Tag Archives: seo writing

What are the best article directories for SEO content writers?

London, Petrie and British Library

Free Online Library is the best!

In a previous article, we talked about using article directories to build quick and easy linkbacks.  Two of the most popular are Ezine Articles (ezinearticles.com) and Free Online Library (www.thefreelibrary.com).  Of these, which is the best to use?

There is no hard and fast way to evaluate directories, and answers will vary depending on which SEO content writer you ask.  Nevertheless, in this article, I’ll share the reasons behind my personal preference for Free Online Library.

Ezine Articles

Ezine Articles is a popular directory that publishes everything under a Creative Commons license.  Ezines was hit hard by the Google’s Panda update, when Google updated its search algorithm, but is still fairly popular and functional.  In my experience, however, Ezines has been disappointing.

For one thing, Ezine has published my work relatively slowly, as late as seven days after submission.

For another thing, my articles have been plagiarized numerous times, showing up on websites that give me no credit or linkbacks.  Part of the concept of Ezine Articles is that people can grab articles there quickly and easily and without having to contact the author for permission.  However, Ezine posts specific rules for how to do that.  If they are not followed, that’s plagiarism.  Specifically, articles are supposed to be reproduced as is, including all links.  That should include the by-line, if there is one, as well any linkbacks.  In every case I’ve discovered so far, both by-line and linkback have been neglected.  Since Ezine assumes no responsibility for handling such cases of plagiarism, it’s left up to you to resolve.

For another thing, Ezine Articles’ Page Rank is 6, which isn’t bad, but it is less than that of Free Online Library.  The higher the PR, the better the linkback, and that’s the name of the game.

Free Online Library

After explaining the issues with Ezine Articles, it won’t take much to praise the virtues of Free Online Library.  A simple bullet-point list will suffice:

  • Publication is fast, within two days in my experience.
  • I haven’t experienced any cases of plagiarism, though I’m sure it can still occur.
  • Free Online Library has a higher Page Rank at PR 7 instead of Ezine’s PR 6.

Add to that the concept of Free Online Library: an archive of information.  Rather than the blatantly commercial model of Ezine Articles, Free Online Library just feels more egalitarian and worth supporting.  Of course, that also places a certain responsibility on yourself to avoid abusing it.  Submit quality content only, and good sites like this will be able to stick around (okay, soapbox speech finished!)

Which is better for SEO content writers?

Yep, it’s Free Online Library all the way.  I’m sure you can find plenty who disagree, but based on my experience the one to go with is Free Online Library.

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Bad examples of anchor text from an SEO content writer

Ted Koppel 1976

No, not you, Ted Koppel. Wrong kind of anchor.

The last article explained how to use anchor text to build linkbacks.  Now, let’s make that a little more concrete by looking at some good and bad examples of anchor text.

You see a lot of random anchor text on websites.  Don’t do this!  Here are some bad examples of anchor text usage.

Why shouldn’t an SEO content writer use anchor text like this?

What’s wrong with these examples?

In the first example, the anchor text is “here”, which says nothing to search engines about the client’s site.  Bad, bad, bad.

The second example uses the client’s URL as anchor text.  Again, this misses the opportunity to tell search engines that it’s relevant to travel advice.

In the final example, the anchor text includes the keyword, but includes a lot of other junk too.  It effectively makes the whole phrase “the best place for travel advice” into one big keyword.  How often will users search using that exact phrase?  Not as often as with the simple two-word phrase “travel advice.”

Now, I threaten to get myself into trouble here, because there are times when you do want longer, less common phrases.  They’re called “long-tail” search terms, and they are relevant to the customer buying cycle, but that’s an advanced keyword research concept and can be safely ignored for our introductory purposes here.  For the most part, as an SEO content writer, you should stick to just your keyword as anchor text.

More things to avoid in anchor text

Be careful not to be deceptive in using anchor text.  If the site has little to do with travel advice, that’s bad etiquette.  Likewise, if the context of the link suggests something other than being taken to the client’s site, that’s bad too.  For example, if a definition of the keyword is suggested, and then user gets transported to a commercial site, that’s deceptive.  Don’t do it.

