By OLIVER ANDREWS
How to write SEO content and articles that rank
You may be wondering how to write SEO content articles that rank? Maybe you’re a business owner who has been blogging for some time, but you do not get much traffic to your site from those articles. Or maybe you’re simply trying to increase the number of people that find your products and services. Or even both!
If you search for something like ‘how to write SEO content articles’ it’s always the same boring stuff that comes up. ‘Put your keyword in your H1, internal link, write a good meta description blablabla!’ Yes, it’s still important stuff and yes, I will cover that stuff within this article to save you looking at their articles, but I will also cover something different.
What I believe to be just as important if not even more important! So, let’s get right into the article and look at how to write great SEO content!
What we will cover in this article
What Is SEO?
How can I write an SEO article without clarifying what SEO is to start with? Most of you will already know, but for those who don’t, SEO is creating high-quality content that satisfies what the searcher is looking for and optimising it, so it ranks high in search engines and so it gets found by the people who are looking for it.
Once your content is found it’s about providing the best possible user experience, so people enjoy their experience on your site and return or take your desired action such as getting in contact or signing up to your newsletter.
What is the difference between copywriting and SEO Copywriting?
There’s often some confusion with the difference between general copywriting and copywriting for SEO. General copywriting is not writing content with search engines in mind and therefore doesn’t target any specific keyword. This kind of copy can be for places such as social media, sales, adverts, printed material, case studies etc. It’s the kind of material that is distributed in other ways rather than relying on search engines.
SEO copywriting on the other hand is about trying to not only create copy that the user is looking for but also to get it to rank highly in search engines such as Google and Bing. This copy will have a keyword focus, it will take into account competitor analysis and it needs to match the search intent of the keyword it’s targeting.
Not all copywriters write for SEO. If you want your content optimised for a keyword you will have to create an in-depth brief/plan and then find a copywriter that can write with SEO in mind or optimise it yourself.
Planning your content for SEO
Without a plan, you’re just writing and hoping for the best. The planning of your content in my opinion is the number 1 most important part of how to write SEO content that ranks.
Planning allows you to see why your competitors content is ranking, what’s missing and how you can find your edge over them. Without planning you wouldn’t know that.
You might know your industry inside out and the topic you’re writing about like the back of your hand. But if you just start writing and guessing what you think needs to be included, you’re a) likely not going to cover everything the searcher is looking for and b) it won’t include everything search engines need to rank you for the right keywords.
What goes in your SEO content plan?
So, what exactly do you need to include within your content plan? You need to research your competitors and why they are there. This all needs to be noted down so you can see clearly what you need to cover and also what they’re not covering or how it can be improved.
Let’s take a look at what you need to research.
Let’s start by saying the word count of your content only needs to be as long as it needs to be. You need to note down the word count of each of your competitor’s pages. This is purely to give you an idea of what the average word count is for your target keyword. If the average word count is 2000 words and you write 4000 words, then it’s quite clear you might have overdone it a bit. Similarly, if you were to write 500 words you probably haven’t written enough the cover the topic.
Number of Headings
Again, check the average amount of headings your competitors have. If you write 2000 words maybe 200 words per heading would be suitable. This is to stop you from writing too much under 1 heading. If you need to write way more this could mean it’s an opportunity to write a full article on the subheading!
One of the most important parts of your article is establishing what the searcher’s intention is. This dictates the type of content your need to create. Analysing the page 1 search results will allow you to see this.
Where is your audience located? Are there any laws specific to the location you’re writing for? If you’re writing your article in English is it US English or UK English you need to write it in?
Who is your audience? What do they do for work? What hobbies do they have? What’s their life like? Are they male? Female? Business owners? Old? Young? This is all stuff you need to know!
Internal linking is very important to create a good and logical user experience. Note down each page you need to link to throughout your content.
You can’t cover everything on your site and there’s bound to be things you’re not an expert on. Only talk about the stuff you know about, anything else can be externally linked to. Also link to any data or information you get from other websites to credit the source. Note down any possible sources of information for your content.
Look for any related keywords to your target keyword. By including related keywords, you are increasing the relevancy of the content of your pages and also increasing the number of keywords that the article can rank for.
Keyword density is the percentage of times keywords appear within your content. Keyword density is about ensuring your page is relevant enough to your target keywords. You should note down how many times certain keywords are used within your competitor’s content. However, something you need to be careful of is keyword stuffing. It’s one thing ensuring your content is relevant enough by trying to include keywords, but simply chucking in keywords for the sake of keyword density is keyword stuffing.
