If you write it, will they come?
The Holy Grail of online content marketing is the ability to write blog posts that appeal both to readers and search engines. Is it possible to write content that is search engine optimized (SEO) and engaging? In short, yes. Both objectives can be met. Like any craft, writing a good blog post is a skill that can be improved over time. With practice and a few basic tips, you will be on your way to writing online content that is both reader and search engine friendly.
Here are eight tips that will help you to achieve both objectives:
1. Think about your article first, write second.
What is the overall theme of your blog post (your title)? Think of the main points you will make to support that theme (your subheadings). What evidence or arguments will you use to support each main point or subheading (your news, research or commentary)? Finally, what do you want readers to do with that information (the conclusion of your post)?
2. Write down an outline of your post.
Write down your theme, and the main points you will make in a brief outline. Next, add the supporting information for each main point. Develop an introduction and conclusion. This outline should progressively develop into a full article.
3. Refine your main points into paragraphs.
Each paragraph should stand on its own with one thought that is fully developed. At the end of each paragraph, use sentences or questions that connect it to the thought conveyed in the paragraph that follows.
4. Refine your headings and subheadings
Think of a heading or title that will in some way capture the imagination and attention of the reader. Subheadings give the reader a clue to the main point covered by the next paragraph or series of paragraphs. Each subheading should be the main point that supports your theme or heading.
5. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
Try reading your post out loud to identify errors in sentence structure and other grammatical errors. If possible, let the article rest overnight, and look at it with a fresh eye the next day. You may discover new errors or ways to refine your writing. Let someone else read it to see if it makes sense.
6. Compose long blog posts.
Ideally, you should create posts with a minimum of 350 words if you want to rank well in search engines.
7. Use your main keywords or search terms strategically
You want your main keywords or search terms to be in the article heading, the title of the page, the URL of the page, the content of the article, the meta-description, and in the alt tag of one your images (if you're adding images to your post). This is the best practice for writing a search engine optimized blog post. If you're using WordPress as your blog engine (arguably the best choice), the Yoast SEO plugin will help you to fine tune your writing for good SEO.
Yoast SEO contains the Page Analysis features that will do the following: "The (Yoast) WordPress SEO plugins Page Analysis functionality checks simple things you're bound to forget. It checks, for instance, if you have images in your post and whether they have an alt tag containing the focus keyword for that post. It also checks whether your posts are long enough, if you've written a meta description and if that meta description contains your focus keyword if you've used any subheadings within your post, etc. etc."
8. Write often, and link to internal related posts
The more you write, the better and more efficient you will become. Also, your blog will be seen as a source of fresh content by search engines. Be sure to link to related articles in your blog as this also benefits the overall search engine ranking of your entire blog or website.
That's it! Finally, keep in mind how important good blog writing is to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In essence, good post content is the fundamental best practice for good SEO. Over time, Google has stripped away the advantages once gained by 'gaming' the search engines with SEO tricks. The bottom line is this: If you want to rank well, write well! -Don Peterson, webdesignportfolio.us