Search engine optimization, or better known as SEO, is a marketing technique based on creating content that will rank highly on search engines; this means that your content will appear among the first results on Google search, for example, and will help to drive traffic to your website.
An ever-popular marketing technique, SEO writing is more important than ever before, and in 2021 it should be a solid part of your business strategy.
Why is SEO Important?
In order to better understand the process of SEO, we should first understand why it’s important.
If you look at the image above, you can see that this is a prime example of how SEO articles can drive traffic to your website. When you search “how to build a wall with a door,” this is the first article that pops up, and the reason for this is SEO.
Of course, SEO is important, but creating excellent content is a must-have as well.
That leaves us with an easy-to-remember recipe for SEO: equal parts solid in-text SEO and hot content.
So, now that we know what SEO is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at some of the best practices that can help you to elevate your SEO strategy and start gaining more search engine ranking.
SEO Tip 1: Create a Content Topic List
You’ve got to start your SEO strategy before you begin writing your content in order to be successful. This is because you should have SEO content that your target audience will be interested in.
If your target audience doesn’t care about the topics you choose to write about, why bother? They are the ones that you want to look at it, so you should gear it towards their interests and needs.
Once you do that, you’re on the road to SEO success with a much easier writing process.
In order to find topics for your SEO content, you can use the following strategies:
- Use a Q&A tool: you should be knowledgeable about the questions that your target audience is asking through search engines because your content should provide them with the answer. Using a Q&A tool can help you to do that. We will expand on this in the next section
- Look at Wikipedia: you can get a lot of great topic ideas through Wikipedia because all of their pages have tables of contents, which can lend you very interesting and relevant ideas for content topics.
We’re going to expand on these ideas in the following sections for the best tips on how to use them.
Use a Q&A Tool
Knowing what questions your target audience is asking is vital for your success because your content will provide them with answers to those questions. This will help rank your content.
Sites like Quora and Reddit can help you to look for these questions, but you’ll have to do it manually.
Above, you can see Reddit, which can offer valuable insight via discussion boards and posts. Quora is a bit better because the third icon at the top is the “questions” tab, which allows you to find specific questions all in one place. This can be great if you’re doing research on your target SEO audience.
This can be great if you have a few simple things you’re looking for, but ultimately it takes a while and can consume you if you want to generate a lot of ideas all at once. There are a few great resources that can help move the process along.
Answer The Public is a free listening tool that can tell you what your target audience is searching for. On their landing page, you select the country and type in your topic. We typed in “digital photography” for example.
There are limits for searches, however, so if you find this tool very useful, you may want to upgrade to a pro plan.
Another manual way to see what content may be best suited for your SEO content is through Wikipedia; as we mentioned, they have very thorough articles that include tables of contents for their articles, so it’s a valuable, free resource.
All you have to do is go to Wikipedia and search for your desired topic. We’ve done “digital photography” again, just for consistency.
SEO Tip 2: Use Your Topics as Keywords
Once you’ve got your topics established, the next step is to identify what the right keywords are in order to gain notoriety for your content.
In fact, keyword research is the absolute foundation of SEO, and knowing which keywords are performing best for your topics can make or break your content in terms of how many people see it.
The good news is that even if you’re just starting out with no SEO knowledge, there are a variety of SEO tools that can help you to identify your keywords with no headache.
One tool that is very useful is Wordtracker. They allow you to search your topics for free and give you a comprehensive breakdown of how the keywords are performing and which ones have been searched the most (volume).
It also provides information about how much organic competition there is for that keyword (comp.), and how many times it was used in both the title tag and backlink text, known as “in anchor and title” (IAAT).
While you’ll find tools like this are free for the first few searches, you’ll usually have to pay for a full subscription, so finding tools that can do a variety of things are usually your best bet.
For example, Ahrefs is one of the top SEO tools that can help you to search for a variety of information as well as find out how your sites are performing and how things are ranking.
In addition to their Keywords Explorer, Ahrefs also offers you a Site Explorer, Site Audier, Rank Tracker, and more. These are all vital tools to not only help you decide on which SEO keywords will help you perform better but also to track that performance and see how your sites are moving.
There are some other keyword generator tools including:
- Infinite Suggest
- Keywords everywhere
Using a combination of these tools can help keep your initial costs low for keyword development and discovery; it will also help you to have a variety of different suggestions from different places.
In the long term, however, it is probably to your benefit to choose which tool works best for you and to pay for the subscription, as keyword research and knowledge is vital to a successful SEO strategy.
SEO Tip 3: Use Content Layouts that Match Searches
Alright, so we’ve got topics, and we’ve got keywords. We’re almost ready to start writing! That’s the easy part.
The next thing you need to do before you start writing your SEO content is to select a keyword that you want to rank for and check the search engine results page (SERP). This means that you should search that keyword yourself to see what kind of articles or search results come up.
For instance, if you want to rank an article for the keyword “increase conversion rate,” you should search that term on Google.
Once you take a look at what type of content is ranking, you can determine the best layout and organizational outline for your content in order to give your target audience the structure of content they are looking for.
Here, you can see that people are looking for a guide on how to increase their conversion rate, so you would want to create an outline that matches a guide setup, including numbered tips and strategies.
SEO Tip 4: Use Your Keyword in Your Content
Alright, now we are ready to get started with writing the actual content! As you can imagine, including your keywords in your content is another foundational pillar of SEO content writing and marketing.
When you are looking to write content that highlights specific keywords, many people will ask the question, “how many times should I use my keyword(s) in my content?”
This is a valid question, and there is no one-size-fits-all response. Google actually doesn’t pay attention to your keyword density, so this isn’t the vital piece to the puzzle.
