Writing For The Web

Optimizing your content for both your web audience and for search engines is a challenge unique to writing for the web. The recommendations here will help you fine-tune your writing to both boost your search rankings and improve your visitors’ experience on your site.

In the past, web writers relied on metadata and tags to improve their SEO.  However, after years of content providers trying to game the search engine algorithms, search engines have adopted a more organic approach. Modern search engines show greater preference for data that can be seen by the website visitor, rather than metadata buried in a site’s source code. Search engines want to serve up results to high-quality websites, relevant to a user’s search term.

If you want to increase your search traffic, you should focus on using modern, SEO-friendly writing techniques when creating your content.

Review a case study with examples of our recommendations.

Write SEO-friendly, keyword rich linking titles

The linking title of your article (the title field in the article interface) is important to SEO because:

  • It is the primary way content creators compel the visitor to click through to read an article via content lists and landing pages
  • It generates the URL of the article
  • It is the title of the tab or browser window
  • It is what search engine will use as the linking title in search results

Because the linking title is the most visible, repeated bit of data about your article, creating an SEO-friendly, keyword rich linking title for your article is the MOST important SEO action you can take.

When writing titles for the web, consider your own search habits. What would you type in the search box if you were looking for information about the story you are writing? Make sure that your title includes the words that you think a user would used to find this content. (The Yoast SEO plugin within WordPress for Rayos calls this the focus keyword.)

Do:

  • Enter search terms into a Google search box and note the suggested phrases or strings of words as you type. Crawlers speak in a specific language. They need your help. They understand strings of words that users put together to find topics; the closer your headline resembles a string most people use, the more likely it will rank high on that search.
  • Consider adding locations to your linking title when the article warrants. Searchers often use locations when searching.
  • Include names, if available, instead of generic terms such as ‘suspect’, ‘teen’ or ‘police officer.’
  • If your article targets a specific audience such as women, families, or ethnic groups, mention them in the linking title.
  • Write your title as a stand alone element. Even if you write an excerpt or sub-title text in addition to the linking title, the linking title should stand on its own SEO-wise.

Don’t:

  • Write overly-witty or pithy linking titles. (e.g., “Get to the Pointe” an article about a local ballet company) Titles like this are are fun, but lost on search engines.
  • Hide important details because you think you are ‘giving away the story.’ Research has shown that detailed links get better click through rates than ones that tease a visitor to click through to find out more.
  • Repeat information over and over in many headlines as a prefix, such as the name of a segment or show. This repeated data is often not important for SEO and distracts from your keyword message. Use categories and other branding techniques to brand the content, rather than relying on text in the linking title.

Note: In most cases, including good keywords means that your title will be longer than you may be used to

Linking title examples:

Using good search term locations:
Weak SEO:  Region’s Wolves To Be Removed From ESL
Strong SEO:  Gray Wolves Delisted As Endangered Species In Great Lakes, Minnesota Hunting May Begin

General use of search terms:
Weak SEO: Police Arrest a Man on Sex Crimes Charges
Strong SEO: Emerald City Police Arrest Timmothy Dare, 32, on Sex Crime Charges

Handling of show names or segments:
Weak SEO: Health Matters Update: New Study on Flu Shots and Pregnancy
Strong SEO: Are Flu Shots Risky for Pregnant Mothers? The Health Matters Team Investigates.

Including your target audience :
Weak SEO: Sweet Celebrations For Valentines Day
Strong SEO: Make Sweets With Your Family for Valentines Day

Use the Yoast plugin readability feature

The Yoast SEO plugin, that appears as a box in your article edit screen, includes a readability tab that indicates how well you have written your article for search engines. It is a great learning tool for tweaking your writing style for the web.

The Yoast website also includes many good resources for improving your web writing techniques.

Make sure your articles are not too short

One of the most common SEO concerns with broadcast TV content, is that the article relies too much on the video for content, with only a couple lines of text.  The search engine can not crawl the content of the video and relies only on the text to understand the relevance and importance of the content. If your article is too short, the search engines may not feel that it has enough information on the topic to display (or display high in the results).

Make sure to pull ALL of the relevant details and information out of the video and include it in the article body.

Use SEO-friendly headings between groups of paragraphs

If your article does have more than a couple lines of text, add headings above all the major paragraphs that indicate the main point of the content using the SEO heading options available in the article editor.

Include links to organizations and websites in your community

One of the ways you can improve your SEO is to include links to organizations and companies in your community when their name appears in articles.  This is also is a way for them to notice you and return the favor of linking back to your article on their website or social media.

This cross linking is important to your overall strategy because it establishes you as a domain authority.

Update one article rather than creating many shorter articles

You want to publish news as soon as it finds you. you will also want to update your article during the day. Google prefers one link to index on that news topic rather than sorting through many shorter articles to suggest which one to link to. If needed, you can also update the linking title of the article to reflect the new developments.

Understand your metadata

As mentioned above, the metadata is not as important as it once was, however, it is good practice to tag your article with keywords using the Tags interface on the article editor. These tags will automatically be added into the Yoast SEO plugin as the og: tags for social media. These tags also help an end user find content in your onsite search.

An article’s meta description and images are also used by social media sites and search engines. To assure that they are properly populated, review the Rayos Open Graph standards.