10 Ways to create a relevant website that ranks well: Part 1

create relevant contentThere are many ways to attract people to your website: you can advertise, you can encourage direct links from other sites, and you can promote your url on all of your marketing materials. All of these are useful and important methods but they need to be used in conjunction with one other key strategy – that is, ensuring your website is found in search engine results pages.  And to be ‘found’ you need to rank well, because very few people look beyond page 1 on Google. And to rank well your brand needs to be relevant.

One of the best methods to accomplish relevance is to create relevant content.

‘Relevance’ is not a stylistic issue as much as it is a systematic process that you can follow.  Remove the mystery surrounding the concept of relevance, remove the idea that some writer’s just ‘have it’ and take a look at the 10 points below that will help you create relevant content every time.

  1. Create a detailed customer persona

Your business, your service, your product, your story  is not relevant to everyone, therefore your content will not be relevant to everyone. And that’s great. Relevance is audience-dependent which means you need to know your audience intimately so you can create content that’s relevant to them.

Part of the mystery surrounding relevance is because writer’s often feel it is a static thing that needs to be ‘achieved’. In reality, relevance is fluid – it is a push-pull between the writer and the reader. Relevance is a conversation rather than the look of your website.

Creating an ideal customer persona is therefore incredibly important.  You need to have a very clear picture of who they are from a demographic perspective as well as understand what their pain points are, why they are searching for solutions, what they value, was motivated them, what their purchase habits are, what keeps them up at night, whether they are influencers or followers etc etc. You will never write relevant content, or position your business as relevant if you don’t know them intimately.

I suggest printing out a picture of your ideal client, giving them a name and then sticking it up on the wall near where you create content. You need to look this person in the eye when you write something for them to ensure it is true and valuable for them. You need to know why the information you are creating is relevant to them and why they would then buy your ‘thing’. Relevance starts with knowing.

  1. Know your user’s intention

Writing a list of keywords is not how you start SEO. After all, how are you going to arrive at a useful set of keywords?? They can’t only be based around your offering otherwise you’ll seriously miss the mark with your content.

A good keyword list comes about by knowing you user’s intent. And you come up with that user intent by understanding your persona (see point 1.)

When a user types a search query, it will typically fall into one of three categories: do something, know something, or go somewhere.

  • Do something – commercial queries: “Buy a picture book for 5 year old girls”
  • Know something – informational queries: “Picture book reviews for children”
  • Go somewhere – navigational queries: “Children’s bookstores”

By researching and interviewing customers or your ideal client you will get to understand ‘intent’ in more detail. Analysis of your website traffic will also assist in this process.

  1. Create a list of keywords

Remember, first and foremost these need to be useful for your user.

Search Engine Land explains it like this:

Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page.

Your users experience is paramount.  Deliver the right content for the right user and ensure they receive a valuable experience.  That’s pretty much all there is to it!

So, how do you come up with your list of keywords? Ask yourself;

  • What am I selling? What is the nature of my business? Then create a list of keywords that describe your offering (navigational and commercial queries).
  • What problem is my target customer experiencing or what solution do they want? Create a list of keywords that describe that problem and solution (informational queries).

‘Long-Tail keywords’, or search queries,  are going to generate more traffic for you than top-line generic terms. It’s almost impossible to compete with large organisations with huge SEO budgets on generic terms such as flowers, houses, cars, books etc. Instead use ‘native flowers on the Mornington Peninsula’, or ‘vintage car restoration in Victoria’.

  1. Do the SEO thing

The idea of ‘doing SEO’ can be daunting. It gets spoken about in mythical terms and agencies tell you how hard (and therefore expensive) it is to do. And yes, there are myriad factors to getting it done right – both on and off the page SEO need to work in harmony for real success. However, there are some simple – and free – things you can do to at least get you moving in the right direction.

Having a list of keywords is useless unless you know what to do with them. You need to use the right ones in the right place to get any kind of traction with your optimisation. Each article you write and each page on your website should target a specific keyword or phrase, with your home page targeting the most important ones.

There are four essential elements of on-page SEO. If you use your keywords or some variation of them in these 4 places you’ll be a long way to ‘doing SEO’.

  • The page title.
  • The H1 header.
  • In the content itself.
  • In all image alt tags.

Why is this important for ‘relevance’? Because your users are searching for something…they have an intent when they search…then they type in a query that suits their intent and if your website is successful at targeting that keyword (or phrase) you will rank in their query.

You have to ‘do SEO’ to be relevant. What’s the point of a website if it’s not ranking well in search engines? You have to be relevant to both your users and the search engines (but just make sure you NEVER right specifically for the search engine robots – your site will be penalised and humans will wonder why you’re talking weirdly!)

  1. Include keywords in your meta description

The meta description is the content that displays under the page title on a search engine results page. It tells readers what the page is about. The meta description doesn’t directly affect SEO, however, as it does speak to the user it is imperative that the description is relevant to them and their intention. It also needs to be congruent with the content on the page it is describing.

When you type a query into a search engine, you expect to see results that are relevant to your question. What makes a user decide to click on one or the other result is usually dependent on one of four things:

  • Position on the page
  • The relevance of the title
  • The appropriateness of the URL
  • The value of the meta description

If the meta description is relevant to the query it will usually contain one of the keywords or phrases that the user seeks. It could also use variations of the key word or phrase or at least describe the nature of the keyword.

These simple but effective techniques will help you create a relevant website that answers your users’ intentions and ranks well in search engine results.

Read on for part 2 of how to create relevant website that ranks well.

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