How to Write SEO-Friendly Content That Ranks Well
Whether you’re building a new website or writing a blog post, search engine optimization should be the top priority on your list. Why? Because SEO-friendly content is the key to ranking well in search results (i.e. Google).
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is when you use strategic tactics to get traffic from free, organic search results. (That’s right, free. With SEO, you don’t have to open up your pocketbook.)
Why Should You Care About Search Engine Optimization?
SEO helps your website rank in the search results for Google and other search engines. The higher you rank, the more likely a user will click to visit your website, which could lead to a conversion or sale. To simplify it: SEO = Traffic = Sales.
That’s why writing SEO-friendly content is so important. Whether it’s a product page or a blog post, you want your content optimized so search engines can find, crawl, and understand the meaning of your page. If Google thinks your content is valuable, your site could appear when a user searches for that specific topic.
So let’s get into how to accomplish this.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. So if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. That helps to support me and keep this website running.
Use Consistent Messaging
It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about. Whether you’re discussing your products, services, or Star Wars obsession, the message you send to your readers should be consistent with your brand. That’s how you create an effective online presence.
If you don’t have content that speaks to your customers, you won’t succeed in the search engine arena. In other words, a pretty website alone won’t help you rank and drive leads. Your site should be used to create a brand proposition and message that brings value to your customers. Remember, Google likes high-quality, valuable content.
So think about what you’re trying to say (or sell) before you start a blog or write a new post. Make the messaging clear to yourself. That will enable you to write more clear, consistent SEO content that gets indexed in the SERP.
Decide on Your Page Goal
What’s the goal of your page? In other words, what action do you want users to take after they land on your website? It’s an important question you need to ask yourself. Do you want users to sign up for your email list, call you, purchase a book, etc.? Goals can differ wildly, so figure out what’s most meaningful for you.
Having a goal in mind will help you structure and organize your page. For example, if you’re trying to sell a product on your site, you shouldn’t wait until the last paragraph to talk it up. (You may have already lost your audience by that point.) Instead, weave the product throughout the page content, giving you multiple chances to get that conversion.
So if you’re writing an SEO-friendly blog about a new product release, include various purchase opportunities to remind readers to take action. By deciding on your goal ahead of time, you can organize your page to best support achieving that goal. Then you can measure whether or not the page was a success.
Define Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience will help you create content that’s relevant to your readers. For example, if you know their age, gender, career, or favorite Seinfeld character, you have more insight into what they might like on your website. That can help you connect with them through your pages. And the more you connect, the more trust you build, the more likely your readers will become customers.
So how do you know who your target audience is? Well, if your website is already tied to Google Analytics (or something similar), you can easily review demographic information, user interests, site behavior, and which of your pages are the most popular. Let this data help you decide how to create more SEO-friendly content for your site.
What if you’re starting from scratch and have zero traffic? Try out Google Trends and search for a keyword. It will show you the search term trends, popularity by city and regions, and related topics.
Another option is Think With Google’s “Find My Audience” tool. Select what category your blog or website falls under (i.e. software, food, media & entertainment), and you’ll get a list of the types of products and services people are searching for.
In other words, research your audience. It’s kind of like prepping for a first date. You want to learn as much as you can about them, so you can get them to come back for more. So next time you’re crafting your content, keep your intended audience in mind. That’s one way to enhance your SEO game.
Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first step to create search engine optimized content for your website. That means that before you even start the writing process, figure out what keywords you want to rank for.
First, think about how customers would search for your content. If you’re not sure, start typing a broad topic into Google’s search box. Google’s autocomplete feature will automatically give you suggestions based on popular search queries. You can use that as a jumping off point.
Another option is to scroll to the very bottom of Google’s search results page. There, you’ll find some searches related to your query. Take those keyword ideas and drop them into a keyword research tool. I recommend Google Ads Keyword Planner (because it’s free) or SEMRush.
Once you’ve added the keyword ideas to the tool, it will generate a list of related keywords that could be a good match for your product or service. It will also show the search volume (how often users search for that specific keyword) and competition (how hard it is to rank for it).
Aim for keywords that are popular with users (1,000 monthly searches or more) and have low-to-medium competition. If you’ve just launched your site, it’ll be tough to compete against sites that have been around for awhile. So by choosing keywords with less competition, you’re giving yourself a leg up in the organic search results.
