You already know that optimizing your articles for search engines is key to earning more traffic, leads, and sales.
But despite trying to craft your articles in line with search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, you just can’t seem to gain any real traction in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If this describes your current situation, fear not!
We’ve collected 11 of the best SEO article writing tips to help you graduate from so-so rankings to SERP domination.
But before that, a quick recap on why you should care about SEO article writing in the first place.
What’s the Purpose of Writing SEO Articles?
SEO writing is all about creating content that ranks well on Google.
The higher your content ranks for searches related to your brand, the more traffic you’ll get and the easier it will be to generate leads and sales via your website.
The importance of high rankings is hard to overstate. In fact, roughly 68% of all organic traffic goes to the top three SERP results for a given query.
So when writing articles for SEO, the goal is to claim one of these top positions by crafting content that’s valuable to the target audience and easy for search engines to decipher.
It’s worth noting that the value of organic SEO isn’t just limited to boosting traffic, leads, and sales. Here are a few more benefits to whet your appetite:
- Brand awareness: The more your content ranks for different keywords, the more your target audience will notice and recognize your brand.
- Brand loyalty: By consistently providing your target audience with high-value content, you’ll keep them coming back for more.
- Cost-effectiveness: You don’t pay for impressions or clicks with SEO. Instead, you earn your rankings by providing high-quality, relevant content.
- High conversion rates: SEO attracts users to your site who are actively seeking information, products, and services related to your brand. This makes them prime candidates for conversion.
- Long-lasting returns: Once you earn rankings in Google, maintaining them is primarily a matter of ensuring your content remains fresh, comprehensive, and valuable.
With these benefits in mind, let’s look at how to write a good SEO article.
11 Tips for Writing SEO Articles
So what should you do to make your articles even more SEO-friendly than they already are?
Here are some of the simplest yet most effective tips for writing SEO articles that rank:
1. Conduct Proper Keyword Research
You should build every SEO article you write around a single focus keyword – i.e., the keyword you want your article to rank for.
Optimizing your article for this keyword lets Google know that your content is a relevant match for any related search queries.
But selecting the right keyword isn’t a matter of picking a phrase out of a hat. Proper keyword research is often a painstaking process of finding a keyword that is relevant to your brand and audience, has enough search volume to drive appreciable traffic, and seems relatively easy to rank for.
We recommend using Keyword Planner for keyword research. It’s a free-to-use tool from Google that lets you find new keywords and their corresponding monthly search volumes.
However, gaining access to Keyword Planner can be a little tricky at first. Basically, Google will prompt you to create a Google Ads campaign before you can use it.
The good news is there’s an easy way around this that we’ll explain below. But just be aware that you will need to create a Google Ad campaign if you want full keyword volume data in Keyword Planner (instead of mere search volume ‘ranges’).
How to Set Up Keyword Planner
Here’s how to use Keyword Planner without creating an ad:
- First, you’ll need to set up a Google Ads account if you haven’t already.
- On the next page, scroll to the bottom and click on “Switch to Expert Mode.”
- Next, click on “Create an account without a campaign.”
- Now, simply confirm your basic business information and click the submit button.
- Click on “Explore your account.”
- Now click on the “Tools and Settings” icon at the top of the page, then click on “Planning” in the drop-down menu, and then click on “Keyword Planner.”
And there you have it – you now have access to Keyword Planner!
How to Generate Keyword Ideas
Now it’s time to look for keyword ideas.
Click on “Discover new keywords” and then enter any phrase related to the topic you have in mind for your article.
For example, suppose you were a fashion brand specializing in sneakers, then your seed term might be ‘how to wear sneakers.’ Keyword Planner would then provide you with hundreds of related keyword ideas and their average monthly searches and competitive difficulty rating.
Remember, the idea is to pick a keyword with a high enough search volume, low enough competition, and tons of relevance to your target audience. So choose wisely!
How to Get Keyword Variations
Once you’ve homed in on a specific focus keyword for your article, the next step is to identify variations of that term to use in your article as a way to reinforce its relevance in Google’s eyes.
These keyword variations – sometimes known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords – make it easier for Google to determine whether your article is a suitable match for a range of thematically-related search queries.
