Welcome to your complete guide on how to consider and include SEO based tactics whilst you write articles for your blog or website, with a goal of attaining higher search engine rankings every time.
You’ll learn important and actionable SEO hints and tips which you need to know and think about carefully in order to give your articles a head start as they come up against content already prepared by experts using digital marketing within the same subject or niche.
As a pre-requisite, you will have already performed your keyword research using various tools and identified the words you want to target within the article.
So without further ado, lets get started!
Keep SEO in Mind when Writing Content for your Articles.
Everyone wants to know how to go about writing articles with practical SEO built in, content which will then do well when ranking on Google and other search engines.
The reason why we do SEO for articles is quite simple – there is no point in writing content in the form of article after article and document after document if none of them ever get seen by potential readers. So you must always keep SEO in mind when you write articles as content for a website.
All too often I hear about people writing their pages and reporting back that they aren’t ranking highly or getting traffic no matter what they do. Whilst there are many factors at play here, one of the primary reasons tends to be that people simply aren’t thinking about SEO as they produce their articles for various websites. Reading this guide step by step will teach you the components which you absolutely must implement as you write.
Know your Topic – Become the Expert (Only if Necessary)
There is no real point in trying to learn the SEO aspects of content creation if you know in advance that your knowledge of the topic is, let’s say, not exactly at expert level and instead is only mediocre – or is there? Whilst deep topical knowledge can sometimes be important, it isn’t always necessary, and in either case, there are ways and means of helping you attain the extra information you might need to brush up on your skills.
The truth is that search engines will compare, very harshly, whatever you write, with very effective pages they’ve already indexed which have been created by other marketers. By virtue of decades of creating and further developing complex ranking algorithms and artificial intelligence systems, they can easily spot the difference between badly constructed page content and well thought out content, and they will almost always list the best constructed page (in terms of content in particular) higher.
Carry on reading because being a topical expert or authority really just gives you the choice on how you write and what you write, it does not mean you should actually write at the most intense, longer, and detailed level imaginable. High quality and valuable content can be maintained in any piece of writing and will boost your SEO ranking if done correctly.
In many cases (but not all), the most powerful way of gaining new knowledge (if you need it) to bring you up to speed is to go off and read the top ranking web pages listed for the search term you want to target.
This is a HUGE TIP, please do not ignore it or take it lightly. Remember – that the top ranking web pages have already performed the actions which constitute the content of this very article – that’s why they rank so highly! Spend a moment thinking about this – the top ranking articles are likely to contain BOTH correctly written topic details (at the right level) AND be well structured documents in terms of the on-page SEO requirement.
If you’re already an expert on your chosen subject or your knowledge is at least up to the level of detail required to rank – then you’re well on your way and it’s mostly just a case of applying what you learn from this guide when writing your next article.
However, if you need to polish up on your knowledge, again I cannot stress enough, do so by reading the top listed documents in the SERP (search engine results page) for the target keywords NOT books.
Optimize the Articles Structure, Information Content Level and Layout
Optimize the Article Structure
When performing the optimization of the information to be documented, firstly try to envisage your contents structure as a typical story with a beginning, middle and end.
a) The first thing to do is write an introduction. Introduce the article with an overview of what’s to come, the purpose of the article and what it aims to provide the reader.
b) Next, consider the articles main body. Within this section the finer detail of the information must be broken down and provided in a logical and helpful way with the user experience in mind. Importantly, not all topics lend themselves to the same pattern of content layout, and even more importantly, remember that not all articles should be written to the same level of detail.
c) Finally, formulate a complete summary or conclusion paragraph which highlights the main key areas of the articles points of focus. Summarise by looking at the headings of various sections and using these to build summary sentences.
Write Content which is Optimized for your Readers Level.
When you look at the optimized pages returned by a search engine for a given search query, you may have noticed that the engine has already identified the most appropriate readers “level” of content to return for that query.
In other words, they have identified the kind of person typically performing the search, or more to the point, what level of information is typically required by the given search term. This is in addition to the pages themselves being topically relevant. Lets take an example, the most obvious being this very page.
The search engine has returned this page to you – not because it’s the most scientifically technical, mathematical, algorithmic, PHD developed study in computing for information retrieval architecture – but because it’s the most helpful to the kind of person performing searches for SEO and article writing. It will most closely match what most users looking for this term want. This is a form of Searcher Intent – which we covered in another post.
