Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content writingis all about producing the kind of content for your website or blog that will get you sky-rocketing to the top of the search engines. A primary objective of most internet marketers is to get onto Page 1 of Google’s search results – preferably in the number one slot!
Back in the day, I’m told you could get away with re-using or slightly modifying existing content for your website, throwing in a load of keywords and you were home and dry – easy peasy! Well, whether you think they were the good old days or the bad old days, those outdated solutions just don’t work any more. The times they are a-changing – and if you want to succeed at this game you’d better keep up!
The rules of engagement have changed and nowadays the success of your SEO increasingly lies in your ability to WRITE WELLand produce great content for your site.
How to Write Content Google Will LOVE!
1. Make Your Content Genuinely Interesting and Engaging
Whatever you write, when you publish content on the web it has the potential to reach a large audience. Bear in mind that genuinely interesting, well written content is more likely to be linked to and shared by your visitors. This will help to spread the word about your business, enhance your reputation and increase your ‘PageRank’ (Google’s estimation of your site’s importance).
Write content people that will make people want to hang around!If your content isn’t attractive and engaging – for example, if people arrive on your site to find a confusing array of adverts – they’re more likely to beat a hasty retreat. Apart from the actual loss of visitors, this has implications for your search engine rankings. Google monitors the amount of time people spend on your site and if your ‘bounce’ rate is high (in other words, if lots of people visiting your site leave within a few seconds) this will earn you some black marks and damage your PageRank. If your content pleases your visitors it’s more likely to please Google too!
2. Write Killer Headlines
It’s really worth spending time and effort crafting the titles of your articles, pages and posts. The headline is the first thing your visitors will see – it’s your best chance to grab their attention and persuade them to hang around. Your headline should be really compelling and make it clear what your article is about. It’s also a good idea to work in a popular keyword if possible, because this makes it more likely the article will be found by the search engines.
3. Stay On Topic!
Don’t allow yourself to go drifting off at tangents that may be unrelated to the subject of your article – no matter how tempting this may be! It’s only going to annoy and alienate your readers. Remember that you’re writing for your business – this isn’t just a personal blog or letter and it’s important to stay focused. It’s fine to infuse your writing with your own personality, but make sure you stick to the topic your article’s supposed to be addressing.
4. Include Relevant Keywords – But Make It Natural!
You obviously need to include the keywords you’re aiming to rank for in the search engines, but make sure you do so naturally – DO NOT STUFF, CRAM or ‘STACK’ keywords!!
Filling your article with meaningless lists of keywords will NOT score you any points with the search engines – on the contrary, this is now seen as ‘over-optimization’ and can damage your search engine rankings. Keywords should be included naturally in your text so as to appear organic. Apart from upsetting Uncle Google, an article stuffed unnaturally with keywords will look unprofessional and is unlikely to engage and retain your visitors.
5. Add keywords to your bio
You should have an ‘About’ page on your website and there’s usually an option to add some biographical information when you submit an article to a directory or magazine. This is valuable on-line real estate and another great opportunity for you to optimize your content for the search engines, so it’s worth including a keyword or two. But again, make sure you do so in a way that they fit naturally into the content of your bio. Don’t just shoe-horn them in for the sake of it. Whatever you write, read it through when you’re done drafting it to check that it flows and sounds natural.
6. Write and Tag Your Content Hierarchically
Make sure you use the H1 tag for titles and the H2 tag for sub-headings (these can be found in the options in your WordPress visual editor), including relevant keywords where possible. Using appropriate tags shows the search engines that your site is professionally structured and can help to increase your rankings. It’s also a good idea to apply this general concept to the rest of your content by ensuring that you put the most important and compelling content towards the beginning of your article or post.
7. Use Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a brief summary of your article, up to 160 characters in length, that includes relevant keywords. This is a great way to get Google to recognise your content and increase your rankings. If you’re using WordPress for your site or blog, the simplest way to add meta descriptions is to use a plugin such as Yoast SEO, which generates a field for the description (including a character counter, which is very handy!)
8. Avoid Using Duplicate Content
One of the most important aspects of writing content for SEO, and one of the best ways to keep Google – and your visitors – happy, is to write unique, original content. The search engines are increasingly punishing sites using duplicate content that appears elsewhere on the web. You should make sure that your content is fresh and original, not just copied from someone else’s work. Using someone else’s content is intellectual property theft or ‘plagiarism’ – it’s illegal, unethical and, one way or another, you’re likely to be punished for it. Google will quickly discover if you’re publishing duplicate content on your site and reduce your rankings accordingly – so just don’t do it!
It’s also important to avoid creating duplicate content within your own site – Google doesn’t like this, either, and it can damage your search engine rankings. There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid falling into this trap:
- Never assign a post to more than ONE category on your site
- Do NOT use Tags or Archives
- Set tags and tag archives to ‘no index’ for the search engines- it’s easiest to do this using the simple settings in a plugin such as All in One SEO. This is a way of telling the search engines not to index your tags and archives, so reducing the risk that they’ll pick them up as duplicate content.
- If you’re using ‘excerpts’ on your site, don’t use the automatically generated version that just reproduces the first few lines of your post. It’s better to craft your own excerpt manually, so that this content is slightly different from the main article.
9. Include Relevant, Eye-Catching Images and Videos
Great imagescan really help to make your site more attractive and appealing to visitors. You should try to choose striking, eye-catching images that relate to your content. There are plenty of online sources of free images, which can be used without infringing copyright – one of the best known is Creative Commons (but do be aware that you usually need to include an attribution to credit the creator of the image).
Remember to add an ‘alt‘ tag to your images –this is very easy to do. If you’re using WordPress you just need to add this into the alt tag field when you’re uploading an image to your page or post. If it’s appropriate to do so, include a relevant keyword in the alt tag (but only if it makes sense – don’t forget, no keyword stuffing!)
Including relevant, interesting videosin your content is another simple tactic to improve your SEO. People LOVE videos, so it’s a great way to engage your visitors. It can also increase the amount of time people spend on your site and this will help to improve your search engine rankings. Check out YouTube – there are plenty of videos on just about any topic under the sun – or, better still, how about creating your own?
10. Keep Up With Pandas and Penguins!
If you want to make sure your SEO content writing makes the grade, it’s crucial that you keep up to date – youMUST stay abreast of the latest search engine requirements. You will no doubt have heard about the latest Google ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ updates. These are changes to the algorithm that Google uses to rank websites.
Google’s criteria increasingly rewards sites that provide really high quality, original content. People who try to manipulate their sites unnaturally to get to the top of the search engines, for example by over-optimization and keyword stuffing, are no longer doing so well. I’ve heard tales of many people whose websites have nose dived from page one of Google into oblivion because of these changes.
It’s worth keeping your eye on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – these are probably your most reliableguide to successful SEO content writing. Following these guidelines will help the search engines find, rank and index your site.
Google and the other search engines want people surfing the web actually to FIND what they are looking for – they want people to have a more satisfying experience, so they’re rewarding sites that provide value and relevance for their visitors.
Personally, I think this makes writing content for SEO much more enjoyable – it allows you to focus on producing content that your visitors will love, and surely that’s what it’s all about!