Every year presents new challenges and new opportunities for content creators on the Internet. Quality writing is quality writing, but you want to make sure to use all of the available tools to increase audience engagement and encourage your users to continue to use your product or services. With the advent of Google’s new BERT algorithm in late 2019, content writers have a better ability to connect with audiences by crafting copy that draws readers in and is more intuitive.
Read on for tips on how to make 2020 your best year yet for creating quality web content.
1. Familiarize Yourself With BERT
Google calls its BERT update the most significant update to its search engine algorithms that it has performed in the last five years. The acronym stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, which refers to its increased ability to parse natural language used by searchers. In other words, BERT uses Deep Learning techniques to understand how the words surrounding keywords in a query give meaning to the keywords.
Often, native speakers use words that have wildly different meanings depending on the context in which they are uttered or written. For example, “underground” can refer to subterranean areas as well as lesser-known music culture. “Signature” can mean the writing of a person’s name, but it also can refer to a trademark item or creation. BERT is able to parse these terms within their contexts, increasing the accuracy and relevancy of Google’s search engine and allowing users to type queries that are more in-line with how they naturally speak.
What does this mean for creating content? While the BERT update is wildly innovative, it will only be used on 10% of searches due to the strain it puts on Google’s servers. Even when it is used, the algorithm applies to the queries themselves and not to the webpage content you write. It may seem like a pointless update to follow for that reason, but the reality could not be more starkly different from that assessment.
BERT’s ability to parse user searches means that you should feel free to write in more natural language patterns rather than stifling “SEO-speak.” Whatever niche your company falls into, write topics that apply to that environment and focus on answering meaningful questions or interests users may have. BERT will help get those users to your content more efficiently. Once they are on your page, the job of getting them engaged is up to you and your copy.
2. Spend Time on Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are succinct snippets that tell your readers (and, importantly, search engines) what to expect on your webpage. The best meta descriptions are alluring and informative but do not give away the “punchline” of your content. When crafting a meta description, the idea is to provide a short, intriguing glimpse into the content of your webpage that draws the reader in and increases click-through rates.
In roughly 150 characters, your meta description should tell readers what your content is about without answering the central question. For example, let’s say you are working on a FAQ page for your law firm that answers the question “Can I get compensation for my medical expenses after a car wreck.” Your meta description should not say “you can receive compensation for medical expenses after a car wreck,” because this is bland and answers the question with no hint of additional information. The reader is not drawn in and is less likely to click through to your page.
Instead, create an engaging meta description that shows the reader that their question will be answered on your page. Try something like this: “Injured in a car wreck? Have mounting medical debt? Read this article to learn about how compensation works in car accident claims.” This kind of meta description connects with the reader on the questions they may be facing and does not give away the answer, enticing the reader to click through.
3. Intermingle Passive and Active CTAs
If you create content online, you are inevitably familiar with the term “call-to-action.” CTAs are phrases, sentences, or links that direct users to the product or services that you sell. They are directives that often represent the purpose of the webpage. In the above example of a car accident attorney, a CTA can be a sentence that urges injured people to contact the law firm for a consultation. They are vitally important to your webpage and should be handled with care.
However, this is the Internet era and many of us grew up with constant advertising. A high percentage of your audience will raise their hackles at what they view to be hacky or pushy marketing strategies. You do not want to drive away potential clients or customers by being too aggressive, but you also need to make sure that you provide opportunities for them to engage with your services or products.
The solution is to use both active and passive CTAs. Consider placing relevant, hyperlinked images on your post. Readers may see the image, become intrigued, and click through to the order form or appointment scheduling page for your product. Hyperlink keywords early on in the piece for the same reason. These strategies do not directly call upon the reader to act, but they facilitate the reader’s own desire for the services or products you are selling. An added effect is that your more active CTAs toward the end of a post can be more effective.
Another way to create a CTA is through video. If you aren’t using video on your webpage, you’re missing out. Data shows that web pages with videos can result in a 157% increase in a website’s engagement rate from search engines. That is more than one and a half times as much traffic to your page. Once they are on your page, a short video (usually less than two minutes) can be used to break up text, create more pleasing visuals, and spur the user into the desired action.
Dedicate 2020 to Quality Content
Don’t end up looking back at 2020 with proverbial hindsight! Instead, use these tips to ensure that the content you create for your webpage or blog is high-quality and draws in ever-increasing numbers of users for you and your business.