Search Engine Optimization, or "SEO", is the most important factor in determining how your articles will rank in search engines. SEO is affected in several areas of your article: Title, Permalink, Keywords, Meta Description (Snippet Preview), Excerpt. Below you will find information on how to best optimize your articles for better performance in search engines.
For an overview of how to fill out SEO, watch this video from approx 26:00 to 27:40 
In the SEO section, you will see a section called Keywords. Essentially these words are the ones that will direct web searches to your articles, and is the most important part in successful SEO. The keywords you choose MUST be found within the title, the body, the snippet preview (meta description) and the excerpt, letter for letter.
When determining your keywords, it is better to be more descriptive and not general. For instance, keywords such as "Pittsburgh Steelers" or "Arsenal" or "Italy" won't work because they would yield millions of results. By being more specific, your article will appear much higher in search rankings.
Using the examples above, "Steelers Superbowl trophies" and "Arsenal FA Cup 2015" will yield much better results in search rankings because they are more specific yet still rich in keywords.
"Yankees pitching 2016" > "Yankees" "Canadiens slump" > "Montreal Canadiens" "Harlequins flanker" > "Harlequins"
NOTE: You can only use the same keywords twice! You cannot use "Arsenal news" as your keywords more than two times so you will need to add qualifiers/descriptors.
Have a look at this video, fast-forwarding to 7:20, for an explanation of why it's better to be descriptive .
After you have written your article and determined your keywords, it is time to write your title. A title should be closely tied to the your topic so that when someone reads the title, they will know what the article is about. It is very important that the keywords are in your title exactly as they are written letter for letter. Further, putting your keywords at or near the beginning of the title is even better.
Here are a few good examples:
keywords: Buffalo Bills head coaches
Title: Buffalo Bills Head Coaches Since 2000
keywords: FA Cup 2016
Title: FA Cup 2016 is Another Feather in Wenger's Cap
The permalink is the permanent URL given to your article and can be found just underneath the title. Note that it cannot be changed once an article is published. It's of vital importance because search engines will scrape the URL for keywords, making a big impact on your search ranking. It is important to include your keywords in the permalink and, similar to the title, it's best to have them at or near the beginning. Also, you should NOT include words that are not capitalized in the title such as articles (a, an, the) and short prepositions and conjunctions (in, on, and, but). Be sure to separate words in the permalink using hyphens, NEVER underscores.
Using the examples above, here are examples of GOOD permalinks:
Here are some examples that ARE NOT GOOD:
Meta description (which is the description box found in "Snippet Preview") is meant to be a sentence or two describing what your article is about--kind of like the back cover of a novel. It is important to be clear and concise. The description must contain the keywords you used, letter for letter, and ideally is between 126-156 characters.
People searching Google will see this summary under your title. It is better to have your keywords appear near or at the beginning of your meta description. It's a good idea to try to make your description interesting, one that will cause the reader to want to click your article.
There is a chance that when you first get your account at LWOS, the "excerpt" option may not be available. To turn it on, just go to the top "screen options" and click "excerpt".
The excerpt is a way for your to give a glimpse of what your article is about on social networks. In most cases, the simplest way is to copy your meta description into this box. You absolutely must have the keywords in your excerpt.
"Links" is not technically a section within SEO, however, having appropriate links in your articles will help your SEO.
Adding 2-4 links in your short-form articles (see Submit an article) and 4-6 in long-form articles, will improve the quality of your article, and give a modest bump to your SEO score. But what links should you include, and how do you add them?
Links should be from quality sources of news and analysis. This may include newspapers, online publications, journals, magazines, university research and from team and league sources. This will help legitimize your work, giving it more depth.
To add a link, just highlight a word or several words, then click the link icon above the text field. Insert the URL to the source.
Internal Links There is one more type of link you should include whenever possible and that is internal links--links to your work as well as those of your LWOS peers. How does this help? Any time we link to our articles it not only gives a modest boost to the SEO of that other article, but it also presents one more opportunity for readers to stay at LWOS by following that link. A search on our main page for your subject could yield a good number of past articles to choose from.
To add an internal link, simply highlight some text in your article that is relevant to a past article, and click the link icon. When the box pops up, click "or link to existing content". This will reveal a search bar so you can search for past articles on the topic.
Adding headings to your articles is critical other than in very short news pieces. You should almost always have an H1 (Heading 1) as the first heading near the top of your article. This heading should contain at least part of your keywords (but not word for word) that you are using, and should be kept brief.
H2 (Heading 2) should follow to separate the article into major sections. It can have a keyword or two, but should not be an exact copy of the title/permalink/H1.
Some longer articles may you H3 (Heading 3) headings. These would be for important points you make within an article.
Here is an example:
Title: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Back to Days of Old
H1: Steelers Defense Returns to Glory
H2: Recruiting Linebackers
H3: Linebackers Through Draft
H3: Linebackers Through Free Agency
H2: Secondary Strong
H3: Denfense Backs
If the light isn't green
See that little stop light? If it's green, great! If it's yellow or red, then there is a problem. Basically it is telling you that your SEO isn't right in some way. The good news is that if you go to the SEO area of the article, it will give you a report as to why your article isn't green. If it is because of a lack of picture, don't worry, our editors will take care of it. Otherwise, try these suggestions:
1) Your keyword may be too vague, so try being more specific with a short phrase. You may also have used the same keywords in the past (we are allowed to use them twice), which is why we can't use "Pittsburgh Steelers" for instance.
2) Ensure that your keyword features AT LEAST ONCE on both your article itself, the article title, the meta description, and the URL/permalink.For the article itself I generally do this by adding a subheading with the useful
tool in the text tab.
The keyword must appear LETTER FOR LETTER or it will not register. If your keyword is "Max Pacioretty Injured" then a sentence of "Max Pacioretty was injured on Saturday" does not register because of the word "was"
3) Use the page analysis tool.
The second tab on the SEO section is really useful to tell you what is good and what is not so good about your piece. Chances are that it will say that there is no image in the article and do not worry about that. That part will be sorted when one of us come around to it. You may need to consider rewriting sections of your piece otherwise.