Anyone who wishes to be found in the Internet by their target audience, Search Engine Optimization, or commonly termed as SEO, should always be on top of their minds. While doing SEO for certain types of websites may prove to be easier than others, the basic considerations tend to be the same in general.
The content spread throughout any website will play the major role for most, if not all, SEO checklists. This in itself poses a rather huge challenge. This means that if you keep only the major SEO aspects in mind, your content will suffer.
After all, it’s human beings who will be reading through your content. However, it will be the search engine bots who, i.e. from Google, will rank your site after evaluating the content based on very different metrics. Therefore, you must become a grand expert on content creation keeping both the human aspects and the search engine bots in balance.
The general rule of thumb is to have the keyword(s) inserted into the page tags as well as peppering the body text with them. Not long ago, the tags and the body text could be littered to the point of almost gibberish with the keywords. However, Google has greatly changed the way it evaluates content as to where it will determine whether a human being is able to read the content in any normal fashion.
So, the art of writing content now plays a very strong role in all SEO evaluations. Simply put, inserting keywords must make sense and be relevant to the content being written.
Hence, true success is only achieved when the art of SEO & the art of content writing is in perfect harmony where search engine ranking and user experience works seamlessly.
Is such a writing skill easily achieved? Absolutely no.
Most of us have been trained in either one, traditional creative writing discipline or the comparatively newer digital discipline. Rarely can we see both present within the same type or range of content.
Now a days, no matter your writing style, SEO is a ‘must’ consideration for all pages and posts. Keywords must be inserted properly throughout the site in order to achieve maximum ranking. Of course, you will need to have quality content to work with to begin with.
Make no mistake that readers will be able to see through any poorly written content straight away. Only content with authority and absolute clarity can boast a solid readership base over time. Hence, SEO elements must work in harmony and not disturb the original writing style and intention of the content.
For such harmony to happen, I allow myself time. I tend to simply write out everything that’s rattling around in my head on the subject. I don’t even worry about the grammar. Just simply freehand writing flowing from my thoughts.
Editing happens later on and in stages. Running through once over is simply not good enough. Consider your keywords, audience, subject matter, key benefits, solutions offered, etc. during the entire editing process. I usually allow myself a couple of days for several revisions until I am satisfied.
I am a bit of an old school writer and will always tend to write as such. However, I have struggled and learned to be better through following some best practices I have read about over time. Let me attempt to offer you some of those best practices tips as below.
1. A Catchy Headline
I have already touched on how to write catchy headlines in a previous post. Here I just wanted to reiterate that the keyword must be present in the headline. Often enough the headline carries as much weight as the words that follow.
Also my workflow is to develop my headline AFTER the entire article is finished, including the editing process. This provides me with a better understanding of the entire content and finalize on a more fitting headline with the SEO keywords in place.
2. Keyword Research or SEO
Have a standard workflow of how you do your keyword research. Do the keyword research well beforehand and plan your content accordingly. Also have a process flow on checking back on the specific keyword later in time, in case another variation would become a better fit.
3. Using Bullet Points
Did you know that Google pays very keen attention to Bold letterings, Bullet Points and Block Quotes for SEO? Well, it does. Perhaps not a sure fire thing, but will certainly help your SEO for the page or post.
4. Keywords in Meta Description
This fact is not really for SEO purposes as Google claims to not use meta descriptions for ranking purposes. Rather, in the search results, your meta description will have your keywords appear as bold. This should catch the reader’s attention better and improve the chances of engagement.
5. Keyword Priority
Know where the keywords matter most. Usually, the logical priority sequence is:
- Title tag
- This is very important and try to place the keyword early in the sentence
- Internal links within the content
- Alt attribute of the images
- Headline tags
- Meta description
6. Write something daily
It’s a fact that writing is like developing a muscle. The more you do it, the more conditioned you become. Work with a daily schedule so that you have a dedicated time slot for writing. Not necessarily you will need to publish every piece of writing. But write anyway.
Turn off all distractions, including your Wi-Fi during your writing times. Even researching during your writing times is considered a major distraction. Organize all your research work before you start to write.
Also such regular practice will decrease mistakes with grammar and spellings and make the editing phase a lot less stressful.
7. Peak Performance
I always prefer to write during the early morning hours. I feel my energy flows at peak levels during those hours. Of course the 2 cups of coffee might have something to do with that also.
