The SEO world is forever altering and evolving, and whilst our oft-maligned profession is frowned upon by Google, there’s no denying that strong content can still be tailored and optimised for the search engines. The value of social shares towards traffic and search rankings has increased over the last couple of years, and as such, creating content for clients that stands out from the crowd is vital to effective SEO.
The following four steps could help you avoid the common pitfalls that writers have when creating such content to be shared on third party sites - and indeed help you avoid incurring the wrath of the mighty G:
Is your title SEO friendly?
There are 6 simple steps to a bangin’ title:
1/ Firstly, is it appropriate?
Your title needs to be an overall summary of your article. For example, have you been mislead by this title? No, it’s catchy and does what it says on the tin.
2/ Secondly, short isn’t necessarily sweet.
Short titles are vague and far too mysterious for a user. There is no perfect SEO title in terms of word length, however those that are slightly longer tend to have more of a chance at being indexed by Google. We find not exceeding a page width (or around 65 characters max) is generally good practice.
3/ Thirdly, think of your title as the starter of your three course meal.
You want something substantial, a little filling, but also a taste of what’s to come...
4/ Fourth, and most importantly, keywords.
Whilst you certainly don’t need to jam your title with 15 top keywords, you should have your main high ranking ones in there. This, in theory, should be easy if your article is client focused and website is relevant.
5/ Next, don’t be afraid of being descriptive.
Take a look at Buzzfeed. Their titles draw users in. They describe the post in a witty manner, never shorter than five words and include at least two key points (or keywords) on the topic at hand.
6/ Lastly, don’t be afraid of bizarre numbering.
Buzzfeed are again the prime example. 13 Game of Thrones Characters as Sloths...49 Reasons to Love Greece. You know you want to see those 13 sloths... A strange number is far more alluring.
Here’s one example following this 6 part system:
1/ There’s nothing misleading about this title. You know exactly what you’re getting.
2/ Isn’t too short. Simple.
3/ Gives you a hint of what’s to come. You’re going to “cringe” at “13” “embarrassing” situations, and you can’t wait.
4/ ‘Embarrassing’, ‘student’ and ‘confessions’ are three key terms a user would search for.
5/ ‘That WILL make you CRINGE’ - This has personality. The title could have stopped before this, but now it is relatable and interesting.
6/ 13 - weird number!
Image sources from Buzzfeed.
When choosing possible sites, you need to be able to imagine your client slotting in nicely with the overall theme. That article must relate to the client as well as the webmaster’s tone of voice and website.
Another example for you: You have a property client and have found an attractive and relevant mummy blog to place an article on. Your article MUST be about property as well as family living to suit all parties involved.
We’ve touched upon the use of sacrifice links and their importance in SEO, but there are some more key points to mention.
1/ Never used just one word.
If you take a quick look at online articles, you will seldom find many that link using just one word. It looks unnatural and doesn’t give the reader a clear idea on where they will head if they were to click on that article resulting in high bounce rate* for that unsuspecting website and an even higher chance that the user will exit your article after feeling mislead.
2/ Sacrifice links aren’t just about ticking the boxes.
Yes, they are there to make the post look more natural, but those sacrifice links also need to be of interest to your readership and completely relevant to the post as well as the webmaster’s site. Google doesn’t just see an article with a couple of links out, it sees the URL and rates the relevance within the article. There is no use writing an article about being a vegetarian on a healthy living site then linking out to McDonalds, simply because you’ve mentioned “McDonalds” in the article and you think it will be easy to find material. An extreme example, but it does happen. It also means that Google thinks the article is about McDonalds, and not about the theme of ‘healthy living’ at all.
3/ Those links also need to be non-competitive.
For example, you have the fashion retailer Topshop as a client. Linking out to fierce competitors like River Island and New Look is an absolute no-go. However, you have an online fashion advice site such as Instyle.com as a client and have used brand names in your article, you can use (for example) ‘Gucci’s latest collection’ as a sacrifice link, just not to Gucci’s official website. Why not search the great newspaper sources like The Telegraph and The Independent for articles on Gucci’s latest catwalk? Or even the definition and origins of the Gucci brand?
4/ Another option is to mention the source of your inspiration.
Although we don’t like to admit it, the Daily Mail website is a fantastic resource and the biggest online newspaper in the UK. There is no reason why you can’t use the article that gave you inspiration.
For example, you have a betting client and have found a sports website that will host your article. You decide a football article on the latest Champions League results and the odds on who will win would A) suit that sports website (with an informative results lowdown) and B) the list of odds would relate well and naturally link back to your betting client. You’re going to need to research names, goal times and statistics from somewhere. By using a main news site such as the Daily Mail, you can insert a sacrifice link along the lines of “According to the Daily Mail” in your article.
5/ Another great option is to use imagery as a sacrifice link. Flickr have a fantastic selection of imagery which can be used as links.
One tip is to think about news, events and goings on BEFORE you even start the article. What possible news stories, events and therefore links could work really well in this article? What would be beneficial to the reader?
We have been hearing for some time now that the quality of content must be significantly improved. Great content doesn’t start and stop with the writing. Are your subheadings interesting? Are your images good quality? Are those images the same size and shape? Is there easy to read paragraphs? All of these factors makes for amazing content and an overall happy user experience.
*Bounce Rate - When a user clicks onto a link and exits that website page immediately.