The Do’s and Don’ts of SEO Content Writing: How to Write for SEO

Writer:
Compose.ly
Editor:
Robert Stone
Published: Jan 10, 2019
Last Updated:
Table of Contents
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With more and more businesses getting online, competition for visibility on search engines like Google is fierce. Most entrepreneurs and businesses already know about the value of creating content to build visibility and generate organic traffic. But these days, it’s not enough to create just any content. You need to create content that stands out in a vast sea of competitors, hooks your target audience, and makes them want to keep coming back for more.

The key is to move away from the old content writing and start utilizing SEO Content Writing.

SEO Content Writing and Why It’s Important to Get It Right

In the simplest of terms, SEO content writing is about including specific terms and phrases to improve the visibility of the content you create on your website. As a business, you want your content to be seen by your target audience, and for this purpose, there are two options – paid ads and organic traffic.

Paid ads will give you an immediate boost, but if there’s no solid content plan in place, the results may not be that effective in the long term. SEO content writing is a way to help your content get viewed organically and build your website authority and presence over time. So if you're wondering, "Is content writing necessary for SEO," the answer is it absolutely is!

To understand the relevance of SEO content writing for your website, let’s take a look at some important statistics:

  • There are 600 million blogs in the world today, and 3 billion blog posts are published every year. [ GrowthBadger]
  • Google currently dominates the search engine market with a share of 92.47% as of June 2021. [ Statista]
  • The number #1 search result on Google for a specific search term gets 31.7% of clicks (this can be a paid ad or an organic result). The top 3 organic results get 75% of the clicks. [ Backlinko]

The competition for the top spots in search engines when users type a specific term or phrase is therefore huge. Unless you get into the top spots for those terms or phrases, it’s unlikely your content will get seen.

First page results on Google receive 91.4% of search engine traffic, while the second page receives 4.8%, and the third 1.1%. [ Reputation911]

In other words, the possibility of receiving traffic decreases the further away you are from the top search results.

Needless to say, SEO content writing cannot be over-emphasized. But to limit the process to the insertion of phrases and terms makes it seem a lot easier than it is. Determining when and where to place these terms and the selection of the correct terms requires expertise.

As a business owner, your option is to either learn this on your own through trial and error and spend considerable time and resources, or partner with businesses that manage SEO content writing services end-to-end for you.

Do’s and Don’ts for SEO Content Writing

If you do decide to go down the route of self-management and learn how to write SEO content on your own, here are some important do’s and don’ts to remember:

Do Research Your Keywords, But Don’t Stuff Your Content With Them

The most important part of SEO content writing is keyword research. There are several different methods you can use for the exercise. Here’s a simple one – identify a list of competitors in your niche and type these URLs into the WordStream tool to obtain a list of keywords that you can potentially target.

For some quick wins, use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to pick out low competition keywords that may be easier to rank for.

As tempting as it is to stuff your content with a long list of keywords, cease and desist! Google has bots that skim content for keyword stuffing and penalizes the website, which can cost you your rankings. A good rule of thumb is to use the keywords where they organically fit. Also, refer to our Keyword Placement 101 guide, which tells you to place your keywords optimally for SEO.

Do Provide High-Value Content, But Don’t Neglect the Reader

Content that’s universally popular on search engines has some distinct characteristics – they’re useful, relevant, and formatted for reader-friendliness.

So if you’re aiming to answer a question like "How to write for search engines?", ensure your content does just that without rambling or deviating while providing as much helpful information as possible.

It’s easy to go overboard with technical terms and processes, but the best kind of writing is simple and easy to understand. You’re writing for people who’re seeking expert advice but don’t necessarily have the level of experience to understand the jargon.

Avoid using complicated or complex language and strive write simple sentence structures. Active writing works better than passive forms when writing for the web. Use headings split into H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on, where H1 is the title heading and H2s, H3s, and H4s are subheadings. Section content into paragraphs, making sure each paragraph has no more than three to five sentences, give or take.

