SEO Content Writing Tips

On the surface, “content marketing” is simply a marketing strategy that uses content –  written, audio, or visual – to engage an audience.  But if you peel back the layers of this popular method, another strategy, one that often provides roots for your efforts, is revealed – SEO.

An effective content marketing strategy must incorporate SEO practices if it’s going to have a demonstrable and long-term impact.  As such, it’s important to approach any efforts at creating or distributing content as both a writer and an SEO analyst.

That may sound daunting, particularly if neither of those job descriptions fit your current skill set, but there are some common best practices for SEO content writing that can help you increase the effectiveness of your efforts.

Quick note:  As a “best practices for SEO content writing” list, this may not include basic SEO principles, many of which can be helpful.  If you’re fairly new to the game or would like a quick refresher, you may want to check out on SEO Beginners Guide to SEO article first.  

Further, this list also assumes you’ve completed or at least know you must complete keyword research.  If you haven’t, you can learn more about Basic Keyword Research here.

 1. Know Your Audience

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that phrases like “target audience,” always show up early on in any piece that discusses content marketing best practices.

There’s no exception when it comes to best practices for SEO content writing.  If you don’t know your audience, there’s no way you can choose the right words, sentiments, content mediums, etc. to properly engage them.  Do the research first.

Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)- know who you want to target

2. Account for All Parts of the Funnel

This is another topic I’m known to call upon early on, but it’s with good reason.  It’s easy to think about acquiring new visitors and leading customers to the cart, but that can potentially be a long journey, and there are pitstops along the way.

Think about how your product/service relates to your customer’s needs at various points in the marketing funnel and be conscious of that as build out content to support your keywords.

3. Competitive Analysis

When performed correctly, a competitive analysis can have multi-channel value.  In the case of SEO content marketing, you’ll want to take note of the keywords for which your competition ranks as well as the content they use to leverage those keywords.

A thorough content marketing analysis can also help you identify potential gaps in your content efforts and uncover potential keyword and content opportunities.

4. Take the Time to Map Keywords to Content

Keyword mapping is vital to your SEO efforts. It helps you leverage keywords to bridge the gap between your content and the needs or wants of your audience.  

In addition, keyword mapping can also help provide an overarching structure to your SEO and content efforts, giving you direction in what can potentially be an overwhelming undertaking.


Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)- keyword mapping

5. Pay Attention to Headlines (and Sub-Headers)

Headlines serve a dual purpose. From a “human” standpoint, they engage readers and highlight relevant content. They also make it easier for readers to skim through an article in search of the content they want.

In part, the same is true for the SEO impact of headers and sub-headers (called Headline Tags or H Tags).  When properly leveraged, they help Google and other search engines identify relevancy.  In addition, they also can help Google identify content worthy of feature snippet placement.

6. Write with Featured Snippets in Mind

Google’s aim is to provide users with the most relevant information, based on their searches.  However, in recent years, Google has taken their efforts up a notch helping busy users find the answers they need without ever leaving the search engine results pages (SERPs).

You’ve probably seen these concise bundles of well-written content in your search engine travels, and for the most part, it’s not an accident.

Think about the relationship between your readers and your keywords, and determine what, if any, related questions exist and how you can answer them directly.  Doing so can help your site gain feature snippet placement.

7. Use Images

When it comes to content marketing, images serve numerous purposes.  They can break up otherwise dense copy, help convey a message worth sharing, or simply catch a readers eye.

They also, however, can help your SEO efforts.  For one, since Google incorporates user engagement metrics (e.g., bounce rate) into its algorithm, the right images can help naturally improve your SEO.

However, relevant, high-quality images with alt tags and a customized filename can also work to boost your page in the SERPs.

8. Remember Readability!

We may not be able to determine exactly what Google uses to determine rank, but many professionals believe that readability plays a role.

If your content is easy to understand, readers will engage with it more. If it’s not, it will result in poor user experience, potentially deflating key metrics.

9.  Host Content Under Your Own Domain

Platforms like Medium and LinkedIn offer up some great opportunities to distribute your content, but hosting content on those platforms can rob your site of valuable SEO.

Try to store your content under your own domain or blog to improve the odds that your site will show up in relevant searches.

