Updated: February 17, 2023
There are many articles and blog posts around the internet about ‘How to write SEO friendly content’ or ‘How to write for the web’. All of these articles have issues though. They end up being incredibly technical and providing way more detail than is necessary for the average writer. And so then they become intimidating and not at all helpful.
This article is aimed at people who simply need to write SEO friendly content. It is not aimed at someone who wants to actually upload their writing into websites or blogs and needs the technical know-how to do so. That will be covered separately in a future blog post, can be handled by any web designer/developer or, of course, your favorite web designer at Virtually Nat.
We are creating this guide because there are a lot of web designer/developers who, as part of their projects, do not provide copywriting services. They will often provide copy-editing, but not actual copywriting. Copywriting is typically available as an add-on service, for an extra fee. Even if a copywriter is brought on for a web project, the source (or original) content still has to come from the business owner as they are the subject matter expert, so it’s worth at least noting down some key facts to make the process easier for a copywriter.
In this post we will cover:
- Why Do I Need to be Able to Write SEO Friendly Content?
- What is SEO Friendly Content?
- 5 Steps to SEO Content
Why Do You Need to Write SEO Friendly Content?
We’ve seen it so many times in the past… a web designer/developer will say to a business owner “Will you be providing the copy for the website?” And the business owner says “Sure, no problem! I could write for days on end!” But when it comes to actually providing the copy to the web designer/developer, there are huge roadblocks and delays to the project. Technically speaking, the design phase of a web design project should not start without the content (of which “copy” is only one part), as design follows content, so you are probably starting to see what a big deal the copy is.
There are many reasons for these delays when it comes to copy. One of them being, especially for small business owners, that their company’s website is integrally tied to their personal identity. Of course, this makes sense―a small company almost always is almost the same thing as its owner. When it comes to writing about what you do, it can be a huge psychological challenge to push through identity issues―you’re going to be out there for anyone and everyone to see, after all.
The writing process can also really highlight where there are missing gaps in a business. Going through the writing process is good and necessary for the long term success of your company, but it can take way more time than anyone ever imagined.
The bigger the company is, the more removed the person writing the content is from the ownership of the company and the less of a problem identity is. But for very small business owners or even business owners who are just starting out, overcoming this identity issue can be a big stumbling block.
This post is written for those people. We hope to make it very simple, eliminating the overwhelm!
Read more about why you need SEO in the first place.
What is SEO Friendly Content?
First, let’s define “SEO”. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This simply means optimizing your content to make it easy for search engines to find it.
There are a ton of technicalities that go into SEO but luckily for us, Google, Bing, and other search engines are all concerned about the same thing that we as a reader are; can we accurately find what we are searching for?
Over the years, Google, in particular, has done a lot to make sure that we as a consumer can find what we are looking for. So now it has become that the more user-friendly your content is, the higher it tends to rank in search engine listings.
In times gone by, programmers and web technicians would spend a lot of time and money trying to game the system, putting in codes in the background of web pages that the reader couldn’t see but that search engines could.
Google figured out how to recognize this practice and in fact, if those techniques (what we call “black hat” SEO) are found on a website, Google penalizes that website and it will not easily be found online via search engines. This is why writing good quality content for the web or producing SEO friendly content has become so incredibly important!
5 Steps to SEO Content
So, let’s dive right on in.
Step 1. Topic Outline
All good things start with a plan… And that is very true when it comes to writing SEO friendly content.
Most seasoned writers will know this one already—preparing an outline of the topic you want to cover on the web page or blog post is imperative. You do not need to go into too much detail at this point. This first stage is just about creating a bulleted outline. An outline will typically contain:
- Points covering your topic, one point per paragraph
- Call to Action
Creating an outline also comes in handy for when you don’t have the time to finish the post in one sitting. Once you have the outline ready, you can work on the different parts independently of each other without needing a lot of time to regenerate your focus and organize your thoughts.
#TopTip: Use a Google Document for your work. Google Documents auto-update and save, ensuring you don’t lose your work. They’re easily shareable and even allow real-time collaboration. Check out my handy Google doc Blog Post Template; it will ask you to make a copy before editing it.
Step 2. Keyword Research
Now that you have an outline covering what you want to write about, you can start doing some high-level SEO keyword research. Oh no, yet another jargon word! “Keyword research” simply refers to the word or phrase that you want to be found for in online searches.
Now, like SEO as a whole, keyword research can be highly technical. Some words or phrases are very well searched. So although you have high volume (good thing, right?!), you also have high competition (bummer!). Other words are barely searched for at all. So, low volume, but low competition.
The holy grail of keyword research is high volume, low competition – something we can often achieve with what we call “long-tail keywords”. In our opinion, if it’s in your budget, your best bet with keyword research is to hire a professional.
There is still a lot that you, as a small business owner, can and should do, even if you end up hiring a SEO professional to help you with writing SEO friendly content. It’s those pieces that we’ll cover here because they’re key to informing your SEO writing.
