If you're a writer, editor, or producer in any way responsible for elevating the reach and recognition of brand's online identity, you're officially part of the "Editorial SEO Team." Congrats and welcome to the throngs of creatives also tasked with publishing digital copy that resonates with both readers and robots to successfully catapult the brand ahead of the competition. Yes, it's a significant responsibility, particularly in our globally connected world where the search engine algorithms are constantly changing. However, going into the process armed with a few vital pointers and suggestions can quickly separate your posts and your brand from other industry players. Here are six tips to master editorial SEO basics for sustainable digital traction and return on investment.
1. Audience and How They Search
The first step in dominating the search engines with your posts? Know your audience. It’s not enough to create compelling copy - you must strive to create compelling copy that your readers value. Get to know your targeted demographics’ likes, dislikes, and pain points to develop content that entertains, inspires, and solves pertinent problems for them. Check out online resources like Buzzsumo to brainstorm ideas and trends that your audience will read and remember.
Yes, audience mindfulness is important. However, when it comes to SEO value, it’s crucial to be mindful of how your targeted audience will find your content. What search terms are they most likely to use? Those are the phrases to use in your headlines, sub-headlines, and copy.
Once you’ve developed your masterpiece, schedule your publication based on your readers’ schedules to ensure they are online (think: lunchtime and consider other time zones) when it goes live. Of course breaking or trending news is exception. If you break a story, publish as soon as possible to be first to go live with the information.
2. Headlines: Go Big, Go Bold
Your headline is the billboard to your article, beckoning online passersby to stop in and sit a spell. Be concise, be provocative, be inspirational - be whatever you need to be to command attention in as few words as possible, without compromising the integrity of your overall message. Headlines are extremely important when it comes to Organic Search so be sure to use at least one main phrase that your Audience will use to find your article.
How long is too long for a quality headline? Try to stick to around 70 characters to ensure it doesn’t get cut off on both search engines and social media platforms. Once you’ve zeroed in on the perfect title, you may customize the URL with a short phrase or topic of your story. This way you can change your headline later without confusing readers. Remember, always customize your permalink before clicking “publish.”
3. Lead With Purpose
You’ve officially crafted the world’s most dazzling headline. Now what? Keep the momentum going by creating a captivating lead paragraph. Your opening sentences should give readers a brief, yet compelling, summary of the article. Search engines reward authors that reveal the big W’s of the piece (who, what, where, when, and why) and include a hook that keeps the reader reading.
Yes, you will want to naturally use keywords in your lead paragraph. Remember, readers and search engines will sense a forcibly stuffed use of keywords a mile away. Perfect the art of incorporating your keywords to inform your audience, yet still attract search engine attention for optimal ROI once you hit the “post” button.
4. Up Your Content Game
Successful editorial SEO requires top quality content from start to finish. Everything you post matters. Digital content isn't just about the words you use, although they are important; a successful publication will combine a comprehensive suite of content resources for a final post that's both intellectually and visually compelling. When upping your content game, consider:
You not only have one chance to make a great first impression – with today's readers, you only have mere seconds to wow them enough to read what you have to say. Optimize this small window of opportunity by including a relevant image with every post. Photos, videos, charts, infographics, drawings, GIFs, and screenshots can all help captivate a reader before they've actually read a single word. Be sure to fill out alt text, filename, and caption fields on every image, including your main keywords whenever appropriate.
Break It Up
Don't data dump an endless stream of text on your readers. Break up your copy with headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists whenever possible. Short, concise paragraphs make copy easier to digest and give your readers' eyes someplace to rest and ensure they can quickly absorb the most relevant points in your piece.
Spelling and grammar mistakes can prove a major reader turn off, instantly sending your audience into the waiting arms of the online competition. Take the time or spend the money to carefully proof and edit everything before you publish.
Update As Needed
It hurts when you invest tremendous amount of effort into an article and it doesn’t perform as well as you hoped - but lackluster SEO results offer an your opportunity to test different copy. Update headlines, subheadlines, multimedia, tables, charts, and data to give your content a second chance. Search engines will re-crawl your article and may reward you with improved rankings. Just a little updating effort may yield higher results.
Use The Power Of Voice Search
Voice searches are on the rise. Leverage this editorial SEO knowledge to your advantage. Create content that organically mirrors the way people speak and not necessarily the way they type, to optimize your place with search engine results. Check out online tools like Answer the Public to find the most relevant questions voice searchers are asking and include a question and answer in your copy whenever it makes sense.
5. Get Strategic With Links
It’s been said that no one person is an island, meaning that you must stay connected with others in order to survive and thrive. Similarly, this is how your content is connected within the vastness of the Internet.
Content that isn’t shared and linked may be informative, but ultimately offers very little digital staying power. Think of linking as a form of networking for your copy – the more reliable, relevant links you have, the more readers you may connect with eventually.
Use Data & Give Credit
Using statistics, information, and data in your articles helps inform your audience and establish reader trust. Whenever using data in your content, include the links directly in the text so your readers can get more information directly from the source.
Use Internal Links
You should also use internal links to your other published content as well. Internal links help further establish your brand as an industry thought leader and can give older publications a little extra online attention.
Always check your links before you publish. Broken and disreputable links can instantly tarnish your brand's image and repel your audience. Additionally, your AMP pages will not validate if you publish with broken links in your piece.
6. Trends & Social Media
To establish your brand as an industry trendsetter, you must keep up your niche's hottest trends. Immerse yourself with the greatest and latest trending topics so you have an edge on the competition as well as access to endless inspiration for new content topics. Once you're ready to start spreading your invaluable industry insights to the world, use social media for added PR. Post links to everything you publish on your social media pages to boost visibility and connection with influencers within your vertical. Take the time to engage with your social media network as often as possible to help your followers develop a personal connection and loyalty to your brand.