Crafting an amazing article is possible when there is a balance between the demands of search engines and readers alike.
Search engine optimized (SEO) article writing goes beyond merely ticking off check-boxes with technical requirements; it embodies meaning, value, and engaging content, meeting user needs with search intent.
This blog post is directed towards those who wish to get acquainted with SEO content writing to rank well in search engine results, produce content that resonates with their audience, or improve their current writing for SEO with additional tips.
We begin by looking at the importance of keyword research, including how to understand search intent. From there, we dive into the methods of crafting compelling headlines, creating quality content, and optimizing it for search engines before finally discussing the importance of and ways to build up a quality library of backlinks.
Whale, then – lettuce begins.
How to write articles that work both for SEO and your customers?
The crux of search engine optimization is your understanding of your target audience and the ability to meet their needs through content that they find valuable.
Such content must be written in a way that search engine crawlers would find compatible with average search trends so your pages appear high in search engine rankings.
As a result, without paying for content promotion in search results pages, you gain organic traffic that you can build trust with and eventually convert into customers.
Conduct keyword research
Keywords are the building blocks of SEO. They connect what people are searching for to the content you create.
Keyword research is the process of discovering and analyzing words and phrases that people use to look up information. Knowing them, you can generate keyword ideas and target keywords that are also relevant to your content, reaching your audience more effectively.
Understand search intent
First, we have the search intent, or user intent – referring to the reason behind a user’s search query. In other words, the searcher hopes to find it when they type specific keywords into a search engine.
Relevant keywords are considered those that, on average, are used the most in their searches.
Based on the search intent, we can split up keywords into 4 main categories:
- Informational keywords – looking for information;
- Navigational keywords – seeking a particular website;
- Transactional keywords – ready to purchase;
- Commercial keywords – comparing products or services before buying.
You can tailor your content strategy to meet the user’s needs by identifying the intent behind each target keyword.
For instance, if the intent appears to be informational, your content should provide an exhaustive explanation of the topic.
If it’s transactional, your content should guide the user toward making a purchase, and so on.
Cover topics, subtopics, and FAQ
Keyword research begins with targeting keywords and continues with constructing a structure of topics, subtopics, and questions your audience is interested in.
The all-encompassing, holistic approach can help you create content that covers a topic extensively, which is favored by both readers and search engines.
Once you have your seed keyword – the primary keyword your topic is built around – you can begin writing out the other related keywords often used in similar searches as subtopics.
By the end, you have only one thing to do – FAQ or frequently asked questions. Those could be general questions you want to develop when Google displays answers to users natively without having them click on the page. They could also directly address any concerns your readers might have after reading your article.
Identify long-tail keywords and related searches
Long-tail keywords are more definitive keyword phrases with lower search volume but higher conversion rates. They are longer, more rarely used, and they narrow down the specificity of the topic at hand.
It makes them extremely valuable since they are less competitive and more aligned with very definite user intent.
For instance, a short-tail keyword might be “running shoes,” while a long-tail keyword could be “best-running shoes for flat feet.” As you can see, the latter is more detailed and clearly indicates the search intent.
Identifying them can be done using keyword research tools, analyzing People also search boxes on Google, or looking at Searches related to at the bottom of the SERP (search engine results page).
Related searches refer to the terms closely associated with your seed keyword. They give insight into other information of interest for a portion of your audience and can help you broaden your content to cover more relevant search queries.
Write compelling headlines
The headline is often the first thing users and search engines see. Hence, writing headlines consistent with SEO practices and pique the interest can address the needs of the two groups in one fell swoop.
Understand the importance of headlines in SEO writing
Various reasons can be brought up as to why headlines have a significant impact when you write SEO content.
For one, they are SEO-friendly content that helps crawlers grasp what the page is about, influencing its overall ranking factor. A well-thought-out headline incorporates a particular keyword that would be considered within the target scope.
Moreover, for users, your headline is the thing that separates you from the rest of the relevant pages that come up in a search result. Thus, an engaging and intriguing headline can enhance your click-through rates (CTR).
Use powerful words and emotion-evoking language in headlines
Power words are persuasive words that trigger an emotional or psychological response.
They can make your headlines look and feel more appealing and enticing, drawing users toward your page. Examples of such words include exclusive, essential, insider, and many more.
Emotion-evoking language can also lead your audience to curious questions that engage them on a deeper level.
It can range from creating a sense of urgency (e.g., Last Chance to Get a 50% Discount) to eliciting surprise (e.g., 5 Secrets About SEO That Will Blow Your Mind) and more. These tactics are common for SEO copywriting, where companies combine SEO practices with content marketing.
Ultimately, utilizing headlines that just GRAB the attention is one of the ways to improve your conversion rate optimization.
Keep headlines concise and relevant to the article’s content
Creativity and emotional appeal aside, you should be focused on keeping your headlines to the point and on topic.
Casual readers skim through content, so the clearer your headline is regarding what it wants to communicate, the better it can share your article’s main point.
Relevance keeps your headline grounded. It means that it’s not a clickbait that frustrates users when they click on your page and see that your article’s content is vastly different from what the headline suggests.
