Gini Dietrich

Tips to Plan, Research, Write, and Publish Your Content

By: Gini Dietrich | March 18, 2014 | 

Tips to Plan, Research, Write, and Publish Your ContentBy Gini Dietrich

I’m not an SEO expert. I don’t even play one on TV.

But I am a communications expert and, as part of my job, I’ve been writing my entire career.

In 2008, when social media began to take a hold, many of us had to quickly figure out how to take our writing experience and use it to build our brands online.

And, as part of that brand-building exercise, came learning how to write for both readers and robots.

In fact, I didn’t realize there was an entire technical side of writing until well into my blogging journey. I was just writing what I thought people would like to read and using our social networks to expand our readership. And it worked.

As it turns out, though, if you are smart and strategic about also writing for robots, you can extend your readership much more quickly than writing just for humans.

Before you get out the tar and feathers, I’m not advocating keyword-stuffed content. The first priority is always to your readers. But there are a few things you can do to help grow your audience.

Plan Your Content

Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios has a template he likes to use when he sets out to write a blog post.

It includes the headline, the target SEO keyword or phrase, the meta description, the permalink, and the images you plan to use.

This is where you plan your work.

Think about the competition already on the web for the topic.

Sign into your Google AdWords (through Google+ account) and use the keyword planner.

See how many searches there are for the keyword or phrase you want to use.

Consider the images. Did you create or shoot them yourself? Did you buy them? Are they Creative Commons? Or can you use something from all of the free images in Getty (but be careful here; they can embed ads in the images)?

Will your meta description motivate people to click on the link when they come across your blog post in a search?

Does your permalink have your keyword or phrase in it?

It’s important to consider all of these things as you plan your content.

Do Your Research

Now it’s time to do your keyword research.

Take a look at the word or phrase you chose. Does it have a lot of competition? How many monthly searches does it have?

Let’s say it has 100 monthly searches and there isn’t a lot of competition. That’s a word or phrase worth using.

But if it has 20,000 monthly searches and you’re going to compete with big brands, you’ll want to tweak the word or phrase.

Once you determine the right fit, you’ll use that in your meta description, permalink, and title.

Jason Falls wrote a blog post last week about metrics in PR, but the permalink he used – for SEO purposes – was “the death of public relations.”

Adjust those things, as necessary, from your planning phase.

Write Your Content

Now you can finally get to writing!

A few things to consider:

  • Blog posts should be 400-700 words to get the most Google juice.
  • Use headers, subheads, and bullets to break up your content to make it easier to read.
  • Make sure you use your target keyword or phrase in at least one header…and I’d recommend three to five times in the copy.
  • Include approximately one link for every 100 words. One of those links should be to something on your site and the others to external websites. Be strategic about the external links. If, say you want to build a relationship to an industry trade publication, link to them!
  • Provide a call-to-action, which can very easily be an invitation for comments, a subscription to the blog, a download of a piece of content, a demo of your product, or a free trial.

The best kind of content written for humans includes active voice, short sentences, and a reason to keep readers engaged. You can write in first or third person. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. Do what’s most comfortable for you.

Publish Your Content

Now it’s time to publish.

Most marketing/social media gurus aren’t very keen on Google+, but I love it because it helps with your search results. Google owns it and they want you to use it so they’ll reward you if you do.

When you post the link to your newest content in Google+, use the keyword or phrase you’ve chosen for the piece.

Do this on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well. It’s less important on Facebook and Pinterest, but do try to customize your updates with the word or phrase in it.

Make it easy for your readers to share your content on the social networks by providing social share buttons on every page of your website or blog.

There is almost nothing more frustrating than wanting to share content and having to manually share it. Make it easy for your readers and they will reward you in turn.

So there you have it. It sounds like a lot, but the more you write, the easier it becomes and the more you’ll be rewarded in search rankings.

A modified version of this first appeared on the SEO Copywriting blog.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Very good stuff. I love Andy’s plan. Sort of reminds me of a story planning template some newspaper guy put together years back. It wasn’t so much about the writing as it was making sure all the important elements were in place.

  • ClayMorgan  I should follow it more often. I tend to just sit down and write and forget about all the other stuff.

  • ginidietrich You and me both.

  • Funny, I do a lot of that “planning” in my head. I usually pre-write half my post for a few days in advance – all in my head. Just, you know, muddling about, walking, cleaning, whenever.

  • I think sometimes people get skeeved out (that’s a technical term, BTW) by the idea of writing for bots, but the fact is, if you’re doing it well, the needs of the bots kind of align with the needs of the readers. All you’re really doing is making sure that the valuable content you’re creating can be found

  • ClayMorgan  It wasn’t called an “inverted pyramid” was it?

  • belllindsay  I think the key thing is you do it.

    Key words are my weakness – I just don’t think about them and I should.

  • Catrina J. Sharp

    Great post!

  • Eleanor Pierce  Skeeved? 

    Ultimately, Google is trying to find quality relevant content. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll develop more sophisticated algorithms that rely less and less on key words to determine if content is relevant to a searcher.

  • Eleanor Pierce Funny. No, but that’s a good point.

    I’ll see if I can find a copy of it … I think it is around here somewhere. It was a document that allowed you to experiment with headlines, subheads, art, layout, ledes, so forth and so on. It was pretty useful when putting together a major package.

