1. Write descriptive headlines.

Make sure your article headline would make sense to the average reader when written on a blank sheet of paper. That headline might show up out of context in an RSS reader, a search result or who-knows-what. So the headline alone must tell the reader what to expect. And, of course, the headline will likely become your article’s title tag, which is key to SEO.

2. Forget about wrap.

Don’t shorten your headlines or subheads. If they wrap to two lines, it’s OK! This isn’t print.

3. Write descriptive links.

In a sentence like ‘SEO improves your organic ranking,’ don’t add a ‘click here’ at the end for more information. Make ‘SEO improves your organic ranking, the link itself. You can also have click here, if you want. Just make sure there’s a descriptive link in place.

4. Mention the primary person/topic/event in the article headline.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it. Apparently it isn’t. If your article is about writing, make sure writing is in the headline.

5. Mention the primary subject in the first paragraph.

lots of articles don’t have the subject or the description of the key information or whatever else in the first paragraph. Why oh why?

6. Resize images in an image editor.

I know you’re in a hurry to get that story uploaded. But take the time to resize images properly, using an image editor. Don’t resize them using the content management system or HTML. Image crawlers want to ‘see’ an image file that matches the size and shape of the displayed image.

7. Write ALT tags for images.

Write an alternate tag for your image that fully describes the image. I guarantee your content management system has a field for the ‘alt’ tag, or uses another field for it. The right ALT tag can help you get that image indexed, and help rank the text around it.

8. Give images relevant captions.

Put a relevant caption under or near the image, or at least make sure the text of the paragraph before/after that image is related. That helps search engines figure out if the image is relevant, and could get you higher rankings.

9. If you write a related story, link to it.

If you write a story the importance of SEO to improve your rankings and therefore traffic/conversions, and wrote a related story a year ago, link back to it. By connecting the stories, you create a cluster of relevant content.

10. Use full names.

The first or second time you mention a person or company, use the full name. Not ‘Mr. Macleod’ or MacLeod’, but ‘Jamie MacLeod’. Not ‘SEO, but ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. That will give search engines and searchers who look for the full name a better shot at finding you.

It’s about your readers

I didn’t say ‘keyword’ once, did I? That’s because everything I’ve mentioned is equally good for your readers and search engines. It’s also because, if you’re writing about your products or services, your search rankings and traffic will flow naturally from your subject matter.

Don’t try to shoehorn in the phrases you think will generate traffic. If you really want to do that, hire an SEO consultant. That way, you can write beautiful prose, and hate the consultant when they change it.

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