How to perfect SEO writing in an effort to rank on page one in Google for your best articles and attract the most search engine traffic
In the days of old, magazine editors had one primary responsibility: writing great content. Getting people to subscribe to, buy and read that content was someone else’s job. In the online world, things are much different. If an editor wants their content to be found and read online, they must learn to partner with Google. They need to understand what people are searching for that is related to the content they offer, and must write and produce content specifically to those search terms. It’s not easy, but it is necessary for online success.
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But in order to get those capture rates, your articles should first be search optimized. You need to attract, in order to convert.
We’ve said plenty of times that before you even start writing, you should already know your keywords and have a Google Visibility Report handy. This is still true. And being a good writer, with something important to teach, is also of utmost importance. Because content doesn’t stay ranking highly in search engines, when it’s of meh quality.
Assuming you already have this research to work with, pick a keyword, any keyword. We like to go after ones with low competition (anything under 100,000 competing pages), the lower the better.
We also look at the Keyword Competitive Index (KCI) of each term. If it’s more than one, it means that there are more people looking for a keyword, than there are competing pages. The higher, the better.
So, you have your keyword terms. Now, use one. Use it as an indicator that there are X number of people searching for that term, and they’re counting on you to give them an answer to whatever they’re Googling. And not only an answer, but the best answer.
Any answer less than the best, will result in a click of the “back” button. And if they hit “back” too many times to find a different search result, Google will stop listing your article with any type of prominence. That’s bad SEO. Content is king … and queen, and prince and princess, and the little mouse in the wall of the castle. It’s everything.
Before you post next, make sure you’ve followed these rules for search engine optimizing an article:
SEO Writing Tip #1: Put primary keywords in the title.
If your keyword is “organic gardening”, then your article title should be something like “10 Organic Gardening Tips” or “How Organic Gardening Helped Me Lose 10 lbs.” If you only have time for one tip in this whole list, make it this one. Put your keyword in your title if you want to rank on it.
SEO Writing Tip #2: Don’t leave your meta title blank.
In your content managment system, there should be a field for a meta title. This is the title that everyone sees when they find you on a search engine results page. This is also the field that tells the search engine what your primary keywords are. Some WordPress plugins, like Yoast, will fill this in automatically. We recommend filling it in manually if it doesn’t, just so you know exactly what will show up in search results.
SEO Writing Tip #3: Put secondary keywords in the subhead.
As you know, Google doesn’t look only for exact phrase matches anymore, they want to see variations of the term. For example, if your keyword is “organic gardening,” you might use the exact term and also the reverse term “gardening organically” here, and within your body copy, if possible.
SEO Writing Tip #4: Use your subhead as your meta description.
If your subhead is optimized and around 150 characters, you can easily use it as your meta description. Since you’ve already optimized your subhead, this makes posting a meta description easy. You can make it longer, but in case it gets truncated, make sure your keywords are found at the beginning. Sometimes Google will go ahead and select their own descriptions to display in search results, but if you don’t fill this field out, you can guarantee they’ll figure it out on their own. And it’s not always pretty or accurate.
SEO Writing Tip #5: Include keywords in your URL.
Both dashes and underscores are acceptable to Google now, so use either, but make sure that you are using your keyword in your URL. This should be easy if you’ve already used it in your article title. If your keyword is organic gardening, your URL might be http://www.site.com/category/10-organic-gardening-tips
SEO Writing Tip #6: Optimize your tags and meta keywords.
If you’re using a keyword, make it a tag in your post. If they’re visible on your article, a user can click on the tag / keyword and see other articles written about the same topic. We find that these tag archive pages tend to rank highly, so we also try to write at least three articles for each so the tag pages are comprehensive.
SEO Writing Tip #7: Only use keywords 2% of the time.
SEOs get kerfuffled about keyword density, but we are still finding that any article with a keyword density of around 2% will rank highly, and stay ranked. Higher than 2% can get you in trouble, but lower than 1% and you might as well not bother. The quality of your content is always top priority, so optimizing naturally is easy if you don’t go around choosing wacky keywords that require semicolons and dashes to break them up, in order for them to make sense in a sentence.
SEO Writing Tip #8: Use titles or keywords in every hyperlink.
If you are linking to another article, try linking descriptive phrases, rather than words like “click here.” By linking more descriptive words and phrases, you are telling search engines that the link you are posting is related to the words you are linking. By saying “click here” you are telling search engines nothing about the link. By saying “this is what great gardening looks like” and linking to an article on gardening, you are telling search engines that your article has something to do with “great gardening”.
SEO Writing Tip: #9: Use your keywords in social media.
Everything you publish around the web, from the way you hyperlink to your post, to the words you use to describe your articles in social media, tell Google and other search engines what your article is about. More importantly, it tells them what other people think your article is about, because this is the only platform where someone other than you, can write about and link to your article.
So when you share your articles in social media, try to sneak in your keywords once in a while. No sense in doing it every time you promote, but no harm in adding them into the rotation of your 12x12x12 social media calendar.
This article was originally published in 2008 and is updated frequently.