So, to emphasise, before you start writing, look again at the search results page and try to establish exactly what level of information is being presented to the searcher for your target search term. The clues are all there for you to read. If you want to rank within those results – then you pitch your content at the same technical level (as an example). IE are pages containing basic information coming back – or are highly technical type pages taking the lead?
You can now see why we said above that being an expert allows you to choose what you write – but does not mean that you should write as an expert in all cases.
Create a Well Presented Web Page Layout
Once you’re confident in your own knowledge about the topic, and you feel ready to write at least a 2,000 word article, it’s time to create the layout of the information you want presented to the reader. We achieve this by presenting the information on a web page in such a manner which makes it easy for people to read and understand using various HTML elements and tags such as headings and paragraphs.
You can achieve the actual creation of the web page itself via many different means, however a WordPress Blog is one of the most common methods. Whichever method you have at your disposal, the overall concepts remain the same, and this means actually using HTML to your advantage.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is simply a set of tags which instruct the browser how to format the text within them as it is displayed. Lets take an example.
<b>This text will show as bold within the article and may help with SEO</b>
You will notice the “syntax” of the “tags” – in this case, a starting bold tag <b> shows the browser (such as Chrome) where to switch on bold, and the closing end tag of </b> tells it to stop presenting the text in bold and revert to normal styling.
There are many tags, however for the purpose of learning how to do SEO for your articles, the main ones you are interested in are as follows and they are listed in perceived order of importance :-
This tag is entered at the top of a web page (within the code) – it is simply a container in which to put other tags. Thus, in between the opening and closing HEAD tags are a number of other important tags, the main one being the title.
Often, this is described as the most important of all for SEO ranking improvements or the contribution to relevancy. It does not appear on the web page itself, but it shows in the browser window at the top left hand corner. The content of this forms the blue section of the listing in a search results page on Google.
As you can see in the image above, the details have been taken out of the web pages title by Google, and displayed in their listing. You want to make sure it contains around 60 characters, has enticing words to encourage a high click through rate and which represent exactly what the article is about. You are advised to include your target keywords in this tag at all times, although variants and reversal of terms can sometimes be useful, along with semantically related words as well. The indicators to how you formulate the content for the title are all on clear display when you do a search for the term. Study them hard and use the methods in your own titles.
Keep your title short, down to a maximum of 60 characters in length – within this allowance you must make the title enticing, clickable and relevant to the topic.
Firstly, please note that you have to be careful to differentiate between the title and H1 tags because a lot of people producing blog plugins and instructions do not know how to program a computer, or explain simple page design concepts to users.
This has caused a lot of problems with web site owners not knowing what the difference between the two actually is. For example, I often see the H1 content referred to as the page title – which if you are new to html – it could be interpreted as being so. This is because it appears on the web page most often in huge type and at the very top of a page – like a title does, but make no mistake, data in a title tag is NOT the same as data in a H1 tag.
Also, as you progress, ensure that your blog software actually implements the two tags correctly – in summary – remember, you need a title AND a H1, and the two are best configured with slightly different textual content. Avoid anyone and any software which confuses the two, you MUST be able to set these two separately, do not use any software which simply copies what you put in the title over into a H1.
Once you have learned the difference, you are ready to write your main heading into a H1 HTML tag.
To do this, look at the title you created, take the most important words, and put them in the H1. Ensure that the H1 is NOT EXACTLY THE SAME as the title. Finish the H1 by adding related words into it – building out a sensible, relevant and highly targeted heading which contains roughly 50% title words, and 50% newly added (related) words.
Effectively, by doing the above, you are expanding on the title – in other words, you are expanding on the text which the user has already read on Google, logically allowing them to learn more the deeper they go.
Only use a H1 in your content one time per page.
d) H2 through to H6
These are used to create sub-headings within your web page. Think of using them like a book would, but on a smaller scale.
A book might have its title, and heading 1 on the outer cover, then each chapter could start with a heading contained inside a H2.
You can further nest these within the document you write. So beneath a H2 you may have three or four H3. After the each H3, you might put text inside some H4 tags – along with a paragraph or so for each one. And so on through to H6.
Most importantly, when you have placed a heading of any type into the document – you must ensure that the text in the paragraphs which immediately follow contain the words in the heading. This tells the search engine that your document headings do actually indicate what is to follow.
e) A HREF
It is widely considered a fact that anchor text inside a document, which links to other documents that are loosely or tightly related to the topic of the page they are present on, is a ranking factor for BOTH the page with the link on it, and the page it links to.
As much as viably possible, you should place anchor text in these links which matches your search term closely by actual text or by semantic value. For example – if your page is about “writing articles for SEO”, then you want to have a link on it, which points to another related page and contains anchor text such as “more on-page ranking factors for your article content”.
