Writing Content That Gets Found by Google
This article is a follow-up to a previous article I wrote (Writing Great Search Engine Optimized Content).
I just returned from Pubcon Las Vegas 2019 – a premier conference for online marketers now in its 19th year. Below, I have compiled information gained from listening and talking to content-writing experts.
A great-looking website won't make the phones ring. It won't get you sales, it won't make you money. You need the right content to convince a prospective client that you are worthy of their business. You need the right content to prove to Google and Bing that your website has the E.A.T principles (more on that later).
How Search Engines Used To Work
Back in the day when our grandparents were children… Wait! Make that back 20-25 years ago, the search engines were very primitive. Companies such as Lycos, Yahoo, Infoseek, Ask Jeeves, and Altavista ruled the search world. (See timeline of search). Google came along in 1998. Quick thinking programmers could get to the top of the search by including their key phrases (keywords) more times than their competition. White text on white backgrounds was a great technique. Repetition of phrases over and over and over and over was SEO gold. You get the point. Doing something for the search engines was not great for the user.
As time went on and we progressed through the early 2000's, the search engines (in particular Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft) took the lead. Search companies were amalgamated, knowledge pooled, and content strategies had to adapt. Search results became more relevant with "better" companies rising to the top. The use of backlinks, page load time, grammar, and many more variables became important to get ranked.
Definitely one of the most important variables to keep in mind is great content.
What Google & Bing Are Saying Now – The Buzz Words
For a while, it's been "Write for your customer, not the search engines!"
At the conference everyone was talking about EAT. Maybe it's a coincidence that the conference is called "Pubcon", maybe not.
E.A.T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Here's the gist of what this means.
"Google doesn't want to serve up links to pages that share uneducated advice, opinions, or potentially fraudulent websites. Google wants to be as certain as possible that they are recommending sites that display a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.” (https://moz.com/blog/google-e-a-t)
Here's how to implement EAT.
Expertise – your content needs to show you know what you are talking about. You should have links (citations) to external sources, backing up what you are saying.
Authoritativeness – how are we proving that the site is written by people who have authority on the subject. This can be done by having a resume-style About page, adding authorship to blog pages, and/or linking to a page about the author or his/her LinkedIn account.
Trustworthiness – you want quality links to your site. Secure your site too. Make sure your name / address / phone number is the same across the web.
What You Really Should Be Writing
The Internet was originally created to be a way for people to share research papers. HTML has all the formatting tags for proper organization of white papers and reports. Because why else would anyone want to search the world wide web? This structure still exists today, but is much less of a factor in determining ranking on Google.
Headings are an important way to show the hierarchy & break up a page of text. There are 7 levels of headings, from H1 to H7. I personally wouldn't go past H3 or H4. Headings are a great way to add your keywords. Being a heading, the words attract more attention from Google than regular text. So use them.
Note: On September 27, 2019, John Mueller of Google announced that H1 tags aren't critical for search rankings anymore. Ignore that. Heading tags are still needed for compliance issues and help with page organization in general. There is no reason to remove them.
I have written a blog article on META tags. Read it for more info on what to use and why. Basically, the title is key to Google and the description is your elevator pitch to convince someone to click through to your website. No other meta tags are needed or recommended.
For a more detailed strategy, you can read my previous blog article on Writing Great Search Engine Optimized Content. That article gives suggestions as to what to think about when you are formulating your pages.
Below I've included some additional ideas for content writing.
- Plan content, outline the main points (which can be section headers).
- Organize your content. It has to read well.
- Use headings properly.
- Don't make your website like a brochure.
- Website content needs to be about the customer – write about how you will help them, not about what you do. In other words, write to the user, not the topic (aspirations, needs, goals).
- It's not about fresh, it's about relevance.
- Word count doesn't matter. Personally, I have a hard time with this one. Google preaches to write as much content that makes sense – not a minimum of 250 words. In the past, we have focused on a minimum of 250 words.
- Write content based on what Google believes the intent is. E.g."striper fishing” for Google would be the intent of"how to catch stripers”.
- Use vector images for quick loading.
- No rambling.
- No metaphors – Google may not be able to interpret.
- Pay attention to keyword density tool.
- One page per keyword.
- Look at Google results to determine what Google sees as synonyms, and intent, and style of answers. Match your content to that.
- Top 10, checklists, vanity content (pics / contest, stories, featured clients, link mentions).
- Blog about the process (e.g. building a pool).
- Would be good to have a location in url e.g. http://site.com/state/city
- Write editorials – interpret other articles.
- Wanna read more? Here's another article written by our team on the 10 Tips For Creating Blog Posts That Will Rank Well In Google
If you are starting from scratch, you now know how you should write your content – what to focus on and a few do's and don'ts. Google has always said to write for people. And you should. But keep in mind that you also need to keep Google happy. Are you using good grammar and full sentences? Is your copy laid out well and of an appropriate length? Are you using keywords efficiently?
Keep these points in mind so you can create great copy and get your website ranking well for Google.
About the Author
Willy Grieve is owner of Cityline Websites, a company based in Surrey BC, that has specialized in website design & online marketing since 2002. His passion is to help create and market great websites for small businesses so they can thrive in today's competitive market.