Simple Writing Tips to Boost On Page SEO
OVERVIEW: Learn how to maximize the on page SEO value of your articles by catering to human readers.
Do you want Google to understand exactly what your article is about?
Do you want Google to know what keywords to associate with your content?
Well, here are some simple steps to help you tell Google exactly what your page is about while making your readers happy.
Write for Humans Not Search Engines
Just because search engines are referred to as “spiders” or “robots” does not mean that you need to write like one. If you use a basic, sound writing approach, the search engines will be able to determine exactly what your articles are about.
What do I mean by “sound writing approach”? Simple, write your articles the way you learned to write and essay in school. Start out with an outline approach. Title, main ideas, then supporting points. Outline your article BEFORE you start typing and it will make a lot more sense.
There are a few basic elements that you need to consider to add high SEO value to your writing:
- Writing Style
- Use of Images
Formatting – Your Article’s Tour Guide
The formatting that you apply to your article’s content has a tremendous impact on assisting both readers and search engines. Think about how a newspaper, textbook, or magazine is formatted. There are important visual clues that take you by the hand and guide you through the writing. All along the way there are signs that say, “This is the main idea”; “pay attention to this”; or “here is a group of items”. Readers and search engines both love a good tour guide.
- Headings – bold text that tells the reader (and Google) what the following sections of a document are about. They take the reader by the hand and lead them through the writing. Google likes to have its hand held too. Use the H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags to announce and prioritize topics. Add your keywords into the headings in a way that makes sense.
- Bold Text – Bold words in a paragraph signal an important piece of information. Google knows this too.
- Italics – They let you know that there is something special, unique, or strange about the text.
- Bullets – Bullet points and Numbered lists indicate a group of short related topics or steps. These break up the page for the reader.
The following image shows how these formatting elements should look:
Write with Active Voice
Write using the Active Voice to interest your readers (as opposed to Passive Voice). What is active voice? Strunk and White’s Elements of Style defines the Active Voice as, “more direct and vigorous than the passive“.
Say it this way: “Type your name in the Customer field” not this way: “The Customer field is where you will type your name“. The first one is much more direct and assertive; while the second kind of suggests that you can do it if you’re in the mood. Readers love action.
Think of how you search for things. The active voice content not only reads better, it lines up with search strings very well.
Images – a Picture is Worth More than you Think
Add catchy, pertinent images to your site to add to your reader’s experience. Images are not just nice to look at; they can provide some “below-the-radar” SEO value too. The File Name, Title and Alt tags of an image provide information about the image to readers and search engines. If a search engine finds a few images of a certain person, place, or topic it figures that the article must be related.
Another big benefit of properly named images is Google Image Search. I am always amazed at how many visits Google Image Search sends to my site each month. People search for images and see ones from your site. When they click on the image, Google sends them to the page on your site where the image is embedded. Lots of people click through and poke around on your site as a result.
The following image shows the proper way to to name and describe your images for the search engines and readers.
Added Bonus: The screen readers that blind people use to read web pages will use the information in the ALT tag to tell the reader about the image. This helps them gain information that they ordinarily would miss. It pays to be nice.
Properly Formatted Links Help Everyone
Google does not just pay attention to who links to you, they also care who you link to. If you are linking to valuable authorities on a topic, that adds credibility to your article too. There are two parts of your link that add useful SEO information: the Anchor Text and the Title Attribute.
The Anchor Text is the text that is displayed as a link on the page. The Title Attribute comes after the link’s URL in the HTML code. This adds additional descriptive information about the link destination. You should make your links’ titles short, but coherent. (see below)
FYI: If you are linking to your own articles, this gives those pages the same benefits.
Metadata is information about a larger block of data. Think of a car as the large block of data and the year, make, and model as the metadata. They all help you understand more about the car being discussed.
The main pieces of metadata for your articles and pages are Title, Description, Keywords (tags), and the URL.
Title – This tells readers and search engines what an article is about. This is the King of the SEO castle.
Description – A brief text description of your article (160 characters). This is the text that displays below your title in search engine results. Matching search terms will be highlighted. Carefully place appropriate keywords in your description text.
Keywords / Tags – Short words or phrases that relate to your article. Choose a handful of accurate tags for your articles.
URL – The unique page address after you domain name. This is helpful to readers and search engines. Which URL do you think contains Baseball Standings?
Exactly! That’s why your article permalinks (URLs) are important.
Let Plug-ins Help You Out
If your blog is built on Wordpress you can use dozens of excellent plug-ins to boost your content’s seo value. Mashable has a great roundup of choices. I use a few of them here.