First question – optimized for what, exactly? Perhaps you want to optimize the article so that it gets found in the search engines? Or perhaps you are looking to provide the be-all and end-all solution to a problem? Possibly you just want to rant, or are just practicing your writing skills?
Before you can optimize an article, you need to know what you are trying to achieve by writing it.
Search Engine Optimized Articles
It is possible to write the perfectly optimized article regardless of the goal, but I see an awful lot of articles that are only written with the search engines in mind.
They are keyword rich, they have correct placement and use of their main keyword phrase, and often have a related keyword phrase thrown in for added effect. They use keyword anchored links to whatever site is being promoted, and have carefully controlled keyword density throughout the article.
This is all well and good for getting found in the search results, and for providing another backlink to a website, but just how effective do you think that article is at actually promoting that website, or whatever topic is being discussed? I’m guessing not very effective at all.
How much effort do you think it will be to write a keyword rich fully optimized article, and then go back to it and try to tweak it for value and content?
Learn more about Search Engine Optimized Articles.
Content Optimized Articles
Instead, I prefer to go the route of content and value first. When I write an article on a topic I find the keywords appear naturally. Yes, I may have to tweak the article for the specific phrase I’m going after, but I’ll only do so in the context of the article. If the keyword phrase doesn’t fit naturally, I don’t use it, or I find a related phrase that does fit and use it instead.
Once I have my value packed article, I can add elements of search engine optimization to it. I can break it out into sections with headings, include a bullet list, add the anchor text to my resource box links and so on.
None of this alters the value in the article, it alters the format and even makes the content easier to read, a bonus on both sides of the equation – easier to read for my audience and better visibility to the search engines.
Learn more about Content Optimized Articles.
The double whammy bonus of focusing on optimizing the content first is that your articles are far more likely to be picked up by Ezine publishers, and shared by your readers with their friends, improving the SEO value through the additional exposure and links.