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ION's Search Engine Optimization Training: Instructions for SEO Content

SECTION FOUR - Provide interesting & useful SEO content

        Building great content that is compelling to your human readers is your second most important part in the process of Search Engine Optimization. Really. The other Eleven sections in our instructional program will address how to appease Search Engines in other ways, but this topic is addressed specifically because the Search Engine's User-agents, A.K.A., 'spiders,' are not going to be interested in your products or services. Human beings are. So for now, write to people. Later on in section #7 we'll simply alter what you've written here for the sake of our eight-legged friends.


SEO terms you might want to review for this step:

               Quantity of Content                Page Size
               Landing pages                Page Depth


Section Four shortcut:
Some people save time and hire a professional or aspiring content writer. (Instead of writing it themselves.) If you are looking for one, you are welcome to try the following links:
  • Writer's Weekly, which has forums of writers looking for work.
  • Writing.com. With millions of aspiring writers from around the world posting daily, you might get some done for free! (Of course you pay for quality in writing...)


How to write great SEO content for web site traffic marketing:

  1. Write a rough draft of your entire site's content, before dividing it up into pages.

  2. Write in a professional, first-person perspective to your readers. Try to:

    • "Be on the same side" with them, by using pronouns like "we."
    • Appeal to their intellect. If you get them thinking they'll remember it more.
    • Sound like a concerned friend, happy to help, respectful, but never pushy.

    Basically, this is the step where you have to be compelling. You can't sell anything without being somewhat compelling, calling your reader to action on some level. Not selling anything from your site? Doesn't matter. Your website still has a purpose that you want to convey to your reader, and you want them to agree and mentally side with you in order to understand that point. Compel them to agree without being pushy. (Takes practice to do perfectly.)

  3. Check all wordage for professionalism and respect of your readers. Make sure there are no:

    • Misspelled words or bad grammar,
    • Wandering topics that don't seem to have a point,
    • Language or cultural mistakes that could be taken as racist, and
    • Assumptions that you know what the reader is thinking.

  4. Now separate your pages out by their themes, keeping each page to a central, direct but self-supporting topic. Cut your page size down to between 200 and 500 words per page, if possible. Doing both at once requires some practice and/or luck.

  5. Meanwhile, try to have at least 20 pages of content linked to each other. (They don't all have to be ready for the initial site launch.) Fewer is ok, but 20 pages is optimal if you are competing for the top position in Search Engines. More is better, but their is a 'bonus' at around 20.

  6. Add an offer of something for free to attract more visitors. It could be anything as long as it appears to be 'something extra for free.' Such as:

    • A unique & interesting source of information there on your site that isn't found anywhere else. (Kind of like this instruction set...)
    • A free give-away product or service, such as a buy-one-get-one-free offer.
    • A free-trial time for your existing product or service.
    • Anything else you feel will help build interest.

  7. Choose which pages are your landing pages, including all of your pages with content on them that people would use a search engine to look for. Perhaps you will even want to mark them so you can tell them apart from the other, non-important (to SEO) pages.

  8. Next it's time to name your individual pages with the most appropriate keywords for each page. Your primary keyword for that page should be the actual file name for that HTML file. Place dashes or underlines between the individual keywords in a phrase to join it together, and keep all letters lower-case. (Some older servers only recognize file names in lowercase.)

  9. It's really important that the landing pages, in particular, are centered on a topic and can use the keywords well. Go through just those pages again and make sure that you have centered each landing page around a central theme or topic that best fits the primary keyword, and can accommodate the other keywords. You might even want to write the themes down if you have more than a few.

  10. When the text is nicely flushed out and reads well, getting all your points across and compels your reader to do something, it's time to spell-check the file, save it, and put it aside until section #7. If you are planning to put a version of your site up soon before you've completely finished with the text for SEO purposes, there's nothing wrong with taking this product as it is now and publishing it... It just won't be keyword optimized yet, but it does server its' central purpose so many go ahead and post it online at this point.

    Depending on the size of your site, of course, this process make take many re-writes. Some people writing their own content will go back and fine-tune it through editing (if not through full re-write) dozens of time before they feel happy with it. Make sure you put your best foot forward here, this is your business's image we're talking about, so don't ever put anything online when it's sloppy! In fact, you'll likely want to go over it again in it's entirety while you are in Section #7, but don't let that stop you from creating a 'finished' product now. Congratulations, you've just written effective SEO content for improving your web site traffic marketing!


IDEAL Site & Page SEO content should have:
Web site pages: 20 (first boost) to 100 (last boost)
Page size each: 200-500 words, (5 kb html file) or
20 kb including pictures
.
Speak TO your readers, always showing Respect.
Each page containing lots of compelling content for your target audience.
Each page is a single topic. Record your topics for Step 4.
Each page must be worthwhile or interesting all on its' own.


Why the process of creating content is important in SEO

        I know what most of you are thinking: "I thought SEO was about inserting keywords, not becoming an Ad exec..." Well, providing lots of good keywords for the spiders, which we like to refer to as "tasty spider food," is an incredibly important process for growing your web site traffic, but that's not what we are addressing here in section four because we would otherwise be leaving out how that the all-important first obligation is to your human readers. (At least until robots learn how to do the shopping for you.)

        When it comes to providing good content, the more of it, the better. Without it, Search Engines will never, no matter how much you optimize with our tools or anyone else's, rank your site highly among other sites that do have good content. And even then, if you somehow get lucky, you're still not saying anything of value to your human readers! What's the point? That would be like spending tons of money to buy a full-page ad in your newspaper, just to have it say "Hi, um, buy our stuff." -Is that really going to increase customers if everyone sees it?