Another thing usually good to avoid is building linkbacks within the body of the article.  The risk here is that the article will turn into one big advertisement.  Article directories usually want solid, relatively impartial content.  It depends on the site that publishes your work, but most prefer you to save the linkback for the resource box at the end.  Doing otherwise might get your article rejected.

Good use of anchor text

As stated in the previous article (but which cannot be overstated), remember the following points to make the best use of anchor text:

  • anchor text is what’s displayed to the user as the hyperlink
  • the words of the anchor text tell search engines something about the site to which they link
  • use the keyword as anchor text
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How does an SEO content writer use anchor text in linkbacks?

Anchor at Victoria dock, Caernarfon

With anchor links, size does not matter!

In the last two articles here and here, we’ve been talking about linkbacks and have made a number of key points:

  • linkbacks point back to the client’s website
  • the higher the PR of the linking site, the better
  • article directories provide a quick and easy way to build linkbacks
  • put your linkback in the resource box at the end

Now, how do you actually create a linkback?  It may sound straightforward, but there are crucial considerations.  It takes a little more thought than just slapping a URL on a page.  One of the most important considerations is anchor text.

What’s anchor text, and why should an SEO content writer care?

The anchor text is the word or phrase that is displayed on the page.  It’s also what the user clicks on to activate the link.  For example, in the following link, what do you think is the anchor text?

Click here for more travel advice.

That’s right, the anchor text is “travel advice.”  If you hover over the link, you can see the URL to which it points is http://www.southeastasiatraveladvice.com.  That’s the client’s site, which now enjoys a linkback.

Are the words you use as anchor text important?

What you write as anchor text is very important.  This is because search engines assume that the anchor text’s words say something about the site to which they link.  In our example, the anchor text is “travel advice.”  When search engines see this, they recognize that the site must have something to do with “travel advice.”  Thus, it judges the site more relevant for that keyword, and places it higher in search results.

So, given this information, what’s best to use as anchor text?

Use your keyword as anchor text

The whole point of your article is to optimize the client’s site for a given keyword.  Thus, you should use that keyword as the anchor text of your linkback.  That way, search engines will understand that the client’s site is relevant for that keyword.

Key points

To make the best use of anchor text, remember the following points:

  • anchor text is what’s displayed to the user as the hyperlink
  • the words of the anchor text tell search engines something about the site to which they link
  • use the keyword as anchor text

By incorporating these points into writing published on high-PR sites, your linkbacks will send your client’s site rocketing to the top of search results.

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How does an SEO content writer use article directories to build linkbacks?

USAK Library

Article directories are like libraries of content.

Last time we talked about linkbacks, which are hyperlinks that point back to the client’s website from other sites.  The best way to build linkbacks is probably to establish mutually-beneficial relationships with other sites that will want to promote you.  That takes time and investment, though.  So how do you build a bunch of linkbacks quickly and easily?

That’s where article directories come in.

What’s an article directory, and why should an SEO content writer care?

One way to quickly and easily build quality linkbacks is by submitting your writing to article directories.  These are sites that publish writing in order to archive it or distribute it to other sites.  For example, Ezine Articles is popular, though I prefer Free Online Library.

Unlike getting published in a magazine or newspaper, article directories generally offer minimal rejection and quick publication.  As long as your article conforms to their guidelines, your article has a very good chance of being published.  Some do get rejected, but relatively few compared to magazines or newspapers.  Publication is also often quick, generally within two weeks, and sometimes even same-day.

The best part is that good article directories have a PR around six or seven, which isn’t bad.  That means the linkback in your article will carry weight.

Where to place the linkback: in the resource box

A crucial virtue of article directories is that they provide a resource box at the end where you can link back to your client’s site.  The resource box is usually the place where you put an author bio or further resources for the reader to check out.

