Writing SE-friendly articles is crucial when we want to get ranked in Search Engine results (SERPs). We’re actually "pleasing" the search engine (mainly Google) so it places our target page or target domain on the top of its search results.
For that, we should have lots of experience with the algorithm that the Search Engine works. Lots of try and error will give us clues of what criteria our pages must have to be ranked better compared to our competitor pages. SEO is a huge subject to cover in a small article. Therefore, we are providing the reader with the most essential tips, resulted from several years of experience of many SEO experts about what quality and features a SE-friendly content should have.
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Requirements of SEO Writing
- Target Keywords, Target Pages
The whole SEO work is about planning, up-to-date techniques & patience.
Which keywords need more attention? Which target pages need internal and external links? By planning and choosing the strategy of SEO, you come up with a topic, and keywords to write content about.
In other words, the title and the keywords and the target page(s) must be clear before you start writing an article.
- Language skills
Okay, having the requirements ready, we start writing.
In SEO, the title is important, because:
- Google shows it as the title of its search result.
- Google recognizes the main topic of the page from the title and some other criteria.
- The users will be persuaded to click on the link and, therefore, it has to do with CTR (Click-through rate).
Headings and Sub-head
H1, H2, H3 tags and so on, are used in HTML to represent the topics of the article. An SEO article uses headings and a subhead appropriately. Look at the example below:
It’s a good format of an article. It has an author section that tells some information about the writer. It has a big H1 title. The title contains keywords that we want to target. Finally, a subhead and several smaller headings with their paragraphs.
Now, most of these sections (like the author or subhead styling) is done via coding. The writer takes care of the rest (H1 Heading, a description to be used in the subhead and in the source of the HTML page), smaller headings and so on.
Tip: The title should have 1-2 keywords (and/or keyword variations).
That means if we’re targeting keyword "FIFA Coins", the title should have something like "FIFA Coin", "FIFA Coins", "Coins of FIFA", "Fifa 20 Coins", etc.
All of these keywords are variations of each other. Google has some sort of knowledge about what keywords are synonyms of each other. It has developed a "knowledge graph" over the past couple of years that it utilizes to find synonym keywords. That’s why when someone searches for FIFA Coin, Google realizes the sites promoting "FIFA 20 Coins" are related.
Tip: All of the title’s words must start with uppercase letters unless the words are "articles and prepositions" (such as "and", "to", "in", etc.).
Tip: The title shouldn’t exceed 60 characters and the description (or sub-head) shouldn’t be larger than 160 characters.
Keyword Density, Keyword Stuffing or Keyword Stacking
It’s typical practice that the writers fill up the paragraphs and titles with keywords. It’s not going to work in Google!
It turns out that the keywords or key-phrases (combination of keywords) shouldn’t repeat more than 3-4% compared to the whole article. This percentage is called Keyword Density.
Keyword stacking comes in another form too. Where the writer uses many keywords next to each other, separated by commas. The best practice is to limit the usage of keywords to 3-4% and spread them throughout the whole article.
If the Keyword Density exceeds 7%, Google will ban that page for that specific keyword. It’s also highly recommended to use keyword variations and synonyms instead of sticking with the original form of the keyword.
Using Images, Bullet Points, Numbered Lists, etc.
Images in HTML have an attribute called ALT that Google and other search engines use it to identify the content and shapes inside that image. Based on the keywords you use in the ALT attr. of the images, google will place that image in their images.google.com. Now based on the feedback that Google gets from the users, it realizes how correct these keywords are assigned to the image.
Recently, Google also has got the ability to perform image processing. So it can identify the content of the images without needing ALT. But it still relies on it.
So, it’s recommended that we use images among the paragraphs to make it more readable and fun. Images will improve readability and as a result, it will reduce the "Bounce Rate". It means less people will close the page right after they visit it. Images attract more users. Charts are also perfect for grabbing the readers’ attention.
Tip: It’s important the used image is genuine and hasn’t been used anywhere else. It will let Google list your new images in the image results. And not only it will drive traffic to your site from there, but also helps your site rank better.
Bullet points, numbered lists and many other HTML features (such as quotes) give the search engine a positive alarm that this article is structured well. And as a result it will rank easier in the SERPs.
Tip: It is recommended that the main keyword is used in the first half of the article (first or second paragraph). Because Google assumes that the main subject is expressed in the first paragraphs. The links that the SEO experts create in the first paragraphs have bigger impact to SEO results compared to the links that are on the bottom of the article.
The most important part of writing a SE-Friendly article is what to write. You can opt-out all of the techniques shared in this article, but if the content is catchy enough, Google will have no choice but to rank it higher than the others.
That being said, when you’re sharing some pure information or knowledge where it can never be found anywhere else, you’re hitting the jackpot.
But that raises a question, how to write an original article when the subject is published several times on better and stronger websites?
