~ Builds inbound links to your website or blog, increasing your search engine ranking,
~ Multiplies the number of people who learn of your goods, services and authority, and
~ Generates target customer clicks on your site, possibly resulting in new clients.
But if you're making yourself a little nuts trying to get article writing down to a science, back away from the computer... regroup and recover! You can cut down the time it takes to write an article and at the same time write a great SEO article.
There are many ways to approach article writing, and you may need to take a different tact. Try this 12-step process the next time you write a how-to article, whether supporting your own business marketing efforts or if you're freelance writing:
1) Create a bullet-point outline. This needn't be a formal outline, but it helps to top line a list of key how-to steps that readers need to follow.
2) Fill in each point in your outline, writing 3 or 4 sentences for each. Write exactly what you need to say to get across your point. No need to embellish yet: This is only your first draft.
3) Don't worry about writing your intro paragraph or conclusion yet. Many times, you'll get stuck massaging these sections, so just get in the flow of writing out the meat (body copy) of what you want to convey. Write generous details. Best article writing practices call for a 700 to 800 word count, which single-spaced is between 1.5 to 2 pages of 12-point type.
4) Next, start focusing on your 2 or 3 keywords or phrases... Leave your body copy alone a moment and just brainstorm about 5 or 6 sentences using each of your key phrases.
5) Once you have those keyword rich sentences, sprinkle those SEO terms into your body copy where they make sense. Tweak or lengthen the existing paragraphs to make your key phrases fit and logically flow.
6) Now, it's time to work with your intro paragraph. Use one of your brainstormed sentences. This is important: Make sure the key phrase is the very first wording of your article, for best SEO potential. Do not put the, or a, or any other irrelevant parenthetical phrases ahead of the keywords. Work that first sentence to begin precisely with your key phrase until you nail it.
7) Complete your intro paragraph with 2 or 3 additional sentences. Set up why what you're about to say is important, what you're going to be discussing, provide an impressive statistic if you like. Also create a title for your article, incorporating your key phrase early in the line.
8) Read through the entire piece and then add about 3 sentences as your closing paragraph. Here, you can summarize the potential result of following your advice or provide a roundup of the next steps that would complete the process.
9) Do a word count. If you're doing with as a freelance writing job, getting your client's word count right is important to them. If the article will be submitted to directories or served up for other site owners to use virally, 700-800 words is considered the sweet spot.
10) If you have access to a keyword density tool, definitely use it! It can be a pain, but consider it money in the bank to go back over an article to ensure your key phrases are used a) enough to rank high on Google's first page but b) not over-used to the extent that Google penalizes the piece. If this is a freelance writing job and your client will use the article for affiliate marketing, for example, getting the keyword density in the optimized range is crucial.
11) Review your article for writing quality. Edit and spell check. Eliminate any redundant points and do away with empty catch phrases. Some examples: "It seems that" and "In my opinion." These waste the reader's time and read as filler-fluff. Work to improve your style by being more concise: Get to the point and cut out words the piece can do without.
12) Decide if you really have 2 articles here. If so, work smarter not harder. Copy, cut & save the "tangent" part of what you've written as a separate, traffic-building piece! Make sure that what's left is still whole, though -- is written with a smooth beginning, middle and satisfying ending.
If you're writing articles to build your own reputation and inbound links: Wash, rinse & repeat this process as frequently as you can. In fact, consider establishing a goal of writing and uploading in article directories at least two articles a week.
Note, some who're most committed to building their business with this tactic are shooting to write 2-3 articles per day. That's not doable for most people, but just keep in mind what the competition is doing... Buy some PLR articles or hire a ghost writer if you understand the value of such an aggressive approach, but don't have time to do it all yourself.
Check here if you need a good list of article directories for article marketing (including their page rank).
For website marketing copy, e-book creation, sales letters, report writers, and press releases, visit: SEO Copywriting Services @ CopyClique.com.