Working as a content marketing director, my team and I are responsible for the creation, editing, publishing and optimization of dozens of pieces of content each week. We strive to create relevant, meaningful and ultimately useful information for our readers. But, we live in the world of the internet, and no matter how beneficial our content may be, if no one sees it, it doesn’t matter. So, how do we optimize our content for search, but create content for people? The secret is not as hard as it might sound.
Write for Humans, Not Search
You don’t set out to create content for search engines, of course. You create content that helps, answers questions and provides utility. And, if you’re doing that, keep at it. If you’ve been creating content with the sole purpose of getting search engine optimization (SEO) juice, you need to rethink it and flip your intention on its head. Create your content for your customers and prospects first and foremost. Then, optimize it for the search engines.
Keywords for the Win
Keywords are your ticket to creating content for both people and search engines, and they’re an important component to any piece of content. By using keywords that people frequently search, you help search engines direct readers your way. The fine art of using keywords though, is finding the balance of using them in a natural way so they come across effortlessly and aren’t included to entice search. Keywords should merely be a part of the content and occur a few times within it.
We often get asked if there’s a “secret formula” for keyword density, or how often you should use a keyword within your content. Of course, it depends based on the length of your piece, but a good rule of thumb is about every 100 words, or so (disclaimer: This can vary and is not a hard and fast rule). If you have a 500 word blog post, try to use your keyword in the following key places:
- Meta description
- Photo name and description (if you have imagery)
- Intro paragraph, in the body of your post once or twice and in the last paragraph.
Above all else, content should rein supreme, so if using a keyword will disrupt your content, don’t use it.
When it comes to search engines, content still rules. Another way to give yours a boost is by including phrases that are related to your keywords. Search engines don’t just look for keywords, they also crawl your content for both keywords and phrases that are relevant to a specific keyword – this has a jargony name called latent semantic indexing which sounds a whole lot more complicated than it really is. For example, if you own a dog bakery and your keyword is “dog cakes,” some other related terms might be dog birthday cake, dog cake recipe, dog cake mix, etc. If a search engine sees these related terms within your content, it should rank your site over sites with just keyword optimized content. You can use Google Keyword Tool to research and find related terms.
So the big secret to optimizing your content for people and search? Create kick butt content that’s relevant and useful to people. Use your keyword prowess to help the search engines find your killer content and the people will come. The more people who come, the more the authority you build with search engines, and everything will be well in the world of content and SEO.
How do you optimize your content for people and search? Share your favorite secrets and tips!
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