Your client has asked you to write for SEO. You know it needs to happen for their business to be seen on Page 1 of Google. But how do you go about writing a piece of content that will feature on page 1?
Or maybe you want to boost the presence of your copywriter site online.
We go into the key things you need to know about optimizing content for SEO.
Aim to answer readers’ questions effectively
This is so important when considering your blog strategy. What is it that your audience or your client’s audience are asking regularly?
How can you help them most?
Always keep your audience firmly in your mind when creating content for SEO.
Start with keyword research
Next it’s about using a basic SEO tool like keysearch or SEMrush (you don’t need to be paying Ahref’s prices, if you aren’t doing in-depth research).
Type in the topic you are planning to talk about and find the corresponding keywords. It’s useful to know first of all what your site scores first. So most SEO tools will score your domain with a number. It will also suggest keyword levels to target.
So for example on my copywriting site, Keysearch tells me to target words of 27 and below. So I would be looking for keywords from 35 and below because I like to push my site slightly higher than they suggest.
When I type in an idea like pitching for copywriting clients on the keyword research screen, this is what comes up.
I can see one keyword ‘pitching clients’ that would work because it is at level 32 and has some traffic going to it – volume = 590.
Out of this set, I would target this keyword for one post.
To make it ultra-specific for copywriting I would probably use cold pitching potential copywriting clients, so that people know what my post is about before they click.
Check the user intent for a keyword
The next step is to plug this keyword directly into Google and see what angle people are writing from.
What is the user trying to find out by searching this?
Check out a few posts on page 1 and get a feel for the focus of the keyword.
You may have to switch focus so that you serve your reader best, but that’s what keyword research is all about!
Use keywords naturally when writing for SEO
So once you’ve verified your keyword – that is a useful topic to write about, that there is traffic coming to this keyword on other sites, now you can begin to write.
The thing to remember as you write is that you write for humans first. Have your keyword in mind, but don’t sacrifice your flow, or the tone because you are desperately trying to squeeze in the keyword somewhere.
Search engines are becoming so sophisticated that they can get the gist of an article through natural language and writing.
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Headers are an easy way to organize your posts
Make use of headers to organize your posts. This will help Google make sense of it, and also break it down into manageable chunks for your readers. This will improve their user experience.
It’s such an easy win for SEO to include your focus keyword naturally in the main header which will be an H1, and synonyms or related phrases into H2s which are the headers you need to use to separate your post.
Add alt text to images
This is another opportunity to optimize your content for SEO. All the images you use in your post and your feature image should have alt text added. This is primarily useful for blind people, to explain what is in the images. So firstly the images need to be aligned with what you are talking about in your content.
Alt text doesn’t need to be very long – just a brief description of what is in the photo. So if I added a featured image to my ‘cold pitching potential copywriting clients’ post, I would find an image maybe with a girl on a laptop working.
The great thing is that you can add the keyword into this description, but remember to make it natural. Remember a person is relying on you to explain clearly.
So my alt text may read – Photo of a young woman copywriter on a laptop, cold pitching potential copywriting clients.
Please remember not to stuff this text with keywords and vary the keyword with synonyms so that Google also has more opportunities to understand your content.
Remember also, to write unique alt text for each image – so no duplication happens.
Quicksprout has an awesome guide on SEO for images
Write unique meta descriptions for every post
Again, this another golden opportunity to build your SEO profile. A meta description is the first thing the reader will see, when the search results come up. So this is a chance to insert the keyword whilst also creating a natural description of what your content is about.
So for our meta description for cold pitching, I might write:
Read our guide on everything you need to know about cold pitching potential copywriting clients.
Remember to always have a different meta description for each piece of content – that way you avoid duplicate content, which can knock down your SEO profile.
Pro-tip – see meta descriptions as conversion copywriting. Essentially you are trying to get someone to click on your blog post over others. So it must be compelling.
Here’s a great in-depth post for writing meta descriptions.
Link out to reputable sources
If you know of an expert in the field of what you are talking about, you can link to their related content in your post. I tend to quote other people who I really respect, and then give link to their exact post, where I found the quote. Always ensure the links are reputable because this will directly affect your site too.
The link out needs to be set to do-follow, which is a kind way of helping other sites build their Google profile too. If a link is set to do-follow, this is asking Google to see it as part of a site’s overall profile.
Don’t forget too, that your photos can also be a link out to another site, particularly if this is an expert example you are giving.
See this post about essential pages for your website for many examples of do-follow link-outs or external links including photo links.
Link to other relevant posts within your site
As you can see in the paragraph above, I have linked to other pieces of my content that I feel are relevant for you to see. This is called an internal link and is very useful also in helping Google to understand the focus of your website.
Always make sure the content is super-focused and enhances the content you are writing. Random links won’t help your SEO.
Update your content
If the topic of your writing or your client’s business is subject to change quite regularly, then content need to be updated to reflect this. This will ensure that Google will position you as an expert in your field.
If the content isn’t subject to regular changes, then once a year should be enough.
Pro tip – with new sites particularly it may take up to a year for the content to start ranking in Google, so remember that SEO is a long game. Write your content, then focus on creating more new content. Store your published dates on a spreadsheet and update once a year.
Don’t duplicate your own content
The next tip is possibly something you are not aware of, but should avoid. Duplicate content can result in Google really downgrading your site in the rankings. It is clever enough to see if you have used the same blog post more than once, so it’s worth knowing.
Bonus SEO tip – keep your urls focused
So if I was writing using our keyword ‘cold pitching’ I would use this as my URL including hyphens.
The guide to this is – if a reader doesn’t understand your URL then search engines will likely not either.
Set up URL strings on your website so you can program them manually.
Example of an SEO optimized URL
This URL seems lengthy but it gives a clear idea of what the article is about. I do try to limit their length and get rid of any short words.
Ideally, you want to be using 2 to 4 words in your URL. This will make the URL memorable to the user and more search engine friendly. Neil Patel goes into this in more detail. See tip 7.
Example of a non-SEO optimized URL
The numbers and date don’t really give us a clue as to the content of the article. Fortunately, you can go in and alter this in site settings.
I hope you’ve found my tips useful. When you write for SEO, overall you need to keep in mind what the user wants to learn about and give them a clear answer as quickly as possible. You also need to make your content clear to search engines, by incorporating one keyword and its synonyms but naturally into the post. Anything that sounds clunky needs to go, and you need to replace it with authentic content.
Good luck and let me know your thoughts in the comments!