How On-Page SEO and Content Work Together
On-page SEO, sometimes referred to as on-site SEO, is a facet of search engine optimization that consists of optimizing individual pages so that they will rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). There are many aspects of on-page SEO that are important for your site’s visibility, but one part that’s often overlooked is content.
Content marketing is a form of marketing that works to create and share relevant content that may not specifically market your brand but sparks interest surrounding the products or services. It’s purpose is to draw people to your business by piquing their interest and allowing them go through the buyer’s journey at their own pace.
One mistake that people often make is thinking that content marketing and search engine optimization are two completely different disciplines that should be handled separately. In reality, the two actually work better together. Think of them like peanut butter and jelly, LeBron and Dwayne Wade, or Lennon and McCartney — great on their own, but iconic when paired together!
Great content is rewarded by search engines like Google and Bing and often ranked higher when the content successfully answers the user’s questions. In other words, it’s worth your time to produce high-quality work! Many people assume that posting anything and everything will improve your chances of ranking well on SERPs but they couldn’t be more wrong — content is not just content. If you’re not posting clear, concise, original, well-thought-out information, don’t bother posting. You could end up hurting yourself more than helping.
How SEO Helps When Brainstorming Content
One of the ways these two aspects of marketing work together is that keyword research, an element of SEO, can help you to determine what you should be writing about. You could write about a specific topic all day long, but if no one is searching for it, no one will be looking at your content. Performing keyword research gives you some insight into what users are looking for and how you can frame your content around those ideas. There are many tools you can use to conduct keyword research such as Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Research, or SEMrush’s Keyword Magic.
Before you choose a blog topic or article to write about for your website, take note of what keywords are trending in those areas. For example, if you’re a pest control company looking for content ideas, doing keyword research would show you what’s relevant at the moment. You’d probably notice that mosquito-related searches are going to spike in early summer, so you could plan to write about mosquito control because that’s what people are interested in. Conversely, you would see that there are far less searches for mosquito control in the winter months, so you could save yourself the trouble of posting that content when no one is looking for it.
Additionally, keyword research helps you to determine what kind of content you should be posting because it shows you what’s working for your competitors. This gives you an inside look at what they’re ranking well for that you could also benefit from, but also highlights what they’re missing. Ask yourself, “what is this content missing that I could add to mine?” This will give you an edge when creating your content because you’ll be able to include what other companies didn’t touch on.
For more information on this topic, read our blog “How to Create Content for Optimal SEO.”
How Content Improves Your SEO (and Types of Content to Avoid)
As we’ve stated previously, your content should match the user’s intent. More often than not, this means simply providing a well-rounded answer to the user’s question. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. are never going to rank your pages high if they are unclear (their main goal is to deliver accurate results to the searcher!) Your content shouldn’t be created solely to rank high, but ranking high should be a result of producing quality content. When you create meaningful, authoritative content, you’ll be rewarded because of your usefulness.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for producing content:
- Always produce original content.
In order to rank well on SERPs, your best bet is to produce original, quality, informative content that makes you an authoritative voice in your industry. Stay away from duplicate content and scraped content:
Duplicate content refers to content that is published on the internet in more than one place. There are several reasons that content may appear twice on separate pages. Without getting too technical, let’s just say it’s hard for Google to tell which is the original piece of content. Because of this. It can hurt your chances of ranking well because the search engines don’t know which version to include in their results, so even if you were the original poster, you could be penalized for this. To stay on the safe side, always post words that are 100 percent your own.
Scraped content is content that is a blatant copy of someone else’s work. This should go without saying, but stealing someone else’s work is morally wrong, and will also be penalized by search engines. They work their hardest to deliver the best content possible by having robots crawl the sites, so they are not likely to miss it if you have stolen content from another site.
- Avoid thin content.
Back in the day, a sneaky tactic to try and rank was to create a separate webpage for each variation of the keyword you were going for. Essentially, this resulted in lots and lots of pages that didn’t have a lot of content on them, but were stuffed with keywords, which helped no one find what they were looking for. Google addressed this issue back in 2011 with an algorithm called Panda that began docking pages with what they deemed to be thin content.
This goes back to what we’ve been saying the whole time — search engines reward quality content! It’s a waste of your time to post tons of pieces of content that lack substance. Instead, group all of those fragments together to form longer, fuller pieces of content that address broader issues. The better your post can answer the searchers’ questions, the more useful it will be deemed by search engines, thus giving it a better chance of ranking higher. As a general rule, we recommend at least 1,000 words for short-form content and 2,000+ words for long-form.
- Stay away from keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is adding your keyword to the content an unnecessary number of times in order to trick Google into thinking the piece is hyper-relevant. Most would assume that the more times a word shows up on a web page, the more likely that page is to have the answer they’re looking for, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes people purposefully stuff their content with a keyword because they think it’ll make them rank higher, but search engines have gotten very good at detecting this, and now consider it a Black Hat SEO tactic.
There’s no hard and fast rule to how many times you should add a keyword, but our suggestion is to read the content out loud and hear it for yourself. If you feel like the word has been said so many times that it feels unnatural, go ahead and take a few of them out. To check your site for any keyword stuffing, Keyword Density Checker tools from SEO Review Tools or Geo Ranker will show you exactly how many times you’ve used your keyword!
Combining Content Marketing and On-Page SEO
To separate content and SEO would be a mistake — they work so much better together! In order to improve in both areas, make sure you’re collaborating to produce the best results possible. For more information on best practices, read through our free, downloadable SEO Guidebook to learn more about optimizing your content.