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How to Write Engaging Content for Search Engines

January 23 2013

marketleader engaging contentWhile most people understand that writing optimized content will raise their chances of ranking high on search engines, many people make the mistake of creating copy that is jam-packed with keywords or contains less-than-engaging material for their readers. According to Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings and co-founder of Search Engine Marketing New England, "Real estate agents should be writing for the searcher at the other end of Google. That person who has a problem or a question or some sort of need that brought them to the search engine in the first place. The idea isn't to try to please the search engine with your content but to provide the searcher with the information that they seek."

Writing engaging optimized content is not something that is intuitive or started without any strategy. A clear marketing campaign is essential for both your short- and long-term SEO success.

Choosing Keywords

When keyword phrases are successfully used, they tell Google what the content or webpage is about so people can find that information. The term "keyword" is somewhat of a misnomer. People actually search for phrases rather than one word. For instance, searching for the word "home" would cause irrelevant websites to pop up. However, searching for the phrase "one-bedroom houses in Austin" will narrow down the list of websites. How does an agent choose keyword phrases? Here is Jill Whalen's advice:

"You need to learn what it is that your target audience (presumably homebuyers) is looking for when they go to Google. There are, of course, obvious answers like 'new homes in [city],' '[city] real estate,' etc., but all real estate sites are going to be targeting those keyword phrases. This makes for some pretty stiff competition. Not only are you competing with every other real estate agency in the area, you're competing with the large all-encompassing real estate sites. Find some of the more obscure things that people want to know by checking out "question" sites such as Quora.com. A quick look at a real estate section reveals a whole slew of questions people have asked, such as, 'Is buying a home still the best first investment?' and 'What are the best ways to increase the property value of your home?' These questions become potential keyword phrases, or at least the ideas for new content on your real estate site that goes beyond the home listings themselves."

Create a list of keyword phrases BEFORE writing content. Keep in mind that the list shouldn't necessarily be more important than the quality of your content.

Incorporating Keywords Into Your Content

Forget jam-packing your content with keywords. "Keyword stuffing" makes content sound unnatural and can get you penalized by a search engine such as Google. Penalization may result in your website getting removed from the search engine's index.

How does one incorporate keywords into content? "For long-tail keywords for, say, a blog that you're writing in frequently, you don't have to worry too much about incorporating specific keyword phrases. The words that you're using naturally within the content make up an unlimited pool of long-tail keywords. While individually they will not bring a lot of traffic, once you have a lot of content on your site, you'll start to see lots of search engine traffic for hundreds or even thousands of different keyword phrases. The idea is to continually put out great, unique information that your competitors aren't offering. You can of course take this one step further by adding keyword-rich title tags, headlines and subheadings to your already written article as long as they make sense to what the article is about," says Jill Whalen.

  • Title Tag - The title tag shows up in three key places. It is one of the most critical SEO elements that appears on the page. It shows up at the top of the browser Chrome, in the search engine results page and as a link anchor text on external websites like social media sites. The best practice is to make the title tag less than 70 characters; otherwise, Google won't show its entirety.
  • Headlines - Write a headline that describes the content. If you've written a blog about rehabbing a Victorian house, write a headline that includes words such as "renovation," "Victorian," "house" or "home" in the headline so people searching for those terms can find your blog.
  • Subheadings - Subheadings must thematically connect to the headline. They must sum up the information on the page, so that someone can simply scan the page to get an idea of its contents.

What Makes Content Engaging?

It's easier to write boring content than it is to craft engaging material. Interesting, thoughtful information creates a connection with your target market. What else can engaging content do? "It appeals to the reader's emotions. Content that addresses what real people with real problems need will be engaging to them. If the content is very much 'we focused' (on the company itself) rather than 'you focused' (on the reader) users won't often go beyond the first paragraph. But if you can somehow make an emotional connection with that reader, they'll stay engaged and want even more content from you. You've got to stress what's in it for them at all times," says Jill Whalen.

An easy way of figuring out if your content is engaging is to read it to someone else. Hearing the content read out loud and getting feedback will help you shape the information on your page so that it is engaging for the reader. Search engines will not tell you the exact algorithm that they use for ranking websites, but having engaging optimized content will always put you ahead of the game.

To view the original article, visit the Market Leader blogMarket Leader blog.

Other articles of interest: Birdview IDX | MLSFinder.com