(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — I’m at SOBCon09 in Chicago with @lizstrauss and @starbucker. I’m taking notes as people talk, so there will be typos; deal with it. Now I’m checking out Stephen Smith (@hdbbstephen) and Brad Shorr (@bradshorr), who are giving us some tips on Writing for the Web Inside and Out: Tips and Tactics for your Readers and for Search Engines. Woohoo!
There are two types of web readers: human readers and search engines. Appeal to the people who want to buy your stuff while also helping your content to rank higher in search results.
Keywords and key phrases are not the same thing. Think general search terms versus specific groups of words. Not sure? Check out the competition. Pull up their page source and check out their metatags. Do detailed and regular keyword research. Also, use Google Analytics or another tracking program to see how people are finding your site. And see what things people are talking about or asking you in comments and e-mail, because those may yield excellent search terms. Misspelled words are good examples as well. (My favorite tool to see where I currently rank for my target keywords is at SitemapDoc.)
Use title tags. Make sure that your page titles incorporate your main keywords or key phrases. Don’t forget about metadescriptions, either. That’s the chunk of text that shows up beneath the page title in search results. If you’re good at Twitter, a metadescription should be no problem. It’s the mini sales pitch for that page. Include a key benefit or a key point of resistance to make that link stand out to the person doing the search. A lot of people blow this off, so if you take the time to write a good one, it will make your link stand out and you’ll get more people coming to your site.
Every post should have only one category. (Did you hear that, people? ONE CATEGORY.) Categories are really broad. Tags are where you get super specific. Stephen recommends tag clouds because they appeal to readers and draw them in effectively.
Make your webpage easy on the eye so you can draw your readers in. People look at pages in a F-shaped pattern: across the page left to right, then down and left to right again but not as far, and then straight down. Place your content in ways that support an F-shaped reading pattern. What’s good for human readers is good for search engines, too. Put your key words or phrases in bold text to make them stand out to readers and show engines that they’re more important.
Lists are useful because they’re user friendly and memorable, and they’re also great for breaking up text. Narrative posts have their place but don’t get crazy with paragraph length. Keep columns narrow, too, for easier on-screen reading.
Internal links help both readers and search engines by pulling both of them deeper into your site and keeping them there. It raises the authority of your whole site if you use your key phrases as your anchor text to your internal links. If you’re on WordPress, use the Related Posts Plugin. That internal linking is really key to blowing away your competition.
Ideal paragraph length is 3-7 lines, and ideal page length is about 300 words because it gives the reader a worthwhile reason to visit the page without overwhelming him or taking up too much time. Structurewise, use paragraph headings with title tags. Do NOT, however, use H1 tags in your post content because you will be penalized by search engines. Stephen recommends H3 as standard paragraph headings.
When using photos, RENAME THEM DESCRIPTIVELY with search-friendly titles and alt tags. The title is keyword or key phrase text. The alt is a descriptor for the image itself.
(Great general overview of blogging dos and don’ts.)
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