Sunday, April 5, 2009

Writing Squeaky Articles: Web Content 101

I'm laying on the floor under the desk in the office, in my usual spot, when the phone rings. It's another lawyer asking about Experthub's content syndication program. I've heard enough of these conversations that I've got the basics down.
Any SEO dog worth his salt will tell you it works just like a squeaky toy. Give a toy a few squeaks and I come running. It's the same with web content; an article that squeaks will get traffic, because it's what the readers want. Here are a few tips that apply to articles, web pages, blogs, anything that's published on the web.

Squeaky Tip #1: Write Unique Content

Posting previously published (say that three times fast) blogs or web articles to the expertSYNDICATION program won't get any traffic. This content has already been indexed by the search engines, and won't get indexed again, meaning it will get ignored.
Along the same tip, there are millions of webpages out there about legal topics. Having a page that is different will help it get ranked. You're a lawyer. You know the subtleties about your cases, so write about it. Instead of writing about the difference between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, give the readers what they really want; Details about what they're about to get into. Timelines, benefits, disadvantages, granular specifics, bankruptcy for animals, is my PetSmart tab exempt?... the kind of information that is not readily available with a quick search.

Squeaky Tip #2: Organize the Page

Once someone's landed on your page, give them an easy way to scan it to find out if it's what they were looking for. Nobody wants to have to read through 800 words to get to information, especially me, as I can't read.
Use headers, sub-headers, bulleted lists, top tens, fives, tables... Anything to break up the paragraph. Additionally, the text in headers and sub-headers is weighed more heavily by search engine algorithms than the text in the paragraphs, so have some keywords here as well.
Using this approach makes the page easily scannable, so readers can find what they were looking for quickly, making it more likely that they will "stick" instead of hitting the back button and moving on to the next search result.

Squeaky Tip #3: Meta Tags

There are three of them; Title Tag, Description and Meta Keywords. For lawyers submitting content to the Experthub network, these will be taken care of by an SEO expert, or a dog. So you don't have to concern yourself with these.
By far, the most important one is the title tag. This is the tag that will make your readers chase their own tail in excitement and beg to click on your result in the search engine's results page.
Why is this one the most important? This is the text that's displayed on the results page of all the major search engines. Even though it won't show up in the article itself, it's the number one driver of clicks to a search result (after a good ranking anyway). If you've got two other pages showing up above yours on a search results page, a good title tag helps it stand out. Keywords from the search query get bolded in the title tag, and stand out like a milk bone on the page, no one can resist.
After that comes the meta description. Like the title tag, this also gets displayed on a search page, below the title, telling the searcher what the result is about. Keywords are also bolded in this text, so make sure they're in there.
Finally, the keyword tag. This is mostly useless, so I won't waste my breath.


Oh, I guess that's it for now. Looks like somebody got hung up on. I don't know why I'm getting yelled at this time, I'm just laying here trying to get this darn copper wire out of my teeth.

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