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What is SEO and Why is it Important for a Successful Nurse Writing Career

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Nurses - Why isn't anyone reading your article? If you haven't optimized your SEO they might not have seen it. I'm calling on the expertise of Annie Beth Donahue to share a few basic tips on increasing your article's visibility.

What is SEO and Why is it Important for a Successful Nurse Writing Career

You can write the best article, but if you aren't mindful of SEO, all your time might be wasted if your writing is buried on the Internet. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might sound like a confusing, technical term, but writers need to become familiar with it to increase visibility through web traffic driven by commercial search engines. Improving your SEO doesn't have to be challenging. I've sought the expertise of content creator, consultant and writing instructor, Annie Beth Donahue, to explain the basics.

Annie Beth began her career in the healthcare field, but emphasizes that she has always been interested in writing stating, "Words are a large part of what makes us uniquely human." She describes how she started a professional writing career after working in the healthcare field for almost twenty years. She combined her skills by writing for a non-profit that serves children with chronic health problems and disabilities. Donahue added additional freelance writing a few years ago and now offers a variety of writing classes.

Annie Beth expanded her SEO knowledge working as an inbound marketing content writer for an international medical equipment company. She states that "There are different places to examine to see if your SEO is good." She's sharing a few SEO optimization tips to help us get started.

Leverage Keywords

Each post needs to have a unique keyword. Annie Beth describes how choosing a keyword that relates specifically to your post will help people searching for this topic find your article. Consider how you search on the computer. What is your post about? What are people looking for?

Choose Your Title

Your title should be approximately 70 characters or less. Annie Beth explained that a carefully chosen title will catch the interest of your audience and boost your visibility. There is also something called the SEO title. This is what Google will display on your search page. There are different guidelines for the SEO title, which Annie Beth discusses in more depth in her free SEO course.

Make a Meta Description

Your meta description is the 160-320 character snippet under the title in the Google search. Annie Beth stressed the importance of writing your own, or Google will create that paragraph. The result could be something that may not entice someone to read your article.

Annie Beth's tips for meta description:

  • Include your focus keyword
  • Write in active voice, and use questions, such as, "How does it differ?" or "How do you know?" to gain the curiosity of your readers
  • End it with a call to action (CTA) to entice the reader to continue reading

Article Body Size Matters

Longer pages rank higher, but Donahue encourages writing with your reader in mind. She states, "Be as concise as possible and write high-quality content to keep your readers coming back. If people come and leave, it can result in a high bounce rate. You want them to read the article and go to another page on your site." Most importantly, Annie Beth emphasized that "Readability is king. It matters more than SEO."

Annie Beth's tips for the body of your article:

  • No shorter than 300 words, aim for around 500 or more, with an ideal length of 800-1000+
  • Link to other posts on your site to increase website engagement
  • Have a call to action at the end of the post telling you what to do next such as, "Read more to learn..." or "Get it now, "or "Try it free."

Optimize Your Images

Pictures are great for your post, but understanding where you to add your keyword can gain SEO benefits.

  • Featured image-This is the image that displays with your article.
  • Image description-The screen reader reads this to the visually impaired.
  • Alt text- Include the focus keyword here. The screen reader also reads this.
  • Caption- Displays underneath the photo and doesn't affect your SEO.

Annie Beth's SEO Do's and Don'ts-


  • Optimize your SEO by including your keyword in your title, the beginning of your article, in headers, once or twice in the body, the blog's URL and in the meta description.
  • Try not to use the same keyword for different blog posts, which can make your website pages compete
  • Make your post mobile friendly
  • Consider an SEO plugin for your site to assist with optimization

SEO Don't -

  • Don't stuff your keyword. Use it an average of one out of every 100 words. Over 5% can get you penalized for keyword stuffing.
  • Update your old posts to improve SEO, but don't touch the permalink or it will break your link

For more detailed SEO information, Annie Beth has a written material, and a video for visual learners, in her free SEO class.

SEO Lingo

  • URL- Once you hit publish, your writing has a unique web address
  • Outbound link- links to another website
  • Internal link- a link on your website linking to another page on your website
  • Inbound link- comes from another site to your website
  • Long-tail keyword phrase- 3+ words- often have better search results. Think about what you type in to search. It's usually more specific. I.e.: keyword= nursing, long-tail keyword= online nursing schools
  • Stop words- these words are skipped over by search engines. Usually words like: at, by, and, can and other conjunctions.
  • Cornerstone content- An expert piece on a keyword that covers everything you need to know on that topic.
  • Algorithm- process, or set of rules and calculations, a computer follows

Annie Beth, tell us more about your writing classes...

Writing and teaching are Donahue's passion. Annie Beth says, "I believe every writer should have the tools and frameworks to communicate clearly so they can develop relationships and share knowledge." Her classes cater to different learning styles. Some are live with written materials accompanying each module or chapter and many are self-paced to watch at your own convenience.

Content Matters

Above all, Annie Beth emphasizes the importance of writing original, high-quality content and allowing your writing to speak for you. Then follow these SEO tips to make sure your authentic writing gets the visibility you desire. The specifics that drive algorithms can change, but quality writing will make people want to come back for more.


Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

34 Likes, 7 Followers, 35 Articles, 10,457 Visitors, and 65 Posts.

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Search Engine Optimization is a new term for me. Thank you for the article. A course with Annie Beth is something to consider.

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Great topic @MaureenBonatch As a believer of optimization is key for any business, do you accept PMs? I would love to chat with you :)

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