Add images to break up the monotonous text. Share statistics with sources. Provide infographics, cheat sheets, or checklists. The more engaging you can make your content, the better. All of these go towards improving the user experience, which in turn increases the readability and popularity of your content.

Do Optimize Your Images, But Don’t Pick Images Off the Internet

In addition to optimizing your textual content, you also want to optimize your images. When optimized well, images can potentially rank on Google Images, which is a great way to redirect traffic to your blog.

Choose a PNG version of your image. Use compression and resizing tools as these can help your image load faster on the website. Page load speeds can affect the user experience, which in turn, can affect your rankings. When you upload images on WordPress, don't forget to fill in the fields with the required text and descriptions inclusive of keywords so they get tagged to your image.

Whatever you do, don’t source images straight off the internet. These images can have copyrights, and you don’t want to risk a lawsuit over stolen images. Always look for websites that provide free images and check the guidelines and usage policies. Some websites will require you to attribute the image to them, while others don’t have any such requirement.

Do Seek Inspiration, But Don’t Plagiarize

Looking at the top 10 results on Google can give you an indication of what type of content is popular for specific keywords. Feel free to get inspired by the content, but avoid plagiarizing.

Aim to provide more useful content written in the most reader-friendly way. Provide fresh insights or approach the content from a different angle. Bring your own unique style to your content. You want your content to be memorable, after all.

It’s a fallacy that your content has to be the absolute longest to win the top spot on Google. If this were true, the number one organic spot should be held by content with the most words, but a quick look at different search results proves otherwise. Google has a set of ranking factors that determine how content gets ranked. Aim for relevance as opposed to length.

Do Have a Goal for Each Piece of Content You Write, and Don’t Neglect the Headline

Write every piece of content with a goal in mind. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of content that doesn’t really serve any useful purpose. Here are a few goals to consider for your content:

  • Attracting more people to your business. Typically, these goals can be in the form of gaining new subscribers or followers.
  • Maintaining loyalty. You want to keep your existing blog readers happy by continuously pushing out content they find appealing and engaging.
  • Building authority in your niche. You want to be seen as the go-to person for your niche, so create content that showcases your expertise.

To achieve these goals over time, you always want to think about how best you can serve your audience with your content. At the end of the day, every piece of content you create should be written with your audience in mind.

When you create content, especially in the form of blog posts, pay attention to your headlines. There’s a lot of content getting generated online every minute, and writing a concise yet compelling headline is one of the best ways to grab attention. Here are a few tips:

1. Use the "<How to> do <action>to get <specific result>" formula with variations. This is a great headline formula that works well because it’s simple and specific, and it clearly lays out what readers can expect from your content.

Examples:

  • How to Write Blog Content That Gets Tons of Organic Traffic
  • How to Find Free Images for Your Website
  • How to Upload Your Blog Post to WordPress

Incidentally, headline formulas can be your best friend when you’re trying to master the art of the headline. Maintain a list of headline formulas that you can easily find online through a quick search to help you create scroll-stopping headlines with ease. Simply type "headline formulas" in the search box, and you’re good to go.

2. Add a number. Statistically, blog headlines with numbers attract 30% more readers, according to Ahrefs. A few examples:

  • 10 Reasons Why You Should Outsource SEO Content Writing
  • 25 Free Tools to Optimize Your Content for SEO
  • 12 Different Types of Blog Posts That Your Readers Will Love

3. Promise a solution to a niggling problem. Some examples:

  • How to Get Rid of Writers Block – 10 Highly Effective Strategies
  • How to Stop Wasting Time and Quickly Get Blog Posts Done
  • Use this SEO Checklist to Write Perfectly Optimize Content Every Single Time

Do Maintain Consistency, But Don’t Overwhelm Your Readers

Maintain a consistent schedule for your blog posts and other social media content. Consistency shows that you mean business. It also indicates reliability and the fact that you genuinely care about creating good content for your readers.

Find a schedule that works for you, whether it’s three times a week or once a week, but don’t overwhelm your readers.