Simply note down every page that is ranking on page 1 for your target keyword in the order they’re in on SERP’s.
Now go through each of your competitors’ sites and note down every heading they use. Make note of which one is their heading 1, 2 and 3.
Googles What People Ask
Go back to the search engine results page for your target keyword. In most cases you will see a SERP feature called ‘what people ask’. Note down all of these questions. Keep opening and closing the top most relevant ones to trigger more to come up.
Googles Related Searches
Scroll to the bottom of SERP’s and look at all the related searches. Note these down.
If someone takes the time to write a book on your target keyword, they will likely include a lot of great information. Search your target keyword followed by ‘site:amazon.com’ to bring up books related to your target keyword. Look through these books and note down anything that can be included in your content.
Search your target keyword on Google but only for Reddit. Look for what people are asking on Reddit, note down the titles, or any noteworthy responses.
Now do the exact same with Quora. Sometimes you will find Quora is better for certain niches.
What’s missing from competitors?
With all of this information, you have gathered you can now look at your competitor’s headings and all the additional information you have gathered from the various places such as books and Quora and see what’s missing!
What can be improved?
Similar to the what’s missing section, note down what can be improved. This could be things such as your competitors dribbling on about irrelevant things. Or they have poor structure etc.
Does the content require video?
If all of your competitors have a video or a video that would explain something better, then you need a video!
Does the content require images?
Look to see how many images your competitors have. What quality are they? Are they stock photos? Can you create something better?
Lastly, but most importantly create your content outline
Review all of your notes and start entering what all of your headings will be. Write notes under each heading so you know what you need to cover under each section. When you come to write your content, it will be a breeze because you have every heading, subheading and what needs to be included written out!
That is everything you need to know! By having all of this written down you can clearly see all of your competitor’s headings, what they’re currently covering, what’s missing and what you need to do to create better content.
Elements that need to go into your optimised content
The elements that make up optimised content are:
- Keywords in your heading 1, 2 and 3
- Include the keyword somewhere within the first paragraph
- Put your target keyword in bold at the start of the content
- Try not to write too much under each heading to increase chances of getting featured snippets
- Get straight to the point and then elaborate
- Keep sentences short
- Internal link to relevant content
- Include outbound links to other authority sites
- Have descriptive anchor text
- Add alt tags to images
- Add image descriptions
- Name images correctly
- Catchy headings
- Keyword density
General Page Optimisation
How to optimise the page in general:
- Fast loading page speed
- Meta descriptions
- Optimise images
- Build quality backlinks
- Use accordions for long-form articles
- Include the keyword in the page URL
- Include images and/or video if needed
- Social sharing buttons
SEO Writing Tips to Make Your Content stand out
When writing for SEO and performing all of the in-depth research outlined within this article it’s easy to fall into the trap of sounding like every other article on page 1 of SERP’s. However, the one thing no one else can be is you. Inject your personality into your writing. The research you have done will also highlight the areas your competitors are missing and what you need to do to stand out from them. This includes video content, unique imagery, covering subtopics your competitors have missed etc.
Are you writing for humans or search engines?
The simple answer is both. Quite often you will get mixed answers on this, some people say write for humans and others say search engines. However, in reality, we know we’re writing for both. It needs to read naturally but it needs to be optimised. You cannot have one without the other. It won’t get found by humans unless it’s optimised, but it won’t get read by humans unless it reads naturally.
Should you optimise whilst writing or after writing your content?
This is down to personal preference and in my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer to this. If you can write content whilst thinking about including keywords and optimising throughout that might work better for you. On the other hand, there is no harm in writing your article first without thinking too much about making it SEO friendly and then going back through it to optimise it.
Whichever way you find easier you need to bear in mind that it needs to read naturally and you’re not stuffing keywords etc just in the name of optimisation. There are many tools out there that can help you with ensuring your content is optimized enough and reads well.
So now you know how to write SEO content articles that rank! To create content that ranks simply start with ensuring you’re completing thorough competitor research and you’re building a solid content outline that allows you to clearly see what your competitors are currently doing, why they’re ranking, what they’re missing, what needs to be improved and how you can create something better.
We touched on elements you need to create optimised content and just general optimisation for your page. This is all generic stuff, it’s nothing new and you can find 100’s of other articles telling you the same stuff. However, it does work so make sure you optimise your content following the points above.
What no one talks about as much, is the importance of good research before you start writing anything! Luckily, I’ve made it even easier for you by creating a template on how to write content that ranks available to download here!
Now you have no excuses not to be outranking your competitors! Let’s go get those top spots!
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