Search Engine Optimization Tips for Your Stories

Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

You have just finished writing your story. The guidelines for quality and exercises to enhance your story have been carefully considered, and your story is almost ready to be published. Make sure this story is reached as widely as possible before you do anything else. Enhance its search engine visibility.

Your story will be found by more readers if Google likes it. We have been working hard to give your stories more visibility thanks to our SEO team. Here are a few tips and tricks we have learned. 

Your story’s SEO settings need to be updated

When you edit a story, you can access these settings. Go to Menu → More Settings → SEO Settings, and follow these steps.

The SEO title should be set

Consider your story’s headline before setting the SEO title. It should clearly state the topic of the article. Check to make sure it does so. It’s time to move on to Google’s presentation.

When you enter more than 60 characters in your SEO Title, Google will usually truncate it. Google search will only display the first *60 characters of your article to potential readers. Make the most of it. Include relevant information and compel readers to click on it. Use exact words. Write clearly and concisely. Put the words and phrases that your customers are likely to search in Google at the beginning of your SEO title. Place Place the less important information at the Here are some examples:

Podcast Episode #59 by John Smith — Intelligent Investing and Effective Marketing for Blockchain

This title will show up in a Google search as follows:

A better SEO Title is:

Blockchain: Intelligent Investing, Effective Marketing Podcast by John Smith — Episode #59

Which will show in Google like this:

Compare them. Which would you click? The second is more likely to come up in Google search for things like “blockchain podcast,” “blockchain investing” etc. and is also more likely to be clicked on by those who are searching for those topics. This is because the most relevant terms show up earlier in the title.

In some cases, Google chooses to show its own title for the webpage. It might do so to match the searcher’s very specific search intent or when it doesn’t trust the author-set title. This doesn’t happen often.

Set the SEO Description

Its goal is to convince a Google searcher to click on your story. Tell the story briefly while leaving the audience interested and wanting more. Here’s your opportunity to market your story further and increase clicks. Over 156 characters in SEO Descriptions will usually be truncated by Google:

However, there are some cases where Google shows three or four lines of an SEO Description:

Your post will take up more space in the Google search, and you’ll be able to share more context. For this reason, it’s better to write 200–300 characters while making sure your main idea is told within the first 156. If you don’t write an SEO Description, Google will automatically create one for you using the content or subtitle of your article.

Use tags

Please make sure to add all five tags to your post. Using popular and relevant tags is ideal. Think of tags as another way for people to find your post. Your stories will surface on Medium’s tag pages. For example, the “Career” tag page is at https://medium.com/tag/careers and lists articles that are tagged “career.” Again, be as relevant as possible. If your post is about how to find a job, you can also use tags “Job Hunting” and “Career Advice” while tags like “Life” or “Work” in this case might be too broad. Avoid tags that are not relevant.

Link to your other posts where relevant

Google gives more visibility to articles that many other pages on the web are linking to. So, one way to boost visibility of your posts is to link to them from other posts where relevant. For example, if you are writing an article about how to find a job, and previously you wrote a post about how to write a résumé, it might be appropriate to now link to that résumé post.

However, do not abuse this, which is called link stuffing. Only do this when there is a good fit. Google’s bots rely on A.I. and machine learning and can differentiate spam attempts from true value for the reader.

Use images

Make your story stand out with an image. People love images. Search engines also love images. If you don’t have your own unique images to add to the post, just use what is available. When it comes to gaining visibility on search engines, unique images are best, but don’t forget to use what is available. Images from Unsplash are available on Medium’s platform. Posts with images are more likely to be found on the web than those without any visual content, resulting in more readership. Your images should have a minimum width of 1200 pixels.

Don’t forget to fill in the alt text for your image. In alt text, what is in the image should be described for readers with visual impairment. The alt text used by search engines is used to determine what the article is about and how it should be ranked.

Structure your posts

Make it easy for the readers and search bots to spot sections and separate ideas in your article. Use subtitles and sub-headers, use bullet points and numbered lists where appropriate. Check out our tips and guidelines for formatting headers.

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