Tag Archives: Search Engine Optimization

Content writing advice: Do not cram too many keywords when writing web pages and blog posts

I have observed that many clients want to incorporate as many keywords as possible when they are sending web page or blog post specs.

Even when I tell them that I will focus just on a couple of keywords and not more, they send me LSI keywords.

Using LSI keywords is not an excuse to use more keywords; LSI keywords are alternative keywords for the main keywords. But they think that LSI keywords can also be used to incorporate a greater number of keywords.

Although sometimes it is possible to use lots of keywords in a web page or a blog post contextually, in most of the cases, they end up diluting the main topic.

Want to improve your search engine rankings through strategic use of keywords?

Do not use highly competitive keywords – use longtail keywords comprising at least 3-4 words.

Use keywords such that they help you write about the main chosen topic with greater clarity and focus.

The more divergent keywords you use, the more you dilute the SEO power of your content. This adversely affects your search engine rankings.

 

Continuous scrolling on Google may improve the click-through rate

Google is rolling out continuous scrolling on mobile search

Google is rolling out continuous scrolling on mobile search.

Google is introducing continuous scrolling on mobile search. What does that mean?

When you search something on Google, look at the first page where it lists around 10 links with descriptions. After that people need to click or tap on the next page.

But the SEO track record of the second page is not very good. Search results appearing on the Google’s second page get less than 1% CTR. A major chunk of clicks are consumed by the links appearing on the first page.

In fact, appearing among the top results is so important that the first link that appears in the search results gets 25% clicks (source).

Consequently, whoever wants to improve his or her search engine rankings, wants to appear on the first page because not many people go to the second page.

Nonetheless, Google has discovered that when people are searching on the mobile phone, the check out up to 4 pages.

Besides, it doesn’t make any sense to make people click the next page when they can simply scroll through all the listings. Let them scroll as much as they want, I would say, even on the desktop. There is no UI logic of dividing the search results among different pages.

There may have been a psychological reason a few years ago when people were mostly using the search engine on their desktops, but on mobile phones, people don’t mind scrolling.

The continuous scrolling feature will definitely improve the CTR of many web pages and blog posts.

If people are abandoning the current search because they wouldn’t go to the second page, even on desktop, they may keep on scrolling until they find something click-worthy.

 

Does your website’s content affect your SEO?

Note: someone asked this question on Quora but when I tried to post it there, it generated an error. After that, I couldn’t find the question. Since I have already prepared an answer, I’m publishing it here.

To genuinely understand the answer to this question, you first need to understand what Google indexes and ranks? It’s content.

Now, since there may be thousands of web pages, blog posts and social media updates offerings similar type of content, Google uses an algorithm to decide which content it has indexed to rank higher than the other content it has indexed.

Now, Google cannot solely depend on its algorithm because software can always be tricked into believing something that does not exist. That’s why, people were always “hacking” their way into higher search engine rankings. Google also analyzes how people interact with and react to your content. This is called human validation. If humans don’t appreciate your content well or don’t react to it positively, you can forget about getting higher search engine rankings.

So yes, a website’s content definitely affects SEO because one, after analyzing your content, the Google algorithm should be able to make out what the content is about and for which keywords and key phrases it should be ranked in what manner, and two, it should be able to gauge how people are reacting to your content.

What does interacting and reacting mean here? Right now your content (a particular web page or a particular blog post) may be ranking on the fifth page and by some fluke, search engine users reach the fifth place and click your link. If your bounce rate is low – that is, people go to your link and spend some time reading it because it contains useful information – Google takes it as a positive attribute. It thinks that since people are spending more time on the link, the link must be useful and hence, it deserves higher search engine rankings. Your ranking improves a few notches. Conversely, after clicking the link when people immediately come back to Google and explore other links, your rankings go down.

Therefore, to improve your SEO with your website’s content, make sure that the Google crawler can rank your content easily, the algorithm can make sense of your content, and your content is appreciated by your visitors. All these attributes affect your SEO.

How to achieve on-page optimization with content writing

On-page optimization with content writing

On-page optimization with content writing.

