In this article, you will learn 19 absolutely amazing SEO content writing tips that will completely change your content strategy.
Because you see, it doesn’t matter how well you write, normally, creating SEO content is a completely different thing. Sure, the same grammar rules apply. But you have to pay attention to so many other things when writing content to rank.
So, below, you’ll find a list of various SEO-related tips to help you create content that:
- gets picked up by the search engines, and
- ends up ranking at the top of their search results, even if your site lacks the authority of the other top-ranking content.
Intrigued? Let’s get right to it, then.
(Oh, a quick note on how I organized the list. You see, I structured it to follow the typical content writing process. So, first, you’ll learn tips that will help you research your SEO content better. Then, you’ll discover what to do to improve your content’s quality when writing. Finally, I closed the list with some tips on how to ensure the content is ready to go live.)
OK, enough of this, let’s do it.
#1. Identify the format top-ranking pages use
There’s a simple rule when writing content for SEO. It says that, to rank, you must match what Google perceives and the user intent for the keyword.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, not always. Because you see, what you think the users want, and what Google knows about it based on the data it has might be two different things.
QUICK EXAMPLE – Think about what users might want when searching for “small business CRM”, and what content should you create for it?
I guess the first thought is that they want to find such software, right? Because of that, they want to find websites of CRM companies.
Well, not entirely.
Yes, the intent is to find software. But, as it turns out by looking at the SERP below, users don’t want to see specific CRM companies.
They want a list of options to evaluate.
See for yourself:
Almost every top-ranking page is a listicle with a whole bunch of options, not a landing page.
And here’s your tip #1: To rank, use the same format as top-ranking pages for your keyword.
#2. Follow a similar angle as top-ranking content
This tip ties in with the SERP research above.
To rank, not only do you have to use the same format for content, but you also shouldn’t steer too far away from the angle all those pages take.
What’s the angle? Well, it’s an approach you take when writing to align your content with the type of person searching for this information.
It could be that the majority of top-ranking pages offer their advice for beginners, specifically. Or that they focus on a specific aspect of the topic primarily. Most of those pages might claim that they offer “easy” advice or actionable tips, etc.
So, unless there’s a super valid reason for you to take a different approach to the topic than what top-ranking pages do, use the same angle.
BUT – I’m not saying that you should replicate the other pages. You absolutely shouldn’t do that.
But you can use their angle to understand who searches for this information and offer unique advice to them that will make your content stand out.
#3. Use the same content type as top-ranking pages
This is quite simple advice – If the other ranking pieces of content are blog posts, for example, don’t try to get into the SERP with a landing page.
Because most likely, you won’t.
This is another tip that relates to the idea of the user intent.
You see, Google understands what format works best to deliver the information a person needs. Given that, it’s going to be incredibly hard to convince it that your page, using a different format is equally as useful.
EXAMPLE – Most content ranking for “NPS survey” are blog posts.
#4. Target multiple keywords to expand your content’s reach
Most SEO content assets can (and should) rank for more than a single keyword.
This page, for example, ranks for 589 phrases.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should be deliberately targeting as many phrases with your content. It’d be pretty much impossible.
However, you can increase your content’s SEO potential by targeting additional phrases, long-tail keywords.
TIP: Set your keyword research tool to show phrases RELATED to your target keyword. See if any of those wouldn’t apply to your content as well.
Chances are, many would.
#5. Reverse engineer top-ranking pages’ keywords
This is another trick to discover additional phrases to target with your content.
Most SEO tools offer the option to review what keywords a URL ranks for.
So, grab the top-ranking URLs and run them through your SEO platform. You should quickly see the top phrases that drive its rankings and traffic.
Then, see if you could target any of those phrases in your content – mention them in meta tags, weave them throughout the copy, etc.
#6. Sprinkle your content with LSI keywords
LSI keywords (the abbreviation stands for Latent Semantic Indexing) are phrases that conceptually relate to your topic.
These phrases help search engines to better understand your content and index it for correct keywords.
Just think of the word “apple.” A person typing it into Google might actually be looking for three types of information:
- The fruit,
- The computer company, or if they’re a music buff like me, might be looking for…
- Information on The Beatles’ record label.
LSI keywords in content help search engines figure out which information your page includes.
Seeing words and phrases like “calories,” “juice,” or “tree” will, naturally, reveal that you’re talking about the fruit.
But stuff like “London boutique,” “Ringo,” or “Let It Be” will suggest that the content is music-related.
And that’s the importance of using LSIs. They help ensure that Google fully understands your page, and also, expand the number of potential search queries it can rank your page for.
How to find LSIs?
Use dedicated software. Some SEO platforms offer the option to research synonyms and semantically related keywords to include in the content. Here’s how the option looks like in the tool I’m using:
(Please note, I do not reveal the tool’s name deliberately as I do not endorse any specific tools on the site.)
Research LSI keywords manually. There is a number of ways to do it: Look for related searches on Google. Use Google’s keyword planner to find related phrases. Check what topic-related phrases other top-ranking pages include in their content.
