They say that SEO writing is hard.
They say there’s too much to learn.
That, unless you really dedicate yourself, you’ll never make it.
Plus, Google changes their algorithms so often that you’ll have to relearn everything anyhow, right?
The truth is, the fundamentals of good SEO writing do not change. What it takes to write engaging copy that reaches your real readers and SEO rankings is completely learnable.
And, while you’ll certainly need to put in the time and work to succeed, becoming an SEO writing superstar isn’t out of reach, especially if you’re already some kind of writing-slash-tech nerd.
We’ve put together a list of 20 tips to help.
Need advanced SEO writing help? Check out my course, The Expert SEO Content Writer!
1. Keep Your Content Audience-Centric
This is something that I talk about over and over again throughout my blog posts. And for good reason.
Because if you’re not creating audience-centric content, it will be near impossible to become an SEO writing superstar.
But, what exactly is audience-centric content? This visual provides a solid representation of what it is and isn’t:
Hopefully you already have a pretty good idea of who your target audience is and what type of content they want.
If you don’t, I strongly encourage you to develop a target persona so you can better identify and reach your audience.
Takeaway: Identify your audience and ALWAYS create audience-centric content catered to what they want to hear about.
2. Target Long Tail Keywords
Keywords obviously play a pivotal role in SEO success. But, as more and more content is being created, it’s becoming almost impossible to rank for common, one-word keywords.
Fortunately, as long as you’re creating great content, there are still plenty of long-tail keywords that you can target and rank for.
Want to know the best part? Long-tail keywords significantly outperform other keywords when it comes to conversion rates.
As you begin performing keyword research for content, work to identify long-tail keywords that support the topics that your audience wants to hear about.
I teach step-by-step keyword research and SEO writing optimization in The Expert SEO Content Writer Course.
While there are dozens of strategies you can use to find them, the below resources should give you a solid head start:
Takeaway: Build your content around long-tail keywords that offer less competition and higher conversion rates.
3. Stick With Long Form
In the world of SEO writing, quality trumps quantity.
For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you stick with long form for most, if not all, of the articles you produce for your blog.
Why? Well, the statistics show us why.
Take a look at this study from serpIQ outlining the average content length of top ten results in Google:
As you can see, the longer the content is, the better it performs in SERPs.
And while we are recommending long form content, that doesn’t mean that you can just stuff your articles with fluff and expect strong results.
You still need to create great content that’s well researched, well written, and that follows SEO best practices.
In the end, when you’re making the decision to commit to long form, you’re also making the decision to commit to quality throughout.
Takeaway: For best results in search engines, commit to producing well-researched long form articles.
4. Make a Plan
As Benjamin Franklin once said:
“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
And while Franklin probably wasn’t talking about SEO writing when he said this, it certainly holds true with content creation.
Planning in content creation essentially comes down to doing proper research and putting together a strong outline.
And while that may sound time consuming, it doesn’t have to be.
For a great resource on how to do this, check out CoSchedule’s post outlining the 10-Minute, 10-Step Solution for the Best Blog Outline.
Not only does their article lay out everything you need to create an outline, but it also shows you how to do it in the most efficient way possible.
Takeaway: Develop an efficient process for creating strong outlines.
5. Get Good at Research
To become truly great at SEO writing, you need to get good at research.
Gary Bencivenga, a legendary copywriter with over 40 years experience, said that understanding the importance of research changed his career.
As he went on to say:
“It took me a while to realize that the best writers are the most tenacious researchers. Like miners, they dig, drill, dynamite, and chip until they have carloads of valuable ore. John Caples advised me once to gather seven times more interesting information than I could possibly use.”
While I’m not advising that you spend ten hours researching for your next blog post, gathering as much information as possible is going to put you in the optimal position to create the best available content on your topic.
And, if you’re looking to become an SEO writing superstar, that should be your goal.
While searching via Google has made research a fairly fast and pain-free process, here’s a few other resources that could help:
- Google Scholar
- Books on the Topic
- Expert Interviews
- Industry Specific Magazines
Takeaway: Commit to consistently developing your research skills and understand that research is key to any great piece of content.
6. Study the Competition
As I mentioned in the last section, if you want to become an SEO writing superstar, your goal should be to create the best piece of content available on the topic you’re writing about.
To do that, you have study the competition and find out what’s already out there.
Fortunately, Google makes this process easy. Let’s say, for example, that I wanted to create a blog post about ‘how to create an about page’.
When I type that into Google, the results look like this:
From here, I’ll sift through and take notes on each article on the first page of the rankings to identify where and how I can outdo them.
Sometimes, when I really want to dive into the competition, I’ll also check out some of the content on the 2nd and 3rd page of search results.
Exactly how you go about this process isn’t important.
