8 Steps to Write for Search Engine Optimization
Content is the ‘crowned king’ of search engine optimization (SEO) and most digital strategies incorporate SEO. Within a standard SEO strategy, it is important to continuously write new content, keep existing content up-to-date, and maintain content that aligns with your desired keywords. All website content needs to be strategic, high-quality, and relevant to your targeted audiences.
There is a difference between traditional print writing and digital writing. When writing for the digital space, there are key steps that need to be taken to ensure that the content is valuable to your readers and search engines. As you progress through the digital writing process, keep these 3 tips in mind:
How to write for SEO in 8 steps:
- Identify keywords for your content piece
- Create an outline
- Write your content
- Develop content structure
- Incorporate keywords in your metadata
- Add internal links
- Monitor and enhance
Step 1: Identify Keywords for Your Content Piece
SEO writing starts by focusing on SEO and identify the keywords you want to target on the page. Although you may have a list of keywords for the entire website, content on main pages and blogs should target only 1 to 2 keywords. These keywords should be broader when you are writing for the main content pages and become more specific as you write blogs and sub-pages. Identifying the keywords at the beginning sets the foundation to build the content upon.
Step 2: Create an Outline
Once you identify the 1 to 2 keywords, create an outline for what you want to write. Outlines will organize your thoughts and secure that prioritized keywords are incorporated throughout the content. It will also help you write content in chunks that both readers and search engines can easily read.
People use search engines with a need in mind or to answer a question. When people find your content organically and click on it, their expectation is to have that need fulfilled or to find an answer to their question. You want to ensure that each chunk of the content matches the original search intent of your desired readers. As a result, users that click on the search result will engage with your content, instill a positive experience, and prove your content is relevant and of high quality.
Step 3: Write Your Content
Write for your audience and for search engines. The keywords should naturally flow throughout your digital content. It is also important to include close variants of your keywords in your content, keeping in mind that different phrases are used to search. While writing, avoid stuffing your content with keywords. That will affect the readability and negatively impact your SEO. Be careful not to lose content quality for keyword count. Focus on maintaining a natural content flow with minimal ‘clutter’ and remember to keep the content relevant to the reader’s search intent.
Step 4: Develop Content Structure
Use effective formatting to convey various topics that are covered and highlight the critical parts. The headers and any snippet of content need to utilize relevant keywords because search engines will assess this information first. Search engines will then use that information to determine the relevance of that page and will select a snippet from the most relevant pages to display as the featured snippet on a search result. According to ProBlogger, users spend an average of 1 minute and 36 seconds on a blog post, which is not a lot of time to relay your message and value. Effectively formatted digital content will also make it easier for readers to skim and engage with the information that matters most to them.
Step 5: Incorporate Keywords in Your Metadata
Always focus on the keywords that relate the most to your digital content. Incorporate the keywords into the title, title tag, image alternative text, H1s (header 1s), and meta description. As a whole, this metadata highlights content on your website and works in conjunction with search engines. Titles and title tags are no more than 60 characters and include keywords placed toward the front. Optimized titles will lead to concise URLs that are between 90 and 105 characters. Meta descriptions may not affect your search ranking, but they can improve your organic click-through rate, which is a component of SEO. Not only does Google bold keywords that appear in meta descriptions, but it also communicates how your article is relevant to the search queries. When writing meta descriptions, make each one unique, avoid duplicates, and explain what the user will find by clicking on your link. Having all of your metadata optimized will give your well-written content the best opportunity to shine in search results and improve your SEO.
Step 6: Add Internal Links
The last important place to incorporate your keywords is in internal links. Critical keywords should be utilized in the URLs that are linked most often within your website. In doing so, it will provide more hints to Google about what your most important content is and illustrate the keywords that you are most qualified for. The most important pages should be linked more frequently throughout your website and always cross-link between relevant pages. In this example: blog post 1, a topic is briefly mentioned; blog post 2, a topic is more specific about the same topic; link these blogs. In doing so, it will build your digital authority to search engines and give readers opportunities to learn more and further their engagement on your website.
Step 7: Review
Prior to publishing a piece of content, perform a final review from the SEO perspective. Make sure that the keywords, links, and structure did not get lost through edits. Confirm that the keywords are prominent, in the metadata, and relevant to the search intent. Lastly, make sure that any images, videos, or infographics are properly sized and do not delay the page load time.
Step 8: Monitor and Enhance
For each piece of digital content that is published, you need to monitor its performance. You can track basic analytics such as time spent on a page, users, sessions, and bounce rate. In addition, compare engagement across various channels and compare it to your other pieces of content. Other questions to consider:
- How many users are engaging with this piece of content? Is that higher or lower than similar content pages?
- How long are users staying on this page? Is that higher or lower than similar content pages?
- Does this content lead the user to engage with another page? If so, what pages are those and how are they related?
- Are the links to and from the page being utilized? If not, what can I change to improve link engagement?
- Where is the search engine on this page located and for which search queries?
- Are users sharing my pages on other channels?
By answering these questions, you will be able to identify the current state of your SEO, opportunities for improvement, and make the necessary updates. These continuous efforts can roll up into your organization’s digital strategy and further your Digital Transformation®.
Writing for SEO is about more than inputting keywords in sentences. Successful content requires continuous effort, monitoring, and adjustment. As the digital space evolves and your organization’s Digital Transformation® progresses, so will these best practices. Because it is an ever-evolving space, our last recommendation is to review your process and keywords on a regular basis. The best way to do that is to work with a digital partner with that expertise, like I-ology.
Garman, Erica. “SEO Writing Tips: 10 Writing Techniques & Guidelines for SEO Content.” Titan Growth, 12 June 2020, www.titangrowth.com/blog/capitalize-on-content-10-techniques-for-seo-content-writing/.
Lieback, Ron. SEO Writing: Top 47 Tips to Master a Combined Art. 11 Dec. 2019, www.searchenginejournal.com/on-page-seo/seo-writing/.
Rowse, Darren. “How Long Do Your Readers Stay at Your Blog - Length of Stay Statistics.” ProBlogger, 6 Oct. 2019, problogger.com/how-long-do-your-readers-stay-at-your-blog-length-of-stay-statistics/.
“SEO Writing for Copywriters - The Ultimate Guide.” SEO Blog | CognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies, 5 May 2020, cognitiveseo.com/blog/21096/how-to-write-for-seo/.
I-ology is a boutique digital transformation consulting and delivery firm, focused on true Digital Transformation®. We enhance business capabilities by identifying market opportunities and delivering custom digital solutions that align with those opportunities.