SEO Content Writing: How To Write For Search

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SEO Content Writing: How To Write For Search

When it comes to writing content for your business website to ensure it can be found on search engines such as Google & Bing, there’s a little more to it than just writing words on various pages on your website and praying you get found.
With a little bit of understanding and know-how, writing for search engines aka SEO content writing will allow you to create on-page & off-page content that will ensure your business can be found on search engines by those who matter most - your target audience.
But how do you do it? And correctly? But most importantly - how can you ensure readers & search engines can find your content?
That’s exactly what we’re going to explain below in our blog article.

What is SEO Content Writing?

As we mentioned before, SEO content writing goes beyond writing words on the various pages of your website and praying search engines find it.

Essentially, SEO content writing is the implementation of keywords and key phrases within your website content to ensure it can be found by search engines and, in turn, your target audience.

The best method when writing for SEO is to combine targeted search terms with high-quality copy.

In comparison to traditional copywriting, the content writer is focused on elements and typically doesn’t consider SEO when producing content. Their content may be used for newspapers, TV, and radio instead of websites.

This is why writing for SEO is considered to be technical copywriting.

However, with professional content writing, the goal might be broad enough to consider both traditional marketing outcomes and SEO. 

Star With Clearly Defined Goals

SEO content writing without goals is like trying to steer a ship without a map - you end up doing a lot without actually getting anywhere.

This is why the foundation of any effective SEO content strategy is to know what it is you want to achieve. Set measurable goals before you start so that all involved are aware of what they are working towards.

Some common metrics to measure are:

  • Conversion rate: this is the number that is a result of dividing the conversions by the number of total interactions that can be tracked during any given period.
  • Organic traffic: this is what is produced when consumers who visit a web page through unpaid means.
  • Click-through rate: this is the number of clicks that the copy acquires divided by the number of times it is shown on a search engine results page aka SERP
  • SERP position: the position a website has in organic search
  • Backlinks: linking one website to another typically via a page or blog post
  • Pageviews per session: the website’s total page views are divided by the number of sessions that have happened.

The person/people responsible for writing the content should be given the necessary data they need to succeed within the SEO strategy so that each new page that’s created is tied back to key business goals.

Think In Terms of Ranking

Despite a company’s own commercial objectives, there are also a number of things to keep in mind with regard to Google. The search engine’s algorithm called RankBrain helps process webpages and determine where they should rank in SERPs.

This means that SEO writers have to keep Google in mind, as well as their target audience when writing content.

Now, this may somewhat contradict Google’s latest algorithm update which is now placing emphasis on creating content that is helpful for users rather than search engines.

However, if an SEO writer is creating content that serves both “audiences”, then acquiring rankings and organic search traffic won’t be an issue.

Let's take a look at the 10 most prominent ranking factors that Google looks at when ranking content:

  • Content Quality - is it relevant, accurate, and user-friendly?
  • Content Depth - is your content more in-depth than similar content elsewhere?
  • HTTPS - is your site secure? This is particularly important for eCommerce businesses
  • Backlinks - are other sites linking to your content?
  • Page Speed - is your website loading in 2 seconds or less?
  • User Experience - is your content easy to engage with and flows logically?
  • Mobile-first: is your site optimised for mobile-first?
  • Direct Traffic - do users find your site directly or do they arrive via Google or other channels i.e. social media, email marketing, etc.
  • Schema - is your content easily understood by search engines?
  • Behavioural Signals - are people sharing, commenting, and mentioning your content?

Strategy is King; Not Keyword Stuffing

The old ways of doing SEO are well and truly dead. If you’ve been optimising your website for search engines for quite some time, or have been working with an SEO agency, you might remember when “keyword stuffing” was how you got your website ranking.

Essentially, it meant repeating your specific keywords as many times as possible on as many pages as possible.

Now, that way of doing SEO will get you penalised by way of loss of rankings.

This is why it’s important to be aware of algorithm changes and what it means for your website.

In the last five years especially, Google’s algorithm changes have been largely based on user & page experience, and content quality rather than keyword density.

What this means is that each page should focus on a singular keyword at the very least. SEO content writers will almost certainly have several subtopics in mind for one topic and base their entire article around this.

The intent of each blog post and page is to be the single best resource for a topic whilst providing maximum value to the target audience.

