Writing for Users and Search Engines
Jessica Lee
Founder + Chief Content Creative
bizbuzzcontent
March 2013
Agenda
 Why you should optimize and what matters.
 The user engagement funnel and being visible at
every point.
 Qualit...
WHY
CONTENT?
WHY CONTENT?
WHY
OPTIMIZE?
WHY OPTIMIZE?
WHY OPTIMIZE?
WHY OPTIMIZE?
http://bit.ly/OptifyStudy
For more on the search rankings study, go to:
WHY OPTIMIZE?
WHAT
HUMANS SEE
VS.
WHAT
BOTS SEE
SO WHO AND WHAT
MATTERS?
WHAT MATTERS?
I Matter I Matter, Too
CONTENT
MATTERS
CONTENT MATTERS
CONTENT MATTERS
 The Panda algorithm updated 25 times since
inception in 2011 (as of March 2013)
 You can follow its his...
CONTENT MATTERS
 Human “quality raters” at Google are a feedback
loop into the impact of algorithm updates and
quality of...
CONTENT MATTERS
1. Define a purpose for your site and each individual
page and deliver on it.
1. Create authoritative, ori...
GREAT WEB CONTENT
OFFERS AN AWESOME
USER EXPERIENCE
THROUGH
QUALITY +
RELEVANCY
QUALITY
FIRST
QUALITY CONTENT
… is user focused.
QUALITY CONTENT
… is original and unique in some
way.
QUALITY CONTENT
… delivers on and fulfills its
purpose.
ACHIEVING
RELEVANCY
ACHIEVING RELEVANCY
Research
•Keywords/topics
related to research
Buy
•Keywords/topics related
to buying/conversion
ACHIEVING RELEVANCY
I’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE
ABOUT “SLOTHS”…
I’D LIKE TO
“VOLUNTEER FOR A
SLOTH
SANCTUARY”…
PUTTING IT
ALL TOGETHER
WEB CONTENT STRATEGY
 Context
 Competition
 Intent
 Audience
 Brand
WEB CONTENT: COMPETITION
 Do a search, see what’s out there, find what’s
missing – this is your opportunity.
WEB CONTENT: INTENT
 Apply what you do know about your target
audience to interpret what they might be looking
for in thi...
WEB CONTENT: AUDIENCE
Target
Audience
What’s important
to them?
What’s the
demographic?
Why do they use
your
products/serv...
WEB CONTENT: BRAND
Your Brand
How you want to
be perceived.
What your
audience believes
about your brand
today.
How you’re...
NOW YOU’RE
READY
TO
START WRITING
CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
 Voice
 Length
 Imagery
 Formatting
VOICE
LENGTH
 Pretend everyone has an attention deficit disorder.
 Deliver on the purpose of the page through
content.
 Say a...
IMAGERY
FORMATTING
Boring Engaging
HOW DO I KNOW
IF MY USER
LOVES ME?
CHECKING REPORTS
Google Analytics > Content > Overview and Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview
OPTIMIZING YOUR
WEB CONTENT
META DATA
META DATA
Controlled Meta Data
Auto Generated Snippet
META DATA
 Title: 55 characters including spaces.
 Description: 156 characters including spaces.
META DATA
 Include keywords for the page, with most important
towards the front of the Title tag.
 Don’t “stuff” your ta...
META DATA
 You will enjoy more click-throughs when your result
in the search engine contains the keywords that
match a us...
BODY CONTENT
 Keyword density
 Keyword distribution
 First 200 words on a page
 Header and subheads:
<h1>Main Header/T...
BODY CONTENT: TIPS!
 Include related terms
 Deal with tricky keyword phrases by using
punctuation or stop words.
Example...
TO RECAP
 Content is the fabric of the Web. It’s every
business’s responsibility to elevate the quality of
what they put ...
About Your Presenter
Thank you for joining me!
 Connect with me on Twitter @BzzContent.
 Website: www.bizbuzzcontent.com...
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans
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Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans

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In this presentation, originally created for MarketingProfs in 2013 by Jessica Lee of bizbuzzcontent, you'll learn what it takes to optimize the content experience for both search engines and their users.

