Creating compelling content

How do you create great content for your site that works for both humans and search engines?

 approx 63 minute video

Creating compelling content

Nettl Academy SEO Live Event! Session 12

This session is the twelfth in a new series of live events from Nettl. This week they’ll explore how to create compelling content for search engines but also content that clients want to read.

Content is key to great SEO, search engines want great, shareable content to provide as results for searches. In session #12 the team use their experience to explore how you can create compelling content for search engines and humans.

We’ll cover hot topics such as:

  • Using keyword research to form content plans;
  • How content can help search engines;
  • How content can help customers (user intent);
  • How content relates to the marketing funnel;
  • Fresh vs. evergreen content;
  • Measuring content success;

Plus the team were on hand to answer questions. Keep an eye out for more live sessions. If you have questions in the meantime contact your local team and we’ll be delighted to help.

Check out the next video in our SEO webinar series

Today’s session is essentially on creating compelling content for search engines and humans. Content is a huge part of SEO, a big ranking factor and very important to search engine optimisation efforts, which is why we’re talking about it today. I’m just going to give you a bit of a feel for how content fits into the purchase funnel. Why valuable content is the best content and how to create valuable content for humans. That’s super important: we’re not just creating content for search engines, which sometimes people might think when they talk about optimising for SEO – we’ve got to do this because Google wants us to do it – but actually you should be creating content on your website for your customers or potential customers. How to optimise your content for SEO. There are things you can do obviously to optimise your content for SEO, but a big part of our advice is making sure your content is optimised for humans, not just SEO. What’s the difference between fresh and evergreen content and why you might want to use both of them in combination and how you can measure content success.

The sales and purchase funnel

Content in the purchase funnel. Content is one of the most important things, not just for SEO, but actually for your business and for anyone purchasing anything from your business. It’s a really important part of your sales strategy. It’s essentially your sales pitch online. So if you have a business where you would potentially pitch to customers, then you might do that face to face. But if you have a business where a lot of what you do to get new customers is online, your content is essentially your sales pitch. If you have low quality content, out of date content, or incorrect content on your website, then it’s not a very good sales pitch, really. And things like grammatical errors and things like that can really impact what people think about your business. And it could also impact you from an SEO perspective. 

This is a really simple image of a sales funnel. A purchase funnel is a bit more complex than this nowadays. The typical funnel in marketing goes awareness, evaluation, conversion and you talk about how you take people through the funnel with your different marketing channels and what you’re doing. Actually it’s a lot more complex than this today because of the web and because people are coming through different devices, different channels. It’s actually not as easy to understand, but I still think it’s really important to show how content fits into this funnel, because it doesn’t just sit there for awareness or for people to evaluate whether they want to buy something from you and then conversion, content is actually a huge part of each step. 

When I talk about content, I’m not just saying the blog post on your website, because when people say content, they think ‘I just need blogs on my website’. The content is any landing page you have on your website, anything you’re posting on social media, any videos or case studies, essentially anything is your content. And that’s all really important. A big part of what we’ll talk about today is optimising your sort of blog and your article content but I just wanted to set the scene to say that actually your content forms part of all of this. 

The awareness phase

We’ve got some examples here of how the awareness phase, for example, that’s where SEO might come into play because you want to drive people that are looking for a product or service – so they’re searching for something – you want to drive them to your website with organic traffic. You might do that through ensuring that your pages rank well and then getting them to your website. 

Additional ways that your content can be part of the awareness phase is, for example, on social media, your blog posts that you’re doing might make people aware because they might rank, or you might post them on social media. Essentially, this is a phase where someone is doing initial research or they’re not necessarily researching, but you’re targeting them with your content on social media and they realise that they might need your product or service. 

The evaluation phase

As someone moves through to evaluation, this may be when they have they’re aware of your product or they’re aware of your business, but then they’re evaluating whether to buy from you. At this point it’s really important. You might have product or service articles or pieces of content that really drive why people should buy from you and not a competitor, for example. So this is where I feel that long form guides, FAQs, case studies, reviews and things like that are important pieces of content when someone’s evaluating your business.

The conversion phase

Then through to the conversion phase, this is when someone is buying from you and you’re going to get a lead or a sale from your business. At this point you might want to compare your product against another product, or you might want to show that you have your own views. So even your reviews are content. If you’re collecting reviews but you’re not showcasing them, or you’re just showcasing them on one page of your website, there might be way more you could be doing with that. I’d really recommend thinking about all different types of content that fit into your website. One of the things that you could do in devising a content strategy or a plan for your business is Googling different types of content and then finding all the different types of content out there – video, long form blogs – and then just seeing what types of content actually might be relevant to your business. Then rather than just blog posts, there’s probably quite a lot that you can do and content is going to be a really important part of making sure that you have a great sales pitch.

