As of October 2013, Google estimates that there are over 60 trillion web pages on the internet. You need your customers to be able to find your website among all of those pages. After all, 74% of people in Hong Kong research online before making a purchase.
How do you ensure that these people find your business when they are doing that research? The key is search engine optimization (SEO).
An Overview of SEO
Traditionally, SEO writing has revolved around injecting web copy with keyword phrases at certain levels and densities throughout a webpage. For example, search engine crawlers, which check out your site in order to learn more about it, rank the headlines of webpages higher than actual paragraphs when determining the relevancy of a page against individual keywords, so including the most important keywords in the headline is critical.
Search engine algorithms – the set of mathematical formulae and rules search engines use to determine the significance of a webpage – evolve constantly as businesses get better at understanding (and sometimes tricking) their system. For example, search engine giant Google considers over 200 factors when crawling and indexing individual webpages, including site quality, freshness and user context.
How SEO Intersects with Content Writing
At its core, SEO writing is marketing. Not only must SEO writing succinctly convey your company’s expertise and value proposition, but it must quickly say why your product or service meets the needs of target audiences. While it’s important to include keywords, it’s also crucial to use natural language and focus on how you are different from competitors. You are targeting the search engine crawlers, but ultimately your website will be read by actual people: awkward keyword stuffing (inserting keywords awkwardly or randomly) will not help your SEO in the end and may even lead to your site being banned.
As you develop content for your marketing and online channels, keep the following tips in mind:
- Increase Relevancy: Structure your site’s content based on relevancy. While information should be posted on its own distinct page section, you can help crawlers find relevant content by cross linkingto related topics within your website.
- Be Mobile-Friendly: Design and write content for multiple devices. Almost 2/3 of people in Hong Kong use the internet on their phones. Having a mobile version or responsive designthat adapts to whatever device is used to access your content will enhance the experience for mobile or tablet users and most likely increase their stay-time.
- What Deserves Its Own Page?More pages can help your SEO, but only if these pages are necessary and useful. Take time to decide whether to devote a webpage to a particular product, service or topic, and whether the page is unique and valuable enough to stand on its own. Assess the webpage’s value to users, its accessibility from the site’s homepage and its ability to provide accurate content that users can share over the web.
- Leverage Social Media: Claim and promote your website on social networks and social media websites. As social media has grown in importance, so has its role in SEO. Engaging customers and prospective users through social media can help increase your inbound traffic and, subsequently, your ranking.
- Be Searchable: When writing content, you must ensure that search engines can read the text, images, documents and other digital assets on your page. For example, if you have numerous PDFfiles posted on your page, unlocking them will ensure that crawlers can read the content contained within the file.
Conducting Keyword Research
Before you start with SEO writing, you need to conduct keyword research. There are keyword research tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner that can assist you with this task. Keyword Planner and related tools help marketers estimate web traffic for keywords that pertain to their business. Consider the following steps before developing your SEO writing strategy:
- Conduct a competitive analysisto discover how similar companies are ranking against keywords you’re looking to purchase for search ads and to include on your websites. You can also research keyword ideas based on your product offering and existing webpages.
- Use Keyword Planner or another keyword research tool to view statistics such as “average monthly searches” and competition for specific keywords and phrases. Note or download the results so you can combine multiple search terms into one SEO plan.
- Customize your online search ads so the content includes purchased keywords that will appeal to your ideal customers. Additionally, create multiple online ads if you have multiple products. You should also include these keywords in headlinesand meta tags on your corporate website where appropriate.
In addition to keyword search statistics, you can use paid market research reports to help you understand your target audience’s online goals and purchasing behavior. Ultimately, doing extensive keyword research upfront and incorporating the latest SEO best practices into your content strategy will improve your search engine rankings and generate online success for your brand.