It’s not enough to write great content for your website or blog – if Google is to find it, you must include the key words and phrases your customers are looking for. Here SEO expert Jenny Simpson gives some top tips… and explains why you should pay attention to websites such as MAILONLINE…
BY JENNY SIMPSON
When you’re writing SEO content, you will need to open up a spreadsheet, as well as a Word document, but you don’t need to be an uber-techy to write content that will make both search engines and readers happy…
Be original, be relevant and be real – that is what the search engines explicitly say they want as they configure increasingly sophisticated algorithms to strip out spammy results. But yes, of course, you must use the right keywords.
So, what is the correct writing process for producing the best SEO content?
1) Forget all about SEO!
Yes, really. When you first face that dreaded blank page, you don’t want to smother your thoughts with a jumble of SEO keyword considerations.
So, when writing up your first draft, do exactly what you would do if we were living in a pre-Google age and write about what you think is relevant, with the words you want to use, in the writing style of your choice.
2) Choose keyword-based topics: Devising content plans based around high search volumes
Ok, so this should really be step 1, but I wanted to get your attention. Unless you are writing to order, before you sit down and face your writer’s block you will need to put together a content plan – and this is where SEO considerations are hugely important.
Use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to find out which words within your subject matter have the largest search volumes. You may be surprised at some of the results you come across.
Professional SEOs devote a lot of time to keyword research, but as a writer you can keep things relatively simple.
Most importantly we look for keywords that have a high search volume and (ideally) a low number of competitors. This primarily helps you choose which variants of common terms are best for you to use.
When you’ve done that, sort the popular keywords by what type they are. This will be Sub-categories of your subject matter and Need searches.
For example, I am working on a site about classic films and have split out movie genres (noting which individual genres have the highest search volumes) from the keywords based around searchers’ needs; I found high volumes of searches within the “classic film” keyword cluster relating to watching films online and buying DVDs. This provides insights into specific content areas that can generate quick traffic.
Or, using Travel as an example, your Sub-categories would be destinations and Need searches would be types of holiday accommodation, price brackets etc.
The ideal content plan is formed by creating a matrix with a vertical list of Sub-categories set against your Need searches in a horizontal list. Once you’ve planned out your matrix of categories (in your trusty spreadsheet), try and come up with a content idea for each cell. For example, I could do an article about the “latest DVD releases of classic Disney movies” to cover off the two categories from either side of the matrix in one article. Making sense?
3) Benefit from surges in searches
Journalists have long depended on their “spidey-sense” about what subjects are popular, but now we can test our instincts about what people really want to read about with some online help.
Twitter trends: A regular check of the local trending topics on Twitter can unearth topics that will send visitors swarming to your site – if you act quickly.
I experienced this when I wrote about Samantha Brick on the day the Twitterstorm ensued and my little blog was deluged. I happened to be one of the first people writing about the story and enjoyed top search rankings for a while, before HuffPo et al got into the act. If you move (or rather, type) quickly and you can get ahead of established news sites!
What is the Daily Mail talking about? The Daily Mail is now the world’s most read online news-site and they’ve done this by making sure they are writing about the topics that people are searching for (and adding their unique spin, of course). This is especially helpful for checking which celebrities, films and TV shows really are current. If the Mail Online stops writing about Kim Kardashian, you will know that she is over.
4) Repeat your keywords
If you’re new to SEO content and have been reading up on it, you’ve probably come across the phrase “keyword density”.
Well (look away now, my SEO colleagues) in all my years producing successful SEO content, I’ve never once bothered to calculate my keyword density.
I work with this golden rule: freely repeat the keyword, but if it looks crow-barred in, then remove it.
Once you’re happy with your first draft it’s time to review your content for SEO-friendliness, you need to look out for –
• Opportunities to use your main keyword in the headline or sub-headlines (this is where the keywords have most impact)
• Extra opportunities to add in a keyword on an image caption or supporting text, such as an author biography
• Removing unnecessary synonyms that can be replaced by more valuable search terms. For example; using full-names of people / “Ronseal” descriptions of companies and brands instead of nicknames / acronyms – again it’s worth checking Google’s Keyword tool to see if any popular nicknames have high search volumes
• Headlines that are shorter than 60 characters, or that are understandable when cut back to that length
If you are using a WordPress blog, use the SEO plug in – this allows you to create search optimised meta titles, so that you can write separate catchy headlines, free from SEO concerns.
If your content plan is optimised, the categories you publish your news in will immediately give each article an extra SEO boost, but don’t forget to include keyword-rich tags (as ever, without overdoing it).
Well, I hope all this is helpful! If I had to write this article in less than140 characters, I could have said:
“Writing best SEO Content: Use data for keyword research, but don’t let it inhibit your writing style or pack in too many keywords”
Author: Jenny Simpson
After six years managing search content services at leading SEO agencies, Jenny is now working as a freelance writer covering arts & entertainment, digital matters and more on her personal blog http://sunshineonheath.wordpress.com or for more tips follow Jenny on Twitter: @jennysimpson
She is available to hire, for all your content needs – from SEO-friendly article production, through to creative digital campaign planning.
Are you an expert in your field? If you would like to share some tips with us then contact us here: sell your story uk team.