Monthly Archives: December 2011

Is keyword density important for an SEO content writer?

Pub density in England

Are you mapping your keyword density as carefully as these pubs in England?

Keyword density is a term that gets bandied about a lot in SEO circles.  Some say it’s the key, others that it’s bunk.  So, what’s the truth?  Is it important for an SEO content writer?

Wait… what’s keyword density, and why should an SEO content writer care?

First, let’s be clear about what it means.  Keyword density refers to the ratio of a given keyword to the total amount of text in its article.  For example, if the keyword phrase “Victorian architecture” appeared four times in a one-hundred word article, the ratio would be 4:100, or 4%.  That’s its density.

There was a time when putting the same keyword a zillion times on a page would send the page straight to the top of the search engines.  But that hasn’t been the case since the dinosaur days.  Search engines have gotten smart, and nowadays they are sure to penalize you for doing that.  It’s called “keyword stuffing”, and you should absolutely avoid it.

Those who say keyword density is important generally recommend a density of around 4-8%.  Some say as much as 20%.  You can find tools online that will analyze your density for you and make recommendations.

However…

Many veteran SEO professionals ignore keyword density completely.  Check out the enlightening discussion here.

Why do they disavow density?  Well, they either believe it’s not a very important metric used by search engines anymore, or that it was a myth from the start.  The only thing it has going for it is that it’s a pretty straightforward concept, which means your non-expert clients can easily wrap their heads around it.

So if keyword density isn’t important, than what is?

In place of density, think in terms of the following three concepts: keyword presence, keyword placement, and term weight.

Keyword presence

First, does the keyword actually appear somewhere in the article?  That’s all keyword presence means.  It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easily you can write your masterpiece and completely miss your keyword.  It does have to be in there somewhere.

Keyword placement

Second, where does the keyword show up?  Keyword placement refers to the locations of the keyword.  Search engines scan your article starting at the top of its structure: the title.  It also looks at section headers, and body text starting from the beginning.  The earlier the keyword appears in that process, the better.  So definitely, definitely, definitely put the keyword in the title.  Put it in your section headers too, and put it in your body text – the earlier the better.

Term weight

Finally, is the keyword common or uncommon?  Term weight indicates how common the term is.  The less common it is, the heavier the weight, and the easier your article will rise to the top of the search engine results.  Why?  Because there’s less competition for an uncommon term.

As an SEO content writer, you probably won’t be choosing your keywords; rather, your client will give them to you.  So there’s not much you can do in your article to affect term weight.  However, it will dictate how strategic you’ll have to be in order to get the same results.  The lower the term weight, the more clever you’ll have to be.

So… important or not?

So, is keyword density important?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You’d do best to concentrate instead on keyword presence, keyword placement, and term weight.  With these three, your writing will get the upper hand.

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How much money can an SEO content writer make?

Tasty moneyMake no mistake –you’re not going to strike it rich as an SEO content writer. But you can make a living that enables a phenomenal lifestyle.

Many get discouraged right away when they hear about SEO content writers getting paid two dollars per article. There’s no way you can live on that. You could work yourself to the bone and still have to go through the line at the soup kitchen.

How can you eat on two dollars per article? You can’t. But there’s a secret.

What’s the secret?

First of all, the people working for two dollars per article probably don’t live in America. Or Britain or Australia or New Zealand. Most likely, they live in the Philippines, India, or some other country with a very low cost of living and a favorable exchange rate. That’s what makes it worth their while.

So, how can you compete with writers in developing countries willing to work for peanuts?

Your SEO content writer advantage

Never fear – you’ve got an enormous advantage. If you’re a native English speaker with even a modicum of writing talent, your work will blow theirs out of the water.

Clients don’t want writing that sounds foreign, or that uses improper grammar. Every time they contract someone in the Philippines for two dollars, they have to take extra time to edit that work into native-sounding English. They may even have to hire a professional editor. That means two dollars isn’t two dollars – it’s an escalating price tag and a headache.

That’s where you come in. Once clients see you can write decent, natural-sounding English – or better yet, hear it by talking to you on the phone – they’ll pay much higher rates. You are the doctor that cures their headache, and that’s how you’ll sell yourself. They’ll pay more than $30 for an article if they’re convinced you’re good.

