Writing for Search Engine Optimization

I’m not a professional writer, but I have three articles that Google ranks highly on my web site and my wife’s site has one that ranks highly on her site. The article that follows describes why I think these articles have done well from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, and why others have not. First, it makes sense to show you the four articles:

  • Social-buttons.com Referrer Spam is a very short article about a referrer spam attack. On the second day, this generated 150% more traffic than my site normally gets. On the third day, it generated five times my normal traffic. It generates more second article reads than any other article on my site.
  • Effective Interest (Yield) Loan Fee Amortization is an article about a very dry and arcane accounting topic. It does not get a lot of hits, but for appropriate search terms–level yield amortization–Google frequently presents it as the first link.
  • Sales and Lead Management with SuiteCRM is an article about configuring a Customer Releationship Managment package. Google is progressively ranking it higher in searches.
  • Pages from the Gay Family Bible ranks poorly in Google for the query “gay family bible” but ranks about 6th on Bing and Yahoo. Google clearly interprets “gay” as an adjective in this query while Bing clearly interprets it as a surname.

The article is divided into the following sections:

Write a Succinct Description

If the article description is the right length, Google will use it directly for the synopsis of text below the link, rather than algorithmically figuring out what to say. The descriptions for these articles respectively are:

This article describes referrer spam from social-buttons.com which is registered through Moniker Online Services and/or Moniker Privacy Services.
This page describes the procedure for calculating the fee amortization and effective yield for loans that involve up-front fees. This is also sometimes called level yield.
This article describes the selection of a customer relationship management (CRM) system for small businesses and configuration of SuiteCRM.
Images from an old family Bible with births, deaths and marriages for the Gay family

The SEO module on my web site suggests a length of less than 160 characters.

Hit it Where they Ain’t–Write Something Useful that No One has Written

All of the successful articles listed are unusual on the web; there were no articles about the social-buttons.com referrer spam web site at the time that I wrote the article. There are many articles on level yield amortization but they primarily address rules on when accountants must use the procedure–not how to calculate it. There are are many articles about SugarCRM and SuiteCRM, but there are not very many articles on how to set it up. Finally, the article describing the images from the Gay family bible is completely unique on the web.

Strike While the Iron is Hot–Be the First on a Topic

I wrote the referrer spam article at about 11:00 in the morning after I had analyzed the attack on my web site. Google clearly rewards regular updates to a web site, so I am in the habbit of placing an article on any administrative activity that makes sense. Clearly, many web masters were attacked at the same time, and all were searching for information on the social-buttons.com site that suddenly appeared in their Google Analytics reports.

Similarly, the hits on the level yield amortization article spike at the end of each a quarter when accountants are preparing quarterly reports and need to figure out how to do this calculation. Make sure that your article is out for indexing before the season when people will start looking for it.

Select Vocabulary for the Audience

Each profession and audience has its own vocabulary–make sure to use one that is appropriate for your audience, as this is the vocabulary that they will use for searching. In the referrer spam article, the word “darodar” appears. This is not something that rolls of the tongue of the average person walking down the street, but it is very familiar to web masters who were reading Google Analytics reports in November and December of 2014, as there was a sustained referrer spam attack going on directed at web masters. Similarly, the amortization article uses vocabulary that accountants would use to describe the calculation.

After discovering that most of the traffic on the referrer spam article came from outside the United States, I changed the original “BBB” reference to “Better Business Bureau (BBB)” as “BBB” is an acronym that probably isn’t well known outside the U.S.

Finally, make sure that maintain your site’s presence in both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools, as some engines do a better job of indexing for specific genres. The “Gay family bible” query shows that for genealogy, Bing may well be better than Google.