In a recent article, A Freelance Writer’s Basic Guide to SEO, we had several requests asking how SEO knowledge can be used in practice, when writing articles. Naturally, we are only too happy to oblige.
The methods I am going to talk about in this article have not been learnt in online courses, nor have they been taken from theory manuals you can download for a price on the Internet. Everything I am going to discuss has been gained from hard experience, both as a writer (over 10 years), and as an I.T. consultant (University degree and 18 years in the business).
Is Writing an SEO Article Complicated?
No. There are no magic formulas or weird science to SEO, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing things. There are guidelines, however, as you will discover in this two-part article.
SEO writing is very much a matter of common sense, and the application of some very simple points that are based on the idea of well constructed articles, and well constructed websites. Surprised? Don’t be. Just read on.
SEO writing is no more complicated than writing a standard article for a magazine, the only difference being, there are a couple of other factors to consider. But the basics are always the same, which is where I am going to kick this article off.
Get The Basics Right
Whether the article is for your own website or as part of a freelance writing contract, the most important thing to always remember when writing a Search Engine Optimised article, is to make it a GOOD article.
By good article, I mean the article must be useful to the reader. It should provide them with a benefit they can visualise, or offer something of value to them that is applicable and relevant to their lives or businesses. It should be something they can relate to easily.
There’s no point in writing a technically good SEO article, for it to be a load of nonsense to the reader. Not only will the website concerned lose a potential customer or lose out on traffic and advertising revenue, but the article will become a non-entity and be a complete waste of everyone’s time.
If the article is no good to the reader, don’t expect it to be picked up or linked to by affiliates, link marketers, or any other medium that could have provided valuable promotion or marketing – all of which would have boosted the website’s rankings.
Always remember to write for the HUMAN who will read the article at the end of the line, not the search engine algorithm that finds it. Get that right, and you are already half way there!
Components of SEO Content
An SEO article is made up of two distinct, but very important components:
1) it has to contain relevant and value added content
2) it has to be supported by good website infrastructure (the ‘techy bit’)
As I have already mentioned, SEO article content must be topically relevant, and provide value to the reader. And as with a standard article on any conceivable subject that’s possible, it has to have a new angle, a good initial hook, and and it must be important to the reader. Writers of articles for all kinds of publication will tell you this; it’s what you learn on day 1 at freelance article writing school.
What they might not tell you until much later, is that in an SEO article content must include certain keywords and keyphrases that are relevant to the topic, and the article context. These keywords and keyphrases must appear seamlessly in the article, and not disrupt the natural flow of the piece; they should ehnance it and be inconspicuous at the same time.
I’ll cover the ‘techy bit’ in the part 2 of this article.
Keywords and Keyphrases
There’s no science to figuring out what keywords to use within the content of your article, so that they show up in search engine results. Forget about AdWords, keyword software, scientific algebrae, and costly training courses. In my opinion these are expensive sledgehammers being wielded to crack a nut,and in my experience, are only designed by people hoping to make a quick buck by taking advantage of what writers don’t know.
Here’s what to do. Sit down with a notepad and pen, and write down all the words and phrases that could possibly relate to the subject/business interest you are writing about. Almost all of these will (or should) be getting used in the meta data of the web page, but this will probably not be of your concern anyway (this is also covered in the ‘techy bit’ in part 2).
Some of the keywords you write down, can be used within the SEO article.
For instance, I recently wrote an article for a website that is in the business of superior tourist accomodation in the Scottish Borders – a bed and breakfast. The keywords and phrases I came up with were: “bed and breakfast”, “hotel”, “guest house”, “Scotland,” “Borders”, “tourism”, “accomodation”, “Scottish Tourist Industry”, etc.
However, in most cases, especially if you have been hired to write an SEO article for a third party, it is more likely you will be given certain keywords to use within an article in advance. This is fine – they’ve done the brain storming for you – but however they came up with the words and phrases, it’s your job to write a quality article that has them embedded in the text.
It’s not difficult, as you will see in part 2 of this article next week, when I look at applying the keywords and keyphrases, utilising hypertext links in text, keyword density, and web page optimisation (the ‘techy bit’).