The ABCs of Writing for SEO
When you create a piece of content and hit publish, you are putting yourself at the mercy of Google’s algorithm to determine whether that content gets seen. There’s good news, however – we know that Google rewards high quality, easy-to-read and useful content. Knowing how to write for SEO (aka search engine optimization) is an essential skill for anyone in the marketing or content creating space to rank well in search engine results.
Here’s the basic rundown – the ABCs of writing for SEO – to play Google’s game and create content that people will want to read.
Think About the Reader
First, look at your content from the eyes of your reader. While it can be tempting to stick to a rigid writing formula, Google’s algorithms are smart – and they reward content that real humans enjoy reading. When readers are confused or don’t find what they’re looking for, they leave the page, affecting your bounce rate, which in turn hurts your ranking. You have to deliver on what you promised. Writing clickbait titles and falsely luring people in is a big no-no from Google’s point of view.
Next, stick to your topic. Each paragraph (even sentence) should support your overall point or message. Don’t go into side tangents that will water it down. Finally, write with authority. Your reader needs to trust you as an expert, or they will lose interest in what you have to say.
Keep It Simple
Have you ever heard the acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!) It’s abrasive – but it’s good advice when writing for SEO. You’re looking to create content that is readable – and that means not overly complicating things with long sentences and complex language. In fact, while Google often rewards articles of 1000+ words in length, it doesn’t matter if you’re not delivering 1000 words of high-quality content. It’s better to deliver 800 words that are packed with value than to ramble to reach a word count – because your readers (and in turn, Google) will notice.
Keep in mind for keyword ranking purposes that you need a minimum of 300 words per page. Keep your sentences and your paragraphs short and use subheadings for chunks of text longer than 300 words (more on that below).
Use Keywords (Wisely)
Your SEO key phrase is the key to unlocking your spot in search engine results, but only if you know how to use it correctly. Use a keyword research tool (such as SpyFu or Semrush) to find a key phrase that has a high monthly volume but not too much competition to give yourself the best chance of being seen.
When writing, including your key phrase an appropriate number of times but avoid what’s known as “keyword stuffing.” Not only does it make your content clunky and difficult to read, it can also negatively affect your rankings. A good rule of thumb is to include your key phrase once per every 200 words of copy. So, for a 1000-word blog, you only need to include it five times.
Find the Right Structure
Think back to writing a five-paragraph essay in high school. When reading your content, the reader is looking for a familiar pattern: An introduction (including a hook), supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. No matter what you’re writing about, good structure makes it easier to digest. Not sure an essay-style structure is right for your topic? “Listicle” style blogs are also popular and can be a great option depending on your topic. (For instance, this blog could be called “The Top 10 Super Important Rules When Writing for SEO.” You get the idea).
Next, use this structure and formatting to make your piece easy to skim – using subheadings, bold text and other formatting tools. Subheadings are another important piece of the puzzle when writing for SEO. You want them to be clear and descriptive of the content in that paragraph. This is also a great place to incorporate your key phrase (but remember – don’t overdo it).
Don’t forget to include a compelling call-to-action to encourage your reader to take the next step. Do this in a way that makes sense and is on-topic – if you wrote a blog about dog walking, they probably won’t be interested in a pitch for your accounting services at the end.
Find the Remix
Now it’s time to read back on the blog as a whole – does the flow of information make sense, and do all your points feel connected? Don’t be afraid to move sentences or entire sections of your text around until the information flows in a logical way.
This is also the time to clean up your writing. Cut out any extra clutter. Remove sentences that feel like “fluff” and don’t add value. This is especially important in your introduction. Take a close look and cut it down if you can, as fewer, clearer words often have a greater impact than a lengthy train of thought. You want to draw readers in – not overwhelm, or worse, bore them.
This is also a great point in your writing process to bring in another set of eyes for feedback.
Adding the Final Details
Finally, it’s time to add a few finishing touches. Add a great featured image and images throughout the text, if appropriate. Graphics and charts can contribute to making the piece easier to skim. Use an SEO tool like Yoast to check readability and SEO and tweak as necessary. Don’t forget to pay attention to the meta description, keeping it at the correct length and adding your key phrase once. It’s the little details that can really have an impact on your overall SEO ranking.
Content Marketing That Works
Creating strategic content that’s packed with value can be a great asset to your business – but is a time-consuming process. Our team at Fiore Communications specializes in creating and leveraging high quality content to help you reach your business goals. Contact us today to learn more about our content writing services.