Those familiar with the SEO industry may have heard the term “content is king”, and it’s true. Whilst a website should of course be user-friendly and technically sound, if it doesn’t have any content, it won’t rank. This is why content plays such a key role in SEO strategy.
Content for SEO should be useful, relevant, keyword optimised, and well-written. Getting it right can therefore be a bit of a balancing act – but we’ve created this mini-guide to help. Here we’ll take you through what content in SEO is, why it’s important, and how to go about writing it.
What Is Content for SEO?
In simple terms, any content that is created to help a website rank higher up in search engines can be classified as SEO content. By any content we really do mean any piece of content; product pages, service pages, blog posts, and glossary pages can all be written for SEO.
The role of keywords is what ultimately sets regular landing page content or online articles apart from SEO content. SEO content is shaped around target keywords (we’ll go into this more later), and this is one of the key ways of ensuring the content you create is ranked.
Going back to what we said earlier, this is why content is so important for SEO. Without it, Google won’t have enough context to rank a website. In the longer term, however, SEO content is also incredibly useful for driving quality traffic that leads to conversions…
The Importance of SEO Content
Every business’ website is different but most will have a collection of ‘core’ product or services pages. These provide visitors with more information on the company’s main offerings. In our case, it’s the ‘Services’ pages linked to from the navigation.
However, it’s not uncommon for core pages like these to only receive a small proportion of overall website traffic. Why? Because prospective customers don’t always search using such direct and specific terms. A lot of the time, new customers will only find and choose a service that can address a specific problem that they have.
For example, imagine someone notices their laptop malfunctioning and suspects they have a virus. Instead of searching directly for a product/service term like “antivirus software” they might first Google “signs of a computer virus” which leads them to an article written by a software security company confirming the problem. The company in question has its own antivirus software, which the customer finds from reading the article, and that they then go on to purchase.
Website visitors can often move through a journey like the one outlined above. They begin by looking for solutions that a business happens to provide, rather than specific products. So it can be incredibly valuable to create SEO content that addresses these common problems or questions.
Guide To Writing SEO Content
You can spend time writing an incredibly well-researched, long-form piece of content with a lot of unique research and data – only for it not to appear anywhere in the SERPs. Why not? Because it wasn’t written with SEO in mind
When it comes to writing content specifically for SEO, it helps to follow a few best practice guidelines. Here are a few key ones to follow:
As mentioned earlier, keywords are more or less the cornerstone of any piece of SEO content. The first part of creating an overall SEO strategy is to carry out keyword research in order to find which keywords to target. This will lay the foundation for the content you write, telling you what to write about and, ultimately, which keywords or phrases to include within the copy.
There are a few ways to go about keyword research, whether it’s using competitors, expanding on your existing keywords or using a keyword tool to generate new topic ideas based on your core services. As a side note, remember that it’s often more effective to target multiple, related keywords with one piece of content. In this case, you will probably have a main target keyword (with the highest search volume) and some secondary ones.
We have some handy keyword research tips to help here, but one of the most important things to bear in mind is search intent. Understanding what people are really looking for when searching for a particular query will ensure you know what type of content to write in order to best target it – this could be a glossary page, blog, product page, service page or something else entirely.
A quick Google of the keyword in question should shed some light on this. For instance, searching “signs of a computer virus” brings up the following top results:
All of them are blog posts, and all of them are over 500 words. So, for your content to rank for this keyword, it should be a blog post of a similar length. This is a great starting point, but the next part is knowing what to actually include in the content – and one of the best sources for this will be your competitors.
Take Inspiration From Competitors
The top-ranking results for your target keyword can be a super valuable resource for content inspiration. Above we mentioned using competitors during keyword research to find topics to write about. These competitors will also come in handy for planning out the content title, angle, and format.
Carrying out a bit of a content audit of top-ranking competitor results is a good idea. Look at the first three or so results and think about the following:
- Potential titles: How long are the page titles for top results? Are they mainly in question format? And, importantly, do they contain the keyword?
