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Writing is as much as an art form as it is a skill, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t write content that is powerful and helps to improve your company’s ranking with the major search engines. There are certain elements which can help your website content, blog posts, articles submitted to online directories and other online content increase your rankings and move your business forward. Here are 10 things to look for:

1. Content Matters: No matter what you write, keep in mind that it has the potential to reach a large audience and be beneficial to your company beyond any SEO benefits. Blogs, articles and on-site content are a chance to link your company to useful, interesting information about your industry. Well-written copy about intriguing topics is also more likely to be linked and shared by outsiders, thus increasing your page rank as well.

2. Write Compelling Headings: The titles of your articles and webpages are important—they are among the first things that can grab the reader’s attention. Instead of using a boring, generic heading, make sure that your heading is interesting while clearly explaining the content. Working a keyword into the heading is also a good idea.

3. Stay on Topic: It’s easy to write around a topic and begin drifting into tangents that are unrelated to your topic. Keep in mind that this is business writing and not a personal blog! While it’s OK to have some personality in your writing, your focus should always be on the topic you are writing about.

4. Ideal Keyword Length and Density: For website content and off-site articles for directory submission, content could be 300 to 1,000 words in length. The length of your article will largely be determined by the number of keywords you are using: you should use a keyword for every 50 to 100 words of content.

5. Don’t Stack Keywords: Some people cram all of their articles’ keywords into one section at the beginning of the article, often as part of a list. This looks unprofessional since all of your linked keywords will be running together on the page. Spread your keywords evenly throughout the article so they look more organic.

6. Add Keywords to the Bio: Whether you are writing a story for a magazine or submitting an article to an online directory, there will be an opportunity for you to add your biographical information. This is valuable real estate and another chance for optimization. Make sure that you include one keyword in your bio.

7. Write and Tag Hierarchically: Using the appropriate tags for your content will show Google and other search engines that it is professional and well-structured, leading to higher placements. Make sure you use the h1 tag for titles and the h2 tag for subheadings, etc. You should also apply this concept to your writing, putting the most compelling information up front.

8. Use META Descriptions: Making sure that your articles have META descriptions—150 character descriptions of the content—that have keywords included. Including META descriptions is a great way to get Google to recognize your content and give it greater value.

9. Write Original Content: Search engines will punish sites that publish duplicate content that already exists online. Make sure that your content is fresh and original instead of just “copying and pasting” content from existing sources.

10. Choose Relevant Images: Having eye-catching images that are relevant to your content will grab the reader’s attention. You can use Creative Commons search tools like Bad Neighborhood to find intriguing images that are free to use without risking copyright infringement.

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