- What Is SEO Writing?
- What Is SEO Writing Based On?
- SEO Content Writing Basics
- SEO Article Writing – In Three Steps
- SEO Writing Tips
- SEO Writing Tools
- CASE STUDY: SEO Writing – From Start to Finish
Are you still paying per click to get traffic from search engines to your site? Believe it or not, ranking organically in search is very achievable. SEO writing is the nitro-powered rocket you need to give your website a major boost.
Search engine optimization efforts can do wonders to boost web visibility and increase healthy web traffic. Many SEO methods can be implemented to make websites appear at the top of the organic search, as noted in our SEO checklist. However, the soul of a website lies in the quality of its content. Having the ability to write valuable content for your audience is important. But it’s even better to know how to write content that ranks high in search. Welcome to the Art of SEO Writing!
Below I have laid out everything you need to know to rank high in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. This article then concludes with a case study containing all the detailed steps I took to successfully rank on Page One in Google for a keyword phrase. So let’s jump into it.
What Is SEO Writing?
The Internet is a great digital arena where people only need to type a few words and hit Search to find what they are looking for. Search engines bring fresh and platters of information right to our computer screens. So it’s ideal to gain traction with search engines to market products, services, and information to the people who need them (i.e., those who are searching for them). Strong SEO writing can bring your webpages to the top of those search results.
Search engine optimized writing focuses on creating web content designed to rank for targeted keyword phrases. Good SEO content is written not only to engage readers and visitors with valuable information. It is also optimized to rank high in search engines for terms that are frequently searched. In other words, if you want your webpage to rank on the first page of Google when best diet pill is searched, you must optimize that page so Google’s ranking algorithm can determine that it should be on top.
What Is SEO Writing Based On?
As search engine spiders crawl websites, they take note of how words are being used on each page. Google’s search algorithm factors over 200 signals combined to determine how relevant a webpage is for various keyword phrases and in what position it should rank. These algorithmic principles include complex methodologies, such as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), term frequency–inverse document frequency (tf–idf), and the Language Module (LM).
However, at a basic level, SEO writing is simply creating content that is rich with keywords and other elements that are relevant to the search term you want to target. Strong SEO writing makes your content attuned to both readers and search engine algorithms — a definite way of putting your website on the digital map.
SEO Content Writing Basics
Before we jump into how to write content that ranks high in search engines, let’s go over basic terminology:
From a reader’s perspective, a keyword is simply a word or phrase that is being used in a search query. From a website owner’s point of view, it is the word or phrase that an optimized webpage is targeting to rank highly for. To determine the success of targeting, keywords are normally associated with a monthly search volume, which can be provided by various keyword tools.
Good SEO tactics entail optimizing webpages around keywords that get a lot of search volume. There are short tail and long tail keyword phrases. Typically, the more words in a keyword phrase, the less monthly search volume it has.
- Short Tail: ink cartridges – 18,100 searches per month
- Long Tail: hp 61 black ink cartridge- 1,900 searches per month
Conjunctions, articles, some prepositions, and lexical words are not considered keywords because millions of websites use these words. However, they can be used to refine search queries and get more specific results.
Keyword density, usually expressed in a percentage, is the rate at which a keyword or keyword phrase appears in a given content. It establishes how frequently information is presented in a webpage, helping to determine the relevance it has to keywords or phrases.
Keyword density is simply obtained by counting the number of times a keyword or phrase appears in an article, dividing it by the total number of words, and multiplying it by a hundred. Let’s say that the word “telecommunications” appears ten times within your 500-word article. Your corresponding keyword density is computed at two percent.
Meta tags are short snippets of HTML that summarize your content. They are primarily used to aid search engines and other online services. Even though this data is not visible to users while they are on your webpage, it is visible when the webpage appears in search engines. The most common meta tags used in SEO are the meta title, meta description, and meta keyword tags.
