Get the Green Light on SEO — Part 2
The average reading level of American adults is between 7th and 8th grade. And Google knows it. This week, in our second post on SEO, we’re looking at how to write content to get a good SEO score and rank well in Google. And knowing what a 7th to 8th grade reading level looks like? Well, that’s going to be key.
How Content Promotes Good SEO Scores & High Rank on Google
This month we’ve explored how Google is a traffic light. It scans websites and decides where to rank them in its results. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a good way to get your site a green light to move up in rankings. But how does content factor in? In two critical ways you must leverage.
What Does Content with Good SEO Look Like?
When the spiders crawl a site they look at two things when it comes to content: structure and readability. Let’s look at these and go over practices that will help your site in tandem with the other SEO you’re doing.
Structure is the thing Google has looked at longest when it comes to content. How is text organized? What is the post about? Are sentences, paragraphs and sections an appropriate length? Here are some foolproof SEO best practices to get your content up to snuff.
- Every article should have one h1 that includes the keyword. This should be as close to the start of your content as possible.
- There should be 300 or fewer words between headings.
- Sentences should not be longer than 20 words.
- Your keyword(s) should equate to 1.5-2.5% of your text (use keywords a little more than once every 100 words).
- Every article should have a title with the keyword near the start.
- Make sure every page has a meta description of 100-150 characters. Place the keyword near the beginning. You can generally go up to 165 characters but some will get truncated. They look better when they fit.
Readability is tricky. Really tricky. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just takes some language savvy and knowing the right tools (we’ll be back in two weeks with an article on our favorite tools — you don’t want to miss this!). Readability relates to the grade level at which a piece ranks. Generally, you can produce content that is between a 6th and 9th grade level and not worry. Here is what helps you get there.
Write short, clear sentences in the active voice
How do you know if a sentence is active? You should be able to identify the subject and what it is doing and to whom easily.
In the first example the subject, Mark, performs an action, throwing, on an object, the ball.
The second sentence, which is passive, has the ball as the subject. Passive sentences always show the subject as having something done to it rather than doing something to an object.
In the second example the object becomes the subject. Rather than putting the who doing the what as the focus it’s the thing and what was done to it up front and center:
A trick for finding sentences written in the passive voice? Look for auxiliary words like “is”, “was”, “had” before the verb.
When in doubt leave that comma out
There are two schools of thoughts when it comes to commas and never the two will agree. One of the schools of thought believes in using a lot of commas. The other insists on using as few commas as possible. Google gets confused by commas so be sure to use as few as possible for good SEO.
There’s an easy way to police your comma usage. Limit your sentences to one comma. If you use two commas it should only be for an appositive. If you have three or more it should only be for a list and leave out that gorgeous Oxford comma at the end (we know, it hurts!).
Hello, Joe. – 1 comma = ok!
Joe, my college roommate, is coming for a visit – 2 commas used to form an appositive = ok!
An appositive is text between two commas mid sentence. If you removed the information between the commas you’d still have a proper sentence (Joe is coming for a visit). The appositive gives extra information.
My mother sent me to the store for a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, a pound of ground beef, and a stick of butter. – 3 commas for a list = ok!
Cut out descriptors
We don’t need to know that you are having a huge sale, just that you are having a sale. It’s not a great proposal, it’s a proposal. Cut out the descriptors to keep sentences simple and clean. Using a few packs more punch so pull out that red pen! Content with good SEO is simple.
Use simple alternatives
Why say modify when you can say change? Google likes simple words. Your readability score will be better if you stick to simple terms. If your writing is technical you will likely have higher readability. Do everything you can, especially in those cases, to keep your reading level low.
Anyone producing content for you must understand structure and readability. The expert content writers at Digital Firefly Marketing understand structure, readability. Get a free SEO or content audit to see how your site’s content stacks up!
Maarit Durity, SEO, & Nancy Koziol, content, work together with Digital Firefly Marketing clients to research and strategize around keyword trends. This research is used to write content that makes Google happy.