Here’s a guide for writers on how to write with SEO in mind.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimisation”. SEO is basically how a website is optimised to appear for certain search results on search engines like Bing and Google search which is the most popular.
Types of SEO
SEO is basically divided into 3 types;
1. On-page SEO
2. Off-page SEO
3. Technical SEO
What is SEO Content Writing?
We will be focusing on SEO content which is a part of on-page SEO. We can say great content plus On-page SEO application equals SEO Content Writing.
SEO Content Writing can simply be defined as planning and writing content with an aim to rank on search engines for certain search queries and keywords to drive quality traffic.
SEO Writing: A Part of the Big Picture
SEO Content Writing, like every other marketing activity, is tied to an objective and goal, with consideration of what stage of the marketing or sales funnel you are addressing. With this in mind, content writing is a major support to the whole buyer journey, and by the way, what's content that can't be found? Besides the initial distribution on social media (Facebook, Twitter) and Emails, the Search engine is one way to make your content discoverable.
3 Main Search Intents
Search intents are simply the reason behind a search, and people run search queries for different intentions.
There are three major types of search queries namely;
- Informational search intent
- Transactional intent, and
- Navigational search intent.
Informational search intent
When people search with the intention of knowing or learning more about particular topics. These are searches made by people looking for information or answers to specific topics. An example is “visa free countries”, this search would be done by a user who is looking to be informed on what countries are visa-free.
If you tie this to a marketing or sales funnel, they are majorly searches associated with the awareness stage which is top of the funnel.
When people search with the intention to find a product or service offering to patronise them or about to make purchase decisions or already know what they want to buy. An example is "foreign used cars for sale in Nigeria". This search query is likely done by someone who is considering where to buy foreign used cars.
This is majorly in the consideration stages of the sales or marketing funnel.
Navigational search intent
Navigational intent is basically when people search with the intent to find a specific website, webpage or even a physical location. The search phrases or keywords are usually specific and often branded. Examples could be; “Udemy courses”, “Gmail login”, “betacar” etc.
In addition, Google search queries could be easily segmented into these parts namely;
- “Know” – informational searches
- “Do” – transactional searches
- “Go” – navigational searches
These search queries can help you segment your keywords by intent when writing content.
Having highlighted the above, it’s important to understand that content writing has a lot of value and is very key for inbound marketing via search engines.
So when you write ask yourself;
- What's the objective?
- Are you writing for yourself or you want to really meet specific search intents, by the value your content offers?
- What keywords and phrases would you like to rank for?
Keywords and Content
When writing, the main goal is to write for people, not just search engines. If you take these calculated steps it gives your content more meaning and not a piece of robotic writing for search engine crawlers and bots.
This is the idea of semantic search also known as intent-based search which is one way Google ranks results based on intent and context. You want your content to be found on search because you want people to find your content and provide the value they seek.
How do you Apply Keywords to Content?
As mentioned earlier, you need to consider what the objective of the content is. For instance, you want your content to come up when people search for "What is SEO content writing".
Note that there are 3 ways to group your keywords for SEO Content Writing. That is;
1. Primary keyword
2. Secondary keywords
3. Additional Keywords
The first thing you would do is come up or discover the primary keywords. In this case, it could be "SEO content". This is generally the most important keyword you want to rank for.
These are more specific additions to the primary keywords. Example "SEO content writing"
These are other keyword strings you would like to include. Example: 'content writing expert' or "content writer" or "content writer in Lagos"
Technically best to focus on 1 primary keyword, then you can have about 1-3 secondary keywords and additional keywords respectively. Remember to keep it simple so you don't jam-pack or stuff your content with keywords that aren't relevant to the content objective.
Keyword Research for Content Writing
There are ways to also come up with keywords or what to write by doing keyword research. This is even what you should do first before deciding what to write in many cases. It gives you an idea of where and how to focus your creative writing juice.
For instance, you are writing for an automotive e-commerce platform and would like to plan your blog content calendar for the month. You can group your content into 2 or 3 parts. 1 part could be influenced by search data and the 2nd part could be based on intuition.
Since the focus is on SEO content writing for an automotive company, you need to identify which keywords are relevant to your industry or niche you find yourself writing for, and the aim is to rank for specific long-tail or short-tail keywords based on the identified search intents or objective. You would have to use keyword tools to discover what these keywords are, then plan your content calendar to address chosen keywords for the period. Make sure to put in consideration; the search volume, the keyword relevance, and the difficulty.
Keyword Research Tools
1. Google Keyword Planner
You can use this to research major keywords in the industry you find yourself by entering products or services closely related to your business or entering your website or competitors website and generating the list of keywords relevant to the niche. In this case, the automotive sale industry.
This is an alternative to Google keyword planner, quick and easy to use but has restrictions.
You can basically use this to find out what keywords any website ranks for. This will help you analyse competitor keywords and then replicate the keywords in your strategy.
By typing in a specific domain or keywords, you can get a list of suggested relevant keywords, this tool is also good to analyse what your competition does and learn from them. It also suggests content ideas based on the keyword inputted.
Quick Guide to Using Keywords in Your Content
The image above shows how a search result comes up on Google SERPS (search engine result pages).
1. Use keywords in your content title: Make sure the title has your primary keyword.
2. Apply keywords in the 1st 100 to 200 words of your content: Normally that's even what influences if a reader would continue reading your content, so it makes sense that could be a ranking factor.
3. Make the keywords be as natural as possible: Use appropriate stop-words and keyword alternatives or synonyms where necessary.
4. Use keywords in the meta tags: The screenshot above shows a meta title and meta description. It's the content title and description that the search engines see in HTML format. Normally, your content title makes up for your meta title tag, and the first few 20-25 words or 160 characters make up for your meta description in most cases. However, there are certain tools on different content management systems that make this easy. For Wordpress, you have tools like; SEO Yoast, All-In-One SEO and Premium SEO pack which helps you edit the Meta Tags for SEO.
5. Use additional and secondary keywords in headings and subheadings: There are 3 headings you could focus on; H1, H2, and H3.
Typically, your title as a major heading is usually H1 (we've covered that), H2 are subheadings, then H3 could be bold numbered listings or bullet points. Use only when it's pretty relevant to your content.
Uchenna Innocent is a Performance-Driven Digital Marketing consultant, with interests in Product, Community, Travel, and User Acquisition.
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