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Quality SEO Content Checklist

We’ve all heard the term “Content is King” but are we actually writing content that deserves royal treatment?

Content needs to be original, desirable and relevant but are there more concrete quality content guidelines to use while writing?

At 1st on the List we’ve compiled this quick quality content checklist to help you write great content that is appealing for both your visitors and for the Search Engines in a post Google Panda world.

  • Write with a specific purpose and audience in mind, from start to finish.
  • Help the reader complete a task or answer a question.
  • Make sure your content includes all the information your reader may be looking for about the topic.
  • Make the content relevant and timely.
  • Write content in a voice that represents your brand and keep a consistent style of writing.
  • Write for your audience and not your peers; stay away from industry jargon.
  • Stay on topic; each sentence should have a purpose.
  • Write without promoting yourself or coming off as too salesy.
  • Link to good sources.
  • Double check all your facts, stats and sources.
  • Organize text into sections with headers, quotes, bullet points and so on, with plenty of white space, so that it is visually appealing.
  • Make the content easy to scan as readers will read as little as 20% of the words on the page.
  • Write a clear and concise Title to catch attention and indicate what content is about.
  • Be sure to proofread multiple times and ask someone else to proofread once you think it’s perfect.
  • Provide clear action statements to encourage readers to take a next step.
  • Make the content easy for readers to share through Social Platforms.
  • Organize text into thematic sections with synonyms, related terms and phrases.
  • Write a strong Meta Title and Description that isn’t too long or short for the SERPs.
  • Don’t overuse your primary keyword for the sake of SEO; be sure to use related terms and synonyms.
  • Clearly define yourself as the author on the page for both readers and Search Engines to recognize.
  • Make sure your content is 100% unique and provides unique value not found anywhere else. Is your content adding anything new and of interest to the Internet or is it just rewriting someone else’s thoughts?
  • Aim for a minimum of 300 words, depending on the type of content you are creating, and strive for 1,000 words; never compromise quality for quantity.

And of course, you can always refer to Google’s guidelines of high quality content to see how your writing measures up. Some of their hardest questions to ask yourself as a writer are:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Do you need assistance writing content for your website or optimizing and improving the existing content on our website? Give our Professional Copy Writers a call at 1-888-262-6687 or fill out our quick form to get in touch today.

Please Note: This article was originally published January 19, 2015 and has since been updated to reflect current SEO content best practices. 

Here are some additional recent SEO Content articles:

3 Simples Ways Improve Your SEO Content Writing

Several months ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Writing by Karen Hertzberg. It contained valuable information on being frugal with words that has changed the way I think about writing.

Her main idea was to groom your blog and content writing down to the bare minimum. Writing less becomes more appealing to readers. Ideas are presented more clearly. There is less opportunity for confusion. Minimalism helps your content get noticed.

“Writing less becomes more appealing to readers.”

Here are my three takeaways to pass onto you so that you too can improve your SEO content writing skills.

1. Remove Content Qualifiers from SEO Content

User attention span has shortened. Online article volume has increased exponentially. Long, rambling columns lack attraction. Help readers get through your narrative easier. Enhance your theme with fewer words. Say less, mean more.

Shorten content by removing superfluous qualifiers. Get to the point quickly. Waste less of your readers’ time. Some words and phrases to slash include:

  • As much as (phrase)
  • Believe (verb)
  • Can (verb)
  • Could (verb)
  • Like (verb)
  • May (verb)
  • Might (verb)
  • Possibly (adverb)
  • Really (adverb)
  • Up to (adjective)
  • Very (adverb)
  • Virtually (adverb)

Use replacement words and phrases. Dust off your Thesaurus. Use synonyms instead of words in the list above.

2. Eliminate Blog Adverbs, Conjunctions, Empty Phrases from SEO Content

We’ve all used them, sometimes as emphasis. Even to bump up the word count. Words and phrases below are reference points as to what you can exclude from your writing.

