If you write content in the digital sphere, then you’ve probably encountered the term SEO (search engine optimisation) before.
But what is it? And how can you use it to benefit your brand?
In layman’s terms, SEO is the process of improving (and optimising, if you will), the online traffic to your website from search engines such as Google.
If you’re regularly creating content to boost traffic to your site, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help you rank on these search engines.
Allow us to take you through them with our handy step-by-step guide.
Bonus: Once you’re familiar with all the steps, you can even refer to our abbreviated checklist at the end of this blog post which you can use for a quick recap whenever you’re writing your own content.
Step 1: Keyword research
Before you start writing anything, you should always do some keyword research. The very first thing to ask yourself is: how does your writing contribute value to the world? The overall goal here is to give people the best information they can find on your subject – and to become the most credible source of that information.
So, how do you know if you’re adding value? To become an authoritative figure in a given space you first need to understand your audience – the who, what, and why! If you don’t know who you’re writing to, what information they need, and why they need it, then you’re wasting your time with a shot in the dark. Luckily, keyword research can be your guiding light!
If you really want to appear in online search results, it’s important to figure out what keywords your target readers are searching for. Otherwise, how are they supposed to find, and engage with, your brilliant content in the first place?
We recommend creating a thorough list of keywords related to your given topic, and, while doing so, asking yourself the following questions:
- Who am I writing for? Simply put, if you don’t know who you’re targeting, then you’re shooting in the dark and are unlikely to achieve the results you desire.
- What are my target readers looking for? If you find this question overwhelming, you might need to develop a clear profile for your ideal target reader. Check out this ‘ideal reader worksheet’ to help you identify searcher intent.
- Why are my target readers searching for this? Once you’ve established the root of what your readers want, you’ll be able to tap into their psyche. Once you’ve understood that, you’re in.
Struggling to come up with a list of keywords for your content? Check out these helpful SEO tools:
- Google Trends – Google Trends give you a great idea of what words are trending at any given time.
- answerthepublic.com – This tool provides a more detailed analysis of what people are searching for based on their specific locality.
- KWfinder – KWfinder helps you find long-tail keywords with low SEO difficulty to improve your ranking results.
- Ahrefs – This can generate thousands of keyword ideas and analyse their SEO metrics to help you choose what works best.
Once you’ve done your keyword research, scatter your chosen words throughout your copy in a way that feels natural and unforced. Remember that at the end of the day you’re writing for human beings, not search engines, and Google knows that.
Now, keyword stuffing (the inclusion of as many keywords as possible in your content) may seem tempting, but rest assured that this will actually make your content less attractive to readers and could even damage your rankings with Google.
Here’s what the founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark, had this to say about keyword stuffing: “A keyword density greater than 5.5% could make you guilty of keyword stuffing and your page could be penalised by Google. You don’t need to mindlessly repeat keywords to optimise. In fact, if you do, you’re likely to achieve the opposite result.”
Top tip: To reap the best SEO results we recommend using your primary keywords in the first 100 words of your copy.
Step 2: Structure your article for readability
If you want to satisfy both Google and your audience, you need to improve your SEO readability. That is, how easy (or difficult) your content is to read. The goal is to give people the information they want as fast as you can. This can be done by simply using shorter sentences, regularly breaking up larger chunks of text into smaller paragraphs, and by highlighting key information with contrasting styles. This will help readers quickly find what they’re looking for and help boost content retention. While you never want to sacrifice quality or content, you do want to be as concise as possible so that your readers don’t get bored looking for the answers they need.
We’d also recommend:
- Using headings and sub-headings to further separate your text,
- Reducing the use of unnecessary jargon,
- Using dashes to break up short phrases,
- Bolding or italicising keywords or phrases,
- And using plenty of transition words like: ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’, ‘as’, and ‘because’ to establish clear links between your sentences.
Bottom line: the more engaging your content is to readers, the higher your search engine ranking will be.
Step 3: Get the length right
How long or short should a blog post be, anyway? Let’s get into it. Firstly, make sure your articles are at least 300 words long. Any shorter, and Google might class your blog as a form of ‘thin content’. That’s Google’s way of saying your article is lacking.
As a general rule, search engines tend to prefer long-form pieces. In fact, Google’s Top 10 is frequently dominated by articles of 1,500 words or more.
