Style guides can vary in form, ranging from a detailed comprehensive guide to a simple reference sheet. No matter how robust or streamlined, your style guide should include the following key topics:
We are covering each of these subjects in a weekly blog post (links to previous posts in the series are above). This post will cover what SEO practices to highlight in your style guide.
Why include SEO in your style guide?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is all about increasing the quantity and quality of organic search traffic to your website. When someone enters a word or phrase (known as a keyword) in a search engine like Google, results are returned, then they click on your website. When you optimize for SEO, you increase your opportunity for organic search traffic by ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
To make the most of your SEO efforts, it’s a good idea to capture the basics about your SEO practices in your style guide. This gives writers the insight they need to include keywords, use headlines appropriately, and craft a meta description you can use.
What SEO points should you cover in your style guide?
Every organization will have its approach to SEO. If you want to maximize your SEO efforts, make it easy for writers to understand your strategy. You don’t have to go into great detail as that may negatively impact the content’s natural flow.
Keep it simple and include the basic information that will be easy for a writer to use when writing content. I recommend including these points about SEO in your style guide:
- Title: Direction for post title style and format.
- Metadata: Length and format for meta description.
- Categories and tags: The available options on your site, as well as direction for application.
- Words: Ideal word count for content length.
- Keywords: How to use keywords, where to place them, and how many to include.
- Internal links: The number of internal links to use in content (page, post, etc.).
- External links: The number of external links to include, and any guidelines on what sites are and aren’t acceptable.
- Headings: What should be included in H1, as well as the number of H2 and H3 headlines.
Implementing SEO goes beyond just sprinkling keywords in the content. Optimizing for SEO impacts everything on your website, including the content, layout, and speed of your entire site, as well as each page on it. Including these basics in a style guide keeps these helpful elements top of mind for your writing team.
Next week is our final post in this style guide series. Check back to learn more about our last topic: reading level.