You can’t have a successful content marketing campaign without great written content.
No one is going to link to substandard blogs and articles even if you have great outreach, target the right keywords, and so on.
Good content for SEO is a mix of both art and science.
On the one hand, it needs to have the right technical structure and language use in order to be friendly to search engines. Even well written content won’t rank well if it isn’t set up to be crawled by Google.
On the other hand, you need good quality copy that is clear, concise, and easy to read on desktops and phones. User friendliness and behavioural engagement with content is also an important factor for SEO.
SEO Writing Tips
Here are some SEO content writing tips that we’ve developed over more than a decade of creating content.
1. Start with proper keyword/topic research
The most important of any SEO content tips you will see is to make sure it is targeting the right language. If your content does not actually use the same terms and phrases as its intended audience, it won’t get traffic because it won’t appear in searches.
You need to find several keywords that are related to the topic you want to talk about. That means variant spellings or phrases, long tail keywords, questions, and so on. Your main keyword should be added in your title, within the first 100 words, and in one of your first headings.
As an example, if you represent a dental clinic writing about different options for braces, make sure you include keywords like teeth straightening, Invisalign, and so on. You need to have the clinical terms, but also the commonly-used terms among people who have no medical training.
As a final but very important note on keywords, make sure you add them in your content naturally. It should never feel forced, and you should never stuff, repeat, and overuse them.
Anything that seems unnatural is a turn off for users and if they start bouncing, it becomes a red flag to search engines that you aren’t meeting the needs of searchers. That’s why it’s important to find all possible variations for a keyword, so you can mix them up naturally.
2. Create content around relevant topics
The next issue in creating content that will actually perform for you online is that of relevancy. There’s no point in spending all the time researching and writing content if it’s something no one will care about. You can get enticed by seeing keywords with a high search volume. It still has to be relevant to your website and audience.
The topics you choose to write about should be relevant to your business, to your audience, and to the current time. You should avoid writing about a product or service that is old, and you should not include information that is out of date.
For example, if you work in the tech industry you wouldn’t write about flip phones or CRT monitors or old programming languages would you? The same principle applies at every level of your content. You should have an idea already about the topics and questions you get asked by your customers the most.
3. Write for the web (aka readability)
Once you have the right keywords and topics chosen to build your content around, the next important thing is readability. Search engines do take into account a user’s experience and how they engage with content online.
If users don’t spend a lot of time on a page or engage with it, search engines aren’t likely to keep showcasing your page. There are a few principles to focus on when writing content online:
- Keep it as concise as possible
- Organize it with headings, subheadings and bullet points
- Use supporting images or visualizations where it better summarizes information
- Use easy to understand language (avoid long, complicated words and jargon)
When people read something online, they tend to scan more than read things in-depth. This is especially true for people reading your content on mobile. If something is difficult to read or understand in any way, they are more likely to leave your site instead of finishing it.
On the other hand, if your content is well organized, easy to scan, and easy to understand then you will get great engagement.
4. Use eye-catching subheadings
Aside from the first heading having your main keyword, the subheadings in your content should be strong and catch the eye. There are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Start your headings with strong action verbs
- Ask a question that your customers often ask in relation to the topic
- Summarize or introduce the sub-topic that the subheading section covers
This goes back to the readability aspect of writing good content. As people scan through your content, you want to have clear and catchy subheadings to draw their interest. It should entice them to read that section of your content. That way, they spend more time actually reading it in-depth, rather than scrolling through and then leaving in a matter of seconds.
5. Structure your content for featured snippets
Something Google has been doing more and more in recent years is adding a “featured snippet” in their search results. This is for searches that involve someone asking a question or looking for specific information, such as a recipe or definition.
Google will take a snippet of content from one of the top results and display the content directly in the search results page. The snippet is always at the top of the organic results, but below any search ads. That means you can get your content in front of the eyes of every user making that search.
