If you’ve heard the term ‘content marketing’ used a lot recently but aren’t sure exactly how having a blog can improve your search rankings, you’re in the right place to find out.
In this article I’m going to explain what the link is between producing good content and achieving better search rankings.
Other articles go into greater depth but this is intended as a simple overview to explain content marketing for beginners.
Why you need good content on your website
The thought process goes something like this:
Q: How can I make more money for my business?
A: Get more customers.
Q: How can I get more customers?
A: Get more people to know about your business.
Q: But how do I get my business out to more people?
A: Improve your search rankings on Google, etc.
Q: How do I improve my search rankings?
A: Show Google that your website has high-quality content that’s relevant to its users.
Q: And how do I do that?
A: So glad you asked…
This is where content marketing comes in. Google (and when I say ‘Google’ this does include other search engines too) will judge your website based on a number of factors. Nobody knows the exact algorithm, and it changes all the time, but experts agree the following all play a part in determining your search rankings for any given search query (along with around 200 other things):
- Backlinks (incoming links from other pages)
- Ability to crawl and index the site
- Keyword density and location
- Content length and quality
- Image optimisation
- Social signs (Twitter followers, Facebook likes, etc.)
- Content/site freshness
- Grammar and spelling
Now, I’m not going to address all of these now, or perhaps ever on this site. Some of it gets pretty technical or is just outside the remit of what we at Stuff With Words can help with.
The search ranking factors I will focus on here are: keywords, grammar and spelling, and the freshness, length and quality of content.
What are SEO keywords?
Just in case you’re unsure, I’ll quickly go over what keywords are and how they work. If you’re completely new to this, you might find this article about keyword basics useful.
SEO keywords are important (or ‘key’) words and phrases that tell search engines what your site is all about. If you own a sports equipment store, for example, you might want to appear in search results for users who search things like ‘tennis racket’ or ‘running shoes’. These would, therefore, be keywords themselves and part of longer keyword phrases (perhaps including brand names or the location of your store). It’s unlikely that your site would feature much about dog food, and so Google wouldn’t show it to someone who was researching dog food brands.
SEO keyword optimisation isn’t just about writing content on your chosen topic, though. If you want to make it as effective as possible at improving your search rankings, you’ll need to make sure your keywords are carefully placed.
Search engines will rank a page higher in search results if the given keyword appears:
- In the top-level domain (preferably as the first word)
- In the subdomain name
- In the title tag (preferably at the beginning)
- In the meta description
- In header tags (H1, H2, etc.)
- In the first paragraph
- Frequently in the body text (but not to the point of overuse)
- In image data
And that’s roughly in order of importance, according to SEO experts. Unless you’re creating a site from scratch you’re already stuck with your domain name, but the rest can be achieved through a good content marketing strategy that incorporates keyword optimisation.
If all this has left you feeling a bit lost, don’t worry. If you use our content writing services and choose our ‘Complete’ package for regular content creation, we’ll handle your keyword research and idea generation as we create blog posts and other engaging content for your audience.
By the way, if you haven’t worked out who your target audience is yet, here’s how to define your ideal customers.
Why do grammar and spelling affect search rankings?
Google’s aim is to serve up content that is high-quality, useful, and readable. If a web page is poorly written, unless there’s something incredibly special about the content, users won’t hang around on it for long. Instead, they’ll click back to their search results and look at the next website that catches their eye. This gives a negative user experience, so Google works hard to differentiate between content which is well written and that which is not.
If your content is difficult to read because it lacks flow or is full of spelling and grammar mistakes, you can be sure it’s putting some users off and affecting your rankings.
Why will your rankings take a hit? Because if lots of users are clicking through to your site and then leaving after reading for just a few moments (resulting in a high bounce rate), it doesn’t send a good message to search engines.
Not everyone will care about bad English, but many people will perceive your company as unprofessional if you don’t bother to produce well-written content.
This might seem unfair if English is not your first language, but that’s just the way it is. Even if English is your native language, don’t assume that your writing is good enough to publish without having it checked. In my time as a proofreader I’ve seen plenty of native English speakers making cringeworthy mistakes – either because they didn’t check their own work properly or they just didn’t know any better.
Creating content for SEO
When it comes to the content itself, Google wants to see that it’s of decent quality and relates to the specified topic. Longer posts are generally ranked higher, and you need to add to your site regularly to show it is relevant and worth returning to.
All of these things, therefore, could be hurting your search rankings:
- Creating lots of short blog posts (under 500 words)
- Posting content with no target keywords
- Writing poor quality content
- Publishing content that has been previously published elsewhere (either on your own site or an external one)
- Adding content infrequently or erratically
It stands to reason, then, that a good content creation strategy should involve:
- Publishing some longer content (1500-2000 words)
- Optimising your content for your target keywords
- Creating original, well-written content
- Regularly publishing new content
You should also make an effort to produce different types of content. Blog posts are great and can be highly informative, but to keep your audience interested and keen to return to your site, it’s a good idea to mix it up a bit with different post formats and media types. Having a mixture of content on your site is another way you can appeal to search engines, too.
How often should I publish content?
There is no rigid answer to this. It will depend on what you’re writing about and how much you can commit to. The word on the SEO street is that consistency can be just as important as frequency.
Creating thee posts in one day and then not publishing anything for another two weeks won’t do you any favours. Instead, try to create a content marketing calendar that you can stick to as part of your strategy.
If you have the time and the ideas to write a post every day or two, that’s great. If you feel more comfortable publishing something once a week, that’s fine too – your content arsenal will just build up a little more slowly.
How having a blog can improve your search rankings
So, going back to the original question of how having a blog can improve your search rankings, we have seen how it helps in a number of ways.
Regularly posting quality, useful content that’s keyword optimised, well-written and original will tick several important boxes on search engine algorithms, giving your website a better chance of ranking for your target keywords.
If you lack the time, technical knowledge or motivation to devise and carry out your own content strategy, don’t worry. Our content writing services can take care of most of the work for you, leaving you free to do what you’re best at.