SEO Writing Guidelines: A Guide To Writing Content That Ranks

When you’re searching for a quick answer to a question, what’s the first thing that you do to find answers? 

If you’re anything like most people with access to a smartphone or computer, there’s a good chance you pull out your phone and do a quick Google search to find the relevant information. 

In today’s internet age, having a website that ranks highly on the first page of a search engine search can easily make or break your success. Here is a top-level summary of 1o8’s approach to publishing blog articles that bring readers to your business’ website … and turn them into consumers. 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Your website’s SEO depends on a collection of processes and metrics that determine whether or not your site comes up when a consumer types in keywords or questions related to your search query. 

Improving your website’s SEO is the process of making changes to your website that will help increase the site’s rankings in organic search.

How can changes on a website influence a site’s SEO rankings on search engines?

A variety of factors go into how your web page ranks on Google or other search engines. There are:

  • Technical factors that relate to how the website is developed.
  • Page loading times, which affects the user experience and accessibility to content on a website.
  • The website’s content and accessibility structure, which influences how easy it is for web users to find the content that they are looking for.

One of the most important things to consider when working on your webpage is the content and copy you write for people that you want to attract to your site, which impacts the search engine optimization performance. 

How do search engines decide which content to rank?

Search engines like Google visit your webpage and store the information they gather in their index. From this information, the search engine considers important metrics like your use of relevant keywords and the user experience when they visit your site. Based on this information, the search engine then uses an algorithm to determine how relevant the information on your website is to potential consumers and ranks them to show the most relevant information when someone enters a query. 

So in order to pop up as a result when someone searches for information in your industry, your content needs to contain relevant and helpful information for their needs. This is where the art of search engine optimization comes into play! 

Which pages should you focus your SEO efforts on? 

Every page in your website should be optimized to increase the market that you capture. For example, SEO can be taken into consideration in sales page copywriting like what you would find on: 

  • Landing pages 
  • Product pages 
  • About us pages 

However, SEO is also extremely important in informative content (ie blog posts and articles). Having useful, relevant, and ranking information about various topics in your niche present on your webpage can capture a wider audience than your customers alone. These types of pages offer a huge opportunity to answer those questions that people are searching for and bring a wider variety of people to your site – and an opportunity to convert them into customers while they’re visiting. 

What are SEO keywords, and how do you use them? 

A huge part of the strategy of SEO writing is to predict what search queries your potential consumers are plugging into their search engines. So as a result, one of the first things you’ll need to do when planning and writing for SEO is to determine which keywords you would like to target. 

Keywords are the words, phrases, and questions that people are inputting into their search engines to get answers.

Keyword research

There are several methods and tools that you can use to research keywords and plan your content strategy. Some useful and free places to start your keyword research include: 

  • Google Keyword Planner 
  • Bing Keyword Planner 
  • Google Auto Suggest 
  • Google Search Suggestions 

You can also key into more specific data to better evaluate how you’ll approach your SEO writing. Relevant data to consider include your keyword’s: 

  • Ranking penetration, or how competitive it is to rank highly for your specific keyword.
  • Traffic, or how often people are searching for these queries 

You may need to invest in more advanced paid tools like Ahrefs to dial into this information. 

How to write using keywords for SEO 

After you’ve compiled all of the data, you can now start writing using your keywords! 

You’ll want to strategically place your keywords in the places where they are most likely to trigger search engines. For example, you should place your relevant keywords in your: 

  • Web page URL
  • Web page title 
  • Web page headings (H1, H2, H3 tags)
  • Meta description tag 
  • Within your content where it fits organically 
  • Image file names, alt text, image description, captions (more on this further down) 

Writing SEO content with value

Keywords are undoubtedly important for writing web content that ranks, but visitors don’t want to come to a site with repetitive, low-value content. 

Once upon a time, the name of the game was keyword stuffing, or loading your webpage with as many keywords as many times as possible throughout the content. But this is not a great strategy, especially considering how the search engine algorithms have changed in order to bring searchers the best and most relevant information they’re looking for. 

Remember, you want your content to provide value to your readers, not a random mishmash of words that trigger search engines. 

So to better optimize your search engine rankings, you’ll need to provide relevant and high-quality content in addition to keyword utilization. In other words, don’t write for the computers and the algorithms; write to connect with your audience! 

Solve the information gap. 

Remember, when readers click through to your website, they’re looking for answers to their searches. Give them the answers they are looking for and demonstrate more value by giving them more information, tools, videos, etc that can improve their user experience.

Use attention-grabbing headlines

Headlines set the tone for the content on a web page. Use relevant, attention-grabbing headlines that will keep the searcher engaged. 

