Search engine optimization (SEO) writing is quite different from traditional ad copywriting. SEO ensures that written and visual content is easily found on major search engines. Sure, headlines and calls to action (CTA) are still important, but quite a lot is based on keywords. To rank on Google, a website must answer user queries in relevant ways, and once they are found, they must be easy to use and understand.
Effective SEO Writing
Ahrefs.com compares effective SEO writing to cooking: “sprinkling on some SEO” after a piece is written is not as successful a strategy as baking the SEO into the writing process from the beginning. Much of the content out there is never even seen because it does not have optimized headers, researched keywords and high-quality content that aligns with user intent.
User clickthrough rates for websites that land in the first position on the search engine results pages (SERP) is 25%. This drops down to 15% for the second spot and continues to decline that farther you go down the page and subsequent pages. In other words, unless your content gets onto page one, you have little to no chance of achieving your goals.
SEO Tips for Successful Content Writing
One great way to increase your rank on Google starts with headers. Google users web crawlers that skim blogs and seek out overviews. The main header is the H1, followed by H2s, H3s and even H4s for subtopics. These should include high-intent keywords and reflect the content that is in the body. According to Yext, high-intent keywords relate to terms that consumers use when they are planning to take certain business actions, such as making purchases.
Savvy content writers put themselves in the consumer’s shoes and use the keywords they might use when entering their queries into the search bar. So, if target audience is consumers who are looking for a pair of sneakers, the writer might string together words like “How can I find,” “sneakers,” “comfortable” and “high-performance.” It is important to keep the buyer’s interest, motivation, persona and any challenges in mind; write about topics that will address their pain points and resonate with them. A pain point is a specific need or problem that prospective customers have like an inability to find sneakers that don’t pinch their feet.
Meta descriptions are also vital to SEO success – these summarize the page’s contents for search engines and users. These are one to three sentences long, and are found beneath the title of search results. Content management systems usually have meta description boxes built right in, so you can enter the content there and keep it short and compelling with one to two keywords.
More SEO Writing Tips
HubSpot describes featured snippets, which are answer boxes with selected content shown on the top of Google’s SERP pages, below the paid ads. Pages that earn these positions are often how to pieces, along with bulleted lists and those with sentences that start with actionable verbs like “select,” “click” and content like “to make an apple cake, use the following ingredients.”
Images can be optimized by adding alt text. This important feature describes the photo and helps search engines understand why the photo is part of a post. In print, this is called a photo captioning, but in digital marketing, the sentence needs to include a main keyword. According to MOZ, external links also help content rank on Google. However, the sources have to be reputable and influential; statistics are a great way to foster trust with your readers. Furthermore, include links to your own website to keep readers there longer; ensure that all links flow naturally within the content.
SEO Writing: Keywords
Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends help marketers find the keywords that are the most relevant to their business. Remember, the most obvious keywords may not be the best to use, and trends change over time. Taking the time to do this research is essential for optimizing SEO content – this should be done often in order to maintain the right focus.
Back to the sprinkling vs. baking: Keywords should fit into the content naturally and must not look forced. Some writers tend to oversaturate their content with too many keywords, so it looks obvious to the users that the writer was trying to sell something. Do not wait until the piece is written to add keywords; keep them in mind throughout.
Trends for posting lengths also change, and for 2021, Google prefers longer, detailed posts that delve into their subjects. The ideal length is between 2,100 to 2,400 words, although this can be a lot for readers to digest (and is harder to write!). This long-form content can be broken down into smaller, more scannable parts with headers, images, infographics and videos. Bullet points are another good inclusion. With that in mind here are few more SEO tips:
Title blog posts for SEO by including offers in titles, adding teasers and incorporating numbers into them
Make your blog posts more linkable by incorporating high-value assets like thought leadership
Compress images to make pages load faster
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