- Content angle: For blog posts in particular, think about who the target audience is and their level of expertise. Are the top results more informational/definition-based? Or are they positioned more as thought-leadership pieces for industry experts?
- Content format: How is the content written? Are they mainly lists, how-to guides, opinion pieces or something else?
- Content length and keyword count: What’s the average word count for the top results? And how often is the keyword mentioned within the copy?
- Headers and subheaders: Does the competitor content use H2s and subheaders? Looking at these should help you gauge what to include within your own content.
Once you have your target keywords, you should put together a content plan. This should include the chosen title and give a rough indication of what content will be included within each section.
Having carried out a competitor content review, you should have a fairly good idea of how you want to structure your content. Create a brief outline that lays out the header structure and key points to write about (if you’re writing a series of SEO blog posts, it would also be a good step to schedule out the content in a calendar.) This will make it easier to organise your thoughts when you begin writing…
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
One very important thing to remember for SEO content is to avoid keyword stuffing. Google has more information on the topic here but, in essence, keyword stuffing is the practice of over-filling a page’s content with your target keyword in an attempt to rank higher. This can include placing the keyword unnaturally or out of context within the content or over-using it throughout the page. Keyword stuffing can lead to potential penalties for your site, so should be avoided at all costs.
The ‘right’ way of including keywords in your content is to use them as naturally as possible. Using keywords within the page’s meta title, H1, first subheading, and at least the first paragraph are considered best practice in most cases but don’t focus too much on forcing the keyword into sentences where it doesn’t fit. Out of context keywords can be jarring to readers, creating a bad user experience, and is also likely to impact the quality of your content.
Using keyword variations is also a good trick. Include synonyms and lower volume, long-tail keywords throughout the copy as an alternative to your main (or ‘primary’) keyword. This is good practice for SEO since it shows search engines that your page is relevant and can help to build authority around your topic.
Make It Easy To Read
Although SEO content is designed to drive traffic, it also still needs to add value to people reading it – which means they need to understand it. Write naturally and don’t worry about shoe-horning in long words or technical terms that are likely to confuse average readers (unless, of course, you’re target audience is highly specialised).
The writing should flow, be easy to read and be broken down into sections so visitors aren’t met with a wall of text. Ensure your spelling and grammar are up to scratch too – use built-in spell checkers or tools like Grammarly to help here. While this isn’t necessarily a direct ranking factor, well-written content tends to be a lot more valuable to website visitors, driving much better engagement metrics.
More Isn’t Necessarily Better
It’s far from a given fact that longer content is more likely to rank higher! Content length should ultimately be decided on a keyword by keyword basis. This is why it’s important to see what’s already been written on your chosen topic so you can compare and contrast it with your own planned content.
Thin content is definitely not something you want to deal with since it offers little value to website visitors – and is thus unlikely to drive many conversions. Rather than focusing squarely on word count, think more about the contents of the page and you’ll likely hit the right length anyway. Once you’ve finished your draft, you may even want to edit it down to make sure you’re not being too repetitive or including irrelevant information that adds nothing to the overall piece.
Don’t Neglect Internal Linking
Internal linking can often be an afterthought when it comes to SEO content, but it shouldn’t. Internal linking refers to the linking between one of your website pages to another of your website pages these can include the links in your navigation, homepage, footer, etc.
Links within a piece of content are often referred to as ‘contextual links’ and should direct users to other interesting and related content on your site. These links can help Google understand the relevance of your website’s content, the relationship between pages, and also how much value they hold.
Refresh & Repurpose Old Content for SEO
While creating fresh content is great, your older content may also be an untapped goldmine. A good tip is to regularly review older blog posts, articles, landing pages, etc and see which keywords they are ranking for. From this, you may find some opportunities to refresh the data and copy to make the content relevant again – which can essentially have the same impact as writing from scratch. You may also find new keywords to target or want to re-optimise for older ones that the content has stopped appearing for.
Following the tips above will put your content in a good position to rank, but it’s important to monitor the results to spot opportunities to re-optimise. Also be sure to remember this: SEO strategies are always evolving, which means your SEO content should be too.