If you are asking yourself “How do I write content so it appears in search engines?” then you should congratulate yourself. You already understand that getting noticed by Google takes a bit more effort than creating a content thin website and crossing your fingers that it gets found. You already understand that there is a way to do things, and a way not to do things. That is half the battle won. Writing content to be found in search engines isn’t as tricky as you might think
You already accept that SEO will benefit you. If you are not sure to read this article Is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) right for me?
You already understand that getting noticed by Google takes a bit more effort than creating a content thin website and crossing your fingers that it gets found.
You already understand that there is a way to do things, and a way not to do things. That is half the battle won. Writing content to be found in search engines isn’t as tricky as you might think
You have done the necessary preparation and you are ready to tackle the content creation. If you have done no prep, read this article Search Engine Optimisation Preparation
Writing content to be found in search engines isn’t as tricky as you might think. There are just a few steps to take as you write your content. The more you write content, the quicker and easier it will get.
Also, never forget, SEO is a long game. It takes time, dedication, consistency and patience.
The trickiest SEO tasks
There are two essential tasks that cannot be avoided. These two tasks are where you need to be patient and learn the skills necessary.
During your preparation, you should have done your keyword research. You should have a list of keywords and phrases that you are confident you can rank for. Keyword is a time-consuming part of SEO. But the more you do it, the easier it will become.
For the content you are about to write, pick your main keyword. This is your seed keyword. Then create a list of longer tail keywords that are related. These longer tail keywords are the words you will rank for first. As Google starts to trust your site more and identifies your content as authoritative, useful and engaging, you will start to rank for the shorter, more competitive keywords.
For example, you may pick “natural hand soap” and your seed keyword and “natural goats milk hand soap” or “natural chemical free hand soap” and long tail keywords.
TIP: Google suggest is a great place to get ideas of long tail keywords that people are actually searching for. Just start typing your keyword in and see if Google suggests anything relevant. Here is what Google suggested for me as I typed “Natural hand soap”.
Also, type in your keyword into Google, press enter, then look at the bottom of the search results. You will be shown more long tail keyword suggestions.
Use these words to inspire you for your content.
Only focus on one seed keyword per page. This will keep your content focused and Google will find it easier to understand what the topic is about. Try not to create more content with the same seed keyword focus, otherwise, your content will be in competition with itself!
Content promotion – backlinks
This is the toughest part of SEO. Making sure people see your content and making sure it is promoted and linked to. When someone links to your content, it is called gaining a backlink. Google rates the authority of your site on the number of backlinks you get. Now, not all backlinks are the same. You need backlinks from high authority, relevant sites. So, getting links from your friends’ blog about Gin might not help you!
Back in my article Search Engine Optimisation Preparation, I mentioned that you must build a network and nurture those relationships. While you are writing content, think about who in your network can help you promote the content.
Once you have written your content, be sure to reach out to as many people as you can to get eyes on your hard work.
You may have to get creative about how to encourage people to read and link to your content. The more you practice the better you will become.
If you are struggling with time to promote your content the alternative is to employ an SEO agency who can get links for you. Although you do need to be very careful that the backlinks are from legitimate places and not from link farms or link networks (websites set up just to create links). Google is aware of these sites and will penalise you if you have bad links.
Write your content
Now you are ready to write your content. Don’t stress about this too much. Write primarily for people. Make your content easy to read. Use your keywords throughout but don’t keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is the overuse of keywords and makes your content difficult to read. Write content that helps your reader solve problems and take action. That is the type of content that they are looking for after all.
Write lots of words. Over 600. Google isn’t so keen on really short form content.
Optimise your headlines
Your headline is the first part of your content that is read by people and search engines.
People will read whatever you have at the top of your page.
Search engines will read whatever is in your <title> tag.
The <title> tag is populated automatically when you first give your article a title, so search engines know what your article is about. When you go to write your blog, depending on how your template is set up, your title may or may not appear in your article. If it doesn’t appear, you will have to add the title manually. Once you have added the title manually, people can now understand what your article is about.
There are two ways to add the title. The right way and the wrong way.
The wrong way. Write some text, change the font size manually and perhaps change it to bold.
The right way. Write some text then encapsulate it in header tags. For the title of the page you use H1 tags that look like this
<h1> Your title here </h1>
The tags are html. Html is the language used to tell the browsers how to show your content. When you write your article you should have the option to change normal text into a header. When you do this, the html tags are automatically added.
The second way is the right way because search engines also look for the <h1></h1> tag on your page to see what your article is about. They like it very much if the contents of the tag are closely related to your <title></title> tag.
Why go through all the fuss of writing h1 AND title tags?
The tricky thing about headlines is that they need to be interesting enough for people to want to continue reading, yet simple enough that search engines know what you are talking about. Seach engines are not humans, they don’t understand humour, wit, sarcasm or double meanings. They are logical algorithms. We are not yet in the age of artificial intelligence where algorithms can identify emotions, so if you are trying to be too clever with your headlines you may lose out.
