Your company’s content writing strategy is one of the keys to its success. Your content allows you to establish authority in your niche and deliver value directly to your audience. The more valuable the content you create, the more your potential clients trust your business. And trust is a key component in your clients making buying decisions.
There’s just one problem.
Your content is only effective when people can find it. If what you write doesn’t rank well in search engines, it won’t matter how valuable the content is. Nobody will be able to find it, which means you don’t benefit from all the hard work you put into your content.
What’s the solution to this problem?
Writing content to appeal both to readers and search engine algorithms is crucial to the success of your content strategy. The stats demonstrate this too. According to a 2020 study conducted by Search Engine Journal, more than 25% of people click on the first website that appears in their search results. That number drops to 15% for the second result and a measly 2.5% for websites that appear at the bottom of the first page.
The message is simple:
You need to start writing for SEO.
With the help of this guide, you’ll learn how to do SEO writing properly so your content ranks in search engine results without coming off as unnatural.
What Is SEO Writing?
The idea behind SEO writing is simple.
It’s the process of writing content while keeping search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. SEO is the blanket term for the wide variety of processes you use to ensure your website ranks highly in search results. In addition to what you do with your content, SEO incorporates your site’s structure, metadata, images, and the entire process behind ensuring your website meets the ranking factors that search engine algorithms use.
Coming back to your content, SEO writers do much more than fill content with as many keywords as they can. SEO writing is all about achieving balance. On the one hand, you need to create relevant content that provides value to your audience. On the other, you have to focus on optimizing content so search engines can find it easily. Tip too far on one side or the other and you may not rank where you want to. Content that is all value and has no SEO isn’t findable for search engines. But over-optimized content will also rank poorly because it’s obvious that you’ve written for an algorithm instead of a person.
In short, think of SEO writing as the process you follow to write high-quality content that matches user intent and incorporates keywords that are relevant to your business.
The Top Reasons to Focus on SEO Writing
We’ve already covered the most important reason to invest in SEO writing. Optimized content ranks better in search engines than unoptimized content. Better search engine rankings lead to more people clicking on your content. If more people see what you’ve written, you make more sales.
Now, let’s break down that reasoning further. These are the top reasons your business needs to make SEO writing part of your digital marketing strategy.
Reason No. 1 – A Stronger Return on Investment
You invest in content marketing because you know it’s one of the best ways to achieve a strong return from your internet marketing efforts. In fact, content marketing delivers three times more leads on average than traditional marketing efforts, even though it costs 62% less.
SEO writing strengthens that return further because it ensures your audience can see the content you’re creating. Achieving a first-page result on Google isn’t solely about getting more clicks. Searchers trust the first results they see because they know Google’s algorithm ranks websites based on their relevance to the query. When you incorporate search engine optimization into your writing, you achieve the results that demonstrate to customers that your business is trustworthy. More trust results in higher sales, which leads to a better return on your content marketing investment.
Reason No. 2 – Less Spending on Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
So what if your content isn’t ranking in search engines? Google offers a pay-per-click (PPC) service called Google AdWords that allows you to get first-page results without incorporating SEO into your writing.
While that’s true, take a moment to think about the cost of PPC. According to online marketing tool provider WordStream, the average small business spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on Google adverts. If those adverts are on Google’s search network, they cost businesses an average of $2.32 per click. The simple fact is that Google AdWords is an expensive way to bring your content to the top of search results.
That isn’t to say that PPC shouldn’t be a part of your online marketing campaign. However, effective SEO writing allows your web page to achieve strong search engine rankings without you having to invest thousands of dollars into an ad campaign.
Reason No. 3 – Organic Search is the Primary Traffic Source for Most Web Pages
Your website has several sources of traffic. Search engine results pages are just one of those sources. You also get traffic from ads, social media, writing blog posts for other websites that contain backlinks, and many other sources.
