Saturday, May 11, 2019

How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines 2


How do search engines work?
Search engines have become an indispensable aspect of modern life, but most of us don’t have a clue about how they actually work.
I’m just guessing you don’t want to dive into complex mathematical algorithms.
That’s okay. You just need a high-level understanding of the basics. Let’s take a look at the three major components that power search engines, and the general approach to “spoon feeding” them so they understand our content and rank us the way we want.
1. Crawling
You’ve likely heard of search engine “spiders” that crawl around the web looking for content. These are actually bits of computer code that find information on a web page, “read” it, and then tirelessly continue along their journey by following links from your page to other pages.
The spider periodically returns looking for changes to the original page, which means there are always opportunities to modify the way a search engine sees and evaluates your content down the road.
If for any reason the spider can’t see your content, or doesn’t understand what it’s about, your page can’t be indexed and ranked. This is why our StudioPress division created the Genesis Framework for WordPress, and why we as a company obsess over making it better. Clean, secure, fast-loading code matters.
2. Indexing
The spider is not just casually browsing content, it’s storing it in a giant database. This is called indexing.
The spider’s goal is to save every bit of content it crawls for the future benefit of searchers. It’s also gauging how relevant that content is to the words that searchers use when they want to find an answer to something.
3. Ranking
The final critical aspect of search technology is the way the engine decides to deliver the most relevant results to searchers. This is accomplished by jealously-guarded algorithmic functions. That’s a fancy way of saying that search software follows a complex set of rules. These are the ground rules for a duel between your content and other content that might satisfy a searcher’s keyword query.
Why you have to spoon feed search engines
Search engines have come a long way since the early days of the web, but they’re not as sophisticated as you might think. It’s not that search engines are dumb; it’s more like they’re bright little toddlers who need information delivered to them in a way that works for them.
Think of it this way. You wouldn’t set a bone-in ribeye and steak knife in front of a 4-year-old and expect him to have at it. You’d present the food in easily chewable bite-sized chunks with appropriate utensils.
Likewise, you might write an article about “green widgets” using metaphors, entertaining analogies, and smart synonyms. You know you’re writing about green widgets, and most reasonably intelligent people know it too.
But if you don’t use the words “green widgets” in certain locations and frequencies along with other SEO copywriting best practices, both you and the search engines are out of luck. The toddler goes hungry and you’re frustrated and likely dealing with a mess.
That’s not to say you want to serve up keyword-stuffed crap with less appeal than mashed beets. That would be a really bad idea.
On the contrary, you must create that “ribeye steak” content which engages people first and foremost, while also spoon feeding search engines what they need. The end goal is always to let other people find you with the language they use when searching.
SEO copywriting is the “last mile” to targeted search rankings
Are you familiar with the “last mile” problem in the broadband industry? You can have thousands of miles of high speed fiber optics carrying loads of data cross country. But if the final connection to the customer’s home is aging copper or pokey coaxial, the benefit of the fiber is lost.
Likewise, if you do everything right by building a website Google trusts, but don’t specifically tell Google that your page content matches the words people are actually searching for, the targeted traffic benefit is lost.
That’s what effective SEO copywriting does – it tells Google which words are the most relevant ones to the people you want to reach.13
You don’t necessarily have to fully optimize your on-page copy up front. But you do have to begin with the ending in mind from a keyword standpoint. We’ll go more into that in just a bit.
And if you ignore this SEO stuff?
Sure, you’ll get some untargeted “long tail” traffic. But what good does that really do you? Even with an advertising business model, irrelevant traffic bounces off your site quickly, leading to disgruntled advertisers who don’t renew. And if you’re selling something, you’re only burning bandwidth.
The beauty of building a reader-focused online presence based on valuable content is that you can do well even if Google hates you, simply by getting people to opt-in and follow you over time.
The cool part, though, is that if you actually follow that path, Google loves you.
Take advantage of that. It’s the critical last mile of a well-rounded and laser-focused online marketing campaign and makes a huge difference to your overall success.
Traffic has to convert, or why bother?
Now we come to the big point. Everyone loves traffic – it’s addictive and strangely gratifying in its own right.
But traffic doesn’t pay the bills. It’s people who take the actions you need them to who do so. So again, it’s not traffic that matters, it’s targeted traffic reaching the intended pages.
Here’s the problem . . . too many people think a search-optimized web page or blog post is some ugly keyword stuffed mess. That might (maybe) be tasty to spiders, but it sends people running for the hills.
And you just don’t need to create that keyword-stuffed junk.
Search engine expert Danny Sullivan says it well:
“Unfortunately, too many assume that SEO means trying to trick search engines. It doesn’t. It simply means building a site that’s friendly to them.”
Part of being friendly to search engines is using language in your content that relevant searchers are also using. That’s where keyword research comes in.
In the next post, we will look at the 5 essential elements of search engine keyword research.

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