So, your goal is to improve your website’s SEO. You want to attain better visibility on Google and, this way, attract more customers. Great! However, before you achieve this, you need to create a lot of SEO-optimized content (so-called SEO writing) in compliance with the latest Google requirements. And that’s what you’re about to learn. I have 18 tips for you on how to write SEO-friendly (and user-friendly, too!) content.
Not that long ago (although wait, long, it’s already been over ten years!), achieving high positions on Google was relatively easy. All you had to do was put some keywords on your website, and the job was pretty much done. Today, things are much more complicated.
In February 2011, Google introduced a new indexing algorithm called Panda. With it, they started assigning “quality scores” to web pages and ranking them based on the quality of the content they comprised.
In September 2013, Google implemented yet another algorithm change – the Hummingbird update. Thanks to it, the search engine handles long conversational search queries.
Ever since, in order for your website to rank high on Google, you have to create SEO-optimized content that’s free of past non-effective techniques such as keyword stuffing. Moreover, your content has to be unique and useful to your readers – copying your competitors’ texts won’t do the job.
So what can you do to implement SEO writing that Google and your users will love? Let’s start with the beginning.
How content writing helps SEO
Today, most SEO techniques are all about writing, publishing, or distributing high-quality content. For Google, the fact that you write and publish nice posts and articles is a good sign indicating that your business is active and reliable, which means it’s worth recommending you to other users looking for similar information or products.
Secondly, through SEO content writing, you can put more keywords on your website in a completely natural way! There’s no keyword stuffing because when you’re discussing a specific matter, it is necessary to mention related keywords, right? I can’t write about SEO writing without mentioning keywords like “SEO” and “content writing”. So if you want to enrich your website with keywords, creating new texts is your best bet.
And thirdly, we have backlinks. Today, there is no SEO without backlinks. For Google, backlinks mean that other users enjoy your content and find it valuable. So, your goal here is to acquire high-performance links from other websites continually. This way, in time, you will build your domain’s authority (which, BTW, is NOT a direct SEO signal but surely helps improve your website’s positioning).
Links are one of the top criteria for Google page ranking algorithms.
Thanks to backlinks leading to your website, Google sees that other website owners already recommend you as a reliable source of knowledge. The more backlinks you get, the more visibility in the SERP (search engine result page) you can expect. Do I need to mention that getting backlinks is nearly impossible without quality content?
I will discuss this more thoroughly further in the text.
SEO writing 101: Avoid thin content
After all those (and some other) changes, every site with so-called thin content can get “minus points” and even be excluded from the search results altogether. But what is thin content, actually?
Thin content refers to anything that makes your texts poor and uninteresting. In particular:
- Duplicate content (i.e., plagiarism)
- Keyword stuffing (putting too many keywords in a text)
- No relevance to the subject or target audience
- Empty fillers just taking up precious space
How can you avoid thin content in your SEO writing?
- Forget about copy-paste. Google values only unique texts.
- Always use your own words. Try to add something more to the subject based on your knowledge and experience. You will get extra points in the E-A-T section, too (that’s a story for a different post).
- Try to add examples and case studies. Cite real-life numbers and studies to enrich your content.
- Don’t forget about other perks such as images, screenshots, videos, animations, infographics etc.
Use a plagiarism checker to see if there is no duplicate content in your texts. Every result below 10% is acceptable, and every result below 5% is awesome!
PS. You can only check 1,000 words at a time.
In general, your texts should:
- Offer exhaustive and reliable answers to the questions the readers might have
- Cover a given topic thoroughly
- Give practical advice based on your experience (not only other sources from the web)
- Make your readers’ life or work more effective or just easier
Writing for SEO means writing for the audience.
Don’t get too creative!
Before you start writing for SEO, analyze existing content that already ranks high on Google. These are your competitors. There is really no point in getting too creative and doing something different than they did. If you see that all the top five results lead to exhaustive articles, write an exhaustive article as well. If they feature YouTube videos, add a YouTube video. Google doesn’t want to overcomplicate its job. If people want long articles on a given subject, only a long article can pull ahead.
To streamline your work:
- Use the technique known as skyscraper content. If there are at least similar texts on Google, read and analyze them.
- Note down their strengths and weaknesses and analyze their structures and featured elements.
- Above all, see what could be done better and simply write a similar (but better) text.
I think this picture is self-explanatory when it comes to skyscraper content:
My experience shows that content-based cooperation is the best way to get good backlinks. Reach out to owners/managers of relevant websites and complementary companies and offer to write guest posts in exchange for backlinks. You can also get in touch with journalists and follow so-called press request alerts and respond to them (sometimes, even a short quote in an article written by a journalist can get you a backlink!).
Here, content writing mixes with PR. Let’s talk a bit more about that.
