seo writing

SEO Writing in 2018: 6 Features of High-Ranking, High-Traffic Content

I’d bet you that SEO writing is on 99.99999% of marketers’ minds these days.

Why?

Well, in our current atmosphere of content shock, internet users are bombarded with a mountain of new SEO blogs and articles, each second.

In SEO content and ALL brand content, you must stand out on every level to get read.

On WordPress alone, over 86.4 million posts are published each month.

wordpress_posts-per-month

Whoa!

If you can’t position yourself advantageously for the search engines, you may as well throw the rest of your content marketing out the window.

And, if you can’t get people to read your content, you will chuck any potential leads and sales into the trash, too.

So, yes: SEO writing and all online content is a big deal, and we all want to know how to do it the best way.

seo writing

“What does SEO writing look like in 2018?”

Someone recently asked this great question in my group:

“I’ve done research, and I cannot seem to get a defined answer/list together. It’s about ‘SEO-Friendly’ Content/SEO Optimized Content.

One SEO Consultant told me just yesterday blog posts should be more than 1k words, another last month said it was 750+. From a separate angle, one individual said I needed to have a keyword density of 5%, the other said 10% and someone else said to only use a keyword 5 times per 500 words of text!

So, my question is to you all is this: What does SEO-friendly/optimized content look like in 2018, what does it mean to you to produce SEO Opt. content, and what are the ideal lengths of posts right now?

Thanks, Elizabeth Madison!

Lining up with what Elizabeth said, you’ll see SEO guides all over the internet telling you different things to do.

Every single marketer offers a different answer, and it’s all conflicting information.

A prime example: blog length for SEO. What’s the right amount of words to appeal to the masses?

Here are recommendations from various authority sources:

  • Yoast says you should always post blogs with more than 300 words. They also say experienced writers should shoot for over 1,000 words with every post, while less experienced scribes can stay around the 700-800 mark.

yoast_blog-length

  • Meanwhile, HubSpot focused on research that says posts with an average 7-minute read time are the biggest attention-grabbers. If the average reader goes at a pace of 300 words per minute, that means your blogs should be 2,000-2,500 words in length.

hubspot_blog-length

  • And then there’s Neil Patel, who makes post length recommendations based on industry. For instance, those in retail should aim for 1,500-1,700 words per post, while brands in finance should go for 2,100-2,500 words.

With all the conflicting posts out there with various recommendations, it’s no wonder so many marketers are scratching their heads.

What’s the right answer?

First: There Is No Perfect, Definitive SEO Strategy

It’s incorrect to assume there’s one “be-all, end-all” answer to doing SEO.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one secret formula, one so-easy-it’s-stupid hack, or even one sure-fire, fail-safe method.

If an SEO gives you what they say is the definitive answer, they’re completely ignoring a vital factor.

SEO content that’s highly-ranked and high-traffic is complex and layered. It doesn’t fit one mold.

Why isn’t there one perfect way to do SEO?

Because SEO will always look different depending on the audience you’re serving.

Your specific audience determines the keywords that will work for your content. They also determine the most successful length for your blog posts, the type of content that performs well, and how it all ties together.

Your SEO is going to look different from Joe Shmoe’s because you are not keying into the same targets.

THAT is why you can find so many different answers for SEO best practices all over the web. SEO is audience-specific!

Second: Good SEO Writing Is Written for HUMANS

So there’s no perfect SEO formula – it looks different for every individual situation, site, audience, and purpose.

Now that we have that out of the way, the second thing to remember is SEO algorithms are built to work, think, and rank the way humans would.

It’s truer than true. The ultimate goal is for algorithms to ape human logic. As they get smarter, they get closer to miming human cognition (though, thankfully, this isn’t The Matrix… yet).

the matrix

In fact, according to The Conversation, Google’s tech experts have been tapping neuroscientists to help them understand the human brain better.

They want to apply that knowledge to the search algorithm. If it can search more like a human, then it will serve user search intent better. (There’s a reason they call it “RankBrain.”)

We have to remember, ALWAYS, that Google’s purpose is to serve the end user the content they want – the stuff they want to click.

We have to align ourselves with this thinking to perform better. We have to create human-centric content.

Even though Google’s algorithm is a robot, we cannot write for the robot. We have to write for the humans the robot is trying to serve.

4 More SEO Writing Techniques That Will Help Your Content Rank Higher

Let’s reiterate:

  • There’s no perfect SEO method. Your best SEO practices must be yours: tailored to your audience’s search needs.
  • You have to write content for humans, not machines.

What other content features will not only make your people want to read it, but also help Google find it and serve it to them?

Over the years, I’ve tested and published thousands of blogs. From my experience, I’ve come to these conclusions.

