I promised in a previous article that I would get back to you with the steps you need to take in order to optimize an article for Google. To make things easier, we are going to make a checklist of these steps.
But before we get started, just let me point out that although these rules are important and necessary for Google to categorize and index you article correctly, therefore bringing you relevant traffic, they won’t help much if the article itself can’t bring value to your readers.
What does bringing value mean? It solves an issue, gives an answer, a solution, shows how to get things done, enlightens one’s day, awakes emotions, troubles someone, brings someone towards something and so on. All in all, the reader has to benefit from going through your article. This way you get to show your expertise and one way or another, you get to also show them a side of you.
In a previous article I wrote all about finding topics for your articles How to organize and select good-quality information for blog articles.
In order for you to see how the people interested in what you would have to offer actually do their research on Google, use Keyword planner. It is a Google tool which allows you to see the search terms, an estimated monthly average of these queries, the seasonality of these queries, similar expressions – all of these for a series of keywords that you put in. You could also use Google Suggestions, what comes up when you start typing something on Google.
So you type a few words/expressions from your field of activity in Keyword planner and hit search after similar keywords. Look for expressions which are made up of 3-4 words (so as clear as it gets) with a medium or low search volume and preferably a low level of competition (the competition is for paid links on Google, still it is more or less similar to the organic one) and it should also be a seasonal topic at the time – if this is the case.
Now that you have a clear list of keywords/expressions relevant for your topic, you start writing your articles.
You pick out a first expression and start writing your draft, keeping to the following:
1. The title of your article must include this key expression – if it is possible it should be at the very beginning. When you start building the headline go by the principle: WIIFM (What’s in it for me? – for your reader). Make the title H1 (it is a tag used for the most important title in a page); when using WordPress, it will turn it automatically.
2. The platform on which you have your blog and where you add articles should allow friendly URLs – meaning it should take the title of the article and put it in URL using “-“ between words and no other numbers or symbols. Preferably it should look like blogname.ro/name-of-the-article.
3. The meta title should include the main key expression at the beginning and, if it is possible, the name of your brand/site. If you’re using WordPress, it will automatically take your title and also put it in your meta title, which is a good thing if you choose your title keeping to the hints given at point no. 1 and if it has less than 55 characters.
This meta tile is actually the text that comes up in the browser, above the URL and as title of the page in the search results, moreover on other sites where the link is shared, like Facebook.
It is a vital element for Google, as it helps him “get” what your article is all about.
4. Use the key expression in the first paragraph of your article. The more it is at the beginning, the more Google pays more attention to it and sees it as relevant to the topic of the article. You can use it also bolded or italic written, in order to stand out in the text. This key expression should come up another 3-4 times during the article – it’s actually obvious come to think of it, because let’s say you talk about something for an hour, you are bound to repeat it a couple of times.
5. Add an image, a screenshot or a video to your article. It doesn’t affect directly the way Google will position your article on a page but it will most certainly influence the way the reader will interact with that page – signals that count for Google.
6. Use external links to websites with authority and credibility. For example, you could make a link to a webpage which is widely known in your field. When adding this external link, it would be better for you to set it up to open in a new tab (do this when adding the link by making a tic – in WordPress).
7. Use words/expressions that clear up the intention of the article. For example, if your article is about the movie Star Trek, using words like: Warp, enterprise, space, speed of light, spaceship, time travel, last frontier, aliens etc. will make it clearer for Google that your article is relevant to the topic Star Trek.
8. Meta description – is the text that comes up in the search results, just beneath the title and URL:
It doesn’t have a direct influence on Google ranking, but still, it helps a great deal in improving your chances of people accessing your page from Google- this means more targeted traffic for free.
When it comes to articles, one phrase will be used as a meta description. So you will write a description (with WordPress you can do it with the help of a SEO plugin that you can install) which should highlight a benefit and offer and advice – something like an advert.
9. Add internal links (1-2) if you have the chance. These links should lead to pages in your website, pages with articles, products, services, worksheets, trainings and so on. This kind of internal linking will make the web pages and the site more relevant to the topic.
However, keep in mind that the internal links should have an anchor text relevant to the topic of the landing page. Take for instance, when redirecting a blog article to an online marketing training page, we could use the phrase learn online marketing, and on it we will put the link to the training.
10. Add the main expression in the image file name and as an alt attribute for an image. The required alt attribute is an element that will help Google understand what the image is about and it will also enhance the relevance of the web page itself.
Still, pay much attention! You could either buy the images from websites of stock photos, you could make them by yourself, use free photos from several websites, or you could also simply use photos but stating their source and the link. The most important thing to do is set yourself a couple of guidelines which you will have to stick to when picking out your images. Of course, they will be according to what you want to get across: for instance, one rule could be a decision of only using images with people. Another one: the people in the images will always be happy. Another one: on each and every image I shall apply an Instagram like filter which should say… and so on.
11. Use Call To Action (or a simple question) at the end of the article or some kind of hint to your readers to make them register to your newsletter or a webinar you intend to make so they can learn more about a service you have to offer – with a link that leads to that page, or whatever other thing you want your readers to do that can end up helping them and you as well.
It doesn’t influence the SEO directly, but it will help your readers to come closer with your web page and this is a signal very relevant for Google.
12. Use share buttons for Social Media. Just by giving your readers the chance to share with others your articles, you will get links on other websites or “votes”, as Google would call them. More votes mean more chances for your web article to get a high ranking in Google researches on the main phrase you used.
13. Make your article easy to follow by adding subheadings (H2, H3…) and/or check lists, bullets. Use a plain language and avoid as much as possible jargon. Granted, it all depends on your audience. If you address specialists in a specific field of activity, you are bound to use jargon. If your audience is made out of potential clients, then it would be better for you to use less jargon. What does this have to do with SEO? A long, light, interesting article will keep the readers on the page and send Google yet another message that your text is truly relevant.
Taking into consideration each and every point made just above you will seriously increase your chances of your web article ranking very high in Google search results for those key expressions that you picked out.
If you are interested in getting more similar info, subscribe to my blog.
Best of luck!