  • ClayMorgan Eleanor Pierce  We’re already seeing this with semantic search and predictive analytics, but keywords will always remain central to how search engines operate at a technical level.

  • belllindsay  You clean?!

  • Eleanor Pierce  I like the word skeeved. Even though you made fun of me for not liking Greek yogurt.

  • ginidietrich Only when I need to write a blog post.

  • belllindsay ginidietrich I think I blog to avoid cleaning. Just look at my house. (But seriously these are great tips Gini. Always learning. But rarely cleaning.)

  • Talk about a jam-packed post! BTW I consider you pretty good at SEO, you’re always giving away great tips!

    I was not aware of the 400-700 word count, I’ve been using the 250 limit. Thanks for the info!

  • G+ is a good place for engagement too. SEO benefits aside,you can have some great interaction there.

  • EventsResearch

    Great post

    Curious about your 400-700 word comment. Seeing more and more that the big juice goes to 1,500+ word posts. Any insights or factoids to offer?


  • EventsResearch  I almost put in the longer form content with 1500+ words in this post, but decided against it because of the audience here. But yes, if you have research and information to support the longer content, absolutely go for it. Google is rewarding those who do.

  • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  I haven’t spent a lot of time there to do that. I still prefer Facebook.

  • jennimacdonald  Oh yeah…you need at least 300 for the spiders to find you, which is why I recommend a minimum of 400.

  • kanya632

    Great points, Gini! Another thing I would like to add: focusing
    on long-tail keywords. Optimizing a blog post with long-tail keywords can be a powerful way to
    gain highly relevant traffic. 

    Plus, using such phrases can lead to greater
    conversion rates since searchers are looking for something specific.

  • ginidietrich Eleanor Pierce  I’m OK with not liking greek yogurt, I’m just concerned about your yogurt! It should not be chewy.

  • jasonkonopinski ClayMorganEleanor PierceI think what will happen is when we are born they will hatch a robot as your birth helper. And that robot will be able to know what you mean. So when John Belushi says ‘I want snow’ and ginidietrichsays ‘I want snow’ it isn’t a central computer vs a custom one, kind of the goal of Siri and some of the behavioral sides of online and apps. This way each gets the snow they expect from their inquiry. And nothing is cuter than a boy or girl and their robot!

  • I agree with Google Plus. Business owners and marketers should be regularly acting like the customer and seeing what the Google puts out for you and your competitors. And having a Google Plus (and places for brick and mortar) will show up prime placement.

    Ah Gini I can feel the Google caressing my comments to help your search results…..and it feels good!

  • Eleanor Pierce ginidietrich  Wait, chewy yogurt?! What the what?

  • jasonkonopinski Eleanor Pierce It’s the texture. It makes me FEEL like I have to chew it.

  • KateNolan

    Howie Goldfarb  Ew.

  • Howie Goldfarb  We were just joking in today’s staff meeting about using Google in blog posts to see if our search engine rankings increase.

  • kanya632  Yes, yes! I think long-tail is really hard for people to understand. We actually track our content that way to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a really fun exercise.

  • EventsResearch

    ginidietrich EventsResearch  Thanks for clarifying – I am running 1,00-1,200 so it sounds like I am in  between sweet spots buts it still probably good

  • Muy interesante, mi senorita. 
    The only qualms I have with this is (1) I’ve never come across any research that proves Google+ is beneficial for ranking in the search engines. Lots of SEOs everywhere, including Google themselves, said having a G+ account doesn’t benefit your SERPs. 
    BUT acquiring Google Authorship does! It helps Google track and connect the dots for everything you post online and could easily suggest that post if someone searched for your name. 
    The only other thing I’m not so sure about is (2) a blog post being under 500 words for the most juice. In fact, ever since Google started favoring in-depth posts more, anything over 700 words seems to get the most juice. 
    Other than that, great post. I like that you mention how Jason Falls used a different title for the actual post and its SEO. That’s a good catch! (And a good point!) 
    If there’s anything else I can suggest for your readers, it’s to incorporate the SEO plugin called Yoast. It really helps you visualize and see your Meta descriptions and titles before you publish your posts. (But you probably already know about that.)  🙂

  • belllindsay  I do the same, haha! It just sucks when you lose your inspiration to finish it midway through.

  • KateNolan sorry was reading ginidietrich ‘s 12 best romance novels (I am on number 5) got carried away Kate!

  • JRHalloran  Oh it does…I’ve tested and tested and tested. It most definitely provides you an advantage. And you’re right. So does Authorship.

  • ginidietrich Howie Goldfarb  The more I think about this theory the more it makes sense. I can just picture “The Google”, thinking, oh look, here is a post about me, yep….pushing that baby to the top, holla!”

  • belllindsay  I do the same thing.

  • ClayMorgan belllindsay  once again, I do the same thing. I never think about keywords. Other than #petropower. Once I’ve worked that into a post I’m done.

  • LauraPetrolino ClayMorgan Consider both of your wrists duly slapped. 😉 Laura, I’m pretty sure we’re not ranking for #petropower. Soon, though, soon.

  • ClayMorgan Eleanor Pierce  Oh my, I haven’t heard THAT term in a loooong time.

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