Welcome to the second part of our SEO Basics blog series. Last time we looked at ‘What is SEO content writing?’ In this post, we’re exploring how to write SEO optimised content that gets you ranking in Google.
How to write SEO optimised content – Table of contents
- How to write SEO optimised content
i. Create an SEO content writing plan
a. Research keywords to use in your strategy
b. Create a content plan
ii. Use best practice tips for SEO writing
a. Target keywords
e. Structure and style
h. Meta data
- Find relevant SEO-friendly content examples
- Use the best SEO content writing tools
- SEO content doesn’t have to be hard
From researching your target keywords to best practice tips and SEO-friendly content examples, we provide an introduction to how to write SEO content.
How to write SEO optimised content that gets you ranking in Google
As we’ve discussed, SEO content writing is the practice of engineering your content to help you rank better in search engines. There are two ways this can be done:
On-page SEO: This refers to how well your page answers the queries that people type into Google when they’re looking for what you have to offer; and
Off-page SEO: This refers to how you work with others on the web so that they link back to your site, which in turn sends more traffic your way.
Doing some research into what’s already ranking for the keywords you want to be found for will show you your competitors and set the landscape for how to go about writing your content. You need to have a clear idea of who are the authorities (i.e. who you can link to and hopefully receive links from) that can help you position yourself, and who are the competitors in terms of scale and target market (who you want to avoid promoting).
Create an SEO content writing plan
All content marketing needs to have a clearly defined goal, but if yours is SEO – i.e. to get found more easily in search results – then it will be more effective if you have an SEO content strategy. We’re going to focus on this in more detail next week, but here are the main steps:
1. Research keywords to use in your strategy
Some of the most popular, top-level keywords will tend to be short-tail and as such much harder to rank for. Long-tail, question-based keywords (the kinds of phrases and questions users ask Google and other engines) often make good topics.
See this quick search we did on ‘SEO content writing’ via Answer The Public:
Answering these queries puts you in front of more targeted searchers who are definitely looking for that topic to be covered, as opposed to something more general. That means you have a higher chance of converting them. Try to balance the monthly search volume with those keywords that have fewer targeted pages in the search results as that will mean you stand a better chance of ranking. You can also filter your results by ‘keyword difficulty’.
2. Create a content plan
This should be a calendar that documents what content you need to publish and where. It doesn’t need to be fancy – a simple spreadsheet will do – but it should cover all bases such as:
- Static website content (those pages that will be at the heart of your website and help visitors navigate your site)
- Any product or services pages that need optimising
- And of course blog posts and social content
From here, detail what and when you need to create content. For blog content, we recommend having a separate schedule as you’ll likely be posting more regularly, on an ongoing basis. We suggest posting at least weekly so that the search engine bots get in the habit of crawling (and indexing) your pages more often. You should then be reposting this content on the relevant social media platforms for your target audience.
With a plan of action, next you can start to create compelling, accurate and engaging content based on the research and what you know about the needs of your audience. You can use our tips below for this. You’re welcome 🙂
Use our best practice tips for SEO writing for beginners
SEO content mostly relates to any on-page web content such as articles, blog posts and other longer-form copy such as web page copy like Home, About, Service and ‘City’ or Area pages. However, these are good rules of thumb to apply even to shorter pieces such as product description pages, category pages or longer posts on certain social media platforms.
Here are some of the key standards of SEO content writing best practice you should consider when creating content:
Know your target keyword(s) for each piece
If you only know one thing about writing SEO content, it’s likely that keywords are involved. Keywords are the words and phrases that you’re targeting. It’s important to have a clear idea of what keywords your business would like to rank for because this will dictate the content that is written.
You should have a focus keyword for every page or post. This should be the basis of what your post is about and it should appear in:
- The header
- Meta data (more below)
- Opening paragraph
- And at least one subheading
As a real-live example, our target keyword for this post is ‘how to write SEO optimised content’. Do an in-page search for this term and you’ll see it popping up in all the places we’ve suggested.
You should also use LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) where possible. These are basically associated keyword terms. (Think of it as the ‘People Also Ask’ feature on Google.)
It’s important not to stuff your keywords as this can lead to a penalty. Around a 2-3% density in your copy is often considered best.
However, keywords are just one part of SEO. Other factors include…
Use head-turning headlines
The headline is the first thing a reader will see, so it needs to capture their attention and provide intrigue. There are few ways to go about this but I think we’re all agreed that the click-bait headline of the mid-2010s has finally had its day.
Active headlines using emotional words work well, but so do headlines that draw out a surprising fact to hook the reader.
Check out Coschedule’s 201 trigger words to make your headlines more engaging.
Be a repository of valid information
If there’s one thing that’s vital to the success of your content, it’s making sure you answer any questions your reader has. This is the basis of ensuring you offer insightful content and that you can be trusted.
