In 2021, optimising your content for search engines is incredibly important and a practice many companies are not doing. As we know, search engines require content specifically in text form, and optimising this content for Google will ensure the Google crawlers understand the article better. It will also tell the search engine where to rank it. There is great value in taking time to craft an article to rank highly on a search keyword or phrase.

Optimizing your articles for users and search engines is essential. However, creating SEO-optimized articles or content requires time and effort. But, if you can do it right, it will add great value.

A lot of people are of the opinion that SEO-optimized articles cannot be user-friendly. But it is a myth because high quality and well-optimized articles will not only encourage users to read them but also increase your chances of ranking higher in search results.

To help your articles rank higher in search engines, here are some excellent tips you can take advantage of –

Choose Keywords Wisely

Writing an SEO-optimized article means writing around the main keyword or a set of keywords. Picking a classic keyword will be risky as it will be very competitive, and you will limit your chances of ranking higher on search engines. The trick is to opt for keywords with long tails. These phrases are a combination of certain words and will allow you to be better positioned and easily too.

You can use a number of tools such as Keyword Tool or Word Stream to help you discover new keywords and their search volume.

Structure Your Content

To write a great article, you need a good structure. You need to note down the main points for your articles. Divide your articles into different parts as it will make writing it easier and much faster. Once you have structured your content, you can start working on each of those parts without spending time organizing your thoughts.

If you are confused as to what you should write about, try using content tools such as Copysmith to help you organize your thoughts and create a stunning article.

Meta Title Tag

This tag should be 65 characters long, bearing in mind that this is the first thing people will see in their Google search results, so make sure the headline is catchy. Research shows that an increased click-through rate from the search results page quickly increases the SEO rankings.

The title tag is the most critical element for on-page SEO for your article, yet it is one thing that most people get wrong. They are important for SEO, usability, and social sharing.

This title tag should be accurate and concise, bearing in mind that this is the first thing people will see in their Google search results, not your article. The main purpose of the meta title tag is to attract the attention of your audience and arouse their interest. Limit your meta title tag to 60 characters as anything beyond that search engines will cut it off with ellipsis and may omit important words.

There are a number of Meta Title Tag tools such as Moz you can use online to preview how the proposed title tag will appear on the search engines.

Meta Description Tag

Next, on Search Engine Optimisation, we need to ensure we have an optimised meta description tag of 300 characters. This is what Google shows in the results page. It helps the user understand the relevance of the page. Google has said that they don’t use the meta tag to rank websites.

The meta description is what the audience sees under the page title on search engines. It is a great way to encourage users to click on your article. Include relevant keywords in the meta description and limit them to 1-2 sentences to ensure they fit perfectly with the device width. You can also target an emotion or call to action if relevant.

Once you have created your Meta Description, check it on SEOSiteCheckup to see how it displays in search engine result pages.

Use Proper H1, H2, H3 Headings

Using the right heading tags is an essential aspect of SEO article writing. By default, the post title uses an H1 heading tag; the next subheading will be an H2 heading, then an H3 heading, and so on. This is especially important if you are writing a long post.

According to experts, it is a good idea to use important keywords in H1, H2, and H3 tags, so make sure you decide on the heading tags when creating an outline. Use SEOptimer on recommendations for headings for your article.

Title Heading

In HTML we are able to assign a hierarchy of tags to our headings. H1 is the top heading and the most important. Underneath that H2, H3, H4 headings will follow. Make sure your heading or title of the article is the H1 tag. In WordPress or other content management systems you generally have the option to edit the headings.

The opening paragraph of your article will introduce your topic to your readers. The way you write your opening paragraph will determine whether it gets read or not. For SEO purposes, you should have the main keyword in your first paragraph. People will quickly recognize the word they are looking for and know that they are on the right page. In addition, incorporating keywords in the first few sentences will allow your article to rank higher in the SERPs to attract a larger readership online.

There are a number of keyword tools online, such as Google Keyword Planner, to generate keyword suggestions based on your topic. Make sure to write the keywords in a natural way and avoid keyword stuffing.

Opening Paragraph

It is important to include the subject of the post, which includes in the first sentence the keywords you want to rank. This should not be too obvious and must be done subtly. For example, if your article is about fixing a blocked drain you cannot start your opening paragraph with “Top plumbers fixing a blocked drain in Johannesburg, South Africa”. Rather leave out the location and superlative-type words. Remember to include anchor text to another article relating to the story. Internal linking is beneficial such as linking to another article on your website about roots can cause blocked drains.

