A 5-Point Checklist for Writing SEO Content

Effective content marketing in today’s digital space should appease your audience as well as search engines. Of course, the audience should always come first. However, creating content that’s well-optimized for SEO will keep it in front of more eyes for a longer period of time.

All of this is easier said than done.

So, where do you begin?

Content Checklist

In this post, we will cover the following the following five points for writing SEO content that sticks:

  1. Identify a Keyphrase Target or Theme
  2. Analyze the First Page of SERPs
  3. Outline the Content
  4. Check Your Site for Existing Collateral
  5. Write, Optimize, and Promote

Without further ado…

Identify a Keyphrase Target or Theme

Content Marketing Keywords

Writing SEO content effectively cannot be attained without focusing on a theme and a specific keyword or keyword phrase. When starting out, first identify the theme you want to focus on. The themes you write about on your website should be closely related to the products or services that you offer, as more relevant content will show both the search engines and users that you and your organization are experts on the topic.

From there, plug in your theme (we focused on “content marketing” in the above example) to a keyword research tool to see what types of related queries have volume. You will be presented with a number of “long-tail” keyword phrases that relate to the theme.

While these terms might generate less traffic than generic keyword phrases, focusing a piece of content on one might give you a better chance of appearing on the first page of SERPs. Additionally, these keywords are likely the ones being searched by more qualified users that are further along in their path of intent.

Analyze the First Page of SERPs

Digital Content Marketing SERPs

Search engines are always making tweaks to their algorithms and updating the search experience. This is why it’s critically important to do your research before creating a piece of content. Plug the keyword you plan to focus on into the search box and display the results.

In the above example, I’ve searched Google for “digital content marketing.” High on the first page, we see a Google Answer Box result, an article that explains what content marketing is, a page about content marketing strategy, and a blog post that explains the difference between content marketing and social media.

As we look further down the first page, the themes stay pretty in line with what we see here. So, as someone looking to rank for this term, it makes sense to create a piece of content that’s in line with what Google is displaying to users.

Outline the Content

Content Outline

Once you’ve selected an angle for your keyword phrase, be sure to think about the format of your post. It’s a good idea to click through the various pages that are ranking highly on the first page to see how they’re structured.

  • Is it long or short-form content?
  • Are there a number of subheadings throughout the pieces?
  • Is the content answering a specific question early on the page?

This investigative work will help to paint a clearer picture of how exactly your page should be laid out.

Often times, Google and other search engines will display results that all follow a similar format. Don’t try to get too creative when it comes to writing SEO content. Often times, the ingredients for creating a solid piece of content are right in front of your eyes.

Check Your Site for Existing Collateral

Digital Content Marketing KoMarketing SERPs

If you’re creating a piece of content for a website that produces new pages at a high rate, it can be next to impossible to keep up with and remember all the keywords and themes that have already been created. Creating a piece of content around an exact long-tail keyword phrase topic that already exists on your site could confuse search engines and the audience as to what page they should be placing authority.

Luckily, there’s a quick and easy way to run a search of your website for pages that have been created around specific keywords or keyword phrase.

In the image above, I ran a “site:komarketing.com digital content marketing” search to get a quick view of all the pages that include those keywords. If you want to get results for the exact keyword phrase you’re looking for, place the phrase in quotations (“digital content marketing”).

This exercise is beneficial for more than just avoiding duplicate content, too. As you create an asset, running this type of search could help you with your crosslink strategy and inspire more content for the page you’re creating.

**Bonus tip: Sometimes the keyword phrase you want to rank for may have been used on your site in the past, but is simply lacking a structure that correlates to what’s appearing in search. In this case, a simple restructure and republish of the content could result in a dramatic change in position.**

5. Write, Optimize, and Promote

Writing SEO Content

Now that you’ve crossed off the first four boxes of the checklist, it’s time to write the content. Be sure to keep the previous four items of the checklist in mind when writing and optimize it for SEO success (titles, meta description, featured images, crosslinks, etc.) before promoting.

Here are a few posts that will help you through each phase of this process:

Final Thoughts

Writing SEO content effectively is a challenge, but by following the steps above (and others, of course), you will be on your way to creating a piece of content that will stick on the first page of SERPs for months, or even years, to come.

What are some of the steps you and your organization take to ensure your content earns and maintains a high rank in search? Get the conversation started by dropping a line in the comments section or connecting with me on Twitter!

“With other agencies, the tendency is to see a flurry of work initially, and then communication and accountability starts to fall off. Our KoMarketing account team is in contact with us almost daily – it’s like they’re sitting right here in our office. They’re truly an extension of our marketing team.”

Stephanie Weagle — Stephanie Weagle, VP of Marketing, Corero Network Security

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