SEO content writing makes it possible to build authority, gain an audience, and increase conversions, all without a huge budget.
Here, you’ll find:
- An explanation of SEO content writing
- The difference between SEO content writing and regular content writing
- The benefits of spending time on SEO
- Pro tips to improve your content strategy
Have you ever thought about just how popular Google truly is?
Let’s put it in perspective.
Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming, has approximately 65,000 residents. It’s been estimated that Google handles around 63,000 search queries every single second.
Imagine every citizen of Cheyenne making a Google search at the exact same second, and you may start to get an idea of Google’s omnipresence.
Mastering the Google search results page is a surefire way to bring in more organic traffic. To do that, you’ll want to get familiar with SEO content writing.
What is SEO content writing?
SEO content writing is the process of writing content with the intention of ranking highly on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Now, let’s back up and quickly define SEO, which stands for search engine optimization.
SEO is all about leveraging strategies to improve your website’s ranking on SERPs. When a web user searches for a keyword or phrase that your website is targeting, the hope is that your website will appear near the top of the results. Your SEO efforts can help make it happen.
For a more detailed definition, we can turn to HubSpot. They define SEO writing as “the process of writing content to rank on the first page of search engines like Google.” They go on to say that SEO writing involves “researching keywords, writing high-quality content that matches user intent, and optimizing your headers for easy page crawling.”
You can apply SEO concepts to countless types of content, including:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Featured snippets
- Social media posts
SEO content writing vs. regular content writing
You’re probably already writing content for your business in some capacity, whether you’re already running a blog or are posting regularly on social media. So how is standard content writing different from SEO-focused content writing?
In short, SEO content writing focuses on appealing to search engines to “fuel the discovery of your content,” as Search Engine Land puts it. Regular content writing is designed specifically for humans to read.
It’s also worth asking: What’s the difference between SEO content writing and typical copywriting?
SEO content is traditionally created to inform or educate the reader (while also improving search engine rankings). Copywriting, on the other hand, is intended to convert readers into buyers. SEO copywriting includes elements of both traditional copywriting and SEO-focused content.
SEO content writers often have experience in multiple facets of content creation and know how to tweak the terminology and tone of a piece depending on the ultimate goal of the campaign.
How SEO content can benefit your digital marketing efforts
Creating SEO-friendly content can bring tons of benefits to your business, even beyond the increase in organic traffic.
SEO is a highly effective way to spread awareness and get the word out about your brand. When you begin to rank for certain keywords and search terms, your website will automatically get placed in front of more eyes.
In addition to getting more traffic, you can build relationships with influencers or complementary businesses in your industry through practices like link-building.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might not be able to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. SEO, however, doesn’t cost you anything up-front, other than your time and compensating the person or team responsible for strategizing, creating, and publishing content.
Building a solid SEO strategy is a great idea for all businesses. However, it’s an especially beneficial tactic for new or small businesses. You can start bringing in traffic while you’re growing your company and continue to utilize SEO even after your marketing budget increases.
3 steps to get started with SEO content writing
Now that we know what SEO content is and why it’s important, how do you actually create it? There are plenty of SEO agencies out there that can assist with everything from research and strategy to creation and distribution. But it’s entirely possible to handle your content needs in-house as well.
If you’re handling your own content creation needs, here’s how to get started.
1. Verify that you’re on Google
First, make sure your website is in Google’s index.
To do this, just perform a search for your website’s main URL. If your website shows up, you’re good to go. If not, you may have to help Google find your website.
Google uses automated software called “crawlers” to find and index pages from across the web. If your site isn’t in Google SERPs yet, it could mean that your website is difficult to navigate or isn’t connected to many other websites.
Often, companies with new websites simply have to wait a while until Google is able to crawl the site and index it accordingly. In other cases, you may need to adjust your permissions or adjust the layout of your site to make it easier to get around. Google offers insights on their crawling process if you want to learn more.
2. Explore plugins
When you’re creating SEO content on a platform like WordPress, you can often find helpful plugins to improve your writing in a snap.
Plugins work similarly to extensions on your browser. They can help with everything from optimizing your descriptions to making sure you use keywords effectively. You can also find plugins to help track your metrics, analyze your backlinks, and even identify gaps in your site that could be preventing you from ranking.
Yoast SEO is among the most popular WordPress plugins, and for good reason. It offers features like on-page SEO insights, SERP previews, meta description ratings, and more. Plus, it’s free!
3. Decide between in-house or agency writers
Many companies choose to write all their content themselves. But if writing isn’t your strong suit, or you simply don’t have the time to create your own content, it may be time to consider working with an SEO agency to outsource your writing needs.
Not sure whether you should work with an agency? Consider this tip from HawkSEM Senior Content Marketing Manager Caroline Cox:
“If you’re having trouble with content-related tasks like coming up with topic ideas, quality content writing, maximizing your content’s reach, promotion, or publishing consistently, then these are all things that an SEO content agency can assist with.”
6 best practices for SEO content creation
If you’re diving in and creating content on your own, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
1. Keep your audience top of mind
We mentioned that SEO content writing is designed to appeal to search engines, while regular content writing is focused on humans. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about your human readers while you’re focused on SEO.
