All websites need to reflect the brand, tell the target market what you do and have effective ‘Calls to Action’ in place. But then, it’s all pointless if no one can find your site in the first place. This is where content is king – as is knowing how to write content for Google – which has changed and, we feel, improved over the years.
When we wrote content for the first VG&A website in 2010, we probably went through at least five drafts before we decided upon the final ‘live’ version. We found it hard to write for our audience, comply with good SEO practice and at the same time, succinctly communicate our services. If only we knew then what we’ve learnt now! Ah, but we do know so much more now and that really helped when writing for our new website last year.
Write for your customers:
Firstly, we now know that content has to be written for your audience and not just a bunch of SEO terms. By writing in a language that your audience actually understands (and not just the Google bots) obviously also help attracts them to your site and gives your customer a good experience. Think about the search terms your users would use to find your website and make sure you incorporate these words within your content.
Content should also be as high quality as possible. That means writing articles or blogs which are original and relevant. Where you can, give your own review, some depth and insight into your knowledge of a particular subject matter. Your customers are looking for something unique and added value by choosing to visit your site and not just read duplicate content they can find on other sites. This will help reflect well on your business and give confidence to users who may be new to your site. Your objective is to engage your users so that they will stay on your site, return to your site and even recommend your site.
The last thing you want to do is deceive your users, so make sure the content you write is accurate so that visitors are not disappointed when they reach your site. This also relates to the <title> elements and ALT attributes which should give a very clear and exact description of what you are offering. There is no point including words which have no real relevance to your core site. Users will get annoyed and simply bounce straight back to the Google listing to find a site which delivers what it writes. This term is sometimes called cloaking and can lead to you ultimately being banned from Google, so be warned!
No more tricks:
When we first learnt about how to optimise a site nearly ten years ago, there was a completely different set of rules to make sure your site appeared on the first page of Google listings. Now Google is far more genuine to its users and it’s all about good user experience. No more should sites be using keyword density, copying duplicate content across multiple pages, using competitor trademark names for keywords or linking to spam sites to improve ranking.
Another ‘trick’ is Doorway or Gateway pages which have seen a recent rise in optimising techniques. This is when you create specific pages for certain key terms to attract users. They can hold very little content and are usually there in the guise to lead you on to other areas. This is not necessarily relevant, can be quite annoying and a waste of time. Google is far more sophisticated and will detect this and catch you out. It’s now all about being relevant and honest with your customers. Build a simple, well-structured site that keeps both your users and Google happy.
There will always be new ways to help get your site noticed and listed higher than competitor sites. It’s important to keep up-to-speed with these new ideas and try and stay ahead of the curve to take advantage of quick and easy (legitimate) techniques. For example:
- Internal linking within your own site content on certain terms will help Google index and rank specific content.
- Using Google+ will also help rank content, especially if you share content via Google+ and users click on the Google + to show they like your content.
- Slideshare is a fairly new and popular way in how to display your content which Google can index in literally seconds.
- Optimised images can often be missed but is another simple way of attracting visitors to your site especially if images are the best way to view your product. However, ensure to use the relevant keywords in the name, title and ALT tags so that users can easily find the images and Google can index the content.
Ask the Experts:
Google has its own really useful guidelines for design and content as well as technical and quality: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
Nicola Peaty – Director, VG&A