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Ever wondered how a non-native English speaker from halfway around the world could make a ton of sales from his articles while an American who’s just finished college with an English major hardly makes any conversions? The truth is scary. Good writing, as you know it, may be dead.

So far as online writing is concerned, the focus has slowly shifted from how good a read an article makes to how optimized it is for the search engines; it has shifted from one-liners and quotes to keywords and has now target buyers instead of loyal readers. The best-selling article on the internet will almost always never make the best read.

Let me introduce you to a term that’s responsible for all of these – SEO. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, basically means improving the visibility of your site or post in search engines. The best-selling article will appear at the top of search results. And that is what today’s online writing has become all about. With billions of searches made everyday, this actually makes perfect sense as people are more likely to read a top ranked article than one which has a relatively lower page rank.

The importance of SEO in online writing is more intensely felt when you’re trying to sell a product or amass hordes of visitors to your site. If you’re a freelance writer, your employer will probably want you to optimize your articles for search engines. It’s everywhere. And the sooner you learn the tricks, the better it is for you.

Let’s go back to our story of how the non-native English speaker who writes crappy posts makes a ton more money than the English majors American. What our American friend doesn’t realize here is that although his article does make a good read and, if viewed, could certainly lead to a lot of sales, it is not loved by the search engine spiders that crawl the article. On the other hand, the foreigner’s article, crappy as it is, shows up in the search results and receives lots of hits. While it doesn’t compare to the quality of the native English article, it results in a lot more sales because it receives such widespread publicity. One can liken the case to a celebrity who’s in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, thus becoming popular and getting more gigs against a class actor who, for all the wrong reasons, is not popular enough to land the next Pepsi commercial gig.

I believe it’s pretty obvious by now the importance of SEO in online writing. But how exactly does one get around to optimizing one’s writings for the search engines and converting more sales? Well there are a number of ways you can do that, the most common technique being keywords.

Keywords are key phrases or search terms that people type into their search engines to search for articles and websites that best match the terms. This is essentially the most important item to be considered for SEO in online writing. Common ways to improve search engine optimization using keywords include:

  • Choosing the right keywords – Picture in your head what type of search terms you would use if you were to search for a particular post or site. There, those are your keywords. You can also use keyword analysis tools to determine what keywords you’d want to use for your article.
  • Keyword density – The more keywords you use in your article, the higher your chances of being matched against the search string. But using too many keywords (called keyword stuffing) will not do you well.
  • Location – Where you use the keyword in your article is also another important factor to consider. Using keywords in the title, body headings and in the first half of the body of the article have been proven to considerably improve SEO.

Making typographical errors and using words that are not in the dictionary can adversely affect your SEO. You cannot target many keywords with a single article. An article has to be centered around a specific keyword to get the best results. Putting a couple or more of relevant links within the article helps. Having a title length of about 72 characters is considered to be ideal for SEO.

All that said and done, and with a good amount of promotion, our college graduate friend can now surely kick the butt of the foreign guy in sales and in search engine page rankings. Good writing has been redefined. Quality has shifted focus. A search engine optimized article – now that’s quality!

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