Incorporating SEO into content writing is a necessary process when creating for the digital space. If your content and brand are going to reach your target audience’s radar, it will have to rank higher than the rest.
Learning SEO best practices can take some time, and with ongoing updates to search engine algorithms, the best practices keep evolving. However, the main goal of writing SEO content is simple: create relevant content for your target audience in a way that is easy to read and find.
Whether you are looking to write SEO content yourself or are in search of SEO content writing services, first understanding how to write SEO content will help you make informed decisions.
Step 1: Keyword Research
While keywords are essential to writing SEO content, it is more important that your keywords are relevant to your audience and your brand to help build brand loyalty. This is why writing SEO content begins with keyword research.
Keyword research goes deeper than identifying the keywords for which you want to rank. As Moz notes, what you want to rank for does not always align with your audience.
Writing SEO Content: Know Your Audience
Start your research by examining your audience. While you may have keywords in mind, you can’t guarantee that your audience would search the topic the same way.
With the help of a keyword research tool, you can search keywords to determine how often they’re searched as well as similar keywords and phrases that receive more traffic.
While there are paid tools for SEO content writing that offer comprehensive SEO services, there are free tools available such as Google AdWords for keyword research.
This research is crucial to ensure you use relevant keywords and phrases that would reach the largest audience. Keyword research helps you understand your target audience’s interests as well, which better informs your content.
Once you identify your keywords and phrases, you can move on to the outline.
Step 2: The Power of an Outline
The strength of your writing often depends on the strength of the outline. Sometimes disregarded as unnecessary for shorter pieces – especially if you’re not a planner – outlines are critical in ensuring content is organized, clear and effective.
They are especially important when writing SEO content.
SEO in content writing brings on additional variables you will need to consider that you otherwise wouldn’t have to worry about. Are you forgetting any keywords? Where should you use them? Subheaders? Will you be able to keep your paragraphs short?
When you create an outline, you are taking the opportunity to identify the most important points you wish to hit while taking note of the SEO details you can’t forget.
More importantly, however, creating an outline offers you a glimpse into the completed content. Outlines will expose content gaps, disorganization and other flaws that wouldn’t have made themselves known until you were farther into the writing process, saving you time when editing.
Writing SEO Content: Creating an Outline
Start creating your outline by identifying your subheaders. They should be the most important points necessary to convey the topic. Be sure to include the most important keywords in the subheaders as well.
Under each subheader, identify the keywords you wish to include in each section to avoid forgetting them later on. Then, list the supporting points for each subheader and be sure to include links to sources.
Step 3: Start Writing
SEO content looks different than traditional writing. Paragraphs are shorter, sentence structure is simpler, and there are less flowery descriptors. SEO content exists on the web and, therefore, must be optimized for it.
A 2020 Nielsen Norman Group study reaffirms that people, on average, do not read webpages but scan instead, a finding that was initially determined in 1997 and hasn’t changed since.
According to the original 1997 study, it is suggested that this might be because of several factors:
● countless web pages competing for user’s attention
● distractions of modern life cutting into time
● eye strain and fatigue from reading computer screens for too long
Writing SEO Content: Keep it Short and Sweet
To optimize your content for scanning instead of reading, keep paragraphs anywhere from 1 to 5 sentences long. White space is your friend, so don’t shy away. The more whitespace on a page, the easier it is to scan your content, which your audience will appreciate.
Apply the same principle to the number of paragraphs below a subheader. Try not to exceed five paragraphs, although there may be some wiggle room depending on how long your paragraphs are.
Bullet points are a handy space-saving tool. For large chunks of text that you can’t seem to cut down any further, try restructuring the paragraph into bullet points to create white space and increase scannability.
While there are no hard and fast rules to the number of sentences and paragraphs, use your best judgment when determining whether the piece looks over-crowded.
Step 4: Read, Edit, Repeat
Nothing will signify carelessness faster to your audience than obvious grammatical and structure errors. Because of the massive competition for attention on the web, you must catch these mistakes before posting.
When editing, make sure time has passed since you wrote the last word. If you try to edit too soon after writing, you may find yourself subconsciously replacing missing words and glossing over spelling errors.
Ideally, wait until the next day to edit, or at least a few hours before returning. Don’t forget to review it at least twice. If possible, make sure another set of eyes reviews it.
Writing SEO Content: What to Look for
Keep your eyes open for awkward sentences and transitions, inaccurate information and broken links in addition to grammar. You never want to draw your audience’s attention to the writing itself. Keep their attention on the information when possible.
When writing SEO content, always ensure that it is unique, informative and relevant. Strong content will find an audience. Be sure to give them a reason to stick around.