The most important thing is not actually focusing on SEO when you’re talking about content. We want to make content that’s valuable to your reader and that’s because if you create good content, that’s clear, that’s engaging and that’s useful then not only will that be good for your reader and it will start bringing in people to your sites, and help them convert, but actually by doing that, you’re doing SEO without even trying. This kind of content ranks and is also what your readers want. So let’s work out how we can do that. 

What is valuable content and how can we achieve it?

First we need to work out what is valuable content and what we can do to achieve it. So one of the first things that adds value to content is that it answers your target audience’s question. If the person who wants to buy your product, or who is thinking about buying your product, has questions about it, you want to have already answered them in your content. Whether that’s in FAQs, whether that’s on your webpage, or whether that’s on your blog content. That means that you need to know what those questions are. 

So let’s look at how you can achieve this. We’re going to look at targeted keyword research and not just standard keywords but also long tail keywords. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I’m talking about, we’re going to have a look at this in more depth later. Another way to make sure that your content is valuable is to ensure that it’s easy to read and to navigate. So we prioritise readability to be able to do this. There’s lots of things that we can do to make your content both easier to read and make it easier for your reader to find the bit that’s relevant to them. 

Also, what’s really important for your content is that it’s reputable and that it’s trustworthy. You want people to believe what you’re writing. You want people to go, ‘this person knows what they’re talking about so I’ll trust them’. That’s where we look at Google’s EAT guidelines – which is expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. We’ll look at that again in more depth in a moment. 

The last thing that we’ll talk about to make sure that your content is valuable is it’s going to be easy to find. If they put in a search engine and your website doesn’t come up, then it’s not easy to find. So we could optimise for search engine results pages and there are certain features that Google uses that makes it easier for people to find the answer to their question as quickly as possible. 

Keyword research

So let’s have a look at those four points. First of all, let’s look at keyword research. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about keyword research, it’s also really important for your content. Using Google keyword planner, it’s free, it’s easy to use. You can research keywords and long tail phrases. Basically you put in a word that you want to talk about – something that you think is relevant – and then Google keyword that will tell you the monthly searches of a search volume and how much competition those phrases have. It also gives you extra keywords for ideas, if you’re struggling for ideas. What the ideal keyword has is a high search volume, but balanced with a low competition. 

So if we look at the examples underneath, about efficient windows – a very exciting topic – we’ve got a variety here. We’ve got some with really low search volume. So ‘best energy efficient windows’: that’s 10 to 100 monthly searches. Because it’s quite a broad term, we’d want to look for something with a higher search volume than that. ‘Insulated windows’: that’s 1000 to 10,000 a month, but the competition is really high. So that means it’s going to be difficult for you to rank for that word. We’re looking for that middle ground. Here we can see that ‘energy efficient windows’ have a decent monthly search volume, and it has medium competition. This is finding the balance to find the one that has a high search volume, but it’s also going to be easier for you to rank for, because the competition is lower. 

Key phrase research

Let’s talk about long tail key phrases. These are basically keywords that are longer, they’re also more specific. They’re really valuable for finding ideas for SEO content because they’re more focused and have less competition. When people search for long tail key phrases, when they put them into a search engine, they’re already closer to that point of sale. You can really pick up and run with whatever they’re asking. 

So if you look at a standard keyword, we’ve got dog breeds. If you put dog breeds into a search engine, you’re going to get a variety of results because Google’s not a hundred percent sure what you want, it’s not sure whether you want to learn every single dog breed in the entire world or maybe you want to know what dog breeds come from the UK. Maybe you want to know what the biggest dog breed is or maybe you want a dog breed because you want a dog. So if you look to the left, you’ve got some long tail. These are the ‘people also asked’ questions that Google gave me when I put dog breeds into the search engine and you can see that it’s not sure. It could be how many breeds of dogs, what’s the best to have for a pet. It doesn’t really know what I’m asking for. However, if I put into the search engine a long tail key phrase, for example, what is the best breed to have as a pet? Then Google knows what you want. The search engines are much more focused. 

So I can tell from this that somebody is interested in getting a dog, they don’t have a dog yet, but they would like a dog with a pet. So they want a dog that’s going to be friendly and maybe they have a family so it’s much easier to write content around this focused, long tail key phrase than ‘dog breeds’ because we’re not a hundred percent sure of the user’s intent. 

You can find long tail key phrases in lots of different ways. There’s a great site called where you put in a keyword like ‘dog breeds’ and it will come up with all of the questions that people often put into search engines related to it. Or you can use this ‘people also asked’ section, which you can see under the picture of the happy dog. If you click on the arrows, it will give you more and more so you can see lots of different questions that people are asking, and you can make sure that you’ve the content that you produce answers those questions. 

User intent

Let’s have a slightly closer look at user intent. User intent can be informational or transactional. Informational is where the user is not quite sure what they want, they’re looking for more information about it – they’re not ready to buy, but they are thinking about it. Then you have transactional user intent where the user is already ready to buy and they want to find out how they can buy it and how they can get it delivered to their house. 

