Feb 17, 2021
SEO Writing 101: A Guide for Traffic-Driving Content
High-quality SEO writing has never been more relevant. Competing in today’s digital ecosystem requires deploying a suite of strategic tactics to ensure your content ranks as high as possible with search engines.
Why? According to Hubspot, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of a search engine result. Simply put: If you’re not ranking highly, it’s almost as if you are not ranking at all.
While nothing in SEO is guaranteed for certain, there are some best practices you can put in place to ensure your writing is positioned for greater success. Here, we’ll cover each of these aspects in-depth to show you how proper SEO writing can generate immense value for your brand.
Main Types of SEO Content
Typically, SEO content is written for your or your client’s blog as well as cornerstone pages on your website such as your about, home, and products/services pages. If your industry relies on directory sites to drive traffic, optimizing your listing information on key destinations can also help since many of them compete for high organic search rankings.
Why You’re Writing
Build Authority – Establish your credibility for other sites to link back to your own
Organic Search Rankings – Rank highly on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs)
Match Search Intent – Position your products/services directly in front of people looking for them to drive conversions.
Before You Write, You Must Understand Your Brand
Whether writing for your own brand or a client, you need to understand its voice, message, and identity. Review all the brand’s existing content on their site, social media, and anywhere else they are sharing it. Look for recurring words or phrases that appear in the copy and take note of them. Distill these consistencies to their essence and you’ll have the brand’s core identity figured out!
Who Is Your Audience and Why Should They Care?
SEO writing puts the reader first. Look at places where your brand’s followers are engaging. Are they leaving reviews, asking questions on social posts, or commenting on your blog? Use this valuable free intel as you build your content strategy.
When developing your content, match it to search intent. Why would someone search for your product or service? You can use online keyword research tools to also see what questions are commonly asked about the keywords you are targeting.
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO Writing
Understand Types of Keywords
Generally, there are six types of keywords you should remember when writing:
Focus keyword – the primary keyword that you are planning a piece of content around. It should relate to the central topic of your page or blog post.
Secondary keyword – a keyword that is also relevant to the focus keyword and may help add additional context or increase the content’s rank potential for other user searches.
Keyword variations – Variations of your focus keyword that you can use instead of repeating it verbatim in your copy. For example, a search engine algorithm can interpret “writing a blog” and “blog writing” as virtually identical when retrieving results.
Seed keywords – short, broad-topic keywords you might use to find inspiration for higher-performing ones. An example would be “coffee” which you could then use to find longer ones like “coffee shop near me” or “best coffee in NJ” (Hint: that one’s Perk Cafe).
Long-Tail keywords: Keywords that are 3 or more words that are designed to match specific user searches like “How to repair your dishwasher at home.”
Branded keywords: Your brand is its own keyword! If you’re not owning it with your content, your competitors might be.
Keyword Research Tools
There exist a number of great keyword research tools to use when developing content ideas. You can choose from a variety of paid and free options.
With these tools, you can enter a keyword into a search field and gauge its performance potential, discover real search terms related to that keyword, and ideas for variants. This allows you to plan your content around ones that you have a better chance to rank for organically.
Our personal favorite premium tools are Ahrefs and SEMrush for their immense data reporting capabilities. If you prefer to start keyword researching with a free tool, try Google Keyword Planner. Though mostly used for Paid Search campaigns, this alternative can help you understand the basics as you’re venturing into SEO writing.
What Makes a “Good” Keyword?
When researching keywords, you should look for one with high organic ranking potential. This means it has a low keyword difficulty and a high search volume. Strive to use focus keywords with a score under 40 and an organic search volume of over 600.
Writing Content Others Want to Link Back To
As important as using the right keywords, you also want to write content that others will link to. Create copy that is informative, entertaining, and relevant to your target readers to help increase the likelihood of generating more links from websites.
When another website links to your own, that is called a “backlink,” and the more that you have from relevant other sites, the more credible search engines view you. If you have accrued a large amount of “toxic” backlinks from spammy or un-secure websites, you can manually disavow them with search engines so that you are not penalized.
Content Writing Framework
Okay, we’ve made it. Time to actually write some SEO content.
Start with Creating an Outline
Create a bulleted outline that details the blog or page title, the content’s primary message, and the headings that you will feature on each page. Under each heading, jot down the key points for that section and plan to fill that in with full sentences when it’s time to execute!
Ensure Your Focus Keyword Covers all Technical Elements without Stuffing
When you are writing for SEO, you must ensure that your focus keyword or similar variant covers all technical aspects of your content. This includes the page title, metadata, headings, and body text. However, you should not do this in excess. “Keyword stuffing” is easily detectable by search algorithms and they will penalize your page with lower organic rankings as a result.
Determine Your Word Count
How long will your piece of content be? You should determine a wordcount before writing to fully understand your scope of work. Do not use this number as an arbitrary cap. Instead, think of it as an approximate goal to strive for. Search algorithms do not prioritize short or “thin” content, but keywords can also lose their effectiveness when placed in content that is too long. At Conduit, we find a 1000-word benchmark works best for our own blog posts, even though we often pass that goal!
Write the Ending First
Before writing an introduction or body text, you should write your ending first. Knowing how your content will end will help draw a better road map from start to finish for your SEO writing process.
Fill in the Blanks!
You’ve created an outline for your content. Start filling in the spaces between the headers! You don’t have to work in order. Start with the sections that you feel the most comfortable with writing and go from there.
Creative Best Practices when Writing:
Mix long and short sentences
Avoid using words that require a dictionary to understand
Write as clearly as possible
Write for your target audience, not yourself
Strategic Writing Tips:
Avoid keyword stuffing
Use keywords across all technical elements
Use secondary keywords and variants to support the focus keyword
Have Someone Review it Before Hitting “Publish”
You should never write in a silo. Ask someone with at least a working knowledge of SEO to give it a once-over before it goes live. This will help ensure you are not missing any important details that could improve or derail content performance.
Be sure to post your content on all brand channels, such as social media, Google My Business, and any other platforms you use. The more eyes on it, the higher the chances someone will link to it or share it themselves!
Make Content Optimizations Down the Road (If Needed)
Both your brand and Google’s algorithm experience changes over time. If you need to update creative copy, change keywords, or make other optimizations, you can always do this later. Make sure any altered pages are re-indexed with Google Search Console when you’re done!
Improving Your Agency’s SEO Writing with Partnership
At Conduit, we partner with countless agencies around the world to deliver a better standard of content for their clients. If you are looking to elevate your own SEO writing, learn more about how you can partner with us.