In fact, search engines are discouraging content marketers from writing only for them. In late 2022, Google announced its “helpful content update,” saying content that seems to be targeted at search engines (instead of content aimed at helping or informing people) would be penalized.
Struggling to create content that audiences are actively seeking out? “Consistency, refreshing, quality, and relevance are all crucial to the success of SEO content,” Cox explains. “To maintain good spots on the SERP, your content needs to be accurate, thorough, and well-written.”
She adds that it’s also key for your content to speak to your target audience and helps them in some way, whether that’s solving a problem, answering a question, or educating them about a subject.
“If you’re having trouble with SEO content creation,” Cox adds, “then partnering with an agency or consultant could help you get things back on track so you can stay competitive and gain or maintain good SERP visibility.”
2. Take keyword research seriously
To get your content in front of your target audience, you first have to know what they’re searching for. That’s why keyword research is so important.
There are plenty of SEO tools to help you with your research, many of which are free or low-priced. You can find a wide range of keyword research tools across the web, and many content management systems like WordPress have SEO assistance features.
When you’re compiling your initial keyword list, consider:
- Search intent – What is your ideal prospect trying to achieve when they perform a search, and do your keywords align with that intent?
- Search volume – How many searches does the keyword or phase get each day, week, or month? Is the search volume too high to give you a decent chance of ranking?
- Striking distance – Which keywords are you ranking semi-decently for, and how can you give them an extra boost?
- Usability – Can you create relevant and engaging content to match each keyword?
- Variety – Are you targeting a combination of short- and long-tail keywords? Have you also included keyword variants to cover all your bases?
When you start writing your content, choose a target keyword for the piece. You should also pick a few related keywords to incorporate throughout.
Pro tip: While it’s important to include keywords throughout your content, avoid keyword stuffing. When you put too many keywords in a blog post or on a webpage, Google may believe that you’re trying to manipulate the algorithm, which they consider a “black-hat” or unethical tactic. Your page could wind up being recommended lower in SERPs as a result.
3. Create a content calendar
You’ve got enough to do in a day without having to remember where you are in the content process. That’s where a content marketing calendar can come in handy.
Creating a piece of content is so much more than firing off some thoughts and posting it to your social media channels. Besides the actual writing, content creation requires keyword research, outlining, finding and adding links, including visuals, editing, posting, engaging with readers… the list goes on.
A content calendar can keep your team on the same page and ensure that content is being produced consistently. You can schedule every aspect of the creation process and include everyone from your content writers to your editors, social media team, and more.
Overwhelmed at the prospect of having to constantly publish new content? Good news! You don’t always have to create brand-new content to keep delivering information and insights to your audience.
Cox offers some strategies for repurposing content:
“There are many ways to repurpose SEO content. If you’ve got a blog post that’s getting a good amount of traffic, you can consider turning that topic into a podcast episode, a more in-depth downloadable guide, or taking a quote and turning it into a graphic for a social media post. You can also take webinar clips and upload them onto video platforms like YouTube and even embed the clips into relevant blogs.”
4. Pay attention to on-page SEO
SEO requires more than good content. It also involves improving your website itself and making it quick and easy to navigate.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing your webpages to earn those precious organic searches and higher SERP ranking. Several SEO ranking factors fall into the “on-page SEO” category, including:
- Mobile performance
- Page speed
- Proper URL structure
- Image optimization
When you’re thinking about optimizing your website, you’ve got more to consider than the body of your content. Include your keywords of choice in your headings, subheadings, meta title (also called a title tag), meta description, and image descriptions.
5. Build relationships and authority with backlinks
Now, let’s discuss off-page SEO.
As you might be able to guess, off-page SEO refers to strategies deployed outside of your own website. The goal remains the same: improving your performance within search engine rankings.
One of the most common ways to improve off-page SEO is through backlinks. Backlinks (or inbound links) are links on other websites that lead back to your website.
Let’s say you’ve produced an in-depth blog post on a common industry topic. An influencer in your industry refers to your blog post when they’re creating content, and they include a link to your original post. When readers click the link, they’re taken from the influencer’s website to yours, increasing your traffic.
When other websites link to your content, it proves to search engines that your work is valuable and relevant to your audience. As you gain more backlinks from trusted industry sources, you’ll see your SEO rankings continue to improve.
If you’re interested in learning more about backlinks, Semrush has a comprehensive guide that may prove helpful. (See? That’s a backlink right there!)
6. Track the right metrics
You can’t know if your content marketing efforts are successful if you aren’t tracking the right metrics. Determine what you’re trying to accomplish with a specific piece of content (or content campaign) to help you decide which metrics are worth paying attention to.
Some of the most common metrics to track include:
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate
- Organic traffic
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
Your metrics provide valuable insights about the effectiveness of your content. For instance, if your bounce rate is particularly high on one blog post, it could indicate that you’re not targeting the right keywords (meaning that your post isn’t reaching the best audience).
There’s a way to create content that keeps both the SERP and your target audience top of mind. The key is to focus on the right keywords, high-quality writing, and proper optimization.
Having a codified SEO content strategy ironed out will help keep you and your internal or external content writing team aligned, on the same page, and in sync.