Writing To Rank: Rank-ception
Today we’re going to talk about how to write content for websites–or in other words, how to optimize web content with SEO best practices. Ironically, the goal of this article is to also rank in Google. An article about how to rank, while trying to rank. It’s rank-ception. But really, as much as we want this article to go viral, we mostly want it to help you impress your clients, but most importantly, your boss.
So what exactly does writing to rank mean? Well, writing content to rank, or be optimized for search engines, is the process of creating content for search engines in a way that gets your content to the top of a search engine result page (SERP), or at least higher than your competitors and anyone else who is targeting the same search terms.
Important side note: a high rank for your content is nice, but having your audience actually enjoy your content and share it on their social media profiles is nicer. That’s why in this article, we at Marketing Supply Co. want to focus on copywriting for your audience first and ranking (a very close) second.
Without further ado, here’s a listicle (because the internet loves a good listicle) on basic SEO tips for how to rank on Google and other search engines.
While choosing the right keywords is a widely misunderstood concept, I think we can all agree that keyword research is incredibly important when it comes to making your website and web copy search engine-friendly–despite how confusing it is.
Like, Donnie Darko confusing.
But that’s for a different day, guys and gals.
So, after figuring out how to choose the right keywords and then deciding which keywords you need to use based on Google keyword rankings, here’s what to do with them (based on this article):
When I sat down to write this article, I referred to our keyword research for Marketing Supply Co. and did some additional research in regards to the topic I’m writing on—writing content that ranks. Next, I chose the keywords I wanted this post to rank for. Here they are (how’s that for transparency in business?):
- SEO keywords
- SEO ranking
- Writing to rank
- How to increase SEO rank
- Ranking for keywords
- Content for search engines
- Search engine optimization tips
From there, I put the keywords and long-tail keywords into action.
Keywords should appear in a few key places, and your post/article title is a good place to start. A good, search engine optimized title should absolutely contain at least one of your keywords, but should never contain a keyword more than once. Also, if you can–and you definitely should–keep the length of your title shorter or equal to 55 characters. You should also have keywords within the headings and subheadings of your post.
Keywords should also make an appearance in your meta description. Just to clarify, your meta description is the preview of your article that pops up under the title on a SERP (see below). Even though search engine algorithms won’t use these descriptions in their ranking process, the description gives your user and idea of what your article is about and make a quick decision on whether or not it is what they’re looking for. Keep in mind that the exact words used when searching in a search engine will be bolded in your meta description. Side note: Never, and I mean never, copy and paste part of your article into your meta description. Just, like, be original and keep it under 160 characters. Okay?
Other places to put your keywords (are we planning an Easter egg hunt or?): if you can manage it, have your URL contain some keywords. Obviously, fit some keywords into your body copy, but at all costs, avoid stuffing keywords in your post like a 13-year-old girl should avoid stuffing tissues in her bra. Refer back to the whole making-your-content-enjoyable-for-your-audience-thing. Lastly, use keywords in the alt-text of images. Obviously, search engines can’t crawl images (someday), but having keywords in the alt-text makes images crawl-able.
2. Links: Your link to SEO rank success
How many times have you read an article where the author keeps referring to things while simultaneously not linking to the things they’re referring to. Honestly, it’s straight up rude and bad for their SEO rank. If you’re thinking, damn this is totally me as a content writer, just remember, “Stop, think, and link”. Kind of like “Stop, drop, and roll”, but way more important.
It comes down to two types of links. First, you have your internal links. These are links to other content within your site, like your contact page or other blog posts. Linking internally helps search engines crawl your site easier, therefore, creating a better sitemap. For example, if you’re wondering who the mastermind behind this article is, refer to this internal link.
Linking to your own content will also help your audience get a better idea of your brand, and it will keep them on your site longer, ultimately reducing bounce rate and increasing your potential for a conversion. In the words of Shrek, “Onions have layers. Web sites have layers… You get it? We both have layers”.
The other type of linking is external linking. These links are important in an entirely different way. First of all, confidence (and making sure the link opens in a new tab) is key when it comes to external links because you are literally directing users away from your site, so you best be damn sure that your content is worth coming back to.
So, why have external links at all then? Well, according to Hubspot, “Linking to applicable and reputable websites not only offers blog readers additional reading material to expand their knowledge, but it also shows Google and other search engines that you’ve done your research. And the blogger or writer may even return the favor and link to your site.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Hubspot (P.S. maybe return the favor? Your words, not mine).
3. Size Matters
Thanks for sticking around for the long-haul. We know this article is a lengthy one, but hey, it’s what search engines are into. No, seriously, according to SerpIQ and simple logic, “on average, 10th position pages have 400 fewer words on the page than first position pages.” The research isn’t simple, but what is is the idea that the more words in a post, the more hints search engines have to figure out what your post is about. Kind of like, the more cake you have, the more time you have to figure out that cake is really good. Over at Marketing Supply Co., we like to shoot for at least 500 words with our posts, but as you might be able to tell we really know what we’re talking about, so things tend to get long.
Wrapping things up
So, let’s tie up any loose ends and quickly recap our search engine optimization tips:
- Audience first, ranking (close) second.
- Do your keyword research and do it well
- Be strategic with keyword placement
- Use internal and external links to turn up your street cred
- Don’t be afraid of lengthy articles. If you want to be short and sweet, use Twitter.
Our final words of wisdom: If you read (skimmed) this entire article and you’re thinking; “Damn, writing to rank is the last thing I feel like doing,” let Marketing Supply Co. do it for you. Obviously, we know our shit so hit us up!