Website Content Tips

How to Serve Both Site Visitors and Search Engines with Your Web Content

Web content tips for SEO and visitor optimization

We all clamor to get visitors to our websites. Then, of course, we want to get them to take action. When it comes to web content, those are two quite distinct functions: One uses your written material to garner search engine traffic, the other entices people to read it once they’re on your site.

Search engines generally love LONG articles. In their view, more words = more information. And when they see that on a site (presuming other quality factors are in place), they assume there will be a greater chance that they will deliver people to valuable resources.

Most readers, on the other hand, are busy, so they prefer concise, let’s-cut-to-the-chase verbiage.

These two needs seem in opposition to each other, but they really aren’t. There are ways to give the search engines plenty of copy to chew on, while still allowing readers to easily access the information they need. It’s just a matter of planning and putting yourself in your readers’ metaphorical shoes.

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Soap and the Art of Web Content

Dr. Bronner'sTo give you a visual example, check out this Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile Soap bottle. There’s so much text on it, I doubt that even Dr. Bronner’s mother would want to sit down and read all of it. No offense to the product, which is of high quality and has been around for years. But that’s a LOT of text–and it all looks the same. Even the name is L-O-N-G.

Have you ever been to a web page that feels similarly bloated with all the same size and weight copy? How did it make you feel? Overwhelmed? Impatient? Like you want to scream “Get me the heck out of here”? Why would you want to do that to your readers? More to the point, why would you want to do that to yourself? Every person who clicks away from your site is another reader, client, customer, advertiser or ad clicker who will not only NOT see what you have to offer, but they probably won’t be back either.

So, how do you make it easier for your readers, while still giving the search engines the copy length that will make them love your site? The following web content tips below will show you how:

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Subheads

Virtually any web platform will make it easy to add subheads, so at a minimum you should be adding them to your copy. Depending on your blog or site design, you might want to make them bold. These provide automatic breaks for the eyes, and more importantly, they tell the reader what you’re about to tell them.

Many people scan before they read to see if the material will be beneficial to them, so subheads are essential. Even if you don’t have access to any of the other methods below, just the use of subheads will put you ahead of any competitors that have uninterrupted lengths of copy on their sites.

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Bullet points

Bullet points are another fairly accessible method for breaking up copy. As you can see, they give you the ability to:

  • Break copy into small pieces
  • Set aside important points
  • Create an alternative to numbered lists (which are used when steps need to appear in a particular order, as in a recipe or formula)

Bullet points can be used for random or related elements, as long as they don’t need to be numbered for clarity. Numbered lists are equally helpful in breaking up copy. Just make sure they’re warranted.

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Illustrations and photography


stripe_832c878db306b90883378a3302a2f0c2There are all kinds of studies about how images positively influence reader reactions to content. And there are so many free sources of images these days, there’s almost no excuse to not add at least one to any given article.

You don’t have to be an artist or even know how to edit the photos in many cases. If you do want to edit them and don’t have software, there are many free resources on the Internet.

We didn’t even have to edit the soap bottle photograph used on this page. As an Amazon affiliate, I was able to get the image from Amazon and link to it. (This is a good place to let you know that there’s affiliate code in that link. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy through it, but we need to tell you it’s there to be transparent about our practices.)

Web content infographic

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Infographics

Infographics are hot right now, due to social media in general, and specifically, the popularity of Pinterest. Vertical images do well on Pinterest, and infographics are always vertical. As you can see from the image to the right (or above or below on mobile devices), it does a great job of providing color and interest on the page.

I have an advantage, because we make our own infographics. It might not be quite as easy for other people to do this, but you can always hire out the design and production. Coincidentally, we just happen to offer that service! You can see samples of our infographics on this Pinterest page. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in getting a quote.

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Internal linking

Internal linking, or linking from one of your site pages to another, is good for both readers and search engines. It’s good for readers, because if you’ve already covered a topic extensively, you don’t have to do it again. This makes a wealth of information just a click away. It’s also good for search engines, because internal linking keeps visitors on your site longer. This is seen as a quality signal to the engines. The longer people stay on your site, the more value the engines believe your site has. You’ll see many internal links throughout this article, including these, which link to our Free Script Fonts and Script Font Pairing Tips and 5 Social Media Tips articles.

When you write a new article, take a few minutes to go to some of your related articles and link some text to it. This will incrementally increase the number of internal links you have every time you post an article. If you don’t have time for that, you should at least use something similar to the suggested article blocks you see at the bottom of this post. We do ours manually, which is not the most efficient way, but we feel it looks better than all the related posts plugins we tried.

You should also link your images to your home page or article URLs. This way, when thieves steal your content, which happens more often than not, they will be giving you links back to your site. And another note about copy theft: If you keep your blog feed setting on partial instead of full, scrapers (thieves that use bots to “scrape” your feed to steal content) will only get the first part of it.

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External linking

External linking is just what it seems like: links that go off your site. It might seem counter-intuitive that you would send people off your site, but this can be a powerful strategy. You’ll note that above in the Infographics section in this article I linked out to Pinterest through a text link. Pinterest is a powerful and popular site, so we’re telling the search engines that we consider it to be related to our article.

This is another quality signal that makes your article seem like a worthy resource to the engines. You don’t want to have too many of these, and you want to keep them related, but a few can be a helpful addition to your search engine optimization arsenal.

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Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there are many ways you can break up your content into more palatable bite-sized chunks for readers. Even using one or two of these can make a big difference in the readability of your article. But there’s one factor I didn’t mention yet that’s equally important: Don’t make it all about you. People search the web for information they need, or for entertainment, not to read about how terrific you think you are. There’s a time and place for that, like on About or Services pages, where you’re expected to extol your virtues. Everywhere else, you should strive to provide value in whatever ways you can. You know you wouldn’t have gotten this far in this article if that hadn’t been the case here.

 


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