  • Actually (adverb)
  • Because of (phrase)
  • Currently (adverb)
  • In order to (phrase)
  • Presently (adverb)
  • Start to (phrase)
  • Suddenly (adverb)
  • That (conjunction)
  • Therefore (adverb)

3. Eradicate Repetition and Tautologies in SEO Content

Needless repetition is unprofessional and lazy. Comb blog and page content for extraneous statements and redundant phrases (tautologies). Dismiss them from your work. Obliterate examples such as those below:

  • 2:00 m. in the morning
  • Added bonus
  • Baby puppy
  • Completely devoid
  • Duplicate copy
  • Final outcome
  • Future prospects
  • Honest truth

Purifying Article Messages

Learning to purge your writing of wasted words will take effort. Gradually remove terms and phrases daily which inhibit clarity. Always evaluate your work and make improvements.

The benefits of doing this can include:

  • Stronger message.
  • Readers grasp concepts faster.
  • Google appreciates succinct content.
  • Ideas are more ordered and simplified.
  • Structure makes your subject matter easier to rank.

For more tips from our SEO content writers check out 16 Insanely Smart Small Business Blog Ideas.

If you have questions about improving the SEO content writing on your website or blog, call us at 1-888-262-6687 or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Top 8 Ways to Rejuvenate Old SEO Content for New Exposure

Looking for some new SEO content techniques to improve your company exposure and bolster your overall SEO strategy as a result? Rejuvenating older SEO content articles and re-purposing the wealth of knowledge in those documents can prepare them for new mediums and bring some surprising results in the process.

Google defines rejuvenate as “make (someone or something) look or feel younger, fresher, or more lively.” Much like a makeover for your SEO content plan, breathing new ideas into established content gives it a second life. An opportunity to re-influence new audiences in today’s content-hungry mediums.

Here are 8 ways you can recycle and repurpose your older optimized content for new SEO content marketing success.

1. Update Old SEO Content Articles With New Stats and Best Practices

Maybe your old SEO content plan needs a refreshing coat of paint to make articles more contemporary and serve a wider audience. Check your keyword rankings for these pages and try not to up-end keyword phrases for this content that has garnered your traffic. Reexamining your older content for possible ways to improve its status just makes sense, particularly if it already has traffic. Change it up a little with an SEO content update, bring it up-to-date with new stats or best practices, and see if you can entice even more site visitors to the page.

2. Feature High-Traffic Content in Your Newsletters

If your newsletter needs a little sprucing up, review some of your high-traffic content and freshen it up for a new audience in the newsletter. There are still gems in the original content pieces, or they wouldn’t be receiving the level of traffic that they do. Graphic representations such as infographics can invigorate your newsletter, providing another opportunity to reach your market.

3. Create an Infographic for an Old Blog Article

Infographics are an informative-at-a-glance way to use statistics and other information gleaned from older posts. The content receiving click-throughs is still valuable content. Transforming information into a crisp, clean new format provides an opportunity to share this content through a variety of mediums that may not even have existed when the content was originally penned.

4. Transform an SEO Content Article into a Slideshare Presentation

LinkedIn’s SlideShare has become a popular way to present modified content in a static, visual format. Almost any content can be re-purposed into the Slideshare format. Even content that may have been used elsewhere such as in a webinar, or during the creation of a tutorial.

5. Turn Articles into Interactive Video Tutorials

YouTube is my friend! I’ve watched hundreds of tutorials on everything imaginable. Re-use some of your subject matter in those aging articles and present them in this widely used format. As long as your film is topical, pointed, articulate, and accurate, there will be an audience for your finished product.

6. Design a Webinar Around Old Content Pages

Use some ideas from the content pages receiving the best traffic and create a webinar on the topic, refreshing it of course, with more current information. Advertise your webinars on the same page as the article receiving the best traffic. Now the content is serving a dual purpose.

7. Promote Older Articles Across Social Media Platforms

Whether you’re a Facebooker, a Snapchatter, or a Tweeter, all of your most important information from these older articles can be used on any or all of your current social platforms. You’ll probably have to restructure it somewhat according to community guidelines and space allotments, but that doesn’t mean the content can’t still serve you in these areas.

8. Publish an Ebook

Revitalize your oldest yet still relevant subject matter by compiling it into an ebook. You can include one article or many, and you have the choice of giving it away in return for an email address lead or selling it outright and profiting from the ripe material you already have on hand.

