This is a question which is asked over and over from website owners, both new and old alike. The simple answer is… yes. Absolutely and unequivocally yes. But that’s not helpful to everyone and a lot of the time sends people off to the search engine again to find a better answer.
Well Google says…
I’ll be the first to admit that Google is very important when it comes to getting your website found, but that doesn’t mean bending over backwards reading all of their articles to make sure you are employing the correct methods.
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So ignore Google?
Yes and no. They offer good advice which is worth taking notice of, but they have a lot of it and you can easily get bogged down and end up with your website sitting on the back burner while you try and process it all.
All you have to remember are three things from Google’s knowledge bank:
Cliche? Yes. But also right. Don’t worry yourself with all the screams of correct code and ‘content to code ratios’. If you’re using WordPress (which is quite likely), the code is dealt with by professionals and will be as good as it is going to get. Also, the amount of code is going to be high but this is taken into account when it comes to CMSs (Content Management Systems).
So we know we need content. Now what? More bullet points are needed I think! (not in any particular order)
Good quality content is fun, satisfying and informative. When I say fun, I don’t mean filling it with jokes (unless you want to!), but ensuring your readers will read it. Allowing your personality to shine through is paramount. People will get to know YOU and become loyal.
When someone finishes reading your article, they should feel satisfied. If you have been informative on these subjects you are writing for, this will happen naturally. Personally I like feeling I’ve got out of the article what I was expecting to. This can be hard in the miasma of low quality information available online.
If you’re writing your own articles then there’s nothing to worry about. However there are lots of article websites out there that offer free content for your site. While this can be tempting, it is something to avoid if you want a quality (there’s that word again!) website. It can be helpful to add some of these to help your site be crawled by search engines sooner, but you will want to replace these quickly – or keep them and add a lot of original content.
There are WordPress plugins and facilities in the larger word processors that offer details such as Flesch reading scores. For the majority of people this is not needed. All the scores show is how easy it is to comprehend your article, for example can it be read by a child? Teenager? Or would they need a degree? All you need to consider is your audience when writing. More about your audience later.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
These are extremely important when writing anything… especially for the web. Why do I say especially? Because you don’t have to go far to find simple spelling mistakes – even on professional media websites! It seems a dying art to check for errors, so how happy will your readers be if they read your article and think about the content as opposed to the fact that you types diary instead of dairy when talking about milk? Very, I would say!
Punctuation isn’t the be all and end all of article writing. None of these rules are set in stone, but common sense will obviously prevail here. Sentences that go on forever, too many comas, or few word sentences will help lose our reader’s focus. And remember: only when when you NEED TO! (see what I did there?)
If you’ve put in the hard work to write an article, readers will appreciate that
Grammar can be difficult. But not impossible. If your grammar is not as you would like it to be when you’re writing your article, then read it aloud. That can help identify where you need to correct it. I personally don’t think you have to be perfect with grammar and you can find what you’re reading harder to comprehend when all the rules are followed.
But don’t worry if you are not very good. If you’ve put in the hard work to write an article, readers will appreciate that, and a couple of errors dotted here and there will not destroy your website’s reputation. But if you are really worried about the quality of your writing there are always other authors who are willing to offer help – either free or for a fee.
You haven’t mentioned ANYTHING about keywords!
3.8% keyword density. Where did I get that from? To be honest I don’t know. I may have read it somewhere. But it’s not important – the statistic, not where I read it from (I’m sure there will be a lot of people screaming at this point). First we need a little history of the development of keywords…
In the early years of the Internet, to be found online you needed keywords. And lots of them. People would create their page and then ‘keyword stuff’ hundreds of different words and phrases at the bottom, increasing the chances of visitors. This caused problems as people used this to make money and bother offering content.
Then the search engines decided that this was no longer good practice and was unfair for the majority who wanted to offer read content so this was essentially banned. Then came keyword stuffing in meta tags and in the articles themselves.
Then the search engines decided…
Well, you get the idea. Now people think that search engines have gone too far and you need to be an SEO savant to get your content ranked high. This is NOT true!
Who are you writing for?
This is the most important thing you should be considering. Knowing this will help you write:
When professionals design anything, they create personas – a generic, fictitious person that encompasses all the traits they are aiming at. You can do the same thing to aid in your writing. You need to ask yourself:
- What is my site about?
- Who do I want reading my articles?
- What skill set will they have?
- What level of education?
- Age range?
- Will it be a predominantly male audience? Female? Equal?
- Are they students? Professionals? A new mum?
- Are you selling a service? Product? Time (just wanting people to learn)?
Once you have your persona, you can keep that information close so you can keep them in your mind when you write.
Remember, you are writing for that one person only. Some people can become intimidated when writing articles because they think about how many people may read it. It can put potentially great writers from writing because they think of it like giving a presentation to a big room full of people. Even writing this, I’m not writing this for the whole Internet. Just you. Yes, you who are sitting there thinking “me?”. You are the person I want to read this article. You are the person I wrote it for.
To reiterate what I mentioned at the beginning, you can spend your time reading up on how to improve your articles and how to get higher rankings in the various search engines out there, but if you are not writing the articles and publishing them, then they will never rank… at all!
So you need to get on with it and publish those articles! People out there are searching for what you are writing!
The interactive bit
I would love to hear from you! What do you think of my article? Are you taking anything away with you from reading it? Do you have any further questions? Comments? Suggestions?