Before you submit your first proposal, it is important that you get familiar with our guidelines. You can refer to the information below for guidance on submitting articles, SEO writing and overall SEO best practices. This information, in addition to more help and resources, are available directly from the Skyword dashboard as well.
Below are some general guidelines for contributing content.
- Follow the Associated Press Stylebook.
- Articles must be accompanied by an abstract of 350-500 characters that adequately conveys the main ideas and arguments of your article. Please proofread and fact-check your abstracts.
- Short-form articles should be between 500 and 750wordsin length. Long-form (featured) articles should be between 800 and 1500 words in length.
- Articles must be exclusive to the site. No article submitted by writers can be published anywhere else online. Plagiarized content and copyright violations are strictly prohibited.
- Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation are required. Please proofread before submitting.
- No inappropriate language or images are allowed.
- Important note: Include only factual information in your articles, information that you know to be correct.
- Links: Each article should contain at least 3 links, including the link in the footer.
- Photos: Each article may be accompanied by one image; an image is not required. Use of a provided image is at the discretion of the client. Please see the help article License-Free Photo Sources for information on how to include free and legal photos from some sites that we recommend (Flickr, morgueFile, stock.xchng, and Wikimedia Commons). For more photo tips, please see Image SEO & Best Practices for Pictures. These help articles are located in Skyword’s Help section (at the top right of your page on Skyword).
- For an example of a live article in this program, please look here: http://ibm-itbiz.dev.racepoint.io/2017/06/three-reasons-why-cmos-should-embrace-artificial-intelligence/
To ensure a positive reader experience, you must create quality content that adheres to the following Content Standards.
Brand Alignment, Voice and Point-of-View
- They should address the target audience.
- Your articles may be written in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons.
- Use a headline that is short, snappy and compelling and that contains the main idea of your article. Your headline should include your keyword.
- Be provocative and controversial if possible.
- Don’t lose sight of your audience.
- Keep your post conversational, simple, direct and engaging. Your post should sound like you, not like a formal paper or like a product description. Use the kind of language and tone that you would actually use if you were talking to that person face-to-face.
- Be assertive, but back up everything that you say. Don’t ever use the phrase “I think.” You should absolutely include your personal experience, but just avoid sounding weak. Try to avoid using a detached perspective.
- Use active, not passive, voice. Active voice is much stronger and tends to read better.
- Use helpful examples, stories and quotes. Analogies are always welcome, too.
- Always try to back up statements, key messages and ideas with real-world, credible examples, stories or quotes from 3rd-party sources. These add tremendous value and will resonate with your audience.
- Be a forward-thinker. Be someone who looks at the world a little bit differently, someone who sees problems that can be solved, patterns or changes in some system that might be relevant to one another.
- Eight seconds is the average attention span of an adult online, so you have to make sure you really grab your reader’s attention in the first few sentences.
- Don’t focus on how “great” your topic is.
- Do focus on the customer benefit, business value and/or issue from a customer’s perspective.
- Find common ground with your audience.
- Position yourself as a trusted adviser not a sales/marketing person trying to push a product/idea down someone’s throat.
- Be humble. Don’t brag.
The structure of your article will vary according to article type. News analysis should adhere to the inverted pyramid. Featured articles should have an academic or essay-like structure: Introduction (problem and thesis), body paragraphs (analysis, argument, discussion and examples) organized by main ideas and a conclusion (summary of main points and key takeaways). Shorter, blog-like articles often benefit from an hourglass structure (a hybrid pyramid-storytelling approach): Statement of issue, nimble central transition and anecdotal/discursive finish.
Content (make your content snackable and delicious)
Snackable content is described as bite-size chunks of info that can be quickly “consumed” by an audience. What it means is that you take your content and you break it down into bits that are easier to consume and share.
Here are some ways to accomplish that:
- Short sentences:
Online readers skim and scan. Keeping most of your sentences between 15-20 words will ensure the best readability for the Web and mobile devices. Although most of your sentences should be short and snappy, feel free to throw in the occasional longer one to vary your sentence structure and avoid repetitive language.
- Short paragraphs:
Keep your paragraphs short: 1-3 short sentences works just fine. Remember, people read differently online, and to hold their attention and keep them interested, short paragraphs with effective transitions work really well.
Use a subhead every 2-3 paragraphs. These help to break up the content, provide a better flow and allow your reader to scan the copy. Subheadings should be creative and descriptive of the content in the paragraphs to come. Keep in mind keywords for which you want to optimize your post, and try to use them in subheads. Do use h2, h3 and h4 to organize your subheads and main points. This also helps with search optimization.