So let’s have a look at the difference between the two. ‘Milk chocolate hobnobs’: I put that into my search engine and you can see on the left the first result that came up is a Tesco site. I could buy hobnobs from Tesco. Google is like ‘she’s put that in, she’s desperate, she wants biscuits, she wants them now’, this is how you could buy hobnobs. If, however, I put ‘are hobnobs good for you?’ Google’s like, ‘she’s not sure yet, maybe she wants to persuade herself that biscuits are a good idea, let’s give her more information’. So on the left, you can see the first result I got back is an informational blog piece about healthy biscuits and what biscuits I can eat to be healthy. We all know hobnobs are healthy because they’ve got oats in them, it’s the truth. 

A good thing to note here is that often a keyword can be both informational and transactional. It’s not always clear cut which one it is. The one thing to bear in mind is try not to focus entirely on 100 percent transactional keywords because you’re not going to rank because if people want to buy it, they don’t want to learn more about it. They already know everything, they need to buy that product. But focusing your content on informational user intent is a really good way for you to be able to draw that reader in and explain to them the information that they want to know, and then be like, ‘my product or my service can help you with this’. It’s a good place to bring awareness and evaluation into that and bring them down the sales funnel. 


Let’s have a look at readability. Our content online needs to be easy to read because people aren’t going to sit down and in an armchair with a crackling fire and a cup of tea and fully focus on your content most of the time. They’re going to read it on their phone, on their commute, they’re going to be making a cup of tea, they might even be sitting on the toilet – they’re not 100 percent invested in this content, they probably won’t read it from start to finish without stopping. I know it’s a depressing thought when you put loads of time into creating great content, but often they’re not going to do that. What they are going to do is skim read, they’re going to find the bit that is the most relevant to them and they’re going to read that. So we want to make sure that it’s both easy to read, even when there are distracting things going on around you, and we want to make it easy for them to find the bit that is valuable to them. So let’s look at how we can do that. 

Easier to read. We use clear uncomplicated language. Don’t use really long words, it’s not necessary. It’s just going to stop people engaging with that content. If they have to stop to think, ‘what does that mean again’, then you’ve lost them and you’re done. So if there’s an easier way to say something, make it as easy as possible. You want to keep your sentences short – average length of 20 words – because if you have a really long sentence, that’s another way that you can get readers to drop off. 

In the same vein, keep your paragraphs short. If they see a huge chunk of text, it’s going to put them off. They want to know what’s in that paragraph of what’s happening. The most important thing, for me anyway, is vary your sentence length. I said an average sentence length of 20, that doesn’t mean that every sentence has to be 20 words. Make some five, make some twenty-five, make some 10. By varying the sentence length, you get a better rhythm, it doesn’t sound robotic and it’s nicer to read.

Easy navigation

Navigation. Use a subheading every 300 words. This is really important, it’s great for SEO and it’s great for your readability as well. You’re going to change the topic within your articles and it’s good to highlight that and signpost that. Basically say ‘in this section, this is what I’m going to be talking about, this is the bit that’s relevant to you’. In the same way with short paragraphs, we don’t want big chunks of text. So you could break up with images, infographics, bullet points, lists, anything like that, that kind of changes up the look of your content. 

Another really good idea with paragraphs is using a clear topic sentence at the beginning. This means that the first sentence in your paragraph tells you what’s going to be in that sentence. That way it’s much easier for people to skim read because they don’t need to check the whole paragraph, they just need to check that first bit at the beginning. If you’ve got quite a long form piece of content, what you can do is you can add a contents of the subtitles at the beginning with links, and you can internally link within that page and it will jump straight down to the bit that’s relevant to them. That helps them directly to go through and skim read it. They can click and they’re already at the bit that matters to them. 

Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness

Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This is part of the Google quality guidelines. It’s confusing, they haven’t said exactly that it’s going to be a ranking factor but Google mentions it as being very important. It’s mentioned over a hundred times in the quality rating guidelines so I think that it’s definitely something that you should think about. Basically, it just measures how much trust it thinks that the user should place in a website and it will only promote sites that it thinks is trustworthy. It’s a really massive topic and there are loads of things that you can do to optimise the EAT that isn’t content. For example, your reviews are part of that, you can have external Wikipedia pages – there’s loads of different ways you can do it, but for the purposes of this presentation, we’re just going to focus on how we can do EAT for content. 

The three main points are to make sure that the person who is writing the content, make sure that it’s obvious that they’re an expert in the field. So the example here: ‘would you trust an article about tax if it was written by a travel journalist?’ Unlikely, unless they’re a travel journalist that’s good at dodging tax in different countries. Ultimately you need to find someone who is an expert in the field. This is especially important for medical fields, anything in that area. It could be that you’re the expert in the field if you’re the one that’s creating the service or product that you sell, you can be the expert. So you just need to make sure that it’s authored in your name and with your credentials so that you are the authoritative source on this topic. 

