You want to attract customers online; more importantly, you want to drive customers to your website and your business, and to do that you have to be found on search engines like Google. That’s a given. And to do that you need web content and landing pages that are optimized for those same search engines.
That’s why, as a content editor and content writer, one of the top questions people ask is how to write content for SEO. Sure, you can read about 10x content, and great content, and EAT content, but we’re going to cut through all that bull and get down to the following so you can create content that gets you to the top of the SERPs and dominates your competition. Here’s what you’ll learn by reading this article from start to finish:
1. How to Write SEO Content
2. How to Identify the Objective & Goal of Your Content
3. How to Identify & Write Content for Your Audience
4. How Not to Write SEO Content
5. Which Content Writing Tools to Use
6. Where to Go for Help
Now, let’s get started.
What Do We Mean by SEO Content Writing?
Before we get to the hows and whys of creating content that ranks at the top of search results, we need to talk about what’s in SEO.
What is SEO anyway? And what about this EAT thing some people are going on about? What about CRO, where does that content buzzword come into play?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing content, so it appears at the top of search engines. Different search engines have slightly different ways of ranking content, but one of the most common terms you may have heard in conjunction with SEO is keywords. And no matter what search engine or platform you’re optimizing content for. Keywords and content are always crucial for any organic rankings.
What is EAT?
EAT has nothing to with food in the context of SEO. The cute acronym stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. All three of these factors are things Google uses to rank your company, your website, and your webpage content, which is why you need to know what they are and not ignore them as part of your content creation process.
A person could write an entire article on EAT, but for now, know that Expertise and Authority have to do with how Google ranks your level of knowledge and skill as a company compared to other companies in your industry and also how your content compares in-depth of expertise and quality of content. Trust is the factor Google uses to rate the trustworthiness of your content compared to your competitors.
What is CRO?
CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization is something that whether you’re an SEO copywriter or any other type of content creator, it’s critical you know at least a little bit about. While not really a traditional aspect of SEO, it does come into play and definitely is a factor when writing content that has value for people and includes the next steps they need to take or that you want them to take.
Think things like calls to action text, a learn more button, subscription signup in a sidebar or at the bottom of your content, or a click to call button on the mobile version of your website. Like EAT, CRO is another topic, but it’s definitely a piece of content writing related jargon you should familiarize yourself with.
Now that you know what marketing experts mean when we throw these terms around, you’re ready to dive into the writing content for SEO.
How to Write SEO Content
First, let’s talk about how to approach writing SEO content, also known as SEO copywriting. It’s a process that involves research, data, and using that data as the foundation for creating content that is more about the information your target customers are looking for and searcher intent than it is about keywords. Although keywords are still relevant, they are no longer the only factor, nor are they the most critical factor.
Understand the Components of Google’s Algorithm
Industry leaders, like Moz, content marketers, and SEO’s all agree that you have to understand how Google’s ranking system works. Here’s the latest breakdown:
- 23.87% is based on trust and authority of your website domain
- 22.33% is based on the link popularity of the page
- 20.26% is based on the anchor text of external links to the page
- 15.04% is based on your on-page keyword usage
- 6.91% is based on the registration and hosting data
- 6.29% is based on traffic and click-through rate (CTR) data
- 5.30% is based on social graph metrics
As you can see, things like trust, authority, and the links to your content are all more important than keywords.
What is the Objective?
Why are you writing the content? What are your goals? How will you measure those goals? You can’t just create content because someone like me told you that you need to create content.
Typical content marketing goals include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase sales and revenue
- Lead Generation
- Increase engagement with blog, YouTube channel, social media posts, etc.
- Increase the size of your audience or customer base or both
- Gain content subscribers
- Get more webinar and/or demo signups
Write for People Not for Web Crawlers
When you think about writing content that drives people to your brand and creates business growth, you have to think like a media company and think about your target audience. What do they want to know about? What types of content do they like and consume? You might think you know the answer, but usually, you don’t. Here’s how to find out:
Analyze your data. What content drives traffic, has more watch time, has a lower bounce rate, increases time on your website, drives leads, converts, gets engagements, gets shared, etc.?
Ask your customers. Survey them, record calls, and listen to them, treat customer questions and complaints as opportunities to learn about them and not as nuisances.
Ask your employees. Speak with your sales and customer service teams. What kinds of questions do they get? What content are people asking for? What do people complain about? What resistance is your sales teams getting to buying from prospects?