What we mean is content that grabs your attention and makes you want to click and share. Delicious content looks and tastes awesome. In other words, it attracts people and, when they consume it, makes them want to share it with colleagues.
Here are some ways to accomplish that:
- Create a headline that sparks curiosity (i.e., makes one want to click).
- Evoke strong emotions. (You can evoke strong emotions without necessarily taking a stance.)
- When possible, be provocative.
- Adopt a clear point of view.
- Be original.
- Address forward thinkers.
- If possible, make it personal.
- Don’t market IBM’s products and services. Instead, sell an idea.
- Use conversational language.
- Invite a conversation.
- Have a voice.
- Show some personality.
- Deliver on what you promised in your headline.
- Find common ground with your audience.
- Use examples and facts.
- Teach your readers.
- Keep it brief.
- Nix the jargon and corporate-speak.
- Choose your verbs wisely. (Your verbs should carve a vivid picture in the head of your reader.)
Titles and Subheads
Article titles and headers should be in headline style per the Chicago Manual of Style (the one exception in the standards to AP style).
Please see the Skyword Help article entitled 6 Best Practices for T.I.T.L.E.S: How to Get the Click for tips to grab readers’ attention so that you get more readership to your articles.
Segment your article logically, using subheadings and/or bullets where appropriate. The human eye prefers this text treatment because it’s easier to read online. Search engines have a bias for it as well. More guidance on the use of subheadings is given in the Skyword Help article entitled Keyword Usage Tips.
Please follow these guidelines for linking in your articles:
- Each article should contain one link to another relevant IT Biz Advisor article. Your anchor text should be highly relevant and keyword-rich and should reflect what the linked article is about. The anchor text is the phrase that is hyperlinked in your article (blue or purple and clickable).
- Do not link to low quality or “spammy” sites. This can have negative effects on your articles getting picked up in search engines. Outside links must direct readers to reputable, credible sites only. Please do not link to pages with a PageRank of 4 or less. You can look up a site’s PageRank here: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
- All facts, statistics, quotations and other types of information that are not common knowledge must be attributed to a reputable source. Attribution should be provided by hyperlinking the specific URL containing that information to the name of the source.
Set all internal and external links to open in a new window or new tab; this is done using the “Open link in new tab” feature.
Each article may contain one license-free photo that is relevant to your article. Please follow these guidelines for photos:
- Please see the help article How to Add Pictures (located in Skyword’s Help section at the top right corner of your screen) for information on how to include photos from the four sites that we recommend for license-free photos: Flickr Advanced Search, morgueFile, stock.xchng, and Wikimedia Commons.
- Images must be complementary to the story at hand and free of copyright.
- Please provide the URL to the landing page that contains the licensing information rather than to a page that contains only the photo and nothing more. For examples of correct photo citation, please click the photos below.
- Recommended photo sources:
- Wikimedia Commons
The keyword should always appear in the title of an article and again in the first 100 words of the body. Depending on the length of the article, it should appear at least one more time in the article.
Do not overuse keywords; avoid using the keyword more than once every 100 words. Search engines take keyword stuffing seriously. Do not string keywords together that disrupt the readability of your article.
Always, always optimize for strategic keywords.
To be clear, you should write for people not search engines. Yes, keywords are very important, but the most important aspect is the quality of your content. That will cause people to share and link to your content, which is far more important than keywords. So keep keywords in mind, but don’t put them everywhere just for the sake of doing it.
With that having been said, you should always think about what people would search in order to find the type of content you are writing.
Before you even start writing your post, create a short list of keywords and phrases for which you are trying to optimize. Think about what type of target audience would search for this type of content.
Check out Google Trends and Google Keyword Tool to determine the volume of searches and stories created using the keywords for which you are trying to optimize. If no one is searching for that keyword, pick another one with a higher search volume. Then keep that keyword in mind, and try to use it in different places across your post.
Here are some search engine optimization (SEO) tips:
- Include at least one of your keywords in your headline (the earlier in the headline the better).
- Include keywords in your h2, h3 and h4.
- Try to bold or italicize at least one or more phrases that include your keyword(s). but don’t overdo it.
- Rename your pictures to be descriptive, and include keywords (instead of using something like ‘pic002.jpg’).
- When inserting pictures, include alt text and description that use correct keywords.
- Cross-link your content.
- Write an excerpt for your post that includes the correct keywords for which you are trying to optimize.
Finally, thanks for your enthusiasm and commitment to producing great content for Mobile Business Insights! Let your program manager know of any questions and how we can help make your experience extremely rewarding.
