You don’t read web pages in the same way that you would read a book or a magazine… and you don’t write them in the same way either.
Searchers are an impatient bunch, and if they can’t find the information they are looking for quickly; they won’t hang around. Studies have shown that up to 80% of web users scan the text on a page rather than reading it word for word, so it’s essential that you draw the reader’s eye to the most significant information on the page. And where better to start than with the title?
Tips on writing killer titles
How you decide to title an article can make or break the success of web page. Your title should be a succinct and meaningful description of the contents of the page. There’s no room for flowery prose or clever puns, just stick to the facts.
For example: if you have written an article about the BBC updating their iPlayer, your title should read ‘BBC updates iPlayer’ … and not ‘Auntie gets interactive’. The first example not only tells readers exactly what the article is about, but it also tells the search engines exactly what the article is about.
Hardly surprising then that the on-page title (also known as a H1 tag) is a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Start by summing things up
Next write one or two sentences which sum-up the article. It’s a technique dubbed the ‘inverted pyramid’ and print journalists have been using it for decades. The idea is to start by painting the broader picture and then work down to the details. It allows readers to leave the article at any point without losing sense of what’s being said. And it works well on the web.
How long should articles be for seo?
Once you have hooked a reader with a snappy title and concise summary, you still have to work hard to keep their attention. Web articles should be kept short and to the point and you rarely need to write more than 7-800 words. If you force the reader to endlessly click the scroll bar; you are likely to lose them.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that reading on-screen is significantly slower than reading print, which further shortens the average online attention span.
How to layout articles online
There are several techniques you can use to catch readers’ eyes and to encourage them to continue reading an article:
- Stick to one idea for each paragraph
- Use sub headings to help readers quickly navigate through your copy
- Use bold, italics and text links to highlight important keywords
- Use bullet points to break-up lists
What’s the best tone and style when writing web friendly copy?
A number of studies have shown that searchers shy away from ‘marketing speak’ so avoid overblown sales patter and steer clear of jargon. Instead make sure your copy is clear, concise and credible.
Similarly there’s no excuse for producing sloppy copy. If you don’t have the requisite linguistic skills, find someone who does. Poor copy, poor spelling and poor grammar are an immediate turn off and will lose your visitors for good. The same can be said for information that out of date or plain wrong.
Before publishing an article make sure that someone else casts an editorial eye over it, asking the following questions:
- Does the title clearly explain the focus of the article?
- Do the main keywords reflect the focus of the article?
- Does your first paragraph neatly summarize the article?
- Are you sure there’s just one ‘idea’ per paragraph?
- Could any additional formatting help the online reader?
- Could any additional subheadings help the online reader?
- And of course is it well written, grammatically correct and bang up to date?
Does keyword density still matter for search rankings?
When Google was first finding its feet, keyword density was an important factor in its algorithmic decision making process. Initially more keywords meant better rankings, but it didn’t last for long. Google wised up and began to tweak the spammers out of the results.
Some optimisers misinterpreted this to conclude that keyword density was even more important than they had ever dreamed of. Get the alchemy right and you’ve bought yourself a one way ticket to El Dorado. And ever since some parts of the SEO community have been hung-up on the concept of keyword density
Google, along with most other search engines, still does look at keyword density, but not half as much as the retailers of ‘keyword density analyzers’ would like us to believe.
Yes, you do need to include your keyword once or twice in your body copy, but that’s about it. The trick is to write naturally and focus on your audience, not what you think Google wants.
In fact, Google tells you exactly what they want in their Webmaster Guidelines, “Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
The keyword density debate will doubtless rumble on for some time to come, as will the search for the lost City of Gold.
If you have any questions please get in touch with the editorial wizards in our SEO copywriting team.
How long should articles and blog posts be for SEO?
Everyone knows that when it comes to SEO content is king. But just how much content do you need to become king? It’s one of the questions that we are most commonly asked, and the simple answer is that ‘it depends’.
Anything less than 200 words will leave your audience (and the search engines) without much to sink their teeth into, while studies have shown that online readers seldom get past the 800 word mark. However, it’s important that you don’t get hung-up on the word count, and instead focus on producing content that’s well researched and well written.
One of the easiest ways of spotting a rookie SEO is to visit their website and digest the quality of their copy.