Tag Archives: optimized content

Anatomy of an optimized web page

An optimized web page is a lot more than what it looks to you when you load it into your browser. The web crawlers and search engine ranking algorithms see your web page in a totally different manner than how you and your prospective customers and clients see. Similarly, people on social networking websites view your web page differently than those who view your link on a search engine result page.

What is an optimized web page?

An optimized web page looks good to your human visitors as well as search engine crawlers. “Optimized” means it achieves its purpose both in terms of converting maximum number of visitors into paying customers and clients and getting higher search engine rankings on major search engines.

Have a look at this highly appealing and informative infographic sent to me by Kelsey Phillips of Surepayroll. This is where the infographic “The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page” has been originally published.

Image of an infographic explaining the anatomy of an optimized web page

Click the image to enlarge

The main ingredients of an optimized web page are:

  • The web page title: Ideally it should be around 60 characters (according to the Yoast SEO plug-in recommendation). The web page title is different from the headline that you often see at the top of the body content. The web page title is the meta tag that lies within the <head> and </head> section of your web page. It can be different from your web page headline.
  • The web page description: This can be around 150 characters. Although these days in terms of SEO the web page description doesn’t count much but it helps to have a good description because the description appears on the search engine result pages and also when someone shares your link on Facebook or Twitter. Let it give a basic idea of what your web page represents and why people should visit and read it or view it. The web page description is also a meta tag and lies within the <head> and </head> section.
  • The headlines: You use headlines to highlight the main points of the copy of your web page. There should be one main headline within <h1> and </h1> in an ideally optimized web page. Then you can have multiple <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6> headlines.
  • Body text:
    Self-explanatory. While creating content for the body text, make sure that you use the right language and you stick to the main theme of your web page. Don’t try to cram everything into a single page. Divide different ideas within different sections. Strategically use the keywords and scatter them all over the body text.
  • Images:
    They can significantly enhance the quality of your web page. Don’t forget to include the alt text.

These are the basic ingredients that can help you create an optimized web page. The rest of the information you can view in the infographic above.

How to write content for humans but optimize for Google and other search engines

The greatest objective of your content should be that it appeals to your human readers and provides them the information they need in order to decide in your favour (that is, when they seek something that you provide). But for many businesses, search engine optimization takes precedence over the relevance of the content they are writing. How do you create a balance? How do you make sure that you write content for humans but you optimize it for Google and other search engines? How can you make both the parties happy?

SEO chart that explains the entire process of SEO content writing

Can you ignore your search engine rankings?

There are many online marketers and in fact, even content writers, who will tell you that don’t worry much about search engine rankings because if you have great content, your rankings should automatically improve. Ideally, yes, they should automatically improve. But do they? No. We don’t live in an ideal world. In the world we live, there are people who can manipulate their search engine rankings and search engine algorithms can be manipulated. Not just that, you are constantly facing competition. Someone or the other is going to get better of you no matter how hard you try.

Sure, it is the quality of your content and the regularity with which you publish your content that has the biggest impact on your search engine rankings but optimization also plays a very important role, so you cannot ignore your search engine rankings if qualified and targeted traffic matters to you.

In his recent blog post the renowned online marketer Neil Patel has explained how you can create content that is both human friendly as well as search engine optimized.

SEO content writing to improve your search engine rankings

Neil says that in order to search engine optimize your content you first of all need to understand what all helps you improve your SEO, and the first stress he makes is SEO copywriting. Many content writers and content marketers are of the opinion that every piece of content that you produce and publish must have the ability to “sell” something. I have used quotes because selling doesn’t always mean selling products and services. You can sell an idea. You can sell an opinion. You can sell an action. For example, if you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, for you THAT is selling. If you want people to download your e-book, then that is selling for you. If you want people to click your ads than that is selling for you. When you are making people do something, you are selling to those people. So even convincing content writing is like copywriting. How do you convince people? By writing logically and convincingly, of course. So this automatically makes your writing human-friendly.

How do you make your content writing SEO-friendly? By writing in the language used by people who are looking for solutions rather than products. By actually using the words and expressions people use in order to find what you have to offer.

