Search engines prioritise high-quality content with
strong engagement, so the more shareable and authoritative your content, the better placed you’ll be.
The importance of effective SEO
Good content marketing is critical to the success of any website. Content has to be informative and engaging to the reader and give potential customers a clear idea of why they should do business with you. But it also needs to make sure readers can find you in the first place. This is where SEO content comes in.
SEO content is, put simply, content marketing that’s designed to increase your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO, or search engine optimisation, should be a topic familiar to any marketing professional, and you may think that surely all content should be SEO content.
The challenges of creating strong SEO content
There’s often a difference between content that’s primarily designed to be informative once users are on the page and SEO content that’s also intended from the start to attract search engine traffic. Whether it’s a blog post, a landing page or social media content, you need to consider its SEO value.
Optimising your content marketing to improve your search engine ranking is about much more than choosing the right keywords that users will be searching for. It’s how you write the page, how you structure it and how you integrate elements such as the title tag, meta description and internal linking. You therefore need to think about everything from what specific questions your target audience will be asking to ensuring your metadata is complete and accurate.
There are various SEO content writing practices you’ll need to be aware of to successfully improve your search engine results. These can be split into on-page SEO, off-page SEO and technical SEO, which we’ll explain in detail below.
Understanding all this and putting it into practice can be a complex process, which is why it pays to have an expert content marketing professional on hand to help with the creation of your SEO content. At Axonn, we’re specialists in this, and can provide you with quality content that gets your brand noticed by search engines.
On-page SEO optimisation
Any good SEO content strategy should start with on-page SEO. This is the element of your website that you have the most direct control over and without it, you won’t see any notable improvement in SERP performance.
What is on-page SEO optimisation?
On-page SEO refers to everything included on your web page itself that will affect its ranking within search engine results. This includes the title tag, sub-headings, linking, imagery, keywords and, of course, the content itself.
These elements are still the most important factors search engines take into account when delivering results. Google, for example, explains how it evaluates web pages as follows:
“Algorithms analyse the content of web pages to assess whether the page contains information that might be relevant to what [users] are looking for. The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant.”
However, there’s much more to on-page SEO than choosing the right keyword. Search algorithms look at a wide variety of factors to determine whether your page is actually answering a user’s query.
For example, Google notes that if a user is searching for ‘dogs’, they probably want some specific information, so a page that just has the target keyword ‘dogs’ on it repeatedly isn’t going to help them. So instead, the search engine’s algorithms will look beyond that primary keyword for other relevant content, such as lists of breeds, descriptive information or images and videos – each of which will need the right meta tag to ensure visibility.
Google’s algorithm is constantly being updated to make it better at this, so it’s vital to keep on top of any changes to know what factors it currently values as highly important when developing an on-page SEO strategy.
What are the main elements of on-page SEO optimisation?
There are several elements that you need to be paying attention to in order to improve your on-page SEO optimisation. These include:
First and foremost, your content needs to be up to scratch. SEO content can be anything, including videos and images, but most often it will be written copy. This must contain relevant top-level and longtail keywords so it’s vital you do thorough research to identify these terms.
Keywords need to be integrated organically throughout the copy – overuse of keywords has long been frowned on by search engines. The copy also needs to be up-to-date and valuable to visitors, so ensure you’re answering the main questions users will have.
The number and quality of links you have on your pages is another important element, as is how your site is structured. Easy-to-use navigation bars and internal linking with relevant anchor text that tells search engines what is being linked to are also highly valuable.
Outbound links also serve a useful purpose for SEO. While you may not want people leaving your website, external linking to good sources helps strengthen the trustworthiness of your web pages and adds context for a search engine to understand your site better.
Good use of tagging and metadata is essential in telling Google and other search engines what your page is about. Ensure each meta tag is present and correct – including the title tag and the meta description, which are what will be visible to users on SERPs – is vital.
These need to contain the right keyword and be compelling to users. In the copy itself, the use of heading tags tells search engines how the content is structured and what terms are especially important, thereby improving the ‘crawlability’ of your page.
