It wasn’t long ago when spammers could make “SEO-friendly content” that would rank first on search engines with sneaky tactics like keyword stuffing and/or hiding keywords in the page so readers couldn’t see it, but crawlers could.
Luckily, today’s algorithms are much more sophisticated. They can spot these unhelpful pages and penalize them for their attempted trickery.
So we’re not here to share high-risk corner-cutting tactics that leave users disappointed and algorithms suspicious.
We’re going to talk about SEO-friendly content, which is a slow-growth, time-intensive strategy. This means that this work doesn’t result in overnight success (well, not usually anyway). But these tactics ensure a healthy website where every page considers readers and robots.
1. Satisfy The Searchers’ Query
Know what users want and give it to them. What we mean is if the users want a quick, to-the-point article that outlines the information succinctly, then that’s the best thing you can create, even if outside sources tell you a specific word count is better.
Alternatively, your readers could be looking for a more robust resource that gives them a deep understanding of the topic. Maybe, they prefer images, graphics or videos to help support the main ideas. Either way, you want to be the best resource on the topic to rank on the first page of a search engine.
How do you know what your readers want? You test everything. Each month, quarter and year, identify your top-performing and lowest-performing content. Try to find similarities like topic, length, author or tone. Then, work on creating more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
2. Provide Useful and Interesting Information
It would be best if you always strive for SEO-friendly content that is clear and void of buzzwords and industry jargon unless your target audience expects the language. Ambiguity isn’t helpful because you’ll lose the reader by taking them in a direction with no destination.
Being useful also means using relevant and unique examples. An excellent example will make your materials make so much sense that everyone goes “duh.” But more of an “ah-ha,” not a sarcastic “obviously.”
You’ll create interesting content by joining conversations, not copying the types of content that already exist.
For example, if there are ten different lists on “The Best Apps for Productivity,” you don’t want to create yet another list. Or, if you do, you don’t want to mention all the resources other sources already say. Instead, maybe you make a comparison between two or three apps. Or, try to do something entirely different like “The Worst Apps for Productivity.”
You can choose to bring in a subject-matter expert to add more depth and authority to the content as a way to outperform competitors in the space.
3. Create a Sufficient Quantity of Content
Excellent content takes time and expertise. It might also require in-depth industry knowledge. Most importantly, make sure your content is both factually correct and comprehensive.
The answer to the question “how long should content be to rank on a search engine” will vary from 1,000 to 2,400, so while that’s a significant range, and the competing answers can be confusing, what we know is the 500-word article is no longer competitive.
We’re not here to argue that the quantity of words correlates with the quality of content—because it doesn’t.
Instead, know that there is some weight given to robust content for many topics.
However, that answer might change if you answer a question that needs a simple definition like “what is a use scenario?” In this case, a shorter response might compete because the best content gives a concise and clear response.
Length also plays a role in YouTube performance. Videos are rewards for watch time, not completion. So if you have a 30-minute video and viewers only stick around for 12 minutes and you have a 3-minute video and viewers watch the entire clip, the 30-minute video will outperform the shorter video.
4. SEO-Friendly Content Requires a Linking Strategy
Links are how visitors navigate your website while they hunt for specific information (or browse exciting topics). There are three types of links, and they all play a critical role in your SEO strategy.
- Internal links point to other pages on your website. For example, we could drop a link here to last week’s blog.
- External links take you to content on OTHER websites. These are a great way to show your research.
For example, we could say, “SEMRush conducted a survey of 850 SEO and digital specialists in 2021 to uncover the most effective link-building strategies, and more than half leverage guest posting.” The link is an outbound link that delivers the reader to your source. PRO TIP: While you upload the blog onto your website, have this link open in a new tab, so readers aren’t redirected from your website when they click on it. Most web hosts have some option to make this your preference.
- Backlinks (aka inbound links) are gold in building your credibility with algorithms. But they’re hard to earn. They take a certain amount of relationship building and effort. It requires you to have quality content that people want to link to.
We might build backlinks by finding any time a resource mentions the Pragmatic Framework (and ask them to link to our Framework page). We could also find websites that have product management content that is relevant. If they have links leading to 404 errors, we could send them a friendly email and a live link to a resource on the Pragmatic Institute website to replace the broken link. There are many quality backlinking strategies. But be wary of those that offer quick wins. Google weighs the source linking to you. Some companies offer “backlinking” services that aren’t above board (as far as Google is concerned). They build thousands of low-quality websites and link to you (and all their other clients) to show how many “new” backlinks they “earned” you. Finally, Google warns against paying for links unless they are properly labeled as an advertisement. Buying or selling links as a part of a backlink strategy can result in penalties and negatively affect your site’s ranking.
5. Optimize Your Images
Depending on your content, some people will prefer Google Image Search over the main search function. So, simply knowing how to upload images to your website properly can improve your traffic. Regardless, having a system to incorporate images on your site correctly improves the user experience and helps algorithms effectively index your page.
Here are some image best practices:
- Your website should have a responsive design, which means images should be automatically re-sized and clearly visible regardless of the user’s device. You can use this Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google to understand how easily a visitor can browse your page on a mobile device.
- For each photo, provide a title, caption, file name, and alt text. These elements not only improve your SEO-friendly content but also have the added benefit of improving your site’s accessibility for the visually impaired. Pro Tip: Avoid keyword stuffing in your alt text. Instead, give a clear description of the image while considering the context of the article.
- Resize the image to improve speed (a critical SEO factor). Any time you can improve website speed, you’ll improve your SEO. Users aren’t interested in staring at a blank screen for several seconds, waiting for the page to load. The slower your page speed, the lower your ranking. PageSpeed Insights is a free Google tool that can help you check if photos, videos or audio are slowing you down and negatively impacting your rankings.
6. Consider a Multimedia Approach in Your SEO-Friendly Content
People learn and engage in a variety of formats. Now, creating a multimedia experience on every webpage is easier than ever. You can use video, text, audio and images to help the reader understand the topic.
Many websites are taking this approach to their long-form content strategy to help boost the time-on-page. You can embed a podcast or video on most platforms, making it possible to write text and provide a video to emphasize your point and help visual learners.
Here is an example from Moz using this multimedia approach by leveraging Gifs and screenshots to explain speed optimization better. And another example is Sprout Social using a similar method to explain how to use Instagram for listening.
7. Carefully Craft Title and Meta Descriptions
Every page has a title element that provides users and algorithms with the page’s topic. The Meta description provides a page summary for the search engine to display under the title.
The page title should match the page content and be easily read and understood. In other words, it shouldn’t be meaningless or ambiguous like “June Article.”
The title should also be brief, or it might be cut off on the search engine results page.
Every page should include a meta description because Google might use them for your results. However, Google could use a snippet of relevant text instead if it directly correlates with their user’s query.
The purpose of the meta description is to provide an accurate summary and generate interest in the content.
While content is critical to successful product management and product marketing, it isn’t the only element that matters. When you enroll in Market, you gain a thorough understanding of your buyers and how they like to buy so you can build the product marketing strategies that deliver results.
You’ll also learn how to measure your strategies against the metrics that matter most to your organizations, focusing on outcomes and impact, not vanity.