Even so, organic traffic provides the vast majority of your traffic. According to a report created by SEO Inc., organic search accounts for 53% of all website traffic in 2022. That compares favorably to paid searches, which provide 15% of the average website’s traffic.
The most effective PPC campaign only produces less than a third of the traffic that an equally effective organic search campaign produces. An SEO copywriter can ensure that your blog post or article reaches the majority of your target audience.
Reason No. 4 – Good SEO Content Writing Improves the User Experience
Think about what the average person wants when they use a search engine. They’re typically looking for answers to a question. For example, you may have found this article by searching for a specific keyword or phrase, such as “what is SEO content?”
Search engine users expect the results returned to them to provide direct answers to their queries. By making SEO content part of your overarching SEO strategy, you ensure that the people who make search queries that are relevant to your niche find what they’re looking for.
The result is a better user experience. Visitors to your website will see that you write content that answers their questions. That means they’ll stay on your website longer and may even check out other blog posts or services. More time spent on your website is good in Google’s eyes too, as it’s a strong ranking factor. With SEO writing, you ensure your visitors can find what they’re looking for without having to search high and low for it.
Reason No. 5 – Finding Gaps in Your SEO Content Strategy
Let’s switch focus from the results SEO writing provides and instead look at the overall benefits of an SEO copywriting strategy. By adopting SEO practices into your content creation process, you do more than improve the rankings of your new content. You also give yourself a chance to spot gaps in your existing content.
For example, let’s assume you work in the real estate sector. A couple of years ago, you wrote an article providing tips for landlords on how to find the ideal tenants for their rental properties. However, you didn’t pay attention to keywords when creating the content. So, it offers valuable information but doesn’t rank well in search engines. As a result, you’re not getting the organic traffic you deserve for such a strong piece.
Having a content writer who focuses on SEO revisit that old piece can do wonders for your rankings. By incorporating a few keywords in appropriate places, an SEO content writer can revive existing content to ensure it ranks higher in search engines.
Creating SEO-Friendly Content – The Top Writing Tips
You now know why SEO writing is so important to your business. It allows your site to rank above other sites, meaning you get more organic traffic, provide a better customer experience, and make more sales.
Now, it’s time to engage in some SEO content writing. These writing tips help your SEO writer to create engaging content that ranks well in search engines.
Tip No. 1 – Start With Keyword Research
Keywords are the starting point for all SEO writing. If you don’t have relevant keywords, people won’t find your content. Note the use of the word “relevant” here. Stuffing your content full of keywords that aren’t relevant to the information you’re presenting produces results that are as poor as not including keywords at all. Follow these steps for good keyword research.
Step No. 1 – Start With a Target Keyword
Your target keyword is the main keyword that you want to rank for. In other words, it’s the keyword that you think the majority of your audience would use if they want to find the article you’ve written. In the case of this article, the target keyword is “SEO writing.”
Your target keywords are the starting point of your research. You’ll build from them to create a more comprehensive keyword list.
Step No. 2 – Create a List of Related Keywords
Once you have your primary keyword, the next step is to come up with a few semantic keyword ideas. That means creating a list of keywords that are related to your primary keyword and thus may be used by searchers to find your blog post.
The good news is that you don’t have to come up with these keyword ideas yourself. There are plenty of tools that help you generate semantic and long-tail keywords, along with handy key phrases, to incorporate into your article. Examples include the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, SurferSEO, and SEM Rush’s keyword generator.
Google analytics can also highlight some keywords that searchers have used to find your content before. You may find a few of those keywords are useful for your list.
Step No. 3 – Filter Your List for Search Intent
You have your list of keywords. However, some of those keywords aren’t going to be relevant to the article you’re creating. That means there’s little chance your target customer would ever use them to find your content.
So, you need to filter your list.
Work through the list while keeping user intent in mind. If you wouldn’t use one of your keywords to find your article, it’s unlikely your audience would either. Cut any keywords that don’t make sense or would be difficult to incorporate naturally into your content.
