Before you ask yourself “What? Queen?” let me explain. Normally you’d hear the phrase “Content is king,” but this particular piece is being written by a female. A female working in a predominantly male tech industry. So for at least today, ladies and gents, we are taking a page from the Brits: the queen rules.
For my first royal act, I am banishing jargon from this message. If you are a jargon lovin’ junkie, there is plenty of it out there for you to read. To be frank, I find it somewhat pretentious, all this insider language that no one really speaks (or, frankly, understands). And when it comes to writing about the importance of content, it seems especially egregious to write using phrases that make little sense and convey less meaning. Reminds me of the Emperor’s New Clothes… nodding and acting like phrases such as “term frequency-inverse document frequency” are normal. Let’s stop pretending, at least for today, that we enjoy talking like that. I’m the queen. It’s ok.
Keepin’ It Real
Because here’s the first thing about website content: it needs to be real. This just in: real people are searching the internet. All the time. (You’re probably doing it right now, either looking up “term frequency-inverse document frequency” or “Emperor’s New Clothes.”) When you create content for your site, talk like real people talk. We don’t say “Dear, the prepubescent urchins are once more in need of podiatric solutions.” We say, “Yikes, the kids need shoes again.”
Think about how you speak and what you search for when you draft content. If you’re in the potato business, you don’t have to stick solely with the word “potatoes.” You can use taters, spuds or murphies. You can also throw in specific types, like Yukon Gold. Mix it up with red potatoes, new potatoes, mashed, baked, au gratin, scalloped. The wider you cast the net with related yet applicable terms, the higher your content will rank. (Power tip: do your best to also think about how other people speak and the words they might use. One person’s Bigfoot is another’s Sasquatch and another’s Yeti.)
Keywords: Friend or Foe?
The answer to that question is yes. Used correctly, keywords are a website’s or blog post’s BFF. Using them wisely is the trick. Taking a page from “The Gambler”: you got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Thoughtfully utilizing applicable keywords in moderation is critical. Putting them with other like-minded keyword buddies will help even more (more on that later). Throwing moderation out the window and stuffing keywords willy nilly into your content will have Google shipping you off to internet Siberia. With each new Google release, including the latest Penguin update, keyword abuse carries a heavy penalty. Who knew Penguins were so strict?
The keyword bottomline is this: use them when it makes sense. Place them where it counts: in your url, your headline, your main body text and image tags. Make sure it applies to your topic; throwing in unrelated but trendy searches will get you in hot water. If you’re not writing about Taylor Swift, don’t mention Taylor Swift. It’s not cool to say, on your potato website, “Our potatoes are so special, they are a Taylor Swift favorite.” Unless they really are, in which case, we’d like to try your potatoes.
The Buddy System
Another way to get your content more noticed — and to make it more interesting to read — is to have related topics. Let’s say your focus really is Taylor Swift this time. Rather than mention Taylor Swift ad nauseam, refer to your main topic in related ways that may bump up your search results. “Top country female artist,” “Shake It Off songstress,” “Grammy-award winning singer” are related ways to refer to her without using her name over and over and over.
Be the Smartest Person on the Page
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having my time wasted. If you are an SEO guru and manage to get your site some decent rankings, but then people get there and realize that their eight-year-old knows more about Taylor Swift than you do, they’re not going to spend much time on your site. If you can’t answer their questions, they’ll find someone who can. Eventually, if your content is weak then you’ll lose the public’s trust and their clicks. Fewer clicks are something else Google takes stock of. We hate to say that Google only likes the popular kids, but there’s some of that going on.
Editors Are Your Best Friend
Believe it or not, there are still people out there who care about how well something is written. While this might not have anything to do with Google, it has everything to do with your site’s overall excellence. If you’re not a crack writer, find a word nerd and have them draft or edit your copy. It’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes read what you’ve written in any case. Even as I write this, I know that there will be things that Jim will change or question when he reads my draft, and that’s ok. We’re better as a team.
Hopefully, this has inspired you to begin creating more intentional, focused content. As always, we’re happy to help, whether you are making that first leap into blog posts, need help beefing up and focusing your site content or drafting a holiday email.
And now, for my next royal act, I think I’ll declare that French fries are a vegetable. I heard that Taylor Swift eats them all the time.