How You Can Do Your Own Keyword Research
You know your business; you already have an idea about the keywords people who need your product/service are searching for. Write those keywords down in a “Keywords Starting List” and use that as your starting point.
Keywords and phrases will often be tied to the title and introduction from the article outline you created. Add those to your “Keywords Starting List” too.
Put your starting keywords into a keyword planner. Many people use Google AdWords Keyword Planner, but recently we’ve been loving Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. Try multiple versions of the phrases and keywords you wrote down in your “Keywords Starting List”.
We recommend that you choose a keyword phrase that has a high volume, a CPC (Cost per Click) of over $1 and an SD (SEO Difficulty) of under 50.
Rewrite the title in your outline with that optimal keyword phrase in mind.
Focus on keywords that directly drive sales and that are intent driven keywords. SEO and keyword research is not free. There is a saying: “If you don’t have the time, you better have the money. If you don’t have the money, you better have the time.” This applies perfectly when it comes to writing SEO friendly content and keyword research!
Step 3. Writing SEO Friendly Titles
Once you have chosen your keyword you can craft the title of your blog post and subsequently, the URL. Writing a title is a very important part of writing SEO friendly content. When you craft your title, be sure that it adheres to the following:
- The character length is between 55-60
- You’ve included your chosen keyword
- It is related to the content in your blog post
- It sounds interesting enough to make someone click on it
Let’s look at the title of this article for example, “Write SEO Friendly Content in 5 Easy Steps”.
Our target keyword is “Write SEO Friendly Content”. We added the “in 5 Easy Steps”, to make it clear to both search engines and users about what to expect in the content.
#TopTip: Use CoSchedules Headline Analyzer to help you write better headlines.
When you have decided on your title, writing the URL is simple. Use “-“ to separate the words that make up a URL. If this does not automatically happen on your WordPress blog, go to settings and change the permalink structure. You should also consider making your URLs shorter by removing any unnecessary words.
#TopTip: If you change your blog post URL after it’s been published, add 301 redirects to preserve your SEO rankings.
Step 4: Writing SEO Friendly Headings
There are some rules you should follow when it comes to using headings and sub-headings for SEO friendly content. Firstly, you should only ever have one H1 (or Heading 1) and this should be the title of your article. The H1 should include your chosen keyword like we mentioned above.
Headings should be used in a hierarchical mode. The title of the post is the H1 tag. The following section heading, which tells readers what the post is about, should have an H2 tag and the subsections should use H3 tags.
Scroll up through this blog post to see if you can spot the heading structure that we’ve used.
The reason you should organize your SEO friendly content in this way is because it…
- Will help search engine bot spiders during the crawling process
- Make the blog post easier for users to read and scan through
Step 5: How to Write SEO Friendly Body Content
There’s a little bit more to think about when it comes to writing the body of your SEO friendly content. Firstly, keep your paragraphs short.
There is a good chance the majority of your readers are on mobile devices. Using short paragraphs will make it easier for them to read the content. We recommend that you write paragraphs no longer than 2-4 sentences and use different formatting (bold, italic and underline) to draw the reader’s attention to key sections.
Linking will also help you write SEO friendly content. Whenever we write a blog post, we link it back to another related blog post we’ve already published by adding an internal link. The benefits of internal linking include:
- Helping search engines to find new pages on your site
- Another way to tell the search engines what the blog post is about
- Gives your reader the option to read more content related to the topic
- It can reduce bounce rate and keep users clicking through your site for longer
Try to write as many as 2,100 to 2,400 words or longer in your blog post. Search engines favor and give more visibility to long-form posts.
When writing SEO friendly content, using your target keywords and variations of it in your articles will not get you into trouble… in fact, we highly recommend that you do so.
What we advise against is “keyword stuffing”. Don’t add keywords in the text for the sake of it…only use keywords when it comes naturally.
You should use keywords in the title of your blog post, in the main headings, scattered within the content of the post and in your conclusion.
#TopTip: To avoid keyword stuffing, use the Google Keyword Tool, SEMRUSH, or Answer the Public to search for your main keyword. These tools will generate a list of keywords that are related to your main keyword; it’s a good idea to use some of these in your blog post.
Write SEO Friendly Content in 5 Easy Steps!
Phew! That was a lot, we know ;-). But hopefully you learnt a bit about how to write SEO friendly content and hopefully it wasn’t too incredibly technical and intimidating. Next time you need to write some SEO friendly content, you’ll know what steps you should be taking. SEO does not necessarily need to be complicated and you don’t always need to outsource it.
Once you’ve written your amazing SEO friendly blog post but don’t know how to upload it into your website or blog and you need the technical know-how to do so, we are more than happy to help. Book a complimentary 15-minute call with us via our online scheduler at virtuallynat.com/chat to get started.
Oh and before you go…
Looking at getting a new website or redesigning your existing one? Check out our article on the best ways to prepare for a website redesign.