An easy way to gather keyword variation ideas is to use a keyword clustering tool like ClusterAI or KeywordCupid. These tools use cutting-edge neural network models to group keyword variations with similar search intent. Incorporating such terms into your content allows you to send Google the strongest possible signal that your content is relevant to a particular search query.
2. Use Google Trends to Find Trending Keywords
Another useful source of keyword variations is Google Trends.
This is another free Google tool that lets you track the popularity of given keywords over time and across different regions.
Here’s a chart comparing the search popularity of the keywords ‘white sneakers’ and ‘black sneakers’ over the past 12 months in the US.
As you can see, both terms saw a spike in popularity around the holidays, while ‘white sneakers’ was also especially popular during the spring and summer months.
You can use seasonal data like this to organize your content calendar and ensure your posts are published in line with the popularity peaks of their associated keywords.
3. Eliminate Duplicate Content and Plagiarism
Google’s guidelines urge site owners to avoid duplicate content as much as possible since repeated instances of the same content can lead to a confusing and frustrating user experience.
Therefore, you should ensure that each of your SEO articles consists of unique and original content. Google may remove you from its index or lower your site’s rankings if it suspects you of using duplicate content to game the search results.
Of course, sometimes duplicate content issues crop up without any malicious intent, like when more than one page links to a single product. Fortunately, Google’s algorithm is pretty well trained at differentiating between innocent and deceptive instances of duplicate content. You can find out more about dealing with duplicate content issues by reading Google’s guidance.
On a related note, you should avoid plagiarism at all costs. Obviously, it’s unethical to copy someone else’s work without their permission, and doing so will only invite Google to impose a manual penalty against your site.
Occasionally, writers will inadvertently write copy that overlaps with content published elsewhere on the internet. There are plenty of plagiarism checkers to help you avoid these accidents, including Copyscape and Grammarly.
4. Optimize for the Featured Snippet
The quickest way to leapfrog to the top of the results page is to optimize for a featured snippet.
A featured snippet is a clipping of information displayed at the top of the results page, used to provide a quick answer to the user’s search query.
Here’s the featured snippet for the search term ‘what are yeezy shoes.’
Sometimes called “position 0”, Google generates featured snippets for roughly 12% of search queries by extracting relevant information from one of the top-ranking results for that term.
Crucially, however, your result doesn’t need to rank at the very top for it to be used in the featured snippet. And since featured snippets get an 8% click-through rate on average, it’s more than worth optimizing your content for them.
So check whether the results page for your keyword already contains a featured snippet. If it does, it will either be a paragraph, numbered list, bullet list, table, or video.
You should then click through to the article in the featured snippet and find the section from which Google extracted the information. Pay close attention to how the information is structured, and then replicate the same formatting in your own content.
5. Make Sure Your Writing Is Relevant
Like all search engines, Google’s mission is to serve users with the most relevant results possible given their specific search queries.
We’ve already seen how keywords play an important role in communicating your content relevance to Google, but another crucial factor to consider is topical relevance.
You can think of topical relevance as the degree to which Google views your content as a good match for searches around a specific topic. The greater the topical relevance of your content, the more likely it will be to rank for thematically-related keywords.
One of the ways Google determines the strength of your site’s topical relevance is by looking at the depth and breadth of your content. If your site provides comprehensive coverage of a central topic, as well as any sub-topics and adjacent topics, it’s more likely to be considered an authority on that topic.
For example, let’s suppose you manage an eCommerce site that sells hand-crafted oak dining tables. One of the main keywords you want to rank for is ‘oak dining tables.’ A poor strategy would be just to write one post around oak tables, hoping it will be enough to earn you a top spot in the SERPs (it won’t!). A better approach would also be to create an interlinked cluster of articles covering all aspects of oak tables, targeting related keywords like ‘are oak tables durable,’ ‘how oak tables are made,’ and ‘what are the advantages of oak wood.’
So the key here is to remember that no SEO article is an island. To amplify your topical relevance, you should ensure that your articles provide deep and broad coverage of your topic area.
6. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Having identified a focus keyword and some secondary keyword variations, you’ll need to incorporate them throughout your article’s body copy, title tag, H1 tag, and subheadings.
