There are two ways to write content for your website. The first is to create some interesting topic ideas, write out your content following all of the writing rules you learned in school, mixed with the style ideas you’ve picked up through other websites, blogs, and anything else you like to read. Will this content be interesting? Probably. Will it be effective? Maybe. Will it help your website be found by search users? Ehh. Maybe not.
The second way is to keep a hold of all of the writing rules and style, but to build from there. Instead of writing about whatever comes to mind, you use carefully researched keywords to direct your creativity. You use SEO writing guidelines to form your content, label pictures, and even create the URL for that piece of writing. In return, this content is not only interesting and effective, but it also improves the findability of your website.
To write SEO-friendly content, you need to start by knowing your keywords. Think about what words or phrases people might use when searching for a site like yours. Do some research, and create a list of words and phrases; these will be the support beams your entire site needs to be built from, especially the content on your site.
Once you have your keywords, create a content plan. You’ll want one page of content (approximately 400-500 words) for each of your main keywords, although you’ll also want to use your keywords across your site. Plan on a keyword density of around 3% for your main keywords, less for your less important keywords. A keyword density tool makes it easy to see which words and phrases your text is actually targeting. If you can’t hit 3% without making a keyword sound forced, STOP! Don’t overstuff (or overuse) your keywords. Quality over quantity, always.
Use your keywords in document headings (h1, h2, h3, ect.) throughout your content. Not only does this break up your content (making it easier to read), but it also alerts search engines to the fact that the words used in these headers are important. In fact, the bigger the header is, the more emphasis search engines will give it. This extra emphasis is important when search engines are determining where in the SERPs (search engine result pages) to rank your website. Use headings moderation, though, and only put them in where they fit. Also, use an appropriate size. Using h1 for a five different headings in a 700 word article is overkill. Start with h1 or h2, and move down from there.
Use anchor text (text links) with keywords. Too many websites are still using ‘here’ or ‘this site’ as anchor text. Not only are you not giving your traffic a clear view of what the link is leading to, but you’re also missing out on a great use for keywords. Search engines look for anchor text, and just like with the headings, they give those words extra importance when figuring out where your pages belong on the SERPs.
When you’re creating a title for the content, use your keywords, as long as they fit. For example, if you’ve written an article about the local music scene, you could use one of these two titles:
You Need to See This Awesome Band
‘Jumping Elephants’ Plays in Syracuse to Sold Out Crowd
Horrible band name aside, the second title has a couple keywords (band name, location) that will help direct traffic to your site. It’s great to be creative, but slipping in a keyword is almost always a good thing. If you really need to use a creative title, use a less creative title (with keywords) for the URL of the article or blog post.
Finally, if the content you’re writing is a blog post, use tags and categories correctly, especially if you’re listing them all in your sidebars. The more a certain category or tag is used, the more power it has, so if you have ten tags and ten categories, and you have a hundred blog posts, each label (the categories or tags) is getting enough use to really mean something. Opposite that, if you have the same hundred blog posts, but you have fifty different tags, and two dozen categories, they start to mean a lot less. Also, it becomes much harder for your site visitors to use categories and tags in the way they were meant: to help them find similar content.
If you put the extra time and effort into writing SEO-friendly content, your site will rank higher in the SERPs, and it will be easier for people to find it when they are searching with the keywords you’re focusing on. It doesn’t take much more to write an article or blog post for search engines, instead of just for whoever happens to stumble across your site.