In the last post, we started crafting our story by looking at some basic writing and optimization necessities. As we finish up this section, we'll look more at the content itself and how you can improve it for a better searcher and reader experience.
I talked a bit about integrating keywords into your content in the last post, but let's provide a little more background and context for how best to do that and what, exactly, it means.
Search engines don't read. They are not really looking for "keywords" as we seem to think, but instead they look for word duplication and context similarities on any given page. The search engines see a bunch of words, and within that content a few repeated words stand out. This gives the search engines clues as to what the topic of the page might be.
But when you add too many topics (keywords) to a page, the search engines can become confused. Or, actually, the topic becomes diluted and makes it difficult for the search engines to determine exactly what the page topic might be.
However, if all your keywords are variations of your primary page topic, you can see how the search engines really begin to understand the topic of the page because all the other keywords and content reinforce that particular topic.
The moral of the story here is to make sure your content is focused on a topic and use only keywords that reinforce that topic. You can target a lot of keywords on a single page, provided you keep those keywords tightly focused together.
Images can greatly enhance your content and improve its readability. While your content can be intellectually interesting, images make it visually appealing. Look at the difference between the recipes site shown in the image above and the one below:
Using images can make quite a difference, much like the difference between walking into a restaurant and smelling the scent of the table cleaner versus smelling a sizzling steak on the grill. The food may taste the same, but one of those two restaurants will have far more appeal than the other.
Because web content is no longer static, but it all has (or should have) a social element to it, it is increasingly important to go beyond just adding images to your content, whenever possible. Photos in particular add the capability of creating a social component to any valuable piece of content.
Integrating your photos to or from Facebook or Flickr, or other social photo services, allows for increased interaction and tie-ins from a number of different areas where your audience might be lurking. One of the goals of social content is to reach your audience where they are, not where you think they are (or should be). By using photo integration, you are not only making your content more visually appealing, but allowing your audience to find you wherever they socialize.
Video is huge online. Google's YouTube is the second most used search engine. People spend hours every week watching videos online in favor of traditional media entertainment. But, not only are they using video to entertain themselves, they are looking to video as a way to learn.
Search "how to" anything on YouTube and you're likely to find a video on that topic. When you do a search on Google, if they have any videos that they feel are relevant, they'll include those in the search results along with standard web pages. Video gives you additional avenues to be explored and possibly incorporated.
Any opportunity you have to include video in your content should be grabbed. Especially if it's your own video. However, even if you use someone else's video, integrating it into your content can provide additional context or clarity, and bolster your content's readability.
Not everyone will take the time to watch a video, but providing the option for those that will reaches out to a new segment of your audience. Plus, you still have the written content for everybody else!
Once you have people's eyes on your content, what now? Do they just read and go about their merry way? Or do you have something that you want them to do? Aside from the call to action that should be on the page, you might also want to speak to those that are not yet convinced or ready to take action. The best way to do this is to add links to other pages of your website.
Links provide a way for visitors to continue to engage with your website without having to "figure out" where they should go or what they should do to get more information. If you mention something in your content that is further explained somewhere else, link to it! If you have a resource that backs up your claims, link to it! If you mention an organization that re-reinforces your claims of superiority, link to that, too!
Links also provide a great way to add optimization into your content. Every linked "keyword" to another page gives the search engines an additional clue as to what that linked page is about. So don't ever use "click here" as your link text; instead, use the keywords relevant to the page being linked to.
The more links you have, the more traffic you can drive to other areas of your site. Without those links, you may be losing visitors that otherwise might remain engaged. However, there does come a point when you can have too many links!
People from every segment of your audience are going to have specific ways they interact with your content. Some people are scanners, and some are readers. Some are visual, and some are intellectual. Some want depth, and others want to keep it light and easy. But that doesn't mean you can't provide a method of interaction for (almost) everyone!
The three key areas to focus on to please as many people as possible are: how it looks visually, how it reads textually and what it says semantically.
Visually: If you strip everything out of your web page but the content, how does it look? Do you just have a bunch of words broken into paragraphs? Or do you integrate elements that make your content more digestible? Simply adding paragraph headings, bullet points, links and bolding key concepts can make your content much easier to read, scan and digest. Look for opportunities to break your content into smaller bites.
Textually: Keep your content focused on your point. Try not to meander, unless its done strategically. Make sure you speak in terms of how your customers will benefit rather than about how great you are. Writing from the customer's point of view can go a long way to persuading them you have what they need. When necessary, link to supporting information, even if it isn't on your site. Third-party verification reinforces your value.
Semantically: Keywords are your audience's language. Use them. Keep your writing active rather than passive. This keeps the reader engaged and ready to take the next action possible. Be sure to include calls to action that reinforce the next step in the process. For some that's a conversion, but for others that's simply more information. Use multiple forms of call to action to keep the reader engaged.
See all posts in this series:
Part 1: Intro / How Print Audience Differs from Web Audience
Part 2: Goals of Online PR
Part 3: Background Research
Part 4a: Crafting the Story p1
Part 4b: Crafting the Story p2
Part 5: Broadcasting the Message / Conclusion
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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