SEO Writing 101

Google is like Pinocchio; they both want to seem more human.

pinocchio touching his nose

Write well.

That’s what Google wants you to do. Because that’s what your human audience wants too.

Become an expert on something and share well-written content about that something.

Know your keywords, and how to use them.

A good SEO writer avoids excessively ham-fisting verbatim keyword instances into content. People often say a thing in many subtly different ways, and we should write that way, too. That said, don’t invent awkward phrasing thinking it will make Google or your website visitors happy. E.g. One of my writers started abusing the phrase “dental clinic” several times in every piece for a dentist client. Nobody says that. Dentist office? Sure. Dentist? Sure. But if you ask for a “dental clinic” recommendation, you’re in a small cadre.

If your keyword is ‘broken AC unit’ for example, any of these, and countless others, are fair game: broken air conditioner, AC is broken, air conditioner not working, AC on the fritz, AC blowing warm air, etc.

…Which is far from telling you to not use the verbatim keywords. You should use both synonym and verbatim keyword instances. You know, just like a real person would!

One of my writers had a synonym-keyword epiphany when I shared this gem:

“…install a small, affordable bathroom heater…” counts as a synonym keyword instance for the keyword: heater installation.

But people (and Google) care about more than the naked text content of a piece; we also care about its presentation. Is it easy to skim for quick grokking? Is it easy to categorize? Is it easy to find on your site? And so on.

Imagine this article without headlines. No paragraphs. No images.

Images are worth some amount of words. Right? Especially if we mark them up well with alt attributes and avoid web-image mistakes.  If nothing else, an image might make your page look better and/or encourage readers to linger longer. (I don’t task my writers with obtaining images. Too much liability because of copyright trolls.)

Good headlines help human and robot readers quickly understand what’s in a document. Sub-headlines break up long sections of otherwise more-boring-looking text with contextual cues about what follows.

Link to relevant related content on your own site with good anchor text. Good intralinking strategy will help Google and readers learn more about you/your topic.

Invisible-ish bits are important too. (Because they’re not invisible to Google.) Learn how to write and use great titles and meta descriptions. Learn about microdata and some specific ways obscure bits of structured markup can help you succeed in Google.

…Maybe those last two links are more “SEO 201” than SEO 101.

What else can I do for great SEO?

Plenty. UX plays a big part in SEO. Tune your website so it’s fast. Remove hurdles between visitors and the prize at the end of the tunnel. (Shorten the tunnel?) Run multivariate tests to figure out what works. Stay relevant. Integrate your social efforts with SEO and otherwise encourage people to connect with you and your excellent website. Backlinks are key.

And if you’re serious about ranking well for important keywords, your first foot forward is good keyword research. Yes. Keyword research. Those last two keyword research articles are almost a decade old. Don’t bother reading them. They’re there to underscore that “Stay relevant.” note.

…Some say video is the future of SEO. Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to optimize video SEO, too. A little about that, and some other important nuggets in this post about what you can do to complement SEO efforts.

Good luck.

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO for small large businesses, large small businesses, and non-profits. He doesn’t love working with large large businesses because he likes to quickly affect change. Is it ironic that those with the deepest pockets are often the slowest? Maybe. Final note: Do as I say, not as I do; there are probably too many links in this blog post!

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