I’ve seen that a lot of marketers often confuse different forms of SEO and their significance. Most people have no idea that there’s content SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO. The people who do understand SEO to some extent can’t accurately differentiate between the types of SEO (or when to focus on what kind of SEO).
Currently, almost 550,000 websites are launched daily. This means that 550,000 more websites are going to fight for their place in the search engines.
Usually, there’s always yin and yang in the case of search engine optimization. People who do content SEO focus on only content while people who consider technical SEO to be more important put all their efforts there.
Unfortunately, that’s not how SEO works. SEO is a very versatile and holistic practice that requires efforts on all fronts whether it is content SEO, technical SEO, on-page, or off-page SEO.
Stats show that 75% of SEO is off-page which includes things like backlinks, brand mentions, social media, directories, etc. However, the other 25% is divided among technical and content SEO.
In this article, we’ll go over what Content SEO is, how it works, and its significance.
Let’s get started.
What Is Content SEO?
Content SEO is the front-end aspect of on-page SEO. By front-end, I mean what’s visible to the users.
People often categorize it as content marketing, however, content SEO should get separate attention too. Especially when you’re focusing on SEO efforts only or are already doing good content marketing.
However, it should be noted that content SEO is only possible through content marketing efforts.
Content marketing is all about providing value to the user. The idea is to provide high-level relevant content that’s designed for a specific audience and built to trigger a response. The response you want usually depends on your marketing objectives, i.e. do you want them to sign up for your newsletter, do you want them to buy something, or do you just want them to navigate your website?
Search engine optimization is all about ranking your website on search engines. And ranking higher in the SERPs is the difference between success and failure to this extent.
A lot of websites use content just for the sake of boosting their SEO efforts. That is why if you’ll see a lot of low-level keyword-stuffed content pre-2010. To counter the bombardment of subpar content, Google releases several major algorithm updates and tons of minor updates.
These updates are focused on making sure that the user gets the best possible experience while surfing the internet. Google penalizes bad content while giving preference to user-intent-based content.
However, bad content does not only mean badly written content, it means that the content lacks the proper formatting, descriptions, keywords, etc. While that may seem like extra rules, they actually serve to make sure you provide good content.
How Does Content SEO Work?
Now you know what content SEO is, the next logical question is how exactly does it work. There are a lot of things that go into it and all of it has to be done simultaneously to make sure you get it right. In other words, you should know how to create a content strategy.
When you have that part down, you can focus on the following list of things to make your content SEO efforts work.
Keywords and Phrases
Keywords and keyword research are the most important aspect of content SEO because it’s how people find your content. When you optimize for a keyword or phrase, you start to rank for it on the SERPs so every time someone starts a Google search with that phrase, you will be in the results.
Now the important part is, where exactly are you in those results. The better you rank; the more exposure you get. Typically, the first five results of any Google search tend to get almost all of the exposure, clicks, and impressions.
Content SEO is about making sure you rank better, however, it starts with relevant keywords and phrases.
By relevant I mean that your keywords should not only be regularly searched terms but should also be something you can provide value on without straying too far from your core mission.
For example, if you have an online baking recipes website, you can’t hope to rank for keywords like, ‘best fast food alternatives’ or ‘burger recipes’, etc. You need to stick to keywords and phrases that are relevant to baking only which means all your content should be baking-related only too.
If you start to stray from your niche, it would not only be harder to rank but will also lead to worse readership and unsatisfied users.
A good way to understand this is to figure out the keyword intent. There are four main types of keyword intent; navigational, informational, transactional, and commercial intent.
Keep in mind that search engines are only trying to answer user’s queries so your keywords, phrases, and overall content should always reflect that.
Title tags are simply the title of your blog, web page, or any content for that matter. They’re extremely important because title tags are the first thing any user sees whether it’s on Google or while they’re surfing your blog.
They are your one chance to get users to click on your link so it has to be engaging, to the point, and absolutely relevant.
According to Yoast, title tags help SEO if you have your primary keyword at the start of the title tag. Furthermore, longer titles (10+ words) tend to get more traffic than shorter titles. This means that blogs and pages with longer titles are preferred by Google.
