SEO Writing for Dummies
An important tool in your work is Search Engine Optimization, also called SEO. Understanding what SEO is and how to use it is key to your success – and helps the websites we work with succeed, too!
What is SEO Writing?
SEO writing is a form of writing for the internet that helps websites become more visible to major search engines like Google and Bing. A highly visible website appears on the first few pages of results when someone searches for a topic discussed by that website. Those websites, in turn, get a tremendous boost in traffic from search engine users. That makes SEO writing very worthwhile for websites seeking an audience, and a valuable skill for you.
What are Keyword Phrases?
Keywords are identical to the search phrases people type in when they are looking for information on the internet. For example, if a reader wants to learn about guinea pigs, they will probably go to a search engine and type exactly that: guinea pigs. Thus, using the keyword phrase “guinea pig” a number of times throughout an article allows the search engine know the article can help people learn about guinea pigs.
Due to the way search engines read pages, QualityGal writers must use keyword phrases exactly the way they appear in article instructions. If the instructions call for the phrase “guinea pig,” talking about Guinea or pigs separately will not improve the article. (Note: Keyword phrases should not be in quotation marks – that’s just for demonstration.)
To signify the use of keywords, please use parenthesis around the keywords. For example:
There are many different types of pets, one of the more popular animals is the (guinea pig) because they are easy to care for and can be a great pet for younger children.
What if Keywords Don’t Sound Natural?
Sometimes, you will get an article that calls for a keyword phrase totally unlike what you would use in everyday speech. Since articles must sound natural and use an engaging, informative tone, this can be a challenge. For example:
divorce lawyers Springfield
This is very difficult to use naturally, because a person is much more likely to refer to “Springfield divorce lawyers” or even “divorce lawyers in Springfield.” Neither of those alternatives helps us; we need “divorce lawyers Springfield” because that’s the phrase users are most likely to type into a search engine when seeking Springfield divorce lawyers.
One thing to remember: though the words must be in identical order, search engines generally do not look at punctuation. For this reason, there are a few valuable options. For example:
If you’re comparing (divorce lawyers, Orlando) has many options …
(Divorce lawyers: Orlando) is a thriving city that could use your help.
Keywords must always fit naturally into the text of the article. If you have several keywords to choose from, you may find yourself using the “natural-sounding” keywords more often than the clumsy-sounding phrases. This is okay, but make every effort to use all of the keywords and keyword phrases.
How Many Keywords Should I Use?
Use as many keywords as you can while still sounding natural. Keywords should not get in the way of the article’s meaning. If you have several keywords to choose from, alternate using them throughout the text.
Keyword must be used a minimum of three times each.
Always Write for the Audience
While reading your article, the average person should have no idea it was meant to communicate certain phrases several times. Your tone may vary according to the article assignment, but should always be informative, engaging, and centered on the needs of the reader. Imagine who they are and what they intend to get from reading your article, and write toward those expectations.
For more on this topic, see Writer Tips in the Writer Panel.
Tips for Better SEO Writing
Read your article out loud: If you read your out before submitting it, you might find places where the language doesn’t sound quite as clean as it should. This is true for both SEO writing and issues like spelling and grammar.
Insert keywords both before and after writing: Before you start writing an article, look at the style and the keyword list. Can you use any of the keywords in major headers? Within opening sentences? These may be some of the more natural and easiest places to put your keyword phrases, and you can do it right away.
Likewise, you might find it helpful to insert keywords after your first draft is done. Making small changes to sentences you already wrote can help them accommodate keywords easily and relieves you of the extra concern for keyword phrases before your first draft is done. Try to find a method that works best for you.
Use a checklist: In addition to keeping the article instructions open in a separate window, you might find it helpful to copy and paste the keywords into a Word file where you can mark them as you go and make notes showing how many times you’ve used each one. Likewise, bolding the keywords as you spread them through the article will help you see them at a glance. (Just don’t forget to unbold the keywords before you submit the article!)
Where to Find Out More
The QualityGal staff are experienced in SEO writing. If you have a question about style that isn’t “urgent,” consider posting it as a comment on the QualityGal blog. If your question relates to an article that you are working on, email the QualityGal staff. You can always look at our Writer Tips page on the Writers Panel for general advice on improving your writing.