Thursday, January 04, 2007

SEO for Writers: The Written Path to Online Visibility

If you're a decent writer, you have a powerful search engine optimization tool right at your fingertips ... literally. It's the ability to create quality content, and used properly it can dramatically increase your website's visibility.
Search engine optimization and writing skills are inseparable. Whether you're creating new content for your website, drafting a link request, or preparing a press release for syndication, SEO will eventually involve writing.
This is obviously good news if you enjoy writing. But where should you start? How can you get the best return on your writing investment? I've put together a list of writing tasks you can start on right away. The items on this list have two things in common: (1) they all require writing skills, and (2) they can all lead to considerable gains in the SEO department. So without further ado, here are five tips for writing your way to online visibility.
1. Revisit Your Titles
You can use your writing skills to improve the page titles across your entire website. The title element is a line of HTML code within a web page that describes the content of that page. At least, that's what they're supposed to do. But all too often, I see people use non-descriptive titles, copy the same title onto every page, or forget to use titles altogether. These are serious mistakes from both an SEO standpoint and a usability standpoint.
So before you do anything else, make sure your title elements are optimized for people and search engines alike. Incorporate your key phrases into each title. Use a different title on every page, and make sure it reflects the content of that page.
The World Wide Web Consortium (the guys who developed web standards in the first place), put it this way: "Thus, instead of a title such as 'Introduction,' which doesn't provide much contextual background, authors should supply a title such as 'Introduction to Medieval Bee-Keeping' instead."
In addition to being more helpful for people, the revised title in their example will improve search engine visibility for the phrase "medieval bee keeping."
2. Submit a Press Release Online
Online press releases represent another area where you can write your way to better search engine visibility. Using PRWeb.com, you can syndicate a press release online with keyword-rich hyperlinks back to your website. Remember, inbound links to your website with key phrases in them are the brass ring of SEO.
When posting a release at PRWeb.com, pay close attention to the notes in the right column of the submission form. That's where they tell you the rules for the headline, summary, body, etc. It's also where they explain their linking formula.
PRWeb also has a rule about spreading your links out. Here it is verbatim: "To avoid having your release placed on editorial hold, please limit your links to 1 link per 100 words of body text. This policy is in place to protect the link value of the links that you include in your release and the value of links within the PRWeb Network."
3. Publish Articles Online
When you write a solid article related to your products or services, and that article gets reprinted on reputable websites, it helps build your credibility. But we're talking about SEO here, so let's talk about how articles can help with search engine visibility.
When you create an interesting and/or helpful article and syndicate it online, that article can travel a long way. And because it carries your author's note and hyperlink along with it, the article increases your link popularity (and by extension your search engine visibility) as it goes.
I recommend creating two versions of each article -- one for the article directories like EzineArticles.com, plus an alternate version for the niche website of your choice. High-quality niche websites will often require article submissions to be original, unpublished work. That's where that second version comes into play.
Multiply this strategy times 10, 20, 100, or however many articles you can write over time, and you'll begin to see the long-term SEO power of articles.
4. Add 10 Pages of Content to Your Site
Writing new content for your website can help you improve your search engine ranking steadily over time. Why? Because with all other things being equal, a website with more content will appear higher in search engine results than a website with less content.
Just avoid falling into the trap of writing solely for search engines. You should write for people first, while realizing your efforts will also help with search engine visibility.
Try to create authority documents that others in your field would link to and recommend to others. For instance, if your company sells CRM software, you could create a multi-page learning center on how CRM software can streamline communications and improve efficiency. This would give you a lot of keyword-rich content for search engines, while also positioning you as an expert on the topic. If the resource center is truly impressive, others in the industry will link to it (more link popularity).
You see how it all ties together? If you have good writing skills, and you're willing to put in the time and effort, there's nothing stopping you from achieving such success.
5. Blog Regularly
If you're serious about search engine visibility, you really should have a blog. A blog is an ideal tool for a writer, because it gives you an easy way to publish content onto your website. The benefits of blogging are many. It helps you grow your website, acquire inbound links, build your reputation, inform your readers, reinforce your brand ... the list goes on.
Most writers will find it easy to blog several times a week, or even daily. This provides a constant source of new material for search engines and readers alike, and it will keep both of them coming back for more. Blog three times a week for a year, and you'll have more than 150 pages of additional web content!

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