If you’ve ever read anything about content marketing online, chances are you’ve come across this adage: “Quality content is great for SEO! You absolutely must use it in your content marketing strategy!”
How does SEO content help boost your (search engine results page) SERP ranking? By optimizing your on-page SEO, you can increase your online visibility and gain organic traffic.
This guide goes over key SEO content writing tips, from building a page of SEO content to finding keywords and structuring your writing.
Process of building a page of SEO content
On-page SEO refers to all the ways you can optimize a web page to rank higher in the search results, like including keywords. Great content is integral to your on-page SEO, and the first rule of great content is quality. Quality SEO content accomplishes three things: it’s engaging, it provides value to your audience, and it’s credible.
Providing value to your audience is the whole point of SEO content. Great content is original, easy to read, and authoritative. When you’re deciding what to focus on with your SEO copy, consider your target audience’s needs and wants. What does your business offer, and what makes your company stand out from others? Define yourself as an authority to build credibility.
Engaging your audience
Engaging content gets your audience to do something with a specific, focused call to action. That can be signing up for a newsletter, following you on social media, filling out a form, or any number of other tasks.
To decide on a call to action, know what you want your audience to do. What is the purpose of your SEO content? Why write that blog post to begin with? Once you understand how you want to engage your audience, you can measure how well you do so.
Choose relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Is your goal to get people to talk about your blog content? Measure comments, social media shares, and organic traffic. Looking to offer a service? Measure your conversion rate.
Other common KPIs include the following:
- Page views, including unique visitors
- Bounce rate, or how often people close a web page without spending time on it
- Click-through rate, or how many people click on links to visit your website
- Scroll depth, or how far down the page visitors scroll
- Conversion rate, or the rate at which your target audience does what you want them to do (sign up for a newsletter, for example)
Establishing credibility with good SEO content
When ranking websites in its search result page, Google looks for signals that indicate a website’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). To rank this, Google evaluates the content, the creator, and the website. This is important for content that impacts things like health, safety, and finances. A blog post that covers political events, legal advice, or medical information, for example, would be especially scrutinized.
Keep E-A-T in mind when creating content. Trustworthiness and credibility are central to benefitting your target audience—and to ranking well.
The anatomy of a page of SEO content
Most SEO copy is formatted similarly: with a title, meta description, subheadings, visuals, and links.
The title, or an H1 in HTML tags, contains your primary keyword. It appears in SERPs with the meta description, which briefly describes the content of your web page. Subheadings split the body of your article into smaller, easy-to-skim chunks and are used to signal a change in topic.
Visuals include graphics, video, and images. These show additional information, add interest, or separate large blocks of text into easier-to-scan paragraphs.
If you upload images, describe the images through alt text (also known as an alt tag). Alt text provides accessibility for people who use screen readers or whose browsers don’t load images. Search engine crawlers also use it to figure out how to index the image—and with it, your web page.
Additionally, you can call out specific information through lists, quotes, and other special text formats.
Linking for SEO
Links are a major component of SEO. Internal linking, or linking between different pages on your website, shows search engines how those pages relate to each other and to a user’s search intent. They also offer more information that your audience may find interesting.
External links, or linking to outside sources, helps build credibility. You’ll also want to get backlinks—which are built when other websites link to yours. Link building improves visibility and establishes you as an authoritative source. To get backlinks, look at competitors and see what you offer that they might not. Then see who links to your competitors and reach out, asking them to backlink to you.
Following a process for SEO content
It’s important to follow a specific process when building a page of SEO content. A set process helps you stay consistent, shows which goals you’re working toward and how to measure those goals, and keeps the purpose of your SEO content strategy front and center.
If you work with an SEO team, discuss your goals and SEO strategy. Audit your current content, if you have any, and consider: What needs to be updated? What’s still relevant? What topics does your content cover, and are there any other topics you want to include?
In your SEO audit, evaluate your current search result rankings. Do competitor research, comparing how they rank to you and analyzing what keywords they use.
Next, establish a content calendar. It’s important to regularly publish SEO-friendly content to stay connected with your audience and keep your content updated. In your content calendar, determine how often you’ll post, where you’ll publish your content, and how often you’ll share curated content.
Pin down the specifics of your content in a content brief. For a blog article, for example, include a content outline, your primary keyword, a list of secondary keywords, and your target word count. Consider your target audience and core questions your content should answer. If you have a specific call to action, suggestions for a meta description, title tag, subheadings, or links to include, put those in the brief as well. These suggestions are especially important if you’re outsourcing your SEO writing to a content writer.