Misleading your readers can backfire and lead to high bounce rates, negatively affecting your SEO in Google and other search engines. On the other hand, incorporating your seed or long-tail keywords is one way to maintain relevance.
Create quality content
Content is everywhere, but high quality content is not.
What is quality content, though? It’s not just a play on semantics, swapping one word for another while saying the same thing in several paragraphs – that’s for sure.
To reach a moment where you attract organic traffic and foster a relationship of trust with the user, you need to keep in mind the structure, purpose, relevancy, and complexity of the text you write for them.
Structure, segment, and align
Structures exist to hold things together. If your content is structured well, it holds the reader’s attention well and encourages search engines to consider the website more credible.
Start by outlining the key points you wish to touch before writing. Assess them and see if there’s anything to add or change. Using them, you can maintain a logical flow and cover all necessary aspects of your topic.
Segmentation is another means of building a strong foundation. To do so, you utilize subheadings, bullet points, and images. As a result, you improve readability for the user and aid your SEO, as search engine bots often scan all of those elements to understand your content better.
Playing with sentence length to demonstrate your aptness as a wordsmith can be tempting. However, be warned – if you make it sound more complex than it is because you have decided to write an extra long sentence, then it’s better to simply split it and bet on clear wording rather than elegant yet burdensome phrasing.
When you look at your content, you have to see that it is aligned with your brand voice, your target audience’s preferences, and the target keywords. Consistency in style brings up brand recognition, while alignment boosts engagement and ascertains it meets search intent and ranks well in SERP.
Write for the user, not just for search engines
Writing SEO-friendly content is great, no doubt about that. Do your best to excel in that.
Just remember – even if you are at the top of the SERP, that doesn’t guarantee your SEO strategy success. SEO targets search engines, but the search engine ranking is based on user behavior.
Among the many sites that use keywords excessively in their content, leading to keyword stuffing, are few that actually do manage to make their content feel appealing to readers. Those are also usually the best in terms of SEO.
But why? Because they know that content offering value to their audience inevitably attracts search engines.
Keep content informative, engaging, and relevant to the topic
While incorporating any relevant target or related keyword that could technically boost your page’s performance, keep an eye on the direction your content is going in.
Your content should provide helpful information that answers your audience’s questions and solves the problems that brought them to your website. By doing that, you earn their trust because you establish yourself as one of the authority sites that search engines have a craving for.
Engagement increases with the number of interactive elements, such as quizzes or polls, that you decide to integrate into each page. Even without them, though, you can keep your readers glued to the back of their seats.
Why? Because of storytelling. Spin a few thought-provoking sentences into each subtopic or even bullet point, and you have yourself a short story that makes readers go from one state of understanding to another, eliciting change within them without their noticing.
And change is what keeps us moving, after all.
But even then, you shouldn’t toy around with a reader’s attention – so keep your content tight and to the point. Going off on tangents can lead to confusion, diluting the focus of your content and potentially harming search engine rankings too.
Use subheadings, bullet points, and images to break up text and make it easier to read
People on the internet don’t have the time to go through every article in detail. They assess whether an article is worth the time by skimming through the headline, subheadings, bullet points, images, and, in some cases, a part of the text itself.
Breaking up the big chunk of content into smaller pieces makes it easily digestible and bite-sized, making it a breeze for anyone to get value even without reading in-depth.
Subheadings act like signposts, helping readers navigate along the periphery of your page’s structure. If they have come to your site expecting to find information on a specific topic, the subheadings should capture the nuances of the text and concisely relate them in a brief content format.
Bullet points and numbered lists succinctly convey key information, which makes them the go-to solution when presenting multiple points or steps.
Images, infographics, charts, or videos add a visual flavor to your content. They can be used to explain complex concepts, provide visual breaks, engage visual learners, and with descriptive alt tags, be useful in SEO as well.
Optimize content for search engines
Once you have in mind that content should be high-quality and user-centric, half the battle in SEO is fought. The other half comprises more technical aspects that are closely related to how search engines understand, index, and rank a website.
Below, you can see a list of valuable SEO article writing tips to help you make it to the first page in the SERP.
Use semantics and related keywords
When you put a certain meaning behind the words you use, you are leaning on the semantics aspect of your content. In the context of SEO, this relates to the relationship between words and phrases within the text of a page.
Beefy and juicy content is always welcome, but crawlers find it distasteful if it’s not well thought out beforehand.
An example of the good – if your target keyword is “SEO content writing tips” and related keywords include how to write SEO-friendly content, best practices for SEO writing, etc., then you are going down the right path.
An example of the bad – if your article is about “houseplant for beginners,” you wouldn’t want to incorporate many contextually irrelevant keywords like professional gardening tips, farm crops, etc. You also wouldn’t want to stuff the article with keywords, including repetitively using the same phrase (houseplants for beginners) in almost every sentence.
Related terms help your content stand out and be like a colorful flower garden, improving the text’s cohesiveness.
Continuing from the last example, instead of using the same phrase again and again, if we were to implement easy-care indoor plants, low-maintenance plants for home, and other similar phrases, your content instantly starts sounding more natural and stops feeling stuffed.