Tap into micro-niches

The content that appears on a web page needs to appeal to a niche audience. The content should have enough differentiation to make it unique from other competing websites in the niche. 

Create more differentiation by finding the micro-niche within the niche that you are promoting. From there, you’ll be able to write directly to their needs and ultimately, drive more sales. 

Format your content for “rich snippets”

If you’ve ever Googled a specific question, you’ve probably seen a little box pop up at the top of the page that has your answer bolded from a top-ranking site. 

Landing these “rich snippets” is an excellent way to highlight your web page and bring it to the forefront of your readers’ attention. So as you’re writing, make it a point to answer specific questions as clearly and concisely as possible to fit into that small highlight box. 

More content you can add to increase the value of your site: 

In order to keep your reader’s interest throughout your piece, you might also consider adding other sections and information like: 

  • Statements 
  • Slice of life examples 
  • Stories
  • Case studies 
  • Explainer section 
  • Teaser sections 
  • Lists 
  • Tables
  • Quotes 
  • Timing and urgency 
  • Statistics and facts 
  • Proof 
  • Credibility 
  • Testimonials & reviews
  • FAQs
  • Guarantees/Warranty 
  • Captioned photos 
  • Audio or video transcription 
  • Cliffhangers 

Not only will these elements increase your total word count, but they’ll also be adding more useful information for your readers; and drive SEO as a result. 

Formatting your content for SEO

Readability is another major factor for SEO. Break your content up so that it is easily readable by: 

  • Short paragraphs that are easy to scan, rather than huge blocks of text your reader needs to slog through to find the information they’re there for. 
  • Vary your formatting so that, in addition to short paragraphs, you’re including other scannable sections like bullet points, lists data tables, and relevant images. This will help break up your content and make it easier for your audience to read as a result. 
  • Include various subsections with relevant headlines. This can both make the information more digestible for readers and allow you to place targeted keywords in the H2, H3, and H4 tags for extra SEO points. 

Ideal content length for SEO

There’s no real “ideal” content length for SEO. As a very general guideline, your web page content should be no less than 500 words. Long-form content also tends to work really well, so you might want to aim for content length to hit somewhere around 1,000-2,000 words. 

But again, there’s no “magic number” here. Instead, you want to ensure that you’re writing enough to cover all the points you think your reader wants to know and add value to their experience on your website. 

Image SEO 

A web page that purely contains blocks of text is usually not enough to capture your audience’s attention — you’ll also want to make sure that you add images into the mix. 

Not only do images give your eyes a visual “resting place” in what would otherwise be a large block of text, but their inclusion also means that can add strategic tags and captions that further help your SEO. 

Consider implementing your keywords when writing your blog image’s: 

  • Title 
  • Alt tags 
  • Description 
  • Captions

How to use links to help with SEO 

Adding relevant links to your website content is another great SEO strategy. Both the links that you add to your web page and any backlinks that another website has that direct readers to your page.

Internal links

Link relevant blog posts, product pages, and other pages from your own website. 

External links 

Link to pages from other reputable sources. For example, link peer-reviewed studies while writing an article, or to trustworthy authorities in your niche. 

Backlinking

In addition to including your links in your own writing, it’s also hugely beneficial for your SEO to have other websites link to you. 

There are plenty of strategies out there for driving these backlinks. But the most organic way to get people to link to you is simply to create high-value content that actually engages consumers. It may be easier said than done, but accomplishing this ultimately means getting more people linking to your site and ultimately, more organic traffic.

Inspiring action 

Finally, if you’re running a business, the end goal is eventually to nudge readers to interact somehow with your brand, whether that means looking around at your product pages, following your social media, or driving a sale. 

If you’ve done your job well throughout the blog or the article, you’ve kept their interest throughout the piece, answering their question and then some. Now, think about what you want the end goal of your content to be, and seamlessly blend that into your writing. 

The main takeaways of writing content for search engine optimization

Let’s sum it all up:

  1. Your content should be unique and engaging, and it should also preferably long-form (at least 1,000 words). 
  2. Use keywords strategically to target your intended audience. 
  3. Utilize links (both internal and external) to keep readers engaged and boost SEO.
  4. Keep readers engaged with different valuable content like storytelling and relevant images. 
  5. At the end, your reader should feel compelled to take action, whether that means signing up for a newsletter, buying your product, or clicking around your website for more. 

SEO writing is truly an art form, and there is plenty more that goes into writing for the web than just researching and uploading your thoughts onto a blog post. What other questions do you have about SEO content writing to drive clicks and build your brand? 

References

https://businessgrowthdigitalmarketing.com/on-page-seo/

https://businessgrowthdigitalmarketing.com/image-seo/

Photo by Firmbee.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-using-macbook-pro-with-google-website-on-screen-6963740/

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