Enough to live the lifestyle you want

Thirty dollars for a four-hundred word article isn’t bad. You can write at least two articles per hour, four or more if you’re fast. That calculates to $60-120 per hour!

Of course, you probably won’t be able to keep that up for eight hours a day. But the cash is enough that the other hours of the day can be spent living the lifestyle of your dreams.

Want to spend more time with your spouse or children? Devote yourself to artistic pursuits? Travel? All these become possible with the income of an SEO content writer.

Article first published as How Much Money Can You Make as an SEO Content Writer? on Blogcritics.
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For whom does an SEO content writer write?

audience applauseAn SEO content writer creates text for websites in order to optimize their results in search engines, but who reads that text? Who’s the intended audience?

This may sound like a silly question, but the answer is counter-intuitive. Audience is something every good writer takes into account, and an SEO content writer has not one but two major audiences to consider.

SEO writer audience #1

The first audience should be fairly obvious: people searching on search engines. People rarely read past the first page of Google results, so clients want their websites to show up on the first page. Furthermore, readers concentrate on the first few results at the top of the page, so the higher the client’s site ranks in the results, the better.

SEO writer audience #2

The second audience is less obvious: the search engines themselves. In addition to grabbing the attention of live readers, a site must grab the attention of search engines. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other engines use complicated algorithms to decide which results to show first, so a client’s site must appeal to those algorithms. It has to attract the search engines themselves.

This audience may be even more important than the first, since the search engines choose which sites to show lives users. The search engine must be attracted before there is even an opportunity to attract the live reader.

Should I write for the people or the search engines?

This last point has led to a proliferation of rather poor SEO writing. Disregarding actual live audiences, some authors put out drivel that looks good to search engines but bores readers to tears. Some use article spinner software to recycle the same article into multiple pieces barely different from each other. Others stuff keywords into grammatically meaningless gobbledygook. Finally, some lack the English skills to put a decent sentence together, producing a strange, foreign-sounding muck.

I don’t believe in writing only for search engines. There are always two audiences: electronic and live. Writing that only exploits the algorithms might attract search engines and get traffic to the site, but those readers won’t stick around. In fact, they’ll probably leave and never come back, adding the client’s site to their mental blacklist. Thus, disregarding the live audience is a short-sighted strategy at best. At worst, it’s a form of Internet litter.

Always remember the two intended audiences of an SEO content writer’s work: the search engines themselves, and the live readers the engines help attract.

Article first published as For Whom Does an SEO Content Writer Write? on Blogcritics.
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How does an SEO content writer use keywords?

Old Skeleton keysThe job of an SEO content writer is to create articles that get their online clients to show up higher in search engine results. One way to do that is with strategic use of keywords.

What are keywords?

A keyword is a word or phrase that people type into search engines when they’re looking for something. For example, if they live in Minneapolis and are planning a trip to Hawaii, they might type in “Minneapolis travel agent.” That’s the keyword in this scenario.

Why do SEO content writers care about them?

Your client, which just happens to be a local travel agency, wants to be the first thing they see in those search results. Failing that, they at least want to show up on the first page, the higher the better (few people read past the first page of results, and most concentrate on the first few in the list). For that to happen, the search engine has to consider the client’s site a relevant authority for the keyword.

Now, here’s where your writing comes in. When Google sees that your client’s site has numerous articles using the keyword “Minneapolis travel agent,” it assumes it must have something important to say about the topic. So, who does it show that person planning a trip to Hawaii, right there on the first page of the results? That’s right – your client.

Is it really that simple?

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. It’s not enough just to have content with the right keyword. The content has to have the right keyword placement. The ratio of keyword to text shouldn’t be too high or too low. Too low and the search engine won’t consider the site relevant. Too high and it might penalize the site for attempting to exploit the system (this is called “keyword stuffing” – don’t do it!).

Numerous other factors contribute to well-optimized writing, but we’ll save those for another article.

The most important thing to understand is that search engines look at keywords to determine the order of results, so your writing is a crucial factor in your client’s success at reaching the top of a Google search.

Article first published as How Does an SEO Content Writer Use Keywords? on Blogcritics, with slight changes.
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