Use the target keyword in the title, meta description, and URL
Once you know the target keyword, you must implement it in the main on-page SEO elements, such as the title, meta description, and URL.
The title of your page, often the same as your headline, is specified by the HTML element called the title tag. That’s basically the clickable headline in search engine results, and it is of utmost importance because it is the first to give search engines and users a brief overview of the page’s content.
Next, we have the meta description – a brief summary of the content of a web page. It doesn’t directly impact rankings, but compelling meta descriptions do get more clicks because readers can quickly gather more precise information on the article.
Lastly, your URL – best to keep it keyword-rich and clean. Adding your target keyword to it is enough, as that acts as a slight boost in SEO when it’s time for crawlers to assess the overall website structure.
Mind your metadata
Metadata is data that provides information about other data. It encompasses a broad range of elements, including title tags, meta descriptions, meta tags, header tags, alt tags for images, and more that all help search engines understand the content and context of your web page.
Maintaining an XML sitemap can alleviate the process for crawlers, allowing them to scan your website structure and index your pages more efficiently. Similarly, using canonical tags can prevent issues with duplicate content.
Optimize images with alt tags and descriptive file names
Images are there to diversify the weight of the content within an article, as in some cases, articles that are all text and no images can feel overwhelming for certain readers.
Nonetheless, even images have to follow specific SEO requirements – file names and alt tags.
Using descriptive file names keeps the image relevant to the topic and, ideally, contains your target keyword. Alt tags, on the other hand, provide a text alternative that describes the image to search engines and visually impaired users.
Build quality backlinks
Backlinks, or inbound links, are links coming from an external website to a page on your website. They signal to search engines that your content is valuable and credible, especially when coming from an equally or more trusted source.
Understand the importance of backlinks in SEO article writing
Backlinks are essentially votes of confidence from other websites.
When a site with high authority links to your page, it marks your content as trustworthy and relevant for SE bots, thus boosting your performance in rankings formidably.
Furthermore, backlinks drive organic traffic to your site not only because of SEO but by having some users from other websites follow the link leading to your web page.
Build backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites
High-quality backlinks are those from authoritative sites that are relevant to your industry or topic. These sites have already earned the trust of users and search engines over time, so getting a backlink from them is considered quite helpful for improving your SEO.
You can earn such backlinks through various methods, including:
- Creating unique content of great value. You need to understand your audience, have top-notch content, promote it, monitor engagement, and respond to it.
- Guest posting on relevant blogs. Identify potential blogs that have a substantial following and domain authority. Understand their guidelines for submission, pitch a post that you can then turn into a full-fledged article, and promote the guest post you receive from them.
- Reaching out to industry influencers or bloggers in the same or similar field. Build relationships with them by engaging with their content, crafting a personalized outreach email, providing value, and nurturing the relationship.
Use internal linking to improve site structure and navigation
Internal links go from one page on your website to another and help users in navigating it while serving as an informant on the structure of your website for search engines.
Internal linking is expressed in connecting multiple website elements for an online store. Those include product pages to blog posts and vice-versa, related products, the navigation menu with all its categories, breadcrumb links, footer links, and more.
Strategic internal linking helps improve your site’s crawlability, distribute page authority throughout your site, and enhance the overall user experience by giving visitors additional reading options.
Avoid spammy and low-quality backlinks
Just as there are high-quality backlinks, there are low-quality ones as well. Those are typically from unrelated, untrusted, or what would be considered spammy websites that utilize unethical, manipulative, or deceptive tactics to gain visibility and traffic, violating search engine guidelines.
Google’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to distinguish between natural, high-quality backlinks and spammy, artificial ones. Engaging with and maintaining low-quality backlinks can negatively impact your performance in SERP.
You can monitor your backlink profile with tools like Google Search Console, SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc. They identify new backlinks, but to remove the backlinks themselves, you need to reach out to the spammy site owners.
As a last resort, you can use tools like Google Disavow to ask Google not to consider certain links when assessing your site. However, be sure you’ve done your research before making such a request, as the incorrect use could harm your website’s SEO performance instead.
At the end of the day, your SEO practices matter, so do not give up. If you are a store owner and you do need a helping hand, though, we at NEXT BASKET would gladly take on the burden with you and assist you in getting your online store to where you want it to be and beyond.
Frequently asked questions
If my content is already compelling and well-structured, why do I need to worry about keyword research?
Even so, you can benefit from keyword research by confirming the level of alignment between your current content and what your audience is searching for. It gives you a chance to make improvements where necessary and add more value.
Is there a difference between a seed keyword and a target keyword?
Yes. A seed keyword pertains to the main topic or theme of the content, while a target keyword is more specific, directly relates to the content you are writing, and may include a seed keyword.
Is there a risk of penalties from search engines if I overuse my target keywords?
Yes, that is what the term keyword stuffing refers to, and it can degrade the quality of content and negatively impact the user experience, which is why it can also lead to a worse ranking on SERP.
How often should I include my target keyword in a 1000-word article?
There is no hard and fast rule, but you can consider a number in the loose range of 5-7 times per 1000 words so that there is as little disruption to the flow or readability of the content.