Everything you need to know about SEO
Today we’re talking about SEO (search engine optimization) as it relates to everything you are doing in digital. That includes blog posts, YouTube videos, product pages, event pages, Slideshare presentations, technical articles, and pretty much anything on the web. We will focus on SEO principles that will apply to anything digital.
A lot of people have been talking about SEO in the past few years but not all really understand all that goes into it and how to best (ethically) optimize your content for search. SEO allows you to create content that pretty much markets itself for free.
I’ll keep this as simple as possible. Below are some tips and other things to consider when it comes to SEO.
SEO is about having a laser focus, so knowing what term or phrase you want to focus on ahead of time is important. You should choose a term that is broad enough that people will search for it, but narrow so that you have a chance of getting ranked for it.
For example, the term “security” or “application security” are way too general. However, “top mobile application security tips” is a pretty good one.
Tools you can’t live without
The key here is to do your research before you go off and produce your content. Here are some tools that are absolutely essential as you do your research:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Probably the best tool out there for keyword research. The data is based on all Google searches and can be extremely helpful. Look for keywords that have high volume and low competition.
- Bing Keyword Research Tool – Although Google is the leader in search, it might be worth exploring Bing’s version as well.
- Ubbersuggest – It’s also a good idea to do additional research to find new keyword phrases they may not have considered. Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool designed to return longtail variations for broad keyword terms.
- YouTube Keyword Research Tool – It’s also important to conduct keyword research for video content specifically. YouTube is not only the largest video content website on the planet, it’s also the third most popular search engine period. YouTube has over 4 billion hits each day and proper SEO is key if you want to attract new audiences. The YouTube Keyword Research Tool works in almost the exact same way as the old AdWords research tool and current Keyword Planner (remember that Google owns YouTube). The only difference is that in this case, all keyword data is based on searches within the YouTube engine.
There are many other excellent tools out there, just Google it!
Always keep your audience in mind
As you research keywords and plan your content, always keep these questions in mind:
- Who are you trying to reach? Be very specific. If it helps describe that person in terms of job role, online behavior, and overall internet usage.
- Is your target audience interested in your content? Look into what type of information your target audience shares and interacts with.
- How does your target audience find information? Look into how exactly they find information, the types of search they perform, and where they look for information to consume. Different audiences might go to different sites online and search for things very differently.
- Would your target audience share your content? Your content has to be awesome and worthy of sharing. Make sure everything you produce makes your target audience want to share with their network.
The holy grail is in the long tail
You are probably familiar with the long tail. The same concept applies to keywords. Long tail keywords are the longer, more specific keywords that are less common, individually, but add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic.
Long-tail keywords work. They are a powerful way to leverage search traffic, especially with the growing competition around highly-sought after core (or “head”) keywords. Make sure you understand how to make them work for your SEO purposes.
I got my key terms, now what?
So you’ve done your research and got a short list of keywords and key terms. Now it’s time to USE them appropriately (and ethically). Just remember that search engines are smart, don’t try to cheat them and or any “tricks” to deceive search engines. They will punish you for it.
Before you go through the list of places you include your keyword, make sure you understand the basics of keyword density.
Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page.
Consider these three things:
- Right keyword density varies – There is no right answer to how often your keyword or phrase should appear on your page but Google seems to like a 1-2% keyword density while Yahoo seems to prefer a 3% keyword density. But don’t be counting every single word and spend hours with this. Just keep it in mind.
- A Few Times Is Enough – Putting your keyword in your content just a few times (in a “sensible way”) is enough to get you an 80-90% on-page optimization value. He explained that links are far more important for competitive search results (who links to you, what do they say about you, where do they come from, etc.).
- Position Matters– Keyword density isn’t the number one thing to worry about when trying to optimize a page. He explained that keyword presence is more important than keyword density. Two articles with the same keyword density could be filtered differently by Google simply because of the position of the keywords. If one article puts the keywords at the start of the title and their h2 tag, it will get filtered by Google better than an article that uses the same amount of keywords in odd spots of the content.
Where to include your key terms
Now you are ready to go through this list of where you should include your keyword or key phrases. Remember, that it’s best to optimize each piece of content for just one key phrase.
Not to be confused with your “Page Title,” the Title tag text shows up in several places including as the bolded blue text on Google Search Engine Results pages.
Meta Description Tag
Like the title tag, this tag is important because it appears on the Search Engine Results page right underneath the page title. Sometimes a snippet of your text will appear instead but you always want to have a meta description on every page and it’s usually a good idea to customize it for each page.
This is the actual page title your visitors will see when they visit the different pages of your site. Avoid using images, try to make your page titles text, include your keywords in them, and try to put them inside an h2 tag. This will give them greater SEO power. Also, try to include them earlier in the title if possible.
