When you write a blog post or create content that you publish online, you want people to read it.
The best way to make this happen is to get your web pages to appear in Google or Bing search engine results pages.
But just because you write well, and include a lot of valuable information in your articles about your product or service doesn’t mean that search engines will give you a high ranking factor. It doesn’t even guarantee that they will index it.
You might have written something many readers would find extremely interesting. However, you also need to give search engines a few clues by learning how to use on-page SEO for writers.
It is like writing with two hats
SEO writing is all about quality content – for readers and algorithms.
The first is to write for readers or potential customers and give them a positive user experience when they visit your blog or website.
The second is to write for search engine crawlers and tell them where to list your great content.
If you can get your pages ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo, you will get many, many more readers.
Getting these two factors working together is the aim of what is called search engine optimization (SEO) based content writing.
The principal elements in SEO content writing
Before anything else, you should check your website’s load time. A slow site is terrible for both readers and crawlers.
If your site takes longer than 2 to 3 seconds to load, you have work to do. If it’s okay, your right to go.
Now you are ready to write, but with a new content strategy that you can apply to all types of content to improve your search engine rank.
Step one is to draft your article outline. You probably do this already. Some writers note paragraph headings or make brief notes about the introduction, middle and summary sections.
Whatever you usually do to plan your articles, keep doing it. It is the best way to write for your readers.
Step two is similar. But now you will make a second plan based on keyword research. Start with your article subject or topic and do a Google search.
As a simple example, if you search for “how and when to prune my roses”, check the top twenty results and look at the variations in the main words that are used.
You will find that prune roses, rose pruning and pruning roses are the three standout phrase variations. There is a commonality that is obvious.
What you will also notice is that phrases such as prune my roses or pruning your roses don’t rank at all.
Pronouns, linking words and prepositions are all SEO stop words, or ignored words, so avoid using them entirely when choosing any keyword.
Choose one. Let’s say, rose pruning. It will be your target keyword.
Now go back and quickly read the top five articles, and look for words or short phrases that are directly connected to rose pruning.
It doesn’t take long to come up with a list. Here is my list I prepared before I started writing this article.
The red circle is my selected target keyword. Then follows by a list of my associated or semantic keywords. The green circle is a secondary keyword I chose because it produced a few extra useful semantic words.
Now you have your two plans
It’s time to start being a real content writer and building your article by combining them.
Write freely, and primarily for your reader, because this is by far the top priority in SEO content.
But as you do, try to include some of the associated keywords as naturally as you possibly can in your text.
Don’t agonise overusing them all. If you can use half or a bit more, that’s fine.
The only risk to avoid is keyword stuffing. Using the same keyword over and over again is out of date black hat SEO.
Limit the use of your keywords to one occurrence, or at the very most, two.
Your target keyword should never be overused. Recall that there were three target choices?
Prune roses, rose pruning and pruning roses. As we chose rose pruning, we can use the other two in the text to avoid repetition.
Keywords are vital tools for SEO writers. But overuse can result in search engines ignoring your article completely due to keyword stuffing. Never overuse a keyword in your posts.
Once you have finished writing your article, it is time to add the finishing technical touches.
Completing the technical elements
The first task is to write two different titles for the article. Yes, two.
You need to do this because there are two title tags on a published blog post or article. One is the main title, and the other is the SEO title tag. Both must contain the target keyword.
Next is to write the meta description. Again, it must include the target keyword.
It is not repetition as I warned about in writing your article text.
The three places your target words appear are there specifically to tell search engines very quickly about the main topic of your text. The fourth is when you used it once in your text.
Here are the underlined occurrences of my target keyword in my SEO editor for this post.
You can see that this is the title you can see at the top of the page you are reading now.
But the two sections in the image above are not visible on this page.
The SEO title tag and meta description tag are used by search engines. You can see the anticipated result in the top section “Preview Snippet.”
If you don’t have the facility to add an SEO title and meta description, you will need to add an SEO plugin to your site.
As an aside, these two tags are also used by social media when your article is shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Now you have completed all the necessary elements that search engines will use to index your post.
In the first week or so, only expect your target keyword to be noticed by crawlers.
But over time, on each subsequent crawl, search engines will extract and add more of your semantic keywords.
As the image below shows, over time posts can collect hundreds of keywords, or search terms which all help in getting organic search results, and more readers.
One article in the image above has earned over 1,000 keyword search terms from Google, and it is only 900 words long.
That is the power of writing for both readers and machines.
Whether you are writing blog posts, content marketing or for your small business, the advice above will help you get more readers for your articles.
Writing for SEO will get you more organic traffic and help you with organic link building.
Writing long-form, compelling content for readers will have them engaged and keep your bounce rate low.
All you need to do is keep the following points in mind.
1. Select one target keyword
2. Find semantic keywords
3. Prepare an outline for your article
4. Write first for your readers, but incorporate your selected semantic keywords
5. Use your target keyword once in your text, title, SEO title and meta description
Use these five points when you write your blog posts, and you will get a lot of extra search engine traffic and more and more loyal readers.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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