You have read so much regarding Search Engine Optimization. But you are still not able to reach the highest ranks. Numerous factors influence rank, so there is no one best SEO practice.

However, there are many SEO techniques that you should follow before writing your next blog post for your business website or personal blog. This article will tell you how to optimize content for search engines by using some essential SEO practices that can help you improve your site’s overall performance.

What is SEO content?

SEO content is, quite simply, content that’s designed to rank in search engines like Google.

You might think that all content is SEO content, but that’s not the case. For example, we have a lot of studies on our blog, and most of them get little or no organic traffic.

1 studies traffic top pages

Does this mean those posts failed?

Not at all. We published these posts to bring new insights to the SEO community—not to rank in Google.

It’s also important to note that any kind of content can be “SEO content”: product pages, landing pages, interactive tools, and even videos. But when most people talk about “SEO content,” they’re talking about blog posts.

For that reason, that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.

But before we talk about how to write posts that rank, let’s make sure we understand why this type of SEO content matters.

Why is SEO content important?

No matter what your business does, you can only get so much organic traffic to your “money pages.”

For example, we have five landing pages—one for each of our main SEO tools:

2 ahrefs landing pages

In total, these pages get around 25,000 monthly visits from organic search, and we rank in the top five for all of our main keywords:

3 ahrefs rankings

But, these pages account for less than 4% of search traffic to our site:

5 ahrefs traffic

How? Because we’ve also written hundreds of pieces of SEO content for our blog.

In total, these posts get over 300,000 monthly visits from organic search alone:

6 ahrefs blog traffic

If we didn’t do this, we’d be leaving a lot of money on the table because potential customers aren’t always searching for our products directly.

Many are just looking for a solution to a problem that our tools happen to solve.

For example, we have a competitive research tool called Site Explorer. One of the things it does is show who’s linking to any website or web page.

But, potential customers might not know we offer this product and instead search for something like “who links to my website.”

So we decided to write a blog post about that:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.30.07

Writing “SEO content” like this is important because it brings more potential customers to our site.

Types of SEO Content

SEO content can include any of the following:

  • Product Pages – These are the bread and butter of any retail e-commerce site. A good product page can serve as both SEO content and a PPC landing page.
     
  • Blog Posts – A blog is one of the easiest ways to create a regular stream of effective SEO content. In general, blog posts are more engaging and more likely to attract links than product pages, so they can be a great way to build some authority for your site. (Keep in mind that blogs are very flexible, and you can use them to host any of the below types of content in this list.)
     
  • Articles – Think news article, interview, or feature piece. This is the main kind of content you’ll find on most newspaper- or magazine-style websites.
     
  • Lists – A list is really just a kind of article, but framing it as a list (such as “10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill” or “101 Things I Hate About Google”) makes it easier to scan. These types of titles also seem to be more clickable when found in search results or in social media feeds.
     
  • Guides – A guide is a longer piece of content that explains in detail how to do something. (Guides are often broken up onto multiple web pages, though it’s a best practice to allow users to view long content as a single page if they wish.) You can post a full guide on your website, or you can post a summary or excerpt, requiring visitors to fill out a registration form to read the full guide. This can be a good way to generate leads, but keep in mind that putting up a registration wall will likely reduce the amount of SEO traffic you can drive to that guide.
     
  • Videos – In general there are fewer videos on the web than pages of text; consequently, it can be easier to rank on the first page for a competitive keyword by creating a video instead of an article. Depending on what type of site or business you run, videos can be a great way to attract and reach an audience. Consider creating video tutorials of how to use your products. Or illustrate a process that is related to your business – for example, a plumber could make a video showing how to unclog a sink. (A note on SEO: You might consider including a text transcript of your video. Here are some additional tips for optimizing videos.)
     
  • Infographics – Infographics, or large-format images that contain a lot of data (often in the form of graphs or charts) on a single subject, can rack up a lot of page views and links. However, because so much of the content is embedded in the image and therefore not readable as text by search engines, it’s important to carefully optimize the rest of the page. You can use one of these five free infographic templates to get started.
     
  • Slideshows – A slideshow is a way to display a series of related images. Sometimes pictures are more important than text – say you’re trying to show what all the stars wore to the Oscars. Here again, SEO of your title, captions, image file names and so on is important because there is less for the search engines to “read.”
     
