Guide for Writing SEO Website Content
When writing content for a website, you want your articles to blend seamlessly into the site, especially if there is already content there.
This guide will help writers quickly create content that is researched and written well.
Research the tone for the content
Before you can even begin researching, you need to ask yourself, “How should these articles sound?” If there is already content on the website, do you want the new content to keep that tone? If there is not previous content and you don’t know what tone your articles should have, you can always search for similar websites and see how they have approached their subject. The bottom line is that you don’t want to research and write twelve beautiful how-to articles only to find out that they needed to be news-focused articles. Here are questions to ask yourself:
- Should articles be written in first person? Third person?
- Who is your audience (age, gender, economic status, hobbies)? This will also affect the content’s focus.
- Should articles focus on news? Information? How-to content? Should they be written more like a personal blog or self-help site? There are many different focuses for content, so just be sure your tone matches your audience and the previous content.
- How long are the articles (this should already be decided in the contract, I believe)?
- Are there any unique requirements for this assignment?
Once you have answered these questions, you may want to create a checklist for yourself about what you need to have in each article. This could include simple instructions like adding ten keywords, or it could be a unique requirement that you might otherwise forget to add. This checklist may need to be modified as you write, as you may realize you usually forget to do something (perhaps adding a keyword to the title, or doing a final proofread).
Research the subject and possibly write your first article.
First, take a few minutes to research your subject. If you are unfamiliar with it, write your first article as an overview on the subject to help yourself understand it. That way, you can do some great beginning research, become knowledgeable on your topic, and get an article out of the way. Limit your research, however! You can’t spend an hour on this part or you’ll feel hurried when writing later articles.
Quick tip: Use well-written sources for your information. Don’t use a flagged Wikipedia article or a poorly-written website. To prove that you are a reputable writer, you have to use reputable sources. Wikipedia and eHow are great sources for getting a basic understanding of a subject. Don’t rely too heavily on eHow, however—most likely, you can find a better source. Other great sources include news articles and company websites.
Create a list of possible articles and article titles.
Don’t just research one article at a time or you many end up running out of material. Think broadly from the beginning. If you need to write twelve articles, have twelve article titles already brainstormed before you begin researching.
Begin writing individual articles.
The writing process begins with research and ends with a final proofreading. When writing your articles, don’t forget to break up longer articles with subheadings or bullet points, and to keep all articles very readable by using small paragraphs.
Research an article.
As soon as you have enough knowledge to flesh out an outline, begin writing. You can research more information as you need it. Once again, don’t get bogged down by doing too much research. You probably won’t use it all, and you will have wasted time. (If you come across material you want to use in later articles, place it in that article’s outline along with its source so you can refer back to it.)
Quick tip: In order to save a copy of your work without risking a malfunction and losing part of it, keep an “Article Draft Document” open on your computer in addition to the document where you save your completed work for each cycle. This will be the place where you write your articles. Once an article is complete, copy and paste it into the website, and then copy and paste it again into the document where you save your completed work. The “Draft” document gives you an easy place to work on your articles without risking harming the articles you have already completed (as you might if you worked on your articles in the same document that you saved them in). The “Draft” document also makes it much easier to see your word count.
Consider your keywords.
Periodically scan the list of keywords you can add to your article as you write. If you have some keywords that may be difficult to fit into your article, make sure you have written them in sooner rather than later. Otherwise, fit in your keywords as you write. You don’t want to write the whole article only to scrap a quarter of it because you forgot an important keyword. Keep track of the keywords you have added as well.
Quick tip: Make sure you know how keywords are best used. On the master word sheet, some columns of keywords are best used in titles, some are best used multiple times in the same article, and other are best used only once in many, many articles. Also, using the same keyword too many times within the same article can be just as harmful. Check with Pro 119 to make sure you know the proper keyword limits (right now I believe it is four times per 300 words).
Quick tip: Since there is usually a numerical goal of keywords for each article (currently beginning at about ten keywords per 250 word article), keep track of how many keywords you have used by writing tally marks on a blank notebook page.
Keep the article “scannable.”
This means that readers can easily scan the article. Paragraphs should be small and limited to one thought or idea. Numbered points, subheadings, and bullet points are more options you should use to break up the article, especially when it is longer than 350 words.
Use subheadings and other writing directions to make the very important information clear to your readers as well. A study by Dr. Jakob Nielsen found that readers will typically read only 28% of what you write on a web page. That means if you want a really important fact to get across, it must stand out. Here are a few places you can put information so that it catches your reader’s eye:
- In the first paragraph
- On its own line
- At the beginning
- In bold
- In titles, subheadings, or first sentences
- As a caption
These are also a great place to put keywords, but always keep your titles and subtitles accurate and useful to the reader. They shouldn’t be too long, or so jammed full of keywords that they are hard to decipher.
Link to your sources.
Linking to your sources is a great way to prove your credibility and improve your search engine rankings. There are a couple of things to remember when linking, however:
- Spread out your links throughout the article.
- Only link to reputable, safe websites that will benefit your reader. Linking to a site with a poor reputation could damage your rankings.
- Don’t overwhelm the article with links. Three to four is a good number.
If you can’t find a place for some sources, you can always list them at the bottom of your article in italics.
Quick tip: Not sure if one of your sources is safe? You can usually tell by the quality of the writing. An informative and well-written article is a safer bet. If you still aren’t sure, however, you can use the Website of Trust (WOT) add-on for your Internet browser. An icon is color-coded for every link you see, telling you how much other users trust the link. If the icon is green, you can probably link to the website. If it is yellow or red, you shouldn’t.
Remember the finishing touches.
Make sure you have added enough keywords for the highest optimization. You should have been keeping track of them while writing, but it wouldn’t hurt to go through the article and recount. If you do need more, add them now by looking for natural places where they would fit in.
You should also check your keywords to make sure that they are written exactly as they appear in the master word list. While you can add apostrophes and capitalization, the letters should be exactly the same. If you aren’t consistently writing the keywords as they are in the master word list, you are limiting your results.
Quick tip: One place you want to add keywords is the article’s title. As mentioned above, some columns of keywords in the master word list work best in a title, so try to use those over others.
Quick tip: While you want to add as many keywords as you can, don’t sacrifice the quality of your writing. Some keywords may require a grammatical error or a misplaced word, but this should be the exception, not the rule. When you do add a strategic grammatical error, place it toward the bottom of the article, where it will be less noticeable. Overall, your goal should always be to provide a good impression to your readers.
Check your checklist.
Remember the checklist you made before writing? Look over it and make sure you have remembered all the requirements for your article.
Finally, proofread the article by slowly reading it out loud to yourself, focusing on each individual word. The key is to focus not on the meaning of the sentence but on the way it looks. When you were writing the article, you were looking at the overall picture, for good flow, and for clear sentences. That should all have been resolved during the writing process. Now, you want to look only at each word so that you can catch a typo or a grammatical error.
There are many things to remember when writing an article for website content and search engine optimization. This guide should help you efficiently create high-quality and optimized articles.