The Art and Science of Optimising Content for Search Engines and Users

When you post content to your website, you should have two audiences in mind. The first and arguably the most important is the people who will read your content as they are the people who could become your customers. Optimising your content for users is, therefore, essential.

However, you also need to optimise your content for search engines. If you don’t, the content may not rank as well as it should which will mean fewer people will find it.

In other words, your content won’t reach the first audience – users – unless you also optimise your content for search engines.

Both users and search engines have different needs, however. As a result, making your content appealing to both is an art and a science.

Content Optimization

Keyword Density

A central component of any page of content you create for your website is the main keyword of the page. In simple terms, you must include the main keyword in the content.

This begs the question: how often should you use the keyword? This is known as keyword density, i.e. the percentage of the text taken up by the keyword.

If you don’t use the keyword enough, search engines might not associate your page with that keyword. Over-optimising the keyword, however, is an even bigger mistake.

This is sometimes referred to as keyword stuffing and it can get your page penalised by Google. In addition, keyword stuffing delivers a terrible user experience as the text sounds forced and unnatural.

Keyword stuffed content is also usually uninformative and unhelpful. This is because the focus of the writer is on including the keyword rather than giving readers the information they are looking for.

For most SEO Services, content optimisation involves achieving a keyword density of around one percent.

Keeping Users Engaged

Keeping users engaged is an important objective in itself. However, pages that keep users engaged are also search engine friendly pages, particularly when you follow best practices.

This is because users will spend more time on your page when it’s engaging. Spending time on your page is an indication to Google that it answered the user’s query. This is good for your page’s SEO.

So, how do you optimise content to keep users engaged? Here are some tips:

  • Make the text easy-to-read. Making the text easy to skim read is even better. This involves breaking the text up into sections using headings. You should also includelists and use short sentences and paragraphs. Write in normal, conversational language too.
  • Ensure the content is interesting. In most situations, this means having something meaningful and worthwhile to say.
  • Add media to the content including images that add value (not just stock images) as well as embedding video.
  • Internal links can help too as they enable users to explore topics further. Internal links are also beneficial for SEO.
  • Content length is also important. Most people create website content that is too short. The thinking behind this is that people online don’t want to read through long passages of text. This is only partially true, however. This is because you can have content that is long and that doesn’t require the user to read lots of text – providing you follow the advice in the first point of this list. To give you an idea of the content length you should be aiming for, a blog should ideally be somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words.

Keyword Placement

Including keywords within the content of your page is important, but to fully achieve on-page optimisation, you need to put the keyword in the right places. Here are the most important places to include your keyword:

  • The H1 heading, as close to the start of the heading as possible
  • The first paragraph of the page, as close to the start of the paragraph as possible
  • In H2 headings where it fits naturally
  • Elsewhere on the page where it fits naturally
  • In image Alt text

An Introduction to Latent Semantic Indexing

Another thing you should think about when optimising content on your website for both search engines and users is Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI.

LSI is a complex and scientific-sounding title, but the concept is fairly straightforward. It is about the words and phrases that are related to your main keyword and that usually appear on pages focused on that keyword.

For example, a page with the keyword “rugby” is likely to also feature words like ball, tackle, ruck, scrum, fly-half, referee, etc.

Why is LSI important? Most people experienced in SEO believe that search engines use keywords known as LSI keywords when ranking websites on search results pages. This is because LSI keywords help search engines understand what the page is about.

For example, Google will know that a page with the keyword “hercules” and LSI keywords like Roman, hero, god, mythology, and Zeus is likely to be about the Hercules from Roman classical mythology.

On the other hand, it will know that a different page with the same keyword but with LSI keywords that include Dwayne Johnson, 3D, and fantasy adventure is about a 2014 movie called Hercules.

Similarly, it will know a different page with the same keyword “hercules” is about a different page again – this time the 1997 movie – because it has LSI keywords like animated, Disney, and musical.

So, including LSI keywords on your website’s pages makes them more useful to both readers and to search engines.

The Main Tip

The main tip when creating content for your website is to first optimize it for users. You can then go back and tweak it for search engines. When you do, you will probably find the keyword placement, or the use of LSI keywords happened naturally. You can then tidy up anything else to finish the optimization process.

Ettie Beverly

Ettie Beverly is a passionate person who loves to expand his skill set. One such skill that fascinated him is the creation and management of WordPress websites. He likes helping out people in their difficult times without any expectations of a favor in return for help. In short, he likes to make other people's days better. And this is what motivated him to contribute insightful articles on DigiExe Blog.

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