#7. Increase readability
User experience is such an important part of achieving good rankings.
Let’s face it; if readers don’t enjoy viewing your content, they won’t stick around. That, in turn, will send a strong negative engagement signal to Google.
Luckily, increasing readability isn’t actually that hard. However, to do so, you might have to forget about some writing rules you’ve learned at school.
Here are a couple of tips for improving the readability of your content:
- Use headings to separate different sections of the copy.
- Use short paragraphs and short sentences.
- Use lists.
- Highlight important information in the content with bold text
- Use active voice
- Add visuals to break the monotony of text.
Here’s an example of a readable piece of content:
Overall, remember that you write for users who prefer to skim the content.
So, the more you optimize the content for skimming and scrolling, the greater engagement metrics your pages will receive.
#8. Make the topic clear from the opening paragraph
A strong opening can support your SEO content in so many ways:
It can tell the search engine what the content is about.
The opening will also help ensure that Google understands the content and indexes it correctly.
Not to mention that it can hook readers, and get them to start checking out the rest of the page…
… improving your engagement metrics in the process.
But for that to happen, you must make the topic of your content clear from the opening sentence or paragraph.
How? Well, the easiest way is by including your target keyword (or its close variation) within the first paragraph of your content.
Here’s an example showing how I used this strategy in a recent post:
#9. Format content for the featured snippet
First things first – Not all content you write can appear in the featured snippet.
But if what you write contains answers to question-based queries (like “how to,” “what is,” or “list of,”) then, it’s worth formatting that content to appear in the featured snippet.
(Example of a featured snippet featuring an answer box.)
How do you optimize the content for a featured snippet?
Well, the full answer would require a separate post. But here’s a quick overview of the process:
- Create a section that targets a question-based query and use the question in the subheading
- Format the subheading with either H2 or H3 tags to denote its importance
- Follow the subheading with a concise answer on the topic.
#10. Include stats and quotes from credible sources
This is an old trick to making the page seem more authoritative.
Sad TRUTH: It doesn’t matter what you know about the topic.
To truly convince the audience of your ideas, you need to back them up with quotes or data from sources your readers perceive as credible.
(Unless you are an expert or an authority on the subject already, of course.)
Think of it as adding a new layer of proof to your ideas. If someone else suggests a similar course of action, then, it must be right.
But did you know that including credible resources also has an SEO benefit?
You see, it communicates a number of things to Google. First, when you reference words or data by others, you link out to them, and doing so is an extremely important part of your on-page SEO.
As Brian Dean from Backlinko points out:
“External links to related pages helps Google figure out your page’s topic. It also shows Google that your page is a hub of quality info.”
The other signal of mentioning credible resources is that you want your audience to learn more on the subject, and are happy with sending them to a different resource, not on your site.
This is a strong quality signal, showing Google that you are trustworthy in your approach, and put users, not SEO, first.
#11. Write an SEO-friendly headline that targets multiple keywords
I’m sure you know this already – Including the target keyword in the headline is the most effective way to ensure content ranks well in Google.
We call this method writing an SEO-friendly headline.
But did you know that you could take this one step further and include more than one search phrase in the headline? And in doing so, expand the content’s potential reach?
Yup, it’s totally possible. Here are some examples:
I use two formulas for creating headlines targeting multiple keywords:
#1. Writing a double headline that includes two separate headlines, separated with a colon.
I’ve used this method in one of my recent guides on this site, for example.
#2. Featuring the target keyword at the start of the headline, and adding a support phrase at the end.
The benefit of this approach is that you can write shorter headlines. The challenge is that it can be hard to fit both keywords into the same sentence.
But if you can, the formula can help you increase the content’s reach exponentially.
#12. Maintain the logical flow of subheadings
Do you remember the one characteristic of today’s web visitors we discussed earlier?
It’s that they prefer to skim, rather than to carefully read the content.
You, probably, do the same thing.
Once you land on a web page, you begin skimming the content, looking for words or phrases that might suggest where to look for the information you need.
And the first place you look is the subheadings.
Now, it only makes sense. Subheadings are visible, they stand out from the rest of the copy. Plus, they hint at what information you can expect to find in sections of content they precede.
But, quite often, I see SaaS brands skipping using the logical flow of subheadings. My guess is that it doesn’t seem that important to them.
The thing is – It’s super important to a reader.
A logical flow of subheadings – starting with H1 for the title, using H2 to describe the main sections, and H3’s to mark sections within those – makes the pages so much easier to skim.
The result? Well, you help readers find the information they’re looking for quickly, and increase the user experience.
#13. Use simple language
Skip long words. Avoid fancy words. Explain everything in simple ways, and avoid complex definitions (unless it’s absolutely necessary.) Write short sentences and paragraphs.
Even doing the above will create content that’s accessible for the majority of users. These people, in turn, will stay longer on the page, enjoy your information more, and send strong engagement signals to search engines.
