Understanding the automated audience is key to getting your content seen by more humans.
Before rolling out a new content strategy, one of the first things any blogger, copywriter or content creator should consider is the audience they are writing for. Basic really.
Normally, this involves creating an audience persona – or avatar -of the ideal or most common customer. Depending on your business, this includes gender, age, habits, locations or job titles and can dictate the tone, style, timing and contents of a blog post for example,
But what can often be overlooked is that for this – or any – audience to be served your latest blog content, first it must be crawled, recognised and ranked by the search engine robots.
Whichever way you look at it, search engines are often the Internet’s home page. Whether you are looking for a tiler in Cheltenham, independent financial advice or how to get red wine stains out of furniture (asking for a friend), this is where so many journeys begin and end!
So, understanding how to write to best engage this automated ‘audience’ will determine how your content ranks for its human one.
How Google Search Works – The (very) short version
First, let’s start with how search engines work. Google, for example, follows three basic steps to generate results from web pages:
The first step is finding out what pages exist on the web. As there isn’t a central registry of all web pages, Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. This process of discovery is called crawling.
After a page is discovered, Google tries to understand what the page is about. This process is called indexing. Google analyses the content of the page, catalogues images and video files that may be embedded on the page, and tries to understand the page.
Serving (and ranking)
How well Google understands this page content, along with other factors will determine how high it is subsequently ranked. When a user types a query, Google tries to find the most relevant answer from its index. Google will try to provide the best answer to each query base on the content it has indexed, along with other considerations such as the user’s location, language, and device, to provide the best user experience.
For Google (other search engines are available), one of its most important ranking factors on any web site is the content on it. All search engines love fresh, relevant content and this is how Google, for example, determines what the site is about, and for what terms it should appear in the search results.
As blogging is one of the most straightforward, flexible and inexpensive methods for any business to create this fresh content, it follows that if you can write content in a manner that Google likes to read it, the site it is on, will be ranked higher than competitors and therefore served to more of your target audience. Read more on the benefits of blogging.
Above all, your blog post has to be a good piece of writing. Your content has to be clear, concise and engaging for the end user, but simple techniques, woven into your blogging habits, will also help you improve your SEO rankings.
- Keyword research
Before you start writing, you really should do some keyword research. In order to rank highly for certain search results, you first have to know what they are. By figuring out which words your audience actually searches for, these become the topics you should write about and the words you should use in your text.
Remember Keyphrases are also keywords which contain multiple words. We tend to use the word keyword all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it’s always only one word. Keywords usually consist of multiple words!
- Understand intent
When starting out on a content strategy, understanding the audience is key and SEO success means understanding the terms they use to find a product or service like yours. It is not uncommon for an organisation to use one set of words when describing their products or the benefits they offer, while their target audience uses a completely different set of words. As a result, potential customers don’t find those websites, because of a mismatch in word use.
A great blogging strategy can be created around answering the questions people have. Whenever someone enters a search query into a search engine, they are on a quest for something. Every type of question needs a specific answer, and this can be a great way for businesses to determine which answers they can provide in longer form content.
Each blog post should have a clear structure that includes:
- An introduction (to introduce your topic)
- A body (to get across your main message)
- A conclusion (to summarise the most important ideas or create a call to action)
If you want to improve the structure of your blogs pay attention to the first paragraph, your headings and the first sentences of every new paragraph.
It’s important that your readers are able to understand your writing, and headings are a great way to structure a page. But as well as being important for readability they are great for SEO as well. Headings help Google to grasp the main topics of a long post and therefore can help in your ranking. Help Google, and your audience find their way through your articles, by using subheadings to lead them and help them scan your page. You can use some of your keywords in headings but don’t do it for each one as it looks a little obvious and clunky.
- Optimise the length of your article
Make sure your articles have a minimum of 300 words. Google likes longer articles, however, if your article is too long – and not so easy to read – it might scare users away.
- Link to previous content
If you’ve already written content on the same topic, link these posts together. It will make your post stronger because you demonstrate greater authority on the subject. As well as that, your link structure is also important for your Google ranking. Here’s one we made earlier on the benefits of blogging.
- Add content regularly
Regularly adding new blog posts to your website tells Google that your website is alive. An inactive web site is crawled less often and this might negatively affect your rankings. Create a calendar of content based on your key topics and users search intent.
Every business strives to increase or hold its position at the top of Google’s ranking. In truth there are a number of factors that can lead to a web site ranking highly on Google. As well as using design elements that are favoured by Google, strategically using keywords and regularly, well-structured and engaging blogs will help improve organic results. As online searches are still the primary way for customers to find companies and products adding this method into a content plan is key for success.
If you are struggling to find your voice, get in touch to see how we can help you project to a wider audience.