Writing content for SEO: it’s the holy grail of online copywriting.
While the purpose of content is to be helpful and useful for readers, it also needs to appear in search engines, and writing online content with a focus on SEO is the best way to do this.
Like all types of online writing, however, learning how to write content for SEO is a skill that you must learn.
With this in mind, let’s dive into how to write content for SEO, and what proactive steps you can take to make your online content visible, relevant, and interesting – for search engines and people, in a new mini guide in my #howtowrite series.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. By making online content easy for the crawlers of search engines like Google to understand, good SEO principals help written material rank more efficiently. They can even make it easier for readers to find your written material online!
There are two different segments of SEO: technical SEO and on-page SEO. While technical SEO refers to the links, structure, and code of a website, on-page SEO is the keyword inclusion, length, outbound links, images, and style of a post – all of which help Google “read” it and rank it accordingly.
Both technical and on-page SEO are methods of optimizing content and getting it to rank in a favorable manner. Common SEO tactics involve keyword research and inclusion, image optimization, link building, and content formatting.
Want more on the subject of “how to write?” I wrote a book, So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Writing, all about it!
How to Create Content That Supports Good SEO: 7 Formatting & Structure Tips
Today, good SEO and good content go hand-in-hand. If your content is poorly formatted, improperly structured, or carelessly thrown together, it’s going to be difficult to shape it into something that supports effective SEO. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you correctly develop all of your blog posts, starting now:
1. Structure the content in your head before you write it.
While nobody is saying you need to sit down and create a “brain map” of your various ideas, content that supports good SEO is the opposite of an impressionist painting. Instead of being random and sudden, it is methodical and categorical. Because of this, brainstorming content is a powerful way to ensure that you’re including all of your main points and topics, and that you can use the content to input links, keywords, and other important SEO elements.
To this end, think about all of your content, with these questions, before you write it:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Which keywords will you include?
- What’s the overall point of your material?
- What do you want the content to communicate?
- By thinking through the course and structure of your content clearly, it’s easier to publish great content that lends itself nicely to SEO.
2. Structure your content for easy readability & long-tail keywords.
Great blog posts rely on great structure, and good SEO does, too. With this in mind, consider mapping or outlining your blog posts before you write them. In addition to giving you a structure to abide by, this simple task will also help you lay out your introduction, body, and conclusion, and ensure that your content is easy to read, which, in turn, makes it more reader- and search engine-friendly.
Long-tail keywords are your best friends in terms of optimizing for keywords that won’t break the bank (take too long or too much $). Read my guide here for more on how to go after long-tail keywords, including which tools to use.
3. Format all of your content into short chunks.
A large brick of text is intimidating to readers, and it will push people away. With this in mind, be sure to divide all of your content into readable chunks of text, with a beginning, middle, and end.
As a general rule, paragraphs should be only 3-4 sentences in length, and you should do your best to insert subheaders at intervals of every 300 or so words. This makes your content easier for readers to approach and helps keep it from feeling intimidating on the page. It also has the potential to improve your click-through rate, which can boost your overall SEO scores.
Look through some posts here to see examples of readable content:
4. Make your headings descriptive.
Beyond just using headings, you need to know how to make them descriptive and useful. Headlines are meant to guide readers through your blog post, and headlines that are highly descriptive and include target keywords will do the best job of this. They’ll also work as a sort of advertisement on Google’s search engine results page and, if they’re written well enough, will draw more people to your content.
5. Nail the transition.
Transition words are important to your writing, and they can go a long way toward making it smoother and easier to understand for readers. While this sounds simple, it’s important to remember that good content is the foundation of good SEO, and content your customers can’t read doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance of ranking well.
With this in mind, don’t hesitate to use transition words and phrases like “However,” “Secondly,” etc. These help your readers keep pace and will work wonders to streamline your writing.
6. Have other people proofread your posts.
While you may be an effective writer and editor, having other people read your posts will cut down on errors and improve your writing. With this in mind, hire an editor or another writer to help you look over your post before you publish them, and don’t ever make a habit out of publishing something you’ve not adequately proofread, since this is a recipe for mistakes and sloppiness, both of which can damage your rankings.
7. Make sure your articles are long enough to provide ample main content.
According to Yoast, every article you post should have at least 300 words. The reason for that is that content shorter than that doesn’t provide enough of what Google, in its updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, calls “main content.”
While it’s true that longer articles tend to perform better in the world of SEO, the main priority you have as a writer is simply to ensure that your articles provide enough main content to be useful to search engines and people.
How to Write Content for SEO: 6 Critical Tips for all of Your Content
Once you’ve learned what it takes to develop content with a favorable SEO structure, let’s talk about what it takes to actually write content for SEO.