The most important thing about your keywords is not how many times you use them, but that you use them in the right places.
The must-have locations to include your SEO keyword should be in the following:
- Title tag
- First 100 words of your content
- H1 tag
- Your URL
- H2 tag
In the above example, you can see all of the locations to use your keyword except for H2, which would be a subheader that you’d include in one of the H1 sections.
The keyword should be located in all of these sections to rank well; be wary of using your keyword repeatedly in your title, as Google may perceive this as keyword stuffing, which will harm your ranking.
Your keyword should also appear in your introduction; while it doesn’t have to be immediately, you’ll want to plan on it being somewhere within the first 100-150 words.
Also, H1 tags and H2 tags are used to help organize your piece, so your keywords should appear here. Be sure not to use too many H1 tags, as these are basically title tags for the sections of your content, so you’ll want to ensure they contain a sufficient amount of content.
Generally speaking, one H1 tag per page is acceptable so as not to confuse search engines.
SEO Tip 5: Write Comprehensive Content
It’s shown that long-form content performs better, with average word amounts of over 2000 words.
This doesn’t mean you should just write mumbo-jumbo to fill up your post, but you should write content that is comprehensive enough to cover a topic in one article.
For example, when you search “Instagram marketing” on Google, the top result is HubSpot, with a comprehensive guide.
You’ll also see results below that include an article with 10 tips and another comprehensive guide for Instagram marketing.
This means that content providing substantial information about a topic is something that ranks better.
Even approaching almost 2021, this guide from 2019 is still one of the top-ranking items for Instagram marketing.
Now that we have SEO-optimized content through our first 6 tips, we’ve got to consider how we can optimize our SEO content for clicks as well.
SEO Tip 7: Optimize Title Tags
When your link is clicked on organically, known as the click-through rate (CTR), Google’s algorithm considers this a ranking signal.
Since Google considers this a ranking signal, a higher CTR means higher ranking, which can drive your content to an even higher CTR.
In addition to keywords in your title tag, you should also optimize it for better CTR. There are a few ways to do that.
You should use a specific number in your title, as this helps to drive CTR.
In the below example, you can see that they use a number and they also use emotion words, like “best” and “absolutely.” Using emotional words can help appeal to people and increase your CTR.
Title tags ultimately make a big difference in whether or not people are going to click your article and check it out, as it’s the first thing they are going to see.
You should find ways to appeal to your target audience which will ultimately drive your SEO results through CTR.
SEO Tip 8: Optimize for Search Engine Results
There are two main things you need to do to optimize your content for search engine results that can help you rank better:
- Create enticing meta descriptions
- Use internal links
Both of these elements are vital for your SEO success, so we’re going to discuss how we can do that in the following sections.
Create Enticing Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the small blurbs that appear on Google when you search for a piece of content. These descriptions give searchers an idea of what your content is about, making them want to click on it.
The goal is that your meta descriptions are attractive enough to make people click on your result over others. You should have unique and well-crafted meta descriptions for each page on your site.
When you have a good meta description, not only will it be more attractive for your target audience, it will enhance your CTR, which will ultimately enhance your ranking. As you can see, SEO strategy has many moving parts, and it goes further than just keywords.
In the above example here, we searched “digital photography guide,” and we can see that all of the top results have a unique and well-written meta description for their content.
Use Internal Links
Another way to help your content perform better is to link to other pages on your own websites. Internal links are useful in terms of directing users to other useful content without having to leave your site.
Not only that, search engines are able to better understand your site’s structure, which helps them index your site more quickly.
You should include between 3-5 internal links within your post.
That doesn’t mean you can’t include external links; in fact, external links actually do help improve your ranking. Imagine that!
The reason for this is simple: Google wants people to have a plethora of information at their fingertips, which means they want them to access any website that can help them, not just your own. When you include valuable outside sources in your own text, you are actually boosting the SEO compatibility of your content.
Here is an example from one of the above digital photography articles:
ou can see that they have many links, both internal and external.
Not only does using external links help boost your SEO performance, but it also helps users find your content more valuable and bring them back for more. It can give them a full experience and help them to find the information that they actually need. These help build your reputation as a trusted site.
SEO Tip 9: Use Related Words and Phrases
Of course, your main keyword is important but using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords can help give search engines a deeper understanding of your content and help them rank better.
LSI keywords help Google and other search engines know that you covered your content comprehensively and that the topics are all well-developed and connected. It will enhance your SEO performance in terms of your target keyword as well as your related keywords.
These secondary keywords can be found via LSIgraph.com, which is an awesome tool for optimizing your LSI keywords. In the image above, you can see their homepage, and below an image of what you’ll find when you search for LSI keywords on their site.
SEO Tip 10: Include Multimedia in Your Content
People like to see images, videos, and visuals, and Google knows this. Your content will rank better when you have a variety of different media.
Imagine that you are trying to rank an article with the keyword “home improvement” and you write a how-to guide on installing new light fixtures. Can it really be a guide if you have no images to show people different fixtures, or parts of the process, or even data that helps support your claims?
You can even include videos to make the text more clear.
All in all, content that includes supporting media absolutely ranks better than content that does not.
Conclusion: What is SEO Writing?
All in all, there are many moving pieces to having a successful SEO strategy. Knowing your target audience topics, keywords, as well as content organization are all pillars of successful SEO content.
Of course, the main focus should be your content, but there are many other elements that help your SEO content rank higher.
Facilitating elements like the use of media in your content, gaining a higher CTR through title and meta descriptions, as well as using internal and external links are all ways that you can gain better performance for your content.
CTR can also be enhanced through the promotion of your content, so never miss a chance to promote your content through your partners, emails and newsletters, social media networks, and any other outlets you have to generate more interest in your content.