Tip No. 2 – Get the Meta Description and Title Tag Right
Every web page has a meta description and title tag. These two pieces of meta data are vital to the success of your SEO content.
They’re the first two things that search engines see.
Before an algorithm even looks at your content, it will check its meta description and title tag to see what it can expect to find on the page. If you’re writing for SEO, you need to ensure your meta descriptions and tags are directly relevant to your content.
That’s not all.
Run a search for any keyword in Google and check the results. Every result displays the webpage’s title and meta description. By writing your own meta data, you can control what search engines display when they’re showing your webpage to their users.
Thankfully, writing both is fairly simple. Keep your page title to 60 characters or below and your meta descriptions to a maximum of 160 characters. For both, aim to include your main keyword at least once in a way that reads naturally.
Tip No. 3 – Write for Your Readers
An article that is jam-packed with keywords isn’t going to help your readers. Remember the importance of search intent. The user is searching for an answer to a question. Your content has to provide that answer without forcing the reader to wade through paragraphs full of keywords that make no sense.
Natural writing is the key. Keyword usage doesn’t matter if you’re not producing high-quality content.
If a keyword doesn’t fit into the content, don’t include it.
Forcing keywords where they don’t belong so you can get better search engine results is called keyword stuffing. We’ll explain why that’s so damaging later in the article.
Tip No. 4 – Focus on Structure
Perhaps you’re struggling to slot some specific keywords into your writing.
Sometimes, a keyword that you want to use won’t feel natural when incorporated into the passages you’ve already written. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it. Sometimes, you can incorporate the keywords you’re finding difficult to use into your content via clever structuring.
For example, you may have a list of products or services that you want to rank for.
Instead of writing a cumbersome paragraph that tries to include all of those services, create a bullet-point list. Better yet, link each item on that list to another one of your pages. These internal links keep people moving through your website.
What if the keywords don’t work as bullet points?
They may fit better in your headers or subheadings instead. Sometimes, you can slot a seed keyword into a short heading, which you then expand upon in your content.
Tip No. 5 – Use Internal Links
We mentioned internal linking earlier, which is a concept that’s worth expanding on.
An internal link is a hyperlink that leads the reader away from your blog post and toward another page on your website. They differ from external links because they keep the reader on your site.
Internal links benefit your SEO content in several ways:
- By linking to other content, you keep people on your website for longer. The length of time visitors spend on your website is one of the most important ranking factors in most search engines. More time leads to a better ranking on a search engine results page.
- These links allow you to spread strength throughout your website. For example, let’s say you have a blog post that’s performing well in search results. Linking from that post to a second post strengthens the performance of the second post in search engine results. You can use this tactic by linking existing content to a new article, thus giving them a little boost.
- Internal linking strengthens your website’s internal architecture, which makes it easier for search engines to discover every page your site has to offer. More found pages lead to more results that may display for a user’s search.
Tip No. 6 – Try to Include Answers for Featured Snippets
Have you written a question in Google only to find the first search result provides a direct answer to the question, rather than the standard webpage listing?
That answer is a featured snippet.
Google’s featured snippets give users quick and easy answers to the questions they enter. You can use them to your advantage by creating content that’s suitable for these snippets, which establishes your website as the authority on the subject in question.
How do you do that?
First, think of the key question that somebody wants to answer when they’re looking for your article.
Second, provide a succinct answer to that question within the body of the content you’re writing. Try to keep the answer below three lines. If you write a longer answer, it’s no longer a snippet.
Tip No. 7 – Link to High-Authority Websites
It may seem like a bad idea to link to external websites. After all, we’ve already highlighted that the amount of time somebody spends on your website is one of the strongest ranking factors in the Google algorithm.
So, why would you direct people away from your website?
Linking to external websites shows the Google algorithm that you’ve done your research for the piece you’re writing. If those external websites also enjoy strong search results, you’re showing both readers and search engines that you’ve gotten any data you’ve used from authoritative websites.
