Welcome to the Editor’s Journal; A daily thought on writing, the creative process, art, work, the world and how it all goes together. Every morning I rise early, I sit here in the quiet of my kitchen and I write whatever’s prominent. I have a bunch of article ideas saved, so I’ll either pull from them or write something new. I also write at larrygmaguire.com. I hope you enjoy the read.
Today is one of those days that I come to the keyboard of my Mac and although I have tons of topics I could write on…
Nothing is speaking to me.
I don’t even have a title for this article yet.
I usually perform the basic on-page SEO for every article and do some keyword research before I start but on days where I’m stuck I just write.
The reason for my stuckness is that I’ve not taken time away from the noise around me, but I must proceed all the same.
I must proceed and see where it takes me because the alternative is to close the laptop and do nothing.
I’ve written before about finding time in the silence to nurture creativity and although I know I should make time for it, I’ve not woven it into my daily practice completely yet.
It needs to become part of the daily practice, otherwise, we don’t develop the skills we need to create.
So I’ve let the family off down to the beach while I stay in my chair by the window and get some thoughts down.
Right now I’m looking at the Mr Whippy sign outside the coffee shop 15m from my window and I’ve got to get one — but first, some work.
Let’s Talk About On Page SEO
So I mentioned On Page SEO above, so let’s talk about that.
I don’t expect to rank for this article in Google because there’s far too much competition from well-established sites that specialise in SEO.
But I’ll do the basic on page SEO because it’s good practice and I’ve conditioned myself to do it.
Although it is good practice, on page SEO is not always critical for everyone.
If you already have an email list of 50k, 100k or more people then you may not be overly concerned with SEO of any kind.
A massive email list like that is audience enough for many creative people. This is where a reliable income comes from — an audience.
However, if you want your creative work to be found in Google and other search engines then you need to perfect on page SEO and other aspects of SEO.
Think of this as an introduction. In here you will find links to other content that will elaborate on the basic on page SEO principles I will outline below.
Check out this 8000 word article I wrote a little while ago breaking down in great detail some of the fundamentals of SEO best practice for creatives.
The Basics Of On Page SEO
There are some basic on page SEO principles you should follow when you create your content, be that product pages or service pages if you want the Search Engines to find you.
Off page SEO is important too but that’s a whole other ball game and too lengthy a topic to get into here.
I build my sites using self hosted WordPress and so what I’ll show you here relates directly to that.
However, if you have your site built on some other platform what I’ll show you can help you too.
So to begin…
Careful selection and use of keywords in your content is vital to be found online. If you are not already taking the time to select the right keyword for your content then you need to start.
Take your time to build out a keyword strategy for your content and always refer to it when creating content. Avoid sticking rigidly to your strategy, rather allow it to grow and develop.
SEO experts say that your chosen keyword should make up 1.5% of your overall article word count and I use Yoast SEO WordPress plugin for this.
The Yoast SEO plugin will calculate your word count for you making things easier as your write.
Your page title is probably the most important thing to get right. It’s certainly the first thing people see on social media or in Google search results, so it needs to communicate what your page is about.
It also needs to grab attention. If it doesn’t make someone want to click through to your page then it’s not doing the job it’s supposed to do.
Whether you’re selling artwork, crafts or services, if people are not clicking through to your stuff then you’ll need to learn how to craft better headlines.
Your URL structure is very important and is one of the key factors that Google uses to gauge the value of your content.
There are several things you’ll need to keep in mind when creating your page URL, but the most important is that it should reflect your chosen keyword exactly.
Check out these SEO tips for creating an optimised URL
The meta description is the text that shows up below the blue link in a Google search result.
This text gives people further information about your page so it needs to build on your headline (Page Title) enough to invite that valuable click.
Find out more about how to create the right kind of meta description for your content.
Internal links are hyperlinks within the body of your content that link to relevant pages throughout your own site. Internally linking your pages and posts to one another is a critical element of on page SEO.
If you see an opportunity to add an internal link in your article to other relevant content on your site then go ahead and do it.
After you’ve finished writing your new page or article, you should take the time to run through your work again and look for other internal link opportunities.