You get the picture – SEO is semantically related to “ranking factors” right? And you can also see the word article, which is the singular for articles.
f) Emphasis – B and I
You can emphasise text on a page by placing it in Bold and Italics, this should be used sparingly, but it does help the user to focus on important parts of a given paragraph.
Note that I say paragraph. For emphasis formatting of headings, use CSS so as not to try and over emphasise them with additional tags.
B and I are not massively helpful with regards to ranking – but they do help your reader, and so contribute to the overall user experience.
This is the image tag (img) – this is used to load an actual image / photograph onto a web page. It’s sometimes used for things like buttons aswell as main body image content.
The thing about IMG is that it has what are known as “attributes” assigned to it as well. One of these is the ALT attribute. In there you should write your important words, describing the image which by definition should contain content relevant to the text surrounding it. The syntax for an image tag will look as follows :-
Notice that we name our images around the title of the article, and also the alt text should contain related details which increase the overall document relevancy.
You’ll notice there is a line inside the head tag which is the meta description. Now I am not going to assign too much importance to this, because if you’re optimising for google then they will pretty much do as they please in terms of whether they even show it or not in the SERP (It appears as the text beneath what you placed in the title). However, do use it, and do fill it with a good solid description of your page – just in case google decide not to ditch what you write because they think they know better.
Use words and phrases which are associated with the page, used in headings etc. and are also the search terms. Do not over repeat anything in the description – mentioning something twice is the maximum really – and you’re better off just sticking to saying something once and using the space available to mention further specifics about the page. Try and keep your description with 160 characters in length – anything over this will be chopped off (truncated).
Summary of this section.
a) Structure of Information. You can have a purple area with the beginning/introduction, yellow and then blue areas which in this case make up the middle of the document topic, and finally an area at the bottom in brown which is the conclusion.
b) Information Content Level across the page including all tags rather than just those mentioned in a) should be optimized so that it’s pitched to the level your readers need – for example “how technical should the article be?”.
c) Layout is defined and created using tags as can be seen below. This is the overall framework of the page.
Looking at the image above will tell you how to position the various tags we’ve talked about. There are more tags, but for SEO, these are the most important to start out with in terms of building the headings and overall layout of the page content and information structure.
When studying the image above, bear in mind that the other tags from H3 to H6 can also be nested in the same way if your article needs even more structure.
If you ever do a “view source code” in your browser of any page you visit, the details in the above image are often present, although you will find they are spread out amongst other page formatting code and other data. When just starting out learning how to do SEO for your articles, don’t worry too much about this, just ensure that your article contains the basic content as described in the three sections above and laid out accordingly.
Getting the Written, SEO Friendly Article Indexed and Ready for Search
Ok, so you have a fantastic article, the best you have ever written and it’s packed with the right HTML tags and content.
Now is the time to publish your SEO friendly article it onto the internet via your website and get it indexed by Google and therefore ready for people who might want to search for it.
At this stage, you will need to give the article a hyperlink. If you’re using some kind of blogging platform, such as WordPress, then take a moment to study exactly – and I mean EXACTLY how it creates the link, and what anchor text it uses for displaying the link.
This is important, because ideally you want the text in the link to be at the very least on-topic with your article’s theme, but at the same time, not an exact match with the title (or main h1 heading) of the article.
So for example,
if your article title tag contains
“SEO for Article Writing”
and the H1 is
“How to Create Great Content for Your Aricles”
then a good anchor text which links to the page might be a combination of the two – such as
“Click here to read more about article writing and SEO content considerations”.
Make sure you have the word “considerations” elsewhere in the target page too, because you don’t really want words in the anchor text which are not mentioned at all in the page it links to! You can see how I have combined the two elements to produce a relevant anchor link.
Google will crawl your website and find the new link, once it has found the link it will visit the new page analyse it and place it into the search engine. This process can take a while and exactly how long depends on a number of factors. If you’d like to speed things up, read our article on the Google Search Console and how to get indexed fast.
Conclusion of the SEO for Articles Guide
- Think about your SEO as you write the article, keep the target search phrase in your mind at all times.
- Learn about and know your topic.
- Write for the level of your anticipated article readers.
- Optimize the articles structure (beginning, middle, end), the content level (how detailed and/or technical it needs to be) and the layout (lay it out with HTML tags).
- Add contextual links into the actual paragraphs.
- Insert and use images to improve your page style and increase relevancy.
- Get the article indexed.
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