimising for search engines. Here you want to include the keyword that you are targeting for the article near the start of the title.
The Meta Title will usually be used by google as the title of your page in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPS). As a result it should be compelling as well as including your main keyword. The more clicks your title attracts, the more likely the rankings for it will improve as Google knows its a relevant result for the search query.
An example of boring meta title: Law Firm Houston | T&J Legal Associates | Law Practice
An example of a compelling meta title: Law Firm Houston – Call Now for Free Initial Consultation!
Which result would you click on if you were in urgent need of a lawyer?
The Meta Description is the grey description which turns up in the SERPS. This should elaborate on your Meta title and also be compelling. Both Meta Titles and Descriptions can be configured using the SEO Plugin from Yoast.
These are the basics to a solid, optimised article for your website. Do you think I have missed anything? What have you found that works really well when it comes to optimising an article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.