  • Glossaries – I swear more people use Google to look up terms than they use a dictionary. (Do you even know where your dictionary is?) If you work in a specialized industry, a well built-out glossary can be a good way to capture some search traffic. Think cooking terms, medical terms, fashion terms, architectural terms …
     
  • Directories – A directory is a useful taxonomy of links to sites or resources around a given topic. For example, a perfume blog might create a directory of places to buy perfume, from major department stores to independent shops around the country.

These are just some of the basic types of SEO content, but don’t let this list limit you – the possibilities are virtually endless.

How to Develop an SEO Content Strategy

If you’ve been haphazardly producing content, hoping and praying that some of it eventually ranks, it’s time to buckle down and commit to a more methodical SEO content strategy for the web.

Here are four steps to defining and refining your SEO content strategy:

Define your goals

First, determine your goals as a website or business. Are you looking to drive sales through your website? Do you monetize your site via ads and therefore just want to increase traffic and return readership? Your goals will determine what types of content you should focus on.

Slick, glossy online product page for razors

A great example of a minimal, yet sleek and elegant, product page

If you’re primarily trying to drive product sales, your primary focus should be attractive, informative product pages that are optimized for both search and conversions. Your secondary focus could be helpful blog content that illustrates when and how to use your products, linking to those pages where relevant (it’s best if your blog is not entirely self-promotional, though).

If your site operates on an advertising model and the goal is to attract new readers through search, you’ll want to focus on rich content (such as long-form articles or video resources that are informative, entertaining, or both) with “stickiness” (“sticky” content keeps visitors on your site longer or encourages them to return).

Consider your audience

Know your audience – surveys and your analytics software can help you get a better picture of your typical visitor or client. Consider developing marketing personas, or characters that represent your ideal site visitors and customers. Then think about what kinds of content those personas would be looking for.

Buyer personas concept

For example, if you operate a B2B website that targets C-level executives, you might want to create high-level white papers that can be downloaded and saved to read later.

If your business targets teens and tweens, you might want to focus on frequent updates with less text and more images and video. You’ll also want to be sure your site is optimized for mobile usage.

Create an editorial calendar

Once you have an idea of who you are targeting and why you can start to build out an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a schedule that dictates when you will publish new content and what type of content it will be. This will help you stick to a regular schedule (it’s especially important to create new content regularly if you have a blog), as well as prevent you from scrambling to come up with a topic for new content at the last minute.

A few tips for creating and adhering to an editorial calendar:

  • Use Outlook (or Google Calendar) – Share the editorial calendar with your whole marketing team. Set up reminders for authors so they get a notification when a deadline is coming up.
  • Consider creating ongoing features – For example, a food blog might do a meatless recipe every Monday. Many blogs do link roundups once per week (including this one). Create a category page for each ongoing feature, so visitors can find all of your Meatless Monday recipes or link roundups in one place.
  • Give yourself plenty of lead time when producing more complicated types of content, such as videos and infographics. These often need multiple rounds of edits to perfect and can be more complicated to optimize for search.
  • Don’t plan too far out in advance – Calendars often get derailed after a month or two, due to changes in marketing goals, budgets, or staff, so don’t try to plan out a schedule for the next year and risk wasting a lot of time and effort.

Analyze and re-assess

Finally, stay on top of your site’s analytics. Regularly analyze your SEO content to see what’s working and what isn’t. Good measures of success and engagement include page views, links, comments (on blog posts and some other types of content), social shares (Facebook likes, tweets, etc.), and conversion rates. Your analysis should have two goals:

  • Study your successes so you can repeat those strategies – Look for patterns. Does your audience love videos? Then make more videos! Adjust your editorial calendar going forward so you can focus more time and effort on the content types that really resonate.
  • Carve out time for updating and improving older SEO content – If you tried to optimize an article for a certain keyword, but it’s getting more traffic for a different variation of that keyword, then go back in and re-optimize it for the new keyword. You might be able to significantly increase traffic by putting that keyword in the title, for example.

There you have it – SEO Content 101. As mentioned above, please let me know in the comments if you have other questions about creating and optimizing content for SEO.

How to write SEO content

Not all blog posts are SEO content, and pouring your heart and soul into your content doesn’t guarantee rankings and traffic.

Just look at the stats for one of my favorite blog posts:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 17.33.49

It’s 7,600 words long, has been shared over 50,000 times, has fantastic illustrations, and is super well-written. It’s a masterpiece.

But look again at how much traffic it gets from search engines:

34. Measly. Visits. A. Month.

So, if you want your post to get organic traffic, you need to write it around a proven SEO framework.

Let’s go through each of those steps in more detail.

1. Find a proven topic

Before you even think about putting pen to paper, you need to find a relevant topic with “traffic potential.”

