Time was you only had to worry about writing for the human eye and sometimes for the ear. Now when it comes to content marketing, writers need to know about search engines and how digital formats are impacting reader habits and preferences.
Good headline writing has long been an art form. It takes a skilled and experienced editor to sum up a whole story in a five or six word phrase that will attract readers’ attention and draw them in. For content marketers the task becomes more complex with the need to attract search engines as well as humans to a story.
Google bots like short headlines that start with keywords and whose context matches that of the story. Humans are attracted by humour, emotion and information. The trick to marry the needs of both by summarizing the story using keywords while invoking curiosity. For example:
- Old style: Download Facebook Messenger now!
- New style: When Facebook kills mobile chat, don’t lose touch with all your friends!
Should writers keep copy short?
Copy length continues to be a point of discussion among content marketers. The shorter the better, is one popular opinion, and this makes sense when you consider the fierce competition for readers. Tell a story in as few words as possible, and it has a better chance of being read and clicked.
The sweet spot for blog content is from about 300 to 400 words. This gives search engines enough copy to understand the context and index the story, and it removes the risk of overwhelming the reader, improving the chances of someone actually reading to the end.
But, short copy is not the whole story. Longer form content, more than a thousand words long, tends to get indexed higher on search engines. Engagement is improved too. Studies show that longer articles tend to achieve more retweets and shares in social media and attract more comments.
Writers of marketing content can feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to knowing how to get the best search engine rankings when Google and major social networks are always tweaking their algorithms. What works today, may not necessarily work tomorrow! That said, there are a few solid principles that tend to hold true
- Try to keep the editorial focus on one or two keywords. This not only will simplify the narrative making it a stronger story, keywords used too often can be penalized by search engines.
- Try to use a keyword in the headline, the body copy, the permalink URL and the meta description. There are SEO tools, such as Yoast, which can keep writers on track with keyword use, without having to divert too much energy away from creativity.
- Tagging is important too and again, simplicity is important. Search engines can penalize content on a website that has many similar topic tags. For example, having “cooking” “cooks” and “cookery” on the same post could get lower ranking than just using just one of those variants.
A version of this article was originally published on Thornleyfallis.com .
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