Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) serves to design a website and its content technically and in terms of content in such a way that it achieves a better ranking in the results lists of search engines such as Google. Content – such as texts, images or videos – can also be optimized according to certain specifications in order to appear higher up in the search results. This content is often referred to as SEO content.
Search Engine Optimization of Content
In the battle for user perception on the Internet, search engines, first and foremost Google, are an important tool. Besides direct access and recommendations through social media, they are the most common way that leads users to an (unknown) website. Research has shown that users rarely click on the second, third or subsequent pages of search query result lists. Therefore, it is existential for companies and their marketing to appear far ahead in the ranking. Through search engine optimization of the website, operators can achieve a better position. Over time, search engines like Google have revealed many ways in which a good site should be designed. Professional search engine optimizers also keep discovering ways – some rule-compliant, some rule-breaking – to optimize pages for the search algorithm. In principle, SEO distinguishes between two measures:
Onpage optimization deals with the factors that can be changed directly on the website. These include, on the one hand, technical measures that can be regulated by the content management system or the design and structure of the page. For example, it is important to fill out meta tags completely and correctly, to write the page in clean HTML code or to build a sensible navigation structure that is easy to read for the search engine. On the other hand, content-related measures are also necessary: Texts, images or films should be prepared for Google & Co. in such a way that the crawler can read, analyze and process them without any problems.
Offpage optimization includes all methods of search engine optimization that take place outside of one’s own page. First and foremost, it consists of link building strategies designed to ensure that the page receives valuable backlinks. Even though SEO experts increasingly discuss how important link building still is, since Google seems to consider links as a ranking factor less and less. Moreover, in times of content marketing and “content is king”, good content is also playing an increasingly important role in link building.
Who optimizes a website according to SEO criteria?
In principle, anyone who has an influence on the design of a website – such as website operators, marketing managers, designers or authors – can play a role in optimizing it for search engines. For example, the programming, the structure, but also the texts, images and videos of a page must be search engine optimized. There are many small adjusting screws that can be turned for successful optimization. SEO agencies have a good overview of these adjusting screws and far more in-depth know-how. These SEO and marketing experts specialize in using SEO methods to give websites a promising ranking position. A professional agency usually consists of a team that analyzes its clients’ site (using software) and then provides optimization tips. Often, an agency also maintains its clients’ websites permanently and checks them regularly. In this way, the customers partially outsource the necessary effort and, with a good agency, they get a cooperation partner who brings complex knowledge – but also incurs higher costs than other solutions.
Another option for good search engine optimization is an in-house SEO (team). Here, one or more SEO expert(s) are permanently employed by the company to oversee the optimization of the pages. This results in short coordination paths for a company and the advantage of a direct, fixed contact person. Whether an SEO agency or an in-house SEO is used, every content creator is to some extent responsible for the search engine optimization of content when copywriting, photographing or shooting videos. Even if entire websites have been optimized by SEO professionals, optimizing content for Google & Co is an ongoing process for each post anew. The great advantage of this is that meanwhile good content for the reader also has a positive effect on search engines.
What is good SEO content?
In recent years, what search engines understand by good content has come closer and closer to what a human reader understands by good content. Even though there are still differences between the two, content that pleases the reader is now the top priority for Google & Co. This means that good content must bring added value to the reader, entertain him, inform him or help him. Good content – whether video, text or image – is unique, precisely targeted to the appropriate target group and encourages the user to participate, share and like it.
Content marketing as a new sub-discipline of online marketing also addresses all these factors. Effective link building seems to become more and more difficult due to the devaluation of links in the search engine algorithm. Therefore, content marketing is currently a popular and well-functioning strategy to generate traffic and build a positive image of companies. In content marketing, website operators produce content with added value and distribute it via social media – such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – or other seeding channels. This works with text as well as images or video. The search engine shows the content with real added value preferentially in the search results and thus leads users to the content. Nevertheless, even with content marketing, the content should be search engine optimized.
Good SEO – What is crucial in optimization
Search engine optimization for content
- Unique content: Texts should be unique, because Google reliably recognizes duplicate content and quickly punishes it.
- Text length: to give Google enough material to evaluate, texts should not be too short.
- Holistic content: Texts on the Internet should describe a topic as comprehensively as possible and illuminate it from different perspectives. The entire content of a single page should make it clear to the search engine what topic it deals with.
- Timeliness: Good content should be regularly refreshed and expanded. When Google recognizes that a page is updated from time to time, the search engine upgrades that site, crawls it more frequently, and thus also brings new content into its index more quickly. Regular blog posts, articles or even the expansion of existing texts therefore also bring an advantage for the ranking.
- Links: Both links to other texts on one’s own website and links to websites of other operators show Google that the author of the text offers his reader further information. However, an author should use these links sensibly: The linking should be logical and simplify the user’s navigation on the website and outward. The number of external links must be appropriate to the text length. Much does not necessarily help much here, the saying: “Every link needs a story” counts.
