Creating content is a big part of your SEO strategy. But coming up with content that resonates with readers and is optimized for SEO can feel like a challenge for many bloggers and website owners.
That’s what this SEO writing for beginners guide is going to address for you. You’re going to learn precisely what SEO content writing is and proven tips for doing it well. I will cover everything from the basics of keyword research to writing strong content that puts your audience first.
Now let’s get to it!
7 SEO Content Writing Tips for Creating Stellar Content That Ranks
What is SEO content writing?
Before I explain anything else, I want to make sure you fully understand what SEO content writing is. It’s not just some buzzy term you hear bloggers and online marketers talking about it — SEO content is a legitimate strategy used to attract search engine traffic.
Let me explain…
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of improving the quality of your website so it’s more visible in relevant keyword searches. Search engines use bots to crawl web pages collecting information and indexing sites. Then an algorithm analyzes the index to see which pages should show up when someone enters a specific search query.
Content, to put it simply, is information. There are all different types, but we’re talking specifically about written content for this article. That can be blog posts, lists, guides, product pages, articles, etc.
When you put those two things together, SEO content writing is written information produced on the web to help increase a site’s visibility.
Now that you have the basics, let’s dig into seven tips that will help you master SEO content writing.
1. Understand your audience
It’s so important to know who your audience is when you’re writing SEO content, and one of the best ways to get to know them is through surveys, social media polls, or even analytics software. You can even use the data you collect to create marketing personas — proxies for your target audience — which can help you think about the kinds of people reading your content.
Understanding your audience tells you exactly what kind of content they’re searching for. You’ll be able to write content that centers on their needs.
Plus, everything from how you deliver your content to the specific keywords you focus on can be determined by your audience. Knowing your audience will tell you if it’s better to have a casual voice or something more formal and assertive. You can determine if they prefer videos in their content, more images, if they like listicles, etc.
2. Research the right keywords
The wrong approach to SEO content writing assumes that you know who your audience is and what they’re searching for. And one thing I see happen a lot is what you want to rank for is vastly different from what your audience wants.
You can’t assume anything — you need proof, and that’s where keyword research comes in.
There are some free and paid keyword research tools you can use to help you research. Moz Keyword Explorer and Google Keyword Planner are two good free ones. I use Ahrefs for my sites, but it’s a little pricey, especially if you’re brand new.
You can also do a little basic keyword research on your own by starting to ask yourself questions about who your audience is and what they might want from you.
Let’s pretend you’re running a vegan recipe blog, and you’ve done your research and know your average audience is age 25-45, mainly vegan, and they’re pretty health-conscious overall. We can use that basic info to do a little searching on Google.
“Healthy vegan” is a broad and kind of ambiguous search term, and there’s a high search volume, meaning it would be difficult to rank for. In many cases, it’s better to go after more targeted, long-tail keywords.
So we can use the starting point of “healthy vegan” to give us ideas for better keywords. After clicking on the first result, “healthy vegan recipes”, we get even more ideas when we look at the right side of the page under “People also search for.”
There are four long-tail keywords with lower search volume, and you can do that with any of the keywords that came up in that first search for “healthy vegan.”
Don’t underestimate the power of these longer and less searched keywords. Long-tail keywords generally convert better because people have clear and specific search intent. That’s where you can get people to sign-up for your email list, convert sales, and get more page view.
3. Know how to use keywords in your content
The old-school line of thought was to stick your keyword in your content as much as possible. Because, if the bots were looking for keywords, wouldn’t it make sense to put lots of them in?
That worked for a hot minute, but algorithms and consumers have gotten much smarter and now everyone prefers content focuses on quality not quantity of keywords. Still, keywords are a big part of SEO content writing. The key is knowing when and where to use them.
There are a few specific places you want keywords:
- The URL: If you look at the URL for this post it ends in “seo-content-writing” because that’s the keyword I’m targeting with this article.
- Title tag: This is your web page title, and you can look at other top ranking results for that keyword to see what kind of title ranks well.
- Introduction to your page: The first 100 words of your post are key. Your keyword doesn’t necessarily need to be in the first paragraph, but it should show up in your page’s first 100-150 words.
