SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of tailoring content to appear at the top of search results. Optimizing your content for search best positions your organization to reach its customers and prospects by improving your website’s rankings organically — a.k.a. without paying to appear higher on the search engine results pages.
Appearing at the top of the search results can help you reach your clients, customers, prospects and others who may be interested in your organization’s service offerings or products. SEO has many technical aspects that must also be considered, but nothing can substitute for good writing. Here are the 5 essentials for writing SEO content.
1. Know your audience, start with the why, and have a goal in mind
Determining your message and the question you will answer for your target audience should always come first. This allows you to stay on topic and focus your efforts. To do this, however, requires an awareness of who your audience is. Building a buyer persona is one way to figure that out. Once you know who you are writing for, your goal or reason for creating the post should always include an element of value creation for them. To see what people are looking for on the topic of “SEO content,” I did some research. This leads to consideration #2.
2. Do your research
You cannot rely solely on what you think your audience is interested in. Research gives you insight into how you can address concerns, answer questions and add value for those seeking information on a topic. AnswerThePublic is a fantastic tool for finding keywords and suggesting content ideas. I used this tool and noticed a lot of questions seeking clarification on what SEO content is and also how to produce it. Focusing on the topic of how to develop it became the outline for this post.
3. Determine your SEO keywords
Keywords determine where you appear in the search rankings. How high in the rankings one appears is not solely based on an exact match to the terms being searched, but also related terms. There are three types of keywords to be aware of: short-tail, medium-tail and long-tail. Short-tail keywords are typically 1 word, medium-tail keywords are roughly 2 to 3 words and long-tails are usually 3 to 5 words. Each type ranges in its level of competitiveness from highly competitive to less competitive, and a mix of these types should be incorporated into your strategy. Here are a few other considerations when choosing keywords:
- Make sure they are organized and relevant.
- Use your keyword in your title
- Emphasize the placement of most of your keywords towards the top of the post
- Use variations on the terms within the post
4. Develop an outline and craft your post, making sure to optimize throughout
Having a structure and a plan will guide you in writing an effective post and make the process easier. From there, start building out your content and incorporating your keywords throughout! When writing, keep in mind that the length of your post matters. Your article or post cannot rank highly in the search results pages with only 100 words on a page. According to research from Backlinko, the first page result on Google contains 1,890 words on average. Other techniques for optimizing your post include incorporating keywords in header titles, adding alt text to images and writing a meta description. After your post has been crafted, remember to edit! Bring in another set of eyes to review your post for typos and ensure clarity of content.
5. Create a content calendar
A content calendar will help keep you on task and prevent you from scrambling to find content. It will also provide a quick resource for you to reference to determine which topics you can build off of and serve as a reminder of what topics have already been covered. Periodically review the calendar, identify content gaps, and then write to fill those gaps.
Build a firm foundation with technical SEO
Being an effective SEO content writer will require a mix of research and copywriting skills, as well as a familiarity with some of the more technical aspects of SEO. To develop content that is both rich in quality and substantial enough in quantity is one piece of the overarching strategy to optimize results. It is important to note that before diving into the content, laying the foundation for a good website should happen first to maximize overall strategy effectiveness.