When creating online content, whether it’s a blog article, a nice infographic, an entire online course or anything that is to be consumed online basically, you have to bear in mind not only the human factor, but also the search engine results. That is, having content that is appealing to your readers is not good enough for your conversion rates if you don't also optimize it for SEO.
Whenever you consider creating new content you need to put it through a double filter:
- The human reader filter
- The search engine filter
The human reader filter
This represents your audience judging if your content’s quality is good enough, if it's relevant to their needs and/or originally presented.
- Quality — Your audience has access to numerous resources and can shift to other knowledge providers in a second. You cannot afford to take them for granted and, thus, you have to provide valuable and high quality content. This increases your chances of establishing a faithful audience and of paving your way as an authority in the field.
- Relevance — Offering relevant content is essential as it shows you understand your public and put effort into finding information that meets their needs. This is how you keep them coming for more. By showing your dedication in giving your readers what they have been looking for, by answering their burning questions, by providing solutions to their problems, you will become their go-to-person.
- Originality — The Internet is the door to a plethora of information, resources and solutions. What makes you stand out? It should be, better yet, it has to be your originality! Without it your content won't stand a chance. Be creative and present your knowledge in an original way, regardless of the topic, be that a widely tackled one or a completely new one. Your readers want to see your insight and your way of presenting the subjects. You alone know your audience best, so speak their language and don’t betray their trust by giving them less than great content.
The search engine filter
Why is this important? Considering that your article has the three qualities mentioned above, what’s the point if it doesn't rank in the first pages when looked for on the main search engines? If you want to know how to do this, read further to find the steps you need to take to write a SEO friendly piece of online content. I've compiled the most acclaimed methods of increasing your ranking on search engines on this list:
1. Keywords. Your entire online course should revolve around keywords. Each lesson or module in it can be optimized based on keywords. To do this, you need to know that there are two main types of keywords: short tail and long tail. The problem with short tail keywords is that they are already so used that the chances you've got to rank in SEO with them is highly unlikely. The long tail keywords are an alternative. You can use LongTailPro, KeyWordPlanner or merely check Google to see the most popular searches. If this doesn't work as expected, you can make use of latent semantic indexing (LSI), which means using related terms instead of highly used keywords. LSIGraph is a free generator that can help you in your quest. You need to write your content revolving around keywords not vice versa.
2. Headings. They matter because they structure your ideas into different sections and are important in SEO. Headings are categorized in H1, H2, H3…H6...head tags. The H1 tag is for the title, H2 are all the subtitles your content page has and they should give away what a particular section is about, H3 are their sub-headers, and so on. It’s important to have a hierarchy of ideas on each page or lesson.
Read more: 8 Great tips on how to make the title of your online course stand out
3. Structure. The layout of your course content pages should stick to the classic structure:
- The introduction has to encompass everything your lesson is about and its main goal is to convince your users that they are about to receive the knowledge they lack. You can ask rhetorical questions, tell a story or start with a quote.
- In the main body you detail the ideas presented in the introduction adding facts and figures, examples and honest opinions. Speak to your readers directly so they feel part of the same community. Doubled on social media, this relationship translates into higher ranking score on SEO and more sales.
- In the end, you need to conclude by mentioning the main points of your article and establishing further connections with the reader.
4. Links. As an instructor, it has to go without saying that you know what you are talking about and that you have a wider picture of the subject of your course. Whenever you find interesting and relevant resources online, add a link to them in your course and give your readers a chance to dig deeper into one subject or another. Besides external links you can make a reference to other courses or blog posts that you have created previously, which will give a sense of continuity to your audience.
5. Social media signals. Whether you acknowledge it or not, social media is one of the go-to-means for online marketing. Besides this, giving your readers the possibility to share, like and follow your post on these platforms will not only promote your brand, but also the more social media signals you have, the better you will rank on search engines.
Read more: Social media platforms to consider when marketing your online course
6. Proofreading. It has been proven that readers tend to leave a page if they find misspelled content or if it includes grammatical errors. So be sure to follow the necessary steps to avoid that. Proofreading is key. One thing you can do is to read your content out loud and see if it makes sense, you can also take your time to read it the next day for clearer understanding of it. Another thing you can do is ask someone else to read it and give you input before you publish it.
7. Check & double check. There’s a saying: “Better safe than sorry!”. So do just that. Check everything twice or more, from spelling and grammar to cohesion and tone, from how your content opens on various devices to how well all the buttons work, especially the share button. Once you’ve done this it’s time for your piece of content to come alive on the online world.
Your online content connects you to your audience and you should put effort into making it visible on search engines, too. It's the way to reach people outside of your target market as well. Follow the steps I mentioned above and don't forget to double-check everything.