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The Internet is a beautiful thing. It allows us all to be seen and heard on a scale never available to the masses before. For example, you or someone you know probably has a blog. If you’re running a company, blogging is doubly important. But the question becomes how should you organise the content so search engines like Google can figure out what your blog is about?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked by clients and customers. Most people who ask me this are concerned with two things – user experience and rankings. The thing to remember is that both of these go hand in hand.
If you are actively working for a better user experience and are customising your blog to your customers, then your user metrics will go up. Google loves to see that your users are engaging with your content and are staying on your site longer. Here are a few tips to help you both rank higher and keep your customers engaged.
Whatever CMS (Content Management System) you’re using, make sure you are tagging your posts. If you’re like most business owners, you’re using a CMS like WordPress that has a category option plugged in right to the blog. This is more important than you realise.
Tags aren’t necessarily keywords, but they can and will act as searchable terms on your website and in the search engines. “But Gareth, I’ve heard about duplicate content penalties. Won’t this trigger those?”
Category tagging your posts not only creates new, indexable pages all relating to the same topic (major SEO plus) but allows your users to find a ton of great info on that topic. Tags should be specific and easy to understand, but you can have some fun with them too.
Here are a few tips on how to use your tags effectively:
-Research your tags like keywords
-Use the same tag consistently across multiple posts
-Display only short excerpts of the article on the category page
-Track user data of interaction with the tag and adapt!
Do this right, and your users will love what you release and will keep coming back.
Despite what you may think of yourself, your posts are not aspiring to be the next great American novel. You need to assume that your audience is reading at no higher than an 8th grade reading level. There is no need to show off your extensive vocabulary or grasp of modern vernacular. Save that stuff for your creative writing projects.
There are some exceptions where writing very technically may be called for. I have worked on many different healthcare sites that cater to helping doctors understand a certain procedure or treatment so that they may more accurately advise patients. That’s fine, just remember that you need to know your audience.
You’d be surprised how often I have to deal with websites whose content is just a huge block of text. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
All of the most recent studies agree, the average internet user reads at most 28% of a webpage. We skip to the info we are looking for and try to quickly and easily digest it. The best way to do this is to correctly define what we’re talking about in the header and then breaking it down into lists to either reiterate or quickly blueprint what was talked about.
Finally, just try and be authentically you. If you are passionate about what you do, your natural writing will attract the right kind of reader/user. If you are writing for a company or as a part of your job, take it as a challenge and present the information in a way that would be interesting for you to read.
I’ve read a ton of studies and blogs on what is considered the best content or the right length. But when push comes to shove, these things are very hard to calculate. I can tell you that the average web page ranking on the 1st page of Google has over 2000 words displayed on it. Length of content definitely has something to do with ranking, but I don’t believe that will be the case for much longer.
Google is concerned mostly with overall user experience. Even though some users may be staying on your page longer because you have a lot of content that they are sifting through, that doesn’t mean you are providing them with a good UX. Quickly guiding your users to the information they are seeking and having them click through your site is a far weightier metric than time spent on a page. Remember that when you are typing out a very long winded answer, when a simple one could be offered and the user can be guided to another part of your site where more information can be found.
If you follow these basic best practices, you will begin to see a shift in the way your users interact with your site, and will track far greater engagement with your content. Do you have any other suggestions or tips? Let us know in the comments.
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