What is SEO and Why Writers Make Great SEO Marketers
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s optimization tactics you can employ on and off your website so search engines rank it higher in results.
Writers in particular have the main thing necessary for SEO – writing talent.
What is SEO? 3 Basic Principles
Now that you know the answer to the question: What is SEO, here are the 3 Basic Principles explained!
#1. Write High Quality Keyword Rich Content
Start by conducting keyword research to find the most relevant keywords or keyword phrases for your content.
Use a keyword research tool:
Create a list of what you think are the most appropriate keywords and enter them into a keyword research tool (like Moz and Google Adwords Keyword Planner).
Here’s an AMAZING article from MOZ called “The Lazy Writers Guide to 30-Minute Keyword Research” that explains in detail exactly how to conduct keyword research, and in only 30 minutes!
Once you’ve identified your best keywords, use them.
Write content you have expertise in that matches to a quality keyword. If you do that, you’ll find you use your best keywords naturally. Don’t try to write “keyword bait” using a keyword you know nothing about. This will backfire. Search engines are smarter than that.
And definitely do not “stuff keywords,” which means to put non-relevant keywords into an unrelated article. Search engines will know and you’ll get buried in the dredges of search if you do.
Your keywords need to appear frequently but not too frequently. Approximately 0.5 to 1.5% of your copy should be your keyword density. Too few keywords, and you won’t be recognized for that keyword, too many and the search engines will think you’re stuffing.
Write what you know, then optimize it:
Include the keyword (when appropriate only!) in the:
- page url,
- headings and subheadings,
- meta tags and descriptions,
- alt tags of your images,
- file names (for example, if you have PDFs linked to the page),
- and in the title.
Search engines also look for readability and score it more highly, so write short sentences, try to use more basic word choices (like ‘use’ instead of ‘utilize,’ for example), use bullet points and lists when appropriate, etc. A good free tool you can use to check your blog or articles readability is the Hemingway App.
#2. Create an Easy to Navigate Website
This is a fairly simple idea but for some reason, it trips people up. You know those websites with complicated, multi-layered menus, orphan pages that lead nowhere, and menus within menus that circle in on themselves? Don’t do that.
You may also need sub-pages. Dreamers doesn’t have any but they’re common. For example, an About Us page may have sub-pages like Contact Us, Masthead, Career Opportunities, etc.
Don’t have sub-sub-pages. You should update your hierarchy if you’re getting to that point.
For blog or article based sites, you should have categories. Categories are also keywords, so make sure you do the keyword research steps identified in the Moz article to determine the best categories for your website.
Your ultimate goal is to simplify your site structure so it’s more easily understood by visitors and better indexed by search engines.
#3, Encourage Inbound Links from Reputable Sources
Quality content and site hierarchy are extremely important to search engine optimization but they’re not enough. You need inbound links. Inbound links provide two things – 1) paths to your website that search engine spiders can follow, and 2) indications that your site is reputable and relevant.
Search engines see inbound links (or backlinks) from reputable websites as a good thing. The more credible, high-quality websites that point to your site, the higher your site will rank. The general idea is that if people point to your content, it must be good. Each inbound link is like a vote for your site.
What you want to do is actively encourage people and websites to link to your site (social signals are becoming increasingly important in SEO – shares, retweets, etc.). You should focus on people and websites that are relevant to what you do. For example, having authors link to Dreamers is great! (Are you an author or a publisher? Please link to Dreamers!!!)
Don’t try boosting your inbound links by posting them in the comments section of articles. This is spam, and search engines know it. You’ll have the opposite effect you’re looking for – you will reduce your ranking.
Search Engine Optimization Tools
There are tools available that can help you maximize your website search engine optimization (SEO). For example, Dreamers is a wordpress.org site and uses the Yoast Premium plugin. Yoast also has a free plugin that offers a great starting point and a way to learn without financial commitment.
Basically, these tools act as a checklist, pointing out the things you can do to optimize your content and checking them off as you do them.
Quality is key – write content people will stay and read.
The main thing to keep in mind is that quality is key. You should create your content, hierarchy and links based on how you like to find content.
What do you do in those situations? You leave the site immediately. YOU BOUNCE!
Bounce rate is a key metric search engines track.
Search Engines are built around what users want. It’s as simple as that.
Search Engine Optimization in a Nutshell
Write what you know and write it well using the most appropriate keywords, simplify your site structure, and develop relationships with the goal of growing relevant inbound links.
* This article was updated on June 21, 2019.
Now that you know “What is SEO and Why Writers Make Great SEO Marketers,” read more articles about Content Marketing like “Content is King: Content Marketing in the Digital Age” and “To Blog Directory or Not to Blog Directory” and “Why Infographics?”