Google’s E-A-T criteria should be considered when creating any kind of content. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
When researching your topic, make sure you use several sources and that they’re reputable. This will give you the best chance of creating content that is holistic, insightful and accurate.
As above, one tip is to use long-tail query-based keywords as the topics and headlines for your blog posts, articles, content sections and cornerstone web content. This way you’ll find it easier to stay on topic and provide relevant content that answers searchers’ queries and gets you indexed and ranking.
Did we also mention your content needs to be persuasive and provide a logical flow for readers to move on to your intended action? You can read more about persuasive copywriting on our blog.
Keep layout clean and tidy
A site’s layout is very important when it comes to SEO. The two key considerations are how many columns your website has and the position of the navigation menu.
To optimise your site for search engines, you should try to keep the number of columns on a page low and use submenus or drop-down menus rather than horizontal or vertical navigation bars which can take up space on a page.
When it comes to posting regular content, you need to organise it well with:
- Table of contents for easy navigation
- Headings (optimising with keywords where relevant and sizing according to hierarchy)
- Short paragraphs and sentences
- Block quotes or boxes of important information
- Visual content such as quality images, videos, infographics and screenshots which – crucially – add context to your content
- Numbered or bullet point lists (these make key points easy to see and can help you to earn a Featured Snippet in Google)
- Use of bold, italics, underline to add emphasis and identify takewaways
Use an engaging structure and style
Different from layout, structure is about how you present your information through your layout. Storytelling has been held up as a great content writing technique for a number of years.
If you can, bring your reader alongside by talking to them and telling them a story.
This might be an actual anecdote about an experience in your business or personal life that sets up the larger theme or point of your article. Or it might simply be presenting the pain point, illuminating the challenges and resolving the conflict for the reader.
If you need an example, a case study demonstrates storytelling in a technical format. Writing in this mode will also help you identify your brand tone of voice.
It’s also important, of course, that your content is well written! And this is where style comes in.
Some absolute musts include:
- Writing in short, uncomplicated sentences – or at least mixing short and long sentences to create a natural flow.
- Writing in short paragraphs that don’t overwhelm the reader
- Using the active voice rather than passive to create urgency and place the reader firmly in the experience zone
- Using your brand voice, by which we mean the way you want to speak as a company to your target audience. For many, they will aim to emulate the language used by their audience while still being professional if an informal brand, or relatable even if a more professional service.
- Using enticing headings throughout to structure points, provide flow and keep your reader scrolling
- You may want to think about continuously updating old posts every six months to ensure they’re still up to date.
Bookmark our grammar checklist for future reference.
Perhaps most importantly, your content should not only have intent but understand user intent. If you’re using specific keywords, are you providing the kind of answer your reader is genuinely looking for?
Intent is very important to how Google’s algorithm works:
“Understanding intent is fundamentally about understanding language, and is a critical aspect of Search.”
The search giant spent five years refining its algorithm to understand nuances in how humans use language, including different meanings for the same word. They will not be happy if you pretend to provide a page answering a user’s query, only to deliver content that is in fact signposting them in the completely wrong direction!
Before you use a keyword, ask yourself whether you’re using it in the same way the searcher might be intending.
Part of showing search engines that you go above and beyond for your content and your reader is to provide links in your content to other relevant pages, whether internal or external.
Links are a form of social signposting and also crucial to your off-page SEO (see above), all of which is important for keeping readers happy. In the past, they were abused and many websites now use them to help provide contextual understanding rather than direct routes to other pages.
Think of yourself as a guide helping your reader complete their quest (there’s that storytelling angle again).
Optimise meta data
This is any data that’s not included in the main on-page content. It includes the title and description of a page you see in the Google search results and any image data.
These are all great places to include your keyword, and although they don’t have much bearing on ranking by search engine algorithms, they do influence click-through by real-life humans!
How to find relevant SEO-friendly content examples
If you’re wondering how to see the best SEO content writing examples for your subject matter, it’s easy. Simply search for your chosen keyword term and look at the pages which rank top in the SERPs.
- What do these pages include?
- How is their content structured?
- What media do they use?
- What kind of voice do they use?
- Do they back up their points with sources and examples?
Once you start seeing how successful competitors approach their content you’ll begin to understand for yourself the standards for SEO.
Best SEO content writing tools
There are some excellent tools out there that can make writing SEO optimised content much easier.
For writing your content, you can try some of these below:
Plagiarism checker tools
Image sourcing tools
Writing SEO optimised content doesn’t have to be hard
It might seem like there’s a lot to consider but much of it is common sense. From using reputable sources when researching your topic, to the way you approach the layout of your information on the page, your aim should be to provide quality and ease of reading.
Of course, if you want to ensure your content works to its most effective, you may want to partner with an SEO content writing service like Copify. We can ensure your pages and posts are correctly targeted to make the biggest impact.
✏️ In next week’s installment in the SEO Basics series, we’ll be looking at how to how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy. So don’t forget to check back!
Also in the SEO Basics series…
Header image: Firmbee.com