SEO internships – part 2: how to write great content

Welcome back to this short series of blogs by Ed Hallinan, former Inspiring Intern and now web-editor for digital consultancy InterGreater. As we hinted on last time, there are many aspects to the role of an SEO, one of which is to write great content.

Are you considering a career in web marketing? This article should give you a bit of insider know-how to prep you for your applications and interviews – good luck!

Why is Content Creation Important?

If you want to get your website seen, you are going to have to work to get it there. In the past, people have taken short-cuts to propel their pages to the promised land: page 1 of Google. Such techniques include filling meaningless articles with hidden keywords, much like the small print on the back of a scratch card. It stands to reason that the more you mention a certain term in your article, the more relevant Google will view your site for that keyword, right?

Wrong. While this used to bring home the bacon, Google’s army of whizz-kids have been cracking down on such malpractice. They create highly intelligent ‘algorithms’ to track whether content is being used genuinely and, more importantly, fairly. While SEOers do conduct extensive research to see what search engines like, it is not pure guesswork. Google is a very transparent enterprise working to help both websites and browsers, and offers extensive ‘best practice’ guidelines.

The cost of disregarding these guidelines can prove costly – we’ve seen sites with excessive ‘keyword stuffing’ penalised by being pushed to the back pages of Google. In some cases, sites have even been taken off the search engine entirely. Conversely, there are a number of ‘white hat’ techniques that are perfectly acceptable to use, and we’ll cover those later. But the main gist of it is this: don’t take shortcuts – just aim to write great content.

Writing to Please.

When writing web-content you should take a moment to consider:

1. Your audience
2. Google

I’m aiming to write this article to give useful insight to inspiring interns like you, who are seriously considering a career in SEO (P.S., it’s good here – you’ll like it). Do you see how I gave you a little side-comment there? Hopefully it will entice you to read further and perhaps even put a smile to your face. It might just irritate you. Either way, I’m reaching out to you, my audience – point 1 satisfied.

Google tries to reward this type of content, but it has its limitations. It may be a ridiculously intelligent machine, but it isn’t capable of recognising my feeble attempt at a quip. This is why using the most appropriate words and phrases (keywords) is so important.

Satisfying Search Engines.

We know that Google hates keyword stuffing and other spammy practice. But we also know what Google likes, and we can accommodate that. You’ll notice that every listing on the search engine has a blue underlined heading (the title tag), a description (metadata) and a web address (URL) – see below. This is the most important starting block for helping your website be seen – the key is to fill these in with content which is not only relevant to your site, but that suffices what browsers are actually looking for.

As a case in point, let’s enter ‘Inspiring Interns’ into Google’s search bar. First off, the title tag. Notice that it has three separate phrases, one of which is ‘Graduate Internships’ – not only the subject of the site, but a crucial keyword. Are you a graduate? Have you been looking for an internship? Chances are you may well have typed this very phrase in yourself. Go ahead and type that phrase into Google.

At the time of writing, the results for that phrase show Inspiring Interns coming up as 2nd on the 1st page of Google. This does not just happen by chance. Someone at Inspiring Interns has taken the time to research what you are actually searching, and linking it in with their site. Google sees this phrase, can see lots of relevant mentions of that keyword throughout the content on a page (in a natural, non-spammy way), as well as in the title tag, and judges it as a site that you would like to find.

Market Research.

Just as when a new business is set up, extensive market research needs to be done, the same can be said for SEO. You don’t just set up a restaurant in a few days and make up a menu on the spot. You plan the style and the clientele you will cater for. You think of a name which will entice customers.

Websites are no different. You need to think of a website name which people will understand at just a moment’s glance. Therefore working a keyword into a URL is hugely important. For instance, you might have a restaurant called ‘Spice’. That’s all very well for passing public who see it written on a sign. But when you’re scrolling through the web, which of these will help Google categorise your website more effectively:

The second, while still concise, gives a lot more detailed information. Similarly with the title tag, you can use more than one keyword to describe a business. For this example, ours might be:

Spice | Indian Restaurant | London eating

Here you have the brand name, a category, and a broader search keyword, helping both Google and potential clients better understand what it is you offer. Reflecting these terms in your content should see your website begin to rank well, in a totally natural and understandable way.

Good Content.

It’s now time to focus on the on-page content. As we briefly mentioned above, using keywords in the main body of the text is a good idea, as long as it is done naturally. A good rule of thumb is not to use a given phrase more than 3 times on a page. Going back to what Google prioritises, not only does it view the title tag, but the headings in an article. Getting keywords into your various titles and sub-titles is therefore a good plan.

Turning this full-circle, the offshoot of this is that not only Google is happy, but the audience is too. Going back to the Inspiring Interns website, you’ll find that the body content of the homepage does help graduates find internships, and therefore you might even share this page with your peers (this is not a hint…)! Google then sees this ‘linked’ content and understands it must be relevant and appropriate for people to be recommending it to others, in turn bolstering that page’s ranking.

This is why generating good content is so important. Are you analytical? Can you write well?

If so, SEO could be the career for you…

I Like the Sound of this SEO Lark! How Do I Learn More?

We hope this blog has given you food for thought. Why don’t you have a little browse through Google yourself – see which sites are ranking well and try to work out why that might be? At InterGreater, we understand the importance of extensive research, which forms a cornerstone of our day-to-day SEO consulting.

For a bit of further reading, have written a great article on why content marketing is such an important job for the future.

Our next article will give you a handy introduction to link-building. See you then!

Why not browse our latest SEO internship here!