Creating Search-Optimized Content
Content should not be created solely for visibility on search engines. Instead, search engines can be used to amplify our content and connect with our audience when they are seeking information that we can provide.
Once you have a topic identified, think through the following questions before you write your outline.
|What have people already written about this topic? Google and see what is bubbling to the top of the results pages.|
|How can Bayer add to and elevate the conversation? Remember that to rank highly, our content must be better than what already exists.|
|What does the search intent look like? What are people looking for when they google their search query?|
Here is an example: Let’s say you want to write an article about carbon sequestration technology. Here’s how you can get started:
Look for any existing content on the website about carbon sequestration
Search the topic yourself and read what is already ranking
Analyze the search results page
With these observations and insights in hand, you can craft your content in a way that aligns with communication goals while also satisfying search intent.
Optimizing Content for Search Engines
Once you have an understanding of search intent for your target keyword, you can start writing the content itself.
There are certain elements of a webpage that you can optimize for the purpose of ranking higher in search engine results to earn more qualified organic traffic.
When content on a web page is optimized for search engines to understand, search engines can better rank it in appropriate search results for relevant queries.
Conversely, when content is not optimized for search engine understanding, the web page will likely have a more difficult time earning strong organic visibility in the search result pages and receive less relevant qualified organic traffic.
Key areas to optimize for successful organic search.
Using specific keywords in many places throughout a page used to be central to SEO strategies. Now, search engines can understand synonyms and context to rank a page for relevant search queries.
Using strategic keywords that let users and search engines know what the page is about is crucial; afterall, every search starts with a keyword. However, it’s bad practice to “stuff” a page with the same keyword over and over. Instead, focus on working in related keyword phrases to fully cover the topic at hand.
Using Keywords in Copy
Keyword research is the process of identifying all the different phrases people use when searching for a particular topic. This begins with a main topic or seed keyword that can lead you to more specific search terms. These more specific keywords help search engines narrow down the intent of a search and subsequently show results that better encourage engagement.
Where to Include Keywords
Once you know what keywords a page should target, work them into the metadata, headers, ALT text and copy as naturally as possible. If it doesn’t feel natural, don’t do it. Never sacrifice the quality of content to try and appease search engines.
The Importance of Natural Language
Use natural, easy-to-understand language that appeals to your target audience’s interests or satisfies their search intent. Readability should come before exact-match keywords. If the copy reads awkwardly with a specific keyword, don’t be afraid to use more natural language.
Read the copy out loud to yourself. Does it sound the way someone would normally speak? If not, try adjusting the language to be more conversational.
A Note about Search Volume
It’s tempting to optimize for a keyword with high search volume. However, keywords with a high search volume oftentimes have a broader search intent. Identifying and optimizing for more specific keywords, even though they typically have lower search volume, is more effective to match user intent. Here is more information on exploring user and search intent.
Page headers are more than just the title of your story. Header tags are another piece of information that search engine crawlers use to identify page content, understand the content, and properly rank it.
Use headers of varying hierarchy to help organize content into digestible chunks, similar to an outline. Doing so makes it easier for users to read and scan for information. This is especially important in a mobile-first world.
How to Write Optimized Headers
H1: Page Title
What is this page about? Include important keywords near the beginning and try not go beyond one sentence.
H2: Major Headings
Break up content into main sections, like an outline. This provides context for each section’s focus.
As needed, further chunk content within sections for better understanding and skimability
Alt text is an HTML tag used to describe the content of an image. Its main purpose is to help show an image to people who use screen readers. Alt text improves web accessibility. Visually impaired visitors with screen readers use this text to better understand an image. Alt text is also an important variable of image SEO. A search engine uses an image’s alt text to understand what it is about and how and if it should be featured in the results of image searches.
How to Write Alt Text
A picture’s alt text should clearly describe the contents of the photo. Alt text provides another space to include keywords so that search engines have a better understanding of the content on the page. Because a search engine cannot see an image, alt text is an avenue that allows it to more fully understand the page’s content.
Alt text: seeds in bags at market
Strategic internal linking grounds content within its web ecosystem. Creating inroads to and from content helps to move visitors through their respective user journeys.
Strategic linking also communicates to search engines content hierarchy. If a piece of content has many internal links to it, search engines know it is important.
If a piece of content has few or no internal links to it, that likewise communicates that the page is not as important. A search engine thinks, If this page is so important for visitors to find, why is it so hard to access?
Internal Linking Opportunities
To find internal linking opportunities within your own content, read through it to find sections that discuss topics that are discussed elsewhere on the website.
|For example, if your content mentions climate change, it will be smart to link to another Bayer page about climate change to encourage people to engage with more content about that topic.|
To find content that can link to your content, research pieces that mention or discuss topics within your article.
|For example, if you wrote a piece about soil microbes, include a link to it from a soil health page.|
Internal Linking & Optimized Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable copy that indicates a link to a new page. Optimized anchor text should describe what a visitor and search engine can expect to see on the next page. Avoid vague anchor text copy such as “click here” and “view more.”
Social networks read open graph tags to determine what image and copy should be in the share snippet on their respective networks. Optimized open graph tags are all about earning a click. After all, they are trying to encourage someone to leave a social network and engage elsewhere. They should be succinct and compelling to earn people’s attention on social media to stop the scroll and click.
A title tag is part of a page’s code. It is an HTML element that is used to specify the title of a webpage.
A page’s title tag and H1 do not have to match. Title tags have more weight in the search engines—and are visible—so they should be written with that focus in mind. A title tag should succinctly describe what a page is about while using the keywords someone would search to find the page’s content.
From a branding perspective, title tags should include “ | Bayer ” at the end of each (e.g., Personal Health | Bayer)
Title tags must adhere to space requirements. Use this title tag checker to ensure a title tag will not get truncated in the search results.
Where is the Title Tag Visible?
- Search engine results pages. Title tags show up as the clickable headlines
- Browser tab names
- Social shares by default
An article slug is the last part of a URL. It should tell users and search engines alike what the page is about. Ideally a page’s targeted keyword will be included in the article slug. Use full words, and avoid numbers or dates that will require a URL change later. It’s OK to leave out articles (a, an, the) in a slug.
A meta description is a snippet that summarizes a page’s content. A page’s meta description is the copy underneath the clickable headline on a search engine results page.
A meta description should succinctly summarize what a searcher can expect to find on a page. Make it compelling by including a call to action, such as “Discover more.”
Descriptions should be fewer than 160 characters to avoid getting truncated.