We Reveal Our Internal Blog and SEO Writing Guidelines
We recently updated our internal writing guidelines, and it occurred to us that our blog readers may also want to learn how we make our content work harder for clients.
In addition to delivering a positive, branded impression to readers, blogs must be readable. That means that we make sure all our content provides valuable information that is appealing to the target reader. But our articles must also incorporate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) functions and tactics to support the client’s overall goals of increasing visibility to relevant audiences. Here’s how we do that.
Make Content Easy to Read
Several practices make an article easier to read.
Start with an outline. This valuable organizational tool keeps writers on track. It forces an author to think through what they are trying to say and deliberate the best order for that information.
Create an introductory paragraph or two that delivers a problem/solution statement and tells readers what to expect from the article.
Lean on active voice whenever practical. Active voice sentences are generally more accessible for all reading levels. Example: “Many employees are dedicated to creating a better working environment,” instead of, “A better working environment is the goal of many employees.”
Include examples and stories. Illustrating a point through real-life or hypothetical tales or examples makes it easier to understand. In addition, parables or stories can add life to sometimes dry topics.
Avoid cliches. Cliches are shorthand for emotions or sentiments, but they are rarely at home in business writing. So, we try to keep them out of Cup O Content articles.
Provide Useful Content
Cup O Content creates articles or blogs that are especially interesting and magnetic to our target audiences. Topics are chosen based on the potential appeal to prospects and clients. It’s the writer’s job to increase interest by providing valuable and interesting information. Here’s how we do that.
Swap places with the reader. Good writing anticipates and answers questions. It also considers what matters most to the audience and strives to position relevant information in an easy-to-understand format.
Strive to present actionable information. Our writers continually ask themselves what the reader could do with this information. Is it helpful or merely interesting? Do examples clarify directives or wander off-topic?
Provide links to primary sources. Credibility is key. That’s why we provide hyperlinks to the original or primary source whenever referencing data, percentages, laws, research, or similar data.
Incorporate SEO Tactics
Blogs should support SEO to increase the page’s or site’s overall ranking on search engines.
Understand the role of assigned keywords. Sometimes Cup O Content will create a list of keywords to be included. However, if the article isn’t meant to promote specific terms, we write naturally about the topic to provide the kind of syntax that helps search engines categorize our content.
Don’t use the same word more than 2% of the time: this can hurt SEO. When a blog uses the same word too often, it can be flagged for “keyword stuffing.” Search engines penalize that page and push the listing down on search queries. Exceptions include very common verbs such as “is” and “does” and articles such as “the” and “an.”
Use descriptive terms in headlines. Print writers are taught to create fun, quirky, or creative headlines. In online writing, it’s important to remember that search engines assign the most weight to words used in headlines. That’s why encourage descriptive or literal phrasing. For example, “Entrepreneur Growth Tips” is a headline that tells Google the article is focused on small business growth. “Grow Baby Grow!” simply points to growing. Maybe plants. Maybe babies. When in doubt, spell it out.
Use descriptive terms in subheads. Google considers the headline the primary description, but it ranks subheads as the second most important indicator. So, this is also an excellent place to indicate the blog's content.
Use lots of subheads and pepper them with industry terms. For example, if the article is about child custody, create subheads that use phrases such as “Divorced Parents,” “Family Law,” and “Custody Hearings.”
Don’t keyword stuff headlines and subheads. Remember the 2% rule. Don’t use the same word more than once or twice in a headline or subhead (per blog). Exceptions include very common verbs such as “is” and “does” and articles such as “the” and “an.”
Load up on transitive or transition phrases. Google and other SEO resources report that transitive phrases make writing easier to read. Although they are not always needed (or even preferred) in different types of writing, transitional phrases improve SEO. For a long list of helpful transition words, click here.
“Edit With a Chainsaw”
We love this editing advice from the book, Everybody Writes by Ann Handley:
“Slash anything that feels extraneous–if it doesn’t appear to support your main point or further your argument, or if it distracts from the key point. (Even if it’s a good story or anecdote.)
“Make every paragraph earn its keep. Does every paragraph contain an idea that the one before or after it doesn’t? It should. Are the paragraphs more like Frankenparagraphs–made up of disconnected sentences bolted awkwardly together, creating an ugly mess? They shouldn’t be. Instead, the sentences should build on one another, furthering a single idea and creating a whole.
“Make every sentence earn its keep. Does it bring something unique to the paragraph? Or does it simply restate what its buddy before already said? If so, kill it. Be ruthless. Adopt a less-is-more mindset: many writers take too long to get to the point. Don’t be that guy. Get to the point.
Use Images and Videos to Support Your Writing
Support your writing with relevant brand-friendly images or videos. It’s easier than ever to find affordable, high-quality photos or stock videos to illustrate points made in articles and blogs. When Cup O Content adds an image or a video to an online article or blog, we name it by combining a description with a few relevant keywords. Then, as we load it onto the site or platform, we add alt text, again describing the image and adding keywords.
Want to Start Creating Highly-Effective Content for Your Business?
As shown above, creating hard-working content isn’t always easy, but it’s important to realize that effective writing is of the most powerful marketing tools in the digital arsenal. So, if you want a professional team creating top-notch blogs and articles for your organization, contact Cup O Content, and let’s talk and find out if we’re a good fit with your team.
Want to read more blogs about content development? Check out these Cup O Content articles.