Done correctly, the keywords should naturally flow in the article.

Optimising Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Alt Text

As mentioned previously, content writing for SEO is a form of technical writing where the writers will go through a process to ensure they’re taking into account each piece of content holistically.

One important element of SEO writing is metadata which is a cue to search engines to help them understand what your content is about and how it should be presented in search engines.

To achieve this, writers will need to optimise title tags, meta descriptions and image alt text in each piece of content.

These three elements of metadata may only equate to 75 words but they could be the difference between the target audience clicking through to the website or going to a direct competitor's website instead.

Here is some guidance on how to approach each element:

Title Tags

  • Use only 1 header tag per page and try to include the target keyword
  • Keep it to 70 characters or less; ideally 60
  • Each page or post should have a unique title tag

Meta Descriptions

  • Keep it to 150-160 characters so it doesn’t get truncated by Google
  • Use copy that will click-worthy phrasing and terms - this is where the click-through rate shines

Alt Text

  • Use descriptive language that matches the image in question
  • Use the keyword where possible
  • Keep it to 115-125 characters or less with tags separated by commas

This is why it’s important to be aware of algorithm changes and what it means for your website.

Optimising Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and Alt Text

Speaking of header tags, they are essentially the skeleton of any piece of content.

Structurally speaking, they keep the copy organised and provide readers with a general outline of what the topic is.

With respect to search engines, headers are key signals to Google and Bing about what the article is about. 

Proper header tags allow search engines to quickly analyse a page’s content and correctly index it in the SERPs.

Headers follow a simple method in descending order:

Title - H1

Title - H2

Title - H3

Header tags go all the way through to H7 but typically H3 is where most SEO content writers will stop.

Much like this article, the H1s are situated at the very beginning of the article, followed by several sub-headings or H2s. If there is a need for further headings underneath the H2 headings, then H3s are generally recommended.

Optimising & Re-Optimising

Once a page or a blog post has been written, and optimised for search engines, that should be the end of it, right?

Wrong.

SEO content is an ongoing process where rankings and traffic fluctuate on a daily basis and thus content needs to be looked at regularly for relevancy and quality.

Something we could consider to be a quick win for re-optimising content would be starting with content that is already performing reasonably well. 

Using SEO content writing tools such as SEMRush, Moz, Ahrefs, etc will allow writers to spot opportunities and make minor tweaks i.e. updating links, adding new information into paragraphs, restructuring header tags to be more clear, etc. 

The beauty of re-optimising existing content is that it takes less time to reap the benefits than creating new content from scratch. Think of it as levelling up on existing helpful content.

How to Implement SEO Writing into Your Content Marketing Strategy

It might seem a little daunting at first, but there are a number of easy steps you as a business owner can use to include SEO content writing into your existing content marketing strategy (assuming you have one in place!).

As per our last paragraph, take a look at the existing content and see where you can produce some quick wins through re-optimisation. 

As you begin to create regular SEO-friendly content, be sure to regularly check your existing content for accuracy and relevancy.

Once completed, you’ll have enough experience to start producing fresh content that will also be able to be re-optimised later on.

This will go a long way to boosting your business on search engines and enabling your target audience to find you more readily.

How Long Does it Take to Work?

As the old SEO saying goes - “it depends”.

But seriously, on average it takes about 100 days at minimum for content to mature i.e. how long it will take Google to definitively rank your page in SERPs.

Prior to this, your rankings will fluctuate a lot as Google works to settle on an initial consistent ranking. Some days it will be on page 1, other days it will be back on page 2.

This fluctuation is due to Google testing if your content has the ability to stay on page 1 or if it's valuable enough to stay there.

After the first 100 days have been completed, and your content has ranked highly, it will almost certainly stay there.

The best advice we can give here is to ensure that you take a long-term lense to your SEO content and not focus on immediate performance. SEO is essentially brand marketing and as it takes quite some time to build a brand, so does it take quite some time to create ongoing visibility within search engines for your business.

The key is to produce consistent, quality content that will answer the questions that your target audience has.

Summing up...
1
Clearly defined goals
Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards from there
2
The old way of SEO is dead
Keyword stuffing is no longer seen as best practice SEO
3
Optimise & re-optimise
Your initial efforts are never enough. You need to keep reassessing your work
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