5 SEO Elements on Every Content Writing Checklist
In an earlier post, we talked about best practices in content writing that help articles gain traction online. Covering topics like relevance and readability, these practices focus on refining the substance of content.
Yet despite its importance, substance alone doesn’t guarantee that what you publish becomes prominent on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. There are also technical elements that enable pages to rank higher in search engine results. Utilizing these is part of the process called search engine optimization or SEO—an aspect of content writing services that’s as integral as writing itself.
When marketers craft content, they make sure every piece contains the following five elements.
Keywords are the terms people type in search queries. Every time someone enters a phrase—“Singaporean restaurant in San Francisco”, “healthy eating tips”, or “laptop repair”—search engines pull up the webpages they’ve identified as most relevant to it. One way they confirm this is by checking whether a page contains the search terms a person has used.
Including keywords in content, therefore, is essential. However, their presence isn’t enough to boost search rankings. Google, for example, also considers the quality of the writing and of the webpage design (which is measured by page load times, mobile optimization, and other design standards). Keyword frequency and placement are also significant.
That said, writing in keywords where they naturally fit in an article is the mandate of every SEO content marketer, and the headline is the most prominent place where keywords logically go.
In the same way that it’s the first (and sometimes only) part of an article that people read, it’s the first webpage component that search engines scan for relevant phrases. If the headline announces that an article is about “healthy eating tips” and a person googles a matching query, chances are Google will rank it and people will click it.
Subheads are another logical place to insert keywords because, like headlines, they immediately tell people what they can expect to learn. Yet they serve SEO in another way. Since subheads organize texts into sections, they make articles easier to read and help keep readers on a page for longer. This contributes to how well search engines rate the quality of content.
4. Meta Description
Do you ever notice the two small lines of text beneath every title and URL on search results? That’s called a meta description: a snippet of about 150 words that summarizes what you’ll find on a page.
Though they don’t usually show up in the main text, meta descriptions are important in SEO because search engines scan them for keywords. Sometimes, meta descriptions don’t even show up in listings if they don’t contain keywords. They also help convince people to click a search result in the first place.
5. Alt Text
Like a meta description, alt (“alternative”) text doesn’t usually appear in the main body of content. Instead, it’s written into a page’s HTML codes and describes the image(s) found there. Occasionally, it can show up, like a caption, in place of an image if a picture fails to load onscreen.
Alt text primarily tells search engines what an image is about, so a photo or graphic can be included in image-based search results. This lets people click their way onto a website even if they weren’t trying to find something to read to begin with. Since it describes images for SEO visibility, and opens another route for website traffic, alt text is an integral part of content writing services.