I wrote a version of the guide below as a quick beginners guide to writing content in WordPress with good SEO practice in mind in order to help a couple of freelance content writers I’d hired get up to speed.
I then updated this for a client – Mobilife.com – to help their staff learn to blog, hence the mentions in the screengrabs.
I’ve been meaning to share this for a while and I’ve finally got round to it. It’s a little dated (based on a slightly older version of WordPress) and written before some of the more recent Google updates, but the general principles still stand. Re-reading it, it’s a little more dry than my usual writing style!
I hope you find this helpful – feel free to direct people to use this guide when briefing copy writers, interns, grads, SEO execs and the like if it is of use! Please add (constructive) comments below to help improve this as a resource for people to use!
Overview of this Guide
In order for a website to improve its SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), to keep content fresh for its users, and to develop a larger audience it is good to generate carefully targeted content on a regular basis.
Types of Content
Content could be a mixture of reactive news reports about new products, services and special deals, in depth blog posts that comment on a relevant subject area, product reviews, buyer guides, informative articles and the creation of comparison tables.
The main content types worth focusing on for a product or service related websites could be classified as:
- Product, service and special offer (e.g. sales and voucher codes) news
- Blog posts
- Buyers guides and Informative articles
Product, Services and Special Offer News
Quick and timely updates on news in the market place relevant to the specific blog. For instance, if Sky announced a new special offer or Virgin Media launched a new set top box these would be posted on Digital TV Selector. The source of these posts would be affiliate updates, press releases and email alerts forwarded on by the blog owner.
Being quick to publish this news and share it via social media channels is a great way to get instant traffic, get a social buzz going and to help your SEO, boosting links to the main website.
These posts would have the following main elements and tone:
- 300-500 words long.
- First two paragraphs report the news and explain the new facts in simple terms. Friendly, semi-casual tone so that the blog doesn’t sound too corporate and written in plain English. Any technical or marketing speak should be fully explained. Assume you are writing this so that your Mother could understand it.
- Where relevant some simple analysis or comment is added at the end.
- Where relevant add a link to related content such as buyers guides, comparisons and other posts on the site. E.g. if talking about mobile broadband mention ‘mobile coverage’ at some point and link to the GadgetStylist mobile coverage page from these words.
- Link back to the originator of the content where relevant – e.g. if the BBC has written a story on gadget recycling that is the basis for a post link back to the original story.
- Links to whoever is selling the product/service/deal being promoted. E.g. link to Orange when reporting their new SIM Only offers. The links will need to be tracked as ‘affiliate’ links so that commission is earned on any sales generated. A technology called Skimlinks should do this automatically.
- All content needs to be written with SEO in mind. See SEO section later in this document.
- Ideally add one image relevant to the story – need to be careful not to use copyrighted images. Images of a product or logo mentioned in the post are normally fine.
More in-depth than news posts, and normally based on original content or comment. Articles such as product reviews, comment on other news, guest blogs from other sites/bloggers, interviews and other posts that go into more detail than a news post.
Main elements and tone:
- 400-500 words.
- At least one image, maybe two.
- Must provide some original knowledge, opinion, advice or analysis that will help the reader.
- As with news posts, the blog posts need to link to relevant content, older posts and be SEO friendly.
- Include affiliate links to products mentioned if relevant.
Buyer’s Guides and Informative Articles
Buyers Guides are longer articles that help inform readers to make a better purchase. For example:
Informative articles may be background information on a subject related to a blog. For example:
They are added as permanent pieces of content that will be updated occasionally and ideally used as a reference that other’s use and link to.
Main elements and tone:
- 400 to 700 words.
- Several images.
- Informative, impartial advice and explanation that educate the reader.
- As with news posts, need to link to relevant content, older posts and be SEO friendly.
For the uninitiated, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the practice of using a number of different techniques to help a website to rank more highly in search engines such as Google. Whilst Google say ‘don’t focus on SEO, focus on writing great content guys,’ the reality is if you pay no attention to the principles of SEO you will more than likely reduce your chances of Google being able to read, comprehend and value your content. In the worst case you could make a hideous mistake that means you get penalised by Google and your site is removed from their index altogether.
Search engines put a high value on certain factors when ranking websites for different combinations of keywords (the words a user types into a search engine as part of their search).
Any copy being written needs to keep a number of these facts in mind so that they actively help improve SEO.
Keywords are the words, phrases or combinations of words that each website is targeting because they believe that potential website visitors will be typing these words into a search engine.
