SEO continues to be part of a well-balanced marketing strategy for businesses of every size and industry.
If you are a startup looking to create long-term traffic to your site, you’ll need to work on your SEO.
If you are an established SME looking to grow your online presence, having an SEO strategy in place will help you get more leads over time.
Regardless of the size and type of business you are in, having an effective SEO strategy in place will help you race ahead of your competition.
A big part of an effective SEO strategy is SEO optimized articles, or articles that Google loves to rank.
Perhaps you have already tried writing articles for your blog, but so far, none of them have ranked on the first page of Google.
So what should you do?
If you’ve never created SEO optimized content before, this can be a big challenge. Where do you even get started?
Thankfully, it’s not as tough as it looks.
After ranking for some of the most competitive keywords in Malaysia, I’ve discovered some of the best practices for writing articles that rank on Google.
If you have been looking to start creating content that Google will love to rank, here are some tips for you to keep in mind before publishing your next article:
#1. Write in the active voice
You probably know it already: readers online have a low attention span.
This means you’ll have to try hard to keep them interested in what you say. If it’s hard for them to understand what you are trying to say after reading your sentence once, it’s likely that they’ll bounce off your page.
To counter this problem, I recommend writing in the active voice. The reason is that sentences written in the active voice are much easier to understand than those written in the passive voice.
Take a look at these two sentences:
“Build your website with Shopify.”
“Your website can be built with Shopify.”
Which one was easier to understand?
You’ll likely find the first one much easier because it’s written in the active voice.
The easier your content is to read, the longer people will on your site and the higher you will rank on Google.
#2. Write in short, simple sentences
You probably won’t get high marks for this in school, but when you’re writing online, you’ll want to keep your sentences short and simple.
The reason for this, again, is because readers online have low attention spans.
You’ll want your message to get to them in the easiest way possible. One way to do that is by keeping your sentences short and simple.
So you’d want to avoid writing 40 word long sentences. If you have a complicated concept to explain, try cutting your long sentence into a few shorter ones.
For example, this long sentence:
“One of the goals of content marketing is to improve your search performance so that people can find your content organically, effectively reducing the amount of money you will need to spend on paid advertising in the long-term.”
… can be made easier to understand by turning it into a few shorter sentences:
“You can increase your search performance with content marketing. With more organic visitors, you can reduce your reliance on paid ads, lowering your overall costs.”
As a bonus, research shows that simpler sentences make you appear more honest to your readers.
Easy to understand articles keep your visitors on your site longer, increasing their dwell time and your ranking on Google.
#3. Format your article for the web
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they write articles for the web is that they don’t format their articles for the web.
Instead, they take a leaf out of what they’ve done in the past for reports or books and use the same format for their online articles.
Unfortunately, doing that will only bore your readers and make them click away from your page.
So, how do you maintain their interest in what you have to say?
You do it by formatting your article for the web. Here’s how:
Make your article skim-friendly. You’ll hate to hear this, but these days, people don’t read entire articles anymore. They skim.
So make sure you format your article in a way that makes it easy to skim through. Divide your post into meaningful headings and bolden important sections to catch the skimmer’s attention.
Don’t make your paragraphs too long. Long paragraphs can scare your readers away. Nobody wants to read from a wall of text. Instead, keep your paragraphs short, with a maximum of 3-4 sentences per paragraph.
This makes your article a breeze to read, especially on smaller mobile phone screens. Learn more about the art of paragraph from Jon Morrow.
Good formatting makes it easier for skimmers to go through an entire article, keeping them on your site longer and moving you up Google’s rankings.
#4. Back up any data or information with links
Gone are the days when you could just write anything, publish it online and expect people to believe you.
These days, if you are trying to make a statement online, you’ll need to back it up.
For instance, if you want to say that mobile users are growing in Malaysia, be sure to back up your claim using reputable sources, like this research by Statista.
By backing up what you say with data or research from credible sources, you will look more credible too. It also gives your readers the impression that you care about them enough to look for additional resources for them to explore.
