For the last year or so, I've been working really hard to integrate leading-edge SEO principles into the work I do at Dogwood Alliance. I initially stumbled upon SEO because I was tired of writing really quality of content that didn't always result in really great engagement. in other words, unlike so many other SEO professionals, my focus from the beginning has been on producing quality content, not trying to make sales or live on affiliate marketing.
As I've been rolling out changes to how we consider web content, I think my co-workers may be occasionally concerned that the writing style will be impacted by SEO. however, quality should be first with any SEO project. The world has simply moved beyond keyword-stuffing and other black hat SEO practices.
So, I want to spend today talking a little bit about quality, accessibility, and finding your writing voice in 2022. Search engines are modern, and so our strategies to create quality content need to be modern, too. It's easier than you think to start writing for a broad audience in a way that is also search engine friendly.
Quality content appeals to your target audience
High quality content is always going to beat out junk, no matter how good the domain name might be. Your quality content may look different than my quality content, but the search engines are always looking for content quality that results in answering someone's question.
the search engines know if someone bounces right back to the search engine to try again. They also know when someone lingers on your website. Maybe they explore a few pages related to their original search query? Google is all knowing, so creating quality content is key to beating out the big guys.
I'm sure you've heard this all before. Websites get punished for low quality content, and to improve search engine rankings you have to engage in content marketing. But, you may not understand how to apply this to your situation. So let's take a look at creating quality content for a niche website.
Developing Quality Content For Small Business Owners
One of my side projects is called Sticker Crypt. It is a small business niche website intended to appeal to people who are producing stickers for sale. My target audience is Etsy Shop owners who sell stickers. My focal audience is not:
- Kids who want to add to their sticker collection
- Artists who sell one-off acrylic paintings
- People who produce bullet journals or other planners
- Small business owners who use stickers in epoxy items
- Etc etc.
Digital marketing is easy when you know your audience
I have my audience clearly defined, and that helps when I engage in content marketing with my high quality content. When I'm creating content for this website, I always have my audience in mind. So for example, if I'm writing about SEO on Sticker Crypt, I write with the intention of helping small business owners who sell laptop stickers. This means that I will:
- Talk about profit margin and why small item sellers NEED search engine optimization to be competitive.
- Talk about ways to differentiate their stickers from other products in the marketplace
- Develop content quality ideas that fit their brands and blogs
- Investigate other search engines, like the visual Pinterest search engine, which may suit their products better than Google or Bing.
Matching your language and your intentions with your core audience is the best thing that you can do for content marketing your quality content. Hands down. The next best thing you can do with your high quality content? Make it accessible.
High quality content writing is accessible, especially to folks without specialist education
There are two ways to think about accessibility: education and ability. We'll talk about education first.
Working for an environmental nonprofit, I am surrounded by language that is not accessible to the average person. I grew up in a blue-collar family. When I was young, my dad was a janitor, and my mother was a secretary. They went on to have great careers, and are headed towards retirement soon. But neither of them ever went to college and earned a degree.
Your high quality content should be readable by most people who use the internet.
I am so lucky and thankful that my parents were able to provide me with an education. However, I have never forgotten my roots. If I can't explain what I'm doing at work to my parents, then I have failed. If I can't make my parents care about the environment oh, then how am I going to make total strangers care?
And so, I find myself asking my co-workers and myself the following questions:
- Would I rather have five people read and understand this, or 50,000 people?
- How can I keep my writing accessible, without diluting my message?
- Am I saying this in a way that my parents would understand? Would it inspire action from them?
I say, it is better for a broad audience to be able to read what I am saying in my quality content. Forever and always. If you need a PhD to understand what I'm saying, then I am not saying it clearly enough, and my writing is not high quality content. Plus -- I am wasting precious mental energy for both you and me.
Quality writing is accessible to people with disabilities
Quality content isn't just about writing for your audience. It's also about making sure that your content marketing is accessible to people with disabilities. I'm speaking specifically about people with physical disabilities. Folks who can't hear should be able to access quality content with subtitles. Folks who can't see should be able to easily browse your website with a screenreader.
Even if Google hasn't quite yet begun marking down inaccessible websites, they will in the future. Google and other search engines are interested in delivering useful quality content - so when all else is equal, they'll favor accessible content. Alt-text is just the tip of the accessible iceberg.
Quality writing has a strong, friendly voice
Finally, you need to be welcoming to your readers. Digital marketing is all about taking ownership of the material. You can't produce high quality content if it's unfriendly for your users. To publish high quality content, it needs to be engaging, and it needs to match the user intent. It's as simple as that.
The top ranking websites out there might not have everything, but chances are: their content is great. So don't forget about quality, even if you think quantity is the most important aspect of your SEO strategy right now.