When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) for Virginia businesses, particularly here in Virginia, content is king. As a digital marketing agency in Northern Virginia, we are constantly writing new content for our clients and are faced daily with the task of balancing engaging content and SEO language. For each blog post or web page written, the goal is to offer engaging, accurate, and interesting content while simultaneously weaving in keywords and other elements that support optimization. As we’ve described before, SEO is very much still critical to digital marketing success in Virginia. Before we continue explaining how to write content for SEO, and why this balance is so important, let’s look at the past, present, and future of content’s role in SEO.
Past: Pre-2013 and the Hummingbird Algorithm Update
SEO (search engine optimization) up until merely 5 years ago was much simpler than it is today. Rather than crawling pages searching for high quality content, Google (and most other search engines) focused mainly on relevancy. This meant that as long as Google found a high number of keywords on a page that were relevant to a search query, it gave the page a high relevancy score and ranked it high in search results. Many marketers would simply stuff keywords into the text and tags, even sometimes adding paragraphs of repetitious phrases styled in the same color as the page’s background in order to trick Google and hide from the reader. This often led users to low-quality pages with poor information. Fortunately for the user, Google got smarter. From 2013 on, each algorithm update made search results more relevant to the user, and more challenging for digital marketers to manipulate.
Present: Post-Hummingbird Updates
“Hummingbird” is the name of the core search algorithm that Google has been using since late 2013. Many more algorithm updates have been made since, however the core purpose of the Hummingbird update remains. Just like its namesake, this search platform places emphasis on being precise and fast, and focuses on the meaning surrounding key phrases (also known as “semantics”), rather than solely on a few words, directly impacting how to create and write content for SEO. This means that not only must there be key phrases in the text, but there also must be a story behind those phrases that includes facts, details, relevant explanations, and very importantly, trusted links from elsewhere that support and validate the story. The content must also be unique to your website (no more copying and pasting from Wikipedia). Google wants content that is rich, detailed, and educational, while still incorporating the intended keywords for optimization.
Future: Quality Continues to Reign
While we can never predict what changes Google will spring upon us next that will affect how we write content for SEO, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that it will continue to place a focus on high-quality, relevant, rich, and unique content. After all, Google’s ultimate goal is to provide the best user experience, which means it will constantly look for ways to sift through billions of web pages faster and more efficiently, offering the user a search engine results page (SERP) displaying the most relevant and helpful resources.
Writing Content for SEO – It’s More Than Just Text
As mentioned previously, Google is all about promoting excellent user experience. This means including relevant text, but also takes into consideration images, videos, and whether pages that include these elements are responsive to different sized devices (i.e. mobile responsive). These visual elements all help make web pages more attractive to users, because as we all know, not everyone loves to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text (especially on your phone). Remember, when you are writing content for SEO in Virginia, just because users are searching with words, doesn’t necessarily mean they are searching for words.
We Can Help You Navigate the “Content Tightrope”
In short, SEO is a content-driven practice. The quality of your website’s content is one of the main factors in determining how your website ranks in search results. There is an art to finessing a proper balance between interesting content and SEO language so that your reader and Google’s algorithm both see value in what you have to say. In the land of SEO, content is king – are you following its best practices and allowing the content on your website to work for you?
If you’d like to make your website serve you more effectively, contact us today!