Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Write an Article in 5 Steps

Many bloggers don't know how to write an article for human readers. Instead they are only interested in things like keyword density, spinning and taking advantage of the loopholes in Google's algorithm that will enable them to rank their low quality articles for any keyword they wish.

I've seen a lot of bad practices in article writing and it's really disappointing to see so many people focusing too much in search engine optimization, that they forget that what they really need is human readers.

People who publish low quality content realize after a while that no matter how much traffic they manage to get, nobody actually stays on their website. So if you want to build a real business online you must focus on quality content. There are no shortcuts.

After years of writing I have developed a certain process that helps me keep my articles quality, professional and compelling to read. By following this process I am able to write an article in less that an hour and it can bring a lot of traffic to my website.

here is the 5 step process I use to write an article:

1. Choosing a Topic

The first thing you'll need to do is to find what to write about and the best way to do that is by finding out what you are interested in. It goes without saying that your blog should be in a niche of your interest, otherwise you will always struggle finding topics to write about, and ultimately you will get disappointed and abandon your blog. So, don't over-complicate this step. just figure out what it is that you are passionate about and move on to the next step.

2. Keyword Research

Once you have decided about the topic of your article you should do some keyword research. if for example the topic of your article is "how to write a blog post" go to the Google keyword research tool and search for that keyword. that way you will get a list of a lot of keywords relevant to your topic. Choose one of the suggested keywords as your primary and also choose some more as secondary keywords.

Focus on long tail keywords. These are keywords longer that 3 words which get small traffic but are typically easier to rank for because there is little competition. You can use SEOquake to analyze competition. This is a free Firefox plug-in that displays a lot of SEO information on search results and it can help you determine which keyword is the easiest to rank for.

Once you have found all the relevant keywords for your article you can start using them in your article. Use your primary keyword in your title and in the main body of your article at about 2% keyword density. This will make your article optimized for search engines. Higher keyword density is not recommended because it will make your article look spammy and Google will penalize you.

3. Research your Topic

Before writing your article it's important to do some research. You have already compiled your list of keywords so start searching on Google for each of those keywords and read as much information as you can. Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Research can make your article stand out and will increase the likelihood of having your article syndicated which can bring you a lot of traffic. Only if you are very familiar with the topic you might skip this step.

4. Start Writing

Now have all the information you need to start writing your article. But before you do that you will have first to decide on the length of your article. Most people recommend that you write about 500 words, but unlike what most people I will advice you to write at about 700-1000 words. There reason is that a quality 1000 word article will greatly increase the chances of syndication.

An article in order to be compelling has to have some structure. You can't just start placing one sentence after another. Every article I write consists of the following components:

Title: It's the most important component because it's the first impression a reader get from your article. If the title is not compelling enough chances are your reader will stop reading your article. Keep in mind that the title is what shows up on Google results and if it's not catchy enough you will not get people's attention. The tile also is an important factor for SEO so you have to include your keyword on your title if this is possible.
Introduction: first impressions matters. In the intro you will introduce your topic, mention all the main point you will discuss in your article, explain why you are writing this post, and provide a little background information if required. The primary aim of the introduction is to bring excitement so that your reader will continue reading. Also don't forget to include your primary keywords phrase once in a way that looks natural.
Body: You must choose a way to structure your information with bullet points or sub-headlines (like in this article). That way you break up your content into small pieces which are easier to read. Another way to make your article more pleasing for the eye, is to add images and a video. A video will also increase the user engagement with your site and enhance the user experience which is a big factor in SEO rankings.
Conclusion: Do not overlook this part because an improper conclusion can destroy the article. Do not mention anything new in the conclusion. Keep it short summarizing what you just said and explaining your reader how to find further information on that subject. The conclusion is also the best place to add a call to action which can be a link to your product or an incentive for your reader to join your newsletter or an invitation to leave a comment. A call to action is a must. I can't stress that enough. You will be amazed on how many people will respond to your invitation. do not overdo it though. Just one call to action on every post is enough.

5. Final Edits

Once you finish writing your post take some time to proof-read it by reading it out loud. This will help you find spelling and grammar mistakes. Also make sure you have included your keyword(s) in the title, the first paragraph and several times in the body of your post while making sure they do not look out of place or turn off human readers. If you target more than one keyword add your secondary keywords in your sub-headlines. Remember that you are writing for humans first and then for the search engines so make sure you are not affection the readability of your article by over-optimizing for the search engines.

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