Writing SEO content for your blog or site can be a little intimidating when you start out – if it’s not, it probably means you’re not doing it right. Simply smacking a post on your blog isn’t going to achieve anything; you need to make sure it’s ticking certain boxes so that search engine crawlers will find your article tasty enough to bump it up the search chain.
I’ve been working online for almost seven years now and in that time, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve settled on a number of basic techniques that I apply every time I post a new article.
If you’re really trying to drive traffic to your site and increase brand exposure, you need to be asking yourself these 12 questions every time you create a post.
1. Who are you writing for?
Before you do anything, identify your audience. Whether you’re trying to sell a product or get your name known in a certain industry, study your target market inside and out. Identify their needs, wants, problems and interests, and then cater your content to these things.
2. What are your keywords?
It’s important to be aware of the keywords potential clients will be searching or keeping an eye out for. Make sure your content contains these words or phrases, but don’t overdo it. In the olden days (like, three years ago in Internet Time) keyword stuffing was the cheat’s trick to optimising articles. Thankfully crawlers are smarter now and actually penalise people for that kind of thing. Be smart about including your keywords and make sure they’re a natural fit…
3. Is your content engaging your target?
If it’s not informative, interesting, compelling and most importantly, relevant to your audience, you shouldn’t be posting it. Find your niche and stick to it. It also doesn’t hurt to have a catchy headline – just don’t go down the road of click-baiting.
4. Is your writing high quality?
No one expects you to be Shakespeare, but your content should be as perfect as you can make it. Read it out loud to see if your writing has a good flow and Oh Dear God, there should not be a single spelling or grammar mistake. This makes your article look sloppy and you look unprofessional.
5. Are you too proud to ask for help?
Hiring a professional copywriter isn’t a sign that you’ve given up or failed; in fact, it could be the best move you make. If you’re not a natural writer or comfortable with SEO practices, it will take you a lot longer to create an article than an experienced copywriter. Yes, you’ll have to pay them, but just how much money could you have made during the hours it took you to research, write and slave over the post you wrote yourself? Probably a good deal more than you paid the copywriter who whipped it up in no time.
6. What about word counts?
This really depends on what you’re writing. If it’s a recipe, beauty tutorial or celeb story, shorter is probably better. But if it’s an article people will be coming to for information, like a finance article, they’re going to be looking for a longer piece that’s full of everything they need. But rather than counting words, make sure your content quality is top notch and more often than not, the right word count will happen naturally.
7. Are you interacting with your audience?
You’d better be! Get into conversations, offer advice, defend your ideas – you’re inviting people to engage with you every time you publish a blog post, so don’t sit back and ignore them when they turn up for chat. It’s also worth commenting on other articles published within your industry that you find interesting.
8. Are you being self-centred?
Social media is so important when it comes to promoting your brand, but are your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages shrines to everything you’ve written? Link to other people’s (relevant) articles, videos, webinars and offers. Let your audience know you’re a one-stop-shop for your subject and not just incredibly self-involved.
9. How often are you posting?
In the words of Ty from Clueless: “I hope not sporadically!” You should be publishing articles at least once a week. Show your audience you’re reliable and make sure you’re staying on their radar. Ideally, 2-3 posts a week would be wonderful, but that’s not always possible, so start with one each weekend, see if you can build from there and stay consistent.
10. Are you linking to outside sources?
Don’t be selfish. Sharing some of your attention with others can actually boost the SEO quality of your content, as well as help you forge new relationships. If you are linking to an outside source, MozBar is downloadable toolbar that helps you identify quality links by providing you with that page or site’s SEO rankings.
11. Are you encouraging others to link to you?
Did you feature someone on your site either through a review or an in-depth interview? If so then get them to link to the article from their site. And don’t think size matters. Even if you’ve just given someone a quick mention in an article, let them know via Twitter or Facebook and you could get your article reposted to their followers!
12. Are you giving people something new?
There’s a lot of content online and one big mistake first-timers make is rehashing (and sometimes plagerising!) other articles that are out there, even if they’ve no experience or education in that area. Come up with fresh ideas that showcases what’s special about you and your business and watch the traffic come flowing in.
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