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  • Today, we’re going to talk about (bullets on slide).
  • As marketers and students of this class, you probably already have a good idea of what content means to you and your marketing goals. But think about the power of content for a moment.
  • The Web without content is a skeleton of a place. Content is the meat -- what fuels your business strategy. It represents your brand online and offline; it fills your social mediums with sharable ideas; it’s the stuff the Web is made of. Google knows this, too, which is why quality content is so important to the search engine. Because without quality content, the experience falls flat. And without any content, the search engine doesn’t have a reason to exist. This is such a powerful concept. Because the quality of content we create for the Web on behalf of our brand is in our own hands.
  • Why do we optimize our content? Optimizing your content means two things: 1) Helping your content be found and 2) Creating a great experience for your users
  • First, let’s talk about helping the content be found. To put things into perspective on just how much information is on the Web, take a look at this graph. According to research from WordWideWebSize.com, Google has nearly 50 billion pages in its index. And each business online has competitors that are vying for visibility amongst those pages. Add to that, the pressure of aiming for Page 1 placement of your content, and you can begin to see why a content strategy is so important. Because the placement in those results correlates with click-through rates and traffic.


  • To reinforce that idea, let’s look at research from Optify.com. They put out the results of a study in 2011 on the search engine results placement and its impact on cilck-through rates. You can see in this graph that there is a direct correlation here. The No. 1 placement yields 37 percent of the click-throughs, and the CTR percentage declines from there. What was also interesting about the study is that it showed a slight uptick in click-through rates in the top position on Page 2 over the bottom position on Page 1. User behavior shows time and time again that it’s not just Page 1 that matters, but the information above the fold – the top three results that are becoming ever more important.

  • You can sign up to get the results of that study by Optify for free at this URL.
  • Now I know these past few slides have been a bit technical, but it’s all going to play into why and how we optimize our content. To get an idea of just how many sites are vying for a position for one of your keywords, do a Google search. Take one of your campaigns keywords or even what you think might be a keyword if you haven’t formally done any research yet, and type it into the Google search bar to see what comes up. In this graphic, you can see the results for the keyword phrase “goats yelling like humans,” which is a hysterical video if you haven’t watched it yet.

    Let’s take a closer look. You can see that there are “personal” results as well as other results. I’m signed into a Google account, so my results can vary from the next user. This is something to keep in mind when you are thinking about how things like sharing your content in Google’s social network, Google Plus, will impact the results. I can see who in my social network on Google Plus has endorsed or shared content relevant to the search I’m performing.

  • You might still be wondering how optimization keeps you visible. Well, search engine bots are a bit like sloths. They can’t see very well.. They need help performing tasks, and one of those tasks is understanding what the content on a page is about. Now keep in mind that content on its own is naturally optimized for the topic you are writing about, but intentionally optimizing it gives it that extra boost it needs.
  • So what does a bot actually see? Let’s have a look.
  • This is a post I wrote at the Bruce Clay, Inc. search marketing blog. This is what we as humans see, rendered on the page from the HTML code. Now let’s take a look at that same post, but from a bot’s perspective.
  • Completely different right? This is the HTML code. Humans see but bots “read” the information from the code to help it decipher what the page is about. How you set up your page in terms of its “crawlability,” and what sort of information you include in the HTML code as well, like the Meta information, which we’ll get to later, helps the search engine bot determine if your Web page is relevant for someone’s search. Keep in mind that there are more than 200 factors Google uses in its algorithm to determine quality and relevancy of the content on your page.
  • So with all these factors in mind to compete for visibility, what really matters with your Web content? Well, we just talked about the first part of optimizing your content: helping it be found. But there is another part to the equation: creating a great experience for your users on the Web. And that’s what we are going to talk about next.
  • When thinking about creating great content, you need a balance between users and bots. Ultimately, Google wants the focus to be on the user, not the algorithm. Even though there are things we can do to optimize content to help the search engine do its job better, there is a concept called “chasing the algorithm” by where you get so caught up in optimizing for the search engine, that you forget about the user experience. This is something we never want to do when trying to create quality content. So you can think of content as the cupcake, and optimization as the icing. Alone, they are both delicious, but together, they are magical.
  • Let’s talk a bit about that user experience that Google wants us to create. Google wants us to focus on the quality of content so much, that it created a way to essentially force bad content out of the results.
  • “Panda” is the name given to Google’s algorithm update that’s targeted at low-quality content in the search results. But it’s not just Panda that Google uses to “rate” content. It also human quality raters, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
  • The Panda update has gone through several iterations since its inception in 2011 – 25 to be exact. The 25th iteration in March of this year was rumored to be the last manual update before Panda gets rolled into the core algorithm. That may mean that Google will no longer be giving us a heads up when the update is made. So we should just expect it to be part of the more than 200 signals Google uses to rank pages. And each time Panda hits, it affects a certain percentage of the pages in the index. The first time affected the most pages at nearly 12 percent. All other times have had an impact between less than one percent and up to nine, according to a report at Search Engine Land. You can read more about Panda at any of the links on the screen.
  • Now back to those human raters I talked about. Google says human raters help offer insight into how well proposed algorithm updates will impact the quality of the search results – basically a feedback loop for engineers. While Google has said these human raters don’t directly impact the search results, in some way, they indirectly do. Many of us were able to get a glimpse into the human rater guidelines when a leaked manual from Google circulated the Web. Google has since released an updated, cut-down version of that manual to the public that can be found at the URL on the screen. The guidelines in that manual give many clues into what Google thinks is important to quality.