Heading tags are the core structure of your webpage, making it a whole lot easier for both humans and search-bots to understand your content. Think of heading tags as lending your content the easily understood format of structured notes, outlines, or a table of contents. There is a hierarchy of heading tags. Your article title should be marked with an H1 tag. Subheadings supporting your titles are H2 tags, subsections under an H2 are H3 tags and so on. Using a structured methodology to present your content is beneficial to both search engines and your reader. It is considered a best practice in SEO writing.
There are three primary forms of structured metadata — microdata, microformats or RDFa — to help search engines find structured semantic content within webpages. Such information, when related to reviews, people profiles, business listings, videos and events, is used by Google to enhance the snippets you find in search engine results pages or SERPs.
As you can see below, inserting “schema.org” markup to a video allows Google to display it as a rich snippet with a thumbnail. Using semantic markup dramatically improves clicks to your site.
Microdata is specified inside itemtype and itemprop attributes added to existing HTML elements:
SEO Article Writing – In Three Steps
Let’s explore the process of creating an article that ranks high in search. SEO content is not like your regular writing. It requires researching keywords relevant to your subject to find those used most frequently and then incorporating them strategically throughout your content. Below is a step-by-step process.
Step 1: Understand what people are searching for
Keyword research is essential before beginning SEO writing. You can’t just choose random keywords for your content and then expect your page to rank high up in the SERPs. You have to learn more about your niche in the marketplace. What are the keywords that people often use in searches related to your product? What keywords do your competitors use to rank their websites highly? Answers can be found using tools available on the internet like Google AdWords and SEMRush, as shown below.
Keyword research is important because it can help you formulate a battle strategy to boost your website’s rankings. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a widely used SEO tool that provides excellent data for keyword research. Another tool I commonly use — even though it is not free — is SEMRush. With these tools, you can look up the volume of people searching for a specific keyword either globally or within a specified region. Data for monthly search volume is also available, giving you a glimpse of market trends in internet search.
Finding Good Topics
On a larger scale, researching questions that people are asking is a great way to find broader topics to write about. Sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers provide a great knowledge base for this. You can also use tools like Google Trends and Ubersuggest to complement your keyword research as well.
Step 2: Writing your content
Write Around Your Keywords
Based on your findings in your keyword research, you can then choose the keywords that you want your webpage to rank for. Choose a keyword phrase that has healthy search volume. It is a waste of time optimizing for any keyword that gets searched less than 250 times per month. Begin writing around your keyword phrase. Make sure you use it in the following places:
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- Article Title
- Heading Tags
Also use LSI variations of your keywords in header tags and in body content as described below.
Leverage Latent Semantic Indexing
Complement your targeted keywords with synonyms and related terms, a practice known as Latent Semantic Indexing. Have you ever noticed how a search query can bring up results containing words that aren’t even included in your query? On a second look, you may notice these words are related to your original search query and the contextual meaning is similar.
Search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), a process that associates words that are closely related with each other. You can broaden your article’s reach by including words or phrases that are similar or synonymous to your target keywords and key phrases.
SEO Writing Example
The infographic below is optimized for the target keyword phrase Best Face Cream — a term searched 1,300 times per month.
LSI terms related to this keyword phrase are: finest, facial, and lotion. These terms are used to enhance our target keyword phrase. (Information on how I acquired these terms is documented in the article Keyword Research with LSI.)
FURTHER READING – You can read about how the LSI keyword research in the above infographic was done in: Keyword Research with LSI
Step 3: Focus on algorithmic elements important to rank
Now that you have identified your topic and have your keyword research in place, it is important to know what page elements are valuable to ranking algorithms. Google’s algorithm has more than 200 signals that are factored together to determine your ranking position. Here are important elements to focus on while you are writing:
Keyword Density Elements
Keyword density is becoming less important as Google’s algorithm evolves. There was a time when keyword dense articles ranked high in search engines. However, Google has become savvy to the idea that natural writing uses variations of terms relative to the topic rather than highly dense repetition of one keyword. Goggle’s algorithmic updates have targeted ways to better detect natural writing. So keep in mind that putting too many keywords into your article can get your website penalized for keyword stuffing — a Black Hat SEO tactic. The optimum keyword density according to good SEO practice is around one to three percent. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam, said in a video that a keyword mentioned once or twice within an article can impact a website’s rankings.