You must:

1. Choose Keywords Carefully

When you find the right keyword to use, your ranking potential skyrockets.

You can’t just pick one at random, however. You have to evaluate each possible keyword and understand how it could (or couldn’t) work for you in your content.

For example, most keyword tools rate the difficulty of a keyword on a scale from 1-100. (A score of 100 basically means the keyword is impossible to rank for.) I never choose a keyword that’s rated over 40.

An example of a keyword difficulty rating in Moz Keyword Explorer. Breaking onto Google’s first page for a broad term like “content marketing” is pretty much impossible.

2. Use High-Opportunity Keywords with Potential

Your SEO writing will be a waste if you try to rank for a keyword that’s already tapped out.

“Tapped out” means somebody else has created the absolute best content piece out there for that keyword.

You have to comb through the search results and analyze the high-ranking pieces to find out if this is the case. You also have to know what awesome, definitive content looks like.

If someone has beaten you to creating AMAZING content for a keyword, move on. There’s no potential for you there. Trash that keyword and find something else.

3. Create Long-Form Content, i.e., Content That’s Thorough

Content that’s exhaustive on a topic, well thought-out, and chock-full of great information is thorough – and it’s usually long-form.

Comprehensive content ranks.

2,000 words is often the minimum length for thorough content, according to Neil Patel – though this can change a bit depending on your topic or the audience you’re serving. (Remember, the right content length for good SEO is RELATIVE, not a static, rigid metric.)

4. Add Quantifiable Value to Your SEO Writing

Adding value to your content marketing copy is a must for your human readers and SEO. Those 2K words of content are useless if you don’t add valuable, teachable insights to them.

What does value look like?

For starters, it’s not just your thoughts and opinions.

It’s data.

Data includes:

  • Facts
  • Statistics
  • Studies
  • The point of view of experts
  • Supporting information in general

Here’s an example of one of our blogs ranking in the top 3 for “blogging statistics“.

One of the main reasons it’s ranking well is because we deep-researched to find credible stats. This took weeks of work.

But that effort more than paid off. Adding that value helps content rank, and in this case, we dug deep to find relevant, useful, accurate stats and figures.

That’s quantifiable value you can point to in a post and say, “Yes, this is informative and helps/teaches/enlightens my audience.”

Here’s How to Give Your SEO Copywriting for Content Marketing Its Best Shot

At one of the most basic levels of successful content marketing, your posts and content need Google and other search engines to pick them up.

How do search engines pick up content, and how does that content start ranking?

Effective SEO writing.

The Catch-22 about effective SEO writing, though, is it’s not written for the search engine robots. Nor does it adhere to one set of rules.

It’s written for humans, and it’s audience and site-specific.

Keep these two biggies in mind when approaching your copywriting in content marketing, and the rest should fall into place with far more ease.

The end result:

You’ll be giving your content every chance it deserves to rank well and get read.

Need more insights, tips, tools, and information about how to create content marketing gold? You need my all-access course. You’ll not only learn about SEO writing, you’ll also learn how to build your content marketing strategy from the ground up, brick-by-brick. Sound good? Let’s get started together.

content strategy course cta

17 replies
  1. Tony Smith
    Tony Smith says:

    Very Strong Article as I am also making some WordPress website so I have seen in Yoast suggestion exactly you described in this blog.
    I have learned a lot and surely I’ll apply to my SEO Techniques
    Thank you

    Reply
  2. Hardeep Singh
    Hardeep Singh says:

    Hi Julia McCoy,

    The SEO writing techniques points are very useful and valuable. These article is great and the features of high ranking, high traffic content are very informative. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Kristel
      Kristel says:

      You’re welcome, Gaganjot. Thanks for visiting our blog! – Kristel, Content Specialist at Express Writers

      Reply
  3. Nick
    Nick says:

    Thanks for sharing such an informative blog. I will definitely use these techniques on my website. Keep Sharing!

    Reply
  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    Great piece! I always say that content is the most important part of the website. But I think that 4000+ words is the sweet spot for the article length. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Mary Brook
    Mary Brook says:

    Thanks for this content. It tells a lot of techniques and tips for creating articles for SEO that will help rank in search results, great content, number of words per article and right keywords that fits into your content.

    Reply
  6. Guest Posting Tips
    Guest Posting Tips says:

    Your blog has very unique information for unique topic which you have written. thanks for sharing with us good information.

    Reply
  7. Vinay
    Vinay says:

    Great article. It is very informative and helpful to all readers. Website should be user-friendly with good content so that it can make the visitors stay on a page for a long time. Keep posting such articles.The points which you have discussed in this article are very helpful to consider while doing SEO. The content should be relevant and most important it should be easy to understand by the customers and website must be user-friendly.

    Reply

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