If you’re not an expert in the field then it’s a really good idea to get guest blogs in. It could be that you get an external expert who will write the content and then you can put their name as the author and put their credentials and their picture. Or you can write the content yourself and get it checked over by an external expert who will then put their name to it. I don’t want people to get confused with guest posting, which is another SEO technique that actually isn’t that effective anymore. So having a guest person, who’s a real expert in an area, writing something on your website and putting their name to it and saying they are an expert and explaining why they are an expert is a bit different from just having a random person guest post on your website. The author should be an expert in the field. 

The next point is that the website should be an authoritative source on the topic in general. So you want your content to be related to what you’re selling or what you’re doing. So would you trust the article on dog training if you read it on a website that sells windows and conservatories? Keep your content related to your products and service, and make sure it doesn’t go too off piece basically. 

The third one I’ve got here is to externally link to high authority websites to quote your sources. This is because anyone can write anything on the internet and people are losing trust and they’re not necessarily believing everything that they read. So that means that what you do say is important, it needs to be quoted and it needs to be sourced to somewhere authoritative. These external links to higher authority and relevant websites are really good for SEO as well and it also means that people will trust your website more.

Optimising for search features

Step four, optimising for search features. First of all, what is a search feature? Let’s have a look at the most common one, one that you’ve probably seen already is this featured snippet. It’s a short section of text that Google has really quickly scanned the internet and found that this is the first 40-50 words that answers their question, let’s just shove that at the top of the results page. The reason they do this is to give the user a fast result and they don’t even need to click on anything, they get the answer straight away. You can optimise them for them by answering questions, answering questions, answering those long tail keywords comprehensively at 40 to 50 words. So you want to get all of those answers, all of the information that you can, in that first section. So for example, here I Googled ‘merino wool socks’, and now know from this that it’s super soft, it’s good for winter, it’ll keep my feet warm, it absorbs a high amount of moisture – loads of information on that and that has probably answered my question.

After your subtitles or blog titles, get as much information as you can in that first 40-50 words and then underneath you can just flesh out a bit and give a bit more background and more information about it.

Another search feature is the ‘people also asked’ section, which is what we looked at earlier when we’re looking at long tail keywords. It’s basically a very similar thing, it’s another way for people to find quick answers to questions that are related to the keyword or phrase that they put into the search engine. Optimise for this by doing good keyword research, making sure that you have those relevant long tail keywords in your content and that again, you’re answering them comprehensively in 40 to 50 words.

We’ve talked about getting good content for humans and making sure that it’s readable, that it’s easy to navigate and it’s answering the questions that your users want, but let’s have a quick look at some of the easiest things that you can do in your content management system to optimise your content for SEO and the crawl bots. So we’re going to look at title tags, meta descriptions and image text.

Title tags

First of all, title tags. So this is the first thing that people see on the search engine results page. You can see it here, ‘the ultimate guide to traveling cheap’ – it’s the bit in blue which is hyperlinked. It’s very easy to optimise for this. What you want to do is front-load it, so put your target keyword at the beginning. Keep it to 30 to 60 characters. You can go under or over this, but that’s the ideal size. It’s not too long. It’s not going to get cut off. I think it’s around 75 characters that Google starts cutting off and you don’t want that to happen because it just looks a bit messy. It’s a good idea to mention your company at the end. So you can see here, in the examples on the left, I’ve got the title here and then I’ve got the company mentioned – ‘Nomadic Max’ – at the end or the blog writer in this case. 

A good idea with titles is don’t try and make them too clever. Just tell the user exactly what they’re going to get. Don’t use puns, you don’t need to try and make it funny or interesting – that’s for your content underneath this. You want to tell your user exactly what they’re going to get. Is this what they want? Will it be valuable to them? 

We can see things like ‘the ultimate guide to’, ‘the best way to’, and ‘what you didn’t know about’; these are really good ways to draw your reader in and show that this piece of content is the best piece of content on the internet for what you’re doing. It makes them think that yours is more important and better than the other things that are coming up on a search engine results page. 

Another point is don’t over promise. Don’t say ‘the ultimate guide to buying Merino wool socks’, and then take them to a 300 word blog on socks, because it’s not valuable for them. They’ve wasted a click. Your bounce rate is going to go up and they’re gonna to go back into the search engine results page and try and find something else. Not a hundred percent sure why they’re so interested in learning about wool socks, but you’ve got to keep your feet warm. 

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are fairly similar, you also see them on the search engine results page. It’s the writing underneath the title tag you can see here with a little arrow. This is so that the reader can check that the content is valuable to them. The title gives them a quick version: ‘this is what I’m going to give you’ Then the meta-description draws them and engages them and tells them, ‘this is what I’m going to give you, it’s going to be great’. Best practice to optimise for this is to, again, include your target keyword, keep it to 70 to 150 characters. At 155 to 65 characters that’s when Google starts cutting it off and it just looks a bit messy. It’s nice to have, but like the one at the bottom, it has exactly what you want and it stops at the right point. The meta-description to every single page on a website has to be unique because each of your pages should be talking about something different. So it shouldn’t be too hard to do that. Make sure that it’s engaging and show that it’s valuable to the reader and try to draw them in the same way that your title is trying to draw them in. 

