- Posted by Kirsten
- On 29th March 2018
- 0 Comments
SEO, or search engine optimisation is the science of getting your website to show up as high as possible on a search engine results page. This is done in a bid to elevate the numbers of visitors landing on your site.
While many companies hire specialist agencies to manage their SEO strategy, this post focuses on what you, the content writer, can do to ensure your publishing efforts are maximised.
Before you start a blog post, it’s essential you know what keywords you want to optimise for. You may have various, especially if you have a large product catalogue, or if you deliver in several services.
The groundwork of SEO may already be done for you by another department or agency, but so that you have some context, this is what you do to find keywords.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to help you find synonyms and related search terms that your target customer could be typing into Google.
Each post you write should develop the content around one or two key words, which should appear in your content plan. These keywords ought to be “long-tail” phrases rather than single generic words.
- Short tail e.g. chocolate – single word, generic, highly competitive = Unlikely to rank
- Long tail g. dark chocolate suitable for vegans – two or three words, more specific, less competitive = more likely to rank
Tips for finding keywords:
- Use Google Trends to compare instances of different search terms over time, or even in different regions, for example if you wanted to compare “trainers” to “sneakers”. You can also view similar queries to add to your keyword list.
- Look up your competitors’ keywords using a tool such as SpyFu or SEMRush.
Before you begin, there are a few details you need to include in the HTML of your page. If you are using a content management system such as WordPress, you won’t need to go into the backend code to add them – There will already be fields on your post screen for you to fill in.
The page title is what will show up as the heading on the search engine listing. You set this up in the <title> tags of your page’s code.
Make sure your page titles correctly represent the content of your web page. Any attempt to mislead will cause a high bounce rate, which will adversely affect how Google positions you in the future.
Page titles should be unique to every page, not too long (around 50-60 characters), and most importantly relevant to the content on your page.
This helps Google visitors to choose your site over all the others that sell the same product, and appears below the title of the search listing.
Ever got frustrated clicking through to a page based on its description, only to find you cannot locate the words in the article text? That’s because these words are in the code. Don’t annoy people – Make the description relevant!
Use a description in your <meta> tags in this format:
<meta name=”description” content=”…” />
Place the keywords somewhere in your URL. More for people than for search engines, it’s always good to know what you are clicking on so the article title will provide an idea of where your readers are being taken to. This is far more reassuring than a simple number appended to the web address.
Categories and tags
Using categories and tags gives the bots more clues about the content of your website as a whole, so it is a good idea to include them in your blog set up. It also shows your readers that you have more informative content around the same subject in case they want to read further.
Headings are displayed in six tags in HTML. Starting with <h1>, the most prominent, and the title of your blog post, this is not to be confused with title tags. There should only be one <h1> tag on your page. <h2> to <h6> are titles within your article, separating the different sections of your written piece.
Make use of subheadings throughout your article so it is easier for the reader to digest the subject matter.
Spelling and Grammar
Producing quality content includes eliminating mistakes in your copy. Not only does this tarnish your SEO efforts, but it makes the read an unpleasant experience for your audience. Carry out a spellcheck before you hit publish and read this post on editing your written piece.
Do not double up on the same content from a different post. Ensure each post hosts unique content so you don’t inadvertently generate a duplicate or similar sounding article. Don’t copy from other websites as this is plagiarism and will not help your page rank.
In your blog copy, refer to different pages on your site so visitors have a chance to engage more with your fantastic blog.
Add some links for further reading around the subject of your current blog post.
Ensure that the link text is descriptive so people know where they are going. Also, your link needs to stand out as a link. Google advises against using words such as “page” and “click here” as part of the anchor text. Don’t paste the link exactly as it is in the body copy unless you are illustrating a point about the URL.
No Follow Links
When linking to a third party site, consider carefully if your link is a “follow” link or a “no-follow” link.
No follow links are links to sites that you do not want to give your authority to in order to help boost their SEO efforts. Use rel=”nofollow” inside the <a> tags.
Use “No-Follow” links for:
- Websites you do not want to help rank in search engines
- An affiliate’s website or a site you are receiving sponsorship from
- Links in comments, as these could be exploited by spammers and black hat SEO marketers.
In all your blog post images, use alt text. Since search engine crawlers can’t see pictures, tell them what the images are using alt descriptions instead. This will also help people who rely on screen readers to benefit from the added value of your images.
Avoid Black Hat methods
Black hat SEO is used to manipulate search engines and, if discovered, can result in severe penalties for your site.
Types of black hat SEO include:
- Including unreadable text on your page (invisible text, small text)
- Back linking from other sites e.g. in comments and forums
- Swapping page content
- Adding too many keywords (keyword stuffing)
- Plagiarising another’s content by copy and pasting word for word
- Using “article-spinning” to swap words for synonyms in an article that already exists.
This is a lot of information to absorb if you are new to content marketing. Ultimately, if you aim to provide a positive experience and avoid deceptive methods of ranking in search engines, you are on the right track to making your blog SEO friendly.