There are a few things you can do with your content to make it more likely to get featured in a snippet:
- Write content that completely and directly answers a question
- Keep the answer very short and concise in as little text as possible
- Use numbered or bulleted lists
- Pack in as much fact, information, stats and data as you can to answer the question
- Use headings and subheadings to create clear and logical content structure
This is where your keyword research can come into play. Make sure you find long tail keywords that are in the form of a question, as they are your best chances to get featured snippets.
6. Include visuals
Sometimes, you will find information or data-heavy parts of your content that can be very dense and dry as text. One way to help improve the quality of your content overall is to convert such sections into visuals. These can be charts, graphs, infographics, images, or other types of graphics or visualization.
It’s important not to go overboard with visuals, however. Make sure you don’t replace parts of text that could be in a featured snippet, or that uses important keywords. The visuals should support your content, not dominate it.
7. Add internal links
If you write good content, you should address the direct reason why someone landed on the page in the first place. However, there’s a good chance that someone who fully digests that content may want to know more about similar topics.
That’s why you should always find ways to add internal links to your other content. For example, let’s say you have an accounting business. You write an article giving tips on new tax laws for the upcoming tax season that people should know about.
You should also have other content related to taxes, such as reviewing the best tax software or a guide on what you can write off. When it makes sense, link to those pieces in your original article. They should be added in naturally to help give people more information on those topics if they want to learn more.
It also helps the search engines find related content on your site, which can improve your SEO for multiple pages at once.
8. Use statistics if you can (& cite them)
You want your content to be authoritative and to answer a query as much as you can. The best way to do this, most of the time, is by using statistics and citing studies or research where it makes sense.
Backing up your advice, tips or information with hard evidence is appreciated by users and search engines. Going the extra mile with this research can really set your content above your competitor’s. Make sure you also link to your sources as well.
9. Follow SEO best practices
There isn’t much point in writing content that is optimized for SEO when the rest of your website isn’t. There are a few basic areas of SEO best practices that you should follow to make sure your content ranks highly.
Here are some of the most important best practices to follow:
- Optimize pages for mobile
- Keep page speed fast
- Implement HTTPS
- Optimize meta title and description
- Use alt tags in images
You should also avoid some of the big SEO no-no’s, such as using images that are too large and having lots of popups. Make sure your content is indexed by Google and there are no technical issues preventing their crawlers from accessing your site. Using Google Search Console will help give you such warnings as they happen.
10. Make it long enough to count
Above, we mentioned keeping your content as short and concise as possible. That is certainly true at the level of words, sentences or paragraphs. However, it is not necessarily true for your entire piece of content.
For any blog post, article, guide, or other piece of content, you should aim to have at least 600 or more words. In general, it’s usually better to be over 1000, 1500 or even 2000 words. This is because having a comprehensive, in-depth piece of content is better than having one that is shorter.
However, try not to go overboard. You won’t be able to write 1,000+ word articles on every possible topic. For some things, people don’t want that much information. Pick your spots and prioritize longer pieces for content where it makes sense based on the information you can find.
11. Promote your content
Once you’ve researched, written and published your content, the last tip is to make sure you promote it online. Social media is the best way to get your new content in front of tons of people. You can add a high quality feature image to go with it, optimize the post with hashtags, and write a catchy headline to get clicks.
With the right process, you can engineer it to have the best chance to go viral and get shared and seen by even more people. That will attract people into linking back to your content in their own articles and blogs that they write.
Make sure you have active accounts on the major social media platforms that align with your audience. Do the research you need to figure out how to optimize your posting according to time of day, day of the week, headlines, images, hashtags, and more. Run as many A/B tests as you can until you have refined your posting into an unstoppable machine.
It can be a frustrating mix of art and science to write great content that helps your content marketing succeed. Your content needs to be user friendly and easy to read, but it also needs to meet certain criteria from an SEO best practices perspective.
Getting both areas right will not only help your content get more visibility through organic searches, but will also help it get more links. You want as many people as possible to find your content, and then be wowed by it once they read it.
That’s the best way for your content to generate more backlinks, whether it’s organically or through future outreach.