What is important, however, is that you take the time to understand what you’re up against so you can devise a plan to create a better piece of content.
Takeaway: Study the competition to understand how you can create better content than what’s already out there.
7. Consider Promotion Strategies Before Writing
There’s a TON of content being created and published on a daily basis throughout the web.
Unsurprisingly, most of it goes unnoticed.
The overwhelming reason for this is because many writers either avoid considering promotion strategies prior to writing or avoid promotion altogether.
This is a HUGE mistake. How you will promote and generate traffic to your content needs to be top of mind before, during, and after you write.
For SEO purposes, your promotional goal should be to earn as many high quality links as possible.
My article outlining the 4 Strategies to Earn Natural, High-Quality Links for Your Content should give you a good headstart on how to do that.
For more resources on content promotion, check out:
Takeaway: Find out how you’re going to promote and distribute your content prior to writing it.
8. Write to and for Real People
Even though we’re talking about SEO writing, your main focus still needs to be on writing content that engages your readers.
Because, at the end of the day, if your content isn’t getting read, your chances of ranking are slim to none.
Well-respected copywriter Henneke Duistermaat put together a great post on How to Write Conversationally that offers some great info on how to do this. You’d be wise to check it out.
Takeaway: Write in a conversational tone that engages your readers.
9. Develop a Compelling Intro
Other than your headline, the intro is the most important part of your content.
After all, as copywriter Hassan Ud-deen says:
“If your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call-to-action.”
The trick here, as Hassan advises, is to keep the opening sentences short and sweet.
By making them short and easy to read, you’re able to fuel the curiosity of the reader and lower the barrier of entry for them to read on.
From there, you can continue to build their curiosity and interest in a way that compels them to read the rest of your copy.
Takeaway: Use short, compelling sentences in your intro to build the curiosity of readers and coax them to read on.
10. Differentiate Yourself
That’s the number of blog posts created and published every day. And it’s a number that will only continue to rise.
And while we’ve already talked about the importance of promotion, you still need to find a way to separate yourself from the crowd.
To do it, you’ve got to develop a Content Differentiation Factor (CDF), which I talk more about in this guide.
Your CDF answers the question of why someone should read your content over a competitor.
It tells the story of your unique, standout perspective that makes you someone that needs to be heard.
For more on how to develop your CDF, check out my Search Engine Journal article outlining 3 Ways to Make Your Content Stand Out.
Takeaway: Identify your Content Differentiation Factor and use it to stand out from the competition.
11. Make Sure Your Content Serves a Clear Purpose
In conversion copywriting, there’s a principle known as the One Big Idea Rule that is used by many of the best copywriters in the industry.
Essentially, the rule states that the focus of your copy should remain on a singular idea instead of several different ideas.
The same should be true of your content.
When you create blog posts that try to solve multiple problems or dive into 2-3 topics, you’re opening yourself up to potentially confusing or alienating your audience.
By sticking to One Big Idea, you’re ensuring that your content has a singular purpose and keeps your readers engaged throughout.
Takeaway: Identify the singular purpose of your content and don’t stray away from it.
12. Use Short Sentences and Paragraphs
While we’ve already talked about the importance of being short and sweet in your intro, it’s a strategy that you’d be wise to stick to throughout your content.
Modern day readers are inundated with so much content today that many of us have become avid skimmers instead of concentrated readers.
By keeping sentences and paragraphs short, you’re increasing the chances that a larger portion of your audience will read the entire post.
For instance, take a look at these two examples:
Which one are you more likely to continue reading?
If you’re like most people, it’s going to be the Example B.
Takeaway: Keep sentences and paragraphs short throughout your content to keep readers engaged.
13. Avoid Big or Uncommon Words
One of the biggest misconceptions about SEO writing is that you need to be an elite wordsmith to be good at it.
That’s simply not true.
SEO writing is not the time to show off your vocabulary. All that does is interrupt the reader.
Instead, your focus should be on creating a rhythm throughout your content so it’s as easy to read as possible.
A great tool for testing the readability of your content is Readable.io.
Not only does it give you a rating, but it also dives into reading grade level, syllable use, keyword use, tone, etc.
Takeaway: Write with rhythm and avoid any words that could interrupt the reader.
14. Include Relevant Visuals
While high value, audience-centric content still reigns supreme, visuals play an integral role in modern day blogging.
In fact, studies have shown that articles containing images get 94% more total views than those that don’t.
When you also consider the fact that 65% of the population are visual learners, that’s a pretty strong case for why images should be included in your content.
But how often should you include images?
While there’s no concrete rule, many content marketing experts, such as Neil Patel, recommend that you do so every 150-300 words.