If you want to get high-quality backlinks from big and recognized websites, companies and platforms, you have to put your best foot forward and offer to write top-notch quest posts that your partner’s audience will appreciate and find useful.
There are no shortcuts here; copy-paste won’t get you worthy links.
A universal four-step link-building strategy for your business
- Start by creating a list of websites and platforms that you want to publish on. Several places are good for a start (Do you have time to write blog posts for other companies? If not, we’re happy to help!).
- Analyze what these websites write about and what kinds of texts they publish – check especially their “resources” or “blog” sections. Try to come up with ideas on what you could write about for them.
- Get in touch with the owners of these websites and offer mutually beneficial cooperation. Here’s an idea on how to get this thing going. You could send such an email: Dear Website Owner, I really like your blog! I would like to ask whether you’d be interested in content-based cooperation for your website. I’m happy to write a piece just for you. It could be about X, Y, or Z (or maybe you have a different idea?) – it’s up to you. All I’m asking in return is a do-follow link to my website. How’s that sound?
- From my experience, at least some of your recipients will likely be interested in such cooperation. Make sure you give them a really good article. Believe me; it will work for you for many months to come.
- Once you get at least one such link, you can go further and show it as an example of successful cooperation with other people. Soon, you will have five, ten and more high-end backlinks to your website. That’s a good start!
Moreover, this strategy is an excellent way of getting not just backlinks but also valuable brand exposure, especially when cooperating with companies offering complementary services. In such a scenario, every guest post can also be a source of hot leads! You can’t miss that opportunity!
Check how many backlinks your website has now. Use this free backlink checker from Ahrefs. You can also use this tool to verify your partner’s website authority.
Strategy for SEO writing
SEO writing can give you a headache, so you need tools and a well-thought-out strategy to grasp all that. For starters, you need to know what to write about. Here, keyword research comes in handy. There are many tools to help you with that, but let me mention two of them.
This tool is amazingly straightforward; all you have to do is type in a keyword or a phrase that you are interested in, and AnswerThePublic will provide you with a list comprising dozens of good content ideas. Let’s use the “SEO writing” keyword as an example:
This tool will also categorize the results based on how frequently they are searched on Google – a useful feature! There is just one downside to AnswerThePublic – you get only one free query daily.
Keyword Surfer (Chrome extension)
Surfer is a large company offering tools for SEO specialists. Although most of their tools are paid, Keyword Surfer is available for free as a Chrome extension, and it’s super useful to anyone who wants to master SEO writing. You can download it for free from Chrome Web Store. Once you do, it will display keyword suggestions directly in the SERP! And there’s more – the same tool will show you how many words, backlinks, keywords and estimated traffic each result gets from Google. How cool is that?
Just take a look (again, “SEO writing” is our desired keyword):
SEO writing: How to write SEO-optimized content
You now know why high-quality content is so useful, what you ought to concentrate on, what to avoid, and what tools to use to come up with ideas for SEO writing. Now, you need to learn how to actually write SEO-optimized content. Let’s get right to it.
It should be intriguing and specific – why it’s worth reading your article? After all, it’s the title that makes the readers click your link! Ask yourself this question – what will the reader learn from your article? Ensure your title clearly indicates what the whole text is about and encourages readers to click the link. Also, try to add the major keyword in your title. Additionally, titles with specifics usually work better. That’s why my article is entitled “SEO writing: 18 tips on how to write for SEO” – the red part is especially important because it’s specific.
Keywords and keyphrases
Keywords should be located in different places in the text and spread evenly (both in headings and in individual paragraphs). But don’t go overboard with that; you don’t want too many of them in your text.
The introductory paragraph (sometimes called a lead) is also vital. Lead is always a good place to include at least several keywords, but it also has to be written with your audience in mind. The lead should summarize the text and show why the reader should read the whole piece. Try starting with a hook to intrigue the reader.
There are four basic headings you need in your texts:
- H1: Tells what the whole piece is about. Usually, the title is also the H1 heading.
- H2: Indicates key issues related to the main topic.
- H3: Expands the content of the H2 heading.
- H4: Expands the content of the H3 heading.
Headings help you organize the text, but they are also useful to Google bots that use them to discover what the given subpage is about (headings can be implemented to any website, not just blog posts).
Metadata is composed of small pieces of content used by Google bots to understand what the given subpage is about. Every time you publish a subpage or a blog post, you should add metadata, specifically:
- Meta title/title tag: If your main article title (H1) doesn’t comprise the main keyword, make sure the meta title does. The title that’s visible on top of the blog post and the meta title are not the same thing, and they should not be identical. The meta title is what is displayed in the SERP (see the screen below).
- Meta description: It’s a description that’s also visible in the SERP. You can use it to squeeze in some keywords, but the main goal is to encourage readers to click your link, so make it captivating!
