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
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.