8. Focus on your topic
Needless to say that you will do best if you write on topics you resonate well with. Don’t worry of the commercial success and focus on just churning out quality content on your chosen topics.
9. Ask a lot of questions
Join active forums on the topic(s) you are writing on. Ask questions and let others answer them. Such type of proactive engagement will foster better thinking as well as provide indications on interest levels on the topic. Engage in detailed conversations in case the interest levels seem high.
You can then build your content around the questions. Answering even one question can become a full length post. It also may be a good idea to merge a few questions into the same post, depending on the situation at hand.
10. Always research beforehand
The readers are very unforgiving towards false or mis-represented facts. Doing proper research will severely impact your credibility overall. Studying your direct competitors can also be a good way to find out what works and what doesn’t.
I spend a good deal of time with research, usually during any down times I may get during the day. I always carry a notebook and pen with me to jot down any quick thoughts I may have throughout such times. If the pen and paper isn’t your thing, you could do the same with a tablet or perhaps even a voice recorder.
11. Know your audience
Your content should always be written with your audience in mind. Always try to write with a similar tone so that your content becomes truly unique to your audience and eventually encourage them to share the content.
12. Tell the whole story
Don’t just rush to finish a story. Allow for your audience to feel their way around your entire content. The beginning should be just as important to them as the end. Appeal to all their senses where you can. Lead them on to what and how they should feel and possibly even react to any particular situation.
The average length for an effective post should be around 2000 words. This fact gives you a lot of room to work with to tell the depth of the story. Longer posts are perfectly fine, but only IF they are filled with appealing content rather than wasteful fluff.
13. Organize the 5Ws
Your content should always address the classic 5Ws – What, Where, When, Who & Why. Of course the most key element follows with the How. I often like to put a teaser for the How in my headlines or titles. All the 5Ws should always be addressed elaborately in organized paragraphs. This way, it’s also easier to insert your keywords well in to the content for the perfect SEO.
14. Start with the end in mind
This is an old cliché but it really works. If it helps you to visualize this better, write out the topic first on a piece of paper. Then on the next line, write out the objective you wish to achieve ultimately. This way you can always refer back to this often and not meander off into tangents.
Once finished, you should actually audit your content versus the objective before publishing
15. The 10 second rule
When editing, keep in mind that it’s a proven fact that you will have around 10 seconds max to engage your reader to the content. Hence, you will need to edit in such a way to achieve any engagement very early on. This may lead to re-writing some of the content, which is just fine. Allow yourself the time to do this.
16. Select your words wisely
Always use strong and suggestive words to begin as well as ending the sentences. Avoid any passive words to start any sentence. Similarly, the paragraphs should also be structured in a way that it will always start with a strong sentence and should end similarly as well.
Remember that you will need to lead the reader to where they need to go. Hence, every word matters.
17. Less is more
This tip is of paramount importance. In fact, obsess over this fact.
You really don’t want to dilute the strong words and sentences with endless ramblings which bears no impact on your ultimate objective. Even if you feel that more needs to be said, find ways to tell the same thing with more impact while using less words.
Simplicity should be your best friend, always.
18. Mix it up
If you haven’t seen it in my writing yet, I try to use medium length sentences which may often be followed by shorter sentences. This helps to create a tempo. And always avoid long sentences. Always a good idea to break up long sentences into a medium length and short sentence for maximum effect.
19. Shorter Paragraphs
Similar to the sentence length, try to work with shorter paragraphs as well. This always fosters better readability. Shorter paragraphs will also allow you to ‘lead’ the reader to any specific objective such as ‘lead capture’.
20. Work with deadlines
I don’t mean that you should restrict your creativity or research for your content. However, setting practical deadlines will actually get you to work more efficiently. Your post schedules should always have a regular interval. This will also condition your readership base to expect fresh content from you at timely interludes.
Bottom line is that without quality content, all your SEO activities will be wasted. As I had mentioned earlier, we should attempt to reach the perfect harmony of quality content strategically peppered with your keyword(s). Keyword placement should never disturb the quality and natural tempo of the content what so ever. Keywords should always appear as a natural part of the content to the reader.
Keep in mind that your end goal is to transition your readers > prospects > customers.
For maximum effect, you will need to master the SEO techniques to be combined with quality content writing which truly appeals to the target audience. If you can achieve this, your intended success will only build over time in many folds.
I further recommend a very good book for you to read on SEO available at Amazon.com by clicking here.
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