If you engage in content marketing, you have to walk a very fine line: Create content that search engines want to rank highly and that real people want to read (and act on).
Those who succeed at this balancing act can proudly wear their SEO writer badge and intimidate less Internet-savvy wordsmiths.
SEO writing requires an understanding of what search engines want to see in your content as well as what will help you achieve your ultimate goal. There’s no point in having a no. 1 ranking if the content is robotic gibberish that makes your bounce rate shoot higher than Google’s stock price.
Master these simple yet brutally effective SEO content writing techniques and not only will your content rank like gangbusters but opportunities will present themselves all over the place.
SEO Writing Do's
In order to make the SEO gods and your readers happy, there are a few principles you need to follow.
Make sure you’re doing all of these and your SEO content will reign supreme:
- Use Keywords Early: Make sure you are using your keyword in the first 100 words of the copy. It doesn’t have to be the first word; that can come off like over-optimization. Just find a natural way to use it in the first 100 words.
- Give it Substance: There is no magic number for word count but don’t be surprised if a blurb about some article you are curating doesn’t skyrocket you to the top of the SERPs. As a general rule, aim for 200-300 words as your minimum word count. When it comes to a max, write as much as you need to make your point without losing the reader. Depending on the subject, that could be a pretty big range.
- Use Keyword Variants: If your keyword is “Labrador retriever training,” use variations that would occur in normal speech. In this case keyword variants like “train your retriever,” “lab training,” “Labrador training tricks” and other similar keywords will do wonders to make your content more readable while also helping you avoid over optimization.
- Write Naturally: When you abandon your normal writing style to place keywords in unnatural places, the content come out hard to read and your point can easily be lost. This is the quickest way to make a visitor click away. If you’re having problems integrating SEO writing into your content try this: write the content as you normally would without worrying about anything SEO related. Then go back and edit in the needed SEO elements.
- Breaking up Keywords: If your keyword is “Labrador retriever training,” it’s perfectly OK to break that up with other modifiers. Examples include “Labrador retriever leash training,” “Labrador retriever easy training,” and “painless training for your Labrador retriever”.
- Remember Meta Tags: Your on-page copy isn’t the only thing you need to be worried about when it comes to SEO writing. Make sure you are paying attention to your title and description tags. Get your keyword in there, but don’t overdo it
- Use Header Tags: Use your keyword, important secondary keywords and natural variations in your H1, H2 and H3 header tags.
SEO Writing Don’ts
Stay away from these cardinal sins if you want to up your writing game:
- Keyword Stuffing: You don’t need your exact keyword slammed into every single spot you can find. It doesn’t read well, visitors leave and search engines hate it.
- Bolding Keywords: This is an old-school technique and does very little from an SEO perspective. If you want to bold keywords for emphasis or to help guide the reader, that is OK in limited quantities.
- Forgetting all of the Regular Online Marketing Writing Tactics: SEO writing is just another layer of your content that you need to consider. You can’t forget to make your content readable, use bullet points or lists and have calls to action.
Opportunities for SEO Writers
If you can become a decent SEO writer, there are plenty of opportunities for you out there.
Being able to write content that people and search engines love will allow you to:
- Write content for your own sites: Keep your talents in house and crank out content for your projects as often as you like.
- Freelance: Sell your content writing services to the highest bidder through freelance sites like Upwork, online marketing forums, Fiverr and many other places.
- Partner up with other marketers: Maybe you know someone who is great at the tech side of online marketing or can design a site like no one’s business. Combine your strengths and make some online marketing magic.
- Get a full-time gig: Yes, if you hone your craft and become a top-tier SEO content writer, there are full time positions available that pay very well.
With so much opportunity out there, not focusing on the SEO side of your content creation is just plain silly. By learning and implementing a few basic principles, you can be light years ahead of everyone else out there.