Wednesday, 8 July 2020

7-Step SEO Basics for Beginners: Readable Content

Book by Marco Verch / cc. Flickr
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been done to death, but the point is important: good content matters now more than ever since Google implemented BERT, a set of natural language processing algorithms matching content to searches in the way that people, not machines, comprehend.

BERT - Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers - is a technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP) developed by Google in 2018 and increasingly evident in results pages.

This could finally see the end of key-word stuffing and other in-page trickery to gain rankings.

Which brings us back to producing relevant content people want to read. Assuming you've done your keyword research to frame your content, write for readability.

Better Readability

Most people skim content on the web. Massive walls of text drive casual visitors away fast. Better readability includes:
  • Shorter sentences
  • Shorter paragraphs
  • Fewer sub-clauses
  • Active voice
  • Sub-headings
  • Lists
The search engines will better understand your content as well as readers.

Formatting for readability

Formatting your content for readability helps to make the content more sticky for human readers; this reduces the bounce-rate, or how quickly readers leave. The search engines measure this and will rate sticky content with a low bounce-rate higher. Admittedly this is a longer game to play in SEO terms, but you are looking to build your ranking with a body of content over time.

Formatting for readability includes:
  • Clear font-faces at a human-readable point-size
  • Line height
  • Paragraph spacing before and after
  • Inclusion of images - screenshots, illustrations photos
  • White space. Never be afraid of white space

Breadth and Depth

Post length is an indicator of depth of knowledge, particularly combined with relevancy analysis. There is now such a thing in SEO as the post that is too short. If it's not categorised as news or tips, brevity is not the soul of wit that it used to be.

Depth, however, requires facts which requires linking to authoritative sources. Build those external links.

Staying Relevant

Don't be afraid to update content over time. Progress, new developments, new research, new findings - these can all be updated in the original post OR heavily and obviously linked to newer subsequent posts containing the new information. Include the date of the latest revision. Demonstrate a commitment to stay on top of your subject to maintain relevance. RC

Image credit: Open Book by Marco Verch on Flickr.

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