SEO Writing Tips
Search engine algorithm updates are constantly changing the rules of SEO content. The days of simply writing 400 words around targeted keywords are gone; in demand now is holistic and informative content that’s intended to educate and add value for readers.
As digital marketing continues to change in the future, one thing’s for sure: quality content will always be in demand. Classic journalism is now in demand more than ever, but the writing must adhere to some SEO tactics for search engine visibility.
High Demands for Traditional Writers
Search engines exist to connect users with the information. Thus, search engines rank content based on its quality and relevance to user intent in order to create a positive user experience. Businesses compete to occupy the top results of a search query in order to gather visitor traffic and create a revenue stream. SEO content writers exist to help businesses accomplish that goal.
SEO content writing is always in demand because many businesses simply do not have the time or resources to produce their own content on top of all of their other day-to-day operations. Quality copy helps business webpages rank highly, establishes brand authority, and captures user interests as they bounce around to any number of links attempting to find the answer to their search query. Yet, good writing is like a fine steakhouse without any signs or windows. Optimizing content for search engines is necessary if you ever want your content to be discovered in the first place.
SEO Writing: The Essentials
Content writers have one main mission: create content that ranks high and drive traffic to your website. SEO writing can extend far beyond just writing product descriptions. Content writing for an online business could mean producing content for the company newsletter, product inserts, or a blog.
Understand what type of content writing you are engaging in. For longer-form pieces, stick research and stick with AP style, and always present the most important information in the opening paragraphs. And wherever possible, attempt to tell a story.
SEO Writing: Keywords in the Title-Tag
Once you familiarize yourself with the type of content you are writing, the most important place to begin is focused around a keyword phrase. Keywords and keyword phrases are meant to represent what users type in during a user search. For example, if users are searching for appliance stores in Wilkes-Barre, they might search “appliance stores Wilkes-Barre.” Applying these keywords to your title tag or the headline of your content will be instrumental in communicating what your article is about to search engines.
Simply, this will establish your content’s relevance to that particular search query. When creating a title-tag it’s important to keep your titles short and succinct, inserting your keyword at the beginning of the title-tag. Most search engines ignore punctuation when evaluating keywords, so separating your title and keywords with punctuation will make them more clear, but will also not affect your title-tags’ relevance to a search query.
SEO Writing: Broad vs Long-Tail Keywords
A number of keyword research tools exist, the most popular being SEMRush, Searchmetrics, and Google’s Keyword Planner. Keyword tools can give data about the amount of traffic generated from competitor keywords, the average cost-per-click of keywords in a paid advertisement campaign (PPC ad campaign), and the overall competitiveness of a keyword.
It’s crucial to base your content on the right keyword phrases. Broad keywords, such as appliance store, will be highly competitive and hard to rank for. Long-tail keywords, such as low-wattage microwaves, will be less competitive and more specific to user searches.
SEO Writing: Keyword Density and Keyword Variations
Writing content that meets the demands of SEO means answering user questions as succinctly and detailed as possible. Content blocks should include the correct keyword density and keyword variations. Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword is used compared to the overall word count. The optimal keyword density is between 1-3% per article; anything higher may be interpreted as spam. Utilizing keywords sparingly and effectively will ensure that your content is as search friendly as possible without hampering user experience. Make sure keywords are instituted within any headings that may exist to divide different blocks of content.
While your title tags may include the keywords that are directly related to a search query, you also want to include keyword variations that may also create impressions for your webpages. Impressions are the amount of times a webpage shows up in a search engine results page (SERP). Using different keyword variations will help to answer as many questions as possible that users may have. They also create the potential for your content to rank for different, but relevant search queries. Going to our previous example, keyword variations around “low wattage microwaves”, such as “energy efficient microwaves,” or “environmentally friendly microwaves” may also exist to satisfy other user requests and questions.
SEO Writing: Important Ranking Factors to Consider
Traditional writers may owe their livings to the rise of machine learning technology, and the great advancement that search engines have made over the years. In modernity, it’s nearly impossible to manipulate search engines to rank highly for poor content and keyword stuffing. Producing quality content matters, and the detail your content places into answering user search questions and educating readers will have a high affect on its ranking. Content relevance to user intent is one of Google’s most important ranking factors.
User signals are very important to search engines, and are used to determine a content’s relevance to user intent. According to a Searchmetrics report, the top 10 SERP positions tended to have an average dwell time of about 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Within digital marketing, most content writers are subject to the 30-second rule–you have 30 seconds to either persuade a user to keep reading your content or to bounce. If your content is suffering from a low dwell time it either means your copy is too short or is not succinct or informative enough to answer general user questions.
Word count has been found to have a direct correlation to a content’s total social shares. Content below 700 words is shown to be shared the least, and content above 2,500 words has been found to be shared the most. Social “shareability” is a major factor in determining your search rankings and will also present another avenue to generate visitor traffic on your website. In the mobile-first world, it’s ideal to consider what devices you’re also writing for. Desktop webpages tend to have a third higher word count than mobile webpages, but mobile web pages have been found to also generate more traffic in local searches than desktop searches.
This comes back to the basic idea of SEO content writing, which is simply understanding your audience. The number one pitfall that SEO content writers fall into is writing for search engines. While the technical factors of a website still lay the foundation for search friendliness and the ability to rank high, more and more businesses are investing in highly skilled writers to create content that is more satisfying to user experiences and establishes authority their industry.