  • So what does all of this mean? It means that Google is focused on the user experience, focused on the quality of pages, and we should be, too. Some of the takeaways from that leaked manual at Google gave us clues into some of the criteria Google believes is important, like defining a purpose for your site and individual pages and delivering on it with original content that’s focused on the user experience. Coming up next, we’ll expand on these ideas a bit more.
  • Great Web content offers an awesome user experience through relevancy and quality. The relevancy of your content is determined by the search engines and their algorithms, and you can help make your content relevant through optimization. The quality of your content creates the user experience, and is achieved by putting the content and target audience first before anything. Together, optimization and user-focused content is a powerful combination.
  • So, let’s talk quality first.
  • Quality content starts with the user. No amount of optimization can ever make up for the fact that the content is crappy. Start with quality content first as a standalone product. Then worry about optimizing it for the search engines. Of course, you will likely have an idea about what keywords you’re using, but don’t let that be the end goal.
  • Quality content is also original and unique in some way. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be ideas out there similar to yours, but your brand should offer a fresh perspective that represents you. Offer something of value to the conversation that hasn’t been said before. This goes for both your static Web pages and your company blog.

    And Google is not a fan of borrowed content, so if you think your company might be taking content from elsewhere and using it as your own on your site, then this needs to be remedied. If you think your website might have duplicate content borrowed from another site, then do a quick search on the Web using a snippet of text from an article, and see what results come up with that snippet of text. Likewise you can use Copyscape.com.

    The Panda algorithm update is also aimed at sites that “scrape” other sites’ content, so if you think people are scraping yours, don’t worry too much about tracking down other sites that may be stealing your content, because there are ways Google can tell who the original source is. With duplicate content, in some cases there is a penalty – severe cases, but most of the time, it just means the pages that are duplicate will be filtered from the results because Google aims to choose the most relevant page for that content – the original source.
  • Quality content provides adequate information on the page to deliver on its purpose. Ask, what is the user trying to do, and how can I help them accomplish this through the content on the page? Individual Web pages may have varied purpose. For example, a landing page has a different purpose than an informational page on a topic. Therefore, the content will act differently in these settings. While a landing page may have less content and facilitate a user to an action, an informational page intends to teach something. Informational pages should provide enough information so that the user doesn’t have unanswered questions that they need to go elsewhere to find the answers to. If you are starting with a single Web page, and find you have a lot to say about the topic, you can break it into a section on the site, or a series of blog posts.
  • We just talked about quality. And remember, awesome Web content mixes quality and relevancy. But how do you achieve relevancy? Remember I said earlier that content, when written, is naturally relevant for a topic? While that’s true, you can boost its relevance for a search with optimization. We’ll talk more about the nuts and bolts of on-page optimization later, and how you make your individual Web pages more relevant. But first, let’s look at where relevancy starts: by aligning the content you create – the topics you write about – with what users are searching for online.
  • This starts with keyword research. We first research what people are searching for related to our products, services and related topics. Keyword research fuels ideas for content and helps you align your content development strategy with what people want. First, let’s talk about how people search for something on the Web and how content fits into that. Most people go through stages when they are in a conversion. The conversion funnel is moving the Web user to an action – whatever action you want that person to take, whether its buying something, downloading something in exchange for an email, becoming a part of your social community – whatever. Both B2Bs and B2Cs have conversion points. These stages typically start with research about a product, service or topic. The things users search for as they are getting closer to a conversion or as they are learning more vary greatly from the beginning stage. Let’s talk a little more about that.
  • When people are in the initial research phase, they use more general terms when they search online. The more general terms (or “keywords” as marketers would say) are usually more competitive to rank for in the results. These are what are referred to as “Head” terms, and are usually one and two-word phrases.

