There’s both a science and an art to writing for search engine optimization. SEO writing used to mean just stuffing as many keywords as possible into your website or blog post and waiting for the results to roll in. But as search engines like Google and Bing have gotten smarter, SEO writing has evolved as well.
What is SEO Writing?
SEO writing is the art of writing content – web pages, blog posts, or landing pages – that contains phrases or keywords search engine users are searching for frequently. You want to use targeted, specific keywords to help search engines find and rank the webpages.
But since search engines have gotten smarter, they’re also trying to send their users to sites that offer relevant and helpful information. That means they’re looking at data like how long users spend on your page once they get there. If they leave quickly because they don’t find what they need, you’ll have a high bounce rate and your ranking in search results will fall.
How to Write for SEO
Writing for SEO might look like it involves a lot of steps. But creating content that ranks in Google and other search engines isn’t too complicated if you’re familiar with the core concepts of search engine optimization and committed to creating quality content for your audience.
SEO writing begins with the basics of search engine optimization. You need to perform keyword research for the topic where you want to create content. Look for keywords in Google’s Keyword Tool or use a paid tool like SEMrush to find keywords that have high search volume and low keyword difficulty (a measure of how much competition there is for that keyword).
Once you have your targeted keyword set, look for a few related keywords to use in your piece of content as well. This helps boost your ranking a bit and helps you avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing. Keep track of your keywords in a spreadsheet so you don’t forget your content strategy.
Now it’s time to start drafting your content! Remember, you’re not just writing this for search engine bots. You need to make your content engaging for your reader so they stay on your page longer. Write conversationally, in a tone that’s appropriate for your business. Tell a story in your content to keep the narrative compelling.
Your content should always be long enough to give an in-depth view of the topic. If your posts are too short, users won’t find enough of the information they want and they will leave the page. Ideal content length does vary by topic, but you will usually want to aim for at least 1,000 words. Avoid putting too much filler content into your articles just to make them longer – instead, see if you can add more information your users want to find.
And make sure you’re providing the information your audience is looking for when they’re searching for your target keyword. If your target keyword is “how to make pizza” and you write a lovely narrative but don’t tell your readers how to actually make a pizza, they will be left frustrated (and hungry for pizza).
Where to Use Your Keywords
In writing for SEO, you want to balance using your keywords enough without stuffing them into your pieces of content. That looks spammy and will earn you a Google penalty. The most important places to use your keyword are:
- The title and subtitles – and make sure your page titles use the H1 title tags so Google will recognize it as the title.
- The meta description – this is the few lines that pop up on search engines after your page title. It should contain your keyword but also entice the search audience to click and read further.
- Within the text itself – sprinkle your target keyword throughout your content too. This should come somewhat naturally if you’re writing properly about the topic.
- In image captions and alt text – photos and images add visual flair to any type of content. At least one caption should use your keyword, and don’t forget to fill in the alt text of images too.
Take Your SEO Writing to the Next Level
Now that you know the basics of becoming an SEO writer and creating your first piece of SEO content, let’s get a little more advanced.
Write on Evergreen Topics
Many of your target keywords will be trending or only applicable part of the year. “Grilled pizza” searches spike in the summer, and pizza trends come and go. And writing about these trends can be great for your search engine rankings if you’re using the trends to capture a curious audience.
But you shouldn’t follow the trends all the time. Trends are tricky to predict and it’s in their nature to eventually fade out. You should also be writing about evergreen topics – topics that don’t alter over time and that pull a lot of people to your website consistently. “Making the best pizza” is always relevant to a pizza-focused audience. Ensure you have a balance between following the trends and creating content without a shelf life.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Google (and other search engines) don’t like duplicate content. It can cause your page to be omitted from the search rankings because the search engine doesn’t want to show the same content twice. While it may seem tempting to copy and paste when you’re writing on the same topic time after time, don’t do it. All your effort in the rest of the blog post or article will be wasted because no one will be able to find your content. Always write originally and the search engine traffic will follow.
Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Your individual pieces of content are important for getting search engine traffic. But your SEO writing will be most effective if it’s part of a larger content marketing plan.
What is your overall strategy for creating content for your business website? Are you looking to get lots of users into the top of your marketing funnel as well as being found by search engines? Who is the target audience you’re creating this content for – and are they the same audience that you want to buy your products or services? Are you creating content on a one-off basis or do you have a content plan for the whole year that each piece fits into?
Every expert content marketer knows that content is part of a larger plan. Develop that plan before you start writing a lot, or you could be wasting valuable time. Creating great SEO content takes a lot of effort, after all.
Measure Your Results
If you’re just writing your blog posts, publishing them, and hoping they perform well, you’re not doing enough. You need to be measuring the performance of each post or web page. You can use Google Search Console to find a huge amount of data on how people are finding each page and piece of content on your website. And Google Analytics is a valuable tool for seeing how users access your content, from social media sites to searches and ad campaigns.
You should frequently look at the data for each post you publish to see how it’s performing over time. SEO writing takes a while to pay off – you usually won’t see huge results in a month. It’s more like six months to a year. But if your posts aren’t performing as well as you’ve expected, it might be time to try some tweaks and adjustments to see what happens.
Search engine algorithms change over time too. You might see a big and sudden drop or rise in your content rankings – it just takes a little online research to see what’s happening. Don’t rush to make big adjustments based on a short-term drop. Patience is the way to win the SEO game.
Get Expert SEO Writers
SEO writing is an art, a science, and a time-consuming business need. If you’re busy running your business and don’t have time to become an expert SEO writer and content marketer, you don’t have to lose out on the benefits of SEO. Call ContentFirst.Marketing today and see how our strategic content marketing plans and expert SEO writers can create traffic and well-written content for your business. Schedule your free business review and find out more.