Contributed articles (or guest articles) are a great way to drive leads to your business because they can make it easier for customers to find you. In addition to your corporate site being visible in search results, they can also see attention-grabbing headlines from their most trusted news sites. When reading the article, they’ll notice your executive as the author and be able to click through to your website via a link in the bio (or directly input your business’ name into the search bar) to learn more. The best part? It’s actually quite easy to begin seeing measurable SEO improvement if you make it a built-in process from the beginning.

Below are some ways to get started with SEO from idea creation to final proof.

Idea Creation – Writing about what customers are searching for is key. If leads commonly search for “how to get started automating software” or “what is data science as a service?” start with topics that directly relate to these subject areas. Note what is coming up in searches now and how you can improve on those results with more detailed or helpful information.

Publication Selection – Not all publications are created equal. Consider which sources already attract your target customers and verify their reach and Domain Authority “DA” via helpful sites like Moz’s Link Explorer. (Sites with a higher DA tend to rank better on Google.) Over time, review your referring traffic data to see which sites are delivering the best leads and prioritize future articles with these outlets.

Drafting – Use keywords and phrases in the headline and throughout the article. So if, customers are searching for “global identity verification” use that term throughout. If you re-use content from your web site or other articles, link back to the original source. Another option is to change the content as Google can sometimes penalize duplicate content.

Final Proof – Your final proof should ensure the article grips the reader in the beginning and links to other helpful sources as appropriate (always link back to your website if the outlet will allow it). While optimized content can lead customers to your article, it can’t make them stay and read it. Only your brilliant copy can do that.

Measure – After your story has been published, search for those keywords you centered your piece on. How does your story stack up? Are there others still ranking higher? Why? Take note of what could have been done differently and get back out there with more content. Another great measurement tactic is reviewing your web analytics for spikes in traffic at the time of publication.

Repeat – One great article won’t do. Plan for a rolling thunder of articles that hit on subjects that matter most to your customers based on how their searches change over time.

Shrinking newsrooms have created a substantial amount of opportunities to contribute to your favorite publications from eWeek to Forbes to Network Computing. But securing your story space is not enough. Be sure to consider SEO from start to finish so your content provides another path for customers to find you.