Basic SEO Body Content
Writing, or creating basic body content for SEO is a relatively straight-forward process – providing you are aware of a framework to use. These days content creation is much less about such horrors as keyword density and much more about creating useful content for the user.
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Overriding Basic SEO Body Content Principles
- Content is communication to someone who is interested in your topic.
- You need to capture the user’s attention and answer their query.
- You need to aim to convert the user in some way, either an onward click, or a sign-up, or a share, but that should not be the sole focus of the page.
- Write content for the user, and write to engage them.
- Create well-researched and informative content which add value to the user.
- Use terms the user would use to search for the topic and write in the language and the style the user would understand.
- Do not obsess about keywords, be aware of them and use them naturally.
- Be aware of what competitor analysis has revealed about successful content for this topic.
- Use images, videos or other rich content as needed, in a layout that is appealing.
- Be specific about the topic, stick to a single topic per page.
- Writing should be grammatically correct and use correct spelling for the locale.
- At the end of a piece of content the user should have a better understanding of the topic than when they arrived.
- Divide the content up into Start / Middle / End – much like you information architecture, it should have structure.
- Body content should always match the title / description / headings.
Basic Body Content – Opening Paragraphs
- Initial paragraphs set the scene for a page and often can provide a quick summary of the page contents – don’t leave the meat of the content for a “ta-dah!” reveal at the end.
- A good opening paragraph should confirm to the user that clicking to the page was worth their time and carrying on reading it will also be worth their time.
- A really good opening paragraph encourages the user to carry on and read the page in depth.
- Opening paragraphs can be brief. Two or three sentences equating to 50-200 words is often enough.
- Summarise the content of the page.
- Use relevant keywords once, early on or twice depending on length, but not repeatedly.
- Bullets are good, but they are sometimes best left for body content.
- They should be very closely related to the title and meta description of the page – they should deliver on the promise of those items.
Basic Body Content – Main Body Paragraphs
- These are the meat and potatoes of body content.
- Main body paragraph ought to answer the user’s query effectively,
- These paragraphs should whatever information they need to take the next step in their user journey.
- These paragraphs should also give the user a reason to tak the next step in their journey, be it an onward click, sign-up or share.
- Use interesting opening phrases, comments or bullets.
- Use keywords judiciously and naturally.
- There should be plenty of opportunity to the closely related terms, synonyms and alternative terms within the block of text, or bullets.
- Length should be appropriate. For a very simple topic 800 words is over done. For a complicated topic it is under done. Use an 800 word main paragraph block as a guideline. They could be 200 – 2000 words in reality.
- If an article is becoming too lengthy, it is probably diverging away from the core topic and should be split into separate pages.
- Use HTML headings – break up text to stop word-blindness and to enable users to scan for information.
- Include optimised internal links to other similarly useful and relevant content on the site.
- Break points up into bullets and lists to enable users to quickly trawl through and digest information.
- Write interesting closing phrases, comments or bullets.
Basic Body Content – Closing Paragraphs
- The purpose of closing paragraphs of body content is to summarise and confirm the information imparted to the user.
- They should also be a strong part of moving the user to the next stage of their journey.
- They should reassure the user that they made good decisions in clicking to the page and reading the content.
- Sum up the page – effectively repeating the introduction.
- Be brief, but don’t end with “that’s it!” or similar.
- Recap any key points that need to be reinforced.
- Keyword usage should be natural, and if written well, should occur naturally.
- Aim for 50-200 words, but do not slavishly follow this.
- Move the user to the next part of their journey – the user should be convinced enough not to hit the back button, or swipe back.
Basic Body Content – Images & Rich Media
- Images and other media can often reinforce the textual content, or summarise, or even give a handy way to better digest the information.
- They can also break up long pages, giving some eye relief.
- They can also give added relevancy to the content of the page.
- Use images wisely. Even the longest articles should only need two or three. If you need more, your article is probably too long.
- They should reinforce the content you’ve created.
- If needed, they should summarise information on the page – like an infographic.
- Avoid stock / generic images, even for headers. They add little to the user experience beyond looking pretty.
- Name and ALT tag the files in line with the topic.
- Optimise file sizes and use a good CDN, or allow lengthy caching, if speed is a particular issue in your vertical.
- Follow the same theory for video. Note that videos should also exist on their own pages.
- Don’t bother optimising template images, it doesn’t add much at all.