A Content Writer's Guide to SEO

As a content writer, you provide interesting articles and blog posts for yourself or your clients. Most of the time, the end goal is to attract more traffic to a website, so more clients will buy a particular product or service. To make sure your article attracts more traffic, you could go outside and search for a lucky four-leaf clover, or you could learn about SEO for content writers. Let’s have a look at why you should choose the latter!

What is SEO?

SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimisation and stands for all processes that increase the ranking of a webpage on the search engine results page (SERP). The search engine most of us use is Google, so I will use it as an example. By using SEO techniques, you can attract more customers to a website and potentially improve sales. In other words, SEO means big business. If you know a little about SEO, you might think it's just about using keywords. While they are indeed an important tool, which we'll discuss later, SEO covers a lot more!

An overview of SEO

Let's take a quick overview of SEO, and later, I'll go in-depth on SEO for content writers and those tools that will help uplift your work for yourself and your clients.

  • On-page SEO refers to all the aspects you can control on the website itself. It includes:

  • Quality content, including intelligent use of titles, headings, keywords and links.

  • A strong meta description to assist the Google algorithm find your site easily

  • An HTTPS address that signals security, trustworthiness, and visibility

  • A short and easy-to-understand URL allowing search engines to hop from page-to-page and making navigation more efficient for visitors

  • High browser compatibility and mobile-friendliness

  • ALT text which consists of words or phrases that can be attributed to images, so search engines can find them

  • Page speed: The faster your site and page load, the more search engines will like it. You can check this with Google Pagespeed Insights

  • Off-page SEO also refers to your website ranking but includes those factors that occur off your website. Backlinks from another site are the most well-known example, but it also includes promotion methods, such as exposure on social media.

SEO for content writers

As a content writer, you’re not in control over all these aspects of SEO. You’re mostly only responsible for the article or blog post you write. Still, you should master these SEO tools to improve ranking: quality content, keywords, links, and the meta description.

Quality content:

The Google algorithm is pretty smart and is designed to differentiate between web pages based on quality and freshness. To determine quality, it counts the number of visitors and the time they spent on your page and how new the content is. So if you can regularly write quality content and know how to attract and keep people’s attention, Google will reward you with a high ranking. Therefore, spitting out random content is not helpful, invest your time and effort in quality posts, and the audience will be yours. Other factors that influence quality content are the number of words (if an article is too short, google sees it as going less in-depth), the absence of plagiarism (you can scan your text with Copyscape) and the use of keywords and links. Because those last two are so important as a content writer, I will discuss them here further:

How to use keywords for SEO?

Finding the right keywords

Using the right keywords can be, well eh..., key to making sure google picks out your article above thousands of others. First, you need to find the right keywords, this you can do by using common sense and thinking about which word(s) people would put in the Google search bar to bring up your article. A single keyword can be enough if it’s very specific. If you, for example, type in “BBC” you’ll probably find their official website pretty fast. But in other cases, it is better to use long-tail keywords such as: “healthy Christmas dinner recipes”. And if your article is promoting a local company, it is useful to use location-based keywords such as: “bakery in London”.

You can also use a more structured approach to find relevant keywords. Try using Google trends and see what search terms are popular at the moment. Also, Google keyword planner can be useful, giving you a list of related keywords to the original one you had in mind. Keywordtool.io is another website to brainstorm over the best keywords for your piece.

Integrating keywords

If you want Google’s algorithm to work in your favour, take into account the following:

  • Use your keywords in the title and at least one subheading.

  • Put your keywords in the first 100 words.

  • Don’t overuse keywords as that will lower your rating.

  • You can use synonyms, google recognises them as well.

How to use links for SEO?

If you’re implementing links in the right way, google will see this as a sign of quality and trustworthiness. However, it is essential that you:

  • Use relevant links

  • Link to respected websites, such as news pages or sites ending in .gov

  • Anchor your link to content-rich words

  • Backlinks, which are links on other websites that link to your page are powerful as well, but not always in your control as a content writer. With Moz, you can check the number of backlinks you have compared to your competitors.

Writing a meta description:

Your client might ask you to write a meta description as part of your article. A meta description is a short summary of your content that is not directly visible to your readers but will be shown on the search results page. Incorporating a quality meta description makes it easier for Google to find and classify your page. With the Google SERP snippet optimization tool, you can verify how people will view your meta description. A strong meta description consists of less than 156 characters, contains action verbs and your keywords. A meta description is often accompanied by a meta-title. This is your “message to the world” and also can include your keywords.

SEO is a powerful tool you should use to reach more of your audience and create greater impact with your content. You can use it to promote yourself on your own website or for your clients to enhance their business. I hope I gave you some insight into a few aspects of SEO, but be aware that the Google algorithm changes pretty often. However, one thing is consistent: every search engine always looks for high-quality content. So stay consistent in delivering value in your articles, regularly create engaging content and sprinkle it with some SEO enhancements. Then the search engine will reward you with outstanding rankings!

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