Online writing has its own style and it’s even more challenging when you consider its impact on SEO. Here are 15 tips to keep in mind when writing for the web.
There’s no need to think of Google every time you’re writing a new post, but it’s still useful to understand what makes a piece of content effective, both in social and search results.
Here are some quick tips to consider when writing your next post. Feel free to copy-paste them, write them down, bookmark the page, or memorise them.
A title has to be descriptive, but also concise. Google only displays the first 55-60 characters of a title tag, which means that an ideal length is approximately 55 characters, to make sure you don’t see your title cut off on SERPs.
Think of your title as a preview to your content. As this will be the first impression of it, you need to maximise the chances of a click to the site, and a powerful title can certainly be very effective.
There’s no need to rely on clickbait titles to increase your traffic, as this may not be appreciated by readers, which will eventually harm your long-term audience.
Facebook recently announced that it will penalise clickbait posts with a reduced news feed reach, due to a new algorithm update. This is an attempt to make publishers understand that there’s no need to be vague, misleading, or controversial to lure new audience to your site, especially when the quality is not satisfactory to your promises.
There are still many ways to increase your traffic, but still respect your audience and a closer look at your recent topics and what led to their success could help you understand even more science of the headline.
Headings are both important for the structure of the page, but also for SEO. They can help Google understand the main topic of a post and thus, facilitate the ranking process.
Subheadings can improve the browsing experience for readers, helping them scan a longer post and guide them through the rest of the article.
You may use all the heading elements, from H1 to H6, depending on their usability, the type of the text, and its length, while you can also use more than one H1 heading, if you feel that it boosts the reading experience. Consistency is also important in all your posts and the way you use headings, in order to help search engines understand the way you use them.
3. Add value
It may sound obvious, but it’s still important to conduct the necessary research for your topics to get a deeper understanding of it, but also to spot the right content gap you want to fill.
Every piece of content should add value, while it is also useful to focus on relevance and consistency, taking your target audience into consideration before deciding on your next topic.
4. Decide on the length
The length of the content varies depending on the industry, the reason it’s created, the audience, or even the available time. Longer content may increase the chances of search engine optimisation, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t create content of less than 1000 words.
It’s better to have several posts of more than 300 words to keep your content fresh, consistent and relevant, rather than creating less content to focus on its length.
The more content you have, the higher the chances to boost your ranking on SERPs.
5. Aim for more time spent on site
The time readers spend on your content indicates whether you can grab their attention and convince them to read more of your content.
One of the metrics that defines the success of content is the time readers spend on it. If the bounce rate is high and they only spend a few seconds on it, it means that you have fewer chances to convert them into loyal readers and eventually visitors.
However, if they spend fice or more minutes at the page, it is an indication that they are really interested in the topic and they want to thoroughly read about it.
You can increase the time readers spend on your content by improving the quality of it, focusing on its relevance to the audience and adding value to what’s already available.
6. Focus on quality
Quality content is not just about increasing the time spent on the site, it is also about building your reputation as an authority to your field. This is a useful way to increase trust with your audience and use your content to build new relationships.
There’s no need to sacrifice quality over quantity, as your content serves as the best way to boost your credibility and thus, your ranking in SERPs.
7. Pick a keyword
There’s an old myth regarding keyword density and whether you should focus on it, or not. As SEO changes year by year, keywords should not be your priority when creating content, but they still serve as a starting point when picking a topic, but also as a useful SEO ally when using them properly.
Google may focus more on the context, rather than the specific keywords, which means that quality and relevance become important, but you can still use a focus keyword in your title and your text.
Just make sure you’re not using it way too often, ruining the text’s readability.
8. Optimise content for social sharing
By the time your content is ready, it’s time to focus on its optimisation to ensure that you increase the chances of its distribution. It’s not enough to write good content if it doesn’t reach the target audience.
Optimisation may include the right headline, the proper image, the caption that will be used in social media, the use of the right social platforms, the hashtags that could be included, or the planning of the social posts.
It’s all about understanding both your content and your audience to excel both in creation and distribution.
9. Add meta tags
It may sound obvious, but it’s also a task that we may overlook. Meta tags (title and meta description) affect the traffic your content will have from search results, which means that it’s vital to optimise them as much as possible to be both clear and effective.
If you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to control your meta description with a plug-in, like Yoast, to create the best version that previews your content.
It’s the meta description that may influence a user whether to click on a page or not, affecting the CTR and thus, the success of your content.
Here are some good and bad examples of meta descriptions if you need further help.
10. Think of the target audience
This is another obvious point, but it’s still vital. Content cannot be successful if it doesn’t meet the requirements of its target audience.
There should be a great understanding of what the audience expects from you, which questions they want answered, and how you can help them.
Start by analysing your existing content and how the audience responded. What worked and what could be improved? Is there a post that went surprisingly well?
How is the social interaction to your posts and which content got most links to it?
11. Test readability
The readability of your content may affect the time readers spend on your page, which as we mentioned, it affects the value your content has.
There are many sites and tools (example) to test your readability score. You don’t have to spend too much time on them to learn how to make the structure of your content simple and clear. You may still use it as an indicator of what you could improve.
12. Test your SEO
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to check your content’s potential success in search rankings.
If you’re using WordPress for example, tools like Yoast SEO, SEO by SQUIRRLY, or SEO Control Center can indicate what you need to improve, while they also help you expand your knowledge in search engine optimisation.
For example, you can learn whether your focus keyword is used properly on the key sections of your text (heading, url, meta description). You can also learn about the keyword density, and whether you need to use your focus keyword more, always in a natural way as part of the text.
Moreover, SEO by SQUIRRLY for example has the option of SEO Live Assistant, which is exactly what it promises to be, your live assistant in real time, while you’re writing your post.
This may help you learn more about optimisation and create content both for humans and search engines.
13. Think of the visual element
It’s rare to see a piece of content without any images, and there’s no reason not to add them when they can provide further information and help with the content’s readability.
Visual content helps with the formatting of the text, its optimisation (both for SEO and social media), but it’s also a useful way to engage with the quick readers, the ones that prefer to skim the content rather than just read it.
That’s why infographics became popular over the past years, as they are informative, but still appealing.
Thus, your visual content can stand on its own, or serve as an enhancement to your written text. In both cases, make sure there is a reason you add it. Visual content is not just about aesthetics, it should have a value and a justified reason of existence.
Need help with SEO tweaking for your images? Here’s a useful guide to image SEO.
14. Add links
Don’t be afraid to add links, whether they are internal or external. There’s no need to link to every single post you come across, but it’s still useful to showcase your references. It’s not just about crediting the source, but it’s also about helping Google rank your blog.
Outbound linking should indicate that you help the reader expand the knowledge on the topic with more useful posts. Google will also appreciate your dedication to the topic and the audience. Beware, users are becoming suspicious with links.
Internal linking is also important, as it helps you build authority and offer further value with previous content you may have written. This helps Google “crawl” your key topics and thus, rank you accordingly to these. And of course, you need to ensure that links open in new windows.
15. Proofread and edit
Not everyone is good at catching all the mistakes in a piece of content. If you feel that editing is not your strongest part, find the right tool, or ask for a professional’s help.
Quality is crucial and it also affects the authority of your content, so you certainly cannot overlook it.