Content creation is a big part of our work at Zelst, however it can be difficult to outrank existing articles in competitive subject areas. If you want your content to get found and gain more traffic, you have to be smarter than your rivals. This can either be accomplished by finding niches with SEO friendly content (search engine optimisation) or by capturing the attention of the reader. Often these two can work side by side to improve both user experience and rankings.
However, there are times when you might have to compromise in one area to achieve the best results in another. This can cause some debate in the digital world, with valid justifications for both arguments.
Grab their Attention with the Curiosity Gap
Your content has to jump out to your potential audience, otherwise their eyes might just drift to the next piece of writing. To achieve this you should consider something known as the curiosity gap. By highlighting a hole in the reader’s knowledge, you can engage them, encouraging a click through to the site. This can be achieved through snappy headlines and asking carefully crafted questions.
For example, I recently read an article by Curiosity. The headline reads “Want to Learn Something? Argue With Yourself.” Immediately, I was intrigued about what it had to say. Although it was not what I was looking for, I was hooked enough to click the link and read more.
This is a great way to boost click through rates and it definitely has its place. However, as I mentioned, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I saw the article as I have the Curiosity app installed on my phone. The post itself hasn’t been optimised for SEO, meaning that in spite of its great content, imagery and value to the potential reader, it isn’t gaining its maximum impact through search engine results.
Outranking Rivals with SEO Friendly Content
So we’ve established that an eye-catching piece is a great way to boost traffic. However, if your page is nowhere to be found in search results, your content might not have many eyes to catch.
This is where your keyword focus comes in. Also referred to as a buzzword, this can be a word or phrase that sums up the general subject of your page. For example, the Curiosity article comes from a popular, established site and features an appropriate amount of unique content. This means it could target the phrase “learn something” which has 1,600 monthly searches.
The ultimate goal is to get your page to appear on the first page of Google when someone searches for your chosen keyword. Generally, the more specific the term is, the better your chances of ranking highly as you’re competing with fewer competitors, for fewer searchers. However, your content is likely to be more relevant, improving click through rates.
If you go too niche, you might also find that not enough people are searching for you term, which could affect your traffic. This is why keyword research is so important, especially when you also consider it in relation to other search ranking factors such as domain and page authority (how trustworthy/valuable your site/page appears to Google).
In addition to this, you should have your keyword at the beginning of the title to demonstrate its importance. The keyword should also be included in the both the main heading and at least one subheading and it should have its exact form as well as variations scattered throughout the content. This particular article hasn’t optimised its image alt tags to include the keyword, a confirmed Google ranking factor. They also haven’t provided a meta description which can entice users and confirm your page contains the information they’re looking for. Find definitions of alt tags and meta descriptions in our SEO Key Terms Glossary.
SEO also involves a lot of link building, you should contact relevant sites and blogs to outrank your competitors. Referral traffic from trusted, established websites shows Google that your content is high quality.
Is it more important for content to be eye-catching or SEO friendly?
This will depend on the purpose of the page and who it’s aimed at. SEO friendly content is especially important when you’re trying to branch out and reach new people, however if your aim is audience retention then an attention-grabbing approach is likely to be the best solution.
Generally a compromise offers the best solution. Good SEO practices should always be applied to the page, however the focus must be on the user’s experience. You should never try and place your keyword in a sentence, title or description where it wouldn’t fit naturally.
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