A peculiar thing about search engines like Google is that their crawlers and ranking algorithms study bits of text at particular locations. For example, your page or blog title must contain your keywords. It helps if even your description contains some combination of your keywords. Then, the algorithm also studies your first paragraph and checks for the appearance of the main words. It also looks for your relevant words in the headings and subheadings that you use while writing your content. The bulleted list also gets some sort of importance and also does the text inside the hyperlinks.

These are small things that are often ignored by content writers but they can make a big difference. The above-linked blog post also contains some tools that can help you significantly improve your search engine rankings. Do check it out.

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Content is king when it comes to improving your search engine rankings

You cannot improve your search engine rankings without your content so it’s not just in the field of conversion where your content rules the roost, it is also your SEO. So if you want to improve your SEO, the primary focus should be your content.

This infographics at Brafton.com uses the recent Content Marketing Institute study to graphically explain that when it comes to integrating SEO with content marketing, 88% B2B businesses put more stress to it. 82% businesses have, one way or another, acquired new customers through their blogs and 67% have been able to generate more leads. Here are some illuminating content marketing statistics I have written about in one of my previous blog posts.

Statistically, 347 blog posts are published every minute every day and 2 million blogs are written every 24 hours but this is not the reason why content becomes the king of the Kingdom of SEO. It is because high-quality content, content that is engaging and valuable, enjoys higher search engine rankings compared to use less content created just to boost SEO.

Can you optimize your web content writing for search engines as well as users?

Is it possible to optimize your web content for search engines and at the same time for human users? This is a perennial question for people constantly worrying about how to write web content. No matter how much you deny, you need content from both ends of the spectrum – you want your content to convert and you also want your content to rank well on search engine result pages.

This blog post by Umair Qureshi rightly says that both can be achieved, and I personally believe it is not even a big deal as long as you stick to your topic. Nonetheless, he has included in the blog post a nice template that you can use in order to optimize your web content both for search engines as well as human visitors or users. This is how the template looks:

Template for creating search engine optimized as well as user-friendly web content

In the image he has taken an example of chocolate donuts from Mary’s bakery. He has shown how to create your headline and where strategically to use the key phrase “chocolate donuts” and its various combinations at strategic locations.

This is a standard procedure to write an optimized webpage without spamming the hell out of your content. The basic idea is to use your keyword or expression in such a manner that it is fairly represented from within your content without over-using it. You can also use its various versions. For example, if I want to optimize this particular blog post for “web content optimization” I can use various combinations such as the whole thing, then “web content”, then “content optimization” and then somewhere “web”, somewhere “content” and somewhere “optimization”. The above-mentioned template is a nice starting point. You can create your own by referring to this one.

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It’s not Google’s fault that your business entirely depends on the search engine

Don't depend just on Google

When people feel bad about their rankings suddenly changing due to erratic algorithmic changes at Google it is understandable because businesses incur losses. Something that might be inane and simple organizational restructuring for the search giant might be a matter of life and death for a particular business. I have personally experienced total disappearance of my website from the search engine listings around three years ago (April-end 2011 to be precise) and I can totally relate to what must people feel when their links suddenly disappear from the first page or the second page for no fault of theirs.

First, Google never advises people to base their businesses solely on the search engine. The search engine is a good way of getting qualified traffic but it is a search engine after all run by a private company that is only going to worry about its own bottom line. People at Google will never make changes that bring them losses. In fact search engineers and information architects at Google must be working round-the-clock trying to figure out how to maximize the company’s profits. If in the pursuit of this maximization someone’s business is ruined, well, too bad.

But you know what? Google is not a natural phenomenon. It’s not that your business was hit by an earthquake or a flash flood or a lightning and you couldn’t do anything about it. Yes, if it is a major source of traffic you might be hit initially but if you have already been trying to build other resources for qualified traffic then there is no reason to worry. The problem is, sometimes we focus just on a single thing, like put all the eggs in a single basket and if you’re doing that, then even if your business does not depend on Internet traffic, it is operating on shaky ground because you never know when circumstances change.

