Thursday, December 23, 2010

SEO Tips for Writers (How to Optimize Your Site/Blog Without Getting Technical)

Most writers may already know what SEO is. If not, SEO stands for search engine optimization. Basically, a site or blog that practices good SEO habits should improve its rankings in search engines, such as Google and Bing. Most huge corporations have realized the importance of SEO and spend enormous sums of time, energy and money on perfecting their SEO practices. However, writers can improve their SEO without going to those same extremes.

In this post, I will use the terms of site pages and blog posts interchangeably. In both cases, you should be practicing the same SEO strategies (when it makes sense).

Here are my top tips on ways to improve your SEO starting today:
  1. Use appropriate keywords. Make sure that your page displays your main keyword(s) in the page title, content, URL, title tags, page header, image names and tags (if you're including images). All of this is easy to do, but if you feel overwhelmed, just remember to use your keyword(s) in your page title and content (especially in the first and last 50 words of your page).
  2. Use keywords naturally. Don't kill your content and make yourself look like a spammer to search engines by overloading your page with your keyword(s). You don't get SEO points for quantity but for quality. Plus, one of the main ways to improve your page rankings is when you...
  3. Deliver quality content. The best way to improve your SEO is by providing content that readers want to share with others by linking to your pages. Some of the top results in search engines can be years old, because the content is so good that people keep coming back. So, incorporate your keywords in a smart way, but make sure it works organically with your content.
  4. Update content regularly. If your site looks dead to visitors, then it'll appear that way to search engines too. So update your content regularly. This should be very easy for writers who have blogs. For writers who have sites, incorporate your blog into your site. This will make it easier for visitors to your blog to discover more about you on your site (through your site navigation tools).
  5. Link back to your own content. You may notice on this blog that I don't just let a blog post disappear into the ether. If I have a post on Blogging Tips for Writers, for instance, I'll link back to it if I have a Platform Building 101 for Writers post, because the two complement each other. This also helps clicks on my blog, which helps SEO. The one caveat is that you don't go crazy with your linking and that you make sure your links are relevant. Otherwise, you'll kill your traffic, which is not good for your page rankings.
  6. Link to others you consider helpful. Back in 2000, I remember being ordered by my boss at the time (who didn't last too much longer afterward) to ignore any competitive or complementary websites--no matter how helpful their content--because they were our competitors. You can try basing your online strategy on these principles, but I'm nearly 100% confident you'll fail. It's helpful for other sites and your own to link to other great resources. For instance, check out my Reading List (in the right-hand column of the blog) and this recent post on Top Tweeters for Writers to Follow on Twitter. I shine a light on others to help them out (if I find their content truly helpful) in the hopes that they'll do the same if ever they find my content truly helpful for their audience.
  7. Get specific with your headlines. If you interview someone on your blog, don't title your post with an interesting quotation. While that strategy may help get readers in the print world, it doesn't help with SEO at all. Instead, title your post as "Interview With (insert name here)." If you have a way to identify the person further, include that in the title too. For instance, when I interview poets on my Poetic Asides blog, I'll title those posts like this: Interview With Poet Erika Meitner. Erika's name is a keyword, but so are the terms poet and interview.
  8. Use images. Many expert sources state that the use of images can improve SEO, because it shows search engines that the person creating the page is spending a little extra time and effort on the page than a common spammer. However, I'd caution anyone using images to make sure those images are somehow complementary to the content. Don't just throw up a lot of images that have no relevance to anything. At the same time...
  9. Optimize images through strategic labeling. Writers can do this by making sure the image file is labeled using your keyword(s) for the post. Using the Erika Meitner example above (which does include images), I would label the file "Erika Meitner headshot.jpg"--or whatever the image file type happens to be. Writers can also improve image SEO through the use of captions and ALT tagging. Of course, at the same time, writers should always ask themselves if it's worth going through all that trouble for each image or not. Each writer has to answer that question for him (or her) self.
  10. Use your social media platform to spread the word. Whenever you do something new on your site or blog, you should share that information on your other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, online forums, etc. This lets your social media connections know that something new is on your site/blog. If it's relevant and/or valuable, they'll let others know. And that's a great way to build your SEO.
Programmers and marketers could get even more involved in the dynamics of SEO optimization, but I think these tips will help most writers out immediately and effectively while still allowing plenty of time and energy for the actual work of writing.

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If there's nothing you'd rather do than learn even more about SEO, then you can do so with these resources:
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Also, check out these other recent posts of interest for writers:

16 comments:

Dave said...

Great post! I like that it isn't hard to follow at all. You make SEO for copywriters easy.

Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

Thank you for this post! One of my goals for 2011 is to radically improve my blog and you have been a great help. :)

Happy New Year to you! Andrea

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, Dave and Andrea!

It's one step at a time. Best of luck in 2011!

Benivolent said...

Thanks for this great info dude.Key word part is important of Seo services.

propertytalks said...

Excellent shareing Thanks for share i am sure its must help me in my work

Stiletto said...

Great post! Now I was working on my blogs.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for reading!

Mary J. Dressel Books said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I have a goal of better blogging and updating my website. This will help get them noticed.

jakeshannon said...

This is really one of the attractive post which helped to know more about SEO Tips. And I think your continous posting will be useful in order to improve my knowledge for seo.
Thank you so much for this nice posting.
Keep on it.

Mark Farrell said...

Thanks dude it's nice information.

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Buttaflibabee said...

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Robin Olson said...

Great post! I'm just starting my blog and your advice is a huge help in the right direction!

Thanks,
Robin
www.robinolsonfreelancing.com

Rebecca Barray said...

Thanks! These tips are gold!! I knew what SEO was, but had no idea how to do it!

You're great, as usual. ;)

Becca♥

J. B. Everett said...

This was enlightening. After last night's chat, I was wondering if my blog needed more focus. My keywords vs. content only confirms the suspicion. Broad vs. narrow is the canonical marketing tradeoff. I guess I have some choices to make.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to come by experienced people about this subject, but you seem like you know what you're talking about! Thanks
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Pennie De Witt said...

Thank you! Great tips!