When writing content for SEO – whether a new blog post, e-commerce category page, or you’re updating your website’s homepage, etc – there are a number of important things to bear in mind to ensure that it both reads well to human readers and ranks well when the search engines analyse it.
SEO Content Writing Best Practice
As Google’s search ranking algorithm and understanding of content become increasingly sophisticated, the need for high-quality content that incorporates an up-to-date knowledge of SEO best practices increases.
In one sense it has become easier – increasingly you just need to write great content for your target human reader audience, and Google will reward you with high rankings.
However, if you can remember the days when it was sufficient to just mention your target search keywords a few times, read on to learn how much more is needed to rank high in 2022 and beyond…
The below overview of SEO content writing best practices aims to distil top tips from across the marketing industry and incorporates the experience of our entire in-house SEO content writing team as well.
What is SEO Content?
SEO content is any content on a website that is optimised to rank well, either as a stand-alone piece, or to support another page elsewhere on the same site, or on a different website that the content links out to.
SEO content often takes the form of blog posts, but can also refer to the written and visual content on landing pages, product category pages on an e-commerce website, or maybe on a website’s home page, etc.
The basic process for producing SEO content is to first analyse what people are searching for in connection with a particular topic or product or service, and then decide what content is needed to rank for the search terms (keywords) that you have identified.
SEO Content Writing For Beginners
If you are new to the idea of content writing for SEO, you may appreciate the following beginners guide, which aims to give a complete overview of the main points to consider; blending advice already widely published by experts with experience gained from writing content for our own clients.
Even if you are an experienced SEO content writer, you may still find the overview below a useful SEO content writing checklist to refer back to as you write.
SEO Content Writing Checklist:
Keyword Research – What Are People Searching?
There are occasions when you may decide to write content that virtually no one searches on Google to find, e.g. if you’re writing about a new concept or product that few people yet know about.
However, most of the time, you will want to use keyword research tools to see what words people are using to find what they are looking for.
Start to research around your initial assumptions on what people may be searching for, and you may be surprised to see the actual words and phrases being used, once you analyse it with SEO tools. We use SEO Powersuite, Google Keywords Planner, and Keywords Everywhere, but Moz and Ahrefs are also popular tools offering keyword research.
Target Readers – Who Is Your Audience?
Writing with a particular target audience in mind is helpful to keep your content focussed, and will ensure readers engage with it well, which in turn should send positive user-interaction signals to Google, helping to propel your content up the rankings over time.
Competition – What Content Does Google Already Like?
Once you have a main target keyword in mind, a quick search on Google will reveal what types of content are already ranking on page 1 of Google, and you can then analyse these and plan to produce something superior that can add value to the internet’s bank of information, and thereby outrank existing content.
Create Unique Content – Don’t Plagiarise
It is a mistake to think that churning out mediocre content that has already been covered comprehensively will help your SEO, in fact it may do damage if Google regards it as low quality, or in the case of copy-and-paste content, plagiarised.
As outlined above, the simple step of seeing what other content is already ranking on page 1 will help you to analyse what has already been covered in great depth, and help you to avoid creating ‘me too’ content.
Adding a fresh angle to something that has been written about many times before is fine, you don’t have to pick a totally ‘new’ topic. And if a subject has been covered in great depth, you may decide that a concise summary is what is most helpful. The main thing is to be different and add value with something new…
Structure The Content – Use Sub-Headings
A common mistake people make on their first attempts at content writing is to create paragraph after paragraph of text, without grouping it into sub-topics under sub-headings.
Headings allow skim-reading to get a quick overview of the content before you dive into reading it all in more detail, and Search Engines like Google find sub-headings useful for the same reason.
To the human reader, pages of text without sub-headings appear daunting and don’t forget that sub-headings help readers to find the parts they’re most interested in if they’re short of time.
Stick To The Point – Especially Near The Top Of The Page
If you are put off content writing because you don’t feel that you are able to add enough style, humour, or interest, you may be comforted to know that all of those things are often negatives from an SEO point of view.
For example, a talented writer may take a boring subject and use a totally random comparison to inject humour, life, or style into the content piece – however, search engines have no sense of humour and little taste for stylised writing either, so sticking to the point (in a rather boring and factual manner) is often very helpful for SEO.
You must get stuck into the main topic of the article within the first sentence or 2 – it’s OK to set the scene with a small intro but if website visitors have to scroll far to find the content that they searched for, Google would regard that as bad user experience, so as a minimum, try to ensure the topic is clearly introduced before you have to scroll or swipe down the page.