You’ve heard the expression ‘content is king’ – it just so happens to be truer than ever. Looking ahead to 2016, content-driven marketing will be more important than ever in a marketplace driven by mobile advertising and customer-focused brands.

A well-executed content marketing strategy is essential for customer engagement, promoting your business and making the most of your digital platform.

Content marketing is the practice of creating high-value informational copy for the web, with the intention of attracting specific viewers in order to increase brand awareness, associate a business with a certain market, or to keep customers coming back each time content is added.

Content can provide an extra dimension to what your business provides – adding a helpful or humorous dimension to your services and giving a ‘voice’ to your presence on the web. You can take hold of an online grammar checker tool like Grammarly to improve the quality of your content.

Good SEO is Vital

Content marketing is popular and effective, and good content marketers know that Google is one of the most important factors affecting whether your content succeeds or fails. As the most-used search engine on the planet, the algorithms Google uses to rank search results are key to getting your message heard.

Google updates help bring users the most relevant search results, but as more and more businesses get tech savvy and work out how to manipulate these algorithms, search results pages become flooded with ineffective, non-valuable content that turn away potential customers and might even damage your own rankings.

SEO can also be used in cases where businesses want to target a new type of market, or appeal to a certain demographic.

Simply by using keywords targeted at a different kind of customer (even ‘kid’ instead of ‘child’ can be effective) and rolling out the changes site-wide, it can make a massive difference to where you rank and who visits your site.

Tried-and-tested methods of optimisation always win against spammy competitors, which is why it is vital to ensure your content uses keywords to preserve good rankings in search results. Keyword-rich content is always good SEO practice, but many businesses get it wrong and waste a lot of hard work. Here we’ll show you how to use keywords effectively to get your content in front of the right audience.

Before we begin, it’s important to remember the difference between optimising your content for search engines and optimising your website. There are many other methods of SEO, and there are a lot which apply to website development rather than content writing.

Keyword-Rich Titles

When a customer uses Google to find a specific search term, like a new product, they are more likely to choose results that contain their choice of words. By putting these search terms in the title you’re not just telling the customer clearly what the post is about, but also letting the search engine know that your result is relevant and should rank highly. You should also use unique title tags with relevant keyword inserted every time you create new content for your audience.

Most content management systems will automatically use the title of your post in the URL, but allows you to edit this. Make sure enough keywords appear here. It is also wise not to exceed 60 characters in your page title, as this is the maximum length most search engines will display in results.

Keywords in the Page Title & First Paragraph

Search engines display the first couple of sentences of your content in results, so it is vital that these first words deliver on the promise of the title – especially if it is a product page.

In Google, search terms appear in bold in every result and the more bold words in your entry, the more likely it will rank highly and attract new customers.

Post Body Keywords

As you construct the body of your post, make sure to use your keywords sparingly in the main content. Search engines penalise content that uses keywords too often, as it has become relatively easy to automate fake content with a high density of chosen keywords.

The ideal post flows as if it was written naturally, with no intent other than to provide the reader with information, including keywords as they would naturally appear and staying on-topic. Ideally, each keyword would occur around 5 times in the text, with plurals and synonyms to diversify.

Use Formatting for Keywords

Search engines not only read your content, but how it’s styled, and certain styles can make a difference. HTML and CSS not only make your site look attractive: they can also affect your search engine rankings.

By using bolded text and a solid heading structure you can draw the reader’s attention to special prices, deals and related products, split your article into easily-digestible sections and alert the search engine that your content is optimised for readability. Beware – too much fancy formatting looks spammy, and will be marked down!

Insert Keywords in Alt Attributes and Filenames

For how smart Google is, it cannot tell a picture of a dog from a picture of a snooker ball. Use descriptive filenames and avoiding generic terms (e.g. “labrador.gif” instead of “picture1.gif”). Be sure to always enter descriptive and preferably closely-matching Alt attributes to assign as much description to the image as possible.

By giving the search engine extra information to work with, it can rank your content more effectively.

Keywords as Anchor Text

Choose carefully which phrases and words you use to turn into links. For example, if you link to another post or product page that has a descriptive URL, using keywords from that URL in the anchor text SEO is the clearest way of telling the search engine that you’re linking to content that’s relevant and valuable. When a customer views your content and sees that you’re also providing value outside of the particular post, this will cement in their minds that you are an authority on that subject.

SEO ‘tricks’ and ‘hacks’ are popular on the web, but there is no shortcut to success, only a golden rule: provide valuable content, and present it in a way that is clear for both customers and search engines to understand.