    Then, when people are past the research phase and know more about a topic, product or service, they usually use more targeted phrases when they perform a search online, because their requirements for information are more specific. These are called “long-tail” keywords, and when we create content around them, they are typically your conversion points.

    The reason why this information is important, is to understand that a good content strategy that keeps you relevant at every stage – from the research to the conversion – uses a mix of Head terms and long-tail phrases to guide the content development path. The goal is to create content at all points in the user’s experience, and optimize it well so it can be found by the users the moment they are looking for it. Let’s quickly look at an example of the different results the search engines display for Head terms versus long-tail terms.
  • So let’s say you have a user who wants to learn more about sloths in general. This person is in the first stages of the research phase, and “sloths” is a Head term.
  • This is what a page in the results looks like for the query “sloths.” You can see there are roughly 3.9 million results competing for this term. And this is the top three results on the first page, so this is what Google deems the most relevant content for that particular term in the results.
  • Now, let’s say that as a user, you have learned enough about sloths to know that you can’t live without them, and now you want to go volunteer your time helping them in some way. You heard about a sloth sanctuary, mostly because a lot of content, mainly videos, have gone viral on the Web on this topic. So, you type in the phrase, “volunteer for a sloth sanctuary”.
  • This is what you’ll see. Notice how the results are different, and the number of results is much less. This is because there’s less competition for that keyword phrase. Now, take a look at that bad review a sloth sanctuary is getting at the No. 3 result. If you were that sloth sanctuary, wouldn’t you want to target that long-tail keyword phrase with lots of great content to potentially bury that in the results? I’m not advocating that companies not be transparent or hide things – especially animal cruelty! But what I am saying is this is one case out of many where businesses can use the power of content and key terms to highlight the good.
  • Let’s talk now about how we put what we’ve learned about being relevant for the search engines and what we’ve learned about quality, and mapping that to a Web content strategy, then creating awesome content.
  • The goal of a Web content strategy is to use what we know about search engines and what we know about our target audience together. Let’s say you have a set of keywords and you’re ready to start creating content. But without context, your content will be sure to fall flat. You need to know which stage the audience is in – remember, we talked about those stages in search that are connected to Head terms and long-tail terms. Then, we need to try and figure out the intent of that search term – what is it we know about what sort of information a user is looking for at that stage in the process? To know that, we need to have a good understanding of our audience. Finally, how does your brand fit into the search journey of the user, and offer unique information about the topic? Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.
  • Doing a simple Web search to see what’s out there with regards to content for the keyword you’re targeting can be a great exercise. Before you do that, clear your browsing history and make sure your results are set to “public” so it’s as unbiased as possible. Then, try it with your personal search on. There’s also SEO tools that can help you get an unbiased snapshot of what sites are ranking for what keywords like Bruce Clay, Inc.’s SEOToolSet.

