what is SEO
Blogging,  Content and Copywriting,  SEO

What is SEO: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers

You’ve probably seen job ads looking for writers that know SEO. If you don’t know what those three letters mean, don’t worry. I’m here to help!

what is SEO

SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization, which, in a nutshell, means anything that helps a search engine find an article and rank it on the first page of search results. Go to Google and search for your favorite topic. See the first result? That article has excellent SEO.

So, how do you get these magical results? Well, only so much of it is in the hands of the writer. A lot of SEO has to do with the website’s reputation. I’m going to cover what you, as a writer, needs to know about it to make your articles rank.

Research Keywords

The first thing you do before you write an article is to research. Now, as an expert on your niche, you should have a pretty good idea about what people want to read. There’s more to it than that, though. Keywords are a big way search engines know what your article is about and how to rank it in search.

To research keywords, go to Google Keyword Planner > Tools > Get Search Volume Data and Trends. Then, type in a word or phrase that describes what you want to write about and click, Get Search Volume.

tips for seo keywords

A list of keywords will pop up. Look for keywords and phrases that have 10 to 100 thousand monthly searches. This means that people are actively typing these keywords into Google each month looking for articles on the topic. And in turn, Google actively searches for articles that provides information on these topics.

So your articles should have keywords here and there throughout. Most of the time, keywords will naturally pop up in your writing. You don’t really need to think about it too hard.

Just be sure that:

  • You have a keyword in the title of the article or post and that it is close to the beginning
  • There is a keyword in the name of the image files you use and in the captions
  • Keywords are in the headings
  • There is a least one keyword in the first or second sentence of the post

DO NOT litter your article or post with keywords, though. Other than the areas I’ve highlighted, let them come naturally. If you spam an article with the same words over and over you’ll get a penalty, which will make your post rank lower in searches.

SEO-Friendly Headings

Now you know that your posts should have keywords in the headings, but there is one more thing you should know. All of your headings should have H2 or H3 tags in the code. Search engines look at your heading to figure out what your article is about. These tags help search engines know where your headings are. 

Don’t freak out! You don’t need to know coding. Most post editors and word processing software, like Word, have heading options. Just highlight your heading, tap on the H2 or H3 heading option and you’re golden. The tag will be automatically added to the code.

wordpress headings
How to add heading tags in WordPress.

Add Media

Search engines LOVE media. Media in a post tells the search engines that you are providing added value to the reader.

The rule is to add at least two images to your post for good ranking, but the more the merrier. Some media you can add to a post are:

  • Embedded YouTube videos
  • Gifs
  • Image galleries
  • Audio recordings
  • Videos of yourself explaining a concept
  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Surveys
  • Maps

Where do you get quality media? Here are some free places I use:

Consider Length

The length of your post or article makes a difference, too. Search engines seem to prefer posts that are 400 words or more. The longer, the better, though. Once again, search engines are looking for value.

If you have a post that is a gallery of images and very little words, don’t worry. If there is a lot of media it seems to cancel out the word count requirement.

Quality Links Make SEO Better

Finally, you need to add quality links in your articles. Link to reputable sites throughout your articles. Some reputable websites that search engines love are:

  • Government sites like the FDA, National Library of Health, or the CDC
  • Groups like the World Health Organization, American Dental Association or the American Cancer Society
  • Science and health journals and magazines like JAMA and Scientific American
  • Trusted health sites like the Mayo Clinic
  • University websites

Search engines like it when the link is embedded in words, not just a typed out address. Here is an example:

Bad- The site https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo has some good tips for search engine optimization.

Good- The Moz site has some good tips for search engine optimization.

Just highlight the words and click on the link tool in the post editor or word processing software to embed your link.

linking for seo
How to link using WordPress.

Be a Good Writer

Search engines also rank posts higher if they contain good spelling. This should go without saying, since you’re a professional writer and all, but ALWAYS check your spelling.

That’s It!

That’s basically all writers need to know about SEO. Remember, as long as you’re thinking about your reader and providing quality, then most of your worries are taken care of already.

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I've been a DIY, lifestyle, tech and health writer for two decades. Dang, that makes me sound old...Anywhoo, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I'm @alinabradford. Real original handle, huh?

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