Breaking down SEO, search intent, and the basics of writing content for SEO

Nowadays one of the biggest struggles of marketing your business is mastering the art of effective SEO. Good SEO can make or break a website and how well it ranks in search engines. You can have the most beautifully designed website, but if it isn’t optimized for search engines correctly, you won’t be giving all that hard work much of a fighting chance at being seen.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. The main goal of SEO is to help your website rank closer to the top of the first page for search engines like Google, Bing, or Duck Duck Go. You want to make sure your site content— whether it’s a service page, blog, or something else— is making it onto the first page of Google. If not, it’s unlikely anyone will ever see it. And with 53.3% of website traffic coming from organic searches, you could be losing a substantial percentage of possible clientele by not making yourself easily findable on Google.

As our founder Dave often says, “the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.”

Content that’s ranked highly in Google is seen to be the most relevant and useful to the searcher, so you want to try to get as close to the top as possible.  

What SEO Can’t do (and what it can)

Let’s be clear: good SEO does not guarantee an immediate increase in traffic and business. In most cases optimizing for SEO on a specific post or page isn’t going to instantly increase clientele. 

So what can it do?

Often times when we explain SEO to our clients, we use the analogy of a relationship. Any good relationship takes time and investment. It takes work and patience to establish a relationship with Google, and you can’t jump ahead without first laying the building blocks to get where you want to go. 

In the long-run, as rapport builds, you can see your rankings increase and numbers go up. While not a immediate solution to increased clientele, investing in SEO helps to establish a relationship with Google that gets you more exposure and relevance as time goes on. 

A number of things go into increasing SEO. Consistently posting SEO-friendly blogs is just one piece of that puzzle, but it’s an important piece. 

Content is king, and good content that is both appealing to people and search engines is key to increasing SEO. 

But writing content for SEO can be more complicated than it seems.

So, what makes good content?

Writing Content for SEO: Understanding your audience

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Knowing your audience is one of the most important factors when writing content for SEO. Specifically, you want to understand who’s searching and why they’re searching. This brings us to the subject of search intent. 

Search intent is the reason why prospect clients are going to search engines. As you think about blog writing in relation to search engine optimization, it’s important to understand who you want to be writing to and what they’re looking for.

There are four kinds of search intent:

navigational: 

This is usually when internet users use search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find a certain webpage instead of entering the URL into the search bar.

informational:

Informational search intent means that users are  trying to find more information on a specific topic, product, or service.  

commercial:

Usually, people with a commercial search intent want to make a purchase but are doing their due research before making a decision.

transactional:

Like it sounds, transactional search intent means that customers have decided on a product or service and want to make a purchase online. 

Knowing your audience’s search intent is important because it affects how you write your blog and what kinds of keywords you use. For example, if you are a gym wanting to attract future gym goers, your target audience is likely people comparing different gyms and trying to decide on one. In this case, you’ll probably use words like “why attend ____ gym”. 

If you’re an online retailer trying to sell products, the people wanting to buy your product will likely be searching things like “buy stationary” or “purchase *insert product here*”.  If you want your target audience to be able to find you easily you’ll want to use keywords that they’ll be using. This also brings us to long-tail versus short-tail keywords and how you can use both to benefit your business. 

Long tail vs. Short-tail keywords 

When writing content for SEO it’s important to be aware of your keyword or keyword phrase. Think of keywords as the tail of an animal. Shorter keywords *short-tail) are closer to the bulk of the animal (in this case the animal is overall searches).  Short-tail keywords are typically very generic and used by a lot of online platforms. Therefore, there will be more search results coming up. 

The further down the tail you go and the longer your keyword or key phrase is, the fewer search results you’ll have to compete with. 

If you’re a small business, the go-to strategy when establishing a relationship with Google or other search engines is to start with long tail keywords and work towards short-tail keywords.

When you are first starting out online, you have no rapport with Google. So if you immediately go for short, general keywords like “repair shop” or “wind shield wipers”, you are much less likely to make it to the first page of Google (and at that point, what’s the point?).

By starting with long tail keywords, you decrease the amount of searchers, but you increase the likelihood of your content ranking higher on the first page of Google when it’s searched for specifically. So if you’re an auto parts retailer in Tacoma, instead of “wind shield wipers”, maybe your long tail keyword is “wind shield wipers for sale in Tacoma”. 

Readability 

Another important thing to think about when writing content for SEO is readability. Writing content for SEO is a continual balancing act of writing for people AND search engines. Poorly written content will get dinged by search engines, while content that is too specific and difficult to understand (content that has a high Flesch score) will get penalized too.

It’s also important to avoid having duplicate content on your site. Even if two posts or service pages are similar in content, having exactly similar content can lead to page cannibalization, with both pages likely ranking lower as a penalty from Google. 

Layout

Speaking of readability, let’s talk layout. When writing content for SEO, keep in mind that a good layout for your pages and blogs is important for increasing readability for both Google and prospect clients. 

Big walls of text that aren’t broken up with headings or images can be intimidating and difficult to navigate. It’s important to break your content up into bite-sized chunks, with short paragraphs and clear descriptions of what to expect in each section. 

Make sure to follow through on your title and heading titles, too. 

Neither Google nor people like to be fooled. If you make promises in your titles that you don’t follow through on, it can increase the likelihood for clients to click away immediately, and never revisit your site.

Both your relationship with people and search engines function on trust and delivering on what you promise. 

We hope this was an informative breakdown of the essentials of writing content for SEO. 

There’s a lot more that goes into writing content for SEO and establishing a good relationship with Google. Luckily, our team at Greenhaven is here for you. Our expert team is well-versed in tech trends and SEO and work to keep up-to-date with the latest knowledge. Get started by contacting us online, or give us a call! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for tech tips, SEO info, and alerts for our latest blogs.

Come back next month for more information of SEO, digital marketing, and other tech related tips! 

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