    Analyze the results -- what comes up? Are there videos in additional to articles? Do you see areas of opportunity to provide better content or missing information or another type of content in the area (think videos, images optimized for that key term and so on). It’s important to remember that who your competition is varies greatly from keyword to keyword. So whoever is vying for visibility in the results for that keyword is your competition online. This often shocks businesses, because they are used to thinking about their market competition only. Their offline competition.
  • What do you believe the user is trying to accomplish, and how can you add better content to the results to help them do that? Apply what you know about your target audience. These can be questions you’ve collected over time from your target audience about your organization, its products or services.
  • Knowing intent comes from knowing your audience. There are several things I like to ask when I explore who an audience is. First, keep in mind that different products, services or topics surrounding your brand may have different target audiences with different sets of needs. So think about that, segment them out, and then ask questions like: what’s important to them? What sorts of things mean something to these people in life? Why do they use your products and services? Even if they aren’t customers yet, you probably have a pretty good idea of the need or want behind what you offer. And finally, what’s the demographic? Is it older white men? Younger Asian women? And so on. Why does this matter? Because everything you know about your audience will help you create content that connects better with their needs.
  • Of course, really understanding your brand is one of the most important things you can do, because knowing why people choose you over the competition, or what makes you different or unique should always come through in the content you create. Content is as much of a branding exercise as it is providing something useful. But many businesses are too busy running businesses to think about their brand. So before you embark on all that Web content you’re going to create, try some branding exercises. Think about how you want your brand to be perceived, dive into what your audience knows about your brand today, and uncover your value proposition – how you’re better or different than the competition.
  • NOW you’re ready to start writing. Can you believe how much goes into writing Web content? Great Web content or any content for marketing takes a lot of research. If you’re not putting in the research, you are missing opportunities. So now we’ve got an understanding of the brand, the audience, the intent behind the keywords and what’s out there in terms of competition. Now, we want to put those fingers to the keyboard and start writing the Web content. Keep in mind, there are many forms of content for your marketing. But, for the purposes of this presentation, we’re going to focus on Web pages.
  • When thinking about a Web page, think of a blank canvas to which you are going to be creating art. Now this doesn’t mean to get all Shakespeare on your audience with long prose. But there is a certain art to creating engaging Web pages with both visual and auditory. Let’s go into a bit more detail on that.
  • The voice you create for your Web content is a mix of how your brand “feels” plus best practices for writing on the Web. First, how does your brand feel? What tone do you want to set? Does it sound like the woman on the left? The doctor in the middle or the farmer on the end? Depending on the industry you’re in, the tone you set and the content you create varies. What tone resonates with your audience? What garners trust? Remember, people like to do business with people, so keep it real as much as possible. Most industries can get away with conversational tone, which tends to be the trend these days (except in very technical writing or medical writing). Also, write simply. No need to overuse jargon that has little meaning or long words with many syllables when short words will do.
  • Now the length of your content depends on how much you believe needs to be said on the topic or how much content needs to exist on a page to satisfy the purpose of the page. We touched on this earlier when I said a landing page for conversion will have very different content criteria than a page intended to educate in-depth on a topic. But also keep in mind that attention spans are waning. In today’s world, people are busy and they don’t want to have to think too much. So while a how-to guide may need to be lengthy, also think about breaking longer topics into a series of blog posts OR building out sections of your website with pages that have more digestible chunks of information on a heady topic. In general, a Web page should never be too short – because how much information can you really convey in 200 words? We’ve all seen that content that sort of leaves you hanging. Aim for at least 500 words and you should be good – this gives you plenty of room to shoot for relevancy on the topic, and optimize for keywords without it looking unnatural.
  • The way to make pages more engaging is through visuals to accompany your text. There’s nothing worse than a long wall of text on a Web page. We are also becoming a more visually inclined culture. You can see this as evidenced in the Pinterest craze, and user behavior in social communities like Facebook, where posts with images tend get more love than those without. In fact, one stat from MarketingSherpa showed viewers spend 100 percent more time on pages with videos. So yes, video is content, too.
  • Did you know that the way you lay out your page can affect user experience? Even if it’s just words and nothing else. Remember how I said make it easy for your reader? Well this includes things like varying your sentence length, breaking up the text with bulleted and numbered lists where you can, making sure paragraphs aren’t too long, adding in those images where appropriate and adding in subheads. After you’ve written your first draft, go in and read it. Look for natural breaks in the content. Any time you mention a sentence with more than two things that could be turned into a list, do it. If a section is getting too long, can you break it into two and add a new section header? If it’s a long Web page, look at it visually and eyeball where you think images can go to enhance the page. Think clean, simple. White space is your friend.
  • So you’ve created Web pages that you believe are engaging, but how do you know? There are more than a couple things you can do, but one way to tell involves using tools. If you’re ever curious about how your pages are performing and if the components of your Web pages are grabbing your users, you can check reports in Google Analytics.
  • In Google Analytics, if it’s installed on your site, you can go to the content report, and look at pageviews, time on page and bounce rate. This can give you clues to if your content was what they were looking for and if it was engaging enough for them to stay and read, AND if it the site was engaging enough for them to look through other content of yours as well. But don’t take it personally if they don’t stay for long, because true to the attention deficit thing, time on site is never astronomical. You will have a standard for your site and the key is to watch for large variations either way and draw conclusions.