Keyword Placement Elements
Your target keywords should appear in the title tag, the meta description, the heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.), and a few times within the body of the article. Keywords should be strategically placed at the top portion of your web page since keywords tend to have more algorithmic weight above the fold.
On Page Media Elements
As Google sees it, the more variation of content provided on a webpage, such as pictures and videos, the better the experience for users. Fill your content with videos and pictures when possible. Be sure to tag them correctly by using the alt-attribute for images and wrapping your video in microdata like Schema.org vocabulary so search spiders understand what those elements are.
Semantic Markup Elements
Semantic markup is a system to help search engines understand what a webpage means. Over the last few years, the search community began establishing a precise vocabulary of html markup language. It is designed to capture more concrete and unambiguous information about a page in small snippets, instead of relying on parsing through large blocks of text.
The most effective elements of markup for SEO include Schema.org vocabulary, Open Graph Protocol, Twitter Cards, and Google Authorship. In addition to assisting with search engine parsing, semantic markup can dramatically increase your click through rate (CTR), as it is responsible for delivering the rich snippets in search results.
Twitter Card Example:
Adding Twitter Card markup in your HTML adds rich information into a tweet when someone references your article.
Google Authorship Example:
By adding Google Authorship markup, your Google+ profile picture appears in your Google snippet. This is a proven method of improving click through rates.
On Page Metric Elements
As mentioned above, Google factors on-page analytics such as bounce rate into its ranking algorithm. Say your article appears on the first search result page for a specific keyword. Many people click into your site because of a good meta title and description. But your potential readers go immediately back to the search page (known as a bounce) because of low quality content. Google assumes your page is not providing a good user experience or is irrelevant. It drops you down in search results.
Because Google factors in bounce rates and time-on-site, it is paramount that you offer compelling, high quality content. It’s also important to have a compelling site design to encourage users stay on the page longer.
Meta Tag Elements
It is important to create engaging and accurate meta titles and descriptions for your webpages because they appear in three strategic areas:
- the search engine results page
- the browser window
- on social media when they are shared (for example on Facebook)
It is imperative that you create unique meta titles and descriptions for each of your webpages — search bots do not like duplicate content. If you are not able to create a unique meta tag for a page, then it probably shouldn’t be a standalone page. Google does not rank (and sometimes penalizes) duplicate content. So it’s important to make sure you don’t have duplicate meta tags or content on your site.
There are three basic meta tags to optimize for:
When all is said and done, linking is still the backbone of Google’s algorithm. Linking carries heavy signal weight when it comes to ranking. It is extremely important to understand the science behind linking and SEO.
- Notes the URL that the link is pointing to
- Shows in the browser’s tooltip on hover
- Says where the link will open: the same window, a new tab, or a new window
- Contains attributes that determines if the link will pass PageRank or not
- Shows what the link will display as, on the webpage
The fifth element is the link anchor text (the actual words that make up the link). This is the signal that gives SEO clout to a page. You want to make sure your anchor text contains the targeted keyword featured on the page you are linking to, so you can rank higher.
Penguin Friendly Link Building
As part of its Penguin update, Google’s algorithm became aware of link-spamming. This was a major game changer in SEO. It used to be extremely easy to rank for keywords by building massive numbers of low quality contextual backlinks. Google’s algorithm can now detect patterns of unnatural link building as demonstrated below.
It is obvious that when an article is very popular, people share it by building links to it. However, the majority of links tend to not all have the same keyword-rich anchor text. Instead, natural links have more emphasis on anchors like click here and variations of the URL (with and without the www). Penguin-friendly link building means to deliberately build links closer to the variation that you see below.
Link Building & LSI
The fact is, Google uses an algorithm that is based off of a set of rules that semantically tie words together. If you can reverse engineer the semantic correlation that Google associates between phrases, then you can capitalize tremendously on this power to rank high.
