New business, new website, you don’t have a lot of organic traffic.
Your website is not ranking well for any of the search terms or questions your audience is looking for.
However, you are convinced that content can bring your business to the next level and attract potential new customers.
You have to get it right. But how?
How do you write content for SEO in 2019?
In this guide, we will go through one SEO writing process and get actionable information with examples and tools.
At the end of this guide, you will:
- Understand how to define the main topic and find related keywords
- Know how to structure your copy for search engine
- Get tips about writing an article with SEO in mind
- Discover tools to help you with the whole copywriting process
- Be able to write a complete and in-depth article
For the last few months, I’ve gathered information from many SEO experts and experimented this process on my own website. I was able to rank on the first page of Google for some keywords.
Hopefully, after reading this, you will also get awesome results with your content marketing and generate a ton of organic traffic to your website.
Table of Contents
What is SEO writing?
SEO copywriting is writing and structuring web content to be optimized for search engine crawling and indexing.
Additionally, the writing process must keep in mind the searchers’ behaviors driven by search queries and questions.
The content must be structured in a certain way to be “understood” by search engines and ranked at the top positions.
It involves taking special care about elements such as headlines, images optimization, user-friendly structure, and URL.
And a lot more that we will review together in this article.
Whatever you write. It could be a book, study research, a white paper, or an SEO-friendly blog post; you should think about your reader first and give him a memorable experience.
User experience is and will stay the best way to rank high on search engine.
SEO writing process overview
In the following, we will review a method to write for SEO and produce complete and in-depth content.
Most of the SEO experts in 2019 recommend creating long-form and evergreen content. Such content are covering a topic from various angles and with a lot of detailed information.
These 2000+ word-long articles tend to rank higher and generates more leads.
In a nutshell, the creation process is straightforward:
- Begin with your main topic and search for keywords to target
- Organize your ideas, analyze the topics already discussed by top-ranking pages and structure your work
- Writing and create an engaging piece of content
In the rest of this article, we will detail the SEO writing process step by step.
As an example, I will use this article (the one you reading right now) and decompose its creation process.
Step 1- Pick a good topic
Define a theme
You should start by asking yourself what will be the central theme of your article and what do you would like to share with your readers.
The topic could be summarized in one sentence expressing the essence of your content.
For this article, I’ve defined the theme as follow:
“As a reader, I would like to find an article explaining the SEO writing process with actionable examples and free tools.”
Do a keywords research
Where will the journey of your readers start? On Google search!
You have to simulate the search intent of the readers.
Go on Google and put yourself in the reader shoes.
Enter a search query aligned with your main topic to start collecting keywords ideas.
For this article, I’ve started with the following query “how to write SEO optimized content.”
Google is already providing you valuable information about the search intent, and it will help you to build up a list of keywords.
Look at the Google Search features such as:
- People also ask / Questions
- Related Search
- Google Suggest
And navigate across the suggested search terms to get an idea of keywords leading to your main topic.
You can as well use a great and free tool, Keywords Everywhere. It is a Chrome plugin displaying related keywords and information directly in the search result page of Google.
Keywords Everywhere shows the volume of search, CPC, and Competition.
After a few clicks and research, you should have already a list of potential keywords. They will be important for later: for the creation of your content.
To continue with my example, here the keywords I’ve listed:
- how to write seo optimized content
- seo writting
- seo friendly content
- what is seo writing
- write for seo
Spy the competition keywords
To rank at the first positions of the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP), you will have to outperform other content; they are your competition.
You can use another free tool, Ubersuggest to get an idea of what keywords drive traffic to the top pages of the Google SERP.
The main features of Ubersuggest are:
- Overview of the volume and difficulties for a keywords
- Keywords ideas
- Traffic information about the top ranking pages
- Backlinks information
Once you have entered a keyword in this free SEO tool, by clicking on a page, you can see the keywords generating traffic to this page. Collect them and improve your list of keywords.
Find your North Star
Now you have a complete list of keywords.
Then, you gather the key metrics provided by Keyword research and Ubersuggest such as the search volume and as well the search difficulty.
