Why Search Engine Optimisation Matters
You craft your article, you put your heart and soul into creating something which adds value to your audience. When you have put all of that effort in, you desperately want people to be able to read your offering. Posting your article on a blog, if the blog has a high readership, can achieve a great reading count. However, if you consider you want to offer your writing to many more people, then you need to make sure your new audience who is looking for articles like yours can find you. so it’s essential you make sure your article is search-engine friendly.
Search engines, and in particular Google are vital in getting your message out. To maximise the chances of search engines indexing your article and showing it to your specific audience, you need to optimise your article. This does not mean changing the substance of what you write or dictating your writing style. It is simply to create some simple strategies which help to get your article found.
As in other articles, I am not an SEO expert and so my advice is from the perspective of a writer. In the act of writing, I have learned some simple search engine-friendly techniques which have worked for me. They will work for you too.
Aspects that affect search engine optimisation
When writing your article, you need to make sure the topic you are writing about is clear. You also need to understand the words you use will impact when reaching your target audience. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about content to make it search-engine friendly.
- What is topical for my audience at the moment?
- What questions do they have and how can I answer them?
- How can I make sure topical and sought-after content is picked up by search engines for my target audience?
- What research or useful information can I point my audience to?
Once you are clear about what you are writing about and why. Then you can move on to some simple structural must-dos so search engines both recognise and share your work.
We’ve already talked about your article headline and how important it is to get it right. Your article heading is certainly the first and most important title. However, there is nothing worse than writing a 1000+ word article and not allowing your reader to pause for breath. Paragraph after paragraph can simply put your audience off. Readability is key here. You need to interject your writing with headings and titles throughout. Your headings and titles would benefit by also being terms your audience will be looking for.
Title tags come in different sizes. So H1 is usually your headline. Then your main paragraphs within the article can be H2. Further headers which break up your paragraph, or provide a list, can then be entered as H3. These are all available in the editor of your WordPress site.
An example of a title structure can be shown here when I wrote my article for the magazine about Defining Leadership. This is part of the hierarchy I used.
H1 Tag DEFINING LEADERSHIP AND CREATING YOUR UNIQUE PURPOSE – Article Title
You don’t need to be rigidly structured as this. This was a long article and warranted this kind of structure. However no matter what your style or how long your article turns out to be you ought to consider separating your writing by titles and headings. Creating a decent structure with interesting headings and titles makes sure your article is search engine friendly.
The meta description is the description search engines place underneath the heading of your article. You need to think about your meta description because it will often determine whether someone seeking your information will click on your article, or someone else’s.
As you can see the meta description for my post about defining leadership gives a hint of what the article is about and hopefully leads to the reader wanting to find out more. We make writing meta descriptions easy within the magazine because we use the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin allows us to easily write a meta description, and it conveniently displays a dialogue box to do this. If you’re not writing for us, or you don’t have a plug-in, it would benefit you to install one which does the job for you. Alternatively, you can always include meta descriptions for your article in HTML.
I read it is beneficial to think of your meta description as an ad for your article. It’s the first description your potential reader will see. It’s therefore really helpful if you can write an engaging meta description.
Categories and Tags
Whenever I read articles about categories and tags, most experienced SEO experts don’t rate them when considering search engine optimisation. Not because they aren’t useful, just apparently search engines don’t add weight to your article because of any categories or tags you apply. However, when writing and publishing for the magazine, we do take categories and tags seriously. This is because once a reader is on the site, categories and tags provide structure for them. It is a way of organising information in a way which makes finding the articles they may wish to read, easy to find.
When I first began writing I used to flag my articles with as many categories and tags as I could. I soon learned, however, this did not help with SEO but made my articles look confusing and too widely spread. Here in the magazine, we have limited our articles to 6 main categories. We’ve also limited the tags to around 75 across the site, and allow 3 tags per article. When you are writing your article, for a good reader experience, make sure you choose the right category and also tags which tell your readers exactly what your article is about.
Alt Text in images
Whenever you include an image with your article, you need to make sure you include a description of the actual image which you can include as “alt text”. This means if the image doesn’t show up, the reader can see what the image is all about. However, it is also a must for Search Engines. Being able to read what your image is about helps search engines determine whether your article is what your reader is looking for.
Recap and Checklist
So here is my layperson’s guide to some of the key aspects of SEO for your article. The main takeaway is you should write your article in your style and in your own words. However, once written, you need to test it to see how SEO-friendly it is.
On our admin dashboard, Yoast provides a really handy checklist of issues you need to consider for SEO. My team use this checklist to optimise articles. It’s good discipline and I’d recommend you either use Yoast when uploading an article for the magazine or if, for your blog, I’d recommend you invest in the plugin.
- Decide your topic based on the question or problem your target audience may want to be answered. There are many tools which can help you to find out what people are searching for in your niche.
- Develop your headline, read our earlier session about how to get the best heading for your article. It’s often best to craft your heading to show exactly what you want to discuss in your article before you start writing.
- Write your article. When you first create your article, do not think about how your audience might find it. Simply get started writing from your heart. Write in your own style and inject enthusiasm and your own personality into your article. Once done, then you can begin to insert some actions to craft it into a search engine-friendly offering.
- Work out your title structure. Are you going to simply have H2 section headings, or do you want to include sub-sections in H3 to organise your article? You can set your title structure either before or after you’ve written your article. Whichever feels more comfortable to you.
- Once you’ve uploaded your article, write your meta description. Your meta description should include your keyword or key phrase and should be intriguing enough for your reader to want to click on your article when it shows up in search engines.
- Don’t forget when uploading any images, include some alt text so search engines can find your article via your images as well as your text.
- Next up is Part 8: which looks at techniques to engage your audience!
I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.
I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.