Top 5 Rules for Content Writers and Editors

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:

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

Keep Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Concise
  1. 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.

  1. 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:

Structure Your Heading Tags

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.

  1. 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.

Being ‘Succinct’: Why it Matters When Writing for the Web

Being ‘Succinct’: Why it Matters When Writing for the Web

Being able to express ourselves clearly and in the shortest possible time-frame is always a helpful skill to have in communication, yet when it comes to creating content for the web the ability to write succinctly becomes much more critical.

This can be challenging as a service-provider keen to differentiate your product, but in the era of online content, less is nearly always more.

Digital Reading Is Different

For one, people read differently on screens than on paper. The eye is trained to skim the page and words are processed at a rate 25% slower online than in hardcopy. Your online content should reflect this. Succinct writing will allow you to cut your text volume by the ideal 25% without forgoing the necessary impact.

Get The Attention – And Keep It!

With the many visual distractions that accompany any web-based format, content-creators are now grappling with a shortened attention span that makes large blocks of text deterring for the viewer, especially when there are so many other places they could be looking!

Succinct writing accommodates for the fast-paced reality of internet-browsing, offering an effortless (and therefore positive) visiting experience that will set you apart from your competitors.

Fast-Track To The Answer

With so many competing services available online, you need to get your point across quickly. Being able to speak effectively and efficiently to a customer’s needs means they are more likely to explore what you have to offer without being side-tracked by other more accessible alternatives.

In this case, ‘succinct’ writing means getting straight to the heart of what your visitor might be looking for in terms they understand. Providing a clear and concise solution can be a great way to showcase expertise in a way that appeals to a client’s confidence and convenience.

Distribute The Detail

Where elaborate explanations or context is necessary (and sometimes it is), there are ways to disguise the length of your text.

  • Links – they quickly direct the viewer to the exact information they are looking for without overwhelming them with too much content all at once. If you have a lot of explaining to do or context to provide, consider breaking that content into a series of shorter pages linked together to avoid overloading your reader.
  • Paragraphing – keeping your paragraphs short, between 2-4 sentences, can help make your writing more digestible for a viewer no matter how long. By breaking down the text into smaller parts, you can offer the illusion of succinct writing and make a visitor more willing to engage with your content.
  • Highlighting – suits the typical scanning-style with which our eye reads web-pages by drawing our attention to specific details. This can be a great way to convey a message quickly and with impact, as while making the reading experience easier for your viewer.

See this example from The Writing Cooperative:

Being ‘Succinct’: Why it Matters When Writing for the Web

Remember – browsing, not reading

If ever you need another reason to embrace succinct writing, think about the language that surrounds web-browsing. As an online service provider or content-creator, your page is looking to attract ‘visitors’, ‘browsers’ or ‘viewers’, not ‘readers’. Those accessing your content will allocate only a limited amount of time and attention to assessing whether or not your offering is right for them, so it’s important to engage them quickly.

Writing that is succinct – clear and brief – will attract a visitor’s attention by not asking too much of them.