10. Keep Paragraphs Short and Relevant

No one wants to sift through lengthy blocks of content, and doing so on smartphones can be near impossible. Though there is certainly a place for long-form articles with robust paragraphs, chances are it’s not within your SEO content.

Help your readers by using short paragraphs to present content.

11. Know What Social Media Sites Work for You

Social media is a valuable tool, but only if you know what sites work to your advantage. Find out where your target audience is spending most of their time and use those platforms to distribute content.

How does that help your SEO?  The more users that find your content engaging and useful, the more impactful your SEO efforts become.

Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)- use social media

12. Incorporate Related Keywords

Keywords should drive your SEO content strategy, but they aren’t the only words that can boost your ranks.  As you write content, consider including related keywords and terms.

13. Use an Internal Linking Strategy

While you don’t want to load up pages with a plethora of internal links, the right links can help spread link value, particular to new posts.  In addition, Google uses internal links to determine relevancy as well as the relationship between pages.

14. Regularly Monitor and Analyze

Both SEO and content marketing merit an ongoing effort.  As with any other channel, it’s imperative that you consistently monitor content and keyword performance and tweak as needed.

15. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

SEO is not about getting as many keywords on a page as possible. In fact, doing so will likely hurt your efforts in the long run.

How many are too many? While some experts recommend keeping keyword density under 2 – 3%, there hasn’t been any major revelations to indefinitely support that.

Your best bet?  Make sure it sounds natural. If your content is obviously redundant, illogical, or shallow, you’re probably relying too heavily on keywords and not enough on supporting ideas.

Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)-avoid keyword stuffing16. Have an Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is a must for any serious content marketing strategy. It will help you keep tabs on your SEO efforts – e.g., what keywords are in circulation – while keeping you or your writers on schedule.

17. Take Time to Craft a Solid Meta Description

A meta description is the unsung hero of the SEO world.  While it’s believed that Google doesn’t actually use them as a ranking factor, they are invaluable to your CTR.  Well written metas will convince readers to click, while poor ones will likely force them to keep scrolling.

18. Always Have a Purpose

If you don’t know why you’re writing, then what can your reader gain?  Every single blog post, white paper, webinar, video, etc. should have a guiding purpose.

There are, of course, two ways to think of “purpose.”  First, it’s the strategic reason you created the content.  But secondly, it’s the takeaway and the unifying thread that will keep readers engaged from start to beginning, whether that’s solving a problem, educating, etc.

19. Use bullets

No one is suggesting that your entire page consists of bullets; that would be awful. However, bullets can make otherwise dense copy easier to read and digest.

Additionally, because bullets are, by nature, concise bits of information, they can also help you clean up your copy, ditching unnecessary words or phrases.

Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)- small paragraphs and bullet points make it easier to read

20. Implement Jump Links (Also Known as Anchor Links)

Jump links can help make content easier to follow by allowing readers to “jump” right to the desired section. And, because they help readers navigate the page, you can create long and informative content without overwhelming your audience.

21. Walk Away Before you Review

Ideally, this would read “work with editorial staff,” as humans are statistically awful at editing their own work, but not everyone can do that. Instead, its best to walk away from your content before you review and edit.

22. Quality Over Quantity

Poorly written articles aren’t going to help your SEO efforts, or your brand, for that matter.  Though everyone must work within their time and financial budget, it’s important to maximize both of those things to ensure that you’re getting quality content.

23. Take the Time to Research

If you haven’t noticed, the final tips are all about producing great content.  It’s important to check the SEO requirements off your list, but in the end, your content must be well written and useful to your audience.

If you aren’t intimately familiar with the content subject matter, it’s imperative that you take the time to research. Doing so helps you give your readers the best possible information, which will improve their experience, which can boost your SEO efforts.

Best Practices for SEO Content Writing (24 Tips)- do your research

24. Hire Good Creators

SEO can be complex, and there are plenty of people who have dedicated their entire professional life to understanding the ins and outs of this channel.  That said, there are many basic principles that can be implemented regardless of your experience level.

For that reason, it’s important to work with great content creators who are adept enough to understand basic SEO principles as opposed to asking your SEO analyst to start churning out top-quality content.



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