Writing content that gets picked up by search engines isn’t easy. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry is approaching $80 billion dollars as we close in on 2020. Of course, this means that writing optimized content adds a huge amount of value for businesses and individuals.
However, that added value means that SEO work is inherently not easy to do. It can take months of learning and work to be able to write articles that perform well in search engines. To make matters worse, the algorithm that Google and other search engines use changes constantly — which means that what worked last year may no longer be relevant!
Fortunately, this guide will be able to walk you through the basics so that you’re able to start writing SEO-friendly content in no time!
Do Your Research
Before you even start the writing process, you need to know what keyword you’re targetting. You can’t just pick something general, like “cars,” and hope that its close association with what you do as a mechanic will cut through the noise on a search engine results page (SERP). To climb in the rankings, you have to find what keywords you can compete for.
Targetting local keywords is always a good bet, as it gets you a more targetted audience and you’ll have fewer people to compete against. “Car repair in Traverse City, MI” is fairly specific, for example.
You can also look at long-tail keywords, which are phrases that don’t receive very much traffic month-to-month but have next to no competition over. Targetting something like “1970 Ford Mustang Exhaust Repair” means that you’ll get the majority of the 100 people who search it a month, for example. Bundling many of these long-tail keywords together can build a steady stream of traffic to your site.
Keyword research is a complicated process, and there are many tools out there designed to tackle this beast. What is perhaps the most used tool is Google’s Keyword Planner, though you should also use Google’s Search Console to see what people are searching for before they enter your site. Dig through your existing traffic and do research into search trends to figure out what you should target in the future.
Proper Formatting and Headings
One of the simplest yet most important things that you can do to ensure that your articles are SEO-friendly is to make use of proper formatting.
You want to make sure that your articles are easy to read and “scannable.” This is to say that they shouldn’t be esoteric walls of text. Keep sentences short, words simple, and paragraphs to three to four sentences long.
Further, you want to make use of proper headers to break up your copy. Make sure that the title of your post is formatted as H1, the major headers or chapters as H2, and the points underneath them as H3. Making use of bulleted and numbered lists can also help keep your copy organized, and will look good to search engines as well.
Link Back to Yourself
The ranking of your content in search engine results depends on quite a bit on the article itself, but it also takes into account a whole host of other factors. One of the most important variables that search engines look at is the articles and sites that link to a specific page on your site.
Search engines will take both external links and internal links into account. This means that you should link heavily to what you consider to be “cornerstone” content or pages that are at the core of your business. Of course, to make sure that it doesn’t look like you’re spamming links to your own content, you have to make sure to sprinkle in a few high-quality and relevant links to external sites as well.
Keep Titles and URLs SEO-Friendly
The title of your article (which should always be formatted as an H1 header) should also stay within 70 characters. This means that the entire title will show up on search results pages, instead of being cut off with an ellipse at the end. This encourages people to click on your link, boosting your place in SERPs over time.
Further, you want to edit the actual URL so that it doesn’t show up as a mess of numbers and letters. You can usually use handy WordPress plugins to edit the final URL of pages and blog posts on your site (other tools exist for different web hosts as well).
Make sure that the URL matches the title as closely as possible, even making it the same if possible. You can use dashes (-) instead of spaces to make sure that the URL remains valid.
What Do You Do For Your Homepage?
The homepage of your site represents a unique challenge. Your homepage is arguably the most important page on your site and should be where most of your traffic lands.
Unlike articles, homepages are not text-heavy. This means that most of your SEO has to be done in building links to that page, and in positioning links and images in the right places. You can find more information about building the rankings of your website’s homepage at https://seojet.net/blog/homepage-seo.
SEO is Always Changing
As already mentioned, SEO content writing guidelines are dynamic. The above tips are designed to point you in the right direction to start to optimize your website, but they are far from being a complete guide. What works in 2019 and 2020 won’t work in 2022 and 2023, so make sure to keep educating yourself!
Want more information about writing SEO-friendly content and marketing your site online? Check out the Miscellaneous section of our website!