There’s nothing quite as powerful as the written word. When it comes to messaging, what is said and how it’s conveyed are equally important — two points worthy of consideration when it comes to building an effective SEO strategy. The turn of the year is a natural time to take stock of old habits and practices, including those which aren’t quite serving your content — and, by extension, your destination and its visitors — to full effect. As we prepare to enter 2023, let your words light the way forward with these best-practice guidelines for SEO content.
Know Your Audience, Engage Your Reader
Understanding the needs or wants of your target audience should act as the foundation of any exercise in content housekeeping. This is precisely why keyword research should be an integral part of any content self-audit. Once you know what words and terms visitors are using when searching for or about your destination, you can then begin to select topics and create content to mirror their queries.
While there are some technical practices to be aware of when deploying any SEO strategy, quality writing comes first. Your words should have a logical structure and flow and your copy should be interwoven with facts and figures that support the overarching theme of a particular piece of content. A lively tone and style should move your reader along and, of course, grammar and punctuation should be checked carefully. By avoiding overly technical language and thoughtfully using subheaders to neatly divide copy into easy-to-digest segments, you can keep a reader engaged and — most importantly — on your website.
From Keywords to Content Audits: Pointers for SEO Housekeeping
Keywords form an important part of any SEO strategy; they offer an insight into what your visitors want from your site and they are analysed by Google to identify individual page topics, but take them with a pinch of salt. The importance of the placement of keywords — especially those set in a heading versus those scattered throughout a page — is a subject of debate, but when woven into your text so that they read in a natural manner, they can help to bolster and increase your rankings. However, it's important to avoid keyword stuffing, a practice that sees keywords repeatedly mentioned multiple times in a manner that appears awkward or unnatural when read in text. Do, however, give thought to your headings because Google analyses these bits of text in its Featured Snippets and “People also ask” sections. These, in turn, can positively influence the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Regular audits of your website should be part and parcel of your SEO housekeeping strategy. Consider your content in terms of both its relevance to your visitors as well as its wider adherence to any current or updated SEO guidelines. Remove old or out-of-date content (making sure to redirect the URL) if needed, but don’t be afraid to merge topically similar pieces in order to prevent them from competing against each other for ranking. When it comes to creating new pieces, it’s also worth trying to simply update an existing piece rather than starting from scratch.
Lastly, consider the word count of each piece, paying careful attention to any posts where content is too thin. As a rough guide, long-form blog posts — such as the type that could easily be created by a DMO wanting to gear a piece of content toward a specific type of traveler — should be around 1,000 to 2,000 words. Shorter blog posts — for example, those written as a reminder of an upcoming event or a listicle-type piece — range around 200 words and up, while listings and event content should come in at approximately 100 words. Finally, 300 words is a good ballpark figure for content on your website's main page.
Your website, your message, your words — when it comes to executing your SEO strategy, each plays an important role in speaking to your audience. Let these guidelines take you forward into the new year, enabling you to serve your content, your destination and your visitors to full effect.
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