There are three different aspects of linking to consider:
Algorithmic Elements Overview
This infographic visually summarizes all of the elements outlined above that are important to rank.
SEO Writing Tips
Before plunging into the unknown waters of SEO writing, here are a whole bunch of great SEO writing tips and practices that you need to arm yourself.
SEO Writing Tools
With so many guidelines and different techniques, it’s no wonder many companies scour the Internet for SEO strategies that can improve their websites’ visibility on the web. There are a number of SEO writing tools that can help you check the elements of your articles and web content. What’s even greater is that most of these tools are absolutely free.
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s AdWords offers Keyword Planner, a new SEO writing tool that combines the features of its old Keyword Tool and its Traffic estimator. AdWords Keyword Planner helps you find keyword ideas for your target words or phrases. It also has a feature that lets you multiply — that is, combine — several lists of keywords to create new keywords. It’s a great SEO writing tool that allows you to do keyword research; and it’s free!
Stuck with poor keyword ideas? Übersuggest is a free online SEO tool that you can use to ignite a spark of creativity and come up with great keyword suggestions to assist you with your keyword research. Übersuggest takes your base term, adds a letter in front of it, and extracts suggestions from Google’s predictive search. It returns a large list of queries from its database of commonly searched terms. Übersuggest supports a vast number of global languages. It can obtain keyword suggestions either from regular web search or from specialized categories such as shopping, videos, recipes, news, images and a whole lot more.
ALSO: SEMRush | Google Trends
Keyword Density & LSI
Use this tool to help find semantic relationships with your keywords. It provides a great visual display of related words and the different relationships between them. This is a great tool to assist you with LSI keyword research.
Tagcrowd is a simple SEO writing tool that helps you check the keyword density of your web content by creating a visual text cloud. Simply put in your page’s URL or paste your sample text into the field box, then click Visualize. Once it has created a visual text cloud of your sample text, it shows the frequently used words in your article as big, bold words, while the smaller and lighter words appear only a few times in your sample text.
ALSO: SEO BOOK
Copyscape is a widely used SEO writing tool that helps SEO writers and website owners check the web for duplicate copies of their content on the Internet. It is especially helpful to keep plagiarized content off your site if you employ outside writers. All you have to do is to type in your page’s URL in the field box and click Copyscape Search. Or you may post content in the box provided. The tool lists the websites that may have matching content with your page. Although this SEO writing tool is available for free, premium users can get additional features for a price of five cents for every search. Copyscape also offers professional services for a monthly fee that can help you protect your web content from online plagiarism.
ZoomRank allows you to regularly and effortlessly monitor your search engine rankings and local metrics. You can track how multiple keywords are doing day by day, and watch your optimization efforts and SEO writing skills turn into results.
ALSO: Authority Labs | SERP Fox
CASE STUDY: SEO Writing – From Start to Finish
This case study provides a step-by-step process for approaching content. It illustrates the effectiveness of combining an LSI strategy with SEO writing and link building. Finally, it documents the entire process behind getting a webpage ranked highly by Google.
1) Choose a Topic
For the purpose of this case study, I created an article about things that get better over time such as wine, cheese and vinegar.
2) Perform Fundamental Keyword Research
Doing keyword research on this topic helps identify how people search for this information in Google. It’s important to understand what phrases are commonly used that relate to my article topic. Using Google Adwords, I identified four phrases with adequate monthly search volume.
As you can see, things that get better with age is searched 390 times a month. Optimizing content around phrases that have a high monthly search volume is ultimately the first step to increasing organic traffic from search engines.
3) Do LSI Keyword Research
Researching additional words that Google semantically relates to your keyword phrase is an extremely important element to assist with high rankings. Identifying the synonymous and related variations of your target keyword phrase is a key element to success.
Synonymous LSI Keywords:
In search results, Google bolds the keywords that you are searching for. Look for words in bold that are not a part of your search query. These words have a strong semantic relationship in the eyes of Google. I call this sLSI (synonymous Latent Semantic Indexing). I was able to identify that Google correlates a strong semantic relationship between the words Objects with Things, and Better with Improve.