But it’s absolutely essential that you don’t overdo it! Keyword stuffing – the practice of shoehorning keywords into your content to try and manipulate search rankings – is a major violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Along with other so-called ‘Black Hat’ SEO tactics, keyword stuffing can result in a manual penalty.
7. Let Google Search Console Guide You
Search Console is yet another free but invaluable tool provided by Google that lets website owners troubleshoot their site’s SEO performance.
Unlike most other tools, Search Console tells you which search terms people actually use to find your site. This opens up a range of possibilities for optimizing your content.
For example, suppose you had an article called ‘how to wear white sneakers’ and noticed, through Search Console, that this page was ranking in position 9 for the keyword ‘how to wear white sneakers with leggings.’ Since the article doesn’t currently mention wearing sneakers with leggings, you’ve discovered a good opportunity to improve your rankings for this secondary keyword by adding a new section to your article.
8. Reverse Engineer the Search Results
When writing an article for SEO, the single best guide for how you should approach it is to analyze the current top-ranking results for your focus keyword.
After all, Google is the most sophisticated search engine on the planet. Its entire raison d'être is to surface the most relevant and useful content in response to user queries. So it’s safe to assume, in most cases, that Google’s top-ranking result for a given query really is the best content available for that keyword.
Therefore, you should study the top five SERP results for your target keyword and think of them as the benchmark for your own article.
Start by looking for any commonalities among these high-performing results – including how they’re structured and what information they cover – and aim to emulate whatever they’re doing right in your own post.
For example, if each of the top results is over 3,000 words long, contains high-quality imagery, and touches on topics X, Y, and Z, make sure that your own article isn’t 1,000 words long, devoid of any images, and only covers topics A, B, and C.
While it’s likely that the top results will have a lot in common, chances are that some results will tick boxes that the others don’t. One result might provide better examples than all the others, and another result might contain more insightful quotes and statistics, while another might use images or embedded videos particularly well.
Take note of all these strong points and try to incorporate them into your own article.
9. Optimize Your Title Tag and Headline
As far as SEO is concerned, your title tag and headline (also known as the H1 tag) are the two most important on-page elements to get right.
The title tag appears in the search results as the clickable title portion of your listing. The H1 tag is the title of your content as it appears to the user once they click through to your page. Both elements tell users and search engines what your content is about.
Whether or not you choose to use the same text for your title and H1 tags, you should ensure they both contain your focus keyword, use title case, and address the user’s search intent. This leads us to the next tip…
10. Address Keyword Search Intent
Your SEO article must address the search intent behind your focus keyword to have any realistic chance of ranking.
Search intent refers to the goal a search user has in mind when Googling a specific keyword.
So, for example, if you’re writing an article targeting the keyword ‘what to wear with white sneakers,’ it’s safe to assume that your readers won’t want the article to talk about what to wear with pink, blue, or brown sneakers!
To gauge whether your content accurately reflects the user’s search intent, check the other results for your keyword and ensure your own content doesn’t stray too far from the pack.
11. Always Strive for High-Quality Content
Lastly, the surest way to achieve better and better rankings over time is just to give audiences what they want: high-quality, value-packed content.
After all, giving search users what they want is what Google’s built to do.
But don’t just take our word for it. Google’s self-proclaimed mission is “to get you the most relevant and reliable information that we can find.”
Helpful SEO Tools for Writing
We’ve already mentioned a handful of tools that can make an SEO practitioner’s life easier.
But here are a few others to keep in your back pocket:
- Ahrefs: An all-in-one SEO toolkit, including keyword research, performance tracking, and competitor analysis.
- MarketMuse: An AI-assisted tool that generates content briefs for maximizing ranking potential.
- Frase: Another content brief generator and AI writing assistant.
- Copyscape: An online plagiarism and duplicate content detection service.
- Grammarly: An editing tool that provides spelling, grammatical, and style suggestions for your writing. The tool also includes a plagiarism checker.
SEO Article Writing Services Make It Easy
Article writing for SEO is both art and science in equal measure.
There’s no foolproof formula out there that will guarantee you better rankings, but you can drastically improve your odds of SERP success by implementing the tips outlined in this post.
Of course, if this all seems overwhelming, you can always try an SEO article writing service like ours!
If you think we’ve left out any tips that can help the SEO article writing process, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.