Writing For SEO & The Web
You’d think writing is writing. It is, but it isn’t; let me explain.
If you write a lot, or have a lot of content on your site that you’re always updating in some fashion, you can pretty much get away with anything. Whether you should or not is subjective of course, but search engines like new.
They also like consistent, but not necessarily only the type of consistent you might be thinking about. They like seeing new content, and if you can give them something to keep their interest within certain time frames, they’ll treat you like a play cousin (I stole that from a guy on YouTube; he’ll never know lol).
They also like it when you write about things that help enhance what it is your site says it’s about. If you’re all over the place search engines get confused. Once again, if you write a lot it’s not going to hurt you as much; look at super huge sites like Huffington Post or the news sites as an example. If it’s you and me… well, if it’s you, since on one of my blogs I have more than 1,500 posts; they like that from me.
For most people though they’ll have a website with a few pages and maybe a couple of articles if they were ambitious at the time. My main two websites have blogs associated with them, which helps me rank better than they do. Still, there’s a different way of writing that not only helps search engines, but helps visitors who visit your site and thus helps your SEO activities. That’s because people like simple, which means they’ll come more often and stay longer, and search engines rank that pretty well.
I said all that to lead to some tips on how to write for SEO purposes to help your websites and possibly your blogs work better:
1. Try to keep paragraphs to 3 sentences or less.
Remember those novels we all read in school? Books did that because if you have too much spacing there’s way more pages to deal with, and more pages means higher costs; publishers hate higher costs.
In writing for the web, white space is encouraged. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have to write shorter articles, but it might mean you have to learn how to tighten up your concepts in shorter blocks.
Why? Because online it makes copy easier to read. I have to admit that, although there are many writers who will have one long line and consider that a paragraph; I hate that but for them it works. I’m doing it in this article but I’m not great at doing it all the time. However, I have learned to go back and take a quick look at what I write to see if my paragraphs look too long, and if so I’ll break them up in some fashion.
2. Keywords and keyword phrases need to be in the copy.
What is your site or article about? What 2 or 3 keyword phrases would you expect someone might find your article by if they went to a search engine.
I’m very good at doing this for websites but I’m not as good at it when I’m writing blog posts; once again, volume saves me. For you though, making sure that you have phrases you want to be found for in your copy is smart, because it helps people who might be looking for that exact phrase find you easier, though if there are lots of people who do what you do you might not benefit all that much.
3. Natural language is always best.
Google has gone through great pains to train their software to discern natural language from, well, SEO speak. This means that when you add your keywords or keyword phrases in, you have to make sure your sentence looks proper.
By the way, this is something Google used to help them find websites that were incorrectly benefiting from having so many guest posts written by others being spread all over the web. The same keyword phrases over and over, even on separate websites and in new articles, highlighted by links to anchor text all going back to them. It’s why those sites got penalized, yet those sites carrying those posts didn’t.
4. Anchor text links aren’t bad; it’s how you use it.
So many SEO writers got this one wrong when a particular Google update came through that the panic was enormous. Let’s see if I can help with it.
It wasn’t that anchor text is bad. As a matter of fact, it’s a great way to highlight your keyword terms and phrases, and if there’s a link it’s still better.
The problem is in how it was used. Let’s say you’re writing about “credit cards”. If you have that phrase in your article 10 times and you use an anchor link 10 times and every link goes back to the same website and the same page… that’s bad. It’s overkill; no one needs anything like that, and to search engines, it looks like you’re trying to game the system.
Notice how the large sites do it? Let’s look at a news site. They’ll have the same keywords in an article over and over. What they do is key on their phrase only a couple of times, but they’ll send you to different pages within their own site. They may find other keyword phrases within an article to send you to other pages as well. The thing is they never send you back to the same page.
I write a finance blog. Back in those days when I had more time, I’d either write certain posts or edit certain guest posts by highlighting keyword terms and phrases and linking them back to other content within the site. Always a different article and never more than 5 times. I didn’t do it all the time though; just here and there.
See, search engines don’t mind you highlighting your own content. This has been proven over and over by many sites. They just don’t want overkill ever, not even on your own site. They get it; now you have to get it.
5. Break up the monotony in some way.
This one is fairly easy to do. You’ll notice on this blog post I’ve done two things. One, I’ve highlighted the tips with bold copy and a different color. The other is I’ve got a couple of pictures within the article also.
Both break up what’s turned out to be a relative long article. It doesn’t have to be a major break, just something that helps divert the readers eye and makes the article seem a bit shorter than it actually is. For some reason this works; not sure why but once I started adding images to my blog posts in 2011 they started getting more readers who stayed longer.
There you are, 5 tips that will work on either blogs or websites. Take a look at your website; are you violating any of these rules? And if you are, do you have enough content to help overcome the problems?