SEO writing means crafting content for two very different audiences: readers searching for information and search engines designed to answer their questions quickly and completely. So how can you create relevant content that your readers can find on the search engine result pages (SERPS)?
Search engine writing strategy
If you really want to see quality results from your SEO strategy, you need to make sure you structure your article for the machine audience in a way that helps your human audience find the content they’re looking for. Here are three ways to craft an SEO strategy of appealing to both people and bots by focusing upon your audience in three ways:
- Know your audience
- Reach your audience
- Satisfy your audience
To support an effective content marketing strategy that engages the overall audience on all three levels, SEO content writers must first uniquely consider their human and search engine audiences:
- Human audiences: Readers want to land on a web page that offers informative, educational, or even entertaining content. High-level, relevant content attracts and engages users, builds trust, and contributes to business goals.
- Search engines: Quality content must be structured to communicate with the search engine bots that visit their pages. These bots scan web pages to index and rank them for searches. If you speak their language and give them what they value, your site will see improved visibility, traffic, and in the end, conversions.
What is SEO article writing?
An SEO copywriter first needs the skills useful to any writer: the ability to craft content that engages attention answers questions and builds trust. In other words, well-written articles on relevant topics.
SEO-optimized content shares other traits with general writing: the use of descriptive titles, fairly short paragraphs, bullet points, and section headings. These features break up articles into digestible chunks, making them easier to follow. That’s especially important for notoriously impatient users of the internet and social media. In that way, copywriting for the web usually differs from typical academic, legal, or scientific prose.
What does search engine writing do differently?
An SEO copywriter must include other elements that will help improve search engine page results or SERP. For example, when crafting titles, headings, and even sentences, an SEO writer needs to choose focus keywords, keyword phrases, and questions that searchers are most likely to include in their queries.
In other words, composing SEO-friendly content means paying attention to organization, so you appeal to the bots as you also write authoritatively on the right topics. “Appeal” may not be the right word to use when discussing search engine algorithms, but the term “relevance” shows up more often when discussing this topic. However, making your content appealing – or more relevant – to the bots brings better SERP rankings. And that’s the ultimate goal of SEO copywriting.
Ready to accomplish this goal? It’s all about knowing, reaching, and satisfying your audience.
1. Know your audience for SEO writing
Some businesses feel frustrated when their website starts to rank for some keywords and gains traffic, but it does not see any significant increase in conversions. That’s generally because businesses did not take the time to understand their audience’s search intent, so they’re ranking for the wrong sorts of keywords and key phrases.
For example, ranking for “cake recipes” probably won’t help a local bakery generate more online or phone orders. Truly optimized content also matches pages with search intent.
Three Cs of Search Intent
Content writing needs to satisfy search intent, and content starts with a C. It’s easy to understand the basics by remembering these three C’s of search intent:
- Content angle: The angle refers to the unique approach or selling point of the content. For example, people might search for a wedding cake or birthday cake that excludes certain ingredients, like dairy or gluten.
- Content type: Common content types may include sales pages, blog posts, and landing pages. For instance, an optimized search for a high-intent phrase like “buy a cake” should land on a sales page that’s ready to take an order.
- Content format: Typical content formats include how-to guides, lists, and reviews. People searching for a cake recipe will probably want to find a how-to guide, but a person who wants to compare local bakeries may have their query satisfied with a review page.
Keywords are crucial for SEO writing
Once SEO writers understand the search intent of their intended audience, they can start to research and incorporate keywords and phrases that reflect these goals. So, an SEO writer needs to:
- Research content keywords and phrases. Mining for keywords has grown increasingly challenging. Many successful SEO content writers rely on keyword research tools that can understand human search intent but also “think like a bot” to find relevant keywords.
- Place keywords and phrases effectively. Good SEO copywriting places the most important keywords and synonyms in the meta title, meta description, headings, and text of an article. Content writers might also repeat the most important search terms in various sections of an article. They avoid using a term so many times that the text appears spammy. That’s the difference between keyword-rich content and keyword-stuffed fluff. Writers want the keyword density to be just right.
- Consider long-tail keywords for quicker wins. Competitive search terms can take longer to rank than less-used synonyms or longer phrases. It’s probably easier to rank for a search like “buy dairy-free chocolate groom’s cake in Houston” than “buy chocolate cake in Houston,” SEO content writers should explore these long-tail, low-competition search terms.
2. Reach your target audience with quality SEO writing
Sadly, increased visibility may not produce the expected results if searchers don’t feel engaged by the articles they see on the results page. To improve the odds of earning a click, put some effort into writing eye-catching headlines, gaining attention from a featured snippet, and ensuring relevance with tags.
Web page headlines
Writing for search engines includes using the relevant terms in a web page’s title. But an article’s headline still has to catch the attention of people who can be easily distracted by other elements on the page.
Powerful headlines should entice readers by building a sense of urgency, beginning to develop a relationship, sparking curiosity, or promising a solution. Of course, to sustain a good relationship with readers, headlines should never promise something that the rest of the content cannot deliver.
According to Search Engine Land, Google’s featured snippets, which summarize the answer to a query, attract about 8% of clicks on the search results. Common snippets include definitions and lists. Optimizing content to directly answer a search query in one of these formats can improve the odds of winning one of these coveted spots.
Good content strategy includes using tags to organize what you are offering. Think of a category like entries in a book’s table of contents and tags like entries in the book’s index. For instance, a bakery website might have cake as a category and have German chocolate, Italian cream, and Tres Leches as tags. Tags can help improve internal website navigation and a search index’s ability to select the most relevant content.
3. Satisfy your audience with SEO content writing
Search engine optimization doesn’t stop after obtaining visibility and enticing people to click. Once searchers arrive on the page, copywriters need to keep them engaged enough to respond to your call-to-action. A page can’t achieve its goals if searchers hit the back button right away. Google factors in metrics like bounce rate and time-on-site in its rankings.
Invest in in-depth content
Google knows its users increasingly count on in-depth results. So it developed RankBrain — a machine-learning Artificial Intelligence program — to better satisfy users. And Google is working on more sophisticated tools all the time.
The average length of top-ranking content has increased over the years. According to SEO expert Neil Patel’s tests with his own website content, lengthening his articles increased his traffic after noticing a drop in the number of visitors to his early, short posts. (That’s a form of re-optimizing content.)
Of course, Patel invested in high-quality, well-formatted, and researched content. He also incorporated other media into his posts, like graphics and photos. He says traffic benefits begin at about 1,000 words and don’t really diminish until his word count reaches about 10,000 words.
Link out from the page
After a writer has retained visitors, it might seem counterintuitive to link to other pages and websites. Here’s why it’s always a good idea to add links to web content:
- Internal links can help boost other pages of the site and offer readers more relevant information.
- External links improve credibility and also provide readers with more resources.
- Contextual links, both external and internal, add value for readers and search engines.
Get help writing for search engines
Writing for search engines and people at the same time can challenge even experienced SEO writers. That’s why the most successful content marketers have been combining dynamic new technology with human expertise.
The content performance platform rellify employs Intelligence Augmentation to offer marketers a competitive advantage as they try to land on the first page of a Google search. With its winning blend of technology and human capabilities, rellify covers the full lifecycle of the content creation process, from discovery to writing, to deployment, to continuous monitoring.
Find out how to enjoy more search visibility in less time by contacting rellify today.