Extra SEO Content Tip!

Are you looking for new SEO content ideas? Try reversing these ideas by turning old webinars, ebooks, videos, infographics, newsletters, and more, into brand new SEO content pieces for your website!

Final Comments on Getting More Mileage Out of Your SEO Content Marketing

Minimal effort is required to come up with quite a few productive ideas for recycling content for which you have already put in the time. You can use this reformatted assembly of information to expand your business potential and communicate ideas into many actionable new forms.

To find out how to repurpose your SEO content, or how to optimize your content for the search engines, please call 1-888-262-6687 today or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

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When User Experience and SEO Content Collide

When was the last time you stopped to really look at how visitors behave on your website, how they feel about your website and ultimately the attitudes they form about your company based on your website?

Essentially, this is what we call “User Experience” or “UX”.

Today top brands strive to create a website with the ultimate user experience. The whole concept of “user experience design” is much talked about. There are seemingly endless user experience factors that interact together in the most complicated ways and countless hours have been spent on user experience research.

So how do you maintain a healthy balance of optimizing your website and catering to your visitors, and what do these two have to do with each other?

A few weeks ago we started exploring this topic in an article titled “Why SEO and User Experience are Two Pease in a Pod”. Today we will continue along this train of thought and focus in on SEO content and discuss:

  • What users demand of your content
  • How Search Engines incorporate User Experience into Search Results
  • How you can create a winning Content Strategy that addresses both UX and SEO at the same time.
  • What you can expect to get out of  UX and SEO.

Great Content Fuels User Experience and Your Visitors Demand It!

We will be the first to admit there is an ongoing struggle between UX Designers and SEO Content Specialists. UX demands more white space and fewer words to get the message across. SEO Content writers know that the Search Engines are looking at all of the content on a website and how it works together to build credibility.

Images that are favored by UX Designers can bring out positive emotional responses from the visitor but are seen as blank canvases and unreadable by Search Engines.

But never fret! A great balance between design and content can be achieved without one or the other suffering.  Content and design can work together to meet your visitors’ needs and expectations and ultimately sell your brand. With thousands of alternative websites at their fingertips your visitor will not tolerate incompetence on your site. Here are some examples:

  • If the site was built to accommodate desktop display and the user is using their mobile device, the user leaves (read more about whether your mobile experience is annoying customers).
  • If the content is poorly written, long winded or has nothing to do with their search, the user leaves.
  • If videos crash or take too long to load, the user leaves.

Content Ideas Your Visitors Will Love

Have you thought about how some of the following Content could ultimately improve your user experience and turn browsers at different stages of the buying funnel into paying customers, all while giving the Search Engines the type of content they are looking for?

  • Uneducated visitors checking out their options can benefit from category and subcategory pages, buying guides, how to pages, product images and more.
  • Educated visitors looking for more information can benefit from product comparisons, reviews, blog posts, forums and more.
  • Visitors who know exactly what they want can benefit from detailed product pages.
  • Visitors who need the extra final push towards making a decision can benefit from coupon and sales pages, company reviews and about pages.

Do you now see how you can develop content to meet the needs and expectations of your visitors, regardless of their buying stage, in order to improve their User Experience?

How User Experience Affects Rankings

One of Google’s biggest priorities is to provide the best results to any given search. Google doesn’t want to show websites that provide a bad user experience as they hurt the usefulness of their Search Engine.

There are several factors that Google can or potentially can use to gauge user experience, including:

  • Page load time
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Time on site

As Google is better able to evaluate the quality of content on your website and what it is actually saying the Search Engine has little tolerance towards content that is poorly written, keyword stacked, scraped or automatically generated (see our article on the latest Panda 4.0 update).

Google Webmaster Guidelines gives four basic principles when it comes to creating a good user experience and superior content, which will ultimately help your rankings:

1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

2. Don’t deceive your users.

3. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

4. Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Enter a Winning SEO Content Strategy and User Experience

The term “content strategy” is a fairly new discipline to online marketing as the number of mediums and places to be heard have increased. Start with your website and blog, add in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Slideshare along with new up and coming platforms and most businesses need a solid game plan for what information to share.

