Is Your Content for the User or for the Search Engine

When we were off touring colleges with our oldest son last year, one eager student asked the guide a most prudent question: Is it better to get an ‘A’ in a regular class or a ‘B’ in an honors one? The college representative’s answer was simple: “An ‘A’ in an honors class.” Much like this student, digital content writers in the SEO world wrestle with whether they should be writing for people or for Google and other search engines. In an echo of that college representative, our unequivocal answer at My SEO Edge is: both.

If content is king, search engine optimization (SEO) is the queen. Simply put, they go hand in hand. Yes, your blog should speak to the customer in a way that delivers a clear and definitive message. We absolutely agree that Google’s search algorithms are incredibly sophisticated and getting better every day. However, let’s not forget that there are standards all content writers should abide by to help search engines reach new heights in relevancy and accuracy. Your homepage, product/services page, about us, FAQ, glossary and yes, your blog all count for both content and SEO. However, each and every piece of content should also follow a standard template that includes a title (page name), description, social post, image with an alt tag (text alternative), excerpt (snippet), headline and text.

Here are a couple of ways to break it down:

Content rules that focus mainly on the customer

  • Your content should be very detailed and reflective of your expertise.
  • Always consider your audience; make sure the topic you are writing about speaks to the right one.
  • Make sure all content is easy to understand, providing definitions to clarify whenever appropriate.
  • Any links to other sources referenced in your content should always open in a new tab. Taking the reader away from your site is frustrating and will shorten engagement.
  • Proofread your work! Most readers will zero in on punctuation and grammatical errors. Don’t forget to run a spell-check.

Content rules that focus mainly on Google and other search engines

  • Try to avoid pronouns. Proper nouns make strong keywords for SEO relevancy.  
  • Your keyword density (number of occurrences to total words on the page) should be between 1%-3%; make sure to bold your top ten.
  • Keywords should be placed in the title tag and description tags within your content management platform. This ensures that Google and other search engine properly display your listing on the results page.
  • Each content page on your website should include a header, or h1 tag. An h1 tag is a piece of HTML code that typically represents the largest, most emphasized text (usually the title of the post) that stands out on a page.
  • If you are one of the many companies that use WordPress as your content management system, make sure to install and use the Yoast plugin. Yoast is a very powerful search engine optimization assistant.

Content rules that apply to both the customer and search engines

  • Do not overuse acronyms and abbreviations in your website content. It’s never a good idea to assume that people will understand them.
  • Always include an image, video or both each time you post a blog. Images and videos make your content more engaging; optimized properly with the file name, title, description and keyword tags, they will also increase your SEO relevancy.
  • Your website and blog should not be a duplicate of another website or online source. It will diminish your reputation, expertise and trustworthiness. Plus, Google’s algorithm will discover it and will remove you from its search results.
  • Make sure to post content on a regular basis, at least once a month. This helps maintain your expertise and customer engagement. Don’t overdo it, though. Four times a week should be the absolute max for search engine optimization.

Bottom line: your ultimate business goal around content should be establishing yourself as the “voice of authority” to customers and prospects who are searching for information about your company. It is equally important for Google and other search engines to recognize you as such.