        In case you were wondering, this is all very important to the Search Engine Optimization process for your website. Need a real-life example of the relevance to writing compelling content and SEO? Here's my (in)famous quote that I like to tell all of my customers; I think it sums up my point up well enough:

        "If humans aren't compelled to be interested in your content, then you're going to face many challenges down the line, not the least of which is giving them a reason to link to you."
-Luke Parker, ION

        Your site may one day need every last link to it that you could possibly find for it. So I really mean all of this literally. One really must try to emulate the job of a marketing department in order to properly optimize your site for Search Engines, even if you aren't really marketing a product at all... After all, marketing just means building popularity.


What Good Content Is

        So what makes up good content? It can be anything from hard facts that people in "research mode" are looking for, from pricing information, to stories or giveaways that would attract the surfers you most want. Naturally, it is all specific to your site's theme.

        Since your sales and continued human interest is always going to be from the human beings surfing your web site, your must first strive to fill a basic human desire to keep your readers interested. It does not have to promise them cash or anything to keep reading; it just cannot be too dull or their interest will stray.

        This is not as hard as it sounds. Web sites that are not selling any product or service must find something interesting to say, ideally that is not said anywhere else. Web sites that do sell something, at least the most successful sales sites, give something away for free in order to attract their customers in. (And while they are there, they see the other products, and hopefully a percentage will buy.) Without reservation, I am happy to say that this tactic works for me.

        Right at this very moment you are using my free service, and I truly hope you find it useful. If you buy nothing from me at all, ever, I'm still glad you came and partook of my offering, because the more people that do, the better my chances at sales overall. I am just fine with, and even expect for a certain, larger percentage of my traffic not to turn into sales, as this is simply the way business is done on the web. In fact, all of the freeware applications offered from this whole site are marketed on their websites in the exact same way, and there must be several dozens here by now. So enjoy, sincerely. We're happy to provide. You should be with your own site content too.

        If you cannot think of anything to offer for free, not even a limited-time 'trial-run' of your product, then it gets harder, but there is still hope. Please keep in mind that your target audience, whoever it is made up of, still lives in the same world that you do, and is therefore quite used to seeing commercials all the time that offer free trial periods, full return policies, buy-one-get-one-free sales, or at the very least, mail-in rebates. The public EXPECTS something for free on the web nowadays, or at least the appearance of something for free. If they do not get it, for the most part it is no longer a 'good enough deal' to hold their interest, or be worth their time. Therefore, if you cannot offer something for free, either your concept has to be so interesting to them that it breaks through their feelings and wins them over the hard way, or they must simply be looking for exactly what you are selling. And if it is the latter situation, you better have the lowest price published... Those kinds of shoppers will look at your competitors' prices for sure!


Professionalism

        Sounding like a true professional is, of course, expected too. This is sometimes a difficult trick for a non-professional writer to do because in real life we often talk to our friends with language and terms that would sound less than respectful if said to other people. But since it is important not to talk badly about anyone, (or you may get sued for slander) and you do not want to insult your reader, (or you will definitely lose the sale...) then practiced, careful professionalism is what you are stuck with. Assume nothing about your readers except that they are the smart, upstanding citizens that they most likely are, and especially do not assume that there is something they do not know. That is just what it means to write in a 'professional manner.'


Hiring out your writing

        All of the big corporations and fortune 1000 companies hire their content writing out to advertising firms or have their own marketing department with advertising executives in it who are trained with years of university-level classes in writing professional content. There is no shame in hiring a writer to develop your web site content, and in fact you're sure to benefit from their experience. However, it's not always needed, especially if your product or service is one of a kind, or sells itself naturally. In many cases, all but those involving competition online for your topic or product, you can write your own content on a small web site and no one will know that you didn't have a professional do it for you. However, your sales & influence would probably not be as high as they could!

        It is not easy to find a free way to take care of this step. Their just generally aren't any free content writers out there. (Excepting for yourself, of course!) Writers want to get paid... Go figure. Some of you may get lucky if you happen to know or meet an advertising student at university or even a recent graduate that has the skills to write content, but isn't too busy to do you a favor yet. Fresh, new freelancing Ad writers and journalists sometimes will do free work as long as they can be credited for it, in order to build their portfolio.


Finding more SEO Content

        When searching for content to bulk up your site, most webmasters find that they need some inspiration or something more than the idea they first thought up. It is actually quite a troublesome problem, because it makes websites much smaller than they need to be for both the human readers as well as the spiders. So, how do you find this content?

        Since each of your landing pages should be different enough to deserve its' own page, and ideally with a different set of keywords on each, you don't really have too many options. Some people write articles about their industry in general, or start a small-scale news service for the industry. (Trade E-zines) Others simply post the back-issues of their web site newsletters online as new pages. Although they both work, I've found that they aren't as effective as building a page around a relevant, PROFITABLE, Keyword Phrase. We'll discuss it more in depth on Step four, but in summation, the best tactic is to try to write a page centered on each and every profitable Keyword phrase you develop. I've never needed any more content than that to make a site rank highly, since I've never failed to find at least twenty profitable keywords for a given topic or industry yet.

        That does it for this topic, you are now armed with all you need to get out there and write all of the pages you need for your web site, whether you do it yourself, or you've decided to hire a professional writer. (Like us!) Keep in mind that you need not write it all at once. Hardly any sites at all on the whole web were launched in their entirety from the start. A good pace, I've heard, for actively adding your pages is one complete page per workday, but I have no idea what that number is based off of... So just write new pages as often as you can, and try to be flexible enough to go back and insert your keywords in section #7!


Now that your site appears finished, it's time for you to consider how fast you need traffic, and if you should take more drastic steps that Organic SEO to get traffic to your site faster. Our next section, which deals with alternative forms of online traffic generation, is designed to 'fill the gap' between now and when the Search Engines finally deliver all the traffic you are aiming for.

Click here to continue on to Section Five


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