From this list, you have to find your focus keyword, you North Star. It will be the keyword that will drive the entire process of content creation.
To find your main keyword, look at the different metrics, and choose wisely one. Consider different also other parameters: the authority of your website and the websites already ranking for a search.
SEO experts recommend picking keywords with high volume and high CPC and low Search Difficulty.
In my case, I will pick the keyword, “write for SEO.” This term will define the structure of my entire article.
Having a North Star keyword will help you to optimize your page for your main topic.
We will see in the rest of this article, how to write long-form and complete articles for your business website or blog.
Steps involved in the keyword research process
To summarize, for the first step, you will have to:
- Define your main topic and theme
- Go on Google search and put yourself in the searcher shoes.
- Start listing keywords
- Spy the competition
- Gather metrics about the keywords
- Choose your main keyword, your North Star
At the end of the first step, you must have a list of keywords and your North Star keyword defined.
Step 2 – Structure your copy
Now that you have you a great topic and your main keyword in mind, it’s time to organize your work and define the skeleton of your article.
Draft the article structure
Start by writing down all the ideas and resources you found on this topic.
Structure your note in a hierarchically way and start drafting the table of content while you gather ideas.
Keep a list of the interesting websites you visit. It will be important during the final editing to link to other content and give to your audience an enhanced experience — going beyond your sole content.
Also, to be seen as an expert in your field and validate your research, you should mention other experts.
Evernote is a great app to keep track of all articles, ideas, and notes. With Evernote, you can have your notes in sync on multiple devices.
And don’t worry to be messy at this stage.
Look at your competition to make a better content
Keep in mind that the user or reader experience is one of the main ranking factors.
To be visible on top of the Google SERP, you have to offer something outstanding and in-depth.
Indeed, it will be hard to perform with an 800 words long article when the others wrote 2000+ words.
The approach of building something complete has been coined under the term “Skyscraper Technique” by the SEO Expert Brian Dean.
This technique follows some principles:
- Content must be longer
- More up-to-date
- Better designed
- And more thorough
You have to build something that it’s ten times better than your competition.
How to build something that is ten times better?
Look at the top 10 pages on Google for your main keywords and understand what topics and sub-topics they are covering.
Compile your finding and start leveraging this content. You will build something better and outrank the other pages.
And there is another tool to help you there.
Automate the Skyscraper Technique with thruuu
thruuu is a free SEO tool helping you with your SEO copywriting.
In one sight, you can have an overview of the top 10 results for a search on Google and understand the content of each page.
thruuu will extract all the critical information about each page and give you essential information and statistic about the SERP.
Start by entering your North Start keyword, and thruuu will display the Google search result page with additional information such as the headlines, word count, last update, and more.
You can examine the structure of each article and find the topics and subtopics included.
For our example, I’ve entered the keywords, “write for SEO” and started to analyze the SERP. I’ve used the Excel export feature to get all the data in a workable format.
Now I can see what the articles are covering. I can also understand what I’ve missed and identified some gap in my draft.
Thanks to this overview, I can extend my article draft and add additional elements. The missing piece to make a complete article.
With thruuu, you will also find a list of questions and related searches. It is imperative to understand the user intent and incorporate some of these elements and answer in your article.
Remember that people go on Google and ask questions. Organize your work around questions/answers.
Another tool offers a larger set of questions, comparisons and prepositions terms. Use AnswerThePublic, a free visual keyword research & content ideas tool.
Steps required for the article draft
To summarize, for the second step, you will have to:
- Gather notes and ideas
- Draft a Table of content
- Look at the top pages to find missing topics and gap
- Search for related questions
Now you should have a complete table of content, with all the topics and ideas gathered.
Step 3 – Create better content
Once you find a unique way to go deeper with a topic, create new content and in a more engaging way.
You have to offer a complete overview of the subject to delight your audience.
User experience will play a central role in the success of your page. If you are a good writer, you will have an advantage.
However, there are also some aspects of your content that you cannot neglect during the creation process.
Let’s make a checklist of the most important point you have to consider while creating an SEO copy.
