Best ways to format content for SEO

In the Game of SEO Thrones, you can’t afford to lose because of improper formatting. That was our attempt at a play on words with the new popular HBO show “Game of Thrones”!
Writing for search engine optimization in 2019 means your blog articles, thought leadership pieces and other website content should still incorporate the winning formula. Keep in mind – the winning formula is always changing.
What SEO writing strategy works for today’s content marketers?
It’s important that copywriters, freelance writers, bloggers and content creators are all on the same page.
Here’s how to format your content and take your SEO game to the next level, one blog article at a time.

H1 tag for headlines are imperative for SEO

First things first. Use the proper HTML heading tag, H1, for the title of your blog article. On this page, that’s “Best ways to format content for SEO.”
Next, you need to craft a killer, reader-friendly headline. Only in the SEO realm can using the adjectives “killer” and “friendly” in the same sentence sound perfectly normal.
Choose a reader-friendly headline style. Choose between headline style (“Best Ways to Format Content for SEO”) and sentence style (“How to format content for SEO”). Tempesta Media writers follow either the AP style (sentence style) or our customer’s title style preference.
Avoid using all capital letters (“HOW TO FORMAT CONTENT FOR SEO”) or capping initial letters in every word (“How To Format Content For SEO”). The former makes the text hard to read while the latter makes conjunctions, prepositions and articles of three letters or fewer look awkward.
Always use the numeral instead of spelling out a number in headlines (“6 common writer mistakes to avoid“). It’s easy on the eyes, and it helps boost engagement rates.
Follow the ideal length. Different articles suggest the perfect headline length is about 7-8 words or 64-70 characters. Article Document allows writers to use a lengthier title as long as it is catchy, relevant to the topic and does not contain special characters (e.g., @#:;*&%^).
Meanwhile, a killer headline, in SEO terms, has these elements:

H3 tag for subheadings make the content easier to read

Content presentation matters. Considering the limited attention span of humans, it makes sense to use subheads to break up chunks of text and make the article easier to read.
Tempesta Media advises its writers to use H3 tags to organize their content and include at least two subheaders in a 500-word assignment.
The subheaders should be 5-8 words long, descriptive, compelling, parallel in structure and consistent in tone.
To boost SEO, it is best to include the keyword phrase in the first subheader of the article. On this page, that’s “Format content for SEO – H1 tag for headlines.”

Bulleted lists to easily scan content and capture information

Make use of bullet points to keep readers that prefer to skim articles on your page. Numbered lists work just as well.
Readers love lists because they make important points easier to digest.
These tactics also increase the chances of your content getting a featured snippet in the Google SERPs.

Links for SEO success

In a recent blog article, we discussed how proper linking helps SEO. Internal/external links enable your content to rank and are helpful for your readers.
Use the right anchor text, which is the clickable text that readers see. Make sure it looks natural and the sentence in which the link is embedded provides meaningful context.
For a 500-word blog article, strive to include at least two internal links. Remember to follow best practices for linking to internal/external sources within an article.
Today, you have access to numerous tools that help you format content for SEO. The right content marketing partner can do the heavy lifting while you focus on improving the efficiency of your day-to-day business. Contact Tempesta Media to work with a best in class content marketing service.

How many external links should I include in my blog article?

External links are links that lead a reader from your website to a site elsewhere in the world wide web. External linking happens when you link to an outside source that you reference in your blog article. Similarly, if another website links to your content, this qualifies as an external link. The preferred term, however, is “inbound” link.

Examples of good external links for your content strategy

Any SEO practitioner worth their salt knows that it helps to include links in a piece of content. External links greatly benefit your website in terms of building visibility and adding credibility to your content. Just as important is that they add value to the readers’ experience because the links connect them to other valuable information while reading your content.
Content marketers should not use just any link though. As with any source of information, there are good and bad examples of external links. 

How to identify a high-quality external link:

  • The website you are linking to is regarded as a high authority in the industry. A well-respected source will boost people’s confidence in your content.
  • The link leads to a source known for content relevant to the subject matter.
  • The source links to mostly informational websites instead of your competitor companies.
  • The site you are linking to has attracted regular readers and a substantial number of visitors.
  • The source has valid information that gets fact checked (for example… the opposite of Wikipedia)

How many external links should you have in a content article?

Because external links encourage readers to click away from your blog article, you must limit these links and set them to open in a new tab. That way, readers won’t abandon your site entirely. Abandoning your site increases bounce rates, which hurts your website traffic. Ahhh… a perfect example of why SEO can be so tricky!
What, then, is there an ideal number of external links that you should include in your article?
With Google constantly making algorithm changes, no number can ever be set in stone.
Some say 2-5 external links, depending on the length of the content, would work. Still, others would not put a limit on the number of external links.
Many industry experts, however, advice against linking more than once to the same page.
Based on what we’ve found from our own research:

We recommend 1-2 external links for every 500 words of content. Limit your total number of external links to 5 (which would be for a very long blog article that is approximately 2,000 words long).

What is the best way to include an external link in a blog article?

An external link should be placed within the body of the content. Readers appreciate knowing what they’ll get if they click a link. That is why an external link should be properly emphasized using a concise, relevant and contextual anchor text. This hyperlinked text within the sentence you are linking from should convince the reader that clicking it leads to more valuable information.

What external links should be avoided within the content?

Not all external links are created equal. By all means, take great care and thought into including external links within any quality content. 

Tempesta Media writers and editors meticulously check all external links to ensure they do not lead to competitor websites. They make sure each link works. A broken link is not a good thing. No one wants to be greeted by a web page that is inaccessible because it has moved or the target website is offline. A working link leads to a good reader experience and increased traffic.
Finally, no content should be caught linking to outdated sources with information that may now be incorrect or irrelevant. At Tempesta Media, all external links within a content piece are verified to ensure they are accurate, current and up to date.
Now that you’ve learned about external links, want to learn about internal links? Read our recent blog article: 8 tips on how to incorporate internal links to your content.

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