I’m not an SEO expert. I don’t even play one on TV.
But I am a communications expert and, as part of my job, I’ve been writing my entire career.
In 2008, when social media began to take a hold, many of us had to quickly figure out how to take our writing experience and use it to build our brands online.
And, as part of that brand-building exercise, came learning how to write for both readers and robots.
In fact, I didn’t realize there was an entire technical side of writing until well into my blogging journey. I was just writing what I thought people would like to read and using our social networks to expand our readership.
As it turns out, though, if you are smart and strategic about also writing for robots, you can extend your readership much more quickly than writing just for humans.
Before you get out the tar and feathers, I’m not advocating keyword-stuffed content. The first priority is always to your readers. But there are a few things you can do to help grow your audience.
Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios has a template he likes to use when he sets out to write a blog post.
(Because, of course he does.)
It includes the headline, the target SEO keyword or phrase, the meta description, the permalink, and the images he plans to use.
This is where he plans his work. It’s just a simple spreadsheet with columns for each of the “pieces” and he fills them in as he creates.
That doesn’t work for me—I prefer to write and then figure out the back-end stuff. But both approaches work.
No matter if you are partial to his approach or mine, you have to do some “robot” thinking.
Think about the competition already on the web for your topic.
Get yourself a free Moz account and use their keyword explorer (it’s far superior to Google these days).
See how many searches there are for the keyword or phrase you want to use. Look at if the competition is high or low. Check the domain authority of the sites that appear on the first page of search results. Can you compete?
Consider the images. Did you create or shoot them yourself? Did you buy them? Are they Creative Commons? Or can you use something from Canva (paid account), Pixabay, or Unsplash?
Will your meta description motivate people to click on the link when they come across your blog post in a search?
Does your permalink have your keyword or phrase in it?
It’s important to consider all of these things as you plan your content.
Now it’s time to do your keyword research.
Take a look at the word or phrase you chose. Does it have a lot of competition? How many monthly searches does it have?
Let’s say it has 100 monthly searches and there isn’t a lot of competition. That’s a word or phrase worth using.
But if it has 20,000 monthly searches and you’re going to compete with big brands, you’ll want to tweak the word or phrase.
Once you determine the right fit, you’ll use that in your meta description, permalink, and title.
Adjust those things, as necessary, from your planning phase.
Now you can finally get to writing!
A few things to consider:
The best kind of content written for humans includes active voice, short sentences, and a reason to keep readers engaged. You can write in first or third person. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. Do what’s most comfortable for you.
Now it’s time to publish…and then share.
When you share, use hashtags that are appropriate to the content you’ve created and, on Twitter and LinkedIn, try to use your keyword in the status update.
Ideally, you’ll post to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The others (Pinterest, TikTok, etc.) are up to you and your organization’s strategy. But do try to share on the big four—and share it more than once.
On Twitter, we like to do three times a day the day it’s published and then once a day for a week. On LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, we do once on the day it’s published and then once every, other day for a week.
When you are resharing the content, use different images and status updates. Do not share the same updates, headlines, images, and text across social platforms.
Then, make it easy for your readers to share your content on the social networks by providing social share buttons on every page of your website or blog.
There is almost nothing more frustrating than wanting to share content and having to manually share it.
I read an article the other day I wanted to share. No social share buttons. I went to the contact us page to see if I could find their social media handles. No. Nothing on the home page or in the footer, either.
I started to open Twitter to find it myself and thought “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” I closed Twitter and didn’t share the content.
Make it easy for your readers and they will reward you in turn.
So there you have it. It sounds like a lot, but the more you write, the easier it becomes and the more you’ll be rewarded in search rankings.