SEO 2015: Onpage Optimisation – Content is King

Jochen Fuchs

“SEO is dead” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days. As I covered in the previous article, Google’s recent updates have fundamentally changed SEO, but dead? I don’t think so.

If anything, SEO has become much deeper and more challenging. Stuffing your site with keywords, buying backlinks and sitting back doesn’t cut it anymore. Some experts make the point that content marketing is the new SEO. Though I wouldn’t completely agree with that, one can certainly no exist without the other.

SEO neeeeeeeeeds content

The term “search engine optimisation” is a problem in itself – “search engine and user optimisation” would be a much better fit for what we’re doing today. Apart from some minor technical details, all modern SEO measures primarily focus on human users’ experience with the site. The positive impact this has on search engine rankings is but a side effect, and should never be the main goal. Still, it’s called SEO, so let’s talk about some of the most vital SEO measures.

Onpage vs. Offpage SEO

First, we need to differentiate between these two sub-disciplines of SEO. This isn’t too difficult, the terms are quite self-explanatory. Onpage optimisation is about everything that happens on your own website, like content, structure and keywords.
Offpage SEO, on the other hand, focusses on what happens outside of your website, mainly link building. Activity on social media is also becoming more and more important.

Onpage Optimisation – Dos & Don’ts

With every new website, the SEO question will come up at some point. How do I make my site visible for search engines and ideally have it ranked well for the keywords I’m trying to hit? The optimisation process can be broken down into three general categories (In order of impact)

  •  Content
  •  Structure
  •  Technology

High-quality, relevant content is by far the most important ranking factor, but more to that later. Your site should have a certain level of logical structure and technical quality. If the content is missing though, even the best structure and latest technology won’t get you to page one of search results.

Relevant Content and its Importance for SEO

What makes good content? There’s no simple answer to this, but there are two questions you should always ask yourself before you start making content: Why are you making this content, and who is it meant for? You should aim to provide content that’s informative and unique for your particular audience. That’s of course easier said than done.

Think about what you’re trying to achieve with your website. What do you have to offer? Do you sell goods or services, or to you publish content like photos or recipes? What’s the main interest your website is trying to serve? What did users likely search for when they end up on your website? Which keywords best describe your offer? These questions form the base of your content marketing.

Creativity is key here: What’s interesting to your visitors and at the same time supports you offer? German cosmetics-supplier Schwarzkopf’s site is a great example of this. Their front page is full of information about hair styling, video tutorials and advice columns. Their products are completely in the background. The benefit to their brand comes entirely from high-quality, unique content.

schwarzkopf website screenshot

When the Google bot looks at your site, it tries to judge your content’s relevance. Your headlines should be reasonable and fit your copy. Google rewards unique content with better rankings, but straight up hides duplicate content in search results. Why would they show their users what essentially is the same result twice?

Good content is a very effective, yet time-consuming way to improve your search engine rankings. But don’t jump into writing without a solid strategy. Always keep this one thing in mind: You’re writing for your people, not robots. Way too often do I see sites that are filled with keywords, but fail to provide any useful information.

Coming up in our series on search engine optimisation: How to structure your site to help both human visitors and search engines to find their way around.

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