- H1 tag: H1 is an HTML tag, and you only want one per page so you don’t confuse search engines. If you use WordPress, it will automatically give your title an H1 tag.
- H2 tag: H2 tags are for subheadings, and you can want your keyword in at least one H2 tag. Depending on the length of your keyword, it may naturally fit in other subheadings.
From there you can sprinkle in keywords naturally. Seriously, don’t stuff. This isn’t a contest to see who can fit the most keywords in — it’s about creating high-quality content that resonates with your readers. And I guarantee they can spot when you’re trying too hard.
4. Create an editorial calendar
You’ve got a list of keywords and you know what to do with them, but before you get too amped up about writing, spend some time building out a content calendar. This is a vital tip if you’re a blogger focusing on SEO article writing, but creating a calendar can help any kind of content creator.
Creating a calendar does a couple of different things. One, it helps you set goals and work towards them. Two, it also keeps you going when you’re out of ideas — which, trust me, can happen a lot.
In the beginning, you might get excited and want to schedule things for every day of the week, but that’s not sustainable. It’s essential to build a realistic schedule for you, and it’s okay if that’s one to two posts per week.
I like using Asana for scheduling, but Google Calendar and Outlook work too. And give yourself plenty of lead time when writing content that needs videos, images, infographics, etc. Those kinds of elements take longer to perfect and sometimes rely on other people.
5. Pay attention to intent
I’ve mentioned intent a couple of times already, but I want to explain more because it’s such an important part of SEO content writing. Intent is what a person wants to see when they search for something online.
Intent starts with knowing your audience and getting the right keywords, but you want to uncover what’s motivating the user. You want to know what they’re hoping to get from the search and deliver it.
Is the user searching to learn something, do something, buy something, etc.? Write content that answers the specific issue you’re hoping to solve for them.
If you’re not sure what users want, look at the search results for that keyword to see. Google prioritizes intent, so the top-ranking results are probably nailing intent. Don’t copy their content, but let it guide yours.
6. Focus on high-quality content
High-quality means you’re giving your reader a positive user experience. They’re so happy with what’s happening on your page that they’re staying on the page, looking around, and even clicking buttons. If you can write content that gives someone that kind of experience, you are delivering value to your readers. That alone is good, but it doesn’t hurt that algorithms reward engagement.
So how do you create magical unicorn content that engages your readers? Here are some tips:
- Create original material: It pays to be yourself online because there’s a lot of stuff out there, and authenticity leads to originality.
- Make your content actionable: Your goal should be to get the user to immediately apply what they’ve learned.
- Answer questions: What else might the person want to ask about this particular topic? Writing content that covers all of their questions keeps them on the page.
- Research for accurate material: If you’re presenting facts or data, do yourself and your readers a favor and make sure that the material is accurate. Accuracy builds trust, and that goes a long way.
- Make your site user-friendly: You should optimize your website for mobile, it should have a fast load time, everything should be easy to find, etc.
- Add videos and images when appropriate: Additional elements like photos or videos can sometimes fill out your content and explain more than words alone.
- Be professional: Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
- Make your site visually appealing: Your images should be clear and eye-catching, not grainy. Your text should be easy to read, so think shorter paragraphs and make sure the font is simple and contrasts with the background.
7. Pay attention to your site’s analytics
Your site’s analytics can provide a lot of information about how your SEO practices are paying off, and where you should focus your energy in the future. You want to pay attention to page views, links, comments, social shares, and conversion rates.
When you find something that looks like a unicorn, high-performing content, study it to see what’s working so well. That will give you a framework for creating content that resonates with your users.
Underperforming content can be revamped and refreshed for different keywords, extra content, or other changes that will make it shine.
The final word on SEO content writing
Creating content that ranks isn’t rocket science, but it does take work. Focusing on user intent, high-quality content, and a positive user experience will take your site a long way.
You’ll want to stay up-to-date on changes to Google’s algorithm because even a little shift can make a big difference in how your site ranks. So keep learning and focusing on your end goal, and you’ll do great.