Did you know that there are over 1.7 billion websites and 600 million blogs on the internet today?
No matter your niche, getting the search engine bots (a.k.a crawlers) to display your content on the first search results page is a challenge. It is like asking the bots to find a needle in a haystack. This is why you need to optimize your content for the search engines.
Seo content writing is the art of creating content for both your readers and search engine bots. It is the most important part of SEO strategy. There are three types of SEO: on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
In this blog post, I’ll be covering on-page SEO strategies. I’ll be briefing on how to write SEO content, provide some SEO content writing tips, recommend free SEO tools as well.
Before starting, let’s have a brief overview on the types of search results, what SEO is and who needs it:
Paid vs Organic Search Results
When you Google something, you are most likely to see two types of search results: paid and organic.Paid search results are ads placed by businesses to appear on the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Organic search results are natural, unpaid search results found beneath these paid ads.
What is SEO and why should you care about it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of making your website and its content visible to search engines.
Search bots are always on a hunt to find and display the most relevant search results. The bots decide what web pages have the most relevant information based on keywords.
SEO keywords or keyword phrases are the exact search terms that people are entering in Google or other search engines to find something on the internet.
According to Internet Live Stats, over 3.5 billion searches are made every day. When done rightly, SEO can drive a large amount of relevant organic traffic for your business or blog.
Here is an interesting example of a good SEO optimized blog post:
5 Steps to Creating SEO-Optimized Content
Step 1- Keyword Research
It all starts with Keyword Research. As mentioned earlier, keywords are the exact search terms that people type on search engines to find what they need. Using these keywords in your content, would signal search bots your content’s relevancy to the search query. When you strategically choose low competition keywords that have high search volumes and add them in your content you stand a better chance to rank higher on the SERP.
Recommended Free Tools
Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome and Firefox extension, that you can use to find a bunch of keywords. But the free version does not show the search volume.
Step 2 – Checkout your Competition
Once you’ve narrowed down your primary keyword, it is time to research your competition. Search your primary keyword in Google and look for content gaps in the top 5 results. Some of the things to notice are:
- The URL – Does the URL content the primary keyword? How long or short is it?
- The title – Has your competition included the primary keyword in the title? What kind of power words have they used?
- The Meta Description – Notice the kind of description you see under the title in the SERP. How attractive is it? Does it include the primary or a secondary word? We’ll be covering more on the meta descriptions under the best practices section below.
- The Word Count – According to Backlino, on an average Google’s first page result contains 1,447 words. But the average word count can vary based on the industry. So find the average word count for the top 5 results and aim to write more content.
- The Introduction – What makes the introduction interesting? Has your competition used an analogy or a stat to introduce the topic? How can you write a better introduction?
- The Sub-headings (or) H2 Tags – How many sub-headings are there? What other topics can you add to make your content more valuable?
- Links – How many internal and external links are they using?
- Visual Elements – Is your competition’s content skimmable? What kind of visuals have they included? Can you add an infographic or a chart in your content to explain better?
- Call to Action (CTA) – Are they asking their readers to subscribe to their newsletters? Are they selling a product? How convincing is their CTA?
- Usage of Keywords – How many times have they used the primary and secondary keywords in their content? Does it flow naturally? Do you notice the emphasis on some other keywords?
Recommended Free Tool:
SEO Meta in 1 Click is a chrome extension that you could use to check your competition’s main SEO information like the title, H2- H6 tags, number of images and links etc.
Step 3 – Do Content Research and Create an Outline
Now that you’ve analyzed your competition and identified the content gap, it is time to further drill-down your research. One shortcut way to research is once again taking a hard look at the SERP for your keyword.
Look for the people also ask, Q & A on Google’ and related searches sections in the SERP. These SERP features will help you understand what people are looking for. Continue clicking on the “people also asked” section, to see more such questions. Other places for content research are Quora, Reddit and Industry related forums.
Recommended Free Tools:
AlsoAsked is a beta tool that shows a mind map summary of questions that are populated in “people also asked” section in the SERP. As the tool is in beta, you can make up to 1000 searches/month when you sign up.
Transno is a cool outline tool that converts your outline to a mind map in one-click. Mind maps are a good way to identify blind spots in your content strategy.
Step 4 – Write Content By Including the Keywords Naturally
Now it is time to write your actual content. It is a good practice to use your primary keyword within the 100 words. Ideally your secondary keywords would make good subheadings. As you write your content, be sure to use your primary and secondary several times in your content.
Recommended Free Tool:
You can use SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant, a Google docs “add-on”, to make sure you include keywords while writing.
Step 5 – Add Visual Elements
Adding visuals is a great way to engage your readers. Some ideas for visual elements are screenshots, info graphics, flowcharts, charts, pro tips. Visuals break the monotony of text by making your content skim-friendly.
Free Recommended Tools
On-page SEO Content Writing Best Practices:
Let’s look at some best practices that you need to follow while optimizing your content for SEO.
#1 Remove STOP words in the URL
Short URLs are easy to share and are more memorable. Search engines ignore many words like “a”, “an”, “the”, “to” when crawling. These words are called stop words. You can safely remove these stop words in your URL.
Ideal Length: 60 to 66 characters
The Post title is the headline that your readers see on the SERP. In SERP, a maximum of 70 characters or 600 pixels are displayed before Google truncates your title. There’s also something called the meta title that you should be aware of. The meta title is how the search engines see your title. By default, your post title is also the meta title. It is a good practise to incorporate your primary keyword in the title.
#3 Meta Description
Ideal Length: 156 to 160 charactersA meta description is the summary that you see under the title on the search engine results page. Meta descriptions are very important because they tell both the search engines and your readers what your content is all about. It is a good practice to include your primary keyword in the meta description.
From an SEO standpoint, you need to include adequate Internal and External links in your content. A good rule of thumb is to add at least 2-3 internal links and 5-7 external links.
Internal links are links to relevant older posts on your own websites. Internal links reduce bounce rates as people tend to stick around if they really like your content. They also help the search engines to understand the structure of your site.
Use external links to recommend your readers to useful information on other websites. External links add credibility to your claims. It also increases your chance of getting backlinks.
#5 Image Alt Tag
Image Alt tag (a.k. “Alt attribute” or “Alt Description”) is a HTML tag that describes search engines what your image is all about. Alt tags enhance user experience too as they provide a short description to your readers in case the image doesn’t load. From an SEO standpoint, using primary and secondary keywords in image alt tag brings good results.
#6 Heading and Subheadings (H1- H6 Header Tags)
Headings and Subheadings provide structure to your posts. From a reader’s perspective it helps them to understand what your content is about in one glance. From SEO perspective, these HTML tags (H1-H6) help them to see what your content is about and how the information is organized.
By default, your post title takes the H1 tag. Therefore, you should never use the H1 tag in your content section. For all your subheadings, you should use H2 to H6 in an orderly fashion. Never skip a subheading level.
Free Recommended WordPress Plugin for On-Page SEO
RankMath is a freemium WordPress plugin that guides you through the entire on-page SEO process. Once you install the plugin, you’ll find the RankMath settings in your Edit Post section, all you gotta do is enter your primary keyword and the plugin will teach you how to up your SEO score.
There you have it, the in and out on how to write SEO optimized content. Got questions or found this post useful, leave a comment below.