Once you’ve decided which pages you need for your website, it’s time to think about the content that will be on each page. Your content is, first and foremost, there to help, inform and answer the search intent of visitors. As long as you think about your users’ enjoyment when creating content, Google is likely to show you some love in return. Quality content that is relevant to your audience is the single most important element on your page. Your content should answer your audience’s questions, provide a solution to their problems, or give them the information they need.
The more appealing the page is to your users, the more appealing it is to search engines too. Think about how your audience browses content online. They want to be able to easily read and understand your content. Page structure helps make your content digestible and easy to scan through. Clear titles, headings and paragraphs all help users immediately grasp the main ideas of a page.
Structure Tells Google What Your Page Is About
If you want pages on your website to show up in search results for your target keywords, search engines need to understand what they’re about. How do they do that? Search engines crawl your pages to get an idea of their content. Structuring your content in a way that makes it easier for search engines to read gives you a greater chance of grabbing that first spot on Google.
Just like users, search engines use your page structure to understand what it’s about. They look for visual cues such as titles and subtitles to decide if your page answers your users’ search intent and should, therefore, appear in search results. Search engines tend to understand how a page is structured just by reading through it but a little help never hurts.
If you want Google to correctly understand what your page is about, the first step is to make your title and headers stand out. This could mean choosing a bigger font size. Similarly, adding an html markup adds a layer of certainty. In the same way you use headings and subheadings to segment your content, your header tags (h1, h2, h3 and so on) are HTML elements that inform search engines about the main and sub-topics of your page. Think of H tags as a hierarchy, where you wrap the most important title in a H1 and work your way down the page.
Readability Is a Ranking Factor
Content readability is the level of ease at which a reader can understand written text. What does that have to do with SEO? Well, Google’s ranking algorithm is based on human behavior and uses information from visitors to rank your site. Simply put, search engines reward pages that provide readable content. Search engines want people to find what they are looking for and readable content helps searchers easily find the specific information they are interested in.
Search engines are there to help us find answers to our questions.If they send us to pages that are hard to read, it will be hard to find the answer. If the answer is there and we can’t fit, we will leave the site unsatisfied. Search engines take these user signals into account to determine how users experience your site and whether or not your page should be rewarded (in this case, not). By improving your page readability with good structure, you improve your users’ on-page behavior and ultimately your position on the SERP.
How to Structure Your Page for SEO
Page structure is important for usability by readers as well as findability by Google. Here’s how to create a perfectly optimized page that will make both your users and search engines happy.
Structuring Your Page for Your Users
Before creating any page, think about how its content will be structured. A clear and logical formatting will help your readers understand your page better and allow your message to come across more easily.
To structure your page for your users, think about how people enjoy reading a text and consuming content. More specifically, look out for:
- Font size & color
- Bullet points, lists & tables
- Text length
- Internal linking
Think About Your Headline
First impressions count. Make sure your headline speaks to your target audience and clearly formulates what your content is about. Stand out from the crowd and make your title remarkable.
Divide Your Articles Into Paragraphs
Your pages need to be scanned quickly by whoever lands on them. Rather than having one big block of text, think about how to make your content easy to digest and easy on the eyes. Break your articles into short paragraphs. There can never be too much white space so don’t shy away from that enter key either.
Work on Your Headings
If you’ve decided to write content on a specific topic, chances are you have a lot to say about it and are probably mentioning different ideas. Headings will make it easier for a reader to scan through a text and immediately grasp its main ideas.
Your headings should:
- Explain the topic of the section below it.
- Be visually appealing (bold, underlined, etc.).
- Contain your keywords.
Pay Attention to Font Size & Color
Let’s talk typography for a minute. In the SEO world, good content means good ranking. But no matter the quality of your content, what you write is equally as important as how you write it. That means it’s essential to focus on how your content looks visually.
To make the reading experience enjoyable for your visitors:
- Pick a font that is easy to read.
- Choose a font size that is neither too small nor too big – but make the title and headers bigger as they need to stand out.
- Use some color to enhance different important elements.
Use Bullet Points, Lists & Tables
For readability purposes, Google also loves when information is presented in an orderly manner. One way to do so is through bullet points. Next time you’re writing content, ask yourself if it is possible to organize it in numbered lists or tables.
Be Mindful of Text Length
There’s an SEO saying that goes “length is strength”. Research shows that longer articles tend to rank higher than their shorter counterparts. Why? Because search engines value quality content that dives deep into a topic; as opposed to thin content. However, short is better than fluff so always keep it relevant. In other words, don’t just add sentences to bump the word count.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Choose topics that allow for a variety of angles.
- Write comprehensive, well-researched guides or educational content.
- Above all, create content that addresses your user’s intent and answers their questions.
Add Imagery To Your Text
Images and videos can go a long way in terms of improving your written content’s appeal. They can make your texts more interesting, explain complicated concepts or simply break down your articles into smaller chunks. Adding visual media such as images, pictures, videos and gifs tend to reduce bounce rate and increase time on site.
That said, heavy multimedia files can slow down page speed which is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Not to mention the fact that impatient users are likely to exit your page before it’s had time to load if it takes too long. Who wants to sit around waiting for a website to load, right? To avoid losing any precious visitors, make sure your media files are resized and compressed to download as fast as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to add alt text to your visuals. Alt text is text that describes the contents of an image. Having optimized alt text for every image helps you rank in Google image search and contributes to the overall content of the page. Use your keywords to craft descriptive alt texts. No need for lengthy descriptions though, keep it short and sweet.
Entice Visitors with CTAs
Another way to structure your page is through the use of cleverly placed calls-to-action. A CTA is a link or button that drives web visitors to take action, whether that’s signing up, downloading, clicking, buying. Focus on users to take one specific action and place your CTA as early on as possible on the page to give them an opportunity to convert straight away.
Include Internal Links
Links are an important aspect of page structure. Internal links are links on a page that direct to another page of your website. Google uses the context of a link to understand the content of the page it is linking to. As a rule of thumb, your website should be structured in a way that every page has at least one link to and from it. The number of internal links pointing to a page are used to determine how important a page is. The more important a page, the more links it should have pointing to it.
Beyond Content: Optimizing Search Results Appearance
Just like your page content, you can optimize the way your page appears in search when it ranks. The two elements that you should pay attention to are title tags and meta descriptions.
A title tag is metadata that’s visible in browser’s tab and is used by Google to create the preview snippet of your site
How to get your title tag right
- Use a unique title that accurately describes each page.
- Include your most important keyword once.
- Keep your keyword close to the beginning of your title tag – it will have more weight in search engines.
- While there is no maximum number of characters, common best practice is to keep it under 60 characters to avoid Google cutting off your full title.
Whenever a web page is featured on the SERP, there’s some text underneath the link and summarizes the content on the page. That’s the meta description. A well written meta description can be the difference between getting the click or not so it’s critical to get it right.
How to Write A Great Meta Description:
- Stick to 160 characters or less.
- Make it compelling and unique – it is an invitation to your page.
- Use some of your most important keywords, preferably at the beginning.
- Add a call to action prompting users to click.
Whatever you do, always put yourself in the user’s shoes and ask yourself if the description would make you want to click. If you forget to add a meta description and a title tag, they will still appear on the SERP because Google will fill in the blanks by summarizing the page. However, that’s an optimization opportunity you would be missing out on.
While great content is key, on-page optimization tactics ultimately give your rankings a boost. With this in mind, follow these elements of page formatting to optimize your webpage content for search engines and users alike.