I have two degrees from Florida State University. One in Business Marketing and the other in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. I tend to like to emphasize the word “creative” in that degree typically when I am caught with grammar errors in my writing. But also when the topic of SEO writing comes up.
Although I’ve been a Social Media consultant for over a decade and Social Media and SEO go together like cats and viral videos, I spent years resisting SEO best practices.
In my mind SEO was the antithesis of creativity. To write content that was optimized for SEO was to write for a computer program as opposed to writing for other feeling, thinking, and dreaming human beings. But as a marketer, resistance to SEO best practices was futile. I had to find a compromise. What I learned in the process was that although content that is written specifically for search engines and have titles that get a lot of clicks may attract lots of traffic, if there was no substance and no emotional connection, all that traffic is worthless. The focus of any content should first and foremost be on making a connection with the audience. The more I learned about SEO, the more I learned that making a connection is also a good SEO practice. Here is why.
SEO and Dwell Time
Ok. Before I dive into “dwell time” I want to point out what I just did here. I used a header tag with a subtitle that not only describes what I am about to talk about, but also includes keywords. My content is still conversational here, but I am sprinkling in some SEO best practices.
Keywords should be in URL, Title Tag, H1 or H2 Tags, Image Alt Tags, Image URLs, Body Copy.
If you want more information about the hows and whys of header tags, I recommend this site.
And if you like my conversational tone then you are taking the time to read the rest of my words and not just the keywords that may have brought you to this post. That means you are sticking around on the site for a period of time. That is the dwell time – how long searchers spend on the clicked-through result before returning to their search results.
Google is the number one resource for all of our questions for one main reason: It delivers good answers at the top of search results quickly. It does so by watching users behavior. If a search result is causing users to “bounce” off the site quickly, then it was not a good result and it will get pushed down on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or maybe even disappear completely.
Good, engaging content gets people to stay on the page longer and that helps your SEO. This is also one of the reasons why you want to lead people from one page to other interesting and relevant content on your site through internal links.
Tell Me What You are Going to Tell Me
This is rule number one in any communication; written or spoken or in a song or piece of art. You need to set expectations and then deliver on that expectation.
But how does this impact SEO? Google (and those other search engines) evaluate the click-through rate-ratio to determine the quality of your content. This is the number of times a given search listing is clicked vs the number of times it was displayed. Meaning, is your title and metadata (the description) displayed in a search result, and do a significant number of people click on your link? If not, then Google will determine you are not what the searchers are looking for and your content will disappear.
This is why click-bait titles work for SEO. People see an enticing title such as “10 things you need to know about sunblock” and they click to find out what it is they need to know. But if the content is basically an infomercial about a brand of sunblock, then people will leave the site disappointed. Perhaps the brand has more reach and awareness, but they did not earn trust and satisfaction. So not only should you set the right expectations upfront, they should be expectations that attract readers and when you deliver on those expectations your readers should leave delighted, wanting to share their newfound knowledge. Which leads to the third SEO tip.
Get People Talking About You
The more people share your content on social media, the more traffic your site will get. The more traffic you get, the more Google (and other search engines) will pay attention. Also, if others are linking to your content from their own blogs or website, your page will increase in authority –meaning Google will see it as the the go-to page or site for the information you write about.
This is why people who are focused on writing for people and not just trying to game the search engine algorithms will always win in the end. Good content with well-formed urls and metadata that shows up as you want it when other share your content, enables you to make sure each piece of content is well-packaged to travel throughout the web. And the best way to get people to share your content is to become part of or create an online community through social media platforms where your content is seen as valuable. That’s a winning combination.