SEO Writing Guide for Businesses and Brands
SEO writing involves creating content that gets the attention of both Google and visitors. This will help you get more traffic to your website and convert that traffic into leads and sales.
That is all simple to say, but SEO is an extremely complex topic full of self-proclaimed experts, practitioners of the dark arts, and well-intentioned individuals with ideas that are 12 months out-of-date. In the world of SEO, 12 months is a long time.
The reality is SEO writing is one of easiest parts of SEO to understand, while also being one of the hardest to deliver. It is about making your page more visible in Google and other search engines and meeting the needs of your audience.
This article explains the fundamental elements of SEO content. You can see each element in action on this page.
It is important to note, however, that SEO writing is only part of the SEO process. There are stages before you start writing including keyword research, competition analysis, and ensuring your website loads quickly. There are also stages after the writing is complete like adding internal links, promoting it on social media, and building links to the page.
This article is just about the writing stage of the process, though. So, let’s get to it.
The Importance of Keywords in SEO Writing
The difference between SEO writing and other writing is the use of keywords. These are the phrases that people use when searching in Google for content related to the topic of the page. Including them strategically within the content helps Google get a better understanding of what the page is about
You can target multiple keywords per page, but you should always have a focus keyword (primary keyword).
How many keywords you choose depends on the content, SEO objectives, and length of the page. Always remember that content for SEO has to engage, inform, entertain, and/or educate the user. If keywords get in the way of this, they are not worth having.
The keywords for this page are in the image below.
Click the image below to see a version of this page with the keywords highlighted – the phrases in red highlight the primary keyword and the phrases in orange highlight the secondary keywords.
Keyword Challenges with SEO Content
Not all keywords are created equal. Some are easy to fit into the content on a page and some are not. Some might even be grammatically incorrect, making it even more difficult. This is what SEO writing achieves, however – the inclusion of those keywords on a page in a way that is natural and free-flowing.
This even applies to keywords that are hard to fit naturally into a sentence.
A difficult keyword is one of the target keywords of this article – it is the final keyword in the image above. Including phrases like this requires a combination of creative writing and the use of punctuation. The following sentence is an example.
When creating website content, SEO and user experience go hand-in-hand.
By using a comma we can include the difficult keyword while also making the sentence sound natural.
When used occasionally, short connecting words (in, of, a, etc) can also help make difficult keywords fit more naturally in sentences.
Keyword density refers to the number of times the keyword appears on the page in relation to the overall word count. It is important because of the SEO tactic of keyword stuffing. It hasn’t been effective for several years now – in fact, you are likely to get a penalty from Google if there is any hint of keyword stuffing on your page. Getting the keyword density right, however, is an important part of SEO writing.
How many times should keywords appear on your page then? The aim is 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent for the primary keyword.
For this article, the primary keyword is included 13 times (including the headline) and the secondary keywords are included five or six times.
Using Keywords in the Content
Well written SEO content has keywords in the following locations:
- Headline – the headline (main heading) should contain the primary keyword. Also, the primary keyword should be as close to the start of the headline as possible.
- First sentence – the first sentence of the article should also contain the primary keyword and it should also be as close to the start of the first sentence as possible.
- Sub-headings – the first sub-heading should ideally contain the primary keyword. Subsequent sub-headings can contain secondary keywords but only if it works for the content.
- Last paragraph – the last paragraph should contain the primary keyword. Ideally, it should be in the last sentence.
- Where it naturally fits – other mentions of keywords can appear anywhere else in the text providing they fit naturally.
You can see each of the points above in action on this page, i.e. the primary keyword is in the headline, first sentence, first sub-heading, and last paragraph.
SEO content must be written for your audience. There no point from an SEO or marketing perspective to write content only for search engines as it simply doesn’t work. SEO writing is about getting the structure of the page right but there is no place for shoddy, poor quality, or incomprehensible writing.
What does SEO writing for your audience mean, though? First, you have to understand user intent – what do users want to find when they search for the keywords you’ve selected. Your content, SEO optimized or otherwise, has to deliver, which means it has to answer the user’s query.
Here are some basic principles of good quality SEO content:
- Conversational and written from the user’s perspective, i.e. using the word “you” a lot
- Contains short paragraphs of 100 words or less
- Contains short sentences
- Uses everyday language, i.e. free from stuffy, flowery, or formal words and phrases
- Free from fluff and superfluous content
- No jargon
- Contains sections separated by sub-headings
- Contains lists – like this one
Length of Content
Most experts agree that longer is better when it comes to content for SEO, but quality is always better than quantity. The reality is some topics and some keywords do not warrant 1,500 word-plus articles.
It also depends on what you are writing. A how-to guide or long-form blog will be longer than the content on this page, which is an explainer article (this article contains 1,223 words). A standard blog or website page (Homepage, About Us page, Services page, etc) is likely to need even less, and a product description may be shorter still.
That said, less than 300 words (excluding the title) is not advisable.
To sum up – SEO writing is about writing structure and basic principles. When you combine this with good-quality and engaging writing, you will have a page that will help your overall SEO strategy.