Content is an important part of any SEO strategy. It brings every piece of it together, from your keywords, to the user intent - and everything in between.
So, how do you write content that’s absolutely guaranteed to generate higher search visibility while engaging users and increasing traffic to your site?
The following guide covers just that, and more - from defining SEO content writing to giving you and your content marketing team everything you need to know to create the best copy for your site to achieve top SEO results. Use the links below to toggle between each section of content.
- What is SEO-Based Content Writing?
- What Does It Mean to Write Content for SEO?
- What Types of SEO Content Can You Create?
- Writing SEO Copy: Key Elements of SEO-Driven Content
- How to Write SEO Content
Traditionally, we’ve understood SEO content to be any text created with the purpose of generating search engine rankings. As a result, a lot of SEO copywriting or blogging advice has revolved around optimizing the copy for specific keywords and phrases or how many times to include your keyword to ensure rankings.
Most of this advice is now irrelevant.
Today, SEO content plays a two-part role. Yes, it still aims to generate rankings or higher search visibility. SEO content must also engage the users while matching the searcher’s intent.
The term SEO content writing by today's definition refers to the practice of creating content assets that can achieve both of those objectives – to rank AND engage.
As a matter of fact, that description fits (or should fit, at least) all content you publish online.
The Cost of Not Writing SEO-Driven Content
One marketing research study after another arrives at the same conclusion – Most customers begin their buying journey with an online search.
It doesn’t matter if they’re looking for simple advice or local business to engage with, they always turn to their preferred search engine for help first. I think it’s safe to say that, unless you appear in those searches, your growth and revenue will suffer.
Cue SEO-driven content.
Not optimizing pages and content right away reduce your chances at doing exactly that – aligning your marketing message with how your potential customers search for products or services like yours.
In turn, you have to resort to buying traffic through continuous online advertising and other expensive channels.
In other words, if your organization doesn’t create SEO-driven content that's highly relevant, it will likely experience:
- Low rankings and hardly any search visibility;
- No audience growth, since nobody is able to find you in the search results;
- Zero link growth due to a lack of linkable content; and finally,
- Little chance for achieving organic growth.
Yikes! That’s scary, isn’t it? Therefore, it's critical to your success to add relevant content to your content writing strategy.
I ask because the understanding of this question has changed significantly over the last several years.
As you’ve seen from the definition above, SEO copywriting focused on writing for the search engine only. A writer’s goal was to make the page as relevant to the target query as possible by stuffing it with the exact version of the target keyword.
(Needless to say, that push to retain the keyword in its original form, rather than using its variations, led to some amazingly unreadable copy at times!)
Today, our goal is different. We write for the user first. We offer all the advice and information the person needs to satisfy their search or answer their question, and we aim to provide as good a user experience through the copy as possible.
In doing so, we create a page that’s so irresistible, the search engine will want to reward it with high rankings!
This typically includes:
- Solving the user’s problems (or focusing on their intent for the search).
- Focusing on topics first and keywords second to make the content relevant to many related phrases.
- Targeting more than just the traditional search listings and creating content that can appear in the featured snippet.
The simplest answer is: any assets that Google included in the search results. But to be more specific, the most common SEO-driven content types include:
- Blog posts and long-form articles
- Evergreen content – long-form assets that target the audience’s universal interests
- Videos, since Google is likely to showcase them in the search results
- Tutorials that offer a potential to appear in the Answer Box
- Podcasts (the search engine has been experimenting recently with including them in the SERP)
Now that you know what types of content you can create and optimize over time, let's finally learn just HOW to write content for SEO.
Below you’ll find the information about what makes a strong, well-optimized piece of content.
Personally, I believe that a strong SEO copy focuses on four factors working in tandem:
Keywords (and the topics they cover) are the backbone of any SEO content.
They inform what the page is going to be about, after all. Keywords also ensure that the content will match the audience’s needs and, in turn, attract the right people to the site.
To create engaging and well-optimized SEO content, your keyword research strategy should start with something else - topics.
In keyword research, topics describe the general subject of the search. They define a broad area of what the audience is looking for.
Keywords, in turn, define their specific interests and the type of information your customers are seeking.
Incorporating both in your content writing process ensures that what you create matches the audience’s expectations completely.
Now, explaining the concept of keyword research far exceeds what I plan to achieve in this article. We've written a separate piece on topics and the keyword research process, where you’ll find all the information about it.
