Writing for Search and Readers Alike
Search engines are constantly changing what their preferred parameters are for ranking content and websites. With the addition of paid for ad spots and features snippets, it has become more competitive than ever to get your content seen by users. With the algorithm always in flux, keeping on top of what the new trends are can give you the edge you need to begin placing higher in SERPs.
There is more to it than just chasing the latest trends though. Throughout the years and innumerable adjustments to search, there are a few things that have remained constant and reliable for people looking to improve their SEO.
We’ve compiled a few of the things that you can rely on no matter which way the wind blows, as well as helping to build a better understanding about how to write high quality, search ranking content.
What is SEO Writing?
Short for search engine optimization writing, it is the process by which one creates content to be read that is appealing not just to the search engine algorithm, but users searching for content in the first place. This content is typically centered around a niche, focusing on things like delivering information, instruction, or a compelling story to the interested audience.
Typically, well written SEO content will fall under a certain set of parameters:
- Has a content strategy that is structured and focused around a specific message.
- Is well researched, so that the information provided is accurate, helpful, and ultimately beneficial to the reader.
- Uses relevant keywords in ways to be appealing to search engines when a query is made.
- Is written in an appealing engaging manner
We will dive further into these later, but traditionally the content that you see at the top of the search results hits most of, if not all these points effectively. By developing a style alongside these guidelines, you’re not only creating an identity for your website, but you’re positioning yourself to take advantage of search systems to reach as many eyes as possible.
Why SEO Writing Important?
If it isn’t immediately obvious, ranking high in search is how you get your content to people. Regardless of the search engine, an overwhelming amount of people never go past the first page. Of the few that go to the second page, even fewer of them will go to the third, and so on.
If your content isn’t ranking, then you aren’t going to get seen, no matter how great your content is or how attractive your website’s design may be.
By writing your content for SEO, you can have organic growth, as well as situating yourself in a manner to get valuable new visitors while ensuring loyal users are able to more easily find what you are doing. The better written it is, the more likely you are to be placed towards the top of search rankings. The more content you have that is highly ranked, the better overall your website is likely to perform.
So, you want to make sure that your content is being written with the best search engine optimization practices in mind, while still working to keep your voice intact.
Understanding SEO Writing
You know why its important to write your content with search engines in mind, now let’s take a look at what is SEO writing exactly. Earlier it was mentioned some of the tenets that make for good, search-optimized content, here we’ll dive into them to explain what they mean and teach how to implement them into your content
Building Content Strategy
Content strategy is the focus on well, content. Specifically, it’s the focus on planning and executing the creation and delivery of content. It’s in many ways like building a brand image or a theme around what you are doing. The goal should be to create something that is cohesive, identifiable, engaging, and most importantly, sustainable.
This way, as your website grows, you can scale accordingly and keep your content recognizable as yours. There are many ways to build a content strategy, but there are a few important things to always keep in mind when planning.
First establish your goals. Knowing what your goal is, and what you want to accomplish along the way to that goal can help you better understand what your path is, as well as focus your attention on the things that truly matter to your website and content.
Second thing is to understand what users are looking for. This will be covered more in depth a little later, but understanding what people are looking for regarding the kind of content you make can help you to pivot and create something relevant to their interests.
Third is to set up a consistent voice and schedule. How you present your content matters, and making sure you are delivering it on a somewhat routine timeline can help establish a rhythm with your audience that will drive them to check in on your web page on the days that you are scheduled to update.
Fourth, create content that is accessible. Another thing that is going to get covered more later but ensuring that your content is welcoming to newcomers but able to provide value to people experienced with your given topic can provide great reward long term.
Fifth, understand that success will likely not come overnight! For most websites, the road to success is a long one. Expect that you may not see immediate results, even if you are practicing good SEO tactics. Making a successful website requires a lot of tenacity and hard work. But, by ensuring you are working off a foundation of good practices, you can make sure that your success is driven by the quality of your content.
Understanding Your Audience
When people make queries on search engines, they are usually doing so with a specific outcome in mind. How they phrase things and the keywords they use however, might not always line up with their desire.
This is where search intent comes in.
When writing any kind of content, do research on the keywords you plan on using. Find out what the top results are and learn what people actually want from these search requests. Doing so and writing accordingly can help put you in the same conversation as the top-ranking sites when people make their next search.
This is also important, because if you are using keywords to try and piggyback off their strength, then producing content that does not match, you may find yourself punished for it as a result on top of people not clicking onto your content.
Content Over Keywords
In the past, it may have been enough to make sure your content was loaded with the keywords you were wishing to utilize to get great results in search. Now however that is very much not the case.
Search engines have gotten sophisticated enough to tell if a website is trying to stuff keywords erroneously. Combined with advancements in being able to ‘read’ websites and track what content users are clicking onto and sticking with, how content is written has had to change.
This is for the better however! Because of these changes, content is able to pivot towards improving the general quality of writing, rather than trying to maximize keyword density. In fact it has been found that using your main keywords sparingly, but placing them in key, strategic places is much more effective
So, what makes good, SEO driven writing then? A lot of that depends on the kind of content you wish to create, but there are some guidelines that can help along the way.
- Write for under served niches: If you write content in an oversaturated, noisy space, the likelihood of your content being seen is much less. By writing for a topic with less content focus, you are positioning yourself to be able to take top positions for those keywords.
- Fill in content gaps: Doing research on your competition as well as keyword research to see what kind of content is being created and identify any potential gaps that you can fill with better written content.
- Find common questions and answer them: Many people search for things to find out why something is, or how it works, kind of like this article here. Writing content that helps to inform people and get them an answer to their question can build trust that keeps them coming back.
- Create various kinds of content centered around your niche: No one likes reading the same thing over and over again. Mixing up the type of content you create can create and engaging flow to keep your website versatile.
- Research your topic thoroughly: If you don’t know what you are talking about, it shows. The first part of any article should be a period of thorough research into the topic you are going to write about. Even if you know a bit about it already, taking time to learn any new information can help with ensuring your content is the most up to date.
- Write for your audience: At the end of the day, we create content to be read by people. If what you’re writing isn’t enjoyable to consume no one is going to want to engage with it. You want to write with your audience in mind, and with the intent to provide value to them.
- Use a natural tone: If your content is too formal, it can come off like a term paper or like you are talking down to the reader. Try developing a kind of conversational voice so that it comes off that you are talking to your reader instead of just at them.
There are some of the major things to consider when writing content. There are other details to be aware of, but these are a bit more niche depending on the kind of content you are creating.
For example, if you are writing a lot of content that involves recipes, instructions, or answering questions step by step, setting them up as succinct bullet points might be better than using paragraphs or other formats.
This is because the featured snippet function on Google will tend to prioritize that kind of content for their snippets, and getting a featured snippet ensures that your content is seen above the rest. Typically, you will find that they are concise bits of information, typically answering a question or providing a kind of guide to follow.
The primary reason for this is that most people starting search queries are doing so to find something out or learn how to do something. Creating great content that targets that makes you more likely to be ranked highly or that they are chosen for the snippet.
Answering the question “what is SEO writing?” is one that will no doubt have different answers depending on when you ask. The things that were covered here are going to be relevant today, but ensuring that your content is search engine savvy is always going to be an ongoing process.
What will always matter though, is well written, great content. Focusing your efforts to that, while keeping in mind what search engines are looking for can ensure that your content is something people want to consume, no matter what changes crop up along the way.