All marketers need to understand SEO content writing.
Content marketing has become one of the most effective ways to generate leads and grow a business with SEO at its core.
If you become proficient at writing for search engines, you can look forward to mountains of organic traffic, more customers, and increased brand awareness.
SEO article writing isn’t as tough you might think, either.
I’m going to show you a blueprint you can use to begin ranking highly for keywords, and ensuring that you gain as much search engine visibility as possible.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
It’s the practice of optimizing your content and website to be found more easily by search engines.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo are all examples of popular search engines.
SEO composes of on-page and off-page elements, such as:
- Keyword density
- High quality content
The general goal is to make your website and content structured and organized, so engines can understand what it pertains and rank you accordingly.
It’s a lot of little details that all add up to make your brand a search engine powerhouse.
A majority of the traffic on the internet comes from search engines, as well. Platforms like Google organize the highest quality results for users asking questions and seeking information. You want to be one of the first websites that they see, and SEO writing will help you get there.
Search engines send out bots that are also known as crawlers or spiders. These bots can every nook and cranny of your site to grasp what it is about, and how it should be ranked according to everything else on the internet.
Without the proper road map and strategy, you won’t be able to generate the organic traffic and authority you want. Follow along as we dive into how to master the art of SEO article writing.
What is SEO writing?
SEO writing, as you could guess, is the process of writing with the intent to please search engines.
There are many different aspects that go into writing content that will rank highly, attract backlinks, and drive organic traffic.
Remember that the search engines and trying to deliver the best possible results for its end user. That means what Google wants is simply what users want.
If you can drill that into your head, you’ll be ahead of the game. You need to look at composing SEO articles in a very technical manner, but don’t forget the root of it is producing useful, entertaining, and practical information.
This brings me to my next point.
Step 1: Performing keyword research
The first step to mastering writing for SEO is researching keywords. Before you jump the gun, let’s take a quick look at the different kinds of keywords, since they are all not made the same.
These are search phrases that having buying intent, which means the end user is interested in purchasing something.
Transactional keywords are great for e-commerce stores or affiliate content, as they can help drive more sales. Here’s an example.
It’s safe to say that users looking for “best mens dress shoes under 200” or similar phrases are interesting in buying a pair for themselves.
These are search terms with the intent to find information or answer a question. They are best suited for guides, infographics, how-to article, and listicles.
If someone searched for “How to do SEO,” they are probably looking for a guide like the one you’re reading right now. They are interested in learning something new and solving a problem they are experiencing.
Compose practical and very useful content when targeting this type of keyword.
The last type of keyword, navigational, pertains to finding a very specific brand or website. Users will often search for a brand name when they are trying to locate their website or relevant properties.
A user looking up “IBM” could be trying to find the official IBM website, their social accounts, or news about the company, for example.
With this information in mind, follow along as we cover how to research keywords yourself.
There is no shortage of keyword research tools at your disposal. These will help you find great keywords to rank for, while also displaying useful metrics like search volume and competition.
One such tool is KWFinder. It’s a free keyword research app that gives you a free searches per day with the free version.
Enter a search term on the homepage to begin.
On the following page, KWFinder displays related keyword ideas, difficult scores, trends, and other useful data.
It’s ideal to target several different search phrases in every SEO article that you write. This allows you to attract more traffic, and increases your chances to rank for increased amounts of keywords.
If you don’t rank within the first few results for one, you may be the top result for another. It’s also wise to target a blend of low, medium, and high competition keywords.
Less competition means that you will have an easier time ranking, but you still have the potential to gain massive traffic with the bigger terms over time.
You should repeat this process every time you are producing content, so you have a fresh list of phrases to target. This brings me to my next point.
Step 2: Place keywords in the correct spots
Back in the early days of SEO, the search engines were like the wild wild west.
Everyone was out for themselves, and shady tactics worked extremely well.
You could fill up your content with keywords in a spam-like unnatural manner, and soar to the top of the SERPs.
It’s not like that anymore.
Marketers need to place keywords naturally and in very specific places for search engine spiders to find. Here’s how.
Title and URL
The first place you need to put keywords is within the title and URL of your article.
