By: DeAnna Knippling
This is a two-part post. Part 1 covered how to pick article subjects for SEO. This week’s post covers a series of small tasks to take to optimize your website and post for SEO.
Now that you have your article written, let’s dive into the world of optimization.
SEO can get hugely complex. But, honestly, if you’ve written a good article (as in the first part of this post), then you’re good! If it comes down to a choice between trying to get everything perfect and posting, just post it! SEO is a long-term strategy. It’s better to follow these optimization tips, but don’t get wound up about them!
6. Website tweaking.
Here are the things you should make sure your website does before you do anything else (or have your web guru do for you):
- Check that the links for your individual posts have words in them (based on your article title), and not dates, numbers, or other short codes. This is often a blog setting.
- Find out whether you can automatically create custom snippets or “rich” snippets. If not, you may need a plugin that does that (I use RankMath.)
- If you’re a guru, make sure your blog posts/articles can be crawled. If you don’t know what that means, ask your web guru to make sure. If you don’t have a web guru, you should be fine, because this is the default setting.
7. Post tweaking.
Here are the things to tweak before you post:
- Pick a main keyword (word or phrase) to use on the post, like “gothic horror fiction.”
- Put that keyword in the title of the post somehow.
- Put that keyword in the text of your post 2-3 times, preferably with one near the beginning.
- If you are set up for snippets, write a custom snippet that sums up your article and includes your keyword.
- Check that your title delivers what it says it does.
- Consider whether someone searching for your keyword would be pleased to read that post, or go, “That wasn’t what I was looking for!” and hit the back button. If the latter, redo your title.
8. Set up metrics (OPTIONAL!).
Here’s a link on how to set up Google Analytics, via Hootsuite: blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-set-up-google-analytics
(Please note that the title clearly shows the title of the article!)
Once it’s set up, check whether you’re getting more overall website traffic by finding the Behavior report section, then clicking Overview, and expanding the date by clicking on the date range and adding more dates, so you can see your numbers going up 🙂
There’s a lot more you can do with Google Analytics (and, sorry, they can only track the data after you installed Analytics on your site), but the big satisfaction and motivation comes from watching your overall numbers rise.
9. Keep your expectations reasonable.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Be patient. SEO builds slowly.
- You don’t need to post SEO-optimized posts on a regular basis. Again, writers are so bad at this that any optimized posts are bound to be better than none. They do take extra work.
- Type your keywords into a search engine and eyeball the top results. If you think you can write a better article, go for it!
- Make sure the article you write benefits you. If you’re writing about the top ten best space operas of 2020 and you don’t mention your book in the article somewhere (“while I was researching for my new novel, Space Opera for the Tone-Deaf, released this year, I read a number of new space opera novels! Here are my top ten…”), why bother? You put in the work, you get to promote your stories!
- If you want to go one step further on minimum work for maximum effort, use Google Keyword Planner: ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner. You don’t need to sign in or have an account. Click Go to Keyword Planner, then Discover New Keywords, and then type in your keyword (word or phrase) in the search field, then Get Results. You should get a bunch of keyword ideas. Pick the one with the highest Avg. monthly searches with a Competition rate of Low. Warning: the keyword tool isn’t intuitive. Save this for a day when you have some extra brain cells.
10. Links and sharing.
While SEO is a way of attracting readers without having to do active promotion, you can also promote your article, both to get people to read it, and to improve your SEO rankings. SEO doesn’t just depend on keyword use, but on how people treat your articles once they get there.
Keep the following in mind:
- Share your work. Be amusing and reader-focused about it rather than whiny or pushy. But get in the habit of sharing your work!
- The more people link to your article, the happier the search engine will be to send more people to your article.
- The easier your article is to find from your main website, the happier the search engine will be to send more people to your article (if it takes more than three clicks to get there from your front page, that’s a no-no).
- The more you link out from your page, the better (within reason), even if you’re linking to your competition.
- Linking to somewhere else on your own website also reflects well on you, as in, “See my other articles on writing sales copy for writers for more detail: link, link, and link.”
- If someone else who might be interested is listed in your article, contact them! Maybe Stephen King doesn’t want to know about your favorite Stephen King novel of all time, but maybe his publicist does. This falls into the “it couldn’t hurt to ask” category. I can guarantee that anyone you interview wants to know when your article goes live—and you can gently remind them to share the article.
- Share other people’s posts. This is another area writers are horribly bad at. Share posts promoting your work, even if it’s a short story collection and you’ve already been paid. Share posts that promote work in your genre (unless you hate the specific author/work). Share posts related to your “where you get your ideas from” list. Share posts related to things your audience might like. Share things that interest you. While your biggest wins on SEO happen on your website (and not on social media), in-person networking happens mostly on social media. Yes, it’s hard to translate followers into blog readers. You can whine about it, or you can be nice and share links 🙂
As a writer, you’re probably doing most of this already, or you meant to do most of this already but have been tangled up in other issues, or are not sure what’s the most important thing to start with.
To strip SEO down to its bare minimum for those who aren’t already blogging:
- Set up a website.
- Figure out your genre.
- Write nerdy or fan blogs related to your genre.
The rest is tweaking. A little tweaking can have a long payoff, over time.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert; you just have to be brave enough to keep writing down what you love.
And, as a writer, you do know how to do that!
Did you miss Part 1? Check it out here!
DeAnna Knippling has two minor superpowers: speed-reading and babble. She types at over 10,000 words per minute and can make things up even faster than that. Her first job was hunting snipe for her father at twenty-five cents per head, with which she paid her way through college; her latest job involves a non-disclosure agreement, a dozen hitmen, a ballerina, a snow blower, three very small robots, and a disposable dictator in South America. Her cover job is that of freelance writer, editor, and designer living in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, cat, more than one cupboard full of various condiments, and many shelves full of the very best books. She has her own indie small press, Wonderland Press, also on Facebook and Twitter.