Great content is the backbone of strong search engine optimization (SEO). Content is what makes your website crawlable and indexable by search engines. It’s what draws visitors to your website and SEO profiles and keeps them hanging around, engaged.

But there’s an art to writing great web content. You can’t just pound something out and expect it to rake in the views. Follow these guidelines to make every piece of content on your website great.

Give Each Piece of Content a Purpose

When you sit down to write something, you should first determine why you’re writing what you’re writing. What’s the piece’s purpose? Is it to entertain, persuade, inform? Do you want the reader to take some kind of action, like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase? Do you want to establish yourself as an authority in your industry? You’re going to need to clarify what your goal is in writing each specific piece of content so that you can craft it with its purpose in mind.

Know Your Audience

When you understand who your audience is and what they want, you’re in a better position to create content that connects with them. There are many software tools on the market that can help you find your target audience and understand them better. Pay attention to the age and gender of your audience, as well as their socioeconomic level and buying behavior.

Write Strong Headings

Strong headings make it easy to insert SEO keywords into your content and they make the content more skimmable, so that busy online readers can still get the basic gist without reading the whole thing.

Headers should be short and to the point, and they should be easy to understand without context. Avoid using technical terms, jargon, or abbreviations in your headings. Do use SEO keywords in your headings.

Use Clear, Informal Language

You’ll be more successful with your content goals if you address your reader as you would a dear friend. Use the active voice when writing and address the reader in the second person as “you”. You can also refer to your company in the first person as “we” or to yourself as “I”.

Include Well-Formatted Links

Links should not be sprinkled haphazardly through content, but should be placed with care and purpose. You should link to any relevant information that you mention in your content. If you discuss one of your employees or colleagues, for example, you should link to their bio on the company website. Make sure your links are contextual, appearing naturally in the content, and use part of the sentence or a keyword phrase as a link rather than a generic “click here”.

Grab Your Reader from the Beginning

Every piece of good writing starts with a hook, or an opening statement that grabs the reader’s interest and compels them to read further. Try making a bold statement immediately to grab attention. Start your content with a question or include a statistic in the opening statement. Open with a bit of dialogue or by setting a scene. You can even open your content with an anecdote about your life or business.

Optimize Your Content for SEO

While you are creating your content, you should also be optimizing it for SEO. Know what SEO keywords you want to target in your content – you can use a good Phoenix SEO company to help you generate keywords and even assist with the writing of SEO-friendly content.

You will need to include appropriate keywords in your content, but not so many that it turns into keyword stuffing. Use your primary keyword in meta tags and in your URL. Use alt text to describe images and make your site more accessible to the disabled. And, of course, add relevant internal links whenever possible.

Diversify Content Types

You don’t want to focus on just written content if you want to attract more search traffic. Pay attention to the kinds of content your competitors are putting out – what types of content consistently make it to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs)? You should focus on creating video and graphic content as well as written content.

Writing great web content is just as complex as writing poetry, short stories, news articles, or any other type of writing. But when you take the time to do it right, you’ll benefit by attracting much more search traffic – and keeping those users engaged with your site longer, too. Learn to write great web content – and grow your brand in the process.