Look at this piece from Ahrefs, the phrase “How to Get Backlinks” is the title of the article, but also neatly placed into the URL.
This is as simple as mixing in a keyword when you are creating the title to your blog post, and editing the URL. Platforms like WordPress make this process easy as 1, 2, 3.
The meta description is the a blurb under a search result on Google and other engines.
It’s used as a way to describe what the content is about before a user clicks through, and needs to be strategically written.
Meta descriptions don’t help much with SEO in the standard regard, but they do thanks to two things…
Firstly, when you place a keyword in the meta description, it becomes bold. This can help attract more clicks, which secondly helps boost rankings thanks to the Rankbrain algorithm released a few years ago.
Rankbrain looks at user experience metrics, such as average time spent on page, bounce rate, click through rate, and more.
I suspect that we will see Google’s algorithm weighing these factors a lot more heavily over time. For example, if your result gets more clicks and users stay for long periods of time, it tells Google that’s it’s a useful resource and should stay on the front page.
Body and headers
Obviously you will need to place search terms throughout the body of your article and within header tags like H1, H2, and H3. However, only use keywords a couple of teams each at absolutely maximum.
Otherwise, you will be seen as stuffing. And no, I’m not talking about a Thanks Giving turkey.
Keyword stuffing is what used to work, and involved filling up content with search terms as a spray-and-pray tactic.
Use keywords naturally in articles, and only when they make genuine sense.
File name and alt text
Lastly, keywords need to be used as file name and for alt text.
If you ever upload any media to your blog, take the two seconds to rename files as keyword you’re using.
Ensure that images also have rich alt text, as this helps visually impaired users understand what the images are. Alternatively, alt text appears when images don’t load.
If you right click an image in Google Chrome, you can read its alt text, for example.
On-page SEO is super simple, and there’s a few more things you need to learn besides keyword placement to master the art of SEO writing. Keep reading.
Step 3: Achieve a high word count
Short form content is out. Long form content is in.
Longer form content is all of the rage right now because it packs more value, information, and resources.
You rank for more keywords, and long form content tends to receive more social shares.
If people share content, it can create a viral effect where it reaches more and more people like a snowball.
But, how long should content be? This is a heavily debated question, and there’s no easy answer.
There are websites that have practically no word count, just images and visual resources, yet they rank on the first position of Google.
News and weather sites have notoriously short content, as well, yet they do great in the SERPs.
It’s mostly based on the individual niche your business is in, but most sectors will find that longer content delivers better performance.
Searchmetrics performed a study that concluded the average word count per page based on various industries. Here are the results.
Financial planning came in at slightly above 2,500 words, with cars and weight loss not far behind at roughly 2,200.
It’s not uncommon to see content in the excess of 3,000 to 4,000 words, either.
The amount of competition you face will also determine how many words you should write. If there is less competition, you could away with short form content, but it most likely won’t perform well against lots of competitors.
Step 4: Format for readability
Remember what I said about Rankbrain earlier? Google is looking at UX metrics to determine if your content is useful or not, which means formatting is high priority for marketers.
If your article is formatted properly, users will stay on the page longer and signals to search engines that it’s useful.
How do you do this? Quite simply, actually.
Begin by separating all of the major points and sub-points of your blog post with header tags. H1, H2, and H3 are often enough. H4 can be used if you need to really niche down ideas.
Secondly, take advantage of bullet points and lists to quickly summarize information or steps.
Short sentences and paragraphs are also ideal, as it makes reading easier and less daunting versus large blocks of text.
Learning how to write for SEO takes some skill and practice, but you can grasp the fundamentals in a day.
It begins with proper keyword research, which acts as the base of your on-page SEO. Remember that search phrases come in three forms: transaction, information, and navigation.
Target a few search terms per piece of content, and place them in the title, URL, body, headers, file names, and alt text of images. Ensure that they are used naturally, as well.
While you can get away with shorter content at times, you should opt for a higher word count for a few reasons. It helps you rank for more keywords, beat the competition, and creates a linkable asset.
It’s also crucial for marketers to format content to make it as digestible as possible.
Doing all of these things will result in the perfect piece of SEO content that drives traffic and attracts customers.