Whether you’re creating blog posts, white papers, case studies, or even social media snippets, implementing search engine optimization best practices can improveseo your reach and get more readers to your content.
Looking for the 25-point SEO writing checklist? Jump straight the checklist
It’s important to know how to write SEO content…
With traffic from search engines outpacing traffic from social media and growing interest in voice-activated searches via speech-enabled tools like Alexa and Siri, writers need to understand the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) and how it influences the content they create.
Understanding SEO is crucial for a long term career as a content writer. Knowing how to maximize your content’s potential for search engine discovery can make the difference between mediocre success as a writer and a high-paying career as an in-demand digital marketing creative. Luckily, there are a few easy-to-follow tips you can integrate into your content creation efforts to make optimizing your content easier. Ready? Here goes…
[bctt tweet=”Understanding SEO is crucial for a long term career as a content writer.” username=”constantcontent”]
Keywords and keyword phrases act as the foundation for any quality SEO strategy. When your keywords are properly placed, search engine crawlers will have an easier time identifying if your content is relevant to the user’s search. However, it is possible to overuse your keywords — which can hurt your chances of appearing at the top of a search engine results list.
You want keywords to appear as natural as possible within your content. Because keyword stuffing can hurt your chances of performing well, you don’t want to overuse the same terms and phrases. You can use a tool like LSI Graph to find semantically-related keywords so you aren’t repeating the same words and phrases throughout your content. Focus on incorporating keywords naturally and you will increase your chances of search engine crawlers deeming your content worthy of increased search engine placement.
As a writer, you may not be thinking of how images should play into your content. However, visuals can help break up your articles so they’re easier to read and more digestible. Images can also play a major role in your SEO.
When including images within your content, you need to ensure you’re optimizing them for search engines. This means adding image descriptions and alt text and compressing your images to ensure faster load times. Because a search engine cannot view your images, you can use your image description to let search engine crawlers know what content is contained within your image. The more effort you put into optimizing your images for discovery, the greater your chances are for increased content performance.
Image optimization for SEO will become even more important and machine learning and artificial intelligence play an ever-increasing role in content discovery and distribution. When the distribution of your content can be influenced by algorithms and data discovery, you want your images to be optimized for success.
When writing content for the web, you’re not done after your original article is complete. In addition to your copy, you need to write a meta description to accompany your content. Your meta description supplies additional opportunities to attract your target audience and appear high on a search engine results list.
Your meta description is a short blurb about your article that will appear in the search engine listing for your content. This meta description should provide an overview of what your article is about, but should also feature important keywords in a natural way. Portent offers a handy SERP tool to help you visualize how your meta-descriptions will appear online. When you understand the impact meta descriptions have on your search engine ranking placement, you realize how important it is to put extra effort into optimized meta descriptions.
SEO needs to be at the forefront of the content you create. You want to keep the reader’s experience in mind, but also think about what you can do to increase the potential of your content. When you create content your target audience enjoys and identifies with, you can show search engine crawlers that your posts are worth ranking at the top.
Not sure if your content is fully optimized? Use this 25-point checklist to make sure.
The 25-Point SEO Writing Checklist
Writing search engine optimized content doesn’t have to be difficult. Here is a 25-point checklist to help you make sure your content is fully optimized for readers, crawlers, and your marketing goals.
Bonus: Here is the checklist as an image so you can save it for later.
Before your start:
1. Know the goal.
Before you start writing a piece for SEO, you need to know its purpose. Is it top-of-funnel content or bottom? What action is the content trying to inspire?
2. Know the audience.
Equally important to knowing the goal, is knowing who the content is for. When you know who you’re writing for it’s much easier to write in a relatable and engaging way. If you’re not sure who your audience is, check out our post on developing audience personas.
3. Know the headline.
Have a headline in mind before you start writing. This will help guide you through writing and structuring the piece.
4. Write 300+ words.
In most cases, SEO content should be at least 300 words. Apart from some product descriptions and category pages, content under 300 words risks being too shallow.
5. Use an active voice.
Using an active voice keeps readers interested and engaged.
6. Write unique content.
Google prioritizes unique content. Don’t copy content or reuse product descriptions given to you by a manufacturer.
[bctt tweet=”Google prioritizes unique content. Don’t copy content or reuse product descriptions given to you by a manufacturer.” username=”constantcontent”]
7. Short and sweet sentences.
Concise writing is easier and more interesting to read. When editing your content, look for unnecessary words that can be removed.
8. Provide data sources.
If you provide a stat or quote, be sure to provide a source for your data. Not only will your readers appreciate knowing where your stats come from but linking to high-quality sites improves your SEO.
9. Use subheadings.
Readability is an important part of SEO writing. Subheadings break up your content and make it easier to read or skim.
10. End with a CTA.
Remember the goal of the content? Include a call-to-action at the end of the post to support that goal.
11. Add the primary keywords at least once.
It’s no surprise that you should use the keyword you’re trying to rank for at least once in the content.
12. Use the primary keyword in the:
- First 100 words
13. Add secondary and semantic keywords.
Avoid using the same keyword over and over by includes synonyms and semantically related words. Google knows that these words are related, and it also makes your writing sound more natural.
14. Use keywords naturally.
Google is getting better and better at detecting unnatural keyword usage.
Keep readers engaged for longer by including internal links to relevant pages.
16. Use keywords in the anchor text.
When linking internally, use relevant keywords as the anchor text.
Add outbound links to other sites to give credit and cite sources.
Meta-data & URL:
18. Add a meta description.
While a meta description isn’t a technical ranking factor, it impacts whether a searcher clicks your link or not. If you’re not sure how to write a good meta description, read our post on how to write meta descriptions that get clicked.
19. Write meta descriptions under 300 characters.
Meta descriptions have a character limit. If you go over 300 characters, then the last sentence might be cut off.
20. Use the primary keyword in the meta description.
Including the primary keyword in the meta description reinforces what the page is about.
Including the primary keyword in the image alt tags improves SEO. Pro tip: Also save the image file with the primary keyword in the name.
22. Use the primary keyword in the URL.
Including the keyword in the URL shows both search engines and readers what your page is about.
23. Write another headline.
Don’t settle for the first headline that comes to mind. Come up with a few ideas and then pick the best.
24. Do a final edit.
Once you’re ready to publish, do one last edit to double check spelling and grammar. Tools like Grammarly can help with this.
While you’re doing the final edit, check your links to make sure they work and point to the right website.