To do this, think about broad topics that your potential customers might be searching for.

If you sell baking supplies online, then this might be recipes for baked goods, cookware reviews, or other things related to baking.

From there, search for those broad topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and then check the “Phrase match” report to see keyword ideas:

7 phrase match ke

Because this gives us a lot of keyword ideas (almost seven million in this case!), let’s filter out super-competitive competitive keywords and those with little or no search volume.

8 phrase match filters

Right away, we see some good topic ideas like banana bread recipe, apple pie recipe, and pizza dough recipe, each with tons of monthly searches.

9 keyword ideas

But here’s the thing with search volume: it can be misleading.

For example, take a look at the search volumes for these two keywords:
10 search volume

Because “butter cake recipe” has almost five times more searches than “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe,” you’d expect this topic to have the most traffic potential.

However, if we look at the top-ranking page, we see that it gets an estimated 2,383 US visits a month from organic search….

11 butter cake recipe traffic

… whereas the top-ranking page for “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe” gets more:

12 chocolate chip cookie cape recipe traffic

This happens because the top-ranking page ranks for—and gets traffic from—more queries.

So, before you settle on a topic, always look at the estimated traffic to the top-ranking page to get a better sense of true traffic potential.

2. Analyze search intent

Search engines like Google have invested billions of dollars into understanding the true intent behind searches.

This is how they’re able to return relevant results—even for vague queries.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.38.24

If you’re writing SEO content, this is important, because if it doesn’t align with search intent, your chances of ranking are slim to none.

But, how can you figure out search intent?

The answer is to take clues from the top-ranking results by analyzing what we call the three C’s of search intent.

These are:

Content-type

Are the top-ranking pages blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages, or something else?

If they’re not mostly blog posts, then go back to step one and choose a different topic.

Content format

What type of posts rank? Are they how-to’s, list-style posts, opinion pieces, news articles, something else?

For “best baking pans,” they’re all lists:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 18.44.24

Content angle

Look at the page titles to understand more about the type of person searching for this. Are they a beginner or an expert? What do they value? Are they looking for a quick solution or something more in-depth?

For example, many of the pages ranking for “french bread recipe” pitch how easy the recipe is:

14 french bread recipe results

For flat dough bread recipe, speed seems to be what appeals to searchers:

Seo on Website Content

Recommended reading: Search Intent: The Overlooked ‘Ranking Factor’ You Should Be Optimizing for in 2019

3. Write a data-driven outline

The average top-ranking page ranks for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords in the top 10.

00 average number also rank for keywords2

For that reason, it pays to know which other keywords the top-ranking pages also rank for when creating your outline—so you can rank for them too.

How can you find them?

Paste the URL of the top-ranking page into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, then go to the Organic keywords report. To weed out irrelevant keywords, filter for keywords where the page ranks in position ten or higher.

16 organic keywords position 10

You’ll probably notice that many of these are synonyms or less popular ways to search for much the same thing, but some should give you insight into what searchers want to see from this page.

For example, we see that the top-ranking page for “flatbread dough recipe” also ranks for things like “no yeast flatbread,” “quick flatbread pizza recipe,” “homemade flatbread”:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.02.27

Note that you shouldn’t stuff these words and phrases into your post, but instead use them to iron out the angle of your content and create a rough outline.

For example, if we were writing a flatbread dough recipe, we’d probably want to mention the speed in the intro, and we might want to have separate sections on making the flatbread with and without yeast.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.05.07

If you don’t use Ahrefs, then you can do the same thing by looking at the top-ranking pages and using some common sense.

4. Write a draft

Good news: It’s finally time to put pen to paper and draft your post.

Because this doesn’t have much to do with SEO, we won’t dwell on this process too much. Just remember that the aim here isn’t to write a perfect draft right off the bat, but rather to turn your thoughts into something tangible to work with.

Screen Recording 2020 01 31 at 07.19 pm

Here are a couple of tips for doing this as quickly as possible:

Write as you speak

Most of the best blog posts are written in an informal, conversational tone, so there’s no need to agonize over every word. Just write as you speak.

Don’t worry if it sounds silly; you can correct this in the next step.

Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is simple: you set a 25-minute timer, and a goal you want to achieve in that time.

For drafting blog posts, a good goal is a certain number of words.

Most people type at around 40 words per minute, so that’s 1,000 words in 25 minutes. However, drafting a blog post is more mentally taxing than just typing, so let’s assume 30–40% efficiency, or 300–400 words every 25 minutes.

Take a short break after 25 minutes, then repeat.