Who is the Audience?
Know your target customers – Who are they? Do you have more than one target market? Create customer profiles around who your target customers are. Create content about their interests in relation to what you can do for them. What do they like? What trending topics are they interested in that are also relevant to what you do or to your area of expertise?
Do Your Keyword Research
I know it looks like keywords aren’t as important as they used to be, but actually, they do still matter.
Find the keywords your customers search for and the keywords your competitors rank well for on page one of Google.
Create a spreadsheet to track your keywords and/or use an SEO tool to find and track your keywords.
Use the Keywords in Your Content
Once you’ve found your main keyword, use it in the title, in your first paragraph, and/or in one of the H2’s in the content. After that, use variations of your keyword. More importantly, don’t worry about using the keyword.
That’s because crafting content while worrying about how many times a specific keyword appears could make you accidentally stuff a blog post or web page with the same keyword, and that’s bad. Instead, let the keywords guide you on a topic and write about the topic.
That way, the keyword, and related keywords should happen naturally. Then go back and use an SEO tool to make sure you didn’t accidentally keyword stuff, and to find related keywords, you can add to the content too.
Write Eye-Catching Headlines
You need to write a headline that people will click on. But you can’t get too clever about it. That’s because there can be a bit of conflict between good CRO and good SEO when it comes to headlines.
However, if people can’t find your article or website on search engines, even the most click-worthy H1 title won’t ever be seen. Instead, think about how your customers search. Try some of the following techniques.
Starting with the question/answer words like how, why, what, where, who. Using question words speaks directly to search intent and lets customers know your article has the answer to their question. For example, the title of this post is “How to Write Content for SEO.”
Using a number in your title. Our brains are wired to be attracted to digits. Our minds like logical order, and when we see a number in a headline, we immediately associate it with order and are more likely to click on that title.
Create Content That is Easy to Read & Scan
Most people do not read online content in the same way they read a book or even a magazine article. Instead, we tend to scan a post and read things like the title, the headers, and subheaders and scan over the images or watch a short video on the page. That’s why all online content, even written content is visual.
To create content for SEO that’s easy to read:
- Use numbered lists and/or bullet points;
- Write in short paragraphs, so there is a space between blocks of text;
- Use headers and subheaders to break up content;
- Use the correct header hierarchy – H1, H2, H3, H4, H5;
- Break up written content with images and graphics. A good rule of thumb is one image every 150 to 200 words.
Use an objective writing style and not a subjective style. That means use more facts than opinions. Facts mean things like data from studies, and if you are subjective, then back up your opinions with other experts who hold the same opinion and with numbers that illustrate how you came to that conclusion.
Understand Technical SEO
You don’t have to be an expert in technical SEO to be an effective SEO copywriter, but you do have to understand how to make it easier for search engines to index your content. That’s why it’s essential you:
Know how to write meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are vital for helping your customers and search engines understand what your content is about. They should be clear, concise, and no longer than 150 characters. They need to include your target keywords and communicate the topic of the content.
Know what how title tags are. Title tags are like a blog headline but for the individual pages on your website. Title tags appear in Google search above the meta description. They help your customers know what is on the page and entice them to click on your page.
Know How to Use Links to Your Advantage
If you go back to the top factors Google uses to rank your content, you’ll see that links make up close to 70%. How you link to external content, how external content links to your content, and how you organize your internal links on your website all factor into producing effective content for search engine optimization.
How Not to Write SEO Content
Now that we’ve gone over 10 tips on how to create great content before we get into the tools that can help let’s take a look at what mistakes you shouldn’t make when you write content for SEO.
Don’t Confuse Opinions & Facts
Yes, you just read about being objective, but you need to understand that your opinion about how things work or why something is true for your industry isn’t the same as facts. Again, it’s ok to communicate your expert opinion in your content, but do your research and back it up with facts.
Even if you’re reviewing a product or presenting your professional opinion on why your customers should hire you instead of doing something themselves, keep most of the content on the verifiable facts that back up your views. Otherwise, they will feel like you are forcing your opinion and your services on them and be turned off.
Not Doing Any Research
You can’t just make up what you’re creating content about. Even if you work in the industry, you still won’t know everything, and you need to research facts to keep your content objective.
Furthermore, you need to research what customers search for and which search terms rank well. You need to research your target customers, and you need to research your competitors and know what keywords and content they use to rank well, so you can capture those rankings.