No matter how useful your content is, some readers can get intimidated or frustrated by having new content notifications daily. Balance is key. The last thing you want is your readers getting annoyed and switching off altogether.

Do Share Your Content, But Don’t Overshare

If you don’t share your content, no one else will! The most important aspect of writing SEO content is sharing. Every time you create a piece of content, share it! Create business profiles on at least three relevant social media channels and regularly share your content. As you scale and have more resources, you can progressively add more social media channels.

Although SEO content writing was designed for attracting organic traffic, make use of free social sharing through social media channels to help amplify your reach and push your content to more eyes.

Also, remember not to overshare. Oversharing is when you start to include excessive personal elements in your content that can put your readers off. Often, readers find it appealing when you present examples from your real life in terms of challenges and what you did to overcome them. It helps keep you relatable and grounded.

But keep it classy and cool. Think before your share personal content, and if you must, err on the side of undersharing as opposed to oversharing.

Do Follow Competitors But Find Your Own Voice

It’s a good idea to keep your ears to the ground by following competitors' activities. It’s a great way to get new ideas and feel the pulse of what’s trending and popular within the same niche.

At the same time, you don’t want to sound like every other person in the industry. Cultivate your own voice. Find a way to be distinct and have your personality shine through the content you create. Whatever you do, remember that your content has to be authentic and meaningful — and most of all, it must connect with your readers.

Do Use Tools But Don’t Rely 100% on Scores

With the increasing incorporation of automation and AI in content writing/SEO writing tools, you have a lot more resources that can make the process of content creation easier.

Use tools like the Spelling and Grammar checker on your MS Word app and the Grammarly software to run through your content and fix basic grammatical mistakes. Grammarly can also suggest options to help you make your content easier to read and more appealing for online readers.

A tool like Hemingway can help you write your content in a way that’s easy to grasp for most people. Hemingway has several powerful writing features, including the ability to assess the reading level of your writing. It’s recommended to write content at the 8th-grade reading level, which is generally accepted as the easiest to read with the maximum attention.

But bear in mind that these are just tools, and you don’t want to 100% rely on their recommendations to create effective content. Some suggestions may not always be practical or relevant.

There are plenty of AI-based SEO writing tools in the market, and while these work great as guides, they’re still not able to replace human writers. You may be able to generate decent content, but you still need humans to read through, edit, and polish the content to bring it up to the required standard.

Also, bear in mind that Google isn’t a fan of AI content, and it could potentially cost you your rankings.

Do Use An SEO Plug-in and Don’t Forget There’s a Learning Curve

If you run WordPress websites, you can make use of either Yoast or RankMath WordPress plugins. When you install these on the backend, they serve as a checklist for some basic SEO content writing requirements like "SEO title" and "Meta Description," which help Google’s bots identify and index your content. The tools are simple, and you can easily follow the guidelines to hit all the requirements.

Don’t forget there’s a learning curve with SEO content writing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re just starting out, but it can be mastered with some time and effort. SEO content writing is a long-term game, and generating results takes time.

But if you spend time creating quality content that both your readers and search engines will love, you can rely on SEO content writing to bring you traffic over the long term, resulting in a steady stream of website visitors and subscribers.  

Also, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. The SEO content writing process has a lot of complex moving parts. There are many service providers in the market, like Compose.ly, that provide affordable SEO content writing services to help you save time and effort. You can connect with them for SEO content writing samples or even brainstorm SEO content writing topics. By outsourcing this critical component of your marketing to the experts, you can focus more time on the more important tasks of marketing and managing your business.

Conquer SEO Content Writing

Unless you have the knowledge and skills, you can find that navigating the world of SEO content writing is a challenge. Make use of this checklist to help you stay on the right track so you get the best results from your content marketing efforts. And remember to reach out to experts for help if you feel overwhelmed at any time.

Learn how to work with AI tools, not against them. 

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✅ The benefits and limitations of generative AI
✅ When to use AI tools and when you still need human assistance
✅ Tips for writing effective ChatGPT prompts
✅ 6 ways to leverage ChatGPT for content creation
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