For as far as I can remember, SEO, or search engine optimization, has been a term that was tossed by countless folks on internet. The concept about writing with the intention to rank high in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing appeared so intuitive that everyone wanted to chip in his/her two cents.
I’ll be more honest: most people have no idea when they mean SEO, or have even slightest clue as to how they can drive a high amount of traffic. This is why I’m writing this, and I know that based on my experiences reading and analyzing on this topic, I can show you how you can master SEO.
1. Write for Content, Not Just for SEO
All the following four advices are secondary to developing unique and informative content. This is not just about reproducing an original content to adhere to submission guidelines, but that even for search engines, if your content lacks originality, it will be discarded and not ranked high in the searches. There is no exception to this, and especially with Google, pages that do not have high page ranks (PR) will not get many views regardless of how much useless contents are there. So, write well and deliver something worthwhile that people will actually read.
2. Do Keyword Research Before You Write
I recall encountering several once-successful freelance writers who complain about not getting many page views now because Google “changed their algorithms.” This is why simply writing a good story will fail online even though that may have worked for printed materials. Keyword research is to use tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Wordtracker Keyword Tool to see what and how much people are searching for certain topics. This means that you shouldn’t write about “dog foods,” but instead, focus on “what to avoid in choosing dog foods” – this will not only work for SEO, but it will also force you to deliver more useful content for readers.
3. Include Internal and External Links
Any article you write will be “crawled” by search bots and spiders, and the likelihood that your content will get indexed and ranked well depends on internal and external links. For instance, if you are writing a series of articles about home renovations, it will be good to link your third article with first two (internal linking) so people can easily find other helpful info. External linking is great to provide people with references for certain terms or concepts that may be obscure. All these actions help the reader, and because they provide “web” for search spiders to “crawl” (get it?), your content will appear much better.
4. Utilize Social Bookmarking and Networking
Here is where some people again make large mistakes because they don’t really understand the purpose. Social bookmarking and networking is about sharing interesting contents that people will find useful. This is not about promoting or advertising your article, and in fact, the only place for such purpose is Twitter (you can follow me on Twitter also). This is self-explanatory – you should only share your article if it will reach out to broad audience, and even so, be sure to actually use services for fun as well. Do not spam Pinterest, Digg, Reddit, Facebook, and so on.
5. Be Concise to the Point
Even if you do above four tips right, you can still fail if you do not exercise brevity. The ideal word count for any article is roughly 400 to 600 words, and your keyword density, a term that is overused sometimes, should be about 2-3%. It is important, however, that you don’t simply try to write to fit that percentage because you will then do “keyword stuffing,” which is annoying to read and discarded by search engines. If your topic is specific, contains good keywords, and delivers new info, it will be ranked high and become popular like my article about internet browser comparisons.
So, use these tips wisely, and you will undoubtedly become a skillful writer.