If you’re a blogger or content writer, you’ll be doing your best to write good website content. From your readers’ perspective, that means posts that they enjoy reading.
From Google’s perspective, that means posts that are optimized for SEO.
Writing content that satisfies your audience and Google at the same time is the balancing act that a good content writer has to master if they want to increase their traffic as well as building a loyal following.
In this post I’m going to look at some things that make a website post worth reading, from a reader’s point of view and also Google’s search algorithms. There’s no point creating a page that ranks highly in Google if the content isn’t pleasant to read. Such a page will get visitors but they’ll leave very quickly.
How Google sees good website content
Google said, back in 2016, that there were three main factors used in ranking your content: content, links, and machine learning.
Content is exactly as it sounds – your content has to be well-written content that has value to the reader. It should be written in short paragraphs (so lots of white space) and be at least 500 words in length, ideally longer. Any shorter and Google will just think that you’re just trying to game the rankings.
Links refer to external links linking to the page (apparently internal links count too). Although not clearly stated, it’s likely that the links have to come from sources that are relevant in some way to the linked content as Google has already penalized link farms in the past.
Machine learning is a more interesting metric to satisfy. Google is trying to teach its algorithmic engines to understand natural searches so that it can provide results for how people really search. What this means, in essence, is that how you think someone searches for your content isn’t necessarily how your audience is trying to find you.
Imagine that you’ve written an article for the keyword, “how to improve my SEO” because that’s how you think that people are searching for you. In reality, you might be missing a large potential audience because what they’re actually asking Google is: “Show me how to get more people on my page”.
The goal of machine learning is to understand what people are actually asking for, particularly as voice-based searches become more common. When people search using verbal commands, it’s more natural to ask for a query in the same way as you’d ask a friend a question.
The take-away here is that you need to write interesting content that your audience will enjoy and do your best to get as many links to it from relevant sources as possible.
Social media makes it easy to get external links
The good news is that links are easy. Social media makes it extremely simple to link to each new post from at least four different places (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest). There are of course other social media networks. It just depends upon how much time you want to spend maintaining them all for your website.
How your audience sees good content
The first key to understanding if you’re writing good content for your audience is to understand who they are.
This is really important because if your audience is predominantly professionals reading during their lunch break, you don’t want to be writing five-thousand word epic posts. It seems that the ideal length of a post is between 500 and 2,000 words but this will depend upon the group you’re writing for.
The more intellectual reader might enjoy your articles with a cup of tea in a comfortable chair making anything above 1,000 words ideal. Younger readers might have less of an attention span and may appreciate a maximum of 500 words. The key to discovering what your audience responds to is to try out different word counts and see what happens.
The universal rules of good content
Whatever the audience, some rules are fairly universal.
Use images for visual appeal
Everybody likes pictures to look at. They help to break up a mass of text and serve to prevent the reader becoming fatigued by a layout that lacks interest. Don’t be afraid to use large images either – they encourage Pinners (Pinterest users) to share your post. The first image in this post is intended to be pinned as it summarizes the post in an attractive format.
Write in short paragraphs
It’s really important to use short paragraphs with clear spaces between them. Again, this helps to prevent mental fatigue when reading. Have you ever seen those posts on the Internet that are a single block of text? Did you want to read them? I know I don’t.Bullet point lists, boxes to emphases key points and big quote blocks help too.
Write for your audience, not yourself
The language you use can make a huge difference too. Remember to write for your audience, not your peers. You might be a highly trained word-smith but your audience will want you to talk at their level if they’re going to enjoy reading your work.
Check your content
Before you click publish, don’t forget to read through your post and use a spell-checker or a service such as Grammarly to make sure there are no obvious mistakes. If you want to develop your audience’s trust, you need to start with the quality of your words.
People’s tastes are continually changing. A few years ago, very few people cared about video but now there’s an entire generation that prefers to consume video over textual content.
Search engines are continually tweaking their algorithms to try to serve people relevant content whilst preventing those with no morals from trying to tip the system in their favour.
In order to keep up, you need to keep learning. Read articles, watch videos and always look for opportunities to update your skills as both a content creator and a user of SEO to get your content seen.
To keep my knowledge up to date, I subscribe to a site called Wealthy Affiliate (read my detailed review here) because of their excellent weekly live training on content marketing and SEO practice.
In this post I’ve talked about what good content is in the eyes of Google compared to your target audience.
The good news is that if you’re writing content that your audience will love and make sure and you use social media to add links to your content, Google will be more or less satisfied and you should see organic traffic happen naturally.
As you build a loyal audience, their social shares will increase your external link count, adding weight to the value of your page in Google’s eyes. The social proof these shares offer will bring your direct traffic too – all because you wrote something your audience wanted to share.
The key take-away in this post is that good quality, above all else, is king.
If you write content that people like, the traffic will follow.
Google : Ask Google to Recrawl Your URLs
searchenginewatch.com : Google reveals its three most important ranking signals