Now, a quick note about using keywords. Sometimes, simplifying the language will mean that you won’t be able to use your exact target keywords. They just won’t sound natural in the content.
It’s perfectly fine. Use keyword variation or slightly amend the phrase to fit the content. Remember, Google and the RankBrain algorithm are smart enough to figure out what keyword you’re targeting.
(Readability example of one of my pieces of content.)
#14. Link out to high-authority websites
You know, this is the SEO content writing advice that almost always ruffles features a bit.
I get it; many startup founders are afraid to link out in fear that their readers will go elsewhere and forget about their sites.
Well, that can and might happen, of course. But it’s not something to be afraid of. Customers remember valuable content, even if they moved on to other resources from it.
TIP: I explained how this process works in depth in this guide to SaaS content marketing.
There’s another aspect of linking out – It has a serious effect on your rankings.
A study by a company called Reboot found a strong correlation between external links on a page and its rankings. What’s more, the company ran the experiment again a year later and found similar results.
As the company says in the conclusion of their study:
“Outgoing relevant links to authoritative sites are considered in the algorithms and do have a positive impact on rankings.”
(Image from Reboot’s study)
#15. Create a clickable table of contents
This is, probably, the simplest tip to implement.
But doing so can improve your content’s readability and its rankings.
First of all, using a clickable table of contents can help Google understand your content better. TOC will help the Googlebot to immediately see what sections are in the content, and help it make sense of the information on the page.
But also, the search engine can use links from the TOC as site links in the SERP.
#16. Organically weave keywords throughout the copy
This seems like a no-brainer, right? You’re creating content to rank, it’s only logical that you’re going to include target keywords in it.
But I like to reiterate this point because I know how difficult using keywords in the copy can be.
For one, it’s so easy to overdo it. In fact, it’s tempting to include the keyword in every paragraph, and the logic behind doing so seems sound at first. The more you use the keyword, the more likely it will be for Google to rank your content for that phrase, right?
Absolutely not. You actually stand more chances at never ranking by doing this.
We refer to including keywords almost everywhere on a page as keyword stuffing. And it’s one thing that Google absolutely despises.
So how to ensure that you haven’t overdone it?
Simple – Read the copy. If all those references of the keyword sound odd, you’ve probably overdone it.
#17. Add descriptive alt text to images and close it with a full stop/period
Alt text, the short description that you can add to every image, is another way for you to send relevancy signals to Google, and tell the search engine what the content is about.
This is all great if you add alt text to images.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time, marketers overlook this strategy.
For example, practically ALL images on this site miss alt text.
Whenever you include images in your content, add their alt text. Describe the image and, if relevant, include phrases relating to your keyword.
Don’t overdo the optimization, though. Don’t include keywords in every alt text. It’s not going to look natural, and you can easily over-optimize the page, resulting in the opposite of what you are hoping to achieve.
A quick tip – End each alt text with a full stop or period. It will make it easier for visually impaired people to consume your page. The text to speech algorithm will pause for a second after the full stop, improving the person’s listening experience.
#18. Include strategies to convert organic traffic
Let’s not beat around the bush here, shall well? You’re not writing SEO content just to get good rankings.
You want traffic, but ultimately, you want leads.
For that to happen, you should bake lead generation strategies right in your content.
You have two strategies to consider:
- Pushing people from the blog to a commercial page (a feature page, the homepage, etc.) relevant to the topic of the post they’ve just read.
- Convert blog visitors into email subscribers and get them on your email list.
Either option works perfectly well. What sets them apart is which audience they target.
The first strategy works particularly well for topics that are relatively close to purchasing intent. These topics attract people who already think about signing up for a software product to help solve their particular problem.
And so, it’s only logical to send them from a blog post about the problem to a feature or landing page so they could discover your product.
But then, there are also topics that do not relate to such intent. These keywords attract people with informational intent. Those visitors are a million miles away from even thinking about buying a solution.
Pushing them to a sales landing page means that you try to start a conversation that those people aren’t ready to have.
That’s why, for them, you should use lead magnets, sign them to a mailing list, and nurture those people until they are ready to talk shop.
(An example of how the level of buying intensity changes with topics.)
TIP: I explained the issue in-depth in this guide to converting blog traffic for SaaS.
#19. Monitor the content’s indexing in GSC
Finally, with your content live, go to Google Search Console and monitor whether it gets indexed.
Why? Because it might not. Not without your help, at least.
You might see error messages like these, for example:
In most cases, the best solution is to wait. If you’ve only started publishing content, the search engine will not be crawling your site often. But you might also have to improve internal linking to the piece to ensure that the Googlebot can reach and index it.
19 Tips to help you write better SEO content.
All that’s left is to start creating those pages.
About the Author
Pawel Grabowski is the founder, SEO strategist, and principal content creator at Smashing Copy.
Pawel specializes in building roadmaps that help our clients deliver more targeted organic traffic and website conversions. He also creates and optimizes our clients’ content and has been known for being able to breathe new life and rankings into any old content asset.