If you’ve ever read Moz’s trusty “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” you’ll remember that Moz starts off with a quote from iconic professor and author Mr. William Strunk:
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
Using Keywords Carefully
Then came the digital age, along with the challenge of ranking in Google search results. Some publishers thought “the more the better!” and scattered keyword phrases all over their posts. This tactic is known as keyword stuffing.
Here’s an example. Say you’re targeting “easy holiday desserts.” (Who wouldn’t want to search for that?) An example of keyword overload and, consequentially, bad SEO practice would be: Looking for easy holiday desserts? You can find five easy holiday desserts right here, and they’re the best easy holiday desserts around. Read on for easy holiday desserts!
Sounds spammy, right? Thankfully, Google doesn’t tolerate keyword stuffing anymore, due to advanced algorithm updates over time like the Panda update.
Content is Smart SEO
Search Engine Journal explains why content is part of smart SEO. Their blog post sums up the keyword stuffing snafu and outlines how SEO optimization should work today:
Over the last several years, search engine optimization (SEO) has matured quite a bit. Now, it’s no longer the practice of stuffing web pages with as many carefully placed keywords as possible and hoping that Google notices. These days, it takes a much more sophisticated and refined approach built on fresh, original content that will provide value to visitors, while also attracting search engines and helping sites to move up the natural search rankings.
To reiterate, SEO optimization is so much more than just littering your page with hot keyword phrases. It’s about having a high-quality site, informative and natural-sounding content, and following the all-mighty SEO recommendations from Google.
Top Tips for Quality SEO
This should all make sense, right? Now, make sure your content is doing just that! Here are some of Google’s SEO recommendations that you should keep in mind when creating content for your website:
1. Quality over quantity
We’ll say it for the 376th time: Content is king. In Google’s (and your users’) eyes, your site’s reputation is based on the quality of your content, not the quantity of keywords, phrases and links in it. Content that is specific, well written, fresh and unique usually leads to organic search and even social shares. Write your content with the user in mind, not the search engines.
2. Easy-to-understand anchor text
Whether you’re linking to another page on your site or you’re linking offsite, make your clickable text easy to understand so the user and Google know where you’re pointing. Avoid using uninformative “click here” wording to denote links, and instead write brief, specific descriptions.
3. Don’t forget the images
We usually just focus on a site’s copy to do the job of SEO, but image information can play a role too. Make sure to label your image file with a descriptive name and add specific alt text to each image. Imagine that the image disappeared from the web page only to leave its alt text name—what would you want it to say?
4. Emphasize important text
Create structure on your web page with heading tags, ranging from H1 tags (the most important, main title on your page) to H6 tags. Heading tags allow your reader to scan your site more easily. Just don’t go overboard!
Share Your SEO Strategies
Creating content with SEO in mind is a fine balance. As publishers, we’re tasked with making every word on the page count, while also integrating our keyword phrases in the right places. Oh, and we have to do all of this while sounding natural.
The good news is that it’s possible, and once it works, you’ll love the feeling you get after seeing your page rise in Google search rankings.
What are your SEO tips for quality content? What tricks have you learned from Google’s latest algorithms? Share your thoughts in the comments below.