Image alt text

The last one is to look at image alt text. It has three main functions: it’s attached to an image and it describes the image to visually impaired readers, if they’re using a screen reader it would read out that alt text and tell them what the image is supposed to show. Also if your internet is slow or if the image fails to load for some reason, then the alt text will again give you an idea of what the image should have been if it had loaded. And, as we love SEO, it helps search engines crawl and rank your website because it wants to make sure that the image is of good quality and wants to make sure that the images are relevant to the content that you’re creating. 

So let’s see how we can optimise for them. Basically, you want to describe the image without being too vague. It has to be relevant to the content. General things like keep under 125 characters, there’s no need to start with ‘a picture of’ or ‘an image of it’ as you already know. It’s a good idea to use keywords or keywords synonyms but there’s no need to use it in every single alt text and every single image. You don’t want to start keyword stuffing. So, as an example, we’ve got the image on the left and one option for alt text is ‘dog in a stroller’. This describes the image, but it is too vague. Is it relevant to the content? I’m not really sure because I don’t really know what the content is about. I don’t know what keyword is going to be used here. 

The one underneath, I’ve got ‘a dog trainer pushing a corgi in a stroller to desensitise them to busy streets’. This is much more focused. I can almost know what the content is going to be about now. It is probably a dog website or a dog training website, they’re talking about maybe getting a puppy or a rescue dog who’s not sure of the world and needs to learn things. It’s much easier for visually impaired people to see why it’s relevant and it’s easier for Google to see how this image is relevant to your content and it’s using keywords and related keywords as well. 

Fresh and evergreen content

Now I’m going to talk about fresh and evergreen content. The difference between these is that fresh content is quite relevant to something that’s happening today or is trend worthy, for example. Evergreen content is something that will last a long time on your website. Both of these are actually valuable from an SEO and from a customer perspective. The reason being is that fresh content can actually be a SEO ranking factor. So if someone searches SEO ranking factors in Google, if there is a piece of content that’s called SEO ranking factors in 2021, that piece of content is probably more likely to rank than one that just says SEO ranking factors, or for example, one that says SEO ranking factors in 2019. 

Fresh content

Now this concept doesn’t apply to everything so I’m not telling you to go away and put 2021 next to every single piece of content on your website. That would be silly. But I think you have to use your initiative and what it might apply for. So if there’s something quite relevant to this year, so if you’re trying to promote events, for example, you might want to put ‘events in 2021’ on your posts rather than just ‘events’, because actually it’s relevant to this year. If it’s relevant to  Valentine’s this year or mother’s day or something particular that’s an event or an awareness day or something that’s specifically happening this year, you may rank better if you put 2021, or if you focus it particularly on that year. Then it helps search engines crawl and index your site. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it in the search engine results page, but sometimes Google shows something that says ‘posted nine hours ago’ and it will do this often for news websites. So I imagine a lot of us here aren’t news publishers but if you work in that sort of industry, fresh content is really important. It can be useful for some search terms and some queries for people to know that it was posted not that long ago. That’s where putting your date or when you posted something, comes into play on your website as well. Because if something is really significantly out of date, then actually that means the expertise, authority and trust might come into play and people might think, or search engines might think, ‘can we trust this piece of content because it’s probably quite out of date?’ So if I posted a blog post four days a day about the current coronavirus deaths – sorry to be morbid – then that would be out of date today because it wouldn’t be relevant because the deaths are different today. 

So it’s really important to make sure that your content is fresh. It also just shows that your business is topical and seasonal and on trend. So if you’ve, if you’ve got an SEO plan with Nettl and you have a blog post every month, it might be worth considering. I’m not saying every single one, but it might be worth considering suggesting some titles that you think might be relevant to being topically relevant and fresh in your business. Because that not only shows search engines that you are a business and you’re operating and you’re posting things on your website, but it also shows your customers. You can also use that content to put it on social media. I can’t tell you how many businesses I speak to that are posting great pieces of content, and it’s just hidden on their website for no one to find. I think you can’t post content and expect people to find it. In an ideal world all of our content would rank on search engine results pages but SEO isn’t just about getting your content to rank on the search pages. Actually, if you post it on social media and you get more traffic to it, then that might help it to rank, or that might help you get visitors. 

Essentially what I’m saying is that fresh content is useful and it might show that you care about the latest industry trends. So if you work in construction, is there something happening in the construction industry that’s relevant? If you’re an estate agent, should you be talking about the help-to-buy thing that ends in March? All of these kinds of things. There’s definitely going to be things that are relevant to your business that are fresh and that you should be talking about. 