External links are links you place on your site that point to external relevant resources on other websites. The links you add should always go to trusted sites with good Domain Authority.
External links are different to backlinks. Backlinks are links to you from other external sources. Backlinks to your site are important but we’re not going to get into that here.
As with internal links, always make sure the external links you add have context and take readers to resources that further expand on the topic you’re are detailing.
The jury is somewhat out on article length.
If you search Google yourself you’ll find that results returned contain content that is not necessarily providing any great detail on the topic you searched for.
Most experts will tell you that long form content wins, and I buy into that. But results in searches I’ve made on several subjects doesn’t always return the good content I was expecting.
I think the best rule of thumb here is that you write what you need to write to get your message across. Avoid waffling on just to reach 1200 words.
Write what you need to write and give as much detail as possible about your subject. After all, creating content is about giving people what they need, and not about satisfying search engines.
I always try to reach 700 words for an opinion piece. Detailed how-to type article can go way beyond that.
Formatting your article is important so that people can read it without getting blinded by boredom.
Allow people scan your article and pick out the key points that are important to them. Here are some tips of correct formatting fo0r your content.
- Use an attractive headline. Your headline should explain what the reader will gain from reading your article.
- Include an Introduction. Your introduction should outline the problem and benefit to reading the article. It should also lead the reader into the main article
- Use sub headlines. Sub headlines help break out the higher level points you want to make.
- Use short paragraphs. Go for short, one or two sentence paragraphs.
- Use bullets and numbering to further break up your points and steps.
- Add Images and screenshots to break up the content and illustrate various points.
- Use Quotes from trusted sources, again to break up content, but more importantly to back up your points.
- Use Click To Tweet from CoSchedule to add Tweet boxes so your users can share your stuff.
- Add A Conclusion, a summary of main points from your article.
- Add A Call to Action. What do you want the reader to do next? Download your document? Signup for your newsletter? Buy your product?
Categories & Tags
Every page and article on your site should have relevance for your visitor. How we build this relevance is by utilising post categories and tags correctly.
Categories are the list of contents, Tags serve as the index of your site’s entire content. Categories and Tags do come up in Google Search so make sure you have a good structure in place.
Your categories and tags should reflect your content and should be in place even before you start creating content.
Screenshots & Images
Many sites online don’t optimise images and screenshots on their web pages. They don’t realise it, but this poor practice can cost them results in searches.
Another problem related to under optimised images on your site is that pages load slower. When pages load slower people click away.
That could mean you are losing potential customers.
I’ve got some good advice for you on image optimisation so please do check that out.
On Page SEO Resources
There are endless resources online where you can find out more about optimising your website for search. Almost too many actually.
I’ve pulled together just a few for you that I have found helpful.
SEO for Artists from Emptyeasel
200+ Actionable SEO Tips from Ahrefs
The Complete List of SEO Tools from Backlinko
The Beginner’s Guide To SEO from MOZ
SEO: A Comprehensive Guide For Beginners from Kissmetrics
Smart Insights B2B SEO Best Practice
Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
SEO is not the end all and be all of marketing online, but it helps — a lot.
The secret to making an impact IMO is to perform the same tasks consistently. So if you choose to work an SEO strategy to promote your work then form one and continue to develop it.
In certain lower competitive niches, you will find that your contemporaries are not maximising their reach through SEO.
This will offer you an advantage and if you take it you’ll get results pretty quickly.
If your work occupies a competitive niche then you’ll need to spend more time building a strategy that works.
SEO can be complicated and to be honest, it’s a bit of a rabbit hole, but once you perform the basics you’ll be setting yourself up to be found much easier.
Get working on the basics and you will benefit long term.
Originally published at larrygmaguire.com on July 17, 2017.
The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to Artists and Creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, disregarding the need for applause and recognition. It’s available from 13th May 2017. Grab your FREE copy here.
Like More of This Kind of Thing?
Howdy, I’m Larry, Writer & Artist. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. I write about art, creativity, business & marketing. When I’m not doing that I write short stories about the ordinary lives of people and the challenges they face. My stuff can be edgy, hard hitting, and sometimes controversial, but never contrived. If that’s your bag you can Sign-up To Sunday Letters Here.