SEOs that are writing articles for a website will often go overboard with optimization strategies that can cause more harm than good. Content that is created for the sole purpose of getting search engine traffic is likely going to be low quality for readers. This is the wrong approach for SEO. The #1 focus of all content should be the site visitor. When they can find the information and knowledge that they searched to locate, a website has fulfilled it’s purpose and deserves great rankings.
Before you begin writing or attempting to hire a writer, take a look through these general writing tips that can help you create more useful content that has the best chance possible of getting top search rankings.
Quality vs Quantity
There are a million different ways to write about any one subject. Ultimately, there is not a set way that you need to write your articles. However, you should make sure that you achieve a good balance between quality and quantity.
When you have a goal in mind with a particular article, like getting a top search ranking for a specific keyword phrase, it can be easy to let that goal cloud your judgment and affect the quality of your writing.
For example, you may not have enough in-depth knowledge about a subject to write a lengthy article about it, so you find yourself writing useless “fluff” content. This fluff content usually contains keyword phrases but does not actually consist of useful information.
Here’s some example fluff content using the keyword phrase “down comforter”:
This content could potentially rank on a search engine because it contains keywords and even semantic words (down comforter, night, sleep, warmth, insulation, blankets). However, ask yourself if this is truly quality content – does it really help someone reading it and/or teach them anything? While it was meant to be rhetorical, the answer for the example content above is a resounding NO.
Now let’s look at the same example but with quality content this time…
Hopefully you can see that this second example is similar in many ways but also drastically different with the level of quality. It still has many of the same keywords and semantic words, but the big difference is that it delivers information that will actually help someone reading the page that is trying to learn about down comforters to try to figure out whether to buy one and even which one to buy.
With my examples, I obviously have much more content with the second example. However, I’ve seen a lot of situations where sites will have an enormous amount of “fluff” content. Personally, I would rather have less content that is actually quality content than a large amount of useless content.
In the long-run, you’ll fare much better in the search engine rankings when your writing is focused on quality and not quantity. However, there is certainly nothing wrong with having a large amount of high quality content (in fact, this is best but may not always be possible depending on the keyword phrase you’re targeting).
Each page of your website will generally have at least one keyword phrase associated with it (your primary keyword phrase for that page) and many pages will also have numerous secondary phrases.
Targeting these keywords within the content can often be a confusing and even a misunderstood subject. In fact, most people overuse their targeted keywords and this results in a general lack of search engine rankings. The real “trick” is to sparingly use your targeted keywords and ensure the rest of your content is focused on that subject but avoids repeating your targeted keywords.
Here are some general rules to go by…
- Use Primary Keyword Phrase Somewhere In Page Title (Don’t Be Afraid To Use Other Semantic Words There Too)
- Use Primary & Secondary Keywords Once In Content Per 200-400 Words
- Sparingly Use Primary / Secondary Keyword Variations (Good To Use But Don’t Overuse Either)
Find yourself using a keyword too much?
- Consider Other Keywords That Mean The Same Thing (Synonyms on Thesaurus.com)
- Consider Replacing With Pronouns (it, that, they, each, few, many, etc.)
Ultimately, you want most of your page content to be about your targeted keywords without actually using those keywords too much. Search engines are based on keywords, but they are geared towards understanding those keywords.
Try to think like a search engine for a minute. A search engine is a computer (or many computers working together). It can look at many aspects of your site and how it is connected to the rest of the internet, but at the root of it all is the text content that you write.
Early on, search engines were more literal. You had a page that contains a particular keyword phrase, so a search engine would associate it with that phrase. Fast forward through decades of keyword spam by internet marketers, and you have search engines that have had to look deeper to figure out if a page of content is truly worthy of being ranked. To look deeper, search engines have to associate words with other words to try to understand a subject and find content about that subject.
Now switch thinking for a minute. Let’s say your best friend just had a new baby at the hospital and called you to let you know. What would she say? How would you respond and what questions would you ask them about their new bundle of joy?
Thinking about that conversation about the new baby, how many times was the actual word “baby” used?
Chances are, it wasn’t in every sentence and may have only been mentioned once or twice in the whole conversation.
Instead of repeating “baby” over and over again in that conversation because it was the understood subject, you’d actually talk about the baby… Is it a boy or a girl? How much does he/she weigh and what is his/her height? How long were you in labor? Did the contractions hurt? Did you have an epidural? Can you have visitors? When will you get to go home?
Besides the subject of the conversation, “baby”, what other words with meaning were used in that conversation? When I say “words with meaning”, I’m talking about everything except “stop words” – a stop word is something like “a, is, it, or, how, much, does, and, the, what, etc.”. These stop words don’t have any meaning for a search engine – they will strip away these meaningless words to get to the keywords.
Other words in that conversation that are not stop words would be things like “boy, girl, weight, height, labor, contractions, hurt, epidural, visitors, home”. THESE ARE YOUR SEMANTIC WORDS!
Try that same type of mental exercise with any subject you want to write about. What are your semantic words that you could use besides the keywords you want to target on that page? Those are the words that should be frequently used and make up the majority of each article (at least when stop words are removed).
It can be helpful to make yourself a list of each article topic with the keywords, a brief description of what you want the content to be about, and a rough number of words to write.
When I’m writing new content, I’ll start with a list of the main things I want to discuss in that article. This outline can then become the headers for your article to help visually break up the content for your readers and to provide organization. This strategy is not only useful for your site visitors but also beneficial for search engine rankings.