They can help you have a spike in traffic and sales as well. So if you are posting something relevant, if you have a business and you’re relevant to mother’s day and you post something relevant to mother’s day it might be able to help you see a spike in traffic and sales. Then actually, why not be talking about that? Because actually that can drive additional revenue for your business, from a piece of content, and it makes you relevant. 

If you’re posting fresh content every single day, at some point that content is going to go out of date and then it’s not going to be fresh. Then it’s not going to meet the EAT guidelines and all of that kind of thing so actually you can’t just be posting this up-to-date content every day, because it’s going to be really time consuming to try and continue doing that and it’s going to go out of date. Whereas if you post content that is evergreen that means it would last a long time on your website and then that’s actually a worthy investment. I think you can spend a lot more time on evergreen content because if you spend hours and hours on end writing a blog post or doing something related to something that’s going to be yesterday’s news next week, that’s probably not the best use of your time. You’re a business owner and you’re really busy, you probably don’t have time to be doing that every day. Whereas if you spend a good amount of time investing your valuable time into something that’s going to sit on your website for a long time and if it sits on your website for a long time and gets traffic over time, it may rank well. 

Evergreen content

With evergreen content, you can also repurpose and refresh it which also relates to fresh content. It is possible to post a blog post on ranking factors in 2021, and then repost that in 2022 and change the title to 2022. But because Google is always changing the factors, you may need to update it. So evergreen content is a piece of content that you can produce and then you can repurpose and refresh it. The reason I say that is because you’re probably thinking, ‘it’s evergreen, why do I have to update it?’ but there’s a reason to update it because the way readability works, the way SEO works, the way people and humans work, changes. So I think if you have any blog articles on your website now that are more than two years old, I would go back and review them and actually look at the quality, the relevance, and wherever you need to update them. 

Also use Google analytics to have a look at the traffic going to all of your landing pages. If you have any landing pages that haven’t had traffic in the last six months, look at them and ask yourself, why is this not getting any traffic? Is it because I’m not promoting it? Is it because it’s not ranking? Is it low quality? Because you might think that the piece of content is evergreen and you leave it on your website, but actually with the expertise, authority and trust guidelines, if you have low quality content on your website, you could be bringing the quality of your website down and therefore impacting your ability to rank. 

So I used to work for a business and we decided to remove 200 blog posts from our website and after we did that, we saw really good results because they were all really old, really out of date, not relevant to the business. I worked in financial services and we had lots of blog posts about dogs and cats and things like that – really irrelevant if you’re trying to rank for financial services related terms. So after we deleted that it actually helped us and it helped our brand, trust and authority. 

So an example of evergreen content might be a piece of research, it might be a how to guide, anything that doesn’t go out of date really quickly. That’s where your long tail searches might come into play. So if there’s a question like ‘how do I do this’, or ‘what chocolate is healthy?’ that’s probably not going to change overnight so that’s the kind of content that you could create. This evergreen content really helps to drive your traffic and grows incrementally over time. So, whereas with fresh content, you might see a quick spike in traffic and sales to that piece of content, but with this kind of content you might expect to see it grow over time and then it helps your website over time. I would recommend having a cross between fresh and evergreen content and investing in them both. 

Measuring content success

Measuring content success. So the way you measure content success is firstly, you need to make sure any piece of content, any web page on your website, has a call to action. The call to action could be a button, a link, asking someone to do something basically, because if you post something on a website and you’re not asking anyone to do anything as a result of posting that you’re losing a lot of opportunity there. So I’d make sure that before you try and measure the success of a piece of content, make sure it has a call to action. If you go back and say, ‘why didn’t I get any leads from this piece of content that got loads of traffic?’ but if no one can find out how to contact you or what to do, then they probably won’t do anything. 

Setting up goal tracking in Google analytics. So if you do want it on a certain page, then you can. If you have one of our advanced plans – the enterprise plan, the SEO plan – you can have advanced tracking, which means you can track certain things in Google analytics and on your content. I definitely recommend that. Then the sorts of KPIs you would look for with content, I would say traffic. Specifically from an SEO perspective, you would say organic traffic, but I would also look at traffic coming from any channel because you’re creating content, you’re not really looking at all the opportunities if you’re just trying to look at traffic from organic search.

Bounce rate and time on page. Bounce rate is the number of people coming to a page and then jumping back off it because they’ve realised it’s not what they were expecting, for example. I would say anything above 80 is bad. Ideally you want to be below 60 bounce rate. If you’re below 50, then that’s probably really good. People bounce off websites quite a lot. 

Then time on page. This one you need to take it with a pinch of soul because if someone’s landed on your page and they’ve instantly found the call to action and they’ve contacted you so they’ve only spent 30 seconds on the page, that’s not necessarily the worst thing. You might have to look at it in comparison to the goals that you have set up. But if you do have a page that literally has 10 seconds time on a page, maybe ask yourself why. Is this content successful for me? Potentially not because people aren’t reading it. 

