Writing for SEO is writing long form articles, landing pages and any other digital copy while following search engine optimization best practices. SEO content also includes understanding how backend titles and content descriptions are read by search engine crawlers. Things like meta descriptions, image descriptions, quality links and page navigation titles are all important when writing for SEO.
With a recent update from Google, optimizing content for peak search engine crawlability became a little less straightforward. You can read all about Google’s Helpful Content update here, but the gist is that content that is suspected to be written for algorithms before humans will be flagged “unhelpful” and served less often in search results.
While the Helpful Content update is something new to get used to, it doesn’t negate previous SEO best practices.
Here’s everything you need to know about SEO content writing:
- Trending topics and search volume
- Quality content
- Strategic headlines
- Credible links
- Data-rich media
Keywords used to be the end-all-be-all for SEO writing. However, as algorithms become smarter, practices such as “keyword stuffing” are no longer rewarded in search results. The important thing to know now about keywords, is that they are only as effective as your research and strategic use of them.
Keywords are the phrases and words searchers use to type their queries and find relevant content online. For example, if you want to learn how to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte at home, you could type: DIY pumpkin spice latte, how to make a pumpkin spice latte at home, home recipes for pumpkin spice lattes.
Any of those queries would bring up the content you’re looking for: a recipe and directions on how to make a pumpkin spice latte at home. The specific keywords in this example would be “pumpkin spice latte,” “DIY,” “recipe” and “at home.” You can get more specific in your search and add “easy” DIY pumpkin spice latte, “quick” at-home pumpkin spice latte or “healthy” recipe for pumpkin spice latte.
Content that’s been written with those specific keywords is more likely to be served in the search results than content that hasn’t been optimized for those queries. It might be tempting to “stuff” content with every keyword phrase and word you can think of, but remember, search engines can easily flag that and choose to not serve your content since it’s not written for people first.
The best way to use keywords in your content is to research which queries users are searching and write content that answers those queries. By truly answering the query, instead of aiming to write content with algorithm triggering keywords, you’ll automatically include keyword phrases and words. There’s certainly no harm in researching different ways to say the same thing and using wordings that have higher search volume, but always remember to use the keywords to genuinely answer the query instead of simply trying to boost your content’s traffic.
There are several tools online for researching current keywords for different topics. We recommend simply typing in various versions of the same query in your preferred search engine to discover new phrases and vocabulary and using Google’s Keyword Planner.
2. Trending Topics and Search Volume
To write optimized and helpful content, it’s important to have a strong pulse on the state of your industry. What questions are people asking right now? What new technologies and updates are available to people now? What information is consistently being searched for no matter the season?
Writing content that answers popular questions is a great SEO tool that boosts traffic, builds trust and establishes your brand as an authority in your market space.
Like keywords, you’ll need to do a fair amount of research to understand what’s currently trending in your industry and how much search volume certain topics and queries are getting. Google’s Keyword Planner is an excellent tool for this research, as is a quick search engine query of “trending topics in my industry.”
The benefit of researching trends and search volumes is that you can be sure your content will perform better than just guessing what people want to know. The more specific and strategic you can be when planning your content calendar or single blog post, the better!
Seasonality plays a big factor in trends. For example, around the holidays, searches for unique or cheap gift ideas are high. In the summer, parents may search more for fun activities to do at home with the kids. In winter, car washes or car tire businesses may see an increase in queries.
Knowing your specific industry’s ebbs and flows will empower you to write truly helpful content.
3. Quality Content
If your content doesn’t answer specific queries, is poorly written, or doesn’t demonstrate a strong understanding of the topic, it’s not quality and algorithms won’t serve it in search results.
Quality content is easy to achieve when you stick to your niche, write what you know and do your research. If writing isn’t your strong suit, hiring a copywriter who knows your industry and is skilled in grammar and communication is a smart move.
Putting out content for the sake of putting out content won’t prove fruitful in gaining more site traffic and customers. Investing in the resources you need to create quality content will serve and grow your business over time!
4. Strategic Headlines
Headline structures are arguably one of the most important pieces of writing for SEO. As with everything else, research is key. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or headline analyzers can help you title your content strategically.
Headlines have one goal: intrigue users to click on the content.
A few guidelines for writing compelling headlines are:
- Simple and easy to understand language
- Emotional words
- An interesting take on a trending or established topic
- No more than seven words
“How to” headlines are always popular as are “Why…,” and “Everything you need to know about...” Of course, adding in a few keywords is helpful as well!
5. Credible Links
Including credible links in your content signals to both search engine algorithms and users that you’ve done your research and truly want to offer a valuable piece of content.
The important part of linking to other sites and their content is that they have to be credible. This means that they are an established authority in the space and the content you’re linking out to has to be relevant to your piece.
Ideally, other sites begin linking to your site and your content as well! That’s truly when links begin to make a big difference as you create content for SEO. You can intentionally build those relationships with businesses you want to be associated with but before then, you can link to other pieces of content within your site. Those links will keep users on your website and build trust as they begin to view your business as an authority and a helpful resource.
6. Data-Rich Media
Images, videos, gifs, infographics and sound bites are all examples of data-rich media. Search engine algorithms love data-rich media in content! It also enhances the user’s experience and keeps them engaged with your content.
As attention spans dwindle, walls of text aren’t being read and users are bouncing off of content-heavy pages. Including data-rich media can communicate more quickly than paragraphs of words making both the algorithms and users happy.
Following these best practices for SEO writing will help your posts and site increase traffic and grow your business! It’s important to always keep an eye out for updates in SEO content best practices and update past posts to continue being served.
Writing SEO content is just one important piece of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. To learn more about what it’s like to have RevLocal handle your business’s digital marketing, check out our resources or contact us!