8 best practices for writing content
Although it has always really been the case, the last couple of years has seen the relationship between content and SEO become ever more important.
Today, brands and site owners cannot afford to do anything other than to produce informative and engaging content that people actually want to read and share. Do this, and ensure that it continues to be done regularly, and your site’s SEO performance will then follow.
However, a little optimisation is still needed. As a fellow professional told me a few months ago, “…although producing good content regularly is the key, there is no point in writing novels and literary works of art if search engines can’t find them.”
So what things should be considered in order to achieve a happy medium? Well the following tips can provide a good starting point before writing content with SEO in mind:
1. Carefully select keywords
- Include a selected keyword in your copy or headline that is relevant to problem/question your content is trying to solve
- Think about selecting one primary keyword and some supporting ones to go along with it
- Target a low number of SEO keywords per page (ideally no more than five, less if they’re all very similar)
- Use the exact term where possible, but don’t force it
- Only include keywords if they fit naturally into the content
2. Think about your headlines and titles
These need to be as ‘sticky’ as possible because, if it isn’t enticing /appealing, the content won’t be read. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that the headline will also be used when it is shared on social networks.
3. Make sure the content delivers on your headline
Eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 people will read the rest. Because many people initially skim over articles, they won’t stick around and digest it properly if they don’t think your content is addressing your headline.
4. Reel in your audience with a killer intro
You could open your content:
- By posing a question
- With a quote
- With an anecdote
- By quoting an interesting fact
- By being contextual
- By painting a picture in your reader’s mind
- With an analogy
5. Break up your text
Using sub-headings, short paragraphs, call-out boxes and bullet pointed or numbered lists, for example, will make information easier to digest. It will also help those people skimming and scanning your content. Additionally, sub-headings do also have a minor SEO benefit, too.
6. Insert images
Backing up your content with screenshots, infographics, charts etc. can convey a message more powerfully than words alone. However, it is also important to bear in mind that there are strict copyright laws surrounding the use of images, so you must make sure that any image that you use on your site is there with the permission of its owner. Or, use copyright free image websites such as iStock or ShutterStock.
*Note: it is also wise to tag your images and give them alt text to help search engines to work out what they are.
7. Think about internal links
Linking your visitors to another piece of related content will ensure that you are keeping them on your site and exposing them to more of your content. There is also a significant SEO benefit in doing this too, as editorial and mid content internal links provide citation, which is any mention of your brand online with or without a link.
8. Set goals for every single piece of content that you produce
You might want a piece of content to specifically generate leads or to be shared on social media. Whatever it is, make sure that you have a goal in mind before writing, as your content should be shaped around achieving this aim. Never sacrifice the user experience to force your copy to meet an SEO goal.