Social engagement. So if you’re posting it on social media, are people commenting? Are they clicking on it and then going to your website from the piece of content? 

Clicks on calls to actions. So that’s what I’ve mentioned around setting up a call to action. If you have a call to action or a button, are people clicking on it? In Google analytics, you can actually look at the journey that people take. So if you have a piece of content, it might be worth looking at the journey people take from that piece of content and the next page that they most commonly go to and see if that fits, if that’s successful to you. I would always say the optimal journey if you have a blog or an article piece of content, the next page should be your product or service page. If you have a piece of content, which is your product or service page, the next page should be your contact form, or they should be phoning you, for example. Just think about that optimal journey. If it’s your home page, the next page you want people to be visiting is probably your product or service page or contacting you.

You can also measure the success of your content through your back links. It’s hard to get backlinks now, you can’t just go out to people and say, ‘can you give me a back link to this piece of content?’ That’s quite unlikely going to happen, and they’ll probably turn around and ask for money, which is against the guidelines so you shouldn’t be doing that. Essentially if you have a piece of content that has some backlinks to it, there’s probably a reason for that, it’s probably a good piece of content. You can get those backlinks by promoting that piece of content on social media and doing everything you can to get it out there. 

Finally your ranking position. So if you do have content or web pages that you want to rank for SEO, if they are ranking in a position on page one, then they’re probably doing something quite well. So these are the key KPIs for measuring content success. Just from a pure SEO perspective, content is your most important thing. ‘Content is king’ is a standard quote within the SEO community and it’s been one for quite a while, and it’s still true today. If you look at SEO ranking factors, content will always be at the top and that content is just anything you have in your website, basically. 

Brief summary

Today we’ve covered why content’s important, how you can add value to your content with expertise, authority, and trust. If we haven’t explained this in a way that means you really understand how to add that to your website, then just Google it. There’s someone called Marie Haines who has lots of useful information on what might be deemed as expertise, authority and trustworthiness. How to optimise your content in your content management system to help search engines, understand and rank it and how to measure content success. The final thing I’d say is just stop trying to optimise too much for search engines, especially when you’re writing content. Just write the content well, then go back and have a look and say, ‘what could I do to make sure that this appears for search results?’ Could I make sure there’s headings? Have I put keywords in there? Don’t write on the basis of writing for search engines because you’ll probably end up stuffing with keywords. If you read it aloud, it probably won’t sound very good. So optimise for humans.


How do you get Google to register you as an expert?

How do you get Google to register someone as an expert? There are a few ways here, there’s not a definitive answer. If you’re a small business, this probably isn’t the case, but if you’re a big company and you’ve got someone who’s always commenting in the press. For example, Chris Whitty, he is an expert not only because of his credentials, but he’s probably being mentioned online. So if you Google Chris Whitty and then you go to the news instead of looking at standard search results, he will be there a lot. He’s a spokesperson for the government. So it’s quite similar for any other business, if you have a specific spokesperson for you and they can comment on things in the press. Whatever business you do, if you can try and get in any news articles on LinkedIn postings, anything to get your name out there if you are an expert that would make you be seen as an expert. Google can essentially link up someone’s name to any mentions of that name online and then understand if they’re an expert. 

So when I was talking about the financial services business that I used to work for, one thing we did is we paid and got a few people that were experts for someone who always talks about finances on BBC news and things like that. We paid her to write blogs for us because she is an expert and people already know of her. Now, not everyone would have the money to pay people or pay experts, but you can also get your name out there by just being an expert in your industry. So if your website is about clothing, for example, then only talk about clothing because that’s probably what you are an expert on. 

Is it worth aiming for green lights in Yoast?

Is it worth targeting for green lights in Yoast? How much does it really make the difference in terms of optimisation? So, you’ve got the red, orange, green lights and you want to go for the green. The main issues that most people have is the sentence length and passive voice. It’s easy to go, ‘I don’t want to change the passive voice’ but it is actually a really good thing to make sure that the majority – at least 90% of your content – is in the active voice. What the passive voice does is it slows the reader down because you’ve swapped the subject and the object which is basically at the standard English grammar structure. If you swap that round, then you’ve got a higher cognitive load on the reader and the reader is like, ‘what, why is that? Oh right, okay. I get it’ but that millisecond where the reader has to think, you don’t want that. You want them to already be engaging, already reading your content without stopping. I would say go for the green light and do your thing with sentences for Yoast. 

So in terms of the recommendations that the user guide might give you in terms of putting external labels on your content and things like that. Essentially, you’re never going to run out of SEO recommendations. Anyone or any system or software can probably look at your website and find something that you could do, but you do have to weigh up the pros and cons. Like if you have a shop and you have a product page, how many links do you want going out to other sites? Because realistically, that’s going to take people away from your website. 

