What is SEO and why is it important for web content writing?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, quite simply, the process of increasing a website’s visibility on search engines such as Google. In the capacity of a web content writer as opposed to a specialist web developer or webmaster, SEO takes the form of purposeful, relevant and unique content on a webpage where articles, reviews, blogs and product (or service) descriptions are written with a view to increasing their likelihood of being found online.
This article is by no means a comprehensive guide to web content writing – it will serve merely to demonstrate the fundamentals of SEO for beginner freelance writers and provide easy-to-understand examples for those who wish to start writing optimized content right away.
As the majority of professional content writers are used by companies, rather than individuals looking to promote their personal pages, the main focus of this article will be on optimizing product- and service-oriented material.
Web content writing is an easy way to make money online and you do not need to be a first-class fiction writer or published author to get started. Having above average spelling and grammar is essential, of course, but there are ways to easily improve your writing without years of study - for example, by using respectable writing software such as WhiteSmoke (featured in CNN and NBC).
Ready to learn some basics? Great, here is a rough outline of how to write an article for SEO purposes.
Firstly and most importantly, the keywords or phrases you will need to focus on must be relevant to the categories under which a product or service falls (for instance, the keywords “wooden deck construction” can serve as the centrepiece for an article destined for a timber company’s website) and should be used naturally throughout the text.
Secondly, it is essential to include synonyms and related terms so that you can accommodate the variability of search phrases for that type of product or service on the search engine user’s side. You obviously cannot target all the possible search phrases relating to your topic, but at least this way you can optimize the page for a greater range of different people and cultural dialects.
So, following the wooden deck construction example, you could start your article in this manner:
[Headline: “Affordable wooden deck construction for your home”]
“Wooden decks are a great way to extend the living area of your home and can provide your family and guests with a stunning view of your home’s surroundings, without you having to break down any walls... or the bank! A polished and well-constructed deck area not only increases the property value of your house – it can turn your garden into a wonderful spectacle, allowing you to immerse yourself in the relaxing calm of the outdoors.
Many home-owners decide to build their own decks as it can sometimes work out cheaper to acquire and fit the timber themselves but when it comes to safety, having a reputable professional oversee the project is always the better idea.”
... And so on for the rest of the article, keeping in mind to use terms related to “wooden” (timber), “deck” (patio), “construction” (build/building/assembling/erecting) and anything else semantically related to the main category of the topic’s keywords.
Warning: Do not overdo! The single worst mistake you can make in creating SEO-friendly material is NOT writing meandering, poorly-focused content, but rather overloading it with the same keywords all over. Google knows what you’re trying to do and being found guilty of this by either Google’s automated spam checker or an employee of Google may result in having the website banned from the search engine altogether. There are no hard and fast rules about keyword density but you should make sure to keep your keywords to below 5% of the full text.
Beyond the technical aspects of SEO-friendly writing, it is crucial for the content of the piece to persuade the reader to take action, or at the very least influence some form of positive opinion about whatever product or service is being covered. After all, the effectiveness of all Search Engine Optimization for online businesses (or any business that has a website, for that matter) is directly linked to how successfully the article attracts serious buyers.
By creating content that helps rank a business’s website higher on search engines as well as ensuring that the content is interesting and persuasive, the business benefits not only from increased website traffic but, ultimately, more potential clients. At the end of the day, this is the essence of all quality web content writing.
Additional SEO writing advice:
- Depending on how much leeway you are given in choosing your keywords (that is, if they are not specifically provided for you by the company you have been hired to write for) you will want to take a look at what keywords are being typed in the most by actual users of the search engine. For Google, Adwords’ Keyword Tool is a great free option, although a paid subscription to a keyword research tool is the easiest way to find out what keywords are worth targeting.
- If you are writing about something relatively generic or broad-based, consider using the Keyword Tool to find alternative wordings that have higher incoming search traffic to base your article on. For example: try comparing the number of searches for the terms “diet products” vs. “weight loss products”. If you are writing for a company that promotes its wares as “diet products” and it turns out that “weight loss products” has a much higher number of searches on that particular search engine, then it may be more productive to centre your article on the alternative “weight loss products”.
- Always strive to be authoritative, confident and clear. Naturally, you will have developed your own style that you’re comfortable writing in, and by all means you should write to your individual strengths, but keep in mind that 99% of the time people just want to see that somebody believes in what is being offered or explained to them.
- Communicate with your client. Make sure that you understand exactly what it is that they do – or don’t – want included in your article, as this will not only save time in the reviewing and editing process but also help to maintain your professional image.
- Have fun! Sure, web content writing may not be as enthralling as creating your very own fictional works of wonder, but if you find yourself forcing your writing, it will soon enough become evident to the discerning reader (or client) and you may just find yourself out of work.
Would you like to know more about advanced SEO strategies with the proper use of LSI Keywords? You should check out this article: LSI Keywords for SEO - Latent Semantic Indexing Explained