Readable content structure
Your page must be easy to read and also to parse by the eyes of your reader.
The first few seconds will be critical.
No enough spaces between paragraphs, no headline structure, and it is guaranteed that the reader will bounce back — it is a negative SEO factor.
- Introduce your topic and main keywords in the first paragraphs. You have to grab the attention of your readers.
- Organize your content around clear headlines (H1, H2, H3) and keep your paragraph in two to three sentences maximum.
- Mark the important information in bold and don’t hesitate to use bullet points and lists.
Last but not least, avoid spelling and grammar mistake.
I can recommend Grammarly if you write in English. It is a free writing app to make documents and blog posts clear and mistake-free.
Include images and videos
One picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed visual can help the reader to understand your topic in a better way.
With images and videos, you improve the reading experience. It breaks the flow of text and makes your page more appealing.
Another advantage is that having images and especially video on your page will increase the time spent on your page. And it is as well an important SEO factor.
Google will interpret the time spent on your page as a positive signal and might push your content up.
From a technical SEO perspective, do not forget the ALT attribute. With this attribute, you can attach a description to your image. It will be easier for people to find your content via an Image search.
Interesting statistic: Google Image Search counted for more than 20% of all search done on the Internet in the USA in 2018.
Make it long enough
How many words should be on a Web page for SEO? Good question. You should ask Google.
The most famous Google Webmaster John Mueller a.k.a JohnMu said that “word count is not a ranking factor.“
And I do believe so.
However, some studies show that long-form content works better than thin pages.
One reason is that longer articles generate more backlinks. And this is an important SEO ranking factor.
So if you ask me again: How many words should be on a Web page for SEO?
My answer will be, look at the competition and be at least in the average word count.
For my example, I’ve used thruuu to get some information about the word count for the term “Write for SEO.” I can see that the average is about between 2000 words and 4000 words. So I’ve done 3700+ words.
An excellent title to increase the CTR
You must get the attention of your reader. A great title will invite him to click and read your copy.
The meta tag title of your article is displayed in the Google SERP.
The title has an indirect SEO influence. Indeed, a good title will increase your CTR and indicate to Google that you are worth reading.
A recent study from backlinko shows that “Title tags that contain a question have a 14.1% higher CTR vs. pages that don’t have a question in their title.”
In the same research, you will get other information, such as:
- Title tags between 15 to 40 characters have the highest CTR.
- Titles with Power Words had a 13.9% lower CTR
- Titles with positive or negative sentiment improved CTR by approximately 7%
To come with a good title, you can use thruuu and get some inspiration.
You can see what works already and the keyword density of the titles and H1 of the top 10 results.
Finally, you have to spend time on your title.
Try different combination and use Coschedule Headline Analyzer to give some useful hints about the relevance of your main headline.
Description for the SERP
The meta tag description is another element that you have to fill even though it seems to lose its importance years after years.
Google is displaying the meta description in the SERP. But not always.
For some cases, Google will make up a new description based on the search context and using content from your article.
If Google thinks that for a search query, a better description must be displayed to the user, Google will adapt it.
With thruuu, you can understand the composition of the description of each article on the SERP.
You can as well compare the meta description with the one effectively display by Google. And point differences.
The advice will be to stick to the trend and come up with a description answering the search query.
Make SEO-Friendly URL
The URL is another meta-information displayed to the reader in the SERP.
A recommendation is to keep the URL short and focus on your main keywords.
URLs that contain a keyword have a 45% higher click-through rate compared to URLs that don’t contain a keyword from an analysis of backlinko.
In my example, the URL is ending with “/write-for-seo”. I use my focus keyword.
I advise you to do the same.
Mention your references
You might have done some researches on the topic before writing something.
Do not hesitate to indicate your sources and link to them in your article.
Again it is all about the completeness of your work. Your content will rank well if the readers found it fascinating.
Adding links to other top articles within your niche and industry will help.
Another effect of mentioning your sources is that the referenced authors might find it interesting to share an article mentioning them. And therefore they will help you to create awareness around your work.
