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Reader Friendly Content for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

December 5, 2014  |   Posted In Uncategorized

You’re an expert in your website’s topic. You can write intelligently. Your information is comprehensive, covering a multitude of different aspects and elements. You update regularly, or at least to the best of your ability! Yet you’re still only seeing a trickle of visitors — and judging by your bounce rates, none of them stay on your page for more than an instant. You’re certainly not seeing the interaction and social sharing a site needs to thrive on today’s Web. You could be forgiven for thinking that people just don’t read websites anymore.

Interestingly, this is close to the truth. People don’t read websites. In fact, they never have. When people read online, they scan sites for specific words or phrases that tell them they’ve found what they’re looking for. It’s only after glancing over the page to pick out key details that a user might finally settle down to read more of your website. Even then, they’re unlikely to devour the entire page from top to bottom.

Instead, most website readers will home in on a particular section of text that contains the information that’s most interesting to them. Having read that, they may not move on to the next section in order — they may jump back to an earlier one, jump ahead to a later paragraph or leave the page altogether.

In short, the problem may not be with the information you’re website is offering but with the way that you’re offering it. By presenting your readers with a wall of text, you could be placing barriers between them and your site. When the topic you’re dealing with is complex and you want to give your readers as much in-depth information as possible, it’s often hard to see how you can get around this. You don’t want to “dumb down” your page or skip something that might be important, after all. You’ve also heard that including plenty of keyword-rich text is important for SEO. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can make a page of text both SEO and reader-friendly while still keeping it meaty and informative.

Before you change anything else on your website, consider the font and background you’ve chosen. Tiny fonts may look stylish and minimalist but they can be impossible to read. Very large fonts, especially in capitals, should be used for your main titles but avoided in the body text. Varying your fonts a little makes text easier to read but don’t get too “font-happy.” Confine yourself to a maximum of three fonts to avoid a fragmented, irritating reading experience.

Poorly chosen fonts and backgrounds can rapidly send visitors fleeing. If your site’s text is in pale gray on white or black on dark blue, you’ve already made it less accessible. Patterned backgrounds can also destroy readability and send your bounce rates soaring. It doesn’t matter that Googlebot can see your keywords if your human visitors can’t read them.

Next, think of ways you can break up the text. Aim for short, concise paragraphs, each focusing on a single idea. Find the points where you switch from one aspect of your topic to another and use these natural breaks to arrange the piece into sections. Include a main title, followed by a short summary of what’s on the page. Give each section a subheading and use these to create a table of contents. Making each item in the table an active link to the section in question is a great way to help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for, as well as helping passing web-crawlers decide how to categorize your site.

Images also help relieve the wall-of-text effect. As well as adding value by providing further information, they break up the text and create visual interest. Images also advance SEO and give you an effective way to deploy keywords. Meaningful, relevant keywords in file names, alt text, meta tags, captions and image URLs will help your site perform more successfully in both standard text searches and image-based searches.

If there’s a lot of text, think about splitting it up between different pages. Turn your main homepage into a hub, with a table of contents listing links to each page. Make sure every page contains navigational links so that visitors can easily get to other sections or back to the main hub. By all means, turn some keywords into anchors that link to relevant information elsewhere on your site. Just don’t overdo it and make sure you have plenty of variation in your anchor text. Always include a site map — this makes your site more navigable, encourages visitors to explore further and means a more favorable page ranking. Consider an image map too. Graphs and illustrations are important both to your readers and to search engines.

By following these tips, you can turn a drab or overwhelming site into a vibrant information resource. Your visitors will want to bookmark your pages and share them widely — so don’t forget those social media buttons.