Good SEO has always been a dark art – technology advances, fashion changes and Google tweaks its algorithms on a regular basis. As a result, writers looking to create SEO-friendly copy always feel like they’re on the back foot, battling against the search engine giants.
But this needn’t be the case, because the main aim of any search engine is ultimately to provide the user with the information they are seeking as effectively and quickly as possible.
Put simply, the clearer your message is to a reader, the clearer it is to a search engine. Provided the search engine is doing its job effectively…
Here are a few simple tips to keep your messaging clear for both readers and Google:
1: Keep it simple
People’s attention span is dreadfully short on the internet, so keep your sentences simple and your paragraphs short when writing for the web.
This is increasingly important as users migrate to smartphones for their browsing: small screens mean long sentences are difficult to follow.
Another useful tactic is to ensure you put the most important content at the top of your page, or at the start of your writing. This way you can be sure a user will see what you have to say. Don’t save your best for last; the reader might miss it.
2: Break your content up using header tags (H1, H2 etc)
Using headers to break up your writing will help focus your reader and keep them scrolling. It will also allow them to digest your content more easily.
Google knows this, which is why it sets great store by what you write in them, especially your main header (known as the H1). It’s vital, therefore, that you get your most important points or keyword phrases into these header sections.
3: Don’t go stuffing keywords everywhere
Having said it’s important to get keywords into your header, it’s also important not to overuse them. It’s enough to mention keywords such as ‘SEO’ just a few times in the main copy of your piece.
If you litter your text with a particular keyword, a technique known as keyword stuffing, your copy can become stilted and much harder to read. In the early days of SEO, this was a common tactic. These days, fortunately, the opposite is true: keyword stuffing can have a negative effect on your search ranking.
In conclusion, what’s good for your reader is good for Google.