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How to Blog with an SEO Brain

To write effective website text that will be optimized for search, the most important thing is to write for the intended audience. The search engines’ natural language algorithms are highly adept at determining the topics and meaning within website text, so the outdated technique of stuffing text with keywords is not only unnecessary, it is potentially harmful.

There are only two considerations that should be given to search engines when writing website text:

  1. Give the search engines enough to go on. The rule of thumb is to write 200 to 250 words of text on a page. This is a guideline, not a rule, so don’t fret if your text is 150 words. Remember that the word count includes headlines, subheads, and photo captions, all of which are also highly useful and relevant for the website audience.
  2. Use the words that your audiences or customers use when describing your products and services. Make sure you avoid industry or technical jargon, and just write in a natural but interesting way. After you’ve written your web text, introduce keywords – the words that potential customers use when doing Internet searches – in a natural way in the text that you write. This will be much easier and more natural if you first write about your products and services using common terms.

Step-by-Step Optimization

Write Your Post First

Don’t worry about keywords. Just write something that is interesting and relevant to your audience. See my blog post Seven Tips for Writing for Websites for best practices.

Write a Concise, Clear, Benefit-Oriented Headline

Search engines rely heavily on page titles and headlines when determining rankings. Search engines don’t understand puns or plays on words, so your headline should be straightforward.

Consider Including Subheads

Subheads also carry a lot of weight with search engines, and their prominence on the page make them a good place to incorporate keywords. They’re also great for readers.

Choose a Keyword

Once you’ve written your post, choose a keyword from the Target Keywords list that is relevant to the page you are optimizing. You can only optimize a page for one keyword (you can include others in the text, but there’s only room for one in the key content areas). Include that keyword as much as is natural in the headline, subheads, text, link text, image captions, title, and description.

Focus Your Keywords in the First Two Paragraphs

Search engines place greater importance on the content early in your page — specifically the headline, subheads and first two paragraphs. Make sure to use your target keyword as often as is natural within this space.

Link Early, Deeply and Descriptively

Links help search engines associate the content of a page with other pages and other sites. As with placing keywords, linking is most effective in the first few paragraphs, where search engines focus the most. It is also most effective to use “deep” links to specific pages in your website, rather than only linking to the home page. Be sure to use evergreen URLs that aren’t likely to change or be removed. Finally, don’t just link the words “click here” — write descriptive text as the link and include keywords if it’s natural. Descriptive anchor text tells search engines more about what you are linking to and why it is relevant.

Add a Page Title and Meta Description

If your site uses the Yoast SEO plugin, this information gets added near the bottom of the edit page in WordPress. Under Focus Keyword, type in the target keyword you selected. Add your SEO Title and a Meta Description in the indicated boxes. Keep in mind that Google search engine results pages (SERPs) often display only the first 67 characters of titles and 156 characters of the meta description. Yoast will give you an SEO score, but don’t fret about it, because Yoast grades on the idea that you should use your target keyword everywhere and frequently, an idea that is quickly becoming obsolete.

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