How is your website traffic? If you are like most business owners we work with, your numbers probably aren’t great. A common cause of lackluster numbers is a lack of a consistent content marketing strategy. When we first talk about SEO writing as the foundation of a content marketing strategy, our clients always ask us – what is SEO writing?
Let’s answer that question first, and then we’ll follow up with an 11-step process to creating SEO content.
What is SEO Writing?
First, let’s talk a bit about SEO, as understanding the components of SEO is crucial for good SEO writing. Search engine optimization is an umbrella phrase that includes all the tasks involved in getting a webpage to rank on the first search engine results page. There are two main SEO subcategories: on-page optimization and off-page optimization.
On-page optimization includes the following tasks:
- Identifying primary and secondary keywords through keyword research
- Using targeted keywords evenly throughout the page text
- Including keywords in HTML meta tags
- Linking to high-authority external sources and similar content within your own site
When it comes to SEO writing, you’re mostly concerned with on-page optimization, but you need off-page optimization as well for a holistic SEO strategy. Off-page optimization is about amplifying your content through links from other sites and shares of your content on social media.
The following all fall under off-page optimization:
- Building relationships with webmasters to secure backlinks from relevant sites
- Writing guest posts with backlinks to your site for publications in your niche
- Identifying and building relationships with influencers to get your content shared on social media
Now that you understand the basics of on-page and off-page SEO, you’re ready to try your hand at writing SEO content.
How to Write SEO Content
There is a goldilocks-zone when it comes to writing SEO content. Good SEO writing strikes the perfect balance between writing for search engines and writing for your target audience. If you want to know how to write SEO content, follow these steps.
Step 1: Define Your Reader Persona
If you want to succeed with SEO writing, then you need to know your reader well. The more detailed your reader persona, the easier it is to turn readers into customers. Use a mix of demographics and psychographics to build your reader persona.
Demographics are things like age, location, income level, family size, and other such quantifiable things. Psychographics involve emotions. These are your reader’s hopes, fears, pains, and problems.
Step 2: Conduct Keyword Research
Your reader’s pains and problems are the foundation of your keyword strategy. The goal of any piece of SEO content is to either answer a question or solve a problem. What is the problem that leads your target customer to need a product or service you offer?
Put yourself in their shoes. What words would you use to search for a solution to this problem? Make a list of these words and phrases.
Step 3: Choose Your Keywords
You want to choose keywords that ideally have a high search volume, but low competition. Google Adwords and Moz Keyword Explorer are two tools you can use to check the monthly search volume and amount of other sites targeting your keywords.
Singular keywords are more likely to have high competition, while phrases of three or more words, known as long-tail keywords, are more likely to have low competition. Questions make great long-tail keywords.
Step 4: Build a Swipe File out of High-Quality Sources
Once you have your list of keywords, head to Google and use them to guide your research. Look for .edu domains, as this tends to be the most trusted information. Always look for the direct source when using statistics. Anyone can make up statistics to prove their point. Be sure to properly vet your sources.
You can use Moz’s free domain authority analysis tool to see if a site is worth using as a source.
Step 5: Write Your Heading and Subheadings
Google checks what your article is about by checking which keywords are featured in your heading and subheadings. These are also known your H1,H2,H3, and H4 tags. You want to write all of your subheadings before writing the body of your article, as it will help keep your writing tight. Think of each subheading as a title that describes what information comes next.
Step 6: Write the Body of Your Content
Now you’re finally ready to create your content. Your heading makes a promise to the reader, and the information in your subheadings delivers on this promise. Highlight your points with examples or personal anecdotes when possible.
Make sure to use your primary and secondary keywords evenly throughout the page. Put your primary keyword in the first and last paragraphs, and at least once per subheading.
Step 7: Write Your Call-to-Action
The call-to-action is the most important part of SEO content writing. Your call-to-action, or CTA for short, is where you cash in on the goodwill you just built up with your quality content.
There are many different styles of CTAs. You don’t always have to ask for business directly. You could also ask people to share the article on social media, sign up for your email list, or schedule a free consultation to learn more about what you offer.
Step 8: Include Your Outbound and Inbound Links
Links are how search engine bots, known as “spiders” in the SEO industry, get around your website. These type of links are called inbound links because they link to another page within your website.
Outbound links take the visitor to a different website. They are important in helping search engines determine the quality of information on your page. It’s why you only want to link to high-authority sites. Spread your links out evenly throughout the page, and make sure your CTA includes a link to nudge the reader to take action.
Step 9: Write Your Meta Description
The meta description is the text displayed below a link on a search engine results page. You get 160 characters to describe why searchers should click through to your article. Make sure you include at least your primary keyword, and a secondary keyword if one fits naturally.
The key to a good meta description is to think of it like sales copy. Your ultimate goal is to feed searchers to the next stage of your marketing funnel.
Step 10: Find Royalty-Free Images to Compliment Your Text
For articles, images are a great way to break up text. Feature images under a title also help your articles get more clicks when people share them on social media. The catch is search engines can only read text.
To help a search engine figure out what the image is about, make sure to first save the image with your primary keyword as the title before you upload it to your site. Then, place your primary keyword in the alt text tag of your image.
Step 11: Review Steps 1-10 Before Publishing
Before you hit publish, run through this list one more time. Make sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct. Check your links to make sure they are set to open a new tab when clicked. Once you double-check everything, you are ready to launch your content.Repeat this process for every piece of content you write.
If you know you could handle SEO writing for your business on your own, but simply don’t have the time to dedicate to do it well, consider outsourcing your SEO efforts. We have a stellar team of writers trained on all the SEO content writing best practices, and we want to help you achieve your business goals. Contact us for a free SEO audit and let’s get this process moving.