User-centred content

How to create user-centred content optimised for SEO

There’s a common misconception that content should be created for SEO purposes. Content that’s written for SEO will gain you a high search engine ranking and more clicks. The truth is, we shouldn’t write content for the reason of gaining high search engine ranking. If copywriters are doing this, it often means the content you’re producing won’t actually be valuable or relevant to your audience. The content is purely being created for the numbers rather than for your users. SEO is a by-product of quality content, not the other way around. Great copywriters and content creators don’t write for the engines, they write for the people.

Create user-centred content

Writing content to fit in your keywords and search terms isn’t going to gain you the best results. It may get your content on the search engine results page, but when users click on your link they’ll realise it isn’t actually useful. Content created this way will be shared a lot less on social media. If a user sees no value in your content, they won’t engage with it or visit your website. You can lose customers, audience members and organic website traffic.

To create valuable and relevant content, it must be centred on the user. This is the only way you’ll generate brand awareness, quality leads and conversions. The purpose of your content should be to answer the user’s question or query. You should take the time to understand what motivates them and their behaviour. Social listening and doing your research will allow you to discover what topics your audience wants to consume and how they consume them. You can identify the channels they use the most and figure out how to target them effectively. From this research, you identify your content topics. Look at the search volumes for these topics and identify one or two keywords that your content can incorporate. This will help you optimise your content for SEO but ensure it’s not the main focus.

By creating content using this user-centred approach, you’ll gain all the benefits of optimised content for SEO, but you’ll also gain stronger relationships with your audience. With quality content that satisfies their search query, they’ll appreciate the value your business provides and how relevant your content is to their needs.

How to avoid SEO content

To help you avoid writing content for SEO purposes, we’ve highlighted some of the most obvious techniques that writers use. If you notice yourself doing any of these things when writing your content, stop and refer back to the search query. Think about whether you’ve answered the question and if the user will actually learn something from your content.

Keyword stuffing is a technique whereby you fit keywords into your content as many times as possible. This is a terrible practice and will do more than harm when good when it comes to modern search engines. Believe it or not, this practice did use to work, but since engines have advanced it’s no longer best practice.

Using keyword variations and plurals should be avoided too. This practice involves adapting your keyword in a way that targets every other version of the word. For example, if the keyword is SEO content, the variation could be content for SEO, SEO copy, SEO copywriting, SEO contents. Search engines are now far more intelligent and flag when your content uses variants and plurals to trick it into thinking it’s more relevant.

Keyword stuffing doesn’t just refer to the content itself, keywords can be stuffed into tags and descriptions too. Fitting lots of keywords, variants and plurals into tags and descriptions was a way to make sure your page showed up for all these search terms. Using this practice now will seriously damage your website’s reputation and authority in the eyes of the search engine.

A clear giveaway of content written purely for SEO is if it’s crammed with links. While you do want your content to have links throughout, they need to be relevant and provide value to the user. You shouldn’t include links to your products or services where ever you can just to increase the opportunity of a click or lead.

How to optimise user-centred content

To make sure your content is always user-centred you should follow these tips. These guidelines will help you keep the user at the front of your mind throughout the content creation process. The key is to create content first and optimise later.

Make sure you answer the search query first and foremost. Search engines rank pages that do the best job of satisfying the user’s question provide the most valuable content. If your content does this, you’re likely to maintain your position on the search engine results page rather than being knocked off the top spot by someone else doing a better job of answering the search query.

As we’ve established, keyword stuffing is a no go. You should only use your primary keyword and secondary keyword if you have one a couple of times throughout your entire content piece. Where you do use them, they should be in the most important places like your H1 tag. Try to use alternative phrases to your keyword, but not variants. If your keyword is ‘office’, your alternative phrases could be property, premise, location, workplace or environment.

Make sure your meta tags, descriptions and images are optimised when you’re publishing content. These are nice-to-haves that make sure your content ends up in the right places and is seen by your target audience. With your keyword in your title, you can avoid using it in the tags and descriptions but still hail great search engine results.

The format of the content really does matter and is vital for the user experience. Think about how the user will read your content and what the most valuable elements of the piece are. You can put the most important bits of information in the headings, highlight them in bold, add links to relevant pages, include CTAs, numbered lists or bullet points. This will allow the user to find exactly what they need from the content and head to the next stage of the user journey.

Finally, you should create your content title as the very last step of the process. This way, your title can include the keyword in a way that’s relevant to the content you’ve actually produced. The user will know exactly what your piece is going to teach them about prior to consuming the content.

User-centred content is the best practice solution to SEO content. You should always create content that your users want to consume, rather than what the search engine wants from you. You should always write content that is valuable and relevant to your audience first, search engine optimisation comes after. This way, you’ll ensure the content you create actually covers the relevant topics and answers your user’s search query way before the optimisation techniques are implemented.

Written by: Laura Greenhalgh
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