Writing blog posts and web articles that attract readers is easier when you know how to use keywords and optimize your online writing! These tips for writing web content include search engine optimization (SEO), effective article titles, keyword phrasing, and more…
Here’s what a fellow web writer asked me — she’s a new Suite101 contributing writer:
“Help! I’m struggling with KEYWORDS and linking…I feel good about the article and I’m okay with the subheadings…but it’s the keywords that are slaying me. I don’t know how to do it right!”
Take a deep breath, Siobhan…and know that you’re not alone. These tips for web writing will help. And for more in-depth information, read Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works — it’s a very popular book about search engine optimization.
Writing Web Content – How to Use Keywords and Optimize Online Writing
Original Titled “8 Ways to Use Keywords Effectively When Writing for the Web”
1. Keep studying keywords. Think you know a lot about search engine optimization? Think again. I daresay every article on the internet about online writing and keywords will teach you something new, or reinforce what you already know. The most skilled, talented writers keep learning about their craft. Buy books that you can read and re-read – such as How to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing Your Blog.
2. Use words and phrases that people actually search for. Look at my original title, for instance. Is it a search term? Yes, I’m confident that ”how to use keywords effectively” is a search term – I’ve used it myself! A tip for search engine optimization is to narrow down broad search terms (“writing for the web” is too broad, and “writing web content” may be more effective). To optimize your online writing, use keyword suggestion tools, such as Google or WordTracker. With these tools, and time and effort, you’ll learn hwo to find the exact right search terms or keywords. And remember that web writing requires you to strike a balance between being using keywards that are too common, versus too rare.
3. Create a specific title for your web article or blog post. I like “10 Ways to Use Keywords Effectively When Writing for the Web” because it summarizes exactly what I’m trying to convey. Plus, it answers specific questions: How do I use keywords effectively? How do I write for the web? To be really specific, I sometimes use a Title: Subtitle combination (Suite101 writers are required to do that). Finding the right title can be the most time-consuming part of writing for a website; I struggle with titles all the time.
4. Vary your keyword phrases. In the article Siobhan asked me to help her with – the first she’d ever written for Suite101 – she kept using a variation of the same words. Her first five keywords all included “nanny working with parents at home” or some variation. She repeated those same keywords five times in her first six keyword phrases…but she only needed to do it once. The web content writing experts at Suite say that repeating keywords backfires because it eliminates your chance to use different keywords. Different keywords that mean the same thing can increase your blog traffic.
5. Pepper your article with keywords and key phrases. Sprinkle keywords in every paragraph, if possible. It seems redundant, but it’s necessary to keep your article high in the search engines. After I write my article, I often go back and add my keywords to various sentences. But don’t go crazy – my first few dozen articles for Psychology Suite101 (I’m the Feature Writer there) are embarrassingly full of keywords.
6. Make your subheadings keywords. Subheadings make writing easy and pleasurable to read, both in writing for the web and writing for print. To use keywords effectively, include them in your subheadings. Making your phrases work as both subheadings and keywords can strengthen your whole article. This may be too obviously repetitive if you do it for every subheading, but it could work – I’ve seen it done well.
7. Pay attention to your first sentence. When you Google something like “how to use keywords effectively”, you always see the first line of the article directly underneath the article title. That’s a crucial sentence! It’ll convince your reader to click on or move on. Similarly, when you’re writing for the web let the first one, two, or three sentences in your article be their own paragraph – otherwise there’s too much text cluttering up the beginning of the article. In fact, all paragraphs should be less than five or six sentences long.
8. Study excellent web writing, such as Suite101′s ”Editor’s Choice” articles. Pick a topic – any topic – and Google it. The first page of that you see should contain articles written by people who know how to use keywords effectively. On Suite101, there are dozens of Editor’s Choice articles, which highlight the most excellent articles on Suite. These Editor’s Choice awards go to the writer that has hit upon the key points of writing for the web; they really represent the best in Suite writing. Look at these excellent examples of writing web content, and applying what you see to your online writing.
If you have any questions or thoughts on optimizing online writing, please comment below…