Conversely, though, if your piece is too long, it could deter potential readers. So, try to find that sweet spot between overly long articles and those that are too short by always providing substance to your readers, but never sacrificing on quality.
Step 4: Headlines matter
So, you’ve followed the first three steps of our guide and have nailed the perfect SEO-friendly copy for the body of your text – congratulations! But, you’re not done. Before you publish your blog, you need an eye-catching headline to get people to click on it. In fact, headlines are a lot more important than you may think.
Here’s what advertising legend, David Ogilvy, had to say about them: “On average, five times as many people read the headline as those who read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
In short: create a catchy and compelling headline that:
- incorporates your main keyword
- accurately reflects the gist of the story, and
- doesn’t overpromise or mislead your readers – nobody likes clickbait!
Here are a few tips for making your headlines more engaging:
- Use numbers in your headlines – according to statistics, people are more likely to click on headlines which feature numbers in them.
- Include your offer in the title – for example, “Get 20% off all memberships and renewals!”
- Add a teaser – for example, “We tried Juana’s new face oil and here’s what happened.”
- Introduce your main keyword as early as possible.
Bonus: Get a free assessment of your headline with this super handy headline analyser tool. It will score your headline based on word balance, word count, clarity and more, helping to take some of the guesswork out!
Step 5: Optimise the meta description
Your meta description is essentially the summary of your blog post which appears below the blog title in the search engine. Done right, your meta description should convince your readers to click through to the blog itself.
The ideal meta description should:
- Be short – 140-156 characters is optimal.
- Be compelling – you want your meta description to stand out from the rest!
- Include your main keyword
Step 6: Link to existing content
If you’re sitting on a wealth of previously published content, don’t be afraid to link back to it on your new blog post. In fact, linking back to the content you have previously shared (and that is related to your current post) will show your readers that you are an authority in your field, and will allow them to better navigate your website.
Linking to external websites can also help with SEO as it improves your website’s credibility and shows search engines that you’re giving readers more value by authenticating your content.
Step 7: Include images in your content
Using images in your blog posts will instantly make them more engaging – no one wants to be faced with walls of unbroken text! Some simple (yet eye-catching) animations and/or graphics can often go a long way.
Some great sources for images include the following:
- And more!
Step 8: Add alt text to images
If you’re adding images to your content, always add alt text. Alt text (also referred to as alt tags/descriptions) refers to the description of an image on a particular webpage. Google will ultimately scan this description (just as it will the rest of your copy) so it’s another useful opportunity for SEO – don’t waste it!
Step 9: Consider your URL
So, your blog is almost finished, but what about your blog’s URL? Bet you hadn’t considered that! When creating a URL, ensure that: it is evergreen (that is, it doesn’t need to change with time), it is written in lowercase, and it includes keywords since search engines will always give priority to URLs with keywords in them.
Final tip: keep your URL short, simple, and relevant to your blog post as per Google’s recommendations. I mean, would you want to click on a super long URL?
Step 10: Post on different platforms
Even if your blog is SEO-optimised, it won’t be seen if it’s only published or promoted on one platform. In fact, Google notices when you publish something that gains traction on social media or email newsletters. Seeing the surge in interest, Google boosts your ranking and pushes your page to the top of the search results.
So why not identify a few key places (like LinkedIn and Medium) where you can publish your blog to optimise eyes on your content and be seen as an authoritative figure in your space?
If people continue to frequent your page, you’ll secure a position in the search results soon enough and keep moving up. Perfect for increasing your authority and credibility!
And those are our tips for improving SEO for your brand. Follow the steps we’ve outlined above, tick them off our handy checklist, and watch your SEO ranking improve every day. Good luck!
The Quick Finesse Checklist for Search Engine Optimisation
- Know your reader.
- Choose your keywords.
- Decide on a headline.
- Write your article and make sure it:
- Is structured for readability.
- Includes appropriate keywords.
- Is of a suitable length.
- Is broken up into sub-headings, bullet points, numbered lists, and pull quotes.
- Includes links to existing content (both internal and external).
- Write the meta description.
- Choose appropriate images and resize them for your website.
- Write alt text for your images.
- Write an appropriate URL.
- Post on different platforms.
The Simple Finesse SEO Template
|TARGET AUDIENCE :
|SEO META DESCRIPTION :
|LINKS TO INTERNAL CONTENT :
|LINKS TO EXTERNAL CONTENT :