If your intended audience can’t find your content, it doesn’t matter how compelling it is. Search engines reward pages with the right combination of ranking factors and many of those ranking factors involve content.

Guidelines for search-engine friendly content

  • Use Keywords. Keywords are the terms your audience uses when searching. You need to know what these are BEFORE you start writing. You can determine the best keywords to use by consulting data about your users, evaluating Google site search analytics and using keyword research tools.

Google Analytics – Search Engine Optimization Queries (Organic Search): Will give you information about terms users are searching for outside of our website.

Google Analytics – Site Search Analytics: Will give you information about the terms users are searching for on our site.

  • Don’t Overdo It. Use keywords when appropriate and contextually relevant. It’s not necessary to load your page with the keyword. Pages chock full of keywords can actually be downgraded, as the search engines view this behavior as spam.
  • Titles and Headings. Search engines give more weight to the main title and headings of a page. Include your keyword in the title and one or two of the headings, preferably at the beginning.
  • Use Head and Tail Terms. Qualify your head terms with tail terms to capture a specific audience. Let’s use “cancer” as an example. The term “cancer” gets searched for many times per month. But people who search for “cancer” might be looking for treatments, symptoms, a specific kind of cancer, etc. If “cancer” is your head term, your tail terms might be: “cancer treatments,” “aplastic anemia,” “aplastic anemia cancer treatment in Seattle” or “aplastic anemia symptoms.” These longer terms are known as tail terms and are good at targeting specific users.
  • Meta Tags. Meta Title and Meta Description are designed to appear in a person’s search as the advertisement or listing for your page. Both should clearly explain what a user will find on the webpage and include keywords used on the page. Lead with keywords whenever possible.
  • Links. When linking to a page, always use the keyword as the anchor text for link (i.e., Learn about cancer treatment at Seattle Children’s vs. To learn about cancer treatment at Seattle Children’s, click here.) The words “click here” don’t give a search engine a clue about what content you’re linking to, and is perceived as less relevant.
  • Technical Terms. Depending on your audience, you may need to write using layman’s terms. In those cases, use parentheses or commas to include the technical term. For example: “Seattle Children’s is leading innovation in cancer treatment (such as immunotherapies) …” By getting the technical term on the page, you allow an opportunity to capture searches for both terms. See Make it Easy to Read.
  • Navigation. When possible, make the content navigable within several clicks from the home page. Search engines tend not to dive too deeply into a site. Buried content is viewed as less relevant than the pages you can get too more easily.

Additional Resources

The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors: An easy-to-read visual guide that demystifies SEO ranking factors.