If you want your content production efforts to succeed online, you can’t do it without the help of SEO. However, it takes some skill and strategy to leverage this powerful process, but if you follow these 7 tips to master SEO basics for editorial, you’ll be on your way to boosting the popularity of your content and brand.
1. Think of Your Audience First
Audiences typically consume easily digestible content that contains something they consider valuable, whether it’s information or a product. You have to know your readers and what they want. Content is meant to inform or entertain, so make sure you’re fulfilling your audience’s needs. Ask yourself these questions when writing:
- Will my target audience find this content interesting?
- Will they remember this for being informative, funny, etc.?
- Are the points being made easy to understand?
- Will they be likely to share this content with others?
Ideation and research — If you’re having a hard time figuring out what sort of stories will be popular with your audience, try using some resources like Buzzsumo for brainstorming. It’s simple to use—you search for various topics, and Buzzsumo serves up a list of the most shared content trending on social media.
Know your market — Let’s say you’ve written some of your best work yet. Well, before you press “publish”, think about where your audience is and when they’re online. Is most of your audience located in the US, India, the UK, or somewhere else in the world? If your audience isn’t local, what is the time zone difference? Whatever the answer is, you want to schedule your content to be published when your audience is online.
Typically, more people are online right before work, around lunch time, and in the evening after work. Also take into consideration what day of the week it is.
** NOTE: The rule for breaking or trending news: If you break a story, publish as soon as possible.
2. Reel Them In With a Headline
Writing concise yet engaging headlines is the key to getting your content seen. You only have a split second for your headline to pique interest. The goal is to create headlines that will most likely to be clicked and shared, but is not click-bait. If a headline has integrity, it provides a clear idea of what the content is all about. In terms of SEO best practices, your headline should include at least one keyword for the topic you’re covering.
When it comes to length, use the “Twitter’s 140 characters rule of thumb”, which is to keep your meta description/excerpt around 140 characters and your headlines half of that or around 70 characters. This length works for most search engines and social networks. Remember to use the following formula to craft amazing headlines by making each one:
If you didn’t nail the headline on the first try you can change it once or twice, but you’ll need to customize your permalink. Trimming a link requires little effort, but goes a long way. Don’t let your publishing platform dictate your post’s permalink. Customize the URL with a short phrase or topic of your story, and make the URL independent of the headline. This way you can change your headline later without confusing readers. Don’t forget to always customize your permalink before clicking ‘publish’. Here’s an example of Wired taking advantage of this practice.
3. The Lead Paragraph is the Key to Grab Audience Attention
Your lead paragraph should be a condensed introduction summary, one that immediately grips the reader’s attention and makes it clear that the article is providing something valuable. Your introduction paragraph should be informative and keep the audience reading. Your goal is to succinctly convey as much detail as you can (the who, what, when, where, and why of the story) in a few sentences.
Want to know what makes your lead paragraph really shine? Search query a.k.a keyword phrase. This does NOT mean you stuff keywords into your content. Do that and your content is as good as dead. What you have to do is think about how your audience will find your article using search engines, then use this search query. Using proper nouns helps as well – Google calls them “original named entities” – for the names of people, places, or organizations. A meaningful keyword phrase in the lead paragraph will significantly help your content’s visibility on search engines.
4. Links Are the Tethers of Digital Life
It’s been said that no one person is an island, meaning that you must stay connected with others in order to survive and/or thrive. This is how your content is connected within the vastness of the Internet. While this applies to any type of content regardless of channels, articles specifically need internal and external links.
This is critical to your content’s success, because strong links will provide credibility to your content and further build trust with your audience. (PRO TIP: your external links should open in a new tab) Just remember these two principles when linking:
- Link with purpose
- Don’t participate in link schemes
Links are used to recommend a website, blog, article, or social media mention that would be useful to your audience. When providing external links to another site, your audience expects the link to:
Give credit to the source content — Don’t just to mention the source, provide a link so your audience can see the evidence for themselves. It’s all about building trust and authority with your brand.
Provide context — Your links must refer your audience to further explanation, background, or detail on the subject of your content.
5. Enhance Your Content with Multimedia
We all know that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in the digital media age, multimedia content is what drives eyeballs. For instance, including relevant, complementary illustrations can convey your ideas faster than text alone ever could. Content with great visuals is more popular and keeps audiences focused, because most people don’t like to read huge chunks of text. Get creative with the multimedia content you include in your post. Include photos, videos, screenshots, charts, drawings, infographics, GIFs, and more. You should also optimize alt text and include a keyword in the file name description.
6. Stay on Top of Trends
If you want to create relevant content, you’ll need to follow your industry’s pulse. Follow popular and newsworthy current topics, track any relevant developments and events, and stay abreast of any analytical and opinion pieces. This will provide you with a continual wellspring of new topics as well as give you the knowledge and familiarity needed to write compelling articles.
Also remember that context plays a role in trending topics. For example, if an unfortunate event occurs on a day you had planned to post a upbeat article, simply wait to post it. Poor timing could make you look insensitive and oblivious, but it can also guarantee that your content gets little engagement from the audience.
7. Excell with Social Media
It’s important to set up a strong support system when you use social media to share your work. Personally share your content on your social media, and particularly with others that may be experts on the subject of your content. If you connect and engage with other experts on social networks, they’re more likely to engage, make suggestions, comment on, and ultimately share your content. Don’t forget to ask for feedback.
You should know, follow, and engage with influencers and other pros in your industry, continually cultivating your ever-growing network that can be leveraged in the future. These folks may be experts, even influencers with their own followers, so when they engage with your content it proactively increases the chances of your content being seen and shared by your target audience. Making a personal connection and engaging with members of your industry is an excellent way to generate new connections and develop your following.
The takeaway from all this is that you want to make sure your content is top-notch. Post thoughtful, relevant, well-written pieces. Summon some master-level SEO skills. And remember, social media can make or break your brand faster than you can say “tweet”. Want to dive deeper into the process of editorial content production and SEO? Just take a look at these links:
What do you think of these 7 tips to master SEO basics for editorial? If you think we missed something or have any good tips from the SEO trenches, let us know in the comments.