Search engine optimization has two parts:

  1. On-page optimization
  2. Off-page optimization

Off-page optimization is not directly under your control. It is a long-term process. You publish lots of content. People find your content. If they like it, they engage with your content by linking to it, referring to it on social media websites and mobile apps or finding your content useful enough to spend some good amount of time on your website.

On-page optimization on the other hand is completely in your control. Aside from efficient source code, you can write content that is search engine optimized.

A recent Moz blog post shares a few tips on how you can optimize your content for on-page optimization.

Here is how you can use content writing to achieve on-page optimization:

Format content that is easier to read when writing content

When people visit your website or the page you are subjecting to on-page optimization, they should be able to read it as easily as possible. The same holds true for the search engine crawlers. They should be able to read your content without much fuss.

This means making your content writing scannable. Here are a few things you can do.

Use the H2 tags

I have written on this topic multiple times. You should organize your content under different headings and subheadings. The above Moz author says that you should use your keywords – sometimes even the exact keywords you are trying to target – in the headings and subheadings.

Use headings after every 300 words. In this case, by headings I mean text between <H2> and </H2>.

Between headings, also use the <H3> tags as subheadings. This way, merely by looking at the text between headings and subheadings, your readers should be able to make out what your web page is about.

Use shorter sentences and paragraphs

Everybody finds reading shorter sentences easy. Communicate one idea in one sentence. Of course, when you are feeling like writing a long sentence, do that, but most of the sentences should be short. In grammar lingo, such sentences are called “simple sentences”. Avoid using compound or complex sentences.

Use shorter paragraphs. Ideally, don’t use more than two sentences in a paragraph. I tend to use more than two sentences, but I do that when my sentences are very short.

Use the main keyword within the first 100 words of the write-up

This tip isn’t included in the above link, but this can be useful. What does your keyword represent? It represents the core proposition of your web page.

Sometimes the search engine crawler cannot crawl your entire web page. By the time it reaches the body content, it goes to another link or completely leaves your website.

Hence, enable it to come across your main keyword (that represents the core topic of your web page) as early as possible so that even if it leaves your web page in a hurry, it processes the keyword.

Use bulleted lists

Bulleted lists are easy to read. They don’t even need to be complete sentences. You can just use phrases or even one-word expressions in the bulleted lists. Use your primary and secondary keywords in the bulleted lists. Use your hyperlinks.

Optimize your content for featured snippets

Featured snippets are the highlighted pieces of content that appear on search result pages when you search for something, and the answer is well defined. Here are some benefits of writing your content that is featured snippets-friendly:

  • You occupy “position zero”, even above paid links.
  • Getting featured in the snippets section is the ultimate search engine optimization fete, bringing you lots of traffic.
  • It increases your brand authority.
  • It brings you more back links increasing search engine rankings of other links on your website.

You may like to read: Is there a definitive way of ranking in Google’s featured snippets?

Featured snippets can appear in two forms: paragraph form and bullet form.

How can you optimize for featured snippets? By providing the exact answer being asked in a question, and in a manner that it’s easier to understand by Google’s ranking algorithm.

Although there is no definitive way of appearing in Google’s featured snippets, mention a question and then present an answer. Mention a problem, and then present a solution.

Something like:

Guide to using content writing improve on-page optimization?

  1. Divide your content between headings and subheadings.
  2. Use your keywords in headings and subheadings.
  3. Use bulleted lists to organize main points.
  4. Use your keywords within the first 100 words of your web page copy.
  5. Write short sentences that are easier to read.
  6. Write short paragraphs that are easier to read even on mobile phones.
  7. Optimize your text for featured snippets.
  8. Write text focusing on search intent.

The above is the format preferred by the featured snippets section.

Add an FAQs section

Although, you cannot add an FAQs section on every page, wherever you can, do so. For example, if I’m writing this blog post, it doesn’t make sense to add an FAQs section needlessly. But if I have a web page describing my content writing services, it is a perfect candidate for an FAQs section.

Why is an FAQs section search engine friendly? It delivers exactly what Google wants. It presents content in the form of questions and answers.

In the questions of your FAQs section, write the questions as if they are being asked by search engine users.

Take for instance the following question and its subsequent answer:

Can content writing improve on-page optimization?

