This blog post is published by Markus Engel, Communication Consultants
Have you heard of SEO? Of course, you have. Search engine optimization has been around for a while. Optimizing your website, to increase its online visibility in a web search engine’s unpaid results, has had an effect on the way we are creating online content today. Keyword stuffing, meta tags and WDF*IDF bring a technical side to writing a story. In the good old offline times editors had learned and internalized an essential writing principle: mind your reader.
Does that still apply in times of SEO? Is the reader not necessarily a human being but a search engine’s crawler? The clear answer is: YES! Does that mean that a search engine optimized text is unattractive, difficult to read and comes just as a boring collection of keywords? Our clear answer is: NO! Search engines evolved from being mainly syntax or keyword based to recognizing meaning and context of text-based content for a semantic search.
Taking all the context information into account, search engines are creating a better user experience since they deliver relevant search results. At the end of the day, Google and other search engines would rather wish that readers experience well-written content while searching for input. So, that’s where we come back to what was essential in the past offline-days and what is still or even more important today: mind your reader!
Avoid silly mistakes when setting up websites
A search engine optimized approach needs planning well before you create the first text. If possible avoid a few mistakes and obstacles. But one thing at a time: let’s start with the setup of a website. According to the experts here are a few silly mistakes to avoid:
- Try to avoid large images and tables in form of a graphic. Search engines can’t read the content of pictures, and the pages take forever to load.
- When you set up your website, keep in mind that a page can always just be optimized for one key phrase. It is better to create several subpages each covering one topic than putting everything on one page.
- A separate page only to say “welcome” is not needed. The important information about your company should be in the title of your
homepage and therefore the first thing the user and search engine see.
- Google is awarding pages that load fast and are mobile friendly. Long loading times and desktop-only websites will have a hard time with Google.
- Google prefers sites that are trusted and certified, using https. This is because users can be guaranteed that the site will encrypt their information for that extra level of security.
Keywords are a must for SEO
Before you write a text for the website, collect relevant keywords from colleagues, clients and friends. Start an excel-sheet and use it as your keyword planner. Check other websites, for example of competitors, and find out how often the words you would like to use are searched for and rank in a search engine using the Google AdWords or other online tools. But careful: Just because lots of people search for a specific keyword, that doesn’t mean you should use it for your text – you will have plenty of competition out there. It’s better to use words only 500 people look for on monthly average than 5,000, if your chances of ranking first are higher. This way, you wish to identify your niche. Only using the term “vacation” as a keyword, for example, will give you a search volume of about 7,500,000 but only a low relevance. Better use keywords such as “vacation Canada online booking”. You will only reach a lower search volume but a higher relevancy. Best way is to find out how a user would search and plan your keywords accordingly.
Improve your ranking by following SEO-rules
Let’s continue with the good things you can do to improve your ranking:
- Write good snippets with all keywords but make sure you write them well. Text structure is important. Put the most relevant information in the beginning of your article.
- Write text by using keywords in an organic way. You should not stuff your text with keywords. Google recognizes an excessive use.
- Use common synonyms and paraphrase your keywords. As mentioned earlier, writing with SEO-standards doesn’t mean to phrase the text in a boring and technical way. You can be as creative as you want – just make sure to use the buzzwords. Search engines actually check the text to see if the editor has knowledge about the topic or if a robot has written the text.
- Subheadings consisting of keywords within a text are important – that’s how you tell the search engine what’s important and thus what the topic of your text is.
- Never try to outsmart search engines. For example, putting your keyword as white text on a white background. Search engines can identify those tricks and will rank down the page.
Online communication changes quickly and experts recommend to keep up to date and informed about new tools, algorithms, new channels to just name a few. However, that’s fun, isn’t it? And our clients appreciate our teams’ growing and always up-to-date knowledge, so they can focus on their own core competencies. In fact, a successful online presence is the result of a joint effort of all three disciplines: design, code and content. We as editors and project managers can actually do a lot to support our website programmers in their daily business and improve the website’s ranking in the search results if we “mind our reader”.