The trick is to give your subject an angle so it discloses details that other sites have forgot to cover. You can read your opponents articles. Learn from them. But they can never talk about everything. Because the details are unlimited. For example, in FIFA Coins, there are lots of talks in forums about cheats and tricks that maybe even the EA developers don’t know about.
I read in a forum where the guy suggested to open an SBC in FIFA and before the game starts hit the menu button and leave the match. And once they did that, they would get the FIFA Coins they were supposed to get if they finished the SBC successfully.
But who knows all these details? You can either read every blog and forum in the net to learn them, or you can simply ask some gamers who have been on it since FIFA 16 or earlier.
So, suggestion to the writers is to go beyond reading two pages as the resource and then paraphrasing them for posting on the target page. With Google’s recent update (BERT) that was launched in October 2019, this will not work as it used to. So, the content should be unique; copied articles will be banned by Google.
Tip: Sometimes the writer is ought to use a certain keyword in the article, but the keyword doesn’t go with any form of the sentences, such as: FIFA 20 Coins XBOX ONE. You just can’t use it in a sentence. But you can do this trick:
"…and those are the measures required to obtain adequate FIFA 20 coins. XBOX ONE on the other hand has some limitations in blah blah…"
As you can see, the target keyword is used almost in the same order that it should, with just an additional dot. To Google, this is as good as using the keyword in the original form. In other cases, the writer can change the word-order in the key-phrase. That’s a good choice too when there is no better way to use it.
It’s good sometimes that the writer links a word to a famous website (such as Wikipedia) to give the content some credibility.
How Long is a Good SEO Article?
There is no limit. It’s known that Google loves textual content. Google hates Flash sites, Ajax or jQuery-based sites and sites that explain nothing but have some videos or pictures.
As a result, if the subject allows you, you can write a long article with lots of screen-shots and images to support the claims in the text. The longer it takes to read, the better, "if" the reader isn’t bored of course. So, the writer realizes himself/herself that how long can a subject be explained.
Lesser Important Tips in SEO Writing
- Using bold or italic or underline in the text is a great way to grab the readers’ attention. Google also pays more attention to these stylings. But overdoing it will have reverse effect.
- The article’s URL, slug, alias (whatever you call it) should be short, lowercased, and using alphanumeric characters and dashes only.
- Tags should be inserted in articles. A good tagging is very important. You must use short tags that can be used in several articles. Using long and specific tags that can only be used in one article are no use.
- Images that are used in the article should be compressed without losing quality. If it’s not necessary to use a very wide image, it’s better to limit the images dimensions to 700-800 pixels of width and the same amount for height. And the image size shouldn’t exceed a 100-150kb.
- Google modifies short titles or descriptions on the SERPs without asking your permission. The limit that we stated for the title and description are the ideal. So, the writer is better keep them close to those limits. Not that shorter, and not even 1 character larger.
- Punctuation and grammar correctness is very important. Also, the coding (having no pop-ups or annoying ads) is important. If the readers leave the page without reading the article, this will increase the "bounce rate", which is very bad.
- Interactive elements in the article, such as tabs, accordions, etc. that encourage the users to click and engage with the page are good things to include in the article. Same thing applies for modal image boxes: When the users click on small images, they load the larger image in a box as a pop-up. This way, the page load will be faster as the smaller size of the images is used in the initial page load.
- Having comments in the blog page, answering the users’ questions, and updating gradually by time, is a good sign to Google that this page is dynamic and up-to-date. It will have a positive effect on the ranking.
- Proper linking to other pages is also important. When the user faces links or suggestions or call-to-action buttons that redirect them to the relevant pages, they will read more pages from the site, and it will make a big difference compared to a page in which the users will read to the bottom and then leave. So, having related articles, call-to-actions, etc. is important.
It’s also really important to have lots of pages in the site that explain facts that are usually stated in the articles. For example, if there is a lot of usage of the word SBC in the articles, in addition of having the tag "SBC", we should have a page that is our reference for this word so we can link to that page whenever we use "SBC", although it may not be one of our target keywords. This internal linking will tell Google that we’re serious about directing the users to relevant pages and we care about the user experience.
- Breaking down long articles into several smaller ones, or paginating article: It’s a bad habit, because it forces the readers to refresh the pages, but unfortunately, Google likes this practice. So, when Google finds several linked pages over one subject, it recognizes it as a good source for its results. It’s like saving each H2 heading with its paragraphs in a separate page with "previous" and "next" navigation, but the pages should be long enough, otherwise it will have negative effect.
Writing in a Good WYSIWYG Editor
We all love MSWord for its many functions that are used for styling the text. However, for publishing the articles online, Word is not that good. When you copy the text and paste it on the site’s editor, it brings along lots of hidden CSS styling that shouldn’t be there.
Therefore, we developed a WYSIWYG editor that is web-based. And it allows you save your article as text. It uses TinyMCE editor, which is used on many sites. It has helpers that shows the char count of the title and description. And it auto-generates a usable alias for the article.