But be sure to only use credible sources your visitors can trust, not websites or sources known for being tabloids or fake newsmongers.
The more authority your site has, the higher you will rank on Google.
#5. You’re human: sound like one
In 2019, if you aren’t writing like a human being, Google won’t love your content.
If you are still keyword stuffing your articles, don’t be surprised if none of your content rank on the first page of Google.
At the end of the day, Google is a business. The more people use the Google search engine, the more money it can make from advertisers on its platform.
This is why Google is ranking human-centric content higher and higher up its pages. It’s what its users like.
If you are still using robotic, old keyword stuffing tactics from 2008, you’ll need to switch over to a more human-centric method if you want to see your rankings rise on Google.
#6. Match your article content with its headline
If you have written a great piece of content, the last thing you want to do is to use a mismatched headline on it.
If your article is about a product you want to sell, don’t use a title like
“Best Natural Remedies for Your [Problem] (No Supplements Method)”
This is considered as a headline-content mismatch and will result in your content being ranked lower.
The reason for this is because people clicking on your headline is expecting a totally different thing from what is actually inside the article. In this case, they are expecting to use natural methods to solve their problem, but when they click inside, they find a product for sale instead.
What do people do when this happens?
They just click away and go to the next result on Google.
If this keeps happening to your articles, it gives Google a signal that your content is not satisfying its users and rank your content lower.
No matter how attractive you want your headline to sound, make sure to match it with the actual content of the article or risk being ranked lower on Google.
#7. Edit your article for clarity
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
— Stephen King
Your first draft isn’t good enough to be published. If you have a habit of publishing without polishing it, you’ll likely find your article full of half-formed ideas, major grammar mistakes, or too many typos.
Be sure to schedule at least one round of edit before publishing your article to cut out all the fluffy words, and flesh out any incomplete thoughts.
Edited articles are usually clearer and easier to understand. At times, they can also be more impactful.
Spend time polishing everything you put out there and people will take you more seriously online.
The better your content, the more people will read them and share them around and the more visitors you get, the higher you rank on Google.
#8. Don’t talk about the same thing as your competitors
One of the worse things you can do for your brand is to just paraphrase content your competitors have put out on their blogs.
This only makes you look like a copy-cat and worse, bore your visitors with old news.
You never want your website to be home to dead, outdated content.
Instead, put in time and effort to do in-depth research of your industry to discover new areas that have not been talked about yet, or not talked about enough.
Original content that’s relevant to in your industry always gets attention.
If your visitors love your content, guess what: Google will too!
#9. Or, write about something from a new angle
If you are in a very competitive industry where most of what should be written about has already been written about, you can still create original content by looking at the same thing from a totally new angle.
Bringing a fresh perspective to old ideas can bring interest to your website.
If it is interesting enough, you may even start getting backlinks to your site, an important factor in having your website rank higher on Google.
#10. Don’t make your article long for the sake of it
A 5,000-word article usually ranks higher than a 2,000-word article on the same topic.
But does that mean you need to write a 5,000-word article each time?
If 500 words are enough to write about a topic, don’t drag it out to 5,000 words. Creating longer articles for the sake of it can negatively affect your SEO.
Instead, stick to a natural length where you are comprehensive but still concise.
At the end of the day, your article will be ranked by how well you have answered the searcher’s query and not its length alone.
You are going to need a completely different approach when writing on the web compared to doing copywriting for offline or magazine ads.
You want to keep your sentences easy to read, concise and short. This makes it easy for your message to get to your visitors, so they will stay longer on your site.
Other than that, be sure to format your content for the web, keep the paragraphs short to avoid showing walls of text that turn your readers away.
More than that, Google’s algorithms lean towards human-friendly instead of robot-friendly content, so be sure to keep your content easy for humans to read.
By combining these content writing strategies with a good SEO strategy, you’ll be sure to rank and profit from Google traffic!
Let me know: What’s something you do in your preparing your content that brings you consistent traffic from search? Comment below!