    You can also use the in-page analytics in your Google Analytics, which gives you data on where people are clicking on your page. Also check out the “multi-channel funnel report, to see how your content is contributing to any ecommerce or goals on the site. There’s even a tool that lets you see how far your users are scrolling down on your page by a company called Crazy Egg and the report is “scroll map”.

    Now these tools that offer data that need interpretation. So generally speaking, those metrics give clues but you really need to spend time understanding the context behind the data before you come to conclusions. So I don’t want to give the wrong impression there. A whole class could be given on tracking data and how to interpret it. And a whole class could be given on testing changes to your pages to see if it impacts the metrics you’re tracking.

  • OK, so you’ve got your content written and it’s a great standalone piece, meaning it serves your user and represents your brand well. Now it’s time for the icing on the cake: optimization. In this next section, we’re going to go over some tips on how to create Meta information and insert keywords. Just one thing to note that we won’t be covering is optimizing your images for search on the page. But keep in mind that you can do that, too.
  • Meta information is part of the HTML code we talked about earlier that helps the bots understand what the page is about. Meta data literally means “data about data.” It’s reinforcing the summary of what to expect on the page. In an ideal world, your Meta information and body content will be one of the first things the bot encounters when it crawls your page. Here you see the Meta data for this particular page. We can look at any Web page’s code by right clicking on a Web page and viewing the source code by selecting “view page source”.

    You can control your Meta information, including where it is on the page. If you have an SEO friendly CMS, then it should ensure this is set up properly. If you don’t, and you’re not super technical, and SEO professional and a Web developer together can help you get your pages back on track. The Meta information is part of what we call the “Head” section on the page. The Meta data is comprised of three tags typically: the Title tag, the Description tag and the Keywords tag (which can be optional). There is some debate on whether or not the Keywords tag is important to include or not. Many leave it out, but At Bruce Clay, data he’s uncovered shows it does make a small impact on the relevancy of the page. So it can’ hurt.

    The argument that it can let your competitors know what keywords you’re targeting is true – it makes it easier for them to find out because all they have to do is right click on the page, but there are so many ways and tools out there today that any of your competitors can find that info out if they really wanted to – even if you didn’t list the keywords.
  • But the Meta data isn’t just for the bots. The information you put in there renders on the search engine results page and is a powerful snippet that can help you get click-throughs to your site. Here you see the Meta Title and Meta Description in action. You want to apply the same copywriting know-how to your Meta information as you do the rest of the content on your site, because this is the first chance at a first impression. The downside to not controlling your own Meta information is that Google will auto generate a Title and Description for that page that guaranteed will not be as compelling. And you can see both are abruptly cut off, this is because there is a character cutoff, which we’re going to talk about next.
  • When writing your title and description, keep in mind the character cutoff in the search results. Google cuts the title off at approximately 70 characters including spaces. And the description at approximately 160 characters, including spaces. When writing the Meta data in word, perform a word count, and this will also give you the characters used. After that, the text will be truncated and trail off just like an auto generated snippet. You should write your Title in title case, and your description in sentence case, just capitalizing the first word at the start of the sentence unless your keyword has a proper noun in it.
  • Your Meta data, including your Title and Description tag should contain the most important keywords for that page. Note that sometimes you have a handful of keywords and that perhaps there are one or two that are really worth calling out in your Meta information. The reason why you have to choose sometimes is because you never want it to seem like your Meta tags are keyword stuffed. That’s a red flag to Google. Let’s say you have five keyword phrases for the page, but there’s no way you can fit them all in without it looking stuffed and unnatural. So you can choose the most important few that are most relevant to the topic of the page and perhaps have the most search volume over the others. You can use the Google AdWords keyword tool as a free tool to help you get a sense of search volume. Keep in mind that your keywords match users’ searches, so when someone does a search, your keywords that match their search will show up in bold. That is a trigger to the user that your page must be relevant to their search.
  • Keep in mind that your keywords match users’ searches, so when someone does a search, your keywords that match their search will show up in bold. That is a trigger to the user that your page must be relevant to their search.
  • Now let’s move past the Meta data and talk about optimizing your Web pages further. The body content on the Web page that you optimize with keywords is the article or post itself. Again, the goal is to insert keywords where it makes the most sense so it sounds natural. Oftentimes, the content you wrote will have words or phrases very similar to the keywords you are targeting that you can just replace with the keyword phrase. But let’s talk about some guidelines that can help you cross your “t”s and dot your “i”s when you optimize.