Subheadings

Breaking the article up into sections is important to keep the reader’s attention and for SEO. The search engine will look at the layout and ease of readability point of view. We recommend using the H2 tag for subheadings. In the second paragraph remember to use anchor text again. Before paragraph three, it is a good idea to include a call to action. Perhaps a sign-up or subscribe for more information or an early-bird discount.

Word Count

Search engines appear to prioritise articles above 500 words. This also gives more leverage to play around with the keyword density and to include more relevant information relating to your business.  A few years ago Google was happy with 250 words, but this is no longer the case. It flags pages with 500 words or less as thin pages. We recommend 500 words just to be safe, as sometimes there isn’t more to say on the topic. HubSpot found in their  2017 post, that the prime word count was in fact 2 250 – 2 500 words. If the target-keyword density is too high, Google will see this as trying to manipulate its algorithm. Keywords should represent between 1.5% – 3% of the total text.

Related Articles

Having related articles at the bottom of the article is a good way to reduce bounce rate and keep people engaged on your site.

Break Down the Article into Small Paragraphs

Readability matters a lot of search engines, and short paragraphs will help your article rank higher. One common mistake that a lot of writers make is writing long paragraphs. Since most people only scan through the articles and do not read them, short paragraphs will make them easier to read and remember. Shorter paragraphs also gain more attention and encourage reading.

You Can use the Yoast tool to ensure your article has a good readability score and allow users to spend more time on your article.

Use Optimal Article Length

A few years back, most articles were limited to around 700 words and were published more frequently to generate traffic. But things have changed today. Search Engines give priority to longer and high-quality articles. It is meant to provide users with the best answers to their queries, and it often boils down to the articles that offer the most value. Long-form articles receive more social shares than shorter articles. In addition, ensure that your keywords are spread across the entire article and not in just 1-2 paragraphs.

Semrush is a great content marketing tool that offers actionable tips to make your content more SEO-friendly.

Use Internal Links for SEO

Using internal links in your articles allows you to link different articles on your website or blog together. Internal links are specific to your site and are a hyperlink between two of your articles. It allows your new blog post and the existing one strong by showing authority on the niche. This linking structure is also essential to increase your ranking on Google.

Moz Pro is a great tool to analyze different links on your website to link to a specific page on your website or blog.

Proofread Your Articles

Many people think SEO is all about using the right keywords in your articles. But it is important to use correct grammar, punctuations, and spellings to reach your target audience effectively. Your audience will not trust your website if your content has numerous grammatical and spelling errors, especially glaringly obvious ones. Professionally written articles make a lasting impression and make people feel your products and services are valuable.

There are tools such as Grammarly that can help you eliminate grammar errors and improve your articles drastically.

Optimize the Images Too

Images make your articles look interesting and shareable. You can optimize the images you put in your articles by adding keywords to the image files and using ALT tags. Also, optimize the images to ensure they are not very large as they can slow down your website or blog’s loading time and hurt SEO.

General Pointers

Page Authority and Domain Authority are metrics which Moz developed to predict how well a page will rank in a search results page. You can test your sites domain and page authority here

It is important to monitor the bounce rate and keep it manageable, ie a low bounce rate means that people are reading more than one page on your website. Many news sites have a high bounce rate because people often go on to read only one story and drop off. However, if there are many pages on the website and especially if people from an organic search are showing a high bounce rate it is important to use tools and techniques to keep them on the site longer. Site speed is an important factor in reducing bounce rate. Having a slow website will drastically decrease user interaction.

You will notice that websites with HTTPS in the URL are those with an SSL certificate installed. The SSL certificate will encrypt data, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access to the website. Google has said it will eventually prioritise websites with SSL certificates.

Google looks for social shares of articles. Make it easy for people to share your content on social media. If Google sees a lot of activity on social media it could rank your article and website higher.

Takeaway

There are a number of reasons why you would want to write SEO-optimized articles, including getting more traffic to your website or selling a certain product or service. Using the tips and tools mentioned above, you can create SEO-optimized articles regardless of the industry you are in. Remember, SEO-friendly articles will win not just the search engines but your readers too.