Continue this process until you have a complete draft.SIDENOTE. Test your typing speed here. That way, you can set a more custom goal. 

5. Edit your draft

Pulling readers into the flow of your content is important if you want them to stick around—which you do.

Not only is this good for conversions (which is ultimately the point of ranking), but it also has a positive impact on user engagement metrics like time on page, dwells time, and bounce rate, which some SEOs believe may indirectly influence rankings.

Here are three things to focus on:

Correct spelling and grammatical errors

Most word processors and writing apps have spell check built-in, so you don’t have to be a genius to get things right. Just right-click and choose the right spelling.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.21.58

For grammar, run your draft through a tool called Grammarly. This will tell you about misplaced commas and sentences that don’t make sense.

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.22.49

Make sure it flows

If your content sounds unnatural or robotic, now is the time to rephrase.

Keep it simple

Most Americans read below an eighth-grade reading level. If you’re using complex sentences and words, that’s going to confuse readers, and they won’t hesitate to hit the back button.

Solve this by running your draft through Hemingway.

This is a free browser-based tool that helps you simplify your content using more straightforward sentences, paragraphs, and words.

17 hemingway

Get feedback

Sure, it’s soul-crushing to hear that your content isn’t quite up to scratch. But the truth is that the opinion of others can help improve things exponentially.

Send your draft to a friend, tell them to be honest, iron out any creases.

ahrefs blog post comments

6. Make your content visually appealing

Nobody likes reading a wall of text. If you’ve written more than a few sentences, then you should work to break up the copy.

The most obvious way to do this is with images.

They don’t have to be anything special. You’ll notice that a lot of our posts on the Ahrefs Blog include annotated screenshots like this one:

Screenshot 2020 01 31 at 19.42.56

Not only does this make things easier to skim, but it also helps to demonstrate what we’re trying to explain.

You can also use videos to do this:

Many studies show that visuals help people understand and comprehend content, so including useful images and videos can improve user satisfaction—which we know is important to Google.

Including images and videos can also help your content rank in Google’s image and video tabs.

Don’t overlook this. We’ve had over 5,500 visits from Google Images in the past three months…

18 image clicks

… and 32,000 from video results:

19 video clicks

But images and videos don’t always make sense. So another thing you can do is break lengthy chunks of text into subsections using H2-H6 headers.

7. Write a compelling meta title and description

Search engines see more than just the text on the page. They look at metadata in the page’s code to learn more about your content.

The two more important pieces of metadata are your meta title and description. Both of these show up in Google’s search results, and they’re effectively your sales pitch to searchers. Use them to explain why they should click and read your post.

title and description

SIDENOTE. Google sometimes rewrites these two things, so what you set isn’t always what shows up in the SERP. But it’s still best to set them. 

This is another place it’s useful to match search intent.

Whatever searchers value, pitch it in your title tag. Just make sure it’s still an accurate description of your content. Do the same with your meta description.

This will entice more clicks on your page in the search results, which leads to more traffic.

Some SEOs believe that clickthrough rate also impacts rankings, but Google says this isn’t the case because the metric is too noisy.

Either way. SEO is not just about rankings, but also getting clicks from searchers.

8. Upload your post

Nothing to do with SEO, but here’s a tip to save you some serious time if you use WordPress: Write your content in Google Docs and upload it with Wordable.

It takes just one click to send your content—complete with images—to WordPress. It’s ready for publishing in seconds.

wordable

This is what we use to upload every post to the Ahrefs Blog.

Is “content” enough to rank?

Google tells us that the two most important ranking factors are content and links.https://www.youtube.com/embed/l8VnZCcl9J4?autohide=1&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&wmode=transparent&start&autoplay=0

So, while creating perfectly optimized content is often enough to rank for less competitive topics, links are still important for those harder topics that a lot of brands want to rank for.

But here’s the thing: content and links are somewhat intertwined.

In other words, nobody wants to link to poor or mediocre content; they link to content that’s valuable for their visitors.

While link building is a separate—and complex—topic of its own, there are ways to use your content to improve your ability to win links.

Conclusion

A good content writing piece has much to do about SEO and how you want to use it in your article. With many people reading it over the web, you will surely stand out in their eyes when the SEO content writing is fully optimized and accompanied with all the right vocabulary and keywords.

SEO content writing examples are one of the most important things when you are trying to rank higher in Google. Most people think that SEO is all about keywords, but it is SO much more than that. For content to rank well, you need to have solid keyword research, good page structure, and you need your copy written in a tone that Google likes.

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