Writing search engine optimized (SEO) content can be tricky business. Your web copy must be written so that it is appealing and understandable to your website visitors, but it must also include keywords so search engines can find you (which in turn allow your visitors to find you).
SEO content writing requires some preparation before diving into your web content. Before beginning the writing or rewriting process, keyword research needs to be performed. Determining what words your customers and potential customers are entering into search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo is paramount in creating optimized content. You can spend hours creating keyword driven content but if no one is searching for your targeted keyword, no one will find you.
There are many keyword research tools available online, some are free and others charge a fee or monthly subscription. You will have to find the right keyword that fits your research style and budget, but here are some popular and useful keyword research tools:
Once you have a list of keywords you can begin writing search engine optimized content. In order to get search engines to recognize your webpages there are a few tricks of the trade to follow.
1. PICK A PRIMARY KEYWORD
Choose one keyword per webpage. Optimize all content on one page for one keyword. Variations of your chosen keyword can be used to add interest and variety and help you avoid keyword stuffing. For instance, if your keyword is “summer gardening”, variations could be “gardening in the summer” or “summer gardens”.
You may be thinking that if you have to assign one keyword to an individual page, you will have to create a lot of webpages in order fit in all your content and cover all of your necessary topics. Although this may be a lot of work, it will help you in the end because the more webpages you have the better, because it provides more opportunities for you to be found online.
2. KNOW WHERE TO PLACE KEYWORDS
Keywords belong in many places on a webpage, in your content and in the code of your site. Search engines crawl your webpages and look in certain areas on your website to determine what each page is about. However, all of the areas need to be consistent or the search engine won’t acknowledge your site.
For example, let’s consider a hypothetical situation where Microsoft® is using keywords such as Apple®, iPhone, iPad, Keynote and other Apple-specific keywords, within the code of their site to try and get web users searching for Apple products to find Microsoft instead. However, within their content Microsoft only showcased their own products and never mentioned anything Apple related. For a long time this abusive keyword strategy was working, but search engines caught on and have improved their methods. They can now recognize keyword and copy consistency, requiring SEO content writers to remain honest and use words relative to their content.
Within the Content Management System (CMS) there are a few locations where you can enter keywords.
Meta Description - Although search engines give this little or no attention, other sites that link to you (Facebook for example) may pull this text into their site.
Meta Keywords - This area will serve as a reminder for you, so you know which keywords are targeted on this page. It can help in future review of your content, too. But due to the repeated abuse by companies in the past, search engines no longer take this data into account.
Image File Names
Image Alt Text
*All CMS’s will appear differently, but these designated areas are generally referenced by the same name.
Within your content, the part any website visitor can see, you should include your targeted keyword in the:
Headline (Primary Header Tag or H1): Only include 1 per page.
Sub-headlines (Secondary Tags or H2-H6): Use these as often as make sense, but they must be in order.
Use your keyword often, but in-context. Obvious keyword-spamming will be penalized by search engines.
Use variations of your keyword in these areas to add variety to your copy.
Add bold formatting to slightly increase importance, but not excessively.
3. WRITE FOR HUMANS, NOT MACHINES
Your web content needs to be digestible by humans, your website visitors. Although it is important to have keyword-rich content, you should begin by writing your content for your audience. Follow this initial writing step with your optimization strategy – see where your keywords fit in, but allow your content to maintain a comfortable flow and be enjoyable and comprehensible by humans. Don’t give your visitors a reason to leave your website by making your content confusing or overwhelming; if visitors choose to leave your site, which they found through a search engine, because it wasn’t a pleasant experience, your SEO efforts will have been invalidated.
TIP OF THE SEO ICEBERG
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO. This is a science and an art that requires continual attention and an in-depth knowledge of how search engines operate. Other, more advanced techniques include inbound linking, domain authority and guest blogging, which we discuss in future blogs – so stay tuned!
Even with all of these tactics, your primary concern should be creating quality, easy-to-read content that people want. With the internet, we have everything at our fingertips and the ability to search for exactly what we want.