8 Steps to Writing SEO-Optimized Content

8 Steps to Writing SEO-Optimized Content

Low-quality, keyword-stuffed, unreadable – no, this is not what SEO content should look like. Read on to discover how to write SEO-optimized content that works for both Google and people.

How do you write SEO content? Well, the first rule: don't write SEO content. 

SEO content has a bad reputation. This is because it has long been associated with some bad, unethical, and deceptive practices that so-called SEO experts used trying to trick and manipulate search engine spiders. Google today is way too smart to reward black hat SEO practices. 

When I say SEO content, I mean content for people: compelling, valuable, easy to read and understand, and optimized for the search engine. 

Here are 8 tips on how to write it.

1. Define your focus keyword

A focus keyword is the main phrase that people are searching for to find your content. When picking out a focus keyword, check out how many searches this phrase gets per month to decide if it's a good one to rank for.

For example, if you're writing an article that compares project management tools, your focus keyword may be "Asana vs Trello." Or if you want to help business owners start selling their products online, your focus keyword might be "how to sell products online." 

2. Understand your reader’s intent.

Every search term has a "why" behind it. Why did the reader google “what is the blockchain” or “how to make a YouTube channel”? In the first case, the reader is most likely looking to learn about the distributed ledger, while in the second case, they probably want to launch their own YouTube channel. Search intent is what readers want to accomplish when they type something into a search engine. Google can detect a user’s search intent based on the keywords used and rank pages based on how well they address that intent. 

To make your content align with the reader’s search intent, you need to analyze the search results for the focus keyword you want to rank for. By looking at the first page of Google results, you can define what type of content you should create (a blog post, a landing page, a video), what form this content should take (a list, comparison, a how-to guide), and what angle you should choose for your story.

For example, if we try to google "Asana vs Trello," we'll find lots of articles and even videos that explain the difference between those two tools helping the reader choose the right one. 

Most search results for "how to sell products online" focus on either the websites where to sell online, or give step-by-step tutorials. 

Checking out Google search results for your focus keyword gives you an idea of what your readers want to read when they type in that phrase in search.

I talk about reader's intent in the first chapter of my book From Reads to Leads: 11 Principles of Writing Content People Will Read and Respond To. Make sure you check it out. 

3. Create an SEO-optimized content structure

Your content structure needs to be organized in a logical hierarchy with subheadings wrapped in H2 tags. If there’re clear sections within these H2 tags, use H3 and so forth in a logical order. Try to use keywords in your subheadings that are related to your main topic, if that makes sense. But don't overuse one and the same keyword throughout your text.

Related: How to Write Good Subheadings [Common Mistakes Writers Make]

4. Write a meta title

Meta title is your content's title displayed in search engine result snippets. When writing that title, keep in mind that you need to place your focus keyword at the start of the title tag and keep it under 70 characters.

For instance, if your focus keyword is "how to sell products online," your meta title should start with exactly that: How to Sell Products Online.

You can add some more copy to make your title look more appealing, for example:

  • How to Sell Products Online (and Where Online Exactly)
  • How to Sell Products Online, From Home, With No Inventory
  • How to Sell Products Online: Kickstart Guide for Beginners

And so on. It's important that your title focuses on what your story will be about.

5.  Write a meta description

The meta description appears on the SERPs under your meta title. A well-written meta description can be the difference between getting the click and not. Be informative, use a call to action, include the focus keyword or its synonym, and make sure your meta description is no less than 160 characters. 

Read alsoHeadline Writing: The Only Formula You'll Ever Need

6. Write an H1 tag

Your H1 tag should be the main heading on a page. Like you did when you wrote the meta title, place your focus keyword or its synonym at the start of the H1 tag. For example, if your focus keyword is "Asana vs Trello," your H1 may sound like that: Asana vs Trello: Which One Is Better for Project Management?

7. Use the focus keyword in the first paragraph

Be sure to do so naturally. Ideally, you want your focus keyword to appear within the first 100 words. Make sure you check out my blog post: How to Write an Intro Paragraph That Hooks.

8. Include internal links

Always link to other pages on your website if they are relevant to your content. When linking, use anchor text. For example, if you're linking to an article with a focus keyword "books for writers" use this phrase as your anchor.

There you have it: 8 tips to write SEO content:

  • Define a focus keyword
  • Understand your reader’s intent
  • Create an SEO-optimized content structure
  • Write a meta title
  • Write a meta description
  • Write an H1 tag
  • Use the focus keyword in the first paragraph
  • Include internal links

Always strive to write and publish amazing content that addresses your reader's needs and solves their problems. This won't only get the desired rankings, but also will help hit your marketing targets.

Watch it instead:

If you want to see more videos about content writing and marketing, subscribe to my YouTube channel

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