A few weeks back, I quoted on website content for a fairly small business. Not only is the business small, but it is also niche, aimed at a very small section of the global market. He replied to my quote saying that he’d only accept it if I could assure him of good rankings. I’m flattered at how powerful some people think I am, but it was a little disheartening to tell him that SEO (search engine optimisation) is a slow, organic process. It can’t be bought or forced. It’s complex and multi-faceted. It’s a common misconception that, by using keywords and -phrases, I can somehow engineer good rankings, sky-rocketing my clients’ websites through the search engine system to hit number one. Or, at least, two or three.
I can’t. But, the most important way anyone can get good rankings is through good content. So, although I can’t promise anything in terms of what the search engines choose to do with the rankings, I can share my insights on what makes for good, “rankable” content.
First of all, your content needs to be original, well researched, and well written. Don’t waste time with content writers that aren’t equipped to produce this level of service for your product or service. Any kind of plagiarism is a massive no-no. Regardless of whether you’re punting accommodation at the V & A Waterfront or selling boards that fly above water, you need good, original, worthwhile content for the search engines to take you seriously.
Content that is favoured by search engines includes the following features:
- About 150 to 300 words after each subheading.
- A combination of short and longer sentences. The majority of your sentences (75%) should have fewer than 20 words. Paragraphs should only be about 150 words long.
- As few passive sentences as possible. An active sentence is “I write online content”. The passive version is, “Online content is written by me.” But, sometimes, this isn’t as easy to pick up.
- Sentences (about 30% of your total content) with a transition phrase like:
- Most of all
- Keyword(s) in the first paragraph of your page or blog post, as well as in two or three of your sub-headings.
- Keyword included (in a natural, organic, non-repetitive way) a few times throughout the text.
- The keyword in the SEO title (preferably as the first word), meta-description, and slug.
- Internal links (to other pages on your own website) and external links (to pages on other websites).
- Images that are either original or attributed to the original source.
- Images with alt text, which is used heavily by the search engines. So, make it count. Rather than using a generic description or leaving it out altogether, use this field for your SEO. For example, for this piece, the alt text on my image is “search engine optimisation (SEO) for blog content” Alt text is the text that will be displayed when the image cannot, for a variety of reasons.
- Images with title text, which is what pops up when you hover over the image. This needs to be brief, descriptive, and in line with your keyword.
- A total minimum of 300 words.
Wrapping It Up
I really can’t stress enough that there’s no short-cut to good SEO and ranking. But, I do hope that these tips (most of which are provided by the Yoast plug-in for WordPress) give bloggers, content writers, and those running their own sites a better idea of the process and preferences of the search engine gods. Also, just try to implement most of them. It’s probably going to sound inauthentic if you compromise the quality of the writing just to include every element of SEO mentioned above.