Google heavily favours pages that offer a quality experience for end users. For example, pages that are optimised for mobile will be given higher scores than those that aren’t – hardly surprising, as more than half of internet traffic now originates from mobile devices.
Another key element is page speed. If your page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, Google will penalise it, especially on mobile. While your hosting and build has a role to play in this, you can also help on-page by removing or compressing large elements such as images.
What is on-page SEO optimisation used for?
Effective on-page SEO optimisation will give a search engine much more information on what your page is about and why users should want to click through to it. By using content marketing as an SEO tool, you can ensure your site is more visible to users and drive traffic.
While elements like social media are growing in importance as tools for getting your brand out there, when it comes to web traffic, search engines are still the primary source for many users. In fact, around 40 per cent of trackable web traffic comes from organic search – and more than half of clicks go to the top three results.
Therefore, good on-page SEO optimisation is vital for getting you up the rankings and closer to the most coveted top spots.
Off-page SEO optimisation
The majority of your SEO content marketing efforts will naturally focus on improving your own web pages, but this isn’t the only way to use content marketing to boost your SERP rankings.
If you want to reach the top of Google’s rankings, you now need to be looking beyond your own site. This means using social media, building your brand recognition, link building and more. All of this falls under the banner of off-page SEO optimisation.
What is off-page SEO optimisation?
Off-page SEO optimisation is the counterpart of on-page efforts. While on-page efforts focus on your own web pages, off-page optimisation covers everything you do elsewhere. In the past, this was often focused on link building – the practice of generating backlinks to your content across other trusted websites – but in 2021 and beyond, there’s a lot more to this.
Referrals from other sites, social media conversations, guest posts, events or reviews all alert search engines that your brand is engaging, authoritative and trustworthy, which will be factored in when it comes to determining the rankings of your own pages.
A good off-page SEO strategy builds the authority of your site, but if done correctly, it can also boost your overall brand.
What are the elements of off-page SEO optimisation?
Off-page SEO is a wide-ranging discipline, and there are several options to investigate that may be more suitable for certain types of businesses. In general, however, there are a few key elements that you need to consider. These include:
This involves securing links to your key pages from other sites and is viewed by search engines as a major vote of trust in your site and singles it out as having quality content. However, not every backlink is equal and there are a wide range of metrics that search algorithms use to rate these.
A few good links from unique websites with a high domain authority will be much more valuable than a greater number of links from lower-quality sources and those that aren’t as directly relevant to your own business. To attract natural link building results, however, you’ll need top-quality content across your site.
Search may still be the primary way most people find your site, but social media is an increasingly common source of traffic. Therefore, if you can tap into this resource while also improving your website’s SEO performance at the same time, this is a win-win.
A positive, responsive presence on key channels relevant to your brand can make a big difference. Engaging with top influencers or brand leaders in your sector and keeping a close eye on your social media reputation can go a long way towards generating positive connections that boost your website’s visibility.
Producing high-quality content for other sites does a lot more than showcase your brand’s name and expertise to a new audience. The quality backlinks this generates not only drive direct traffic via link building, but also impress Google. What’s more, an effective guest posting strategy ensures your content marketing efforts are being seen by a highly relevant audience and positions you as an expert in the field – with the added SEO benefits being a great bonus.
Comments and reviews
Engaging directly with existing or potential customers is another way to get involved in conversations, build authority and find new opportunities to link back to your page. This requires a fine balance – be too aggressive in promoting your business and you’ll put people off, but be too passive and you won’t enjoy any SEO benefit. However, get it right and you can not only enjoy improved rankings, but drive more organic traffic directly to your site.
Other ways of improving off-page SEO include PR campaigns, local SEO, online events such as webinars, influencer marketing, and sharing documents or videos to syndication sites.
When do you need off-page SEO optimisation?
Great content is an ideal way to start boosting your site’s SEO, but increasingly, it’s not enough on its own. Your best-performing competitors will almost certainly be engaging in some or all of the techniques above, so if you’re not, you’ll automatically be losing authority to more active brands.
