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Creating Content That Readers - and Search Engines - Love!
November 23, 2016
If you believe in content marketing like I do, then you know how important good content is. So here are some tips to help you create content that your readers AND the search engines will love.
•Create only high-value, original content.
"Okay" content is no longer okay — aim for outstanding. Your blog posts and website pages should be well-written, well-researched, and personality-filled (to set you apart from the big players). Measure yourself against the competition and always solve visitors' problems better than they do.
(Remember, too, that "content" is all the content you create online — on your site, on social media, on other people's sites as a quality guest blogger, as a true participant in a favorite niche forum, even in your newsletters that Google "sees" in Gmail.)
What makes a page original? Not copying or paraphrasing is a good start. But you also need to "move beyond the obvious" and add your own thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. to every page.
•Your home page is the most important page — make it shine.
All pages on your site need to offer a great user experience, but the home page is the most important of all to get right. It needs to communicate your Voice, set the perfect tone, and motivate visitors to explore your deeper pages.
•Make each page as long as it needs to be (a minimum of 400 words), and not one word more.
Cover a topic fully, but leave out the fluff and the padding. If you end up with a "skinny" page, you either haven't covered the topic comprehensively enough to satisfy a reader, or the topic itself is too skinny to write about on a standalone page. If the page is "fat," make it as concise as you can (which is not the same thing as "short"). If the page is still too long, even after pruning, consider splitting it.
•Add new content regularly.
The search engines tend to favor sites that are regularly updated, so adding new pages on a regular basis is an important "sign of life" to send to Google. Make room in your schedule for regular new content creation. And spend this time wisely — it's much better to create one excellent page a week than four mediocre ones. Aim for at least one outstanding page per week.
•Keep old content current by periodically updating it.
Set a realistic schedule for reviewing old pages. Fill any "gaps" you find with fresh material and delete anything that's out of date. Take the opportunity to generally polish the page, too. Do not add a word here and a sentence there just to make Google think you've updated a page.
If material does not need updating, don't do it (Google knows which topics change and which don't). A good way to prioritize your content-updating efforts is to concentrate on your worst performing pages.
•Enhance your written content with images.
The better your site lends itself to visual representation (travel and recipe sites are two obvious examples of niches that do), the more important it is to use great images on your pages. Assuming it's practical and possible, always use original photos (especially ones you took yourself!) instead of stock photos.
If using stock images is unavoidable, use less common images (i.e., those with fewer downloads) and edit them to increase their appeal and make them more uniquely yours. Consider using other types of non-textual content, too, such as videos, audio, webinars, maps, and infographics.
That's it! Now off to review some of the older pages on my own websites - because yes, I do practice what I preach!
"If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary." --Jim Rohn
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