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Almost every marketer is finding new and innovative ways to stay ahead of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) game. Some have resorted to publishing as many articles on their company’s blog as possible, in hopes that by casting a larger net, they would attain higher readership. But is this really the way to go for SEO?
Well, to answer this question we must understand what SEO is and what it isn’t.
[pullquote]… common misconception that marketers have is that writing articles is the only way to create content for SEO purposes. [/pullquote]
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of maximising the number of visitors to a website by ensuring that a site ranks high on the list of returned results in a search engine.
You might be thinking, “How then can I ensure that my site ranks high in Google?”.
That right there is the million dollar question. No one really knows for sure because Google’s algorithm changes every now and then. However, what we know is that there are various factors that affect a website’s ranking ranging from the website design to the keywords used. This means that even if you publish more articles than your competitor, you may not rank higher. This is one of the many misconceptions marketers have about SEO: More does not always mean better.
The Common Misconception
Another common misconception that marketers have is that writing articles is the only way to create content for SEO purposes. The truth is useful widgets or appealing videos are also content that can help you rank better. What matters more is that your content adds value to your audience so that they want to keep coming back to your website.
However, if you’ve decided to write an article for your SEO goals, here’s how you can begin doing so:
Step 1: Choose a topic
Start by thinking of a topic to write about. It has to be related either directly or indirectly to your business. There are many ways to generate content ideas, but here are four that you can start with:
[pullquote]…look at the “related searches” or the commonly asked questions [to find out what people are searching on Google].[/pullquote]
Find out what people are searching for on Google
A quick way is to find out what people are searching on Google. All you need to do is to type a topic related to your company and look at the “related searches” or the commonly asked questions.
For example, if your company provides SEO consultancy services, you can type “SEO consultancy services” on Google and look at all the related searches. In this example, you can see that some related searches include “SEO agency Singapore” which is a possible topic for you to write about.
[pullquote]LinkedIn is a great platform to [poll your network to figure out which topics they are interested in].[/pullquote]
Poll your network
You can also poll your network to figure out which topics they are interested in. LinkedIn is a great platform to do this and we have seen many professionals polling their network and engaging them in order to generate ideas for their content.
It is important for you to note that if your network is not part of your core target audience, you should take their feedback with a pinch of salt. They may or may not share the same sentiments as your core target audience. It is still, however, a good way to get a sense of what people are interested to read.
Think of “Shoulder Niches”
Shoulder niches are topics that are indirectly related to your company. For example, if your company is in the business of selling cars, a topic directly related to your company’s business would be “How to decide which car is right for you?”. A shoulder niche topic would be “COE prices continue to decline. What does this mean for you?”.Writing about shoulder niches is a great way for you to create fresh content that your audience finds relatable.
Ask your colleagues
If none of these methods works for you, you can turn to your colleagues for suggestions. This is a quick and easy way to survey the ground. They will have more qualified suggestions because they are working in the same industry as you.
Step 2: Read all related articles available
Once you’ve decided on the topic, it is time for you to start working on it. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it is unlikely that you will be the first to write about your chosen topic. There may several articles that are already available and it will be more productive for you to read them first. You might be able to get some new ideas or discover a new angle on how you can better approach the topic.
Step 3: Sieve out the best
After reading all the articles, sieve out the best points that you are going to include in your article.
Step 4: Brainstorm for fresh ideas
[pullquote]One good way to brainstorm for ideas is to use Answerthepublic.[/pullquote]
You definitely want your article to be original. Hence, it is important that you brainstorm for fresh content as well. This difference does not necessarily need to be in the form of ideas, it could be in the form of opinion as well. One good way to brainstorm for ideas is to use Answerthepublic. All you have to do is to key in a topic of your choice and it will generate a long list of content ideas that you can explore.
Step 5: Create a skeleton
Once you have all the points you need to write your article, create a skeleton of your article to give yourself a quick overview of how your article will look like. Creating this skeleton will help you get a quick overview of whether your article flows logically.
Step 6: Begin writing
[pullquote]It’s important to focus on completion rather than perfection… The average time to complete an article… should be one to two days.[/pullquote]
It’s important to focus on completion rather than perfection. Give yourself a deadline (you should not be spending too much time on it). The average time to complete an article (including research) should be one to two days.
Once you’ve completed writing, take a break. And I mean a real break. Stop working on it because it will no longer be productive for you. Get a fresh pair of eyes, preferably someone who is able to give critical feedback and has impeccable grammar to vet through your article. If you do not have an editor to help you vet through your article, you should revisit your article the next day to check through it once again.
Step 7: Tailor it for SEO
If you feel that your article is all set, it is now time for you to edit it to have it aligned with your SEO goals. Here are four ways to tailor it for SEO:
Having the right titles for SEO
[pullquote]…it is important to have engaging titles that have the right words in order to achieve a higher Click Through Rate (CTR)[/pullquote]
Since certain keywords rank better than others, it is important to have engaging titles that have the right words in order to achieve a higher Click Through Rate (CTR). There are three aspects to a good title:
a) It has to be relevant to the content of your article.
b) It has to interesting enough for people to click on it.
c) It has to have keywords that rank.
How do you know what are the “keywords that rank well”?
Well, Neil Patel has a nifty tool that helps you find out which words rank well for the topic that your article is about. Simply key in your article topic in their widget and it will generate the list of keywords within a few seconds.
[pullquote]Neil Patel has a nifty tool that helps you… generate a list of keywords [that ranks well] within a few seconds.[/pullquote]
In this example, I keyed in the words “relocation services” into their widget. As you can see from the image, the widget generated a list of keyword ideas showing the volume of searches as well as the cost per click for such keywords.
The example also shows that “relocation services in Singapore” has the highest volume of searches. In this context, having the keywords “relocation services in Singapore” in your title is more beneficial for you. Ideally, you want to choose keywords that have a higher volume in searches because that keyword is searched more often.
Alternatively, you can also click on the links on the right-hand side to view how other websites have used the keywords in their titles. You can gain some inspiration at the same time.
Alt tags for images
When a search engine crawls your webpage, it is unable to visually identify the images in your article unless you provide a description in the alt tags for the images. This allows Google’s search engine crawler to understand what your image is about.
Linking to past articles
If your company has a blog and has published resources in the past, you would want to link back to it as much as possible. By doing so, you are creating more opportunities for your readers to read through your past works.
[pullquote][Adjusting the settings to “Open In New Tab”] increases the overall time your readers spend on your site.[/pullquote]
Open in new tab for links
If you do include links to other articles, make sure you adjust the settings to “Open In New Tab” whenever your readers click on the link. This allows them to still keep your article open and it increases the overall time your readers spend on your site.
There’s actually a whole lot more that you can do, but it is important to not overdo it. If you’re interested to find out more on how to improve your SEO, check out this guide.
Remember, always put your audience first. Focus on creating content that adds value before thinking of optimising it for SEO.
Writing articles for SEO is not easy. You will face many hurdles along the way and countless number of re-edits. Unfortunately, it is all part of the process of being a better writer. Be patient, keep writing and you’ll find yourself on your way to writing an excellent piece of content for SEO.
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