For reasons of etiquette, the linkback is best placed in the resource box, rather than in the body of the article.  Putting it in the body undermines the objectivity of the article, and threatens to make the whole thing look like an advertisement.  It is more acceptable to put it at the end in the resource box.  Some article directories have specific rules about this, so read their guidelines carefully.

Whatever you do, be sure the article directories gives you that resource box and that it appears with the article on the same page as a live link.  Without that linkback, your work is all for naught.  You should also make sure you can use the article’s keyword as anchor text, which is the topic of the next article.

Key points

So, to sum up, the key things to remember are these:

  • article directories provide a quick and easy way to build linkbacks
  • put your linkback in the resource box at the end

In the next article, I’ll explain how to use anchor text to your advantage in link building.

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How does an SEO content writer use linkbacks?

Link by Alexis renee Mistrot

No, not this Link.

One of the most important tools of an SEO content writer is the linkback.  Through judicious use of this technique, a few well-placed articles can rocket a site to the top of search results.

What’s a linkback, and why should an SEO content writer care?

A linkback is a link that points back to the client’s website.  When other websites link to a site, search engines take that as a sign that the site is important and relevant.

This is one of the major metrics used by search engines.  Some SEO experts even suggest it may be the most important one, because it is the most difficult to control and thus manipulate to one’s advantage.  However, we know how to work this angle.

Linkback… “back” from where?

“Back” from other websites.  The more important those websites, the better.  All links are good, but some are better than others.  Sites with high authority are best.  Authority is the ability of a site to rank well in search engines.  That depends on many factors, of course, but a simple way to get a rough idea is by its Page Rank, or PR.  You can determine a site’s PR for free by going to Google Page Rank Checker.  All sites start at a PR of zero, and the highest a site can get is PR 10.

In the SEO game, you want to build links from sites with a high PR.  If search engines see that important sites link to your client’s site, they assume the client’s site must be important too.

How to use linkbacks

By now it should be fairly obvious that the way to use linkbacks is by incorporating them into content published on sites with a high PR.  That’s the gist of it.  There are special techniques to do that, though, and in the next article we’ll talk about how to use article directories to create quick and easy linkbacks.

Key points

For now, the key points to remember are:

  • linkbacks point back to the client’s website
  • the higher the PR of the linking site, the better
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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.


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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What does an SEO content writer do?

Macbook writing, by Håkan DahlströmAn SEO content writer creates content that optimizes his or her clients’ websites’ results in search engines.

The content may be short articles, web page dialogue, or other online text. The important point is that it is written with search engine traffic in mind. By applying a number of trade secrets, the SEO content writer can drive traffic from search engines to the clients’ website.

What the SEO content writer does for the client

Usually the client provides the writer with a list of keywords. These are search terms related to the website. It’s the dream of every online business to show up first in a Google search for one of their keywords. It’s the writer’s job to help make that dream come true.

The writer takes the client’s list of keywords and writes a number of articles for each. It could be anywhere from five to 25 articles. For example, if the client is an online comic book shop, they might commission 20 articles on the keyword phrase “order comics online,” 15 on “graphic novels for sale,” 10 on “buy Marvel comics,” and five on “latest Spider-Man issue.”

What the client does with the SEO content

The articles created on these keywords include certain trade secrets to optimize their effect on search engines. Then they are sent to the client for publication, and may be published on the client’s website or blog. Search engines will find them, notice they mention Spider-man a lot, and show the client’s website at the top of the search results found by Spidey fans looking for the latest issue.

Alternatively, the articles may be published at article directories like Ezine Articles or Free Online Library, with a link back to the client’s website. This not only drives traffic to the site, but also provides a valuable link. When search engines see that a site has links pointing to it from valuable sites (sites with high “Page Rank”), it increases the authority of the client’s site and makes it show up even better in search results.

So that’s a brief taste of what an SEO content writer does. Articles are created, applying trade secrets to maximize search engine appeal, with the ultimate goal of maximizing the client’s results in search engines.

Article first published as What Does an SEO Content Writer Do? on Blogcritics.
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