Table of Content
As soon you content reach a critical size, you should include a table of content at the beginning of the article.
Firstly, it provides information to the readers about what he can expect to find in your work.
In one glimpse, he will parse all the topics covered by your article, and continue his reading journey (as long you satisfy his need).
Google is using Table of Content to provide a direct link to the right section within an article.
Google offers the shortest way possible to bring a question to an answer. It is all about the user experience.
Optimize your content for Featured Snippets
A Featured Snippet is a Google Search Engine feature displayed for some queries at the very first position, also called “position 0”.
Google is using the Featured Snippet to give an exact answer to a question. The content of the answer is then scraped from an article. (Usually also ranked on the first page)
Featured content can be displayed in the form of a paragraph, list, or table. It can as well includes images.
You can easily verify if a search term is associated with a featured snippet by doing a Google search.
If you use thruuu to prepare your article, it will as well indicate if there is a Featured Snippet opportunity.
Like any other SEO recommendations, it is not an exact science. Some experimentations show that writing some paragraphs in a questions answer format can help.
Don’t forget Structured Data
Structured data are meta-information helping the search engine to understand better your page.
There are about 30+ different type of structured data, including:
- Critic review
- Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
By incorporating a few of them on your page, you might see some special search features for your pages.
Let’s take the example of the FAQ Structure Data. It can help to highlight one of the questions you answer in your content.
If one of your paragraphs start with a question, you can grab the headline and use the first paragraph for the answer.
Google might then display your FAQ directly in the search and invite the user to pursue reading your article.
Link to other internal pages
As for external resources, it is also crucial that you enrich your article with your own content.
You might have other articles providing additional information to the reader. Again, think about the user experience.
Also, as any SEO driven content, you have to think about the dear algorithm of Google.
Linking your pages together can help Google to understand the content of your websites.
Also, well-performing pages can spread their “power” to other pages of your site through links.
You can read more about internal link building here.
Next: publish, promote, update
Finally. You have a great article.
You are ready to fight for the first position on Google Search.
Submit your article to the Google Index
Once it is published, the very first thing you have to do is to submit your URL to Google Search Console.
It will add your content to the Google Index. And your page will be searchable.
Email, Social and Outreach campaigns
Promoting your content is as well an important activity, and you should spend as much time on the creation than on the promotion.
You could run different campaigns to spread your content, such as email campaigns or social campaigns.
The most critical and complicated activity to rank for your targeted keywords will be to build links with other websites.
They are many ways to run outreach and link building campaigns.
Click on the story below to discover some of them, or go more in-depth in backlink tactics with this article.
Keep your content fresh
Making regular updates to your most performing pages will help you to reach the top faster and stay at the top (once you are there).
Revised your content by adding the latest information, and also check if no broken link could penalize you.
A simple mechanism to stay current is to set up Google Alert for the keywords you target.
You will receive regular news on the topic directly in your inbox. Fresh material for a content update
List of tools for SEO writing
We have seen a different set of tools that could help with the SEO copywriting process.
We can summarize them all here, and add new ones:
- Google Search: use it to get keywords information, and understand the several search features.
- Keyword Everywhere: Get keywords ideas directly in the SERP of Google.
- Ubersuggest: Helps you generate keyword ideas for your content marketing.
- Evernote: Keep your notes in sync on multiple devices.
- thruuu: A free SERP analyzer to help you create complete content
- Answer the public: Find out questions and search queries
- Grammarly: Writing app to make documents, and posts clear, mistake-free, and effective.
- Coschedule Headline Analyzer: Write headlines that get clicks
- Skitch: Working with Evernote it helps you to annotate images and screenshots.
Content is still king in 2019, and text-based format is still the most popular form of content searched online.
There is no doubt that an effective SEO and content strategy will enable the growth of your business.
By following a systematic process, you will increase the chances of ranking high on Google.
- Thinks about the search intent of your audience
- Target the right keywords
- Organize your content in a structured way
- Write by keeping in mind on-page elements and the Google Search Result page
The process described in this article can help you writing comprehensive and long-form articles.
Do not hesitate to share your own experience.