So there’s also a marketing technique called conversion rate optimisation and if you haven’t heard of that, that’s about how you optimise your website for people to convert. Often search engine optimisation people have the opposite thoughts to conversion rate optimisation people. A conversion rate optimisation person would say, ‘have as little content on this page as possible because the more content you have, the more you disrupt users and confuse them so actually they’re not going to convert’. An SEO person would say, ‘put more content on this page because then it will rank better’. 

So what I have done previously is have specific pages for paid campaigns. So if you’re driving people to a campaign for a PPC page, for example, you might want to have a separate landing page which is essentially a duplicate of your other landing page but it’s not indexed. Because if it’s indexed, then you’ll have a duplicate content issue. It is possible to have two exact same landing pages but one is an index and one has little content on, not much SEO, it’s just there to convert. Then you might have a separate page for SEO, but if you can’t do that then I would say just base it on whether you think is the right thing to do for that page. You don’t need external links on every single page. If you’re talking about a fact or a piece of information, and the information hasn’t come from you, you should probably include an external link to the source of that information because that helps with your trustworthiness and your authority because how can anyone fact check your information if you haven’t linked to that source? But you don’t need to just add links to external sites for the sake of it. There is no need to do that. 

Equally, internal links. Yes. It’s great to have internal links on your pages but don’t add them for the sake of it. There’s probably the right place at the right time to do everything within SEO. So don’t feel that you need to do everything because it’s never going to be perfect. It’s the same with site speed. Like if you did everything to make your site the fastest it possibly could be, you’d probably just have a plain webpage with a bit of text and it wouldn’t look very nice. So I think aim for fast sites peed, aim for excellent SEO, but don’t think that you’re not doing anything right, and that you’re not going to rank if you’re not at 100 percent because that’s not the case. It can be quite hard to be at 100 percent. I often look at Amazon’s site speed and BBC’s and things like that and it’s not often that good but obviously you need to be optimising it. 

Advice for lots of online competition

Lots of competition online, any advice? If you’re selling them online, I’d look into the options. So for example, if you’re trying to target certain keywords that are going to be really competitive, then it’s probably quite unlikely that you might rank high. See if you can find any non-competitive keywords that relate to your shop, look into other options other than just SEO. For example, if you’ve got your social media pages, can you be posting on them? Can you be doing Instagram adverts, targeting the specific people that might buy your products? I’m not saying you can’t do SEO if there’s competition because you can. You can look at long form ‘people also asked’ questions and rank for those terms, but you might not always rank for the key head terms. You just need to get a little bit creative about it. 

Do you need redirects after removing old content?

Do you always create redirects when you remove an old blog from your website? Yes because you don’t know if that has built up any authority. So whilst I’m saying remove old low quality content, don’t just remove content just because it was written in 2015. Look at it, if it’s got traffic and backlinks. If that piece of content was written three years ago but it’s still getting traffic every single day, then it’s still valuable so don’t just remove it because it’s old, you could update it and make it even better. Always have redirects if you don’t and there’s no value to a piece of content it’s not going to harm you but you just don’t know that so I would rather just add a redirect. 

How can I link my Facebook to my website?

How can I link my Facebook posts to the website? Is it a matter of always using the website domain in the Facebook posts or do I have to duplicate posts on Facebook on the content of the website? Ideally you want to post the domain, you want to post the URL of the piece of content because you want people to go to your website because that’s the link. I would say yes, post the piece of content that’s going to get people to the website. 

How to get more traffic to your site

I’m on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy. What else can I do to build more traffic to my website? There’s a thing called Etsy SEO and you can do SEO on Etsy website and on Amazon and things like that. So that’s also worth having a look at. You can drive people to your website through search engine optimisation if you are ranking. You might actually have some keywords and things like that that might drive traffic to your website. So I work with a company who makes chocolate and we did a piece of content for them, quite a few months ago, that was a chocolate quiz. It was when we went into lockdown, everyone was searching for quizzes so actually they ended up ranking position one for chocolate quiz and got a lot of traffic from that. So can you think about the sorts of terms and things people might be looking for? A lot of people are looking for virtual events at the moment. Can you look into doing virtual events and things like that? 

How to increase backlinks

I run an online brownies company and was looking at increasing backlinks by contacting food directories. Is there value in that? How important is it to have backlinks? There is value but there’s value in quality and relevance of backlinks, not quantity. You don’t need loads of backlinks to rank, but they need to be relevant. So if you are a brownies company, absolutely food directories are relevant. If you’re a brownies company, you don’t need to be contacting directories that are completely irrelevant to food. It needs to be relevant to what you’re offering. Don’t try to get links from completely irrelevant sites or spammy websites, for example. I would say getting backlinks is good, but just make sure you’re putting effort into the things you think will get you back links and don’t spend all your time on trying to get backlinks from sites that are irrelevant. I’d recommend putting together a list of all the websites that you’d really like to get backlinks from and then putting together a strategy on how you might be able to do that. So are there particular websites that are trustworthy in the food industry? Go about it that way.