For example, if you were looking to recycle your camera you may type in ‘recycle ipad’, ‘recycle my ipad’, ‘ipad recycling’, ‘recycle ipad for cash’ or another variation into Google to find a company that offers recycling for iPads. Therefore if you were writing a page about iPad recycling and wanted to maximise your chances of appearing in the search results for users looking for iPad recycling content you would use those keywords in your copy, within your page title and within links to that page.
Some tips for writing with keywords:
- Don’t over optimise or stuff in too many keywords!! This is bad for the reader and ultimately bad for you – Google will take a dim view of ‘over-optimisation’.
- Think about the best target keywords for the post and use these several times in the copy, once in the title and in the Permalink or URL for the post you are writing and in any links to this page.
- Use variations for keyword combinations within the post.
- Do not link the main keywords for a post to an external page or to a less relevant page..
- Add a few of different combinations and variations of the keywords in your copy. E.g. ‘camera recycling’, recycle digital camera’ and ‘recycle my camera’.
- Write naturally.
To help the search engines like Google to understand which pages on your site are targeted at what content it helps to link to them via relevant keywords. So if you are writing about a new deal on the HTC Desire HD you should link to that phones deals pages via the words ‘HTC Desire HD’ or ‘HTC Desire HD deals’.
Links to other websites must only be used for two reasons:
- To credit the original source of a story. In this case link from to the originating website from the name of that site within the Post or Page. E.g. ‘According to a report from BBC News the new iPhone 5 will launch…’
- To link to a website that sells the item you are talking about. E.g. if the post is about the new Apple iPod Nano link to the page talking about that product at Apple’s UK website. As above, link via the site’s name or by a string of text such as ‘ to check out the new Apple iPod go to Apple’s website and read more.’
In order to stop your audience leaving your site when they click on an external links the link needs to be set up in a certain way.
WordPress Content Management System
WordPress is the worlds most popular CMS (Content Management System) or website platform. It’s very easy and intuitive to use and most of the settings can be ignored by a content writer. You use it to publish two different types of content – ‘Posts’ and ‘Pages’.
Posts are for shorter, time-sensitive items such as blog posts, news and special offers. They appear on the website under the blog menu or on the home page.
Elements to add:
- Title – Enter a title underneath the Add New Post title.
- Permalink – Enter a concise keyword friendly (see below SEO section) URL here.
- Enter the copy in the main section that looks a bit like Microsoft Word. You can also add some basic formatting but try not to change the font type or colours as this may not match the overall styling/design of the blog.
- Categories and Tags can be added to help users discover the posts on the site via search, category lists or ‘tag clouds’.
Pages are for permanent content such as Buyers Guides and Informative Articles. They are very similar to add Posts but can sit in the main site navigation. When adding a Page you also need to decide where the page should sit in the website hierarchy.
Elements to add:
- All of the same elements as a Post plus you can choose a ‘Parent’ which is the parent page in the hierarchy. E.g. the Snowboard Boots Buyers Guide has a ‘parent’ page called ‘Snowboard Guides’. E.g. http://boardstylist.com/snowboard-guides/snowboard-boots-buyers-guide/
WordPress SEO by Yoast
This WordPress SEO plugin built by SEO guru and WordPress expert Joost de Valk (aka Yoast) helps you to improve the SEO targeting of the Post or Page you are writing. You can enter a more keyword targeted (perhaps less catchy/pretty) title for the post in the SEO Title box that will help ranking in Google but allow you to use a more catchy title on the published post.
- Meta Description – this is the description that appears in Google search results and also influences SEO rankings. You need to include the target keywords near the beginning of the phrase you add here to describe the contents of the page or post.
Attach links to words by highlighting the word and then clicking the icon that looks a bit like a chain ink above.
You need to set each external link to open the link in a new tab or window. See below.
Entering a Title will create text that appears if you hover over the link (once published to the site).
Uploading an Image
To upload an image you click on the icon below and upload the image from your PC or Mac.
To make the image SEO friendly it’s important to add your target keywords to the image Title and Alternate Text. See below.
Publishing a Post or Page
You can Preview, Publish or Save a draft of a Post. You can also schedule a Post to go live at a later date or time. This last feature is handy as it’s best to post during the working day. The best time is the time when people arrive at work, lunchtime or around people’s afternoon coffee breaks. So you can write a post at 9pm but schedule it to go out at 8.55am in the morning, just as everyone logs in at work.
This document is a simple introduction to writing content for SEO using WordPress. There are a lot more features and techniques to use and these can be tackled once you are happy with the basics.
NB: This post hasn’t been optimised for SEO!
Please add comments below with additional tips or constructive criticism!