Content Design Principles to Boost SEO

Today, search engines are incredibly intuitive. They monitor how people use your website – did they find it useful? Did they leave straight away or did they continue onto another page on your website? 

So, for your website to perform well on search results pages, you’ll need to provide a great user experience. And here we have the common link between search engine optimisation (SEO) and Content Design!  

Below, we have prepared 3 content design principles to boost SEO.  

1 – Start with your user  

First, to improve your SEO efforts, start with your user. When writing content, think about how the users talk, their needs and what action they’re trying to take. Then, note down one unique user goal for your webpage. Not for your website – just note one goal for the single page you’re looking at. 

Using SEO keywords 

If your webpage is targeting a unique user need, you should be able to sum it up in five words or less. There you have your SEO keyword. For example, ‘complete xyz application form’ or ‘who do I speak to about xyz’.  

Building your page around that query helps;

a) provide users with all relevant information on one page and b) search engines understand your page, the relationship between pages, and the overall purpose of your site. 

The main content design principle to boost your SEO is simply, help your user. Remember, if your users aren’t engaging, the search engines are watching! 

2 – Use simple language 

Across England, 1 in 6 adults have poor literacy skills - that’s 7.1 million people! Using simple, straightforward language is another content design principle that supports SEO.  

Even when you’re writing about a complex subject – using simple, jargon-free language helps users understand your content quickly. Then, more users will read to the end of the page and maybe interact with more of your website. 

Positive on-page behaviour like this is registered by search engines and will contribute to a higher ranking for your search term. 

3 – Think about your links  

Typically, duplicating content across websites is an SEO no-go. Instead, you should always signpost to the original source, using accessible link text.  

Accessible link text identifies the purpose of the link, without having to explain it to the user any further. Being as transparent as possible helps the user decide whether to click or not. Find out more about the need for accessible link text here.  

How does linking help with SEO? 

Using links is an important part of SEO - it helps search engine spiders understand the relationship between two webpages. This can increase your ranking in, as the search engine itself decides whether to trust your content.  

Basically, linking builds what’s called ‘authority’. If your webpage is linked to/from another website the search engine knows and trusts, that gives you some brownie points and gets you another step closer to a higher ranking. 

Backlinking is a whole SEO topic itself but making sure you link to credible sources with clear link text is the starting point. 

Resources to help you write user-centred content  

Finally, just like content design, SEO isn’t an exact science. Using content design principles to boost SEO will help hugely - but, it can take weeks or even months for SEO efforts to pay off. You’re in it for the long game, and results won’t be instant.  Keep at it and remember to put your user before the search engine. That way, you’ll deliver the best content possible – and you’ll probably benefit in search, too. 

For more support on writing user-centred content for Essex County Council – visit the Communications and Marketing toolkit.  

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