That’s a good thing in SEO writing.
Using trustworthy sources means your content likely provides honest and correct answers to your visitors’ queries. Most search engines take this into account when determining your ranking.
The Key Mistakes to Avoid With SEO Writing
Now you know what you need to do to write SEO-optimized copy, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin.
What shouldn’t you do?
Making the mistakes in this list lead to lower rankings and make your copy less effective in the eyes of your visitors.
Mistake No. 1 – Keyword Stuffing
We touched on keyword stuffing earlier. This is the act of loading your content with so many keywords that it appears unnatural. That’s a problem because unnatural content leads to people leaving your website, which is bad in the eyes of any search engine.
However, keyword stuffing can lead to another problem:
Google’s Panda algorithm was introduced in 2011 to combat issues related to spam. Stuffing lots of the same keywords into content falls under the spam category. If you do it, Google may penalize your page by removing it from the rankings until you fix the problem.
Mistake No. 2 – Not Optimizing Your Videos and Images
You may use videos and images to enhance your SEO writing.
That’s a good idea because images help to break up your content and keep readers engaged. The problem comes if you don’t optimize your visual elements.
For example, you may use high-quality images that are several megabytes large. Having a number of those images can slow down your page loading speed, which can lead to people bouncing away from your content. In fact, almost half of internet users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Then, you have to consider alt tags.
An alt tag is a small snippet of text that you attach to each image you upload into a piece of content. Alt tags allow visually impaired people to use screen-to-voice reading devices to find out what the image is showing them. From an SEO perspective, search engine algorithms use alt tags for the same reason. That means these tags are great places to insert some of your keywords if it makes sense to do so.
If you’re not using alt tags for images, your content is less accessible than it should be, as well as being unoptimized.
Mistake No. 3 – Duplicating Content
One of the best ways to figure out what your target audience is looking for is to check out other sites and their content. They can give you clues about the type of topics your SEO copywriter needs to create content about.
However, there’s a big difference between using other people’s ideas for inspiration and simply using other people’s ideas.
Duplicating content is a major problem when it comes to your rankings. Again, it comes down to the Panda penalties we mentioned earlier. If you copy content from another website, Google is going to punish you by removing you from its rankings.
The duplicate content mistake extends to your own content too.
For example, let’s say you have a property management business that assists landlords in seven towns. You might create a separate page for each town, which would allow you to target location-based keywords. That’s not a bad idea. What is a bad idea is if you use the same content across all seven town pages, with the only difference being the keywords you use.
That’s duplicate content.
It’s also an obvious attempt to get higher rankings, which search engine algorithms will usually catch and punish you for.
Mistake No. 4 – Letting Google Handle Your Title Tags
Your title tags offer you great opportunities to tell Google what your content is about. They also give you somewhere to place an appropriate keyword.
Yet, many people forget about them in their SEO copywriting.
Worse yet, some people allow their content management systems to create automated tags. This saves the SEO copywriter a little time. But it also leads to the creation of tags that are based on the headings you use in your content.
That may not always be a problem.
If your main headline uses a keyword directly or asks a question that your users want an answer to, your automated title tag might work. The problems occur if the tag ends up being over 60 characters or if it doesn’t incorporate keywords that match the search intent of potential visitors.
Don’t rely on automation to write titles for you.
Create Your First Optimized Piece
There’s so much more to SEO writing than picking a topic and writing content about it. That content needs to offer value to the reader, in addition to being optimized so that it appeals to Google, Bing, and the other major search engines.
The advice shared in this guide helps you to create optimized content that incorporates keywords and leads to higher rankings. Doing better in organic search results in more people finding your content. More people landing on your website means more engagement and, ultimately, higher sales. As long as you avoid the key mistakes of SEO writing, which generally involve missing out on important details or going overboard with keywords, you can create pieces that rank well and get more hits.