How To Be Good at SEO

What you can do to increase your own SEO and make sure your publication turns up in the search engine results page (SERP).

One of the core benefits of publishing on Medium is reaching a broader audience than publishing elsewhere on the web. In addition to growing organic traffic to publications through the Medium network, we also want to focus on growing search traffic. As a company, we are working on way to increase SEO for all of the posts in our network and we want to make sure all of our content creators are using best practices for search engine optimization as well.

Below are some tips, tricks, and best practices.

Adding your site to Google Search Console

Creating a sitemap helps search engines better crawl and categorize your site. When migrating your content over to Medium, Google must re-crawl and then re-index these pages. It’s not uncommon to experience unstable rankings for up to a few weeks until this happens. You can expedite this process by manually adding your site to the Google search console. You can find instructions on how to do that here.

Bing
Instructions on adding your site to Bing search console are here.

About the Publication

Description of publication
This needs to be 160 chars and must contain at least 3 important keywords.
Please make sure your description is long enough!

About Page
Please make sure the “Note from the Editor” contains valuable content and is long enough. The limit is 1200 characters. Try to use all of it!

Headlines and Titles

It’s always good practice to remember that you are writing content for people first and foremost, but in the digital age you are also writing for search engines. There are loyal readers who visit your site regularly, but with so many options nowadays, most people end up finding your site and content through other sources such as social media platforms and search engines.

  1. To make sure that your content turns up in the top search results, it’s good practice to make your headlines really descriptive of the content within the post. The more relevant your headline is to the users search terms, the more likely it is that the search will return a link to your post and they will click on it.
  2. Don’t duplicate posts, don’t repost old content with the same headline and don’t have a series of posts that live under an identical headline with different published at dates. Google penalizes duplicate posts. This also goes for reposting blogs that you’ve guest-posted somewhere else, which, generally speaking, is not a recommended practice. If you are crossposting please use our story import tool which automatically sets a canonical URL to the original post. You can find the story import tool here. If you copy and pasted a post to Medium in the past, please contact your Strategist at Medium to manually set the canonical URL. Please note, when we migrate entire publications we automatically set canonical URLs to older posts.
  3. Make sure your URL slug (in addition to the headline) contains keywords that are descriptive of the content that the post contains.

Hint*
You can set custom titles, subtitles, and custom URL slugs when editing your post by clicking on the ellipses near the publish drop down.

Customize Titles, Subtitles and URL slugs

Why would you want your URL slug to differ from your Headline? Well, it is best to use three to five words in the slug of your URL. Additional words will be weighed less by bot crawlers and could even appear spammy. For example if you are writing about the “10 Best New Gluten Free Donut Recipes” you might want the slug to look like mysite.com/best-gluten-free-donut-recipes instead of mysite.com/10-best-new-gluten-free-donut-recipes. Adding “10 Best” to the headline is a good idea as it may entice people to click more but it doesn’t help much with SEO results.

Rule of thumb should be does a 5 year old know what this post will be about? The more concise and clear , the better.

To succeed at SEO, the first rule is that every story should have a unique title. The second rule is to use as few stop words as possible and a only very descriptive keywords. Ideally it should be between 50 and 60 characters long…

Body of Text

Of course this goes without saying, but do your best! Create really great, engaging content that people spend time reading. Create content that delivers unique reader experience, thats better than other content in similar verticals, solves problems, informs, delights, and entertains readers. Break your post into different sections with their own subheadings, maximizing it for scannability. Link to credible sources and embed rich media.

Separate Content and Format

Amazing content is, like always, king. In practice, for SEO, this means you need to use the right format for the right content. If something in your story is a title, do not put it in bold, set it as a title. If you’re quoting someone, use quotes, not just simple italics.

“When quoting someone, please use quotes!”

If you mention someone else on Medium, use our @mention tool as seen below.

Just type @followedbythepersonsusername

Make sure you also use bold and italics to emphasize ideas or make strong points… Medium does a great job by using semantic markup, and search engines love semantic markup because it helps them make sense of the content.

Use the tools we provide you with to easily break up and organize content.

Multimedia

Embedding rich media such as videos, audio files, images helps you tell your story in much more illustrative and engaging way and it also makes your post look attractive for search engines. Rich media helps SEO for two reasons. The first is that it tends to increase the time readers spend with your content which positively affects rankings and it also signals that you have high quality content.

Keep in mind posts with images get over 90% more clicks. They help tell your story and engage the reader. Please make sure you feature the image and follow our tips here.

With Medium’s recent acquisition of Embed.ly, its never been easier to add rich media to your posts. Here is a list of all the current providers that embed.ly supports.

Tags

Using the right tags, and using all 5 of them, increases your chances for discoverability within the Medium network. You also want to use the tags for discoverability outside of Medium. When tagging your post by topic, be sure to be simple and precise.

Linking

Last, but not least… SEO is still a lot about linking. Adding links in the body of your text makes your posts more credible in the eyes of the search engines. There are two types of hyperlinks that you can include:

  1. Internal Links direct the user to another post in your publication.
  2. External Links direct the user to other publications.

Google, like most search engines is actually not great at ranking content in a vacuum. They mostly try to assess what us, humans, think about anything to assess whether it’s valuable. The signals they use are numerous, but historically, the links to any webpage have been key. Each link is considered a vote. The more websites that link to you, the more trust worthy you are in googles “eyes”. The more you link out to other sources, the more credible they deem you.

Linking is probably the only aspect on which Medium itself can’t do much but it’s also were publications and authors can make the most difference. Very often, publications have multiple online presences outside of Medium, like on Facebook and Twitter for example. All of these should be linking to their content on Medium: the stories, the home page, but also the author pages, the tag pages… etc. Similarly publications, well, the Editors, should think about “sharing” the links to their Medium content on 3rd party sites. For example, your wikipedia page, and your youtube page should link to your publication on Medium, or your posts on Medium.

Link Building

Another way to improve your SEO “reputation” is called link building. Links to your site from others add trust and brand awareness to your publication. The more that reputable sites link to yours the more this signals trustworthiness to search engines. A way to ensure that this happens without any having to create any marketing content distribution strategies is to consistently put out great content.

We will continue to make improvements to our overall network structure to ensure that we position your publication and your posts to rank high in SERPs. Things we are working on are, meta tags, meta data, site load times, site architecture and etc. As we continue to make progress we will update our partners.