Great content lies at the heart of any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy worth its salt.
As a rule, the better your content, the better your search engine rankings will be, and the more organic traffic will come your way.
But writing content that works for SEO isn’t simply a matter of putting pen to paper and letting the words spill on the page. It’s a craft in and of itself, and giving SEO writing the attention it deserves will ensure your content creation efforts don’t go to waste.
In this post, we’ll break down all the fundamentals of good SEO copywriting so you can put them to use in your own organic SEO content.
But first, what do we mean by “SEO writing”?
What Is SEO Writing?
SEO writing is the process of writing content that ranks in search engines.
Like any form of content writing, SEO writing aims to educate, inspire, or entertain the reader. The only difference is that SEO writing is also optimized to ensure that search engines can easily determine what the content is about.
In other words, this form of writing caters both to readers and search engines. Maintaining the perfect balance between the two is the “art” of SEO writing.
As we’ll see, all the best examples of SEO writing share some common attributes. But why should you care about SEO writing?
Why Is SEO Content Writing Important?
The logic behind SEO is simple. The higher your content ranks in Google (or any other search engine), the more organic traffic your website receives. And, the more traffic you receive, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors into prospects and customers.
But achieving a prominent ranking in Google’s search results is no easy feat. Competition for top positions is often fierce – and with good reason. The top-ranking result on page one will receive 39.6% of clicks on average, while results at the bottom of the same SERP receive less than 2.5% of clicks.
Carefully planned and well-executed SEO writing ensures your content is fully visible to search engines, thereby giving your content the best possible chance to claim one of those coveted top positions.
You’ll then be able to reach more members of your target audience and add value to their lives through high-quality content. This, in turn, will enhance your reputation, foster brand loyalty, and ultimately improve your bottom line.
With that in mind, let’s turn to see how you should approach SEO writing for maximum success.
How To Write for SEO
Below, we’ll cover all the fundamentals you’ll need to create a piece of quality content that’s both user and search-engine friendly.
Here’s our step-by-step process for writing for SEO:
List Topics Important To Your Target Audience
Before writing any content, you’ll need some content ideas.
The goal here is to identify interesting topics aligned with your brand and help solve your target audience’s problems.
Ideally, you’ll home in on a topic that hasn’t been touched on by other sites yet. But a more realistic way forward is to pick a topic that the competition hasn’t covered as thoroughly as possible or think of a new and exciting angle to address that topic. Whatever the case, you’ll want your content to provide a level of value that readers can’t find anywhere else.
It’s also worth seeking evergreen content ideas. This type of content has long-term traffic potential because it deals with issues that readers will continue to find relevant for years to come. An example article might be “17 Ways to Tie Your Shoelaces,” versus an article like “The Best Work Boots for 2022,” which has an inherently shorter shelf-life.
If you don’t already have content ideas in the pipeline, you can use various methods to help you build a list of topics.
For example, Answer The Public is one of the best topic-generating tools around. This free-to-use website churns out dozens of real-world questions people are searching for around any given topic.
Another approach is to simply consult Google.
When you start typing a query into the search bar, Google will automatically provide you with other related queries:
Google will also list related search queries at the bottom of the results page:
You can also find topic ideas by reviewing reader feedback on your existing content, your competitors’ content, as well as YouTube and social media comments within your niche. It’s also worth turning to discussion sites like Quora or Reddit to see what members of your target audience are talking about.
Granted, these methods require a little more manual digging than those we mentioned before. But it will all be worth it if it leads you to the perfect topic idea!
Research Keywords Within Your Topics
Now that you’ve built out a list of potential topics, it’s time to identify related keywords.
When conducting keyword research, you’ll want to focus on two important metrics: monthly search volume and keyword difficulty. Monthly search volume tells you how frequently people are searching for a particular term, while keyword difficulty indicates how hard it will be to rank for that term.
The goal is to find keywords with relatively high search volume and low difficulty. This combination will give your content the best chance to rank well and attract significant organic traffic.
We recommend using a free keyword research tool like Ahrefs’s Free Keyword Generator to gather your keyword data.
