How do you write for SEO? Here's a tactical guide.

Optimizing your content for search isn’t hard, but there are some things that you need to keep in mind in order to do it correctly. Here is a quick guide to content SEO with actionable tips that can actually successfully rank on Google.

Pick a long-tail keyword

The first step to SEO writing is figuring out the keyword that you want to write on. You can use paid SEO tools like Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush and Ubersuggest. In these tools, you can see other factors that may help you figure out your chances of ranking for the keyword(s) that you chose to tackle.

But they’re, uh, expensive to say the least, with Ubersuggest being the cheapest one at around $20 per month (they change the prices based on region, I think). That said, please learn how to effectively do keyword research before investing in these tools if you’re a bootstrapper.

You can still rank on Google without using these expensive tools, but you need a little bit of know-how to achieve this. Just read further to find out 😃.

Also, note that the numbers these SEO tools provide are only rough estimations. They actually do not have access to Google’s own data, so take them with a pinch of salt.

On Google’s Keyword Planner, you can also find the monthly traffic range of the keywords you want to tackle for free. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the ranking difficulty for these keywords.

Again, when doing your keyword research, you need to think about whether thousands of people (or at least 500 people or more) search for this query every month. Otherwise, you run the risk of writing content that no one will read.

Which keywords should you tackle?

This is probably the biggest question that you will have when it comes to creating your end-to-end SEO content strategy. Unfortunately, there are no right or wrong answers to it.

That said, there are always ways to make sure that you’re maximising the return on investment on content:

  1. Make sure that you’re targeting an underserved niche. Are you in marketing? Go more specific and make sure that your value proposition is clearly visible, once people go to your website.
  2. Can’t pay for SEO tools? Find sets of long-tail keywords people search for and start from there. Here’s an example:

How to grow [plant/fruit/vegetable].

Thousands of people search for guides on how to grow plants every month, so you can create a blog on it and see it rank just after a couple of months! Well, assuming that you know what you’re doing.

This is the hyper-niching technique that many SEO bloggers do today in order to rank fast and create a viable business model out of blogging.

For example, Cup & Leaf is a side project by Nat Eliason, an SEO, that he successfully grew in 1 month to 10k monthly visits through this technique.

You wouldn’t really know how hard it will be to rank for each keyword, but that’s ok.

Normally, websites that go really niche like this have people that are actively searching for what’s being offered. Plus, it’s normally easier for people to understand the value proposition when there is literally only one.

Cup & Leaf has a blog on how to brew different types of tea. No more, no less. Well, actually, they now post some articles on things that are tangentially related to tea to rank on SEO.

And, to be honest, this niche is still fairly lucrative and underserved in terms of SEO. Look at the keyword competition.

Calculating the keywords density

The keyword density refers to the percentage at which your keyword appears throughout the article. Here’s the easy formula below:

Keyword density = (Nkr / Tkn) x 100, where Nkr = how many times you repeated a specific keyword Tkn = total words in the analyzed text

As a best practice, anything between 1% to 3% is the optimal keyword density percentage. Google indicates that it should be lower than 5%, or your content will seem spammy

Title

Your title needs to be catchy, have a clear angle, and contain the keyword you’re targeting. On social media, people are more likely to click on an article if they think that this article will tell them an interesting story about something familiar.

The angle can only comprise a small part of the article, but make sure that it’s relevant to the intent of the users searching for an answer to their question/keyword. You need to make sure that they’ll want to click on the article. Google has clicks as a ranking factor, after all.

Moreover, make sure that the title is less than 30 characters. Otherwise, it won’t fully show up on social media and search engines.

Word count

If you’re writing an article to rank in a certain country, make sure to do a Google Search in that country in order to see content you’re competing against.

A good rule of thumb is to write more words than any of the top 10 results that rank for that keyword. While word count length is not a ranking factor, per se, or does not even indicate that the articles are well-written, more words generally lead to more shares on social media and people just staying on the website a lot longer than for short articles.

Headings

Make sure that your headings help the reader navigate through the article and aren’t just there for show

Organize sections and headings by topics

A really basic example of this is by taking the Wikipedia article approach to content structure:

The best way to create your headings more SEO-friendly is to focus on one topic at a time that references back to the main keyword you’re targeting. The Wiki content structure above does exactly this by guiding the reader through different areas revolving around the same topic.

Checklist in a nutshell

  1. You have a targeted keyword
  2. Your title includes the targeted keyword
  3. Your title has less than 30 characters
  4. The targeted keyword is referenced throughout the article
  5. You have a keyword density of 1-3%
  6. Your article has navigable headings
  7. Your headings are arranged in subtopics
  8. Your article is more informative and has more words than any of the top 10 articles on Google Search.

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