Using a Lot of Jargon
Research shows that people trust clear, concrete language over abstract language. Jargon is not concrete. And according to Outbrain, people respond to language that is simple, comprehensive, and user-friendly.
Keep your copy easy to understand, and if you must include industry-specific terms that might be unfamiliar to your customers, explain what they mean, and use more straightforward language more often than acronyms and abstract terms.
Ignoring Search Intent
Just because you like to describe your business a certain way, does not mean that’s how people search for what you do. Going back to jargon, just because you know the correct term in your industry, will not mean your customers do or that your customer will know to search for that.
Unless your target market is people in your industry, use SEO tools and the Google search bar and search suggestions to uncover searcher intent. Ann Smarty of Content Marketing Institute advises you look at searcher intent as these categories:
Do – they display this type of high intent when they’re ready to act, such as making a purchase or subscribing to your email newsletter?
Know – this type of intent is when they’re looking for information on a topic or the answer to a question or a solution to a problem.
Go – this is “navigational intent,” which is when customers know which company they’re looking for and are searching for you by name.
Micro-intent – you also need to create content for customer searches based on terms like best marketing company.
Focusing Too Much on Keywords
If you only focus on keywords, you will wind up stuffing your content with the same keywords. Don’t be the person who writes content that reads something like:
When you need air conditioning repair, call on Acme Air Conditioning Repair for all your air conditioning repair needs.
You will turn customers away, lose sales, and leads, and you will hurt your SEO.
Focusing Too Much on Word Count
Don’t confuse the SEO buzzword, “thin content,” with word count and content length. The term means content with little or no value. If you focus on word counts instead of on writing clear, concise, reader-friendly content, you will most likely end up writing poor quality content.
The truth is, there is no magic word count formula. SEO and content editors can’t agree on word count. Some say longer is better and others advise to keep it short. But we can all agree that well researched, well-written content that’s written for people, not bots, and that covers the topic is what’s most important.
If your audience is looking for a quick answer to a question, then shorter content is perfect, but if the topic is more in-depth and your customer wants all the information on how to complete a task, then a longer article like the one you’re reading right now is better.
Publishing Bad Content
And that brings us to the last mistake. Publishing “thin content” or content that isn’t useful. If your content isn’t clear, is hard to read, is full of errors, or doesn’t answer your customer’s questions, then why are you publishing it?
Don’t ever publish for the sake of publishing content, no matter what you read about ideal blog frequency. The problem with those studies is that although they find a correlation between frequency and website traffic, they don’t say anything about the quality or the number of sales as a result.
How often you publish is not one of the ranking factors mentioned earlier. According to Neil Patel, Google tends to rank content based on how well it serves its searchers. When you put out bad blog articles, and keyword-stuffed web pages, it will not help your customers find you online because search engines won’t put your content on page one.
Content Writing Tools
There are many tools you can use to help you create compelling content for your customers and for SEO. Here are four of our favorite tools that we use at BizIQ every day:
Even when you aren’t trying to stuff your keywords, you can inadvertently use a word or phrase too many times. That’s why there’s the keyword density checker. It will tell you how many times you use a keyword so that you can find a synonym instead.
Not sure what’s important to your customers? That’s where Buzzsumo comes in. Thus subscription-based service shows you what topics are popular by subject and by website. You can also see what is trending on which social media platforms. It saves you lots of time and work trying to find what you need to write about that’s relevant to your customers.
The Hemmingway App isn’t an app for your phone, but a powerful and free online tool for making your copy more readable. It’s not a spelling or grammar checker. What it finds is hard to read sentences, passive voice, and extra words. It also gives you the reading grade level of your content.
Grammarly is an excellent tool for checking spelling and grammar, but only if you already know how to spell and your grammar rules because it’s not always perfect. It’s a great way to slow down your proofreading and catch things like comma usage and punctuation errors. Paid users can get access to more advanced features that identify hard to read sentences. They also display the reading grade level and the Flesch reading ease score. The Flesch score is a more widely accepted content score, and you want your content to be in the 60-70 range for readability.
Where to Go for Help
Coming up with the right topics, finding the right keywords, creating great content for your customers that increases website traffic, generates leads, and drives higher sales, plus earns links from other websites, is a lot of work.
As a result, many businesses outsource their content and search engine optimization to agencies like BizIQ that they trust. We’ve helped thousands of companies across the United States take charge of their website content creation and dominate their competition. Contact us today to find out how we can help you do the same.