Search engines want to give people what they are searching for, so they try to match the content with the search query. So, to make your content findable in search engines, the headline and content need to be closely related to the search query. Save your humour for the content people read once they have read your headline.
The worst headlines are cryptic, short and give no indication to the reader or search engines about what the content is about.
The better headlines are longer, descriptive, contains keywords for the search engine and contains something the reader finds interesting so they are encouraged to read your article.
The best headlines take advantage of the fact that you can write for both search engines and people. So if you are having a hard time combining your title and header into something friendly for everyone, write your title (when you create your article) for the search engine, then add a manual header (h1 tag) with a good headline for your reader. One is for the search engine and one is for your reader. This takes a bit more time and thinking, but it’s competitive online and you want to be found, yes? This last method is really useful if you find you are appearing in search engines but people are not clicking on your article to read. They are not finding the headline exciting enough. In this situation, you want to create a separate title specifically for the reader.
When you are ready to write your title don’t forget to use your seed keyword in the page title and h1 title.
Meta description optimisation
The meta description is 160 characters of text that is displayed in the search engine results beneath your title. Optimising this by making it enticing to your readers can help you get to that number one position if you are near the bottom of page one in the search results.
Search engines don’t use your meta descriptions directly in their ranking algorithms so why are meat descriptions important? Because search engines show parts of your meta description in the search results. They do this to help people decide if your content is relevant or not. Also, the more people that click on your link, the more the search engines know your content is relevant and the preferred choice of the searcher, so it will be given a higher position in the results in the future. So making those meta descriptions clickable is very important.
So making those meta descriptions clickable is very important.
My 3 top tips for writing your meta description.
- Write it as a benefit orientated call to action. E.g. SEO can deliver on average a third of your traffic. Click here to read more about the benefits of SEO. 160 characters are shown in search engines but you can make it longer if you wish. Use action based language, combined with the benefit they will get if they take action to encourage the searcher to take action. You want them to click on your link after all.
- Use your seed keyword in the description. If you do, this section of your meta description will be shown in the results, helping your content look more relevant. If your content is shown in the search results and there is no exact match between the search query and your meta description then the search engine will return it’s best guess at what is relevant in your content and this can look very confusing to the searcher and make them less likely to click on your link.
- Don’t use deceptive click bait. Don’t write anything just for the sake of getting a click. If someone clicks through to your article and it is not what they expected, they will go back to the search results and search again. Google sees this behaviour and you will be penalised for it. Be honest and make sure your meta description accurately describes what your content is about.
The main concept you should be aware of is that you are putting your readers first before search engines.
Use your keywords a few times throughout your content but make sure you DO NOT keyword stuff. This is the mindless repetition of keywords just to influence the search engines. It will get your site penalised. Keep the content conversational, easy to read and focused around your keywords.
Always write for your readers first, then structure your content so search engines can understand it.
Use paragraphs and images and make sure your content is scannable by using headings to help pull people through your content. Titles throughout your content show structure to the search engines and help them understand what your content is about.
Make your content visually appealing by using bullet points and lists, bold letters and images.
Take the time to write descriptions for your images. Include your keywords in the descriptions and ALT tag. The ALT tag is a text field that is displayed when an image on your website doesn’t load. The ALT is also used by search engines to understand what your content is about.
Keep the size of your image files small, a few tens of KB, eg. 50KB. If you use images that are bigger say 500KB, they will slow your site down. I highly recommend using a tool like https://compressor.io/ to compress your images before you upload them.
Getting your site to load as fast as possible should be a priority if you are serious about making sales online. There is a section in my blog of speed optimisation – you can read more about speed optimisation here.
Also, change the name of your file to something more readable. This also helps search engines understand what your image is about.
Summary – Writing optimised content for people and search engines
Standard. The title is whatever you call your blog post. Search engines can’t understand it and people find it boring.
Optimise for search engines by using your seed keyword.
Optimise for people by using your seed keyword while adding a detailed, interesting description about what your article is about.
Standard. The meta description is generated automatically from the first 160 characters of your blog post.
Optimise for search engines by using your seed keyword in the meta description.
Optimise for people by writing it as a call to action to encourage clicking on your article from the search engine results.
Standard. Writing without thinking about your reader or search engines.
Optimise for search engines. Use header tags to structure paragraphs. Use keywords and long tail keywords to tell search engines what your content is about. Do not keyword stuff.
Optimise for people. Write content that is valuable and solves problems. Lay out the content so it is visually appealing.
Standard. Using images that are large and contain no useful information.
Optimise for search engines. Use the keyword in the Alt tag and file name.
Optimise for people. Use the keyword in the description. Write a detailed description. Keep images small by compressing them.