    First, let’s talk density. On a 500-word page, I like to include each keyword phrase four times. If you have a 1,000-word post, you can include it more. This is your keyword density – how many times a keyword shows up on a page relative to the other content on your page. Then you have keyword distribution. This is making sure your keywords are carried through the entire page from top to bottom. When optimizing your pages, keep in mind that it’s important to have all the keywords for the entire page included in the first 200 words as a best practice, because there is indication that Google may sometimes only crawl the first 200 before it makes a determination.

    You also want to include your most important keyword or two in the Header (your H1 tag in HTML code). And also include in the subheads, which are your <h2> tags in HTML. Sometimes your content management makes it simple to generate headers and subheads as H1s and H2s, but sometimes you have to go into the back end and use tags.
  • If you search for something in Google using a tilde sign as you can see on the screen, Google will show you results with related words to that keyword in bold. These are words that the search engine associates with your keyword, and it’s a good additional step to helping the search engine understand what your page is about. Here, you can see “Mac” is associated with Apple, so if you were writing about the tech company and not the fruit, you’d want to be sure you included it.

    Another tip is when you’re dealing with tricky keyword phrases that sound totally unnatural. How do you get them to sound real when inserted into your content? Try using punctuation or stop words. I’ll explain in a second how, but first, stop words are world like “and,” but,” “in” and so on. The search engine typically strips those common words when reading a keyword phrase. It does the same with punctuation. Let’s say your phrase is “sloths volunteer Costa Rica”. You can soften that in a sentence by adding in punctuation and stop words as you can see on the screen.
  • Here’s an image of what an optimized page might look like, using the tips I’ve given you in the presentation. I’ve got the keywords in my title and description on the HTML side. Then, I’ve got keywords in header and subhead, as well as all the keywords showing up in the first 200 words, and distributed linearly down the page.
  • I hope you’ve enjoyed your time with me and got some good actionable information out of it. You can stay connected with me on Twitter @BzzContent. My website is bizbuzcontent.com and you can also catch up with me at SearchEngineWatch.com, where I report on search marketing news and also have a column on content.
  • Creating Great Content for Both Search Engines and Humans

