You could write the most creative and captivating copy, but, if nobody can actually find the page it’s published on, then you’ve essentially wasted your time. Optimising your copy for search engines takes perseverance and a great deal of consideration, but it needn’t be complicated, nor a chore.
These seven basic SEO practices will help polish your content into a shiny, search friendly, spectacle.
1. Start with the title
Standing proud in SERPs, your title will function as a key mechanism for driving visitors towards your content. As well as working to grab attention in the sea of results, titles should provide an accurate summary of the content that is contained within the page.
Incorporating keywords into a page title is an age-old SEO trick that isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but don’t feel like you’ve absolutely got to include these terms if they just don’t work. Aim for something concise and enticing that sits within your branding. As a rule of thumb, 50-60 characters should be about right (after that, search engines will show an ellipsis to indicate that a title has been cut short) – a tool such as SEO Mofo’s Search Snippet Optimiser can help you visualise how your title (and meta description) might look on Google.
2. Meta matters
On the topic of meta descriptions, these snippets are integral to helping search engines and searchers get to grips with the themes contained within your writing. To get the most out of your meta description; the copy should be unique, around 150-160 characters in length, include keywords, and a working call-to-action. Remember that the meta description will determine whether or not your content attracts clicks, not rankings.
3. Get some structure
When it comes to making your content irresistible, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Organising your work into a clear, consistent structure with ordered headings and paragraphs makes it more appealing to both search engines and readers. Always start with an H1, and then work in a numerical order down the page – using H2s and H3s at relevant intervals in the copy will be sufficient.
4. Keywords, of course
Keywords are the building blocks of search. Back in the day, search engines relied heavily on their usage as a relevancy signal, regardless of how they were actually utilised. Things have evolved and thanks to machine learning, search engines have become much smarter, and their rules stricter.
You should never tarnish the quality of your content by trying to simply add more keywords. Best practice will have you using these terms strategically and contextually – not to rank for all keywords, but rather to rank for the keywords that people are actually searching for when they want that awesome thing that your site can provide them with. Choose your [key]words wisely, if you will.
5. Linking things up
It was inevitable that linkbuilding going to crop up in this post at some point, right? While there’s oodles to be said about the relationship between SEO and links, I shall do my very best to stick with the theme of outlining just the basics.
- Internal links carry a lot of weight in demonstrating your authority in a given field and also your scope of discussion around keyword topics. If you’ve got one piece of superb content that will provide additional value or insight to another, link them up.
- External links to high-quality, reputable sources highlights the credibility and capacity of your own source.
If you remember one thing about linkbuilding, let it be this; every single link needs to have a legit function within your content – going overboard with linking will quite literally drown the chance of any good results coming from your efforts.
6. A picture is worth
a thousand some words
If you really want your content to thrive, you’ll need to pepper it with a selection of alluring images. Not only will this make your work appear (even more) spectacular, but it’ll serve as an additional opportunity to gain presence within search results… image search results.
Google places a relatively high value on image alt text in order to understand what an image contains and also the topic of the text surrounding the image. In an article about the use of images, Google offers advice under the very specific heading “create great alt text”. If that’s not a signal for you to go forth and write some lovely, descriptive alt text, then I don’t know what is.
Also important for image optimisation, is sizing. Mahoosive files come hand in hand with super slooooow load times, which can do your SEO efforts a disservice.
7. Be a shepherd, not a sheep, be unique
Any copywriter should be well aware of plagiarism and its consequences. Your content needs to be just that – yours. In similar vein, search engines do not take very kindly to duplicated content, and it really will do more harm than good. Fortunately, there are ways and means to address dupe issues, but you should always seek to produce work that’s entirely original.
Copywriting is an exercise for the readers
SEO gets a lot of hype, but never underestimate the power of the people that will actually be reading and taking action from your content. There’s very little point in ticking off any SEO tasks without knowing your audience, their expectations, and their needs so pay close attention to your target audience and how they engage and interact with different styles of content.
It’s worth noting that Google rewards pages that focus on user experience. So, before the writing even begins, you need to position the end user at the forefront of your mind. And this is where they need to remain.
Also published on Medium.