Ten Steps To A Well Optimized Website - Step 2: Content Creation
Welcome to part two in this search engine optimization series. In part one we covered the importance and tactics for choosing the keywords and keyword phrases that will provide the highest ROI for your optimization efforts. In part two we will discuss how to properly write content for high search engine positioning.
Content is the key to search engine rankings. While there are numerous factors involved with the search engine algorithms, content remains a constant in stable rankings for a number of important reasons.
Over this series we will cover the ten key aspects to a solid search engine positioning campaign.
The Ten Steps We Will Go Through Are:
Keyword Selection (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/articles/search-engine-positioning/keywords.htm)
Step Two - The Importance Of Content
There are many aspects of your content that are of key importance to your search engine rankings and for a variety of reasons. That said, they can be broken down into their three main benefits. The three main things you should be targeting with your content are:
Unique and well-written. The search engine spiders are looking for unique content and your visitors are looking for well-written content.
With articles come links.
With quality content comes even more links.
As long as you keep these three main purposes in mind while you are deciding what you want on your website and how it should be worded, you will fill this area nicely.
Unique & Well-Written Content
The importance of unique and well written content cannot be overstated. This is the backbone and purpose of your website's existence and it deserves the time it will take to create. When you are considering what content you want on your site (or what content should be on your site if this is part of SEO or a redesign) you will want to make a few considerations.
What does your audience want to find?
Will you have to do additional research?
Are you an expert writer or do you have one on staff?
What Does Your Audience Want To Find?
Assessing your potential visitors wants does not require a crystal ball. If you have completed and spent quality hours on Step One of this series, fully researching your keywords, you are already well on your way. Delving into those keywords you will often find hints that will push you in the right direction.
If you have an acne site and you have found a number of people searching for "acne treatment" and "natural acne treatment" and have thus chosen these as your targeted keyword phrases you already understand your visitors current situation and more importantly, their desire. Similarly, if you are a real estate agent and have chosen "los angeles real estate" as your phrase you know more than simply characters strung together and dropped into a search box. You know that you are dealing with people wishing to purchase or sell a home in Los Angeles. In both scenarios you know what your visitors want and, assuming you are already successful in your industry, you know what you have to do to convert that desire into a client.
Now what has to be done is to create solid, compelling content that will both grab your visitor's attention and at the same time, make them want what you have to offer. This is not the same as selling to them when you have the opportunity to speak to them face-to-face. You are working without the benefit of watching their expressions, speaking to them about their objections, or even understanding whether they are looking for information for a friend or if it is they themselves who require your services.
This leaves you with a lot of room for content. In the online environment you have to deal with every question before they ask it, and make every person feel that you can help them even though you've never met.
What does your audience want to find? They want to find a solution to their problem. How do you provide that? By supplying them answers to the questions that they don't have the opportunity to ask and may not want to give you their email address to find out. FAQ pages are good but often used as sales pages, which is fine so long as you are still providing good content that your visitor isn't reading as "sales" but rather "solutions". Perhaps create pages of replies to emails you have received. Perhaps place a related "fact of the day" on your homepage with a link to an archive of facts related to your industry, product and/or business. You might even want to add a blog to your site. Regardless, give your visitor the answers they're looking for and keep this information updated as you get new information and you will stand a much better chance of keeping that person surfing through your website. The longer you can keep them on your site, the greater the chance that you will build trust and once you've got that, you can help them with the solution to their problem.
Will you have to do additional research?
For many business owners the gut instinct to this question is"no". Of course not, you are an expert right? Well you may be, and so is Professor Stephen Hawking (http://www.hawking.org.uk/home/hindex.html), however my bet would be he still does his research.
No matter how much you know there is always more out there and your visitors are probably well aware of that. If you fail to address all their questions, your visitors may very well leave your site in search of the answer. Once they've left your site it becomes other webmasters who now have the opportunity to present the benefits of their products or services.
Find all the information that you can and make sure that you include as much as possible on your site. The additional benefit in doing this is that constant new information on your website will not only keep visitors coming back to find new information but the search engines spiders too. If your site changes often the spiders will pick up on this and will visit you more often. While this by itself will not improve your rankings it does give you an advantage. The more often search engine spiders visit your website the faster changes you make will be picked up. The faster these changes are picked up the quicker you will be able to react to drops in rankings. If you know the spiders visit your site every second day and you drop from #8 to #12 you know that with proper tweaking to your content you may be able to recover that loss in as little as two days.
Are you an expert writer or do you have one on staff?
When you need a doctor do you read a book entitled "Heart Surgery For Dummies" and buy yourself a very sharp knife. Of course you don't and while your website may not be quite as important as your heart, it is how your company is being perceived online. This perception can be the make-or-break of all your online marketing efforts.
If you are committed to attaining high rankings, to making money online and/or promoting your business through your website, shouldn't you also be committed to insuring that your conversions are maximized. High search engine positioning is important but so too is converting those visitors once they get to your site. You may be an expert in your field but if that field isn't writing, and you don't have a writer on staff, be certain to at least consider hiring one to make sure that your website is conveying the message you want in verbiage that your visitors will understand. Assuming you choose your writer well you will not only have a well-written site but you will also gain the advantage of having an outsider, who is more likely to write for people who aren't experts, creating your content.
If you feel that you are qualified to write your own content (which you may very well be) be sure to have it proofread by someone from the outside. Find someone (ideally plural) from within your target market and demographic, and have them go through your content giving suggestions and criticism. Don't take it personally, every change they recommend is earning you extra money. Whether you implement the changes or not you are learning something new about what people will want and expect to see on your site.
With Articles Come Links
Writing content is not just an exercise for your own website. We all know that inbound links to your site help rankings. Additionally, if those links can be ones that provide genuine targeted traffic you're doing very well.
There are a number of methods for driving traffic to your site with paid advertising, PPC, etc. however one of the most cost-effective methods is to publish articles. Article writing is no simple task however the rewards can be enormous. Articles server two great purposes:
Increased Link Popularity - When you write an article and submit it to other website to post, they will generally link to your website from the page the article is on. Here's a completely legitimate, relevant, and quality link to your site.
Exposure & Credibility - The added credibility that article writing lends to your business coupled with the added benefit of the visitors who come to your site directly from your article are invaluable.
When it comes to article writing there is little in the way of more effective advertising. You will have to find sources to publish those articles on, but once you've done this time-consuming task you can reuse the same list for future articles.
Get those articles on a number of quality resource sites and enjoy watching your stats and your rankings improve.
With Quality Content Comes Even More Links
Yet another benefit that derives from having a website with great content and writing articles is that, with time, your website itself will become a resource. If you provide great information that other people will find useful people will link to it naturally.
With so much emphasis in recent times on reciprocal linking some might think this is the only way to get links at all. Believe it or not there are still webmasters out there who will link to sites for no other reason than they feel their visitors will be interested in it's content.
Build a good site with quality content, keep it easily navigated and create sections for specific areas (articles for example) and you will find that people will link to your site and may even link to specific articles or your articles index. Perhaps then your articles index is a good page to target an additional keyword phrase.
Next week in part three we will be covering site structure and the importance it plays in your rankings and in visitor experience. This will cover getting a spider through your site while also giving your visitors an easy path to the pages you want them on.
About The Author
Dave Davies is the owner of Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning (http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/). He has been optimizing and ranking websites for over three years and has a solid history of success. Dave is available to answer any questions that you may have about your website and how to get it into the top positions on the major search engines.
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