Meta descriptions are the one-liner snippets you see below the title tags in the SERPs. They help with search queries in results pages because they provide a brief summary of what a user can expect in a blog or webpage. For SEO success, meta descriptions have to be concise, straightforward, and relevant.
Furthermore, they need to have the specific keyword you’re targeting. It ensures that the search intent is being catered to, while helping the searcher immediately understand what they’re getting into.
Not having a meta description pushes you back in the search engine rankings. Since meta descriptions are short, there can be absolutely no keyword stuffing. After all, the idea is to create SEO-friendly content all around.
Also, make sure the description isn’t too long because then it would not show in its entirety; that’s also a negative aspect for SEO.
Furthermore, different types of blogs and pages require different types of meta descriptions. For example, if you post a case study, you should include a key finding or result in the meta. That gives your target audience a reason to open the page and read through to learn more.
However, make sure that whatever you mention in the meta description is on the page and blog too. Otherwise, you’ll notice a spike in the bounce rate. In a way, meta descriptions test your copywriting skills.
Internal Links and External Links
A lot of marketers believe that link building is single-handedly the most important part of SEO. They’re relevant when your website is new, when it’s old, when it’s small, when it’s big, they’re important regardless.
For on-page SEO/content SEO, you have to make sure you’re putting in an adequate number of internal and external links.
Internal links are the links you put in your content that hyperlinks to another page on your website. This builds an internal network of pages on your website that helps Google bots crawl your website more efficiently. The easier it is for the bots to crawl your site, the better it is for your SEO.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand the relevance of the anchor text. For internal links, you have to make sure you’re linking to another page using its URL slug tag.
Secondly, external links are links that point to other websites. These are usually placed to help the reader in some way. For example, they may be placed to provide proof for a statistic, they may be placed to provide more information on a concept, or they may simply point towards another website’s CTA (Affiliate Marketing).
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned backlinks, it’s because they’re part of off-page SEO. However, it’s a good practice to remember that you’ll only get backlinks if you have good on-page-optimized content.
H-tags is just fancy nomenclature for the headings in your content. The H1, H2, H3 tags, and so on (until H6) are basically used to structure content and define HTML headings.
Typically, H1s are usually used as the title tag while all other headings are H2s and below. The more headings you have in your content, the better, as long as you don’t overdo it.
Headings are supposed to differentiate between a changing topic, notion, tone, or chapter altogether. It’s what helps the reader understand what they’re getting into without having to skim all the way.
On the back end, it helps develop shortcuts, table of contents, and helps with on-page SEO. For example, Yoast tells you not to have more than 300 words under any given heading and if you do, you should add a subheading in there.
Furthermore, H-tags are also a great way of incorporating your keywords. Not only for readability but for SEO purposes too.
Images and Alt Attributes
You’ve probably already heard how Google’s crawlers can only index text which is why you’ll find that literally, everything in the back-end is text-based.
This means that all the images, videos, infographics, and other non-text-based content you see are just there for your viewing pleasure. All of these things have zero impact on rankings because these elements simply cannot be rendered conventionally.
That is why we have alt attributes which are HTML attributes used to specify an alt text for non-rendering elements like images.
For example, an image that is titled ‘Cute Dog Picture’ will have an alt text that goes like, ‘cute-dog-picture’. This way, anyone who searches for cute dog pictures on Google will see that particular picture in the results. Without the alt-text, the picture wouldn’t show up in the SERPs because it would never have been indexed.
For images without alt text, the only place you can find them is where they were uploaded.
Getting your images, infographics, and other similar elements indexed is important because they get more exposure, help with SEO as Google’s bots like images (despite not being able to ‘see’ them), and it boosts your content’s ranking.
Formatting and Site Structure
A lot of people don’t understand how important formatting your content is. Bulky paragraphs, long sentences without breaks, and improper use of symbols can be extremely discouraging to the reader.
Your content’s format should be adjusted to help the reader go through the content easily and effortlessly. Here are a few ways you can do so.
- Make sure that no paragraph is longer than 5 lines.
- Make sure your sentences aren’t unnecessarily long. I’ve seen some people continue one sentence throughout an entire 5-line paragraph.
- Make sure you use colons, semi-colons, brackets, parentheses, braces, ampersands, apostrophes, and other symbols in the correct way.