Yes, content writing can improve on-page optimization if you format your content in such a manner that it’s easy to read both for your human visitors as well as search engine crawlers. Format your text so that it is easier to scan it. Use important tags such as <H2>, <H3> and <LI>. Hyperlink to your existing web pages.

And so on. You can provide a comprehensive answer. Google loves such question-answer types of web pages.

A good thing about on-page optimization is that it is completely in your hand. My personal experience has been that if you solely focus on on-page optimization, the off-page optimization part begins to manifest automatically.

Focus on quality content. Format it well. Use the right tags. Be persistent. Write and publish content on relevant topics. The rest gets taken care of on its own.

Don’t obsess over SEO as long as you’re delivering meaningful content

I was just reviewing a web hosting package for someone I know and came across an add-on package that tells you whether you are publishing SEO-friendly content or not.

Do these “SEO packages” really help? What about the SEO add-ons? I recently removed an SEO plug-in from my WordPress setup.

SEO is of two types:

  1. Structural SEO
  2. Content-based SEO

Although there are also on-site and off-site SEO tactics, but in the context of my current blog post, I’m just going to stick to the two above-mentioned SEO types.

What is structural SEO?

This makes sure that the basic structure of your website or web pages/blog posts is SEO-friendly.

To make sense of your web page or your blog post, the search engines like Google take into consideration the keywords within your title. This is debatable, but most of the SEO experts agree that a title containing your keywords is particularly important.

Your title is also important because it appears in search engine listings as a hyperlink.

Screenshot of title and description

Screenshot of title and description.

Multiple studies have revealed that if your title contains the words that have just been used in the search query, the greater number of people click your link.

The same goes with the description. Your keywords or parts of your keywords should appear in your description because then these keywords are highlighted by Google.

Hence, every web page for every blog post must have a clearly defined title and a description.

There is also a “keywords” meta tag but it is no longer relevant.

Another important aspect of structural SEO is, how easy it is for the search engine crawlers to access your main content.

If the crawler has to go through lots of source code (JavaScript, CSS, HTML, add-ons and plug-ins) before accessing your actual content, this negatively affects your search engine rankings. It is because sometimes the crawler leaves your website or a particular web page or blog post without even evaluating your main content because most of its time goes into crossing the jungle of your source code.

How fast your web page or blog post loads also has a direct impact on your overall search engine rankings. Make sure that your web pages and blog posts load fast, preferably within three seconds.

So, these are the components of structural SEO:

  • The title containing the main keyword or the search query.
  • Various combinations of the keyword or the search query in the description.
  • Easy access to the main content for the search engine crawlers.
  • Faster loading blog posts and web pages.

Most of the content management systems these days allow you to preset these structural SEO components. For example, in WordPress you can use Yoast SEO to make sure that whenever you publish a new web page or blog post, you separately enter the title and the description.

Structural SEO is not something that you need to do repeatedly.

What is content-based SEO?

It is mostly writing content that is most suitable to the query being used by your user.

Suppose a user looks for “Which is the best content writing service in India?”

To satisfy this query, you can either list 10-15 content writing services and then choose the best among them, or you can explain why your content writing service is the best in India.

In both the cases, you should remain true to the topic. You must talk about the best content writing service in India. When the user visits this link, he or she should get the answer he or she is looking for.

This doesn’t mean that the answer must be perfect. Maybe the search engine user doesn’t want to find information about your content writing service or why your content writing service is the best. He or she may be just looking for a comparative analysis of multiple content writing services.

Whatever you write, just make sure that you are providing an answer to the question being asked.

The next thing to keep in mind is, mention the main query or the keyword within the first 100 words. There is a logical reason.

The search engine crawler doesn’t always go through your entire text. It may simply go through the first few paragraphs, or even less. Hence it is important that the crawler comes across your main keyword or the main search query string as early as possible.

Other than this, there is no need to obsess about SEO. Focus on the quality, and to an extent the quantity of your content. Publish regularly. Right on relevant topics. It doesn’t matter whether you write 400 words or 4000 words.

What matters is the substance. Don’t necessarily extend the length of your web pages or blog posts simply because research has proven that most of the web pages and blog posts that get featured on the first search result page contain more than 1300 words. It differs from industry to industry.