Write for human users as well as for search engines
Who is your reader? Know your target audience and write in language that they relate to and understand. An article for college lecturers would sound very different from a page aimed at the soccer team.
What is your reader interested in reading? Book reviews, conference news or the latest scores? This will dictate the topics you write about, the tone of voice and depth of your writing, or how specific your information is.
Listen to your reader. Find out what her key concerns are. What makes her happy or sad. What stresses her out. Then write content that could be of value to her – changes her mood, gives her something to think about, provides a helpful solution to a problem.
What are you writing about? Do your readers even care?
Find out what motivates them, strikes a chord with them, stirs their emotions, inspires them.
Social networking sites like Twitter can give you leads about trending topics – what people are discussing or debating, what worries them about the future. Make a list of topics likely to pull readers to your site.
For example, if you’re writing an article on “How to Beat New Mom Anxiety” you could visit website forums and parenting sites where moms ask questions or share their insecurities and fears.
Study helpful articles on websites of counsellors and pediatricians, pick out the ‘hidden nuggets’ that will answer the questions new moms can’t even articulate. Then write an article that speaks to them and provides useful tips. Be a real friend in need!
Tip: Add ‘long tail keywords‘ – phrases that include 3-5 words of content with qualifiers that differentiate your content in the search-engines. They are specific and relevant to targeted groups of people. Example: ‘Beat New Mom Anxiety without Medication’.
Write fresh content that is valuable to your reader
* Useful tips
* “How to” articles
* Information on the latest buzz around a topic
Do your research
Readers will read if there is meat in your article. Make the time to read well-written content.
Dig deep for details about your subject. Get the facts. Quote authorities on the subject. Read on a wide range of related topics as well. Then structure and present your content attractively, to read in a coherent flow.
Organize your writing in the inverted pyramid style
The inverted pyramid style of writing is followed in journalism because it works. Present the most essential information first and organize your content so that the least important information comes last.
Inverted pyramid of journalism: The most important information comes first, followed by supporting information and then by general details which can easily be edited without the main facts of a story being lost.
Flag off your story in the headline and opening sentence. Back it up with a fact-filled opening paragraph. This should tell your visitor why this page is unique or valuable to him.
Follow this with supporting information, then “nice-to-know” or background information which is of concern to fewer readers who are interested in further details.
Use subheads, bulleted lists, captions and blurbs to highlight important points. Back each of your subheads with content that supports the point being made.
Invite your reader to keep scrolling
Since web visitors skim the page rather than read line by line, your main content should appear “above the fold” – a term taken from newspapers, which are generally delivered to people folded in the middle. The most visually appealing photographs along with the most newsworthy headlines and stories are placed in the upper half of a newspaper, to entice readers to read or buy it.
For the web, “above the fold” or rather “above the scroll” refers to the part of the page visible to the reader before scrolling down.
You need to make a good first impression on the reader to entice him to scroll down your page and keep reading. Headlines, subheads, pull quotes, diagrams and images can keep a reader’s interest alive as he scrolls down.
Write search-engine friendly content
The good news is, writing for search engines is becoming more like writing for humans. If your reader likes your blog content, chances are Google will like it too!
What to DO to write SE-friendly content
Make it reader-friendly
Provide value, relevance and quality in your content. Make it worthwhile for readers to spend time on your web page. This will help boost your rankings on Google and other search engines.
Make it easy for your reader to find what he is looking for.
Websites need to be searchable by humans, and an article that provides content that readers find useful is more likely to get better search engine rankings.
What are the keywords or phrases your reader might type in to find your content? Put those keywords and phrases into your headline and use them in a natural way in your subheads and content (especially in the first paragraph, in your title and h1 tags and anchor text of inbound and internal links.
Organize your content for flow and relevance.
Start with the most important information and go down to the least important facts. You see, the inverted pyramid style works for search engines too.
Remember, snippets from your content show up in search engine results and in social networking sites based on their relevance to the search keywords your reader types in. Here’s where your headlines, subheads, opening lines and links can work harder to get your content placed higher in the search engine index.
Use good linking practices.
Links can enhance visibility to your webpage in search results, as they help crawlers find your site.
Natural links develop due to the dynamic nature of the web, when other sites link to your content because they feel it will add value to their visitors. Submitting your page into reputed directories will help others find your content.
Both inbound and outbound links are important. You should link to other articles within your site that relate to your content. Highlight relevant links within the flow of content rather than “click here”, “read more” etc.
Careful! Avoid links to web spammers – your ranking may be negatively affected by those links. Keep away from link schemes that promise you higher SE rankings.
Information richness, content relevance to search results, content organization and flow, relevant links – all add up to a Google-friendly page.
What NOT to do – to stay on the good side of the search engines
Avoid too much keyword repetition in your content. This comes across to search engines as ‘spammy’. Don’t force it. Instead, you can use other keywords or phrases that mean the same thing.
Avoid deceptive methods. Google can delist your site for using “black hat SEO techniques” like hidden text, blog comment spam, “crawler-only” pages and “cloaking” (presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines).
Avoid using lists of keywords, misleading redirects, or links meant only for search engine bots.
No duplicate content, random paragraphs or nonsensical text. Don’t create multiple pages with duplicate content.
Google penalises web pages which have no original content, just computer-generated text that contains keywords but doesn’t make sense to human readers.
“Scraped content” which ends up as irrelevant content does your site no good even if taken from other more reputable sites .
Stay away from “keyword stuffing”. This is an outdated method aimed at getting higher search engine rankings for certain key words and key phrases through repetition of those phrases in the meta tags. Google no longer gives good rankings to pages employing this technique and instead looks at the page as a whole.
To get people to read your article, write your blog content to please humans and search engines.
Know your reader. Write fresh content that is valuable to him. Do your research.
Provide value, relevance and quality in your content.
Organize your writing in the inverted pyramid style most important information first, less important info last.
Use links within the content to your own articles and to other pages with relevant content.
Avoid black hat SEO techniques – Google penalizes sites that use these methods to artificially boost search engine rankings.
Use targeted keywords, including long-tail keywords.
Put critical keywords in headlines and subheads so that your content shows up in search.
Now get started and WRITE your article!
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