Tips for writing articles
Writing for the Web is not the same as writing for a print magazine or newspaper. At print publications, there is a team of professionals working to write, edit and produce an article before it?s viewed by readers. However, many Internet writers are alone, without a dedicated support network. In order to make the most of your time and get the most reward for your effort, there are certain rules that need to be followed in order to make it as easy as possible for readers to find your article. The more readers who find your article, the more money you can potentially earn on Helium.
We've compiled a number of tips to help you write an article that capitalizes on the popular theories of many search engine optimization (SEO) experts.
Formatting your article
The first thing to think about is how your article is formatted. Essentially, this is how the entire piece is presented. At Helium, we do a lot of that for you, but you should always consider these points even when writing your article in the text box during the 'Write' process, or using your word processor.
- Title: Most quality Web titles range from 6 to 12 words, use proper capitalization (i.e. first letter of the first word and of any proper noun) and have no periods at the end.
- Body copy: Try to keep paragraphs to a maximum of four to five sentences. Think short attention spans. Also, if you use subheadings, they should be between two and five words, with proper capitalization and no period at the end. They should include keyword phrases that correspond with what the following paragraphs are about.
- Keyword frequency and keyword density: There are certain restrictions on how often you can put the same keyword phrase within your article and how many times you can use similar text and phrases. While the rules for this are not always hard and fast, you should always keep keyword frequency in mind because many search engines will penalize you for using keywords too often. More about that below.
Writing your title and article
This is the juicy part. How you write your title and article will make or break your submission on Helium or anywhere else on the Web. Here are the different components and how you should approach each one.
This is usually where you grab your reader's attention. Often though, someone will arrive at your article by way of a search engine based on keyword phrases in your article. While the title is important, it?s only one component of your online success.
Titles should contain at least one keyword phrase that embodies the focus of your article. For example, if your piece is about working class culture in the Victorian era in England, you should have the phrases ?working class culture? and ?Victorian era? in your title.
Think about how your title will appear on a Google or Yahoo page. Think about what would pull you in as a reader: How are titles written that grab your interest?
Steer clear of creative titles that hint or use puns. These are great for print magazines and newspapers, but will do nothing to allow a search engine to find your article.
Titles should be clear, concise and crafted in a way that make the topic interesting to a potential reader. For more on maximizing the success of your titles, read this great article by Helium member John McDevitt.
The body copy
This is the nuts and bolts of your article. If you have a great title, but your article is poorly written or doesn?t support the title?s subject, then you?ve lost your reader and potential income. And on Helium, it will be rated to the bottom of the pile.
Here's what you need to consider while writing your piece.
Keyword frequency. This is very important, especially for those who care about being found on the Web and who want to increase their earnings. Keyword frequency pertains to how often you use keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to the subject of your article, which potential readers search for on Google, Yahoo and other search engines. Search engines work by parsing through the page?s content looking for the relevant phrase so they can return results suitable to what the searcher asked for.
The basic rule of thumb: Each keyword phrase should appear once in a title or subheading and twice more in the body of your article. Some experts feel that if you add more than this, search engines will penalize you for what's called 'stuffing' or 'spamming.'
Spread your keyword and key phrases out. Sticking them in the same sentence or in the first sentence after a title or subheading will also be seen as stuffing or spamming. Not only do these penalizations hurt the searchability of your article and potential earnings, but it also hurts Helium. Ouch!
Finally, although you want to spread out your keywords, try to get at least two thirds of them mentioned at least once, in the first 200 words of your article body. For example, if there are three keywords and three keyword phrases that pertain to your article, such as "bees, hornets, wasps, beehive, flight of the bumblebee and hornet's nest," you'll probably want to get four of these terms in the first 200 words of your article at least once.
So, sprinkle your keywords and keyword phrases throughout the article, but use a good portion of them quickly at least once. And always feel free to use synonyms, related words and variants of the word roots to keep your article on topic without ?stuffing? it with keywords.
Word densities. Word density is different from keyword frequency because it looks at all the words in your article, not just keywords and keyphrases. However it?s similar in that it looks at how frequently you use other words.
If you have access to certain applications or web services that have this feature, try to make a habit of checking your article for word densities. You may also want to manually calculate this as well by counting them the old fashioned way, but it can be time-consuming. It may seem like a lot of work but if you can keep keyword the density to lower than 4%, you're in good shape.
While some organizations and web writers consider this an important part of writing for the Web, we recommend not spending too much time worrying about word densities and spend more time on the next important part of the article, the actual writing.
Keep your article sounding 'natural.' One of the problems with SEO is that we can become so focused on keywords that we forget to write an enjoyable read. If your article is well crafted, and you've managed to add a few keywords, that's all that?s required.
So, don't let keywords carry you away. The other thing to keep in mind is that what people search for is not how you would typically write something. For example, if people search for "diving resort Ambergris Caye Belize," that would sound awkward in a sentence. Luckily, most search engines also allow for keywords to be split by a period, comma, colon, semi-colon, question mark or exclamation mark. To work with this key phrase a sentence such as "If you're looking for a great diving resort, Ambergris Caye, Belize, offers the best and biggest coral reef in the northern hemisphere" would work just fine.
Formatting. You should always put one space at then end of each sentence, and separate your paragraphs with one line-break.
A few remarks about style, grammar, punctuation and spelling. These elements are just as important as all the SEO tactics you can muster. There is a lot of garbage out there on the ?Net. The more you can set yourself apart from the pack with solid writing, the better off you are.
On Helium, we highly recommend writing your article on your computer with a Word processing program or text editor first, then edit for grammar, spelling, punctuation and style. It?s best to use the software?s tools first, then read it again yourself at least twice for readability and errors that may not have been caught by the software.
And there you have it! If you follow these basic guidelines, you?re definitely taking a step in the right direction for quality Internet writing and the potential for increased earnings on Helium.