- ALT attribute: Every image that you put into your article should have an alt attribute describing what it is about. It’s also a good place to include at least one major keyword in every ALT attribute. Currently, though, the role of alt attributes slowly decreases as Google uses AI to understand the content of images.
CTA (Call To Action)
CTA is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about SEO-optimized texts; however, I strongly encourage you to put it at the end of every article you publish. The reason is twofold:
- CTA can trigger some of your readers to get in touch with you (free leads!)
- CTA is a terrific place to add yet another internal link to your article (e.g., to a specific landing page or the contact form)
Internal and external links
Links help Google bots navigate through your website. If there are subpages with no internal links directing to them, you end up with so-called orphan pages that cannot be found (and, therefore, indexed) by Google bots, which adversely affects your SEO. Make sure every blog post has at least one internal link, whether it’s to the contact page or to a different blog post.
And what about external links? Google advises adding them if they convey value to the reader. For instance, if you want to quote some interesting study or show an infographic, you can link to them in your blog post. Of course, you must ensure you’re linking to reliable and safe sources and places on the web.
Optimal text structure
Google doesn’t like walls of text, and your readers don’t like them as well. Use paragraphs, headings and other devices that make the text more digestible. Just like I do in this post. It’s always beneficial to include:
- External sources and media (e.g., YouTube videos, charts, infographics etc.)
And what about the text length? Write to exhaust the topic, but you can generally assume that SEO-optimized content should have at least 1,000 words.
SEO-friendly content is always linguistically correct. If you are not a native speaker of the language that you write in, there are at least two tools that you can use to verify the correctness of your texts. The first one is Grammarly. What’s great, it comes with handy features such as a plagiarism checker (it works really well, verified myself) and a virtual drive for your texts (always keep backup copies of your texts!). The basic version is free to use.
By no means is Grammarly perfect, but in my opinion, it’s really useful in effective SEO writing.
The second tool that you can use is LanguageTool. One of its biggest advantages is that it works with many different languages (over 15 of them). And, just like Grammarly, it’s free to use in the basic version.
SEO writing: How to check whether your texts are SEO-friendly
Suppose you know all this, and you try to stick to these rules in your SEO writing. How can you check whether your texts are truly SEO-optimized and can rank high on Google? You need a tool for that. I want to show you two such tools – one is a free WordPress plugin that I like very much, and the second is an SEO text editor that gives you feedback on keywords and text structure. Let’s start with the first one.
I use Rank Math on my website, and I honestly have to say – I like this tool a lot! Rank Math is a free WordPress plugin that verifies each text you add to this CMS according to one major keyword. Then, it uses two scales to show you how SEO-friendly your post or subpage is. You should always opt for the green scale (it starts with 80 points), indicating that your text checks all the right SEO boxes. Here’s how it looks:
Surfer SEO Content Editor/Contadu/Clearscope
Ok, these are actually three different tools 🙂 I frequently work with all of them, and pretty much it’s just a matter of your personal preference; they all get the job done. Each tool comes with text editors that verify the SEO-friendliness of your content. Each tool comes with suggestions on how long your text should be, how many headings it should have, and what (and how many) keywords it should include. Here’s how it looks in Surfer SEO Content Editor:
The thing about all these tools is they are paid, and if you don’t produce a lot of content, they are quite expensive. If you can’t afford them, start with Rank Math, and as your SEO game goes up, you can add one of these tools to the mix. Of course, each of these platforms comes with much more SEO-related features, so you can use them not just for SEO content writing but also for other SEO-related stuff.
Thanks to these two tools, everything you put on your blog or website will always be tailored toward the needs of the search engine. Of course, you still have to work on other sections of your website, but that’s what you need when it comes to SEO-friendly content!
Summary: Master SEO writing (or ask for help :))
There are three things that I want you to remember from this article. Stick to them, and each piece of content you publish will always be SEO-optimized!
1. ALWAYS WRITE SEO-FRIENDLY CONTENT
As a quick reminder, SEO-optimized content:
- Is fully compliant with Google requirements
- Answers to the needs and doubts of your customers
- Is thorough and substantive
- Uses relevant keywords and key phrases to attract the right traffic
- Is written, published, and promoted regularly using all available communication channels (think backlinks)
2. USE HELPFUL TOOLS TO STREAMLINE YOUR WORK
In this post, I’ve mentioned several tools you can use to write, publish and optimize SEO content. Many of them are available for free, at least in the basic version. Undoubtedly, Rank Math and AnswerThePublic are your must-haves!
3. ALWAYS PUT QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Everything you do SEO-related has to be well-thought-out and purposeful. Forget about copy-paste, thin content and detrimental SEO practices (like keyword stuffing). Concentrate on creating top-of-the-line content that will amaze your potential customers!
In this post, I’ve mentioned a lot of things to consider. If that’s too much for you, or you simply don’t have time to write content, I’m at your service! Just go to the contact section and drop me a line!