- Keywords: Keywords decisively indicate to the search engine what content a page deals with. Where for a long time keyword density was used as a benchmark, many SEOs are now increasingly moving away from fixed values. However, authors should place keywords more frequently and, above all, in the right places: In h1 heading, h2 heading, at the beginning of text and paragraphs, near images or videos, at the end of the text and also in the meta tags, the terms are important because Google attaches more importance to them there.
Since searchers often use two or three terms for their search query, so-called long-tail optimization for such keyword combinations is a significant factor. Google also understands complex search queries and their semantics increasingly better and searches for matching results: So in the future, long-tail queries such as “What are good keywords?” should be considered in keyword selection.
- WDF*IDF: The WDF*IDF formula can be used to calculate terms that match a keyword and their distribution in a text. The rule thus gives much more comprehensive and meaningful values than, for example, a simple keyword density and, in addition, provides terms on the basis of which an author can write a reader-friendly text.
- Formatting: Good texts allow for easy scanning and are structured in such a way that Google bot and reader alike can find their way through them. Meaningfully placed and meaningful subheadings, bullet point lists, bolding, structuring paragraphs and a table of contents make a text manageable and thus reader-friendly. In addition, authors should prefer to place important words on the left margin of the text. All of these measures are also recognized by the Google bot as useful and thus rate the text more positively.
- Fill in tags: Meta description, alt tag, title and co. give the reader and the search engine information about which topic a page deals with. Even though Google only counts these tags as a ranking factor to a limited extent, the search engine uses the meta description in its snippets or shows the title of the page as a search result. A reader-friendly website therefore uses meaningful and significant words and descriptions here.
- First things first: Many users only spend a short time on websites that don’t show them what they’re looking for right away. Therefore, the most important information belongs at the beginning of a page, of each paragraph and of each sentence – this way, texts are easier to scan.
- Spelling and grammar: Even though it is controversial (as with many ranking factors) whether and how much influence correct spelling and grammar have on the ranking, correct spelling is an indication of quality that the reader perceives. If the reader concludes that the spelling is poor, his or her confidence may decrease and so will the chance of returning to the site. Therefore, correct spelling and grammar are important indirect SEO factors.
Search Engine Optimization for Videos
- Add value to the viewer: video content should also add value to the user in order to garner traffic and show the search engine that it has relevance.
- Names and tags: The meta elements, title tags, etc. are also important for videos, as Google can currently only read (moving) images to a limited extent. Thus, the search engine relies on descriptions provided by the video producer. The descriptions should be placed, including appropriate keywords, in crucial places such as the title or meta description, and the file name of the video should also be chosen in a meaningful way.
- Text around the video: Search engines rate a video more positively if there is meaningful text explaining the film. Both the direct description (on Youtube, etc.) and the website in which it is embedded should therefore contain supplementary content with the appropriate keywords.
- Invitation to interact: Whether in the video itself or in the surrounding text, an invitation to the viewer to interact by sharing, liking, commenting or linking is an important indirect SEO factor. Ultimately, it increases reach, boosts traffic, and thus shows Google the relevance of the content.
Search Engine Optimization for Images
- No duplicate content: Google does not like duplicate content in images either.
- Name and tags: The file name of the image should be meaningful, the descriptions in the tags should contain the appropriate keywords if possible and (depending on the tag) explain the content or meaning of the image. Google reads all the text data of the image to be able to better assign it and assigns a score on this basis.
- File size, image size and format: The file size of an image plays a major role, especially for loading times. This is because search engines prefer web pages that load quickly. Therefore, the file size should be as small as possible. Nevertheless, with regard to the user experience, attention should be paid to the image quality. The image size (number of pixels) and the format also seem to have an influence: Google seems to prefer large images and can better display the 4:3 format in its image search.
- Text on the image: The text near the image should be related to the image, because images underline or even determine the content of the text of a page. The desired keywords should also be placed here. Image captions in particular require a clear statement that matches the image.
- Added value for the user: The images should complement the text or even be the basis for it. If the image brings added value to the reader and the caption of the image also reflects its content, images can generate additional traffic via Google Image Search.
Conclusion for SEO CONTENT
The optimization of websites and content with regard to search engines is the basis for traffic from Google & Co. Thus, SEO becomes a duty for every company that wants to present itself appropriately on the Internet. SEO can include onpage methods, i.e. technical and content improvements of the website, as well as offpage methods, especially link building. Search engine optimization of content also plays an extremely important role today, when content marketing is becoming increasingly important, and should be a goal of every marketing strategy. By optimizing various factors, marketing and SEO experts can optimally prepare text, image and video content for the search engine and the user, thus making a major contribution to a company’s visibility, traffic and conversion rate.
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