The world of search engine optimisation is a vast one, which means there’s a lot of skills to master before you feel like a real SEO expert. From keyword research to understanding site crawls and redirects, it’s a lot. So it’s best to tackle them one at a time. Today we’re going back to basics, and covering one of the most important SEO practices: SEO writing.
It’s all well and good understanding all the technical aspects of SEO, what tools to use and how Google ranks content. But if you can’t put that knowledge into action through your writing, you won’t be able to reap the benefits of SEO and see your traffic increase. So I’m going to cover everything you need to know about SEO writing, and explore some best practices when it comes to writing for SEO, so you can not just optimise existing content, but create engaging, Google-friendly content the first time around.
What is SEO Writing?
SEO writing, put simply, is using SEO practices in your writing to get your content to rank better. It’s essentially a mixture of on-page SEO and quality content writing that comes together to boost your rankings on search engines! It’s a crucial part of any SEO content strategy.
SEO Writing Puts Knowledge to Action
As I’ve mentioned, being able to write for SEO is absolutely essential if you have any hope of implementing a big chunk of your SEO knowledge and seeing real results when it comes to the content you create. Things like keyword research, optimising different parts of a page and accessibility can be practised best on your own content.
Ranking Factors on Google
To understand just where SEO writing comes into play in your SEO content strategy, we can look at the main reason for optimising content for search: to rank higher on search engines like Google. When you understand what ranking factors you need to be working towards, you can really tailor your digital marketing strategy to meeting these objectives.
There are a whole lot of ranking factors for Google, in fact, around 200 according to Backlinko! We’re going to briefly look at some of the main ones, before moving on to which ones you can hit using SEO writing.
Keywords or key phrases are search terms that people use when they use search engines. Whether they’re looking for specific products or information about a certain topic, keywords act as a connection between users and the pages they’re looking for. When you insert keywords into your content, it has a higher chance of ranking higher for keywords users are searching for.
Accessibility and User Experience
From colour contrasts to readable fonts and menu navigation, the easier you make it for your users to get around your website, the more likely Google is to trust your content and rank it higher.
Speed and Security of Site
Loading speeds and site security are also really important in proving to Google that your site is trustworthy and legitimate. Google is user-centric, meaning that if they’re going to have a bad experience on a page, they’re not going to rank it very highly.
The length of your content tends to affect whether your page ranks higher on search engines or not. This is likely due to the fact that you can better target keywords with longer content, and longer content tells Google that you know your stuff!
The links you include in your content, as well as when other sites link back to your website, are really important for establishing your website as a trusted source of information. If other websites link back to you, they are telling Google that your site is trustworthy.
A lot of traffic comes from mobile browsing nowadays, according to recent research, around 56%! So it makes sense to make your website mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness also tells Google your website is user-friendly, so it comes into account when it comes to whether your content will rank well.
Sites that have higher authority on search engines mean that they are more trusted, therefore will be way more likely to rank higher for search terms.
One that people tend to forget with SEO is that the quality of your content really does matter! An article that’s 1000 words and contains your keyword 30 times won’t rank if it’s written badly. As we’ve covered already, Google loves its users, and ranks content based on how well its results will satisfy what users are looking for – and that isn’t badly written blogs or website copy.
The location and links between various pages on your website refer to the architecture of your site. Making sure you can get to all the pages of your site somehow from the homepage, and avoiding having orphan pages that aren’t linked to any others means your site is more easily navigated.
As we’ve seen, there are a lot of different ranking factors on Google that will affect your rankings. SEO is a vast topic, and this blog would be way too long if we were to tackle every one right now.
Seeing as this post is all about SEO writing, we’re going to focus on the ranking factors that this practice is all about: content quality, keywords, article length and links. So, let’s get started with how you can hit these ranking factors through SEO writing.
Best Practices for SEO Writing
When you’re creating content with SEO in mind, there are two main areas to think about. There’s the content itself, whether it’s a blog, article or web copy, as well as the other on-page SEO elements such as metadata. Nailing these two areas is what will make your SEO writing focused, optimised and successful.
SEO writing involves considering SEO as an integral part of the content creation process as opposed to an afterthought. (That is what we call SEO optimisation, a topic for another day.)
This means that from the inception of your content, whether it’s the main topic or headline, keep SEO in mind. And the best way to do that is by using keywords.
Write What Your Audience Wants with Keyword-Led Content
Keywords act as the link between users and websites, with search engines providing the environment for you to make that vital connection. They’re the thing users are searching for and what websites can use to find them.
Carrying out keyword research will help you identify what it is that your customers (and potential customers) are looking for in regards to your brand. The terms they’re searching for will be the keywords you need to target in your content, and your keyword should appear in:
- The headline of your piece
- The first paragraph of your content
- In the main body of the content
And Do It Well!
Your keyword or key phrase will provide some structure to your content, but it also needs to be extremely well written to catch the attention of Google. As we’ve already covered, content quality is a ranking factor on search engines, so make sure that your content is well thought out, flows nicely and is broken up with helpful subheadings.
Pro tip: include images and graphics where you can – they really break up walls of text and make your content much more appealing to the reader.
No Keyword Stuffing
One of the worst things you can do is to mention your keyword in every other sentence in the hopes of boosting your ranking chances. This is known as keyword stuffing, and something that marketers are now penalised for on Google. So make sure your mentions of your keyword sound natural and make sense to the reader.
Metadata for SEO
The work isn’t done after creating a standout piece of content I’m afraid. To really get the most out of your SEO writing, you need to make sure the on-page SEO of your webpage or blog is also up to scratch. To do this, you’ll need to write optimised meta titles and descriptions for your page.
These bits of information might seem insignificant, but they’re crucial for both SEO and securing clicks to your website. Meta titles and descriptions give Google the information it needs to decide whether to show your website to searchers, and it’s also the information that appears underneath your website link on a search engine results page (SERP). In other words, it gives you a chance to convince users to pick your site over the other 10 on the SERP.
Say someone is looking for a life coach in London, and they enter their search on Google. Having a good meta title and description like the one below gives the user the information they need to understand what this site is offering, and encourages them to click.
But this meta title and description, which are too long and have been cut off by Google, don’t give users any real information about what this page is about.
Writing Good Meta Titles and Descriptions
It isn’t too hard to write meta titles and descriptions, you just need to know what to include in them.
A good meta title contains the following:
- Your keyword (if possible)
- Your brand name
- A (very) brief description of the page – usually incorporating the title of the content
- Is 600px wide (around 60 – 70 characters)
A good meta description contains:
- Your keyword
- A description of what the page is about
- A call to action
- 160 characters max
Include Authoritative Links
This one is more for SEO blog content, where linking to other authoritative websites encourages Google to trust your site more because of your association with other trusted sites.
SEO Writing Can Change the Game
When you know how to write well for SEO, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy optimising content by simply integrating SEO practices into your content creation process.
If you want to learn more about how to implement SEO into your website yourself, join my 5 Day SEO Challenge, where I’ll provide in-depth knowledge and support to empower you to boost traffic and rankings! You can sign up here.