Top 5 Rules for Content Writers and Editors
There will always be a need for quality content online, but as writers and editors for the digital world, it’s worth remembering the role search engines play in deciding what gets seen and what doesn’t.
Basic knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can make all the difference when it comes to maximising your online visibility.
Here are 5 rules to keep in mind and help boost your search engine ranking:
- Use Keywords in Key Places
Keywords and search engines go hand in hand. By ensuring your content incorporates likely search terms relating to your topic area, you can substantially boost your ranking on popular search engines like Google or Yahoo. Not only choosing keywords but selecting where and how frequently you use them can influence your ranking.
The regular appearance of keywords in your content shows you are thoroughly addressing an expressed need or solution, yet overstuffing of those keywords will be heavily penalised by Google’s search ranking algorithm, as well as creating a dry reading experience for your visitor.
To get the most out of your keywords, they should appear first in your title tag, as well as being tastefully incorporated once into your meta description and h1 heading. After that, the general rule is that keywords should appear no more than 5 times within the text of a standard blog post (approx. 1000 words).
- Keep Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Concise
Title tags and meta descriptions serve to offer visitors a ‘snippet’ of what your content is about before they click through. In the spirit of ‘snippets’, these should be brief. Google will usually cut off meta descriptions over 155 characters and title tags should generally be no more than 70 characters in length. These rules also help to keep your message and keyword-phrasing concise while making it look neat on the page.
- Link to Other Quality Content
It’s no surprise Google will take preference to pages that lead visitors to other results on Google. Linking to other reputable sources relevant to your topic area optimises the perceived authority of your content, a key aspect of how search engines determine their rankings.
Links to other related sources also indicate to Google that your content is thoroughly addressing your stated keywords. Not to mention, readers like to know their information is coming from trusted and transparent sources.
- Structure Your Heading Tags
Your HTML tags range from h1-h6 in number and importance. For example, your h1 tag is the most important and largest heading and should always appear first on the page. You should only use it once. Next is your h2 tag; this will display in the second-largest font, should second on the page and can appear more than once throughout.
See this reminder from SEO specialist Neil Patel:
Structuring your heading tags in numerical order is an effective way to guide the focus of your reader by placing the most crucial information first and in the most dominant font.
Since your h1s and h2s will likely draw the most attention, it’s best to include specific keyword phrases in these headings that are different from the title tag and meta description first displayed on the search results page.
Accommodating for a small range of relevant and related keywords throughout your content will optimise your ranking for a variety of search terms and phrases.
- Write for Humans Before Algorithms
All the modern emphasis on SEO can make it seem like good content-writing is simply about knowing the algorithm, so it’s important to remind yourself who you’re writing for. SEO strategy counts for nothing if your content is not written in a way that is natural and enjoyable for an online visitor.
Most of us will write in a search engine just as we compose a question in our head. In the same way, we’re going to choose the clearest, most direct and reliable answer.