    1. 1. Writing for Users and Search Engines Jessica Lee Founder + Chief Content Creative bizbuzzcontent March 2013
    2. 2. Agenda  Why you should optimize and what matters.  The user engagement funnel and being visible at every point.  Quality guidelines for content from search engines and for users.  The nuts and bolts of Web page optimization.
    3. 3. WHY CONTENT?
    4. 4. WHY CONTENT?
    5. 5. WHY OPTIMIZE?
    6. 6. WHY OPTIMIZE?
    7. 7. WHY OPTIMIZE?
    8. 8. WHY OPTIMIZE? http://bit.ly/OptifyStudy For more on the search rankings study, go to:
    9. 9. WHY OPTIMIZE?
    10. 10. WHAT HUMANS SEE VS. WHAT BOTS SEE
    11. 11. SO WHO AND WHAT MATTERS?
    12. 12. WHAT MATTERS? I Matter I Matter, Too
    13. 13. CONTENT MATTERS
    14. 14. CONTENT MATTERS
    15. 15. CONTENT MATTERS  The Panda algorithm updated 25 times since inception in 2011 (as of March 2013)  You can follow its history at SEOmoz here: http://bit.ly/AlgoChange  See a list of Panda iterations and their impact at Search Engine Land here: http://bit.ly/PandaSEL
    16. 16. CONTENT MATTERS  Human “quality raters” at Google are a feedback loop into the impact of algorithm updates and quality of content on the Web: http://bit.ly/HumanRater  Google has since released a public version: http://bit.ly/PublicVersion
    17. 17. CONTENT MATTERS 1. Define a purpose for your site and each individual page and deliver on it. 1. Create authoritative, original, expert content. 2. Focus on the user.
    18. 18. GREAT WEB CONTENT OFFERS AN AWESOME USER EXPERIENCE THROUGH QUALITY + RELEVANCY
    19. 19. QUALITY FIRST
    20. 20. QUALITY CONTENT … is user focused.
    21. 21. QUALITY CONTENT … is original and unique in some way.
    22. 22. QUALITY CONTENT … delivers on and fulfills its purpose.
    23. 23. ACHIEVING RELEVANCY
    24. 24. ACHIEVING RELEVANCY Research •Keywords/topics related to research Buy •Keywords/topics related to buying/conversion
    25. 25. ACHIEVING RELEVANCY
    26. 26. I’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT “SLOTHS”…
    27. 27. I’D LIKE TO “VOLUNTEER FOR A SLOTH SANCTUARY”…
    28. 28. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
    29. 29. WEB CONTENT STRATEGY  Context  Competition  Intent  Audience  Brand
    30. 30. WEB CONTENT: COMPETITION  Do a search, see what’s out there, find what’s missing – this is your opportunity.
    31. 31. WEB CONTENT: INTENT  Apply what you do know about your target audience to interpret what they might be looking for in this stage of their search.
    32. 32. WEB CONTENT: AUDIENCE Target Audience What’s important to them? What’s the demographic? Why do they use your products/services?
    33. 33. WEB CONTENT: BRAND Your Brand How you want to be perceived. What your audience believes about your brand today. How you’re different than the competition.
    34. 34. NOW YOU’RE READY TO START WRITING
    35. 35. CONTENT DEVELOPMENT  Voice  Length  Imagery  Formatting
    36. 36. VOICE
    37. 37. LENGTH  Pretend everyone has an attention deficit disorder.  Deliver on the purpose of the page through content.  Say as much as you need to say to be useful.
    38. 38. IMAGERY
    39. 39. FORMATTING Boring Engaging
    40. 40. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY USER LOVES ME?
    41. 41. CHECKING REPORTS Google Analytics > Content > Overview and Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview
    42. 42. OPTIMIZING YOUR WEB CONTENT
    43. 43. META DATA
    44. 44. META DATA Controlled Meta Data Auto Generated Snippet
    45. 45. META DATA  Title: 55 characters including spaces.  Description: 156 characters including spaces.
    46. 46. META DATA  Include keywords for the page, with most important towards the front of the Title tag.  Don’t “stuff” your tags with keywords, make it natural and relevant to the page.  You will enjoy more click-throughs when your result in the search engine matches a user’s search
    47. 47. META DATA  You will enjoy more click-throughs when your result in the search engine contains the keywords that match a user’s search.
    48. 48. BODY CONTENT  Keyword density  Keyword distribution  First 200 words on a page  Header and subheads: <h1>Main Header/Title of the Page with Keywords</h1> <h2>Subhead or Subsection Title of the Page< with Keywords</h2>
    49. 49. BODY CONTENT: TIPS!  Include related terms  Deal with tricky keyword phrases by using punctuation or stop words. Example keyword phrase: “sloths volunteer costa rica” In a sentence: If you love sloths, volunteer in Costa Rica.
    50. 50. TO RECAP  Content is the fabric of the Web. It’s every business’s responsibility to elevate the quality of what they put out there.  Optimizing your content helps it be found by the search engines; writing quality, useful content helps it to be appreciated by your audience.  Treat every page as a blank canvas, and put a lot of thought, planning and creativity into it. Your Web pages serve as your branding, marketing and sales team in one.
    51. 51. About Your Presenter Thank you for joining me!  Connect with me on Twitter @BzzContent.  Website: www.bizbuzzcontent.com That’s my biz. That’s me. Stay in touch!

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