12 Tips to Write Better SEO Content
As content marketers, we need to consistently produce new material to see results. How much content you need depends on your business needs, industry, and a host of other factors – but a recent study found 60 percent of marketers create at least one piece of content every day.
Google’s algorithm prioritizes high-quality content that showcases expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, so now is the time to hone in on those writing skills. That being said, producing this caliber of content certainly takes time, energy, and the right plan of action. In this post, I’ll highlight 12 tips that will help you write better SEO content to achieve your keyword ranking and traffic goals:
Choose the Right Topic
To be successful with SEO, your content must have a purpose – for content associated to a SEO program, that purpose is to bring more organic traffic to the site. Arguably the most important puzzle piece is choosing the right keyword target and headline.
1. Assign a Keyword Target
Take advantage of tools like AdWords Keyword Planner or SEMRush to identify a set of keyword targets related to your business. Though it’s important to target those “core” keywords that define what your company does, keep in mind that long-tail keywords (ie., “what is…” or “how to…”) are particularly well-suited for top of the funnel content, like blog posts or FAQ page entries.
2. Create a Keyword-Focused Headline
Once you’ve identified a keyword target, take a look at search results – this should dictate what sort of headline to use and what elements to include for that particular piece of content.
Let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “what is B2B content marketing”. A quick look at search results shows there’s a Google Answer Box for this query. Knowing this, I’ll tailor my headline to address “What is B2B Content Marketing” and content to include a definition to have the best chance at ranking.
You can also take a look at tools like CoSchedule’s headline analyzer to further refine content topics. This tool rates your topic based on length, headline type, and the amount of uncommon, power, and emotional words used. It can definitely help push your topic from “okay” to “really great and will get shared across the Internet” (no guarantee, though).
Keep in mind that your title is a ranking factor, so create a headline that references the keyword target in a natural way. Speaking of:
3. No Keyword Stuffing
Even though you have a keyword target, don’t. over. use. it. Google is smart, and no longer needs 50 or even 5 keyword mentions to recognize your post should rank – it uses context clues to figure out what content is relevant for the search query.
So, write naturally and let the words flow without thinking about where to fit in your keyword. Chances are if you have a keyword target and a solid keyword-focused topic, the rest of it will line up without you thinking too hard about it.
4. Know Your Audience
It’s a whole lot easier to write an article if you know who you’re speaking to. For B2B content marketers, that doesn’t mean you’re writing to a business – you’re still writing to a person. So, before you start writing, decide who your audience is, whether that be the C-suite or an associate level professional. It will make all the difference in what information you provide and how you deliver it.
5. Consider First & Second Person
Using first or second person can be strategic, even for B2B writing. Of course, this is dependent on your company or client’s brand guidelines, but sometimes, addressing your readers directly can get your point across most effectively.
6. Avoid Passive Voice
You know a quick way to make your writing sound unnatural and weak? Using passive voice. I too am guilty of this sometimes (especially if you’re writing something you’re not too familiar with) but being passive vs. active in your writing has a serious impact on readability (and consequently, SEO).
Tools like this passive voice detector highlight any instances of passive voice before you publish to make sure your content sounds strong and authoritative.
Keep it Clear, Concise & Valuable
7. Focus on the Introduction
User engagement and behavior metrics (social shares, time on site, etc.) play a role in your content’s ability to rank organically, and you only get one shot at a first impression. So, make sure you clearly address what the post is about and what value it will provide up front to keep ‘em reading.
8. Break It Up
No one wants to read a 1,000-word post that’s a wall of text. Break up your content with subheadings that highlight the main points of the article.
Not only does this improve readability, but also makes it easier for Google to scan your content and determine relevancy/ranking.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have one subheading every 150-300 or so words. Stick to 5-7 words per subheading, and, if possible, address the keyword target or semantically related keywords to maximize organic visibility.
9. Get Straight to the Point
Your content will read better (and likely perform better) if your writing is straight to the point. As much as possible, use short, succinct sentences and avoid filler words that only weaken and bury your key points – your readers will thank you.
10. Do Your Research
In order to perform well, your content has to be valuable for readers. Ample research makes sure your piece is credible, well rounded, and provides useful information.
Take a look at what related content is available via 3rd party websites or even your own site and use it to build out your article. As a bonus, this will create easy opportunities for external and internal cross-linking.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
My last tip for writing better SEO content is…to not write at all!
…I kid. But as a content marketer, your job is to produce content and get results. What if to get the results you want, you need to produce more content than your bandwidth?
11. Repurpose Existing Content
Scale your content creation by repackaging existing content in different formats. For one client, we recently created a whitepaper based on a series of successful blog posts we wrote a few years prior.
By giving this content new life, we were able to support lead generation efforts and create additional visibility – without the time it usually takes to produce an in-depth asset.
12. Refresh Existing Content
Also, make sure you’re refreshing existing content regularly to maximize organic visibility. If you have a post that has recently dropped off in terms of ranking or traffic, take a look and see if you can add new content, repair broken links, or adjust page tagging.
In some cases, adding a paragraph or two and/or adjusting the title of an older post can get you the results, without having to draft a whole new piece.
What other writing tips do you use to boost your SEO content? Connect with us on Twitter, we’d love to hear them!