Header Tags – h2 , h3 and h4
Including your keywords in your headers are extremely important. That’s one of the reasons we encourage everyone to include subheading throughout your post/article. Also, words that in bold, italics or underlined will add emphasis. It’s good to emphasize phrases that include your keywords as well. Don’t over do it thou.
Your Page’s Text
Include your keywords repeatedly in the text of your site, but the text still needs to be readable. A good rule of thumb is no more than 2-5% density. Any higher than that and you risk labeling as search engine spam.
Keywords in Links
Using your keywords in the links on your site is a great way to show their importance to search engines. Also, use your keywords in the text that is hyperlinked to your page. For instance, if an article is linking to your content, it’s best the the words hyperlinked include your keyword than to hyperlink something like “click here” or the actual URL.
Title Attribute in Links
Title attribute in links has great SEO benefits. When you are inserting a link from your page/content make sure to describe it and include keywords.
Each image on your site has the ability to define “alternate” text. This is originally intended for Web site “reading” machines that read out Web pages to those who might have difficulty seeing the page. Instead of leaving the alt tags blank, fill them with descriptive text of the image that includes your keywords.
Your filenames for any files (PPT, PDF, etc) and your image files can be fantastic places to include your keywords. Instead of including ‘0001_image.jpeg’ or ‘EN3423ST4.pdf’ make sure the filename includes the keyword early on and is descriptive. For instance:
Your Domain Name
If you can get a domain name that uses a primary keyword this will give a big boost to your rankings. The implication is that this the entire content of your site is centered around this keyword.
Place your keywords in your URL slug and as early as possible. Also, try to remove any unnecessary keywords from the URL such as “of” or “the.”
Link building refers to the process of getting external pages to link to your content. It is one of the many tactics used in search engine optimization (SEO). Building links is a difficult, time-consuming process as not all links are created equal. A link from an authoritative website like the Wall Street Journal will make a greater impact on a than a link from a newly built website.
Without link building you just can’t achieve high organic search rankings.
Why it’s important
Link building is important because it is a major factor in how Google ranks Web pages. Google notes on their site that:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
But obviously link building is not easy. There are a number of link building strategies used to get external websites to link to yours:
- Content Creation & Promotion – Create compelling content that people will want to reference and link to, and tell people about it.
- Pages you control or influence – Link to your content from press releases and other pages you have control
- Mentions – Put your content in front of influencers.
- Links from Partners – Get people you know and people you work with to link to your content.
The MOST Important SEO Factor
Content. That’s right, your actual content is the most important SEO factor. If whatever you are producing just sucks, no matter how hard you ‘optimize’ won’t do you any good. Create amazing content that your audience finds useful and people will link to it and share it.
Another thing to consider here is quality. If your content is of low quality, when users visit your page they will leave right away. Search engines punish pages with high bounce rate. So please consider all the things here on this page but remember that quality is what really matters.
Other best practices
- Your primary keyword NEEDS to be in the headline. Just like readers, Google’s spiders scan from the top down on any given page. You need to tell Google and your readers what the page is about starting with the headline.
- It is also important to incorporate your primary keyword in the first and last 100 words. This shows Google your piece maintained relevance to the primary keyword throughout the copy. A great place to use your primary keyword in the last 100 words is the call to action because it alerts Google to your page’s ultimate goal. Check the call to action below for an example.
- Show Google and your readers what’s important in your copy by bolding or italicizing specific keywords or phrases.
- Google loves bulleted lists – just like this one. A bulleted list signifies importance to Google and readers.
- Logical linking to pages on your own site as well as to other credible sites helps Google and readers easily connect the pieces and better understand your business/industry. When the pages on your site work together to tell a story the value of your overall website rises in Google’s eyes because it shows that the specific webpage is important and it also relates to a bigger picture.
Here’s a great list of helpful SEO resources in case you want to learn even more:
- The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites
- Google & SEO Friendly Page Titles
- SEO Basics for Bloggers & Beginners
- Fundamental of Great SEO
- Beginner’s Guide to SEO (For Humans)
Most things on this page were found using Google. For most questions you might have there’s probably a great answer if you just Google it. But if you can’t find it feel free to ask.
FAQ and Additional Resources
Below are some links to help articles available from Skyword:
- How to create an article
- Approval and revision process for contributors
- Article scorecard for contributors
- Image SEO best practices
For technical resources, please refer to the articles available through the Skyword Help Center by logging in. Our editorial program manager, Matt Angelosanto (firstname.lastname@example.org), is your primary point of contact at Skyword during your participation in the program. He can provide additional guidance and answer any questions.
Next up: Submit your first article proposal