The User Intent
The user intent describes the reason why someone performs a search in Google (or another search engine, for that matter.) I like to think of it as the person’s ultimate goal for conducting the search.
What’s important from the content writing point of view is that the intent informs many aspects of your copy - the information you’re going to include, how you’re going to structure it and how you’ll optimize its meta tags, for example.
Once again, the concept of user intent is a vast one. To learn more, check out our guide to uncovering the user intent for SEO.
To write great SEO-driven content, you also must understand why you’re doing it in the first place, and you must answer this from the user perspective.
What is your content doing for your users? How is it helping them, specifically? Remember, your first objective is to engage readers. The better you do it, the greater the chance that Google will want to include your content high in SERP.
Finally, you need a source of reliable data to inform your content decisions. You need an SEO platform that gives you access to all information to conduct keyword research, evaluate topics, the competition, and the market. And then, ensure that whatever you’ve written matches the audience’s expectations.
Struggling to write well-optimized content? See how seoClarity’s content capabilities will take your SEO content strategy to a whole new level and book a demo today.
I believe that the best way to explain it is by showing you the process in practice. So, below, you’ll find a walk-through of the SEO content writing process.
For this walk-through, let’s assume that you’re planning to create content for a hiking equipment store.
PART I. Preparation and Research
The first thing to do is find topics and keywords for your copy, and then figure out what specifically to write about.
Let’s start with the keyword research. In the example above, hiking is our topic (the general idea of the subject of the search).
To find relevant keywords, I’ll need to fine-tune it, however, and discover the audience’s specific needs.
Topic Explorer, our flagship keyword research capability, tells me that there are over 19000 keywords related to this topic.
Since the store sells hiking equipment, specifically, let’s focus our search on that. Using filters, I focus on topics that contain the word “equipment.”
I notice an interesting topic almost right away.
The topic has a relatively good search volume. I can also see that it has an informational intent, perfect for a blog post, and there is some commercial activity behind it, too (measured by the CPC).
Next, I need to learn more about it and discover what information to include in my copy.
It confirms the intent (informational) and tells me what content types are also present in the SERP (the answer box and people also ask.)
With this information I determine that the best format for my content is a blog post (targeting the informational intent) and also that:
- There is the opportunity to rank in the answer box, and
- That the “people also ask” section might shed more light on what elements of the topic to include in the content.
But that’s not all. Content Fusion also analyzes the top-ranking content for the keywords and tells me what topics I should cover in my content. See:
That’s practically all I need to write great content for my site.
PART II. Writing SEO Copy
Although you should write for the user, there are some on-page SEO elements that should not be ignored. Neither of them should break the readability of your content, nor should you do them to please the search engine.
That said, these are important on-page SEO elements to remember when writing the copy.
- Use the keyword or its variation in the title. This will make it obvious for the reader that your content can solve their problem.
- Include the keyword or its variations in the content. This should happen naturally. You’re writing on a topic, and so, any mentions of it should happen organically anyway.
- Use a logical heading structure (H1 for the title, then H2, 3, 4 and so on.) Each of these headings is styled differently. Those differences in size and styling will help the user navigate through the copy and identify all major sections of the piece.
- Optimize the URL with the topic. Again, many users will look at it to discern the topic of the page.
- Describe images in the IMG alt tag. This will help users with visual difficulties to absorb your content in full, particularly when using a screen reader to read the copy to them. Make sure that you end each alt tag with a full stop. This way, the reader will pause for a second after reading it, providing a natural flow to the experience.
My Final Advice: With your content ready, don’t rush to publish it right away. Import it into the Content Fusion again. It will check how well you’ve covered the target topics, and provide you with advice on other assets to interlink your page with.
(I also recommend you do the above with the already-published content, too. The SERP changes all the time, and it’s good to update your content consistently to meet the new user expectations).
In SEO, content binds everything together. For that reason, you must ensure producing exceptional and highly relevant content that meets your users’ needs and expectations. In doing so, you increase the chances of Google rewarding it with high rankings.
To continued being rewarded with better search visibility than you've ever imagined possible (and to recap my approach), continue to follow my complete SEO content writing process with your team, which covers:
- Why you must write content for the user first,
- Why intent is your secret weapon (and how to uncover it using AI-powered content editor),
- What are the elements of well-optimized SEO copy, and
- Which on-page SEO factors to focus on to improve the user experience.