Use your audience’s language
By doing this, when your audience searches, it’s more likely to return a match. Universities often write how they want to be perceived, rather than how their users perceive them.
Lead the reader to a specific call to action
One of my SEO Tips for writing content is never to lead your users down multiple paths – they will be less likely to complete an action. Hone in on one thing and get them there. Once they’re there focus on the next step.
Balance length with focus
Less than 300 words is too short. It is considered less valuable to users and therefore, to search engine algorithms. This is called ‘thin content’.
It’s common in marketing for writers to try and simplify a message to a short soundbite. Without sufficient depth, search engines don’t believe that you are thorough enough to be reputable.
Academics on the other hand, love detail. Detail is great for search engines because it is easy to determine what it is about. 1000 is considered the benchmark for content length.
But long-reads are often at the expense of a users attention span. If the detail is overwhelming, then there’s a good chance they’ll never even get to the call to action.
Strike a balance by addressing if your content should be broken down into multiple pages. If you’re writing about a big topic, it’s likely that you’ll have sub-topics. Let your content dictate the flow, not rigid templating paradigms.
Get the title right
If you don’t Google could do it for you. That’s no joke, Google can generate a title for your page if it thinks yours isn’t relevant.
Your title will likely be the first thing your users see on the website, but in a search engine results page (SERP), it definitely will. Make it clickable. Be semantically clear, but leave a little mystery to create an engaging connection.
Some systems are capable of SEO specific titles too. If your content requires a clinical title, consider how you could leverage an additional format of the title to draw them in from outside.
Length is also important. Too short and you reduce the chance of search engines being able to form a good opinion of your content, and too long, and your title will be truncated. Try not to extend past 55 characters to reduce the chance of truncation.
Sum your content up in one word. If this is how you would want your content to be perceived then you can use a few tricks to make sure that search engines align with that view.
- Make sure it’s in the slug (page URL)
- Don’t overuse it
- “I love cats. I have many cats and sometimes my cats like to play with other cats because she just loves other cats so much. I think that cats are the best.”
- If it’s annoying to you, it’s annoying to Google.
- But don’t underuse it either. If you don’t weave it into your text appropriately, Google will think you’re trying to trick it into believing your content is about something it’s not. Uncool.
- Rule of thumb: 3-4% usage is recommended, though I appreciate this can be hard to work out. Some content editors will track this for you, so that’s a feature to look out for.
- Don’t reuse the same Key Phrase on multiple pieces of content.
- Ensure it’s in your title
- If you have a subheading, get it in there
- Add it to the opening paragraph or sentence
- Getting too much? Try a synonym instead here.
- The point here is to make the topic clear immediately.
How to choose a Key Phrase
- What do people search for?
- Look at Google Analytics and see what terms people search for to get to your page
- Tools like Answer the people are great for showing what questions people have about a certain topic.
- Research the search volume
- Google Trends can help you to compare traffic for sets of keywords.
- Google your keyphrase
- These are your competitors. What does their content look like? Try to spot patterns in the results: This is probably what Google thinks the content should look like, so aligning yourself with that is a great start.
Oh, and don’t make it too long. 4 words max. Longer than that and you’re waffling and you know it.
Link it like it’s hot
There are two types of links and they’re both great for increasing your rankings in SERPS.
When you write hyperlink text, be careful that you don’t use the Key Phrase in it. This confuses the heck out of search engines because they expect that the destination is about a different topic. Yes, Google is that dramatic.
Link to pages on your site that are relevant to what you’re writing. This is because of the way that search engine spiders crawl your website and how it generates a map of your content and what it means. It helps them to understand your content structure.
If you have a good internal search engine, you can use this to find out what content is related to your Key Phrase. Alternatively, run an advanced Google search to search within the domain you are writing for. It would look like this:
site:yourunivresity.ac.uk intext:"molecular biology"
And if you want to be sneaky, a top SEO Tips for writing content is to run this against a competitor site to see what they’re doing on this topic.
The internet was borne out of sharing. The more you give away, the more you get back. So Google likes it when you link to other sites. It’s also good to have others link back to you. Investing in quality relationships with like-minded content authors can help your rankings. PR opportunities hold real value on the internet too because borrowed authority can help you rise through the ranks.
This is probably a longer-term idea, but you should start now.
An often disregarded SEO Tips for writing content is putting together a quality meta description. A meta description is sometimes returned in the short intro to your page on SERPs. 120 characters are considered too short and you’re too long when you hit 156.
The summary should stink of the content of the page and draw the user in if the title didn’t grab them.
Some systems might give you control over this type of description, but if they don’t find out how it gets generated. If it gets created from the first paragraph in your content, for example, you will have to combine a few tips from this guide to strike a balance.
And in case you are wondering, this guide was put together using the techniques I have outlined. I wrote “SEO Tips for writing content for your website” in the Gutenberg editor of WordPress so that I could leverage Grammarly and Yoast SEO tools.
Grammarly actually told me that my delivery is slightly off in this guide, so I’d love to know what you thought. Why not drop me an email and let me know?