Content has been one of the best performing digital marketing strategies in recent times. It has far outperformed other methods for getting search ranks and ROI.
High-quality content writing has several advantages compared to other methods like ads and social media. Search engine updates are frequent, and they focus on giving the audience content that is relevant to them.
But content writing is not just filling up a web page with words and hoping Google magic will take care of it.
There are several SEO considerations that you need to look at before you press that publish button on your CMS.
Let’s take a look at SEO recommendations for before, during, and after your content writing process.
1. Start With An Action Plan
Everything starts with a plan, as the saying goes, and this holds true here too. Here, planning means several things that you should consider—the type of tone your article will take, the audience, the product, and several others.
It helps to make a list of the things that are on your mind. It can be anything specific to the type of content you’re going to deliver.
A lot of times, this is what is called a content outline. It touches on what you’re going to write about and all its particulars.
It doesn’t have to be a highly detailed document. Something that can help you figure out what you need to do next will work great.
All you need is a guide that can ensure that you’re following the right path through the process.
Action: Plan a content strategy before you start the process.
2. Commit To Detailed Research
The research phase is perhaps one of the most crucial for anything related to content writing and SEO.
There are millions of content pieces being released on the internet every day. As a creator, you need to figure out how you are different from those millions.
Research sets the tone for the rest of the writing engagement. Unlike planning, research takes a lot of your time. Writing is all about getting good at researching your topic.
For people to click on your post, it needs to offer something that relates to them. A clickbait title will only go so far – you need actionable content.
Today’s readers are a lot more discerning than earlier. If you deliver something unique, they are bound to take the time to read it.
As a writer, you need to research any given topic thoroughly so you’re able to cover all angles. This data is more than just numbers and keywords from your SEO tool.
You need to do the legwork and visit as many websites on the topic as you can.
Action: Get as much information as you can about your topic for the best results.
3. Check What Your Competitors Are Doing
Sometimes the best method to get better at what you’re doing is to take a peek at the competition. Competitor analysis is an important step when it comes to content writing.
It can give you several important insights into the type of keywords and tone they’ve used. You also get a lot of different approaches to the same topic. This is something that you can experiment with on your content piece.
Make a list of all the competitors your article will have, and then visit their version on the topic. It helps to take notes on what they’ve covered here. It gives you the scope of what you can improve.
The objective of competitor analysis is not just to blatantly copy material from their website. You’re picking up pointers on what they have written to produce a better article of your own.
Finding your competition on a particular topic is easy – all you need to do is Google it. The top five results are the ones you want to check on.
Action: Find out what the competition is up to and make it better
4. Opt For Long-tail Keywords
As with any SEO process, keywords are the most important components of a campaign. The more effective your keyword selection is, the more traction you’ll have on searches.
However, this is easier said than done. There are hundreds of keywords that are targeted by your competition every day. This makes it difficult to rank for a lot of them.
The solution here is to opt for long-tail keywords. Like its namesake, these keywords are longer and more specific as well.
The advantage you have here is that long-tail keywords have better conversion ratios than other keywords. The reason is that longer keywords focus on better user intent than short keywords.
Your goal would be to identify these performing long-tail keywords relevant to your niche and add them to your article. Some research here would give you a lot of benefits, including increased rankings.
Action: Long-tail keywords offer much better conversion and ranking benefits for specific queries. You can use various online tools to find long-tail keywords.
5. Understand What Your Audiences Want
Many writers tend to forget or take for granted the role of your audience in your content. While the topic you’re writing on is key, all the writing is for your audience.
To put it more simply, audience-centric content wins every time.
But here’s what a lot of people don’t talk about – what is audience-centric content?
Any content piece that leans more towards what your readers want to read about is considered audience-centric.
Identify a target persona for your content and write with that in mind.
Focusing on writing for a specific audience might limit your numbers. Still, these have much better conversion ratios than a general article. This is why most businesses are focusing on articles that focus on a subject rather than generalized articles.
This offers the best results when it comes to getting results for your content. This will also push your creativity as a writer to come up with unique ideas for your persona.
Action: Ensure that content that you write has a target persona in mind.
6. Opt For Long-Form Content
There was a phase a few years ago which proclaimed that long-form copy is done. Shorter copies were taking over, and everyone was switching to it as fast as possible.
In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Today, there are several indications that a copy that is about three thousand words in length seems to get the best results.
The reason is that in SEO, quality content beats simple copy. A landing page might have a short copy that pushes conversion rates high. But when it comes to the top and middle funnel content, the long-form post is king.
If you think about it, the advantages are obvious. Short copies are generated to sell, and it is a very singular motive.
Long-form content is not just about sales but educating, helping, and discussing relevant topics of interest. This is why search engines prioritize longer content.
Action: Creating long-form content is the best way to get more traction for your website.
