Writing and structuring content for SEO: Tips and advice, pt 2
There are two key reasons why structure is important. One, it makes your content easier to engage with and two, it’s fundamental to good SEO. Below we take a look at some of the things you need to be thinking about when it comes to most text-based articles.
Titles and summaries (title tags and meta descriptions)
Your title is like a classic newspaper headline: it’s got to grab your reader’s attention with very few words. For SEO, that means being punchy, descriptive and optimised – i.e. feature your keyword. Sometimes that’s all you need to get a click in SERPs. If, however, your reader still needs to be convinced, then that’s where your meta description comes in (like a dependable sidekick). Again, it needs to feature your keyword, be even more persuasive and offer more insight into what readers can expect.
Your intro is a deal breaker. Done well, it can express relevance and generate (further) interest. Done badly, it can confuse and disappoint. In general, the best advice is to keep it short, include keywords, summarise what can be expected and deliver on the title – i.e. reassure the user that they’re on the right page.
Sometimes it’s good to include an action, such as ‘read on for more’, or ‘scroll to find out how’.
This is often where interest can dwindle significantly, so every effort must be made to keep your readers engaged throughout. And that ultimately means making it as easy to read as possible.
Before we look at how, a quick note on keyword usage in body copy. There is no real optimum number. We recommend that you don’t force it – square pegs and round holes and all. What you will find is that it will naturally appear throughout, or at least same variation of it.
Include plenty of subheadings
As with your title and meta description, your subheadings also does a lot of work with very few words. Use subheadings as often as you can to break up especially long posts, offer further insight into what areas your content covers – as well as what’s coming up – and to help Google also understand what your content is about (do this, for example, by formatting headers correctly by using H1s, H2s and H3s).
Break up text
There’s nothing more off-putting than a dense wall of text. It can, in fact, feel quite daunting. So, help your readers out – break up paragraphs. An easy way of doing this is through the following pearl of wisdom: one thought, one paragraph. Or, more simply perhaps, if it looks too chunky, cut the copy at a natural break.
Another effective way of breaking up text is through bullet points. Seeing as we’ve referenced it a couple of times already, GOV.UK is highly effective at this. You will generally find on an given page on the public service website lots of strategic uses of bullet points. That said, don’t overuse them – it’ll end up being counterintuitive.
Go with the flow
Transition words and linking phrases are important for making your content more readable, as well as tying everything together. They’re not always essential from, say, the end of one section and the start of another, but they’re definitely useful in guiding your readers from one sentence and one paragraph to the next. A rhythm of readability makes for a pleasant experience.
The close (and call to action)
You don’t always need a conclusion to wrap everything up, nor a summary of key takeaways or final thoughts (that’s especially true for list-based articles). Nevertheless, where it’s necessary, whether it’s in an opinion piece or a report, a powerful close can succinctly reiterate and capture your main points.
So keep to the main theme, and draw attention to anything you want your reader to take away, as chances are this is what they’ll most remember.
Similarly, a call to action is dependent on whether the page your user has landed on is enough to help solve their query – as with the bank holiday example – or is a stepping stone to another page or action. Keep it short, conversational and personable – kind of like the one below.
And that folks, is a wrap. We hope you’ve found all of the above useful. There’s a lot more to it, from how to use punctuation effectively and structuring your content to appear as features snippets, but that’s for another time and post.
Whether you’re looking for assistance on a copywriting project or some advice on style guides and all things grammar, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line: