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Writing the Rankings: A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

 

10th June 2014 Emma Thomas Marketing

Your first time writing for the vast and ever-growing world of the web can be daunting. In a fast-paced environment, web writing requires responsive, direct and quality content that draws in online traffic. Setting aside your trusty thesaurus and writing with a completely new set of rules might seem like a challenge. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to learn about writing for Search Engine Optimisation that will help you get online hits.

Market Research

The first thing you will need to do before you even hit the keyboard is do some market research. A great place to start is to search for the content you intend to write about on Google, and see what comes up. At this point you’ll want to check out your competitors to see what they’ve been writing. For example, if you’re an independent law firm, search for other similar businesses in your area and globally, to see what kinds of articles they have written on their “news” or “blogs” sections. This will give you an idea of what has already been written and how it has been received, so you can think of an original perspective of the story and ensure your article will engage well with your target audience. Thinking of a slightly different angle on a subject, or even using interesting wording, is a great way to climb up the Google search results page.

There are a number of great online research tools you can use to plan content that will rank well on search engines. Using keyword tools allows you to enter the service you intend to write about and see all of the combinations of keywords that users enter into search engines. You can find out which keywords are the most popular, which phrases other websites are most competitive to rank for and plan a collection of words to target in your content. Google Trends is a great tool that shows you what has been ‘trending’ on the internet, what people are searching for at every moment. You can even download a screensaver of ‘hot searches’ to remain constantly updated! With Google Trends, you know exactly what will perform well on the internet, enabling you to tailor your content and keywords used to fit this.

It’s also important to keep up-to-date on everything that is happening in your field so that you can respond to developments quickly. Google alerts is a system into which you can enter phrases that you would like to be updated on daily. You will then receive email alerts with all of the news stories and web articles released each day in response to your alert. This way, you are guaranteed to know everything about your area before competitors, so you can create well-ranking content quickly.

Using Keywords

Once you have done all of your research, you will need to assemble a selection of keywords to target. Keywords are one of the most important aspects of all online content as they are what matches your writing to potential readers’ searches. The more keywords you get into an article, the more of a chance you have of ranking highly on search engines, thus getting more views.

You don’t want your content to become a repetitive stream of the same keyword over and over again, as this is not pleasant to read and will put customers off. Instead, ensure the most popular keyword in your plan is included in your title and a couple of times in the article, and then use different combinations of keyword phrasing throughout the main text. For example, if you are a building firm in Northfolk, you might be looking to include “builders Northfolk”, “Northfolk builders”, “builders in Northfolk”, and so on. Make sure you enter keywords into sentences that fit, and not every single phrase. Try to make your use of keywords as seamless as possible whilst using as many as you can.

Content

Of course, all of these SEO tactics must be accompanied by quality content if customers are going to read your article the whole way through and consider using your services or products. Always remember exactly who your audience is, and tailor your tone and vocabulary to suit the reader. Try to always offer content that will be valuable to your audience, perhaps answering a questions, giving advice or entertaining.

The structure of the article is also vital. The first few lines of your text are what will be displayed on search results under the article title. This is what internet users will check before they decide whether or not to read your article. So, your first paragraph must be engaging, imaginative, and summarise what the rest of the article is about.

The length of online content should vary according to purpose. Generally, the more information you can provide the reader, the better, but you don’t want it to be so long it becomes inaccessible. About 500 words is good for a regular blog post, any less might not be offering the reader enough detail. However, longer posts for specific and complex subjects is also great.

Efficient Titles

The title is the first thing a reader will notice about your content, before they even click on the result to read it, so you have to write a title that ensures they want to read it! Always use your most powerful keyword in the title, so that your article will rank higher in search engine results. However, the title must also capture the reader’s attention – whether is be through humour, shock-factor, or just directly answering a question they might have. The title should also communicate exactly what your article is about, otherwise the reader will be frustrated and leave the site.

Closing

“Closing” is the process of “closing the deal” with the reader – convincing them through your content that they should use a certain service or buy a particular product. Closing means writing an article with an aim, whether it be to persuade potential customers to use your company, or just to inform them on a certain subject that may indirectly lead to a similar conversion later. For example, by writing an article explaining why organic vegetables are so much better for you than supermarket produce, you will encourage readers to buy from your independent grocer’s store.

Closing tactics often include structures such as “if you want to find out more about this, click here”, leading to another of your company’s pages that advertises your services and might lead to a purchase.

Engaging

Just as important as closing is engaging. With the rapid growth of social media, it is becoming easier to engage with your customers directly, allowing them to build up a relationship of trust with you.

In online content, make sure to foster this through encouraging discussion in a comments section, advertising your social media and putting your content on third party websites. You should also share every article you post on all the social media platforms you use. This will multiply your online presence and lead people to your article, also allowing them to relate to your company and feel like a part of the discussion and community you are trying to create. If you make your customers feel valued in this way, they are far more likely to use your company.

Linking

An element of engaging is linking. In your content, you should aim to subtly include links to pages of your website where people may be more likely to use your services, for example, the “contact us” page, or pages for particular products. Usually it’s best not to display the whole link, but to format it into the text of a keyword, which, when clicked, will take the reader to the page. This makes it less obvious that you are advertising yourself, and increases traffic to your pages whilst building your keyword ranking for those linked phrases.
You should also use external links to third party content – with care. Make sure you link to non-competitor pages that rank highly on google, and that they are pages which will further encourage the reader to use your product. For example, a local dog-walking business could link to an RSPCA article about the importance of dogs getting sufficient exercise to maintain their health. This would provoke the reader to feel a need for the services the dog-walking business provides.

All of these steps are integral to creating successful, search engine optimized online content. With the right tools, a little knowledge of SEO, a good understanding of your audience and some creative flair, you can completely transform your website’s popularity. However, there is much more you can do.

Perhaps, if you’re busy running your business you’re thinking you just don’t have time to do all of this? If so, we can help. Media Street are specialists in all things SEO, and can guide you in every aspect of boosting your website’s rankings and business’ success. Contact us for advice and we can make your company the leader of the pack in the SEO ranks.

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