How to Write Online Content that Appeals to (Almost) Everybody

There is a common saying, in SEO and reputation management circles, that content is king. Indeed, visit any SEO blog and it’s all but guaranteed that this mantra is repeated on a weekly, if not a daily basis.

There is, of course, plenty of truth to it. What the expression means, most basically, is that successfully ranking on Google, Yahoo, or Bing involves the creation of high-quality content. Link-building and keyword-stuffing tricks alone will not win the day. If your content isn’t winsome, then neither is your campaign—period.

All of this is truer today than it has ever been, of course, thanks to the Google Panda and Penguin updates—algorithmic updates designed to weed out content of low levels of quality.

But here’s the question that many SEO and reputation management pros face: What kind of content is king? Not all kinds of content are created equal, after all, and it makes sense to assume that some content campaigns will prove more effective than others.

Appealing to End Users

The bottom line is that Google is seeking to reward content that users find to be valuable, relevant, and interesting. Google wants content that is not only helpful to search engine users, but that actually keeps people on the page. So the most basic premise of content development is that if you want to please Google and Bing, you also need to please your human readers!

The problem is that not all search engine users have the same reading habits. In fact, we might divide them into three basic camps:

n  First, you have the readers—people who read every last word you put on the page!

n  Then, you have the non-readers—who may read photo captions and section headings, but not much else!

n  In between, and by far the most common kind of online reader, is the skimmer—the user who will browse the page and pick up on key points, but probably won’t absorb every last little word.

Appealing to Everyone

So how do you appeal to all three user groups at once? You’re never going to please everyone, of course, but your best bet is to entice the skimmers—not just because skimmers make up the largest group, but because content that is skimmer-friendly is also going to be more appealing to the other two groups. It will be easier for your readers to get through, and will provide more opportunities for non-reader to pick up some basic information.

Writing skimmable content, meanwhile, is largely a matter of maximizing navigational ease. Use section headings to break up every two or three paragraphs of text. Use bullet points when you can, and diversify your content with images and videos. You might even highlight keywords, to illustrate the flow of the content and underscore key points.

Appealing to skimmers means you’re maximizing the effect that your content can have—and that’s foundational for search engine success!

This post was written by Rich Gorman, who is considered an industry expert in the field of Reputation Management with over 10 years of online marketing experience. 

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