The Writing Phase: Your A to Z SEO Checklist

Sometimes ABC isn't as easy as 1 2 3, and with SEO you don't want to miss any important benchmarks when creating content! Here's a simple checklist to set you up for SEO success!

Transcript & mp3 file 👇

Oh hello! Danni here from Surfer! Welcome back! Welcome to Module 2, Pillar 2: the writing phase.

So, in this module, we're going to talk about everything you should include in your post to make your readers happy, you managers happy and Google happy.

First, I want to reiterate that Google likes quality content. They’re on to the tricks and workarounds, so the more you prioritize creating readable, relevant, and engaging content the better!

This will be a brief overview of sorts. Think of it as a checklist! Are you ready? Let’s get to it!

But first… a not-so-fun, fun fact: in the year 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Today, it’s about 8 seconds. Here’s the not-so-fun part: the attention of a literal goldfish is about 9 seconds… crazy, right?

This brings me to my first point: your text needs to be visually attractive and easy to read to get people’s attention.

One thing every article should contain is a handy-dandy table of contents. This is one way to ensure that your reader has a frictionless journey on your page. If they can access the information they’re looking for without the hassle, they’re more likely to stay on the page and read, but also, they’re more likely to come back!

The next thing we at Surfer recommend including is images. But wait, not just images, but their alt texts too. I think it’s pretty obvious why including images in your post is a good idea, but just in case, I’ll spell it out: our attention span is worse than that of goldfish, people! Images help break up the text and illustrate things that cannot be fully conveyed via the written word. It’s also useful for the visually impaired who use voice speakers when reading on the internet.

Using visuals like pictures, videos, gifs, or infographics in your blog post or article is also helpful in terms of SEO because each image you add should include an alternative text or ‘alt text.’ It’s perfect for including relevant keywords and any entities you’ve pulled from NLP analysis.

What is alt text? Have you ever gone to load a page, and the images took longer than expected? Alt text is what shows up to describe what’s happening in the image. It acts as a plan B in this case.

So not only are alt texts really great for SEO purposes, it's one more step you can take to make your writing, and the world a bit more inclusive. So for the visually impaired, alt texts are really helpful.

Additionally, it provides context and when done correctly, only adds to your SEO efforts as alt text is indexed by Google. Don’t let Google AI classify your image in the wrong way and decide it’s irrelevant to your content! If you can get your image to rank high in Google Images, Google may display it as an on-SERP feature for your keyword.

Let’s move on to headings. Not only do they make your text look polished, they are extremely important to any SEO strategy. Why? They help search engines crawl and determine how to best rank your page.

Oh, and while I’m here, let’s talk about word count, shall we? There’s this long-standing myth that the longer your content the better. Sorry to tell ya, but that’s a complete over-simplification!

As I mentioned before, writing a super long article for a question that can be answered in a few paragraphs isn’t always the best practice. After researching your competitors, if you think the content that you’re seeing on Google is not really offering a complete and thorough answer, then add more text. What you shouldn’t do is get fixated on “out-writing” your competition.

So, in October 2018 Google announced their Search Quality Evaluator guidelines for the first time ever. The guidelines serve as a base for Google’s employees to rate websites. Google hires people to help improve their algorithms and search results. Google employees manually check websites and rate them in terms of expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness but also general website quality and presence, so it’s not algorithm-based which is good news! Either way, the fun part: We all get to find out what Google considers to be a high-quality page.

Here’s the SparkNotes version: they use something called the E-A-T metric. It’s short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

According to Google, high-quality content ticks these three major boxes. EAT articles should: Be written by an expert on the subject (check!) Be considered an authority in their sector, so they should have more than one article on their site about the topic in question. (check!) And lastly, be a trusted source of information. No spouting conspiracy theories or claiming the sky is purple! (and check!)

EAT is especially important for YMYL sites. What in the world is YMYL? This acronym stands for “Your Money, Your Life.” It refers to the types of pages that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

One way to make this a bit more straightforward is by adding an author bio to clearly define your niche and qualifications!

I mean, I guess when I think about it, it makes sense, doesn't it? So, I've got good news. I like good news. I imagine you like good news too. 95% of the things that I've mentioned can be handled with one amazing tool. It's Surfer's content editor tool.

I know what you're thinking: I'm not just biased because I work at Surfer. I'm a writer and it really, really is helpful.

With the content editor you’ll be able to: Create an outline with organized headers with Brief, get a suggested number of images to include, receive a range for ideal word count, and basically watch the metric move up, up, up, and into the green zone!

I’d like to end this lesson with a few rapid-fire questions that you can and should, ask yourself when creating content. Ready? Steady? Let’s go!

Did you include a clickable table of contents? Have you added headers to make your text scannable and easy to read? Did you remember to include high-quality and relevant images with a clear, yet optimized, alt text? Have you added “visual pauses” like bullet points, numbered lists or bold or italics to highlight or emphasize certain words? Is your word count within optimal range? Have you added an author bio that establishes you as a reliable source? Have you taken a break from your computer and gone for a walk outside?

No? Not yet? Then go do that. Priorities. Take your time. I'll be waiting for you. In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to use our Content Editor in a bit more detail, and we'll also talk about how to use our AI.

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