While some bloggers overlook SEO, you simply cannot afford to take this approach, especially in light of the fact that many of the things mentioned in this article, like page load time and ample amounts of quality main page content, are things that Google has been prioritizing with recent algorithm updates.
Designed to help you rank well in search engines and enjoy a wider audience, writing content for SEO is a critical part of becoming a well-known blogger in your given field.
1. Write your page to load quickly.
While it’s not an element of on-page SEO necessarily, page load time is a huge factor in the world of SEO, and there are certain steps you can take during the writing process to streamline load times. According to Neil Patel, 40% of people abandon web page when they take more than 3 seconds to load, so it’s essential to keep load time in mind as you craft your pages.
To determine how your site does in terms of load time, use a tool like the Pingdom website speed tool. It’s super easy to use. Just plug in your URL and location.
If the results aren’t quite what you had hoped for, there are a few things you can do to alter your on-page SEO and speed load times accordingly:
- Optimize your images. Images are an important part of a good blog, and they’re critical for SEO, as well. When they’re too long, though, they can easily harm a page’s load times. With this in mind, optimize your images to load more rapidly. This involves adjusting your image sizes so that they’re not excessively large, uploading speed-friendly image formats (JPEGS are the best options), and inputting image src codes to prevent the browser from surveying the page directory in an attempt to “read” the image.
- Keep redirects at bay. Redirects can destroy your page load time, so it’s important to keep them to the bare minimum. As much as you can, avoid citing URLs in your content that redirect to other URLs. This will help enhance your load time and create a better user experience.
2. Make your headlines powerful and attention-grabbing.
The headline is a huge asset when writing content for SEO. In addition to the fact that the headline is the first thing people see, it’s also one of the primary things that Google evaluates when ranking your sites. To ensure that your headlines are performing well and drawing readers, be sure to do the following:
- Include relevant keywords. For best results, input your keyword phrase at the beginning of your headline to make it as prominent as possible.
- Keep them the correct length. Current stats say 65 characters or fewer.
- Use action words. Action words make readers want to act. When your headline asks someone to click, share, or download, they’re more likely to do just that.
- Address the reader directly. Addressing the reader directly makes your headlines more personal, and can grab a reader’s attention from the depths of the SERPs.
3. Optimize your meta description.
Meta descriptions are the small snippets of descriptive text that show up in Google’s SERPs. If you want SEO juice, you CANNOT ignore this part.
For an example, check out the meta description that appears for Express Writers in the SERPS.
While they’re easy to overlook, they’re critical for the health and wellbeing of your content’s SEO. To get the most from each meta description you write, include relevant keywords, direct your content to the reader personally, and keep it the right length (fewer than 160 characters) so that it doesn’t get truncated by Google.
While these may seem like simple steps, they’re essential to keep your meta descriptions on-point and helpful to your readers.
4. Include keywords (but not too many).
Keywords used to be all the rage in the world of SEO. Today, the buzz has quieted a bit, but they’re still an important piece of on-page SEO. With this in mind, you’ll want to include relevant keywords in all of the writing you do, but take pains to not go too far with them and “stuff” your content like a Thanksgiving turkey.
As a general rule, your keyword or keyword phrase should be included in your title, subheaders, and throughout the body copy. While keyword density is only one of Google’s more than 200 ranking factors, it’s still an important thing to pay attention to and optimize for when you set out to write content for SEO.
5. Use links to beef up your SEO strategy.
Links are a powerful tool to help improve your SEO. While internal links (links that point back to your own content) can help direct users to your other material, external links (to high DA sources with a score of 50 or above) will help communicate to Google and other search engines that your website is authoritative and relevant, and that you value quality connections to other online content.
To use links correctly, attach them to good anchor text and ensure that you’re using only the most relevant sites for your particular information.
6. Use all of the tools and resources at your disposal.
While it’s true that writing content for SEO can be tough, there are dozens of great tools and resources at your disposal. Consider using apps like the following to improve your content’s SEO and help it rank more effectively.
- Yoast SEO. A simple WordPress plugin that helps optimize WordPress posts for SEO.
- Hemingway. A simple app that helps writers simplify and clarify their content for enhanced readability.
- The AMI Headline Analyzer. A tool that analyzes headlines and determines how emotive and impactful they are.
- BuzzSumo. A powerful tool designed to help bloggers mine topics, track keywords, and located trending topics.
Conclusion: How to Write Content for SEO, Made Simple
While it’s true that writing content for SEO can be tough, these simple tips can give you the roadmap you need to make the process easier and more streamlined than ever before.
With good SEO content comes good rankings, more readers, and increased online visibility – which is great for your content and your company.
Do you need skilled SEO writers to overhaul your content? We’re your go-to experts. Contact Express Writers to speak with our team today!