For more info on what types of visuals to include, check out KissMetric’s article on the 6 Types of Visual Content You Need to Use in Your Marketing Campaigns.
Takeaway: Find and use relevant visuals throughout your content.
15. Follow Basic SEO Rules
While the relevancy of technical SEO is decreasing due to the ongoing improvements to search engine algorithms, many aspects of SEO still remain important.
In a recent study by SEMrush on ranking factors in 2017, they listed the factors from least important to most important. The results looked like this:
As you can see, many of the most important factors (direct website visits, time on site, bounce rate, content length) are more related to the actual quality of the content than the SEO rules followed.
And while keywords are still important, as they signal to search engines what your content is about, this study proves that you don’t need to stuff your content with keywords to rank.
For more info on following basic SEO rules and creating great content for search engines, check out my article on How to Write Content for SEO.
If you’d like to dive into this topic even further, Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is another great resource.
Takeaway: Ranking in search engines is more about creating great content than following SEO rules. By following basic rules, however, you set yourself up to be found by search engines for the keywords and topics that you want to rank for.
16. Optimize Your Headline
It’s been said many times that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read your content.
Regardless of whether this statistic is true, the importance of headlines cannot be overstated.
You NEED to take the time to craft a compelling headline that intrigues the visitor to read the first sentence of your content.
Since this topic is a bit too important and in-depth to cover within this article, I invite you to check out our ultimate guide on How to Create Headlines That Will Go Viral.
Takeaway: If you don’t optimize your headline, you’re significantly decreasing the chances of your content getting read.
17. Build Your Email List
When someone comes to your blog, what do you want them to do?
If you’re like most website owners, you want them to stay on your site as long as possible and continue reading other content.
But that’s not exactly realistic. Especially if this is the first time they’ve ever been on your site.
To keep them coming back to your site, it’s absolutely crucial that you develop a plan to get them to sign up for your email list.
By doing so, you can build an audience that consistently visits your website and views your content.
And, over time, that audience can become a major source of revenue.
For more info on building your email list, Content Marketing Institute’s ultimate guide on How to Build Your Email List is a tremendous resource.
Takeaway: Start building your email list from day one and use it as a way to build loyalty among your audience.
18. Include Internal and External Links
Including a healthy mix of internal and external links helps your blog in multiple ways.
For one, internal links allow readers to explore other aspects of your site. This, in turn, keeps them on your site and reduces your bounce rate (which affects search rankings).
Second, external links help validate your content to readers while also signaling to search engines that your content is high quality.
With both types of links, it’s important that you’re including your links within relevant words or phrases.
For instance, if I wanted to link to a resource explaining what external links are, and I wrote the sentence:
“Writers use external links to provide the source of their content while also offering additional resources for the reader.”
My link would only be used within the phrase ‘external links,’ and not the entire sentence or a long string of words.
When including an external link, you’ll want to be sure that it is a trusted resource. To find this out, check out the Domain Authority (DA) of the link you’re sending readers to.
Moz has a tool, aptly named the Mozbar, which allows you to quickly and easily check the DA of potential links.
Takeaway: Be sure that you’re including a healthy mix of internal and external links within your content.
19. Make it Mobile Friendly
If you didn’t know yet, mobile internet usage recently surpassed desktop internet usage worldwide.
And, as you can see from the graphic below, the trend is continuing to favor mobile viewing:
What this means for website owners is that, as time goes on, most of their views will likely be coming from mobile devices.
So, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you’re going to lose out on a whole lot of potential viewers.
And, not only will this affect traffic, but you may also have to deal with search ranking penalties as Google updates their mobile-friendly algorithms.
To find out whether or not your site is optimized for mobile devices, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Takeaway: Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly to maximize potential traffic.
20. Utilize Call-to-Actions
When someone is reading your content, you obviously don’t want them to simply read it, exit the page, and move on with their day.
As we’ve already mentioned, the ultimate goal is to get them to come back for more in the future or, in the perfect world, get them to take action immediately.
To make this happen, it’s essential that you include call-to-actions in your content.
The purpose of your CTA should be related to the goal of your content. If you’re trying to educate the reader, use your CTA to get them to sign up for your email list for more educational articles.
If you’re trying to inform them about your service, product, event, etc., use your CTA to encourage them to continue learning more.
While you’ll definitely want to include a CTA at the end of your article, it’s also good practice to sprinkle them throughout your content.
CrazyEgg’s blog post outlining 21 Call to Action Examples and 3 Rules for Effective CTAs is a great resource to learn more about how to do this effectively.
Use These Tips to Become an SEO Writing Superstar
At this point, you have everything you need to get started.
Now it’s your turn.
Make the decision that you’re not going to settle for average and climb to the top of the SEO writing world.
Look forward to hearing about your journey!