As you can see, this tool provides the estimated search volume and keyword difficulty for various keywords related to your topic. The lower the keyword difficulty score, the easier it will be to rank for that term.
Once you’ve collected keyword data for your different topic areas, you’ll need to commit to one focus keyword. This will be the primary keyword that you’ll aim to rank for with your new piece of content.
Again, when choosing your focus keyword, you’ll want to find the sweet spot between high search volume and low keyword difficulty. In most cases, this will mean opting for long-tail keywords, which are more specific and less competitive than their short-tail counterparts.
Identify The Search Intent
Before you start creating your new piece of SEO-friendly content, the next step is to understand the search intent behind your target keyword.
Search intent refers to the expectation a user has in mind when searching for something in Google. In other words, search users have a particular problem they want to solve or specific knowledge they want to acquire, and they expect search results to meet those needs accurately.
Your chances of ranking will plummet if your content fails to reflect the search intent behind your chosen keyword.
But the good news is that accurately judging the search intent behind a keyword is pretty straightforward. Simply Google your keyword and see what kind of content ranks best. After all, Google invests millions of dollars into honing an algorithm that accurately matches user queries to the most relevant results. So if the top five results for your keyword are all listicles, it’s safe to assume that your content should follow a similar format.
Outline Your Article Structure
Before putting pen to paper, the last step is to gather your research and outline your article structure.
The goal here is to determine where different information will sit within your post. This means deciding what headings and subheadings you should use and what order you should present them in.
A clear and logical blog post outline will improve your post’s readability and make it easier for search engines to determine what your content is about. It will also ensure that your post stays on track if you outsource the content creation to an SEO content writing service provider.
A great way to approach the task of outlining your article is to use the so-called “inverted pyramid” framework. The idea is to front-load your blog post with the most important information so that you immediately hook your readers in and then elaborate on that information throughout the rest of the post.
When it comes to outlining SEO web content this way, you’ll want an introductory paragraph incorporating your target keyword and an overview of the article’s main points. The body of your article should then expand on these main points using explanations, statistics, and examples, with topic headings arranged in order of importance.
Here is the tagging hierarchy you should have in mind when outlining your post:
- H1: Your article headline (should include your target keyword)
- H2: Main points of your article
- H3: Sub-topics that sit within your main points
Write Your In-Depth SEO Article
It’s finally time to write!
Your goal should be to create the ultimate online resource for the keyword you’re targeting, giving your audience as much valuable and relevant information as you can. Generally, this is best achieved by writing in-depth, long-form articles that give readers all the information they need in one place.
While creating an in-depth article takes significant effort, it’s often worth it since long-form content has a habit of attracting more backlinks. In fact, longer posts get about 77% more backlinks than posts under 1000 words.
One of the best SEO writing tips for creating amazing long-form, cornerstone content is to use the skyscraper technique. The idea is to create a piece of content that provides 10x more value than the competition so that your article stands out as the tallest, most awe-inspiring “skyscraper” on the skyline. Your article will then become the go-to resource on your chosen topic.
Skyscraper pages are built by carefully reviewing what your competitors cover in their posts and then creating a post that covers the same information and more. Of course, there’s no use just adding extra information for the sake of it – in fact, that could hamper the reading experience and, in turn, your ability to rank. Any additional information must add value to your readers’ lives. Don’t confuse “bigger” with “bigger and better.”
Begin your post with a straight-to-the-point introduction that lets readers know what they’ll gain from reading on. As you move into the body copy, remember that every sentence should add value, and you should back up any factual claims with citations. Your conclusion should summarize the post’s key takeaways and, at least for explainer articles, should encourage readers to apply what they’ve learned in their own lives.
Keep the tone light and conversational but not too informal. Clarity and conciseness are key, so use simple sentences where you can and omit needless words. Steer clear of too much jargon and provide definitions if you need to use some technical terminology.
The headings and subheadings you specified in your outline will make it easier for readers to scan your post and skip to sections they find most interesting. But you can also improve the readability of your content by keeping paragraphs short, inserting line-breaks between them, and making use of numbered or bulleted lists.