Rather than ad hoc content development as you go, you need to a game plan that will not only make your life easier but also help improve User Experience. A basic framework for developing a UX focused content strategy is to:

  • Create framework for content to be created
  • Define target audience
  • Focus on message priorities and order
  • Define Topics
  • Set content type based on target audience interest
  • Set content length based on target audience viewing characteristics and site design

With a clear strategy every marketing endeavor becomes focused on the end result. This helps create a platform that gives the user a reason to trust you. Your content speaks to user needs and expectations, yet conforms to the overall development of the ultimate user experience. Each building block of your web presence is defined and implemented for optimum impact.

The Results of Merging User Experience and SEO

When you start optimizing your website and adding content that is focused on the User Experience you create an environment with more:

  • Clarity and readability – Defining your content and rules of structure allows the website to be designed with a sleek and seamless user interface that flows from page to page.
  • Better information structure – With a defined content strategy you can easily move into the information architecture across platforms with the framework created for your content focus.
  • Focus on the user – By putting the visitor first with User Experience, content research and writing can be focused on the audience, not so much on the topic. Rather than writing encyclopedia articles, you will be writing to engage your audience. 
  • Optimized Conversion – An enjoyable user experience is key to conversion. Often content strategy helps to define the optimal voice, tone or message that stimulates sales conversion.

Is it time to start thinking about your visitors?

If this article has opened your eyes to the many benefits you stand to gain by focusing on your visitors and not so much on your own brand or content, give us a call!

We can help evaluate your website architecture, existing content and the level of user experience it provides. We’ll compile a list of prioritized recommendations to get you started on developing a UX and SEO website that is bound to bring in more customers at the end of the day.

Send us a quick email to contact@1stonthelist.com or call 1-888-262-6687 to speak with one of our content consultants!

Search Engine Optimization- Facts & Factors

Although we all find search engines a great resource for information and they offer us the ability to be listed for free, they are in a multibillion dollar industry. The results that the search engines deliver to their users are a reflection of that engine. If a search engine shows a site that has no real information, or the pages don’t load right, or the most of the links are not working; that searcher can make an assumption that this search engine shows poor results. If this determination is made there is a possibility that the user may use another engine; which equates to lost revenue.

The search engines are not biased as to who gets top rankings, but their algorithm helps them to determine which sites fit the mold and which ones don’t. The goal for any site wanting to rank well in the major search engines is to try to fit the mold. In order to fit the mold you need to understand what factors are used to make this determination. When trying to figure this out, keep one thing in mind; the end result is for the search engines to show the most relevant results to a searchers query, provide actual information based on what the searcher is looking for and for the results shown to provide a good user experience once the searcher has left the engine and into your site.

Below are the four major areas the search engines look at when determining where your site will rank.

Optimize Your Site & Server for the Search Engines

1. Server – It is imperative that your server is search engine & visitor friendly. This means that it has a fast response time, your site has a unique ip address, has an impeccable uptime percentage, reverse DNS works correctly, you do not have open DNS, your nameservers resolve correctly and it is overall ready if the search engines sent you a large volume of traffic each day.

Important Note: If your server is slow, or not responding for any reason, this can create a poor user experience. It is less likely they will even consider allowing your site to rank in the top ten for phrases that are important to you. These type of server issues can impact your rankings.

2. Site – The search engines look at your sites structure, all of your pages individually and then as a whole. There are various areas they look at to help ensure a good user experience which includes a custom 404 error page, your robots.txt file, broken links, slow loading pages, duplicate content, and pages with very little content. Remember your site and it’s content can reflect the way users perceive the search engines results. If they allow sites with broken links, slow pages, errors and pages that don’t provide what the user is looking for; there is a chance they may consider going to another search engine to see if they can find what they are looking for.

Important Note: The search engines artificial intelligence as a part of their algorithm to try to determine what the page is about as well as ensure you are using any sneaky attempts to make your site look more relevant than it actually is. The more pages that you have that support what the overall theme is about the more relevant your site will be seen in the search engines.

Someone who has 500 pages dedicated to a subject will likely be seen more relevant than someone with 5 pages dedicated to a subject. This is why it is important to continually add new content that is unique, as well as informative; to your site on a regular basis.