- Make sure you align your paragraphs correctly and don’t use indents.
- Don’t make unnecessarily long lists.
- Use the bold, italic, and underline options to highlight key information.
On the other hand, site structure is also just as important. Good site structure (including landing pages) helps Google understand your site because all the information on your site will be easy to find. Hence, Google can easily figure out your site’s (and its content’s) intent and purpose.
Furthermore, a good site structure also ensures that your content doesn’t start to compete with other content on your website. With a niche, it’s understandable that a lot of your content will be similar in some way. Hence, a good site structure ensures that Google understands to rank each piece of content separately.
Site structure is all about ensuring Google’s crawlers have an easy time surfing and indexing your site. Thus, it’s also a good practice to remove old and irrelevant SEO content. If you’re worried about losing backlinks or other links, just slam some 301 (or 302) redirects in there.
Evergreen content refers to any type of content that doesn’t go out of date no matter what. Typically, you write evergreen content once and then you leave it. You don’t have to create new content to complement it.
It usually revolves around topics that are relevant throughout the year for people. For example, if you write an article on, “How to Lose Weight”, it’ll stay relevant as people have always tried to lose weight and will always be trying to do so. At least until we develop a magic weight-loss pill.
Meanwhile, topics like “2020 US Presidential Elections” are not evergreen since its only relevant for the current year.
Non-evergreen content will give you a spike in traffic while it’s relevant but after that, it’ll just be another block of text. That is why it’s best to invest most of your resources into evergreen content or at the very least, semi-evergreen content.
Semi-evergreen content is just content that you can update and upgrade every once in a while to make sure it stays relevant to the times, norms, and trends.
Furthermore, evergreen content continues to rack up meaningful backlinks over the years. Practically any links associated with evergreen content will remain relevant and useful throughout.
If you’re wondering how to create evergreen content, here’s a great guide by Ahrefs.
Why Is Content SEO Important?
The importance of content SEO in today’s world is pretty high, that’s a given. However, it can vary for different industries and businesses because it depends on how much of a role content plays for someone.
Truth be told, content plays an important role in all industries on some level. And using that content, companies can do the following.
- Target Keywords – Content SEO allows you to incorporate and add strategic keywords so you can target as many terms as possible.
- Generate Backlinks – If you’re wondering what is good content marketing, it’s content that can organically generate backlinks. Since backlinks play one of the biggest roles in improving your SERP rankings, generating backlinks through content SEO comes pretty high on the importance list.
- High Click-Through Rate – Your average CTR is the next biggest ranking factor, according to Moz research. If you have a high CTR, that means people come to your website for your content and services. It’s a sign that your website is useful to users, thus contributing to the user experience (and that brings to the last point).
- Create an Extraordinary User Experience – In the end, if you’re able to provide a great user experience, Google is going to rank your website. Since most Google updates focus on improving the user experience, websites that focus on it are usually rewarded. And content SEO is the best way to generate an excellent user experience where you can provide value.
The importance of content SEO doesn’t discount the importance of other forms of SEO. The thing is, content SEO is usually at the user front, and that’s why it needs extra effort to get it right.
Improve Your Content SEO Efforts Today
You may be posting good content, doing technical SEO, and even PPC, but to truly rank your content and your website, you need to put more effort into content SEO.
The best way to start is to check the individual aspects of content SEO. You can do that by conducting a content audit; that would tell you what’s lacking and you can start working on it immediately. You can contact an agency to conduct your content audit; however, you can do a basic one using any relevant SEO tool or plugin (emphasis on basic).
Meanwhile, you should continue posting high-quality content. Also, also future content creation and blogging efforts should follow suit. You can modify and update your SEO strategy accordingly.
To capture the relevant search volume, fresh content plays an equally important role as existing web content. Therefore, develop a great content strategy too to make sure your SEO strategy is being implemented.
It’s a good practice to download various WordPress plugins to help you with your content SEO efforts. If you’re using another website host, you’ll find plenty of plugins there too.
Make a habit of checking out Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and your SEO tool (such as Ahrefs or SEMrush). Screenshot relevant milestones to keep track of your progress. It will help you adjust your strategies moving forward.
Most importantly, create great content; it would automatically complement your content SEO efforts.