7. Use Short Paragraphs & Sentences
Long-form content performs, but the key is to make it engaging for your readers. And a writer does this by making content easy to read. The key is to keep the content short and succinct.
When writing, keep paragraphs and sentences short. And sometimes, in a rush to publish, writers might forget to do it. While the solution is pretty simple, it is something that people overlook.
Shorter paragraphs improve reader retention significantly. Couple this with shorter sentences, and you’ve got a winning content formula on your hands.
The length of both paragraphs and sentences has come under scrutiny of late. People today have very little time to read long, boring walls of text. Anything you publish competes with millions of other posts for their attention.
So to make it easy on them and you, consider writing shorter paragraphs that are packed to the brim with value.
Content that is actionable and easy to read will score high for users. It translates into much better SEO metrics as well.
Action: Ensure that paragraphs are not more than three lines in length and readability scores are seven or lower.
8. Don’t Over-optimize Keywords Or Copy
When a lot of people talk about the importance of keywords, they tend to cram as much as they can into an article.
This is not just wrong; it can even have negative effects on your rankings. Search engines have gotten smarter over the years. They are able to see through “engineering” content for SEO.
When you add several keywords, search engines perceive it as trying to score points without offering value. The result is that the content piece might lose out on rankings.
The key here is to make sure that you write without stuffing in keywords. It should appear naturally in the content.
When writing, it helps to think of keywords as ingredients to a recipe. If you add too much of anything, it won’t come out well. Use keywords sparingly on your content.
And if at all you need to add a few keywords later, make sure that it fits into the context. Because forcing keywords into content is worse than not having that keyword added.
Action: Don’t force keywords through some unproven density ratio – let it happen naturally.
9. Get Your SEO Meta Data Right
In the early days of SEO, the whole process of optimization started with adding proper metadata. Today, there is very little focus on this, and it needs to change.
For writers today, metadata is automatically added in by the CMS. Many people don’t bother to check them for correctness or relevance.
Even today, searches place a lot of importance on SEO metadata for any content published online. This is a space where you can strategically add keywords or phrases.
It is important to follow standards for titles, internal links, alt text, and description. All of these have a vital role to play when it comes to ranking your website.
Not many people realize it, but the title tag is one of the most powerful SEO elements. It has a lot of weight on your content ranking abilities. Search results include title tags when indexing your content.
It’s known that Google adjusts titles in SERPs by making small tweaks, such as appending a business’s name to the end. But now Google is overriding titles with different text if the algorithm considers the title written by the author is not so relevant for the article.
Learn to optimize metadata and keep it simple enough for both people and search engines to understand.
Action: Never ignore SEO metadata and ensure that you optimize it with relevant keywords.
10. Promotion Strategies Are Critical
Back in the early days of SEO-based writing, all you needed to rank high was writing and publishing an article. But today, things have changed considerably.
The same process of writing and not promoting content puts your article at a huge disadvantage.
The actual writing is only one part of the process, and you need to work on your promotion strategy. The promotion phase is what actually matters and how people actually get to see it.
Like we discussed before, many articles are being put out on the internet every day. A promotion plan is what makes the difference between them and yours.
Promoting an article also has several other advantages, like being linked or invited to collaborate with another party. If an authority page links to your content, you can get a huge influx of traffic to your website.
Collaborating with other people also offers numerous advantages that can help your visibility.
Make sure that you use platforms like social media and blog sites to push your content into the limelight.
For e.g. Take a look at this promotion done by Coca-Cola across social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Action: Promotion is a critical step to improve the visibility of your content piece.
11. Write For People Not Search Results
This would be the most relevant tip that writers can keep in mind today. With all the optimization and SEO, we often forget that we are writing for people.
And when we do that, search engines will not be interested in your content as well. The reason is that all SEO metrics today depend on the audience. The more people are interested in your content, the better its SEO metrics will be.
Just ensuring that your article has keywords in it without supplementing it with quality content will not help.
Another pointer here is the language and tone you use in an article. It should be friendly, engaging, and informative. All these factors are what keep a user interested.
Learn to include interesting tidbits in your content, keeping in mind that it must be relevant to what you’re writing. Break up the monotony with instances of other relevant subjects or humor.
All of these tactics work to help your reader get through the largest content pieces.
Action: Keywords and metrics are not everything – writing for your readers is the best way forward.
12. Figure Out A Good Hook To Start
It is always important for any content piece to have a good hook to get the reader interested. You should remember to tailor your intro paragraph to the content.
A good intro sets the tone for the rest of the article. This can be whatever you want; a lot of writers use this to showcase their creativity. For the best effect, pair it with a closing paragraph that references the opening hook.
The ideal time to create a hook and conclusion is after writing the article. It pays to spend a little more time to get this right. An attractive intro can help improve your article appeal and get more shares than it otherwise would.
