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How to Write an Optimised Article

Interesting question in the Warrior Forum today: are WordPress posts treated as pages on-line and should I target individual keywords in posts?

The short answer is ‘yes’ and ‘yes’.

Which led me to thinking about how to write an optimised article.

Here are the steps I follow:

Step 1: Optimising my post content.

The first step I fix in my mind is the point of the post. What’s the key message I want to communicate?

For me, one of the easiest ways of doing that is to look for questions – exactly as I did with this article.

The answer to the question is the message I want to communicate.

Once I’ve got my key message (my destination) I need to map out how I’m going to get there.

That means working out what examples, analogies, sub-headings and arguments I want to make to lead my reader through to my key message.

I often take a piece of paper and write my key message at the bottom. Then I start from the top and jot down the examples and arguments I want to make leading down to the key message.

That helps me to create an effective structure for my post. It’s designed to lead my reader logically through to my key message.

Having got my framework, I then get down to writing the article.

Step 2: Identify my keywords.

Contrary to a lot of advice I’ve read, I don’t identify my keywords up front. I find that constrains my writing.

I follow the process in step 1 and then I identify my keywords – usually just two or three.

I jot them down, and then think about what I’d type into Google if I was searching for what I’d just written about – and I modify the keywords accordingly.

Then I go to the keywords tool in Adwords and type in my first choice keyword. That will bring back a list of related search terms, from which I may pick one or two more, giving me a total of 4 or 5 keywords.

I try to pick one that has a high number of searches but low number of results. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I definitely try to get the best ratio of searches to results I can.

Step 3: Review and edit my post.

Having got my keywords tied down I then review and edit my article.

I leave a gap of at least 3 hours between writing my post and editing it. Sometimes I leave it until the next day.

The reason is that coming back to my article a day later enables me to read it with fresh eyes – as my reader would.

That makes my editing way more effective.

During the editing process I also review my headings and sub headings to see if they can be changed to align more closely with the keywords I selected.

But, most importantly, I do not alter any of the text in the post to accommodate my keywords. To me it’s very important to write for people, not the search engines.

I can always tell a post that’s been written for the search engines within the first paragraph – stuffed with keywords. And I don’t read any further.

In any case, my keywords came from my text so there should be no need to re-align them.

Step 4: Fill out my META description, title and keywords

Once I’ve completed my editing I turn to the META tags.

I use the All-in-one-SEO-pack plugin, which enables me to define the META title, description and keywords in the ‘Add New Post’ screen for each article I write.

The META title is what appears in the search results as the blue link to the site – I make sure this accurately describes what’s on the page and contains my main keyword as close to the beginning as possible.

Remember that the title field as a whole only allows 80 characters, so if the title fields on your blog are set up to include your blog title (e.g. Post Title | Blog Title) keep your post title as short as possible while still making it descriptive.

The description field is what appears under the blue link in the search results. I treat this like an Adwords ad and write a description that amplifies the title and entices people to click through.

Again, I make sure the description contains my first choice keyword

With the description field you have a maximum of 160 characters, and I always keep my descriptions to 150 characters or less.

A short, accurate and enticing description can greatly increase the chances of people clicking through to your site from the search results.

Step 5: Preview and publish my post.

Once I’ve completed the META tags I hit preview and check the article again. Reading the article in a different layout (preview instead of the Add New Post window) often helps to highlight typos or grammar glitches which I’d missed because I’d got too used to the add/edit format.

If I’m happy with the Preview then I publish it.

So to summarise:

One of the key principles I adhere to religiously is to write for people, not the search engines.

That’s why I write my post before selecting the keywords I’ll use. I let the post give me the keywords rather than the other way round.

For maximum search engines effectiveness keep to one subject per post – your key message.

I find the steps I’ve set out above enable me to:

  1. Write content that’s focused on the key message
  2. Find Keywords that truly reflect the article
  3. Generate META tags that also reflect the article

… All of which leads to posts that are well optimised for the search engines.

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