Evergreen content performs best on the web because it stays relevant for a long time. Longer written content, typically between one thousand and two thousand words, also performs better because it allows you to go more in depth about a topic.
Establishing effective SEO keywords before writing
Keywords are important because they’re what users type into the search engine to make a query and find your content. Some key definitions (no pun intended) are as follows:
- Primary keyword: also known as a focus keyword and included in your title, this sums up what the content is about and is what you want to rank for
- Secondary keyword: a keyword that adds more detail to the content’s topic
- Short-tail keyword: a shorter, less-specific keyword
- Long-tail keyword: a keyword phrase that’s more specific, caters to a niche, and has a higher conversion rate
As you write, consider keyword density—how many times your primary keyword appears compared to your total word count. Avoid keyword stuffing. Your keyword density should be low, with your primary keyword spread out naturally.
Informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional keywords
Informational keywords lead to content that answers a question, educating your audience on a topic. Navigational keywords point to a specific page. Commercial keywords provide information on a product or service, and users use transactional keywords when they’re ready to buy.
Finding the right keywords
In your keyword research, create a keyword list. Start with a seed keyword, or a starting point for what your content should focus on. Build your list by considering any related, relevant keyword.
The following tools will help you find the right keywords:
- Google Keyword Planner suggests keywords related to your company, and its research tool shows keyword search volumes over time.
- Ahrefs offers a number of SEO tools, including a keyword explorer that turns up keyword ideas and scores them on how difficult it would be to rank for them.
- KWFinder is similar to Ahrefs in that it finds keywords you can easily rank for. It also suggests related keywords, local keyword research, and search volumes over time, like Google Keyword Planner.
- SpyFu takes a different approach by compiling data on your competitors, including their top organic and paid keywords.
Structuring your SEO content when writing
Google scans text for semantic closeness to figure out how it can be indexed. Because of this, well-structured writing is important. It helps search algorithms better understand what your content is about, how to index it, and how it’s relevant to a user’s search intent.
Moreover, well-written, well-structured content engages an audience. This leads to a lower bounce rate and makes people more likely to engage with it and share it. In turn, this leads to higher rankings.
Alternately, a lack of structure in your SEO content creates poor readability, which leads to a bad user experience. Plus, when you don’t have a focused structure in your content, you risk creating duplicate content. This poor technique can lead to keyword cannibalization, where none of your content performs particularly well because it’s all vying for the same ranking.
Basic structures to follow when writing SEO content
Most SEO content follows the inverted pyramid structure, which presents the most important information first. Throughout, headings and subheadings indicate a switch to a different topic. For example, in this article, the heading “Structuring your SEO content when writing” focuses solely on—you guessed it—structuring your SEO copywriting. The subheading “Basic structures to follow when writing SEO content” leads into this discussion about the inverted pyramid structure.
The pyramid structure immediately grabs readers’ attention, and headings point out the most important takeaways. By including your target keyword in your title, introduction, conclusion, and headings, you can naturally implement keywords.
At the end, the conclusion wraps everything up with a summary and a direct, simple call to action.
Ways to check your SEO content after writing
Review your content before publishing. Create an SEO checklist to remind you of everything to pay attention to. Look for grammar and spelling errors, cliches, and repeated information, and be sure to fact-check.
When you cite statistics or data, link to the source. Check that source, too; sometimes, a popular statistic or miscredited quote is passed from blog to blog with no reputable evidence to back it up. Don’t be the person who wrote, “As half of all Americans know, Abraham Lincoln famously reminded us to ‘Live, laugh, and love.’”
Another crucial point on your SEO checklist is readability. This can be measured through metrics like the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level or Flesch Reading Ease scores.
Higher Flesch Reading Ease relates to an easier reading level. A score of about 100 can be understood by fifth graders whereas scores from 0 to 30 are roughly equivalent to college reading level. Microsoft Word’s Editor gives Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease scores. Websites like WebFX also have readability tests.
Another tool marketers use is MarketMuse, an SEO analysis tool that reviews your use of keywords and depth of information to give you a content score. This score can be measured against a target score. It provides keywords and a list of questions your article should answer, helping you create in-depth, optimized content. Google PageSpeed Insights times how long your website takes to load, which also helps SEO. Ahrefs’ Website Authority Checker measures the credibility of your domain.
SEO content writing with Elite
For expert help, you may want to outsource content marketing to a professional SEO writer. Professionals have more access to the tools and know-how of SEO alongside strong writing skills to craft engaging, web-optimized copy.
Elite offers professional content writing, editing, and SEO services. Reach out today for a free quote!