To many writers, search engine optimization is something their editors will take care of. To some, SEO is the enemy of good writing—a practice that demands keywords be stuffed into your carefully crafted sentences and paragraphs. Both are wrong.
Search engine optimization is the practice of presenting your online work in a way that shows search engines like Google and Yahoo that it is valuable to readers, thereby positioning it high in search results. It is a practice that applies to every website on the Internet, from huge media outlets to your personal website.
I’ve been working with SEO since I got my MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts in 2013. What I’ve learned has helped me to write stronger, more compelling pieces for my editorial and content marketing clients and manipulate the backend of the content management systems I work with to ensure that my articles have a striking image and click-worthy title when shared on social media—added value for my editors.
Competition is fierce for a spot “above the fold” on the first page of a Google search result. The content of an article and the frequency of certain keywords are only two factors that can either encourage or discourage a high search ranking. There’s also the number, size, and quality of images present, the length of the title and how it’s constructed, and the meta description—a short phrase shown in search results describing what the article or web page is about.
“I’ve seen incredible content that got zero to no views, and I’ve seen mediocre content that’s gotten an incredible amount of views. So quality of content does not explain the difference. It has everything to do with tweaking your content so that search engines can find it,” said SEO expert Dirk Ypenburg.
I met Dirk when he was working with Launch Brigade, a San Francisco Bay Area web design and development company I contracted on behalf European Cabinets & Design Studios, one of my content marketing clients…