The Basics of Good SEO: Content

Search engine optimization is like walking the middle ground between computers and people and needing to communicate effectively with both. It may sound intimidating, but thankfully Google’s efforts to make search engine results pages (SERPs) more useful to humans has the side effect of making SEO itself more human-friendly. Here’s why:

The #1 most important factor in SEO is good content.

It’s fair to say that modern SEO revolves around good content. The days of trickery are over: attempting to fool a modern search engine will result in penalties. So what constitutes good content?

  • Write for people.
    All the changes Google has put into play have the same purpose: to fill SERPs with useful content that human beings— not computers— want to see. Write with your readers and customers in mind, not search engine algorithms.
  • Add value.
    The best content is interesting and helpful. Teach your audience something or solve a problem for them. Content shouldn’t exist just for its own sake; it should be worth reading, and readers should feel enriched by it.
  • Write with authority.
    Cultivate your language to avoid weak statements and write with confidence. Be persuasive. Your readers should feel that you know what you’re talking about! Even if the topic is new to you, don’t let uncertainty bleed into your wording.
  • Write well.
    Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important in professional writing, and for SEO the more professional the better. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus on hand, and brush up on style. It will get easier!

You may feel inadequate to the task if you’re not an experienced writer, but keep in mind writing is a skill like any other. Good writing can be learned and improved through practice. In fact, you can implement the first two points even as a beginner— the first point, “Write for people,” comes naturally, which is why search-engine-targeted writing sounds so artificial and forced. The second, “Add value,” simply means have something to say, don’t write just to fill space. The most authoritative and well-written article in the world is useless if it doesn’t actually tell you anything!

We discussed content first because it’s the most important ranking factor in modern SEO, but you should not jump right into content writing without understanding the rest of the process. Content is the meat, but keywords are the backbone— you shouldn’t write a word of content without first doing keyword research and writing your headline. Fortunately, keywords and headlines both serve as excellent writing prompts to get your content underway and make the whole process easier.

The next lesson will cover the technical part: keywords, headlines, and meta tags.

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