Take for instance guest blogging. In a recent blog post I explained how to pitch for a guest blogging assignment and I also mentioned how guest blogging is being frowned upon by the search experts at Google for obvious reasons. There is a thriving community called MyBlogGuest for guest bloggers and suddenly Google has decided to penalize not just the website but also all the participants. And this is exactly the sort of response from Ann Smarty, the founder of MyBlogGuest, that should instil confidence among those who don’t want to allow Google to arm twist them into following its every single guideline. The people who are complaining are mostly the ones who had completely left it up to Google to decide how much traffic they should get.

Why is Google penalizing every method of getting back links from other websites? Guest blogging after all is a perfectly legitimate way of getting qualified links to your website or blog. You write for another blog and as a gesture of appreciation, they include a small bio of yours that contains your link; what’s wrong in that? There is nothing wrong in that. You need to remember that Google’s revenue comes from AdWords – it’s a PPC (pay per click) program. If you’re not good at improving your search engine rankings and if you have money to spend on marketing, this is a good way of getting immediate traffic. So naturally, if you don’t have other sources of traffic, you need to depend on Google, and if Google doesn’t allow you to naturally get those links from other websites, the only option left for you is to invest in its AdWords program. Obviously it is going to penalize those businesses that try to get traffic from other links.

Attaching the search engine rankings to the way you get links is just a ruse. Google cannot directly tell you that don’t get links from other websites because the only way to get links is through AdWords. It does that through downgrading your natural search engine rankings, something every business aspires for. So either improve your natural search engine rankings by strictly following Google’s recommendations and guidelines, or invest in the AdWords program if the only thing that matters to you is traffic from Google.

What can be other options? Of course I don’t advise you to go against Google’s guidelines because you can generate massive traffic once you have cracked the ranking problem and gotten your website to the first page or even the second page on Google. This is something that works for me:

  • When it comes to creating content, make your own website or blog the priority. Create as much high-quality content for your own website or blog as possible. The more high-quality content you have, the better are your prospects at improving your search engine rankings naturally.
  • When you get links from other websites (and you don’t want those links to adversely affect your Google search engine rankings) request the owners of that website to use the rel=”nofollow” tag (this tells Google that you are not using the link to improve your search engine rankings). Google does not penalize you for incoming links if these links have this tag. It also doesn’t penalize your ranking if these links are coming from well-reputed websites like New York Times, Washington Post or the Huffington Post whether the use the “nofollow” tag or not.
  • Focus on networking, equally. As a small business word of mouth matters. Getting random traffic from search engines may give you a psychological boost, but it isn’t necessary that it will translate into good business. On the other hand if you establish personal contacts with different people it will fetch you more business. Establish a good presence over LinkedIn, Twitter and if possible, also Facebook. In the past year 20% of my business has come from LinkedIn and Facebook (strangely, there have been queries from Twitter, but so far, no project).
  • Spend some money on marketing. A great number of things on the Internet are available for free, and this has given rise to a negative mentality that you can do well without spending much money. Invest money getting a good website and hiring a good content writer – regarding hiring a good content writer, I’m not just saying this because I’m a professional content writer, the way you express yourself on your website really makes a big difference. Even PPC programs like AdWords can give you the much-needed initial push. I’m not saying start spending money senselessly, I’m just saying get out of that mentality that on the Internet you don’t need to spend money and everything can be achieved pretty much free of cost. It’s an illusion. Even people promoting open source software applications make money by providing support for those applications.
  • Develop your own mailing list. Email still rules the roost when it comes to promoting your services although spammers throughout the world have totally tarnished its image. But it really works. These days, aside from providing professional content, I have also started writing for a few news publications and for that I started a new mailing list for people who would like to get notified whenever I publish a new article. The click rate is 16-20%. This is very impressive. It means if I have 100 subscribers, 16 people are reading my articles from that mailing list and if I have 1000 subscribers – on the Internet this is not a stretch – then 160 are reading my articles straight out of that mailing list. 16-20% is not easily achievable, but even if you can achieve 4-5% you no longer have to depend on Google traffic.

I may have not covered everything above, but what I’m trying to say is, don’t just solely depend on Google because this strategy is dangerous in any environment. Work on building multiple streams even if you feel that you are diluting your effort.