When it comes to the type of keywords to target, I recommend going for long-tail keywords. These are search terms that are very specific and usually longer than three words. A good example would be “women’s blue running sneakers.” Because it’s more tightly targeted than a search for “sneakers,” a user could be more likely to convert if they click through to your website.
Once you find the keywords you want to use, make sure to work them into your page naturally. That’s the key to creating good SEO content.
Optimize Your On-Page SEO
Time for the fun stuff! On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) is the practice of optimizing individual elements of your page so you’ll rank higher in organic search. This includes optimizing your page content (i.e. images, headers, URLs, etc.) and your HTML source code. This differs from off-page SEO, which focuses more on link building and other external factors.
What are some good on-page SEO best practices?
- URLs: Create short and easy-to-understand URLs that include your primary keywords. For example, if you’re writing about SEO blog tips, your URL could be: YourWebsiteName.com/seo-blog-tips.
- Title Tag: Use brief (50-60 characters), but descriptive titles to tell users and search engines the main topic of your page. If possible, put your target keyword at the start of your title tag.
- Meta Description: Summarize what your page content is about in 155-160 characters. Include your SEO keywords and a call-to-action to encourage users to click-through on your search result.
- Header Tags (H1, H2, etc.): Create clear, SEO-optimized headers and subheaders to help organize your page content.
- Image Alt Text: Provide relevant, keyword-rich descriptions of your images. This improves accessibility for people with vision difficulties and could positively impact your ranks.
- Keyword Placement: Strategically place target keywords throughout your content in a natural fashion. Keep your keyword density (how often your primary keyword appears compared to the total words on your page) under 2%. Another SEO pro tip is to include the primary keyword in the first 50 to 100 words of your page. The sooner your target keyword appears in the article, the faster a search engine’s crawlers can define your content.
By combining all of these elements, you should be able to write SEO-friendly content that Google will index and rank.
Consider Website Design and Site Speed
When it comes to SEO-friendly websites, the customer experience should be a top consideration. Start by structuring your content in a way that’s easy to navigate. This includes having a table of contents for long-form content (so your audience can jump to the topic that interests them the most), clear headings, and bullet points to break out important text.
The next important item is speed. It’s hard to talk about speed without quoting Top Gun, so I’ll just let Tom Cruise do it for me.
In today’s world, site speed can make or break your website. If a page takes too long to load, users may abandon ship and leave the page. Site speed is also a ranking factor for Google. So if your site is slow, there goes your ranking position.
The easiest ways to improve your site speed are optimizing images, compressing/minimizing code, and using browser caching. Additionally, you can run your page through Google’s pagespeed test. It’ll give you a detailed list showing how to increase your speed.
Finally, create content with mobile visitors in mind. With almost 60% of all Google searches coming from mobile devices, your website or blog should be optimized for cell phones. More people browse the internet from their phones than from their computers. So make sure your pictures, videos, and text load properly on a small screen as well as a large one.
Promote Your Content
Now that you’ve created amazing, high-quality content, it’s time to promote it.
Start by sharing your content on social media. Most companies post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and etc. to promote their new blog posts and products. You should be doing that too. Use keywords, hashtags, and eye-catching images to get your content noticed by the right audience.
If you have an email list, send out a campaign promoting your latest content. Email is a simple and effective way to reach an already-interested audience. So don’t be afraid to send a note to your subscribers. Remember, they want to hear from you. Why else would they have clicked that sign-up button?
What to Watch Out For
Now that you know how to create SEO content, here are several things to avoid:
- Duplicate Content. Search engines work to reduce the amount of duplicate content in their search results. This is content that appears on the internet in more than one place — like different pages, sites, etc. You’re unlikely to be penalized for having duplicate content, but it can impact ranks. When there are multiple pieces of similar content, search engines have a tougher time determining which page to give the higher rank to.
- Keyword Stuffing. There’s nothing worse than an article that uses the same word or phrase over and over. It hurts the integrity of the writing and is distracting to readers. Use keywords only where they make sense within the context of your page.
- Outdated Content. Google loves up-to-date information. So if you want to keep your ranks up, you should update your site regularly. That way, it’ll appear “fresh” in Google’s eyes. If you don’t update often, Google could rank a newer article over yours, because it may appear more timely than your outdated content.
Writing SEO-Friendly Content Summary
That’s it. You made it through all the steps for how to write SEO-friendly content that ranks in the search results. So the next time you’re ready to start a new blog post or launch a new page, follow these guidelines to help you step up your SEO game.