Finally, if the keyword you’re targeting has a featured snippet in Google’s result page, make sure you optimize a section in your post with the appropriate snippet format (paragraph, list, or table).
Integrate Your Keywords
Incorporating keywords is one of the most crucial components of content optimization. They are essential for letting search engines know what your content is about.
If you’ve already committed to writing a comprehensive article on your topic, chances are your content will already naturally contain the appropriate keyword density. That said, you’ll want to double-check that you’ve mentioned your target keyword in your header tags, your introduction, and throughout your body copy wherever it’s appropriate.
Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. This is the practice of cramming as many instances of your target keyword into your copy as possible. It spoils the reading experience and could even land you a Google penalty.
Create Title Tags That Generate Clicks
Another important aspect of on-page SEO is ensuring that your title tag includes your target keyword and entices searchers to click on your post.
Title tags are usually between 50 and 70 characters long and appear as the clickable link to your post within the search engine results page. So it’s important that they briefly yet accurately reflect the type of content the user is searching for.
Try to place your keyword towards the beginning of the title tag and check Google Search Console to ensure you aren’t duplicating any existing title tags on your website. You can also try using clickbait titles in a non-spammy way to improve click-through rate.
Optimize Your Meta Description to Drive Traffic
Your meta description is basically a summary of your article that will appear beneath your article’s URL and page title within the search results page.
A well-optimized meta description comes in handy for capturing the curiosity of searchers and convincing them to click on your post. The average content creator tends to leave the meta description field empty (in which case Google automatically populates the field with content from the page itself). Because of this, you can gain the upper hand by writing a tailor-made description that includes your target keyword and gets the reader excited to read your post.
Add Alt Text To Images
Another way to ensure your page is fully optimized for your target keyword is to add descriptive alt text to any images in your article.
Since Google can’t interpret images as well as it can decipher text, adding a description to your images again lets the search engine know what your page is about. Alt text will also provide extra context for visually impaired content consumers.
Internally Link To Relevant Pages
Now it’s time to insert links to other pages on your site wherever you think it will help the reader.
For example, if you mention a particular topic in passing that you’ve covered in another post and you think the reader may be interested to learn more about it, link to it! Internal linking won’t just make life easier for your readers; it will also give Google a better sense of how your website is structured and which pages are most important.
Make sure that every internal link you include is embedded in contextual anchor text.
Link to Off-Site Pages
As with internal linking, you should link to third-party websites whenever you think it will add value to the reader or cite data from other sources.
Try to limit your external links to high-quality, reputable websites. This will signal to Google that your sources are credible and prevent readers from associating you with sub-par websites.
Integrate Related Keywords (LSI)
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) refers to keywords closely related to your target keyword. For example, suppose your target keyword is “leather boot protection,” then your LSI keywords may include terms like “shine kit,” “shoe brush,” and “boot scraper.”
LSI keywords play an essential role in SEO article writing (as well as SEO product descriptions) because Google no longer relies on a single, focus keyword when determining the relevance of a post for a given search query. Instead, it also picks up on the presence of semantically related terms as a way of judging whether a piece of content matches the user’s search intent.
So refer back to your original keyword list and see where you can incorporate related keywords throughout your post.
Include Video, Images, and Audio
The final step for creating a well-optimized post is adding relevant visuals and audio.
Multimedia elements like screenshots, videos, and audio clips will give readers a welcome break from reading and make it easier to communicate your ideas effectively.
Be sure to give the necessary credit for any visuals or audio you use, and don’t forget to add alt text to any images! You can also use websites like Flickr and Unsplash to find free-to-use, high-quality stock photos.
Next Steps for Creating SEO Content
Although many factors determine how Google ranks your content (like page speed, domain authority, and site architecture), you’ll struggle to succeed in the world of organic search without high-quality and carefully-optimized SEO writing.
We hope this post has given you the confidence to go out there and give SEO writing your best shot. As with learning any new skill, the best approach is just to get started – the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it!
Let us know in the comments if there are any content optimization tips you think we’ve overlooked. We’re always keen to learn new tricks!