Writing For Search Engines
Last time I wrote about the basics of writing content to suit both readers and the search engines. Same again I’m afraid, with some new things related to writing and optimising content for search.
One thing that was pointed out at the SES conference in February was the importance of news headlines. While cunning puns, abbreviations and euphemisms may be standard fare for newspapers, search engines will find your article much more easily if your titles are clear and contain the type of keywords users are likely to use to try to find you.
For example, yesterday the Sun published a story about Florent Malouda, the French Chelsea winger, commenting on Michael Essien’s return to the team. The title reads “Flo: Michael is Essential for us”. The problem with this title is that it doesn’t include any of the keywords which people searching for this story are likely to use, i.e “Florent Malouda”, “Essien” or “Chelsea”.
Arguably, the headline would have had more search benefit if changed to “Flo: Michael is Essiential for us”. Headlines should contain all relevant keywords – stop shortening and euphemising. I suppose sometimes writing witty headlines might form part of the remit of writing for particular websites, and arguably this is true of newspapers, but don’t let their convention spoil your traffic – Really spell it out with headlines and titles, clearly explain what the story is about if you want to increase page views.
As with writing anything, correct spelling, punctuation and grammar is paramount. However, variations on spellings can be a great way to send extra traffic to your website. A good example would be if you were writing about bookcases. While the proper spelling might be ‘bookcase’, it might useful to optimise also for the separate words, as some people are likely to search for “book case” instead of “bookcase”.
It could also be useful to write for the target audience. American spellings tend to dominate the world’s English so if you’re writing for global or American audiences, keep those z’s and omit those u’s. If you’re writing for British audiences, they are likely to spell colour without a u, specialise with a z, call a sidewalk a pavement, an elevator a lift and call Fall Autumn.
Google Trends can be a good place to look for localised trends in spellings. For example, it shows that more people search for ‘web design’ as two words than ‘webdesign’.
Writing press releases can be a difficult business. Balancing product information and advertising messages with news and relevant content can be taxing. Think about ways of using hard and soft news to pad out press releases.
Increasingly pictures depicting the news story or press release are becoming more important. Google News index displays an image with results from a news search, so having a relevant, clear picture can make a big difference to the click-through-rate.
Although it is largely the links which add search engine benefit to syndicated content, avoid littering your copy with hyperlinks, since link-heavy text can turn readers off because the copy appears spammy and full of advertising. It’s a fine line to tread between producing quality, relevant content for the readership, and communicating advertising messages. The finer you can tread that line, the more benefit there is to be gleaned from content syndication.