The difference between writing online articles and offline articles
Here's how the idea for this hub came about. I was talking to the owner of a copywriting and editing company over the phone, and she asked me to explain about SEO articles. I had no idea where to start. What was going on in my mind the moment after she asked her question was "Should I start by explaining about white space, or should I cover links instead, or should I cover keyword density, or..." You see, I knew that I would be asked that question sooner or later, and would probably be asked it a few times, but I had always assumed that I would be asked online, where I could link to examples of what I meant, or at the very least be asked it face to face. Some of you might think that there's no difference between talking over the phone or talking face to face but there's a difference to me. I'm the sort of person who tends to get animated and make lots of gestures when he starts to explain something, and I also tend to rely a lot on visual cues to see if I have lost the other person. Anyway, I digress. This hub has nothing to do with talking face to face. Perhaps my next hub... So, where was I? Oh, yes the phone conversation. I sort of fumbled through my explanation and I'm not certain she got all i was trying to say. And I'm sure I missed out explaining about links. Plus...
Erm, I think I better start explaining about the differences between online writing and offline writing.
1. White space
Strictly speaking, white space doesn't really have any effect on SEO(search engine optimisation). Search engines don't track white space. White space does however, have an impact on human readers. Take for example, the huge wall of text that's right at the very top of this hub. It's going to be hard to read for a human.
For articles published in print, lack of white space will also affect the readability of an article. However, space is also at a premium. Excessive use of white space will drive up the number of pages in a magazine or novel. Take up a copy of any magazine you have. You'll probably find that they have compromised by indenting their paragraphs. It's still readable, and it's not paper-intensive.
For online publications, white space costs nothing. Also, people prefer to read small paragraphs when they read online. Writing online requires you to break those articles into small easily read paragraphs separated from each other with paragraph breaks.
Also, while search engines don't track white space directly, they do track how long visitors stay at your site. And visitors at your site who arrive there only to be confronted with a huge wall of text likely won't be staying long.
Financial magazines that you subscribe to offline are not going to explain what a bond is, or what a PEG ratio is for every issue that comes out. Neither do online magazines. However, it's a simple thing for them to link to an explanation of the term.
Provide links to your sources, to sites where readers can read up more about the subject, to that website or product you are doing that review on. This makes your article not only a source for information, but also a source for a source for information.
And it does affect SEO. Having relevant outbound links to quality sites is one of the factors that search engines rank sites by. It's not the only factor, and not the one that they give the most weight to. But it'll certainly help your rankings.
3. Keyword density
Search engines crawl a webpage and count the number of instances that a keyword or keyword phrase appears in the article. This is compared to the total number of words on a page to calculate keyword density and displayed as a percentage. For example, if a 500 word article repeats the words "binoculars" 20 times, keyword density for the article is 4%. Keyword density is one of the factors by which search engines rank a webpage.
However, search engines also penalise webpages that have too many instances of the keyword, known as "keyword stuffing", to prevent unscrupulous webmasters from just creating and spamming a webpage with the keyword just to get ranked highly on search engines.
Search engines are secretive about the search engine algorithms they employ to determine a site's rank. However the general consensus by SEO experts is that you should try to keep your keyword density below 5%.
By thw way, for anyone who's interested to read the blog post where I detailed the series of events that prompted me to create this hub, it's here.