The third element of an effective search engine optimisation strategy is technical SEO. This covers all the aspects of your page that are needed to ensure sites such as Google are able to effectively crawl, evaluate and index your site. Conducting a technical audit to identify any issues is vital, as you can have the best, most engaging content marketing in the world, but if search engines can’t read it properly, it will never rank as highly as it deserves.
What is technical SEO?
At its heart, technical SEO is about ensuring search engines can find, crawl and understand your pages. It means meeting all the technical requirements these tools use to index your site. Of course, the likes of Google don’t spell out exactly how their algorithms work, and they’re constantly updating them, so technical SEO is an activity that also needs frequent refinement.
However, ensuring search engines can crawl and index your pages is just scratching the surface. A technical SEO audit should also ensure your site is mobile-friendly, doesn’t have a single broken link and is free from duplicate content.
What are the most important features of technical SEO?
There are a few key areas to pay attention to when conducting a technical SEO audit. It might seem complex at first, but by focussing your efforts on these key areas, you’ll go a long way to improving your SERP rankings – and an agency with experience in technical SEO services can help with the rest.
This is about ensuring your pages are visible to search engines. These tools work by ‘crawling’ the web looking for related content, which means following links and discovering content. Therefore, if you have an irrelevant or broken link, this will harm your overall score. High-quality internal linking and backlinks are also essential for good crawlability.
Content that is duplicated across a site, whether this is in the main copy or metadata, also reflects badly on you when determining search results. Yet according to SearchEngineWatch, 54 per cent of websites have duplicate metadata and almost 66 per cent have duplicate content that could be harming them in SERPs.
Pages that don’t perform well on mobile devices will be penalised in SERPs. But optimising for these platforms is about more than stripping out complex elements and simplifying the layout. Think about elements like font sizes, navigation bars and responsive design such as compressing or scaling images for smaller screens.
No website can be considered technically optimised unless it’s secure. There are a range of techniques you can use to improve this, but at a minimum, you should implement HTTPS across all your pages, which in turn means you’ll need an SSL certificate, as visitors who encounter security warnings when they arrive at your site won’t be back in a hurry.
Why is technical SEO important?
Good technical SEO is all about ensuring your site is visible to search engines so they fully understand what the pages are about and are satisfied they will be providing a quality experience to their end users. After all, it’s hugely important to the likes of Google that the links they provide are seen as high-quality to users. A technical SEO audit that looks at your existing content across your site, from the home page to an individual blog post, is therefore a must.
How to easily set up an SEO content strategy
So now you understand all of these essential best practices for optimising your pages for SEO, how do you go about putting them into action? Here are a few things to remember.
Taking SEO into account is vital whenever you’re putting together a content plan. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a landing page, blog content or more in-depth features, you should ask what elements you’ll need to include to ensure it doesn’t only appeal to visitors, but also to search engines.
This should involve the following:
- Good keyword research
- Complete metadata – title tag, meta description, image alt text, etc.
- A clear link building strategy, both for internal links and backlinks
- Great content
When developing a content creation plan to boost the search result of a page, there are also a few practices to avoid. Keyword stuffing, where a term is overused or placed unnaturally, is one common mistake made by firms that are too focused on SEO. Therefore, striking a balance that keeps your keyword phrase prominent without overdoing it is important.
Other mistakes to avoid include:
- Incomplete or duplicated metadata
- Not using enough links or failing to use anchor text
- Focusing on quantity over quality when link building
- Not taking into account off-site factors like social media
- Not considering page design/UX
There are a range of free and paid-for tools out there you can use to assess your SEO content strategy. These range from site checkers that can identify any errors in your metadata, link building or schema markup through to research tools that can help you identify a long-tail keyword to target on each page.
However, the best thing you can do to boost your content score in this regard is to engage an SEO expert to help your strategy and a good SEO content writer to put it into practice.
If you want to know more about how Axonn Media can help you make the most of your content marketing strategy, contact us today.