Writing for SEO While Keeping Content King
My style of writing for SEO (search engine optimization) has evolved because the SEO guidelines are ever evolving. The question of whether or not adding specific SEO elements have had or will have an effect on your article’s visibility to the search engines requires careful monitoring and tracking.
However, keeping current with SEO trends and developing your own set of article writing standards can make your writing process easier and allow you to provide quality content at the same time.
Even though a lot of the techniques in this article are going to relate to how to incorporate SEO techniques into your articles, it is VERY important to realize and understand that it is your content that should hold the highest priority. Your content must be King!
Some experts will go so far to tell you to not write for search engines and that if you are writing for SEO, you are doing wrong. I disagree. I will concede that if ALL you are writing for is a high search engine rank, you are, in my opinion, doing it wrong.
Not only do you need to include great copy, you need to include and arrange your article in a way that keep both your readers and the search engines interested. So, start with the great copy and incorporate the SEO guidelines into your quality content.
I admit that I do attempt to include certain SEO elements in the articles that I write, but only AFTER I have written my content. While every article should contain SEO elements, caution should also be taken to prevent over-optimization.
Basic Writing for SEO Guidelines
Target an SEO Keyword Phrase for your Article
Most people are going to include articles on the websites and blogs that pertain to a particular niche. And most people will have done at least some research for finding their keyword phrases to target for their overall site. When writing your articles, look for the common topic within any particular article that relates to your primary set of keyword phrases. Then target the related phrase within the article for SEO.
Optimize Your Title
An optimized title should be no more than 65 characters in length and when possible should begin with your keyword phrase. But if we all titled out articles this way then no title would stand out and articles would have pretty boring headline titles. This is where optimizing your title by adding a title specifically for SEO (with a simple SEO plugin) comes into play. Using this technique allows you to write a creative and catchy title for article and yet have an SEO friendly title visible to the search engines.
Optimize Your URL
Depending on your WordPress and/or internet experience you may or may not realize that you have the ability to change any URL of any post. Your URL should be optimized to contain something that is very search engine friendly. For example, if the main SEO keywords for the post are “writing for SEO,” then make that the URL (yourDomain.org/writing-for-seo). You can change the URL of a post by selecting the “edit” button located just below the primary title area in the line that reflects the “Permalink:”. Once you change a post URL be sure to save your draft or it may revert back to the old one when you publish. If this happens, simply change it again and re-publish to get it to hold.
Optimize Your Images
This is probably the one area that most people ignore and one of the easiest to make a habit of. Adding this one change to your standard operating procedure when writing can also have the greatest effect resulting in your posts flying by much of the competition. Hopefully your competition is not reading this (wink).
To optimize your images and when possible use your article’s keyword phrase in the title, the alt tag and the description. Keep in mind that the description should still be readable by human standards but incorporating your keyword phrase into a simple sentence.
Do Not Stuff
1.6 million WordPress Superheroes read and trust our blog. Join them and get daily posts delivered to your inbox - free!
One trap that many new bloggers and website writers can easily fall into as they are learning is called keyword stuffing. This is when authors incorporate too many or use their keyword phrases too often in any given post. The easiest way to stay out of the trap is to go back to the basics and remember that your article’s content is really for the humans first and then the machines.
Also worth noting is that with keyword phrases, singulars and plurals are considered the same thing and small words that don’t really change the meaning of a phrase can be ignored. For example, WordPress plugins = WordPress plugin = plugins for WordPress, etc.
Decorate Your Keyword Phrase
Some SEO experts emphasize keyword phrases with bold, italic or underline decoration. Even if this technique was not increasing visibility for the search engines, you may want to include it in your articles to draw the reader’s attention. When using this technique, you should apply at least one of the decoration styles to your keyword phrase within your article.
Use Your Keyword Phrase Within H Tags
Another tip to make writing easier that might also increase your SEO is using your keyword phrase in an H2 and an H3 tag within your articles. Adding the H2 and H3 is a great technique to use to break up your articles for your readers, so why not add a keyword phrase to them at the same time?
The First and Last Sentence
Here again, we have another technique that even if was not relevant to SEO might be a good technique to writing in general.
The technique of adding keyword phrases to links has recently become somewhat controversial since the release of the Google Penguin update. If every link to and from your site is using exactly the same keyword phrase, you may fall into the over-optimized category. Over-optimizing is harmful to your SEO.
I still believe that it is crucial to add at least one internal and external link to each article and when possible include your keyword phrases within them. Why? Mostly because I want to help to keep my readers informed and lead them to additional material that is relevant. Keeping it relevant is the key here.
Additional Writing for SEO Guidelines
- Title contains at least 3 words
- Description meta tag begins with keyword
- Description meta tag contains up to 160 characters
- Keywords meta tag contains keyword
- Content contains at least _____ words (varies)
- Content has _____ % keyword density (varies)
- Content contains at least one optimized image
Other SEO Guidelines Articles on WPMU
The SEO experts are always going to add remove and evolve their SEO guidelines because the search engine masters are also changing and refining their criteria in an attempt to provide the best result return for their users. We need to realize that what worked yesterday may not work today and keep our focus on providing quality content. If you can incorporate the ever-changing SEO guidelines into your writing techniques as you are writing for SEO you will still be able to deliver an article containing quality content.