If you want your website's content to get seen by your target audience, you need to get high rankings in the search engines, where they're looking. That means you need to write for Google, Yahoo, and Bing as well as your human readers. It's not as tricky as you think, if you keep a few tips in mind.
I got most of these ideas from Christian Arno, writing for Search Engine Journal. He notes that it starts with keywords. Searchers use keywords to find content in search engines; in turn, search engines use keywords to index pages and determine their relevance. So when you write, consider your keywords first. “It can be hard slotting keywords in afterwards without sounding clunky and forced,” Arno observed. You can use tools such as GoogleAdWords to help choose the best keywords.
Keep your competition in mind; often, more pages are trying to rank for general terms, leaving the more specific ones wide open – and luckily for you, these are the terms that searchers use when they really know what they're looking for. So instead of writing about “cruise vacations,” get more specific: “Alaskan cruise vacations,” or “whale-watching cruises,” for example.
If you use those specific terms often enough, in different pieces, the search engines will start thinking of you as knowledgeable on that particular topic, which could help you reach that number one spot. So dig deep into your chosen area of expertise, and find several ways to approach it. Maybe you're good at whipping up easy recipes. How about writing a series on easy holiday recipes as each holiday is coming up? Publish a few articles on easy Christmas or Hannukah recipes, for example, and you just might get some traffic that'll remember you the rest of the year.
Just as important as the words you choose is where you place them. Get them in the title and first sentence of your article if you can. Add them to image captions, too. If you use them too often, though, your article will start to sound unnatural to your readers, which can be a real turn-off. After all, once you get readers to your page, you want to keep them there a while, right?
Another good way to keep readers on your site is to show that you have other content related to their interests. So if you're writing an article that can sensibly be linked to another article you've written on your site, do so. You don't want to go crazy with this, but there are a few obvious ways to use this technique. If you're writing a three-part series, for instance, and you're on the third part, it's not a bad idea to include links back to the other two parts. Or say, for instance, that you're writing a how-to piece on stringing a necklace, and you're up to the part where you add the clasp. If you've published a previous article that explains a variety of ways to add a clasp to a necklace, you can simply specify which one to use and link back to that earlier piece.
Finally, make sure you're writing with your audience in mind, and match your style to them. Also match it to what they'd expect from you. Consider a doctor writing for an online audience. He'd use different language for other medical professionals than he'd use for lay patients trying to take better care of themselves. Arno suggests that you ask yourself if your audience is interested enough to plow through a long piece of text, or if they just want the basic facts as quickly and succinctly as possible.
While you consider this, remember that online attention span is shorter than it is when reading something in hard copy. Reading online is more tiring, so strive to make it easy for your reader to skim. “Break up chunks of text into subcategories, and use images effectively. Lists can be a good idea – and a way to repeat keywords without readers noticing!” Arno recommends. “Use short sentences and leave plenty of white space.” With just a little bit of work, you could increase your readership by leaps and bounds. Good luck!
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