Ideally, this hook would be short and easy to read. It needs to be impactful and also contribute to the subject being discussed. It should also get right into the subject than meander along without saying anything significant.
Action: Focus on creating an attractive intro paragraph that aligns with your audience.
13. Ensure Your Content Has Purpose
As a writer, you need to ensure that your content addresses something. It could be anything aligned to the industry you’re working in. But the underlying message needs to be clear and strong.
A typical trait of low-quality writing is when they talk about many different things without dealing with the main subject. This is also where you are bound to lose readers.
It is important to have content pieces that talk about the subject in detail. Pointless writing just to add keywords or content can be bad for your website.
Establish early on in the article what you’re going to talk about. And then reference it throughout the article till you’re done.
This is how writers can hold the reader’s attention through long-form copy. If you are bouncing around too much between different ideas, your readers will find it a waste of their time.
Once they do, they will click away, and your SEO metrics will degrade. So it is important to stay on point throughout the article about what you’re writing.
Action: Focusing on your subject when writing content helps you retain readership.
14. High-quality Visuals Definitely Help
One of the best content platforms of today that people find appealing is images. Of all the social media platforms existing today, Instagram is a testament to this fact.
Detailed imagery is something that can influence the mind of the readers. It can entice them into the article and keep them there. In studies, an article with images had 94% more views than those that didn’t.
For e.g. Check this image from McDonald’s.
On the other hand, using low-quality images can have the opposite effect. Website visitors perceive poor images as a reflection of the article. The effect is so pronounced that people usually skip articles if the images are of poor quality.
This is something that you need to avoid completely. Compress the high-resolution images that you use to save space. Or, if you don’t have many good-quality images, don’t use many of them.
Low-quality visuals will only hurt your chances with your audience.
Action: Using high-quality, relevant images can considerably boost traffic and retention.
15. After Everything Is Done, Optimize
Doing SEO for a blog is not a straightforward task in many cases. And because of this, it is easier to get the content writing phase done before optimizing a post or its metadata.
Writers are beings of habit. Once they find their groove, they should finish with the article before making modifications to it.
Doing this after the content has been written will give you a better idea of optimizing. Another aspect of optimization is that you can add important keywords naturally into the content.
Optimizing later will help you come up with good segues into difficult keywords. It can also work better to frame meta titles and descriptions after the article is done.
A lot of writers only have placeholders for images when they write. High-quality images are added after writing is completed.
Action: When writing, focus on getting it done before you start on optimization.
16. Links Help Add And Share Authority
Another method to build more authority and get better retention is to add more backlinks. When done right, links considerably improve the power and trust of your article.
At important junctions, you could add links that prove or illustrate your point. These links could also be internal, meaning other pages on your website could gain some of the traffic too.
This decreases your bounce rate and also improves your website authority. Both of these aspects can push your content up the rankings.
However, you need to be careful not to overuse links.
Keep in mind that the reader will break concentration while they click the link. Too many links mean more chances that your reader might lose focus on your article.
Action: Use internal and external links to your advantage but do so sparingly.
17. Use Powerful CTAs to Drive Traffic
When it comes to actionable content, CTAs are at the very top of the food chain. A call-to-action is what prompts your reader to commit to an activity.
This is important because if your CTA is good, you can direct the actions of your readers. It is a huge advantage, and you need to make the right use of it in an article.
For this to happen, there are several things you need to look at before creating your CTA.
A CTA needs to be related to what you’re writing about. If you’re talking about a service, the CTA should direct users to a specific website.
Relevant CTAs are what make the audience click them.
It also needs to be catchy and inspirational. You can also use a CTA separately on an article for good results. This prompts users to follow a similar article on your website.
Like keywords, you shouldn’t overuse this as it can then start to feel cheap and salesy.
Action: Strong CTAs can get users clicking on it more often.
18. Make Content And Website Mobile-friendly
When writing content, most of us visualize our readers being behind huge computer screens. But today, mobile devices account for more than 50% of all web traffic.
It is important to keep in mind that mobile users’ needs are quite different from desktop users. They require content to be formatted specifically for smaller screens.
The solution is to ensure that you test your website exhaustively for the best mobile experience. The displayed content should not be too big or small for the average mobile user.
Another important reason to make your website more mobile-friendlier is that Google ranks them higher. In fact, Google Search penalizes websites that do not have mobile versions.
Action: Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly with responsive page elements to maximize benefits.
As you were able to read, content writing is not just about creating content. There are a lot of boxes that you need to check for content performance.
A lot of well-written content pieces out there hardly get any traffic. This just goes to prove writing is only one part of the content creation process.
Ensure that you have covered most of the above processes, and you will have an article that performs well on any search engine!
We hope this article has given you valuable insights into your writing process.
Did these pointers help your articles get better reach?
Do you have something to add to this list from your own experience?
We’re eager to hear from you in the comments below!