16.5.11

Flexing Writing Muscles With SEO

Given the plethora of writing-related blog hops, I gather I'm not the only one who enjoys a writing challenge.  I don't often get to join those hops, as I'm still trying to figure out how to keep all the balls I'm attempting to juggle in the air, but I'm very fortunate in that more than one of my balls---okay, can we please switch to oranges or something?  Thanks---as I was saying, more than one of my oranges involves writing.

Added to my ever growing list of duties at work is writing about products for my company's website and blog.  This can get dull at times, but being the writing dork that I am, I get huge kick out of wooing the search engines with my words, i.e. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  The challenge lies in packing the entries with key words without looking like I'm doing it.  The most important thing is to have something informative and appealing to potential customers, and that ain't gonna happen if I simply parrot the same words over and over.

Since most of you have your own blogs and websites, you might want to give SEO a whirl if you haven't already.  When writing a post on a topic that has appeal beyond your current circle, spice it up with some SEO basics and help more people find your post via a Google search.  I'm by no means an expert, but I've learned a lot an have had decent success.  The first time I tried it with my personal blog was during the A to Z Challenge with 80s TV Shows.  That's a really tough nut, with lots of active 80s websites out there, but if you Google "80s tv shows blog" you may see a familiar name in the #3 slot.

For those totally new to search engine optimization, here are four simple SEO tips to get you started:

1. First step:  Determine your key words.  Think about which words people will actually type in to find your article.  One of the shops I write for sells bras and forms for women who've had mastectomies or lumpectomies.  The PC terms used by surgeons these days are "after surgery" and "prosthesis" but when real people are doing a Google search, they're typing in "post mastectomy" and "breast forms." So the webpage has to incorporate those terms while still sounding professional for the doctors who visit our site. 

Google Wonder Wheel
SEO tools can help you determine effective key words. My favorite tool is Google's Wonder Wheel, which shows related search terms.  It can be useful for building a website hierarchy or, the way I use it, for more key words to work into the text.

To get to the Wonder Wheel, type your primary key words (I used "seo") into a Google search, then select "show search tools" in the left column and click on "Wonder Wheel" in the list that pops up.  You can click on any of the terms on the wheel to open up a sub-wheel with more terms.  For this post, I incorporate related search terms: seo tools,  basics, tips, google, tutorial (and see---I just used them again).

2. Incorporate the key words naturally into the post. Work them in as often as possible, but not so much that readers get annoyed.  Most people don't use quotes in their search, so go ahead and split the words apart if necessary to make it flow better---for example, I can say search engine in one place and optimization in another, and that'll still help someone typing search engine optimization into the Google search bar to find me.  Also, be sure to incorporate key words into your titles.

3. Images, use them.  And make sure each image's title includes key words. For example, the Wonder Wheel image above is titled seo-search-engine-optimization-tools. As with anything else, images should be relevant to what you're writing about.

4. Links!  Links to relevant external sites are great, and even internal links to relevant pages at your own site are good for SEO (ala Wikipedia, the king of internal links).  Getting relevant external websites to link back to you is incredible for search engine optimization, and having valuable content is the best way to get others to link up.  When linking within your own writing, make sure the text you anchor the link to is meaningful, i.e. gives an accurate indication of where that link is going. 

And there's my mini SEO tutorial.  Click on any of the links throughout the text for more detailed info.

Now, to optimize your blogging experience, check out the fabulous authors in this week's Meet an Author Monday blog hop, hosted by Lisa Sanchez (future hostess of the Sizzling Summer Author Extravaganza)!  

13 comments:

Lisa said...

Great post!! I need to get on the ball and use more keywords. My SEO isn't the best, lol!

Suze said...

Wow. It really is easy to get lost in the avalanche out there, huh?

Shirley Wells said...

Goodness. I just talk rubbish... ;)

Anne Gallagher said...

First writer, then game show hostess, now corporate marketer. What next for you Ms. Elson?

Katie Anderson said...

That's some really helpful advice for newbies Nicki. Thanks for sharing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm bookmarking this! I'm sure my blog doesn't pull up often enough. Unless one searches for my name. Or Ninja captains.

JJ said...

Nicki: Thank you so much. I am trying to learn SEO myself. Great info!

CarolOates said...

Wow, that is great information. I have never heard of it before.

Jennifer Lane said...

I've read about using keywords in your blog posts and comments but baby you explained it really well! Search engine optimization and The Three Daves all the way. :)

Auto Title Loans said...

It definitely is a fine-walk with SEO and doing it well. There is a lot that goes into it, and I think you did a great job of explaining it. When you force and overload it, it's not beneficial; nor is an automated SEO bot. Remember, it's quality, not quantity!

Elliot Grace said...

...much thought and research went into this, Nicki. It's the kind of post we should all bookmark and revisit as a refresher from time to time.

Well done:)

EL

Talli Roland said...

These are great trips! Thanks, Nicki!

Kittie Howard said...

Great post, Nicki! I made notations on things to do in the future (as this area needs lots of work.) Thanks!

I tagged you. Hope it's okay.

Have a great weekend!