Beginner's Guide to SEO Content
The plain and simple truth about SEO is - it's all about the quality of content. Yes, technical components impact ranking, but your message is ultimately the key to success for conversions and search engine ranking. Here are a few basic SEO copywriting rules to follow that might help the search engines favor your content.
1. Respect Your Reader's Time
The most successful content is the kind that predictably answers the questions that it promises to answer - in the least amount of time.
Pages with long paragraphs that are awkwardly constructed and stuffed full of keywords and phrases are not the sorts of pages that convert to business. And those pages tend to quickly drop in rank, even if they somehow rank well early on. Remember that search engines have one job: providing quality results for their users. Waste the readers' time, and you won't stay in their favor.
2. Don't Be Afraid of Off-Page Links
You will see a list of links that reference highly trusted SEO resources at the bottom of this post. Why would we share a bunch of links with you that might take you to another website? Because we recognize that sharing those links can be good for both of us.
For one, it shows you that we genuinely want to help you, which makes you appreciate us.
For two, it shows Google that we genuinely want to help you, which is also helpful for our SEO efforts.
While posting these links might take a user off your page for a minute, it also makes your page a reference that they would more likely keep handy - or share with a friend. We'll do the right thing and make sure those links "open in a new window" so that our reader finds their way back to us. Be sure that the links you choose are relevant and timely so that Google recognizes that you understand the subject matter.
3. Be a Part of the Local Community
Ranking in local search is typically less challenging than ranking nationally or globally. If there is any need for your product or service in your city or state, you'll likely have a built-in local advantage in search. Locally focused content is a low-hanging SEO fruit. So, when preparing your broader content strategy, be sure to develop content that targets your community and surrounding areas. Substantial local traffic can also be beneficial for higher national rankings.
4. Treat Your Reader the Way You Want to Be Treated
Generally speaking, we all want the same things when we search the web. We like to find solutions to problems --or answers to our various curiosities. But while that seems obvious to us when we search, there is often a disconnect when we write copy with SEO in mind. Keep checking yourself for the value you are providing your readers. If a deep love of humanity isn't enough to inspire you to do it, remember that this is what the Google spiders want you to do, too.
5. Have a Page Optimized Just for Voice Search
Speaking of Google (and Alexa and Siri) it is likely time to include copy optimized for voice-based queries. Some research indicates as much as 50% of traffic comes in this format. When we query our virtual assistants, we typically ask them a question. For example, "Hey Google, how can I get my web page to rank well on Google?" It makes sense to develop an FAQ page that includes a layperson's version of the common questions you'd expect a potential client to ask.
6. Don't Forget SEO for Landing Pages with Downloads
Landing pages with a download offering effectively hide some of your meatiest SEO content. If you're using this approach on your website, follow best practices from services like HubSpot to help you optimize results. With sparse, eye-catching copy, your focus is compelling the visitor into downloading your material and not so much on providing answers on your page. But search engines may reward you if users engage with your form or download.
That said, you should carefully consider your form options. Asking for less information may lead to more downloads, but they may be less qualified leads. Asking for additional relevant information can also build confidence in a more motivated candidate, but too much of an ask upfront can turn off other potential customers. Testing these variables is highly recommended if a download is a critical component of your business model.
7. Know Enough Technical SEO to be Effective (or Dangerous)
Many content writers are also tasked to build pages in a CMS like WordPress or HubSpot. Yoast's popular WordPress plugin guides basic "on-page SEO," offering tips for things like word counts, title optimizations, URL naming conventions, image tag reminders, and general page readability, among others. Many free and paid online tools can help assess individual pages for these ranking factors. And, since these more 'technical' components tend to fall under marketing, it's not a bad idea to understand them in greater detail.
Numerous SEO tools offer creative resources for SEO copywriters like keyword research, competitive analysis, and lots more. One cool newer tool (SparkToro) can help writers identify Social Media audiences that may reveal some vertical interests that can generate ideas for new content.
In the spirit of good content, we've shared some additional informative links below to help you explore this topic more.
From Other Sources
Ahrefs SEO Basics
Search Engine Land - What Is SEO
SEO MOZ - Beginners Guide to SEO
Google's Developers Beginners SEO Starter Guide
Bruce Clay's SEO Tools
SparkToro - Find Social Media Audiences