TIP: Sometimes it can get difficult to find sLSI terms using this technique. When that happens, it can be useful to search your terms in a thesaurus like Visuwords to provide you with variations of keyword ideas. You can then query Google to see if there is a semantic relationship.
Related LSI Keywords:
Also gather related LSI terms from Google’s related search suggestions at the bottom of the search results page. From doing this, I discovered the semantic relevance between the terms Time and Age, and to include the related elements of Wine and Cheese in my article.
All of these terms have an established semantic relationship in Google’s index. Having this knowledge when writing content provides an advantage with Google’s algorithm. From doing this research, I was sure to include these additional words in my content:
Target Keyword Phrase: things that get better over time – 390 search volume
Synonymous and Related Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords:
You can lean more about this process in my article on LSI Keyword Research.
4) Create the Content
Two important elements to focus on are keyword density and keyword placement. I placed my target keyword phrase in an H1 tag and in my meta title and meta description. Semantic variations were also placed in H2s and scattered throughout the page.
Below is a visual representation of the article’s keyword density, along with how the keywords were placed throughout the webpage.
VIEW ARTICLE: Five Things that get Better with Age – 213 words
5) Implemented Semantic Markup
I then implemented additional markup to help Google parse the article’s content, and provide additional data on what the article is about. You can learn more about how to implement these elements in the articles Semantic Markup and Google Authorship.
- Schema.org Vocabulary – Article
- Date Published
- Article Body
- OpenGraph Protocol – Article
- Twitter Card
- Summary Card
- Google Authorship
6) Build Backlinks
Now that the content was created and posted, it was time to start building relevance to it in Google’s eyes. This is done through link building. The method of link building used for this study was blogger outreach. This is among the highest quality link building tactics you can use. Blogger outreach is done by establishing connections with other websites and asking them to link to your content from relevant content on their site.
Based on the Penguin-friendly link building module described in the Linking Elements section, I built links to my article using LSI variations of our keyword term.
Link Building Anchor Text Variations:
- things that get better with age
- things that get better with time
- objects that improve with age
To build these links, I wrote three articles and emailed them to blogs asking if they would publish them on their site. I made sure they were high quality sites with a relevant niche. Typically, when you provide the high quality content yourself, it is not difficult to find sites to publish them and link back to you.
CASE STUDY RESULTS
To measure success, I tracked the following two keyword phrases:
- Head Term: things that get better with age [390 vol]
- Sub Term: things that get better with time [70 vol]
The interactive chart below displays the keyword progress with link building data. Once link building efforts started, it only took the article two weeks to rank on Page One in Google. When you observe the data below, you will notice a direct correlation between link building and ranking improvements.
Below, the SPIKES indicate when the links were built and the two line graphs track the progress of the keyword phrases. Position 1is represented at the bottom and position 100 is represented at the top.
Details on the links that were built:
|Date Posted||Link Anchor||Domain Rank||External Links Count / Notes||Refering Page URL|
|12/10/13||things that get better with age||51||28 Links||thediscoveryblog.com/how-to-unlock-your-grandmas-recipe-secrets/|
|12/12/13||things that get better with age||41||Duplicate Blog Posting / 6 Links||peacepark.us/unlock-grandmas-recipe-secrets/|
|12/21/13||things that get better with time||41||1 Link||atlantawineguy.com/how-to-find-the-best-balsamic-vinegar-to-cook-with/|
|1/2/14||objects that improve with age||37||5 Links||onefineday.info/how-to-choose-a-great-wine-decisions-decisions/|
Within the same week that the first two links were built, you see rankings greatly improve for the term: things that get better with time (less competitive). Shortly after the third link was built, you see that another dramatic improvement occurred for both phrases, landing each of them on the first page of Google on 1/1/14.
This small case study demonstrates that good SEO writing can effortlessly rank high when LSI tactics are used in the keyword research and link building strategy.