The internet is the best friend of anyone working in advocacy. But accessible as it is – the world wide web is already inundated with competing content.
I already covered how to make the most of storytelling in your advocacy content. But how can you make sure that your content can still be heard above all the noise?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is as much about people as it is about search engines. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they’re seeking, the wording that they’re using, and the type of content they are likely to click on.
Knowing the answers to these questions will make your content more visible to the internet users and ultimately lead to more traffic, exposure, and engagement.
Make search engines your friend
Search engines filter through billions of pieces of content, evaluating thousands of factors to determine which content is most likely to answer the query typed in the search window.
And they do all this by cataloguing all available content on the internet via a process known as “crawling and indexing,” and ranking it by how well it matches the query.
So how can you make sure that your content ranks high among its competitors?
SEO vs. Paid Advertising
While paid advertising is a tempting way to generate traffic to your website, the majority of online traffic is still overwhelmingly powered by search engines. This is because organic search results appear more credible to savvy searchers – who often naturally disregard sponsored content even if it may actually be high-quality.
That’s right – it turns out that we value effort over money after all, and we instinctively favour content that worked its way up to the top on its own merit. Most of us now overt our eyes away from an ad without even considering what it’s about. This is transforming the way which we consume content, and means that brands and organisations can no longer simply throw money at their content for it to get noticed.
Another perk of great SEO over paid advertisements is that it can continue to pay off long-term. If you provide a solid piece of content that ranks high for the relevant keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, as users will continually stumble across your site when they search for these terms.
Paid advertising, on the other hand, requires continuous funding to direct traffic to your site – and even then, it may still be invisible to many search engine users who have subconsciously trained themselves to keep on scrolling.
SEO: Where to begin?
Okay, this whole SEO thing all sounds great. But how can you actually channel this technology into your content right now? How can you effectively tailor your writing to make search engines favour it and your engagement take off?
Well, you can start by identifying your keywords and making the most of them. For instance, the keyword of the very blog post you’re reading is simply “SEO” (though you can use 2-3 words if the core of your content is more specific) – and the chances are, unless you followed a link to get here, that you searched for this term, or were following it as a tag.
So the keywords which you choose not only need to be listed as tags in order to better identify your content and deliver it to suitable searchers (as long as a few other related terms), but you also need to infiltrate them into the body of your text. Just look at the subheadings used in this text: most of them start with or at least contain “SEO.” The headings and subheadings are prioritised by search engines as they scour the internet for good matches. So structuring your text with a clear heading and regular subheadings not only improves the readability, but also makes the article more likely to be found in the first place.
Finally, Content Management Systems such as WordPress give you the option to add a snippet to your text, which can further improve your SEO. This text should be short enough for it to appear in its entirety when your page is listed on a search engine page or linked on social media, but enough to summarise what your content is about. Be sure to use your keyword(s) – preferably right at the start of your sentence – as this will further help search engines to rank your content.
SEO: The bottom line
In short, optimizing your content will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help to make sure that the best content (yours, of course) rises to the top and gets the attention you know it deserves. This means making the most of keywords, headings, sub-headings, tags, and snippets.
Publishing your content online can sometimes feel like shouting into the abyss – but with a little effort, you can make sure that someone out there is listening!
Want a helping hand getting your presence noticed online? Get in touch for advocacy writing services or communications consulting!