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When it comes to writing online content, any modern business should consider both the user and search engines. Although writing content for users comes out as the top priority, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of the same principles that make for easy to read, engaging content for users will also translate into content that the search engines love. With that in mind, here are some tips for writing content for people, from an SEO perspective:

The page URL

The first element that a piece of content will have will be its URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. There are a number of best practices when it comes to choosing a URL for your content, which we’ve put in bullet points below:

  • URLs should be relatively short, if they are very long then users and search engines may have more difficulty understanding what the page is about.
  • A URL length of under 100 characters is advisable, although if your CMS/URL structure means that URLs are very long they can be up to 2000 characters in length.
  • URLs should, if possible, make use of the page’s target keywords (just make sure that the URL reads naturally and doesn’t look like keywords have been put in there for the sake of it!).

As an example, the following URL would be sub-optimal:

agency51.com/beginner-seo-questions-ideas-and-how-to-implement-them-for-your-business-to-get-more-customers-and-leads

This would read better as:

agency51.com/beginner-seo-guide

We could then use the meta title and description to convey more information to the user about what the page would be informing them of.

Metadata – the first step of a user journey

If a user sees your brand’s content in the search results, the first thing they see will be the page’s listing in search. A typical search result looks like this:

If the meta title, URL and meta description are unappealing, then this makes it less likely that users will go on to click on your page in the search results. However, by optimising these, you make it more likely that a user will end up clicking on your page. Here are some hints on the metadata part of this (URLs we’ve covered above):

  • Try and keep meta titles to 50-60 characters, and meta descriptions to under 156.
  • Try and create compelling titles and descriptions that will make users want to click on the page (but don’t be misleading about the page contents!).
  • For titles, try and put important keywords near the front if possible.

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Content length

Content length is a hotly debated topic in the SEO and marketing community. As a very general rule, longer content typically has the opportunity to rank for more keywords (as ultimate guides and suchlike will often cover multiple topics in depth). However, if content is excessively long this can hurt user experience. For example, FAQ-style content may be able to answer the user’s query (ultimately what the search engines want) by being short and to the point; needless exposition is rarely a good thing for the end user.

Using headings and subheadings

Search engines, like users, tend to like content that is structured in a logical way. This frequently means splitting content up into chunks (like we’ve done in this article) using heading tags. A heading tag indicates that the text in question is the topic of either the document as a whole or a part of it, and are typically in a range between H1 (the main title of the content), H2 (a subheading), H3 (a sub-subheading), and so on. Headings follow a structure where headings are ‘nested’ underneath one another, in a hierarchy. A hierarchical structure for headings and subheadings would typically look like:

H1 Main title

H2 Subheading

H3 Sub-subheading

H3 Sub-subheading

H2 Subheading

H3 Sub-subheading

H4 Smaller subheading

H2  Subheading

Breaking content up like this achieves two things: it makes it easier to read and digest for your users, and gives search engines more of an idea about the topics of your content and how they fit together.

ALT Text

ALT text means alternative text, and it is used to ‘describe’ images in a text based manner. This has two main functions:

  • It allows disabled users and those using screen readers to understand the context of an image in a document
  • For search engines, it provides them with a description of an image so they can understand it better.

Although not a vital component in the SEO puzzle, ALT text is still worth doing, particularly if your site is image-heavy or has a larger than average number of partially sighted users.

Let's work together

If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson is a SEO specialist at Agency51, and enjoys working on and writing about all aspects of technical SEO for a wide variety of websites and industries.

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