Content Writing: An Introduction

Table of Contents

Step 1: Keyword Research

The first step before we start writing any article is to define what keywords are relevant to the client. Though there are many programs out there that serve as keyword aggregators, our preferred tool has remained SEMRush. Within SEMRush, we have the ability to generate a keyword report for our domains, other domains, and similar keywords. Within these keyword reports, we’re focusing on 3 major things and considering them on balance;

1. The Volume

SEMRush allows us to see the average monthly volume of a search in a local area, taken from the last 12 months of data. We want to focus on high volume keywords as they bring the most traffic to sites. However; typically, the higher the traffic, the more difficult it is to rank for a keyword. It’s important that any keyword we rank for has some degree of volume to it; or it’s wasted time even if we rank #1. Volume is moreso a prerequisite to the other two conditions.

2. The Difficulty/KD%

Keyword Difficulty shows you how hard it would be for a website to rank organically in the Google top 10 for the given keyword. The higher the percentage, the harder it will be to achieve high rankings. This is given to us on a 100 point scale; and we typically like to remain under 50% for a local/regional campaign. If it’s a heavily competitive industry, such as digital marketing or real estate, we will likely have to exceed the 50% standard. This relates to volume in the obvious way; if two keywords have similar volumes, we prefer the one with the lower KD% for priority.

3. Competitor Keywords

Alongside these keyword reports, we’re able to see our competitors rankings and full keyword lists. Research your competitors to see what type of content is ranking well for our target keywords. This can give us insights into what works and what we can improve upon. Additionally, we want to match the general length of content that is on the first page of Google. So if the first 3 articles have around 700-1000 words, we want to shoot within that range. On a deeper level, we’re also able to pull commonly used phrases from these articles that incrementally assist us in ranking, but its impact is less significant.

Utilizing these 3 factors for keyword research will lead us to the best impartial system possible for us. We want to be able to defend the choice of our keywords, and this is the best way to go about it.

Step 2: Creating High Quality Content

After we’ve chosen our keywords, the next step is actually going forward with creation of the content. First, we want to make sure everything we determined in step 1 is readily available to us during the writing process. With that available, you’re able to speed through content development without having to flip through tabs to get your answers. Secondly, when you’re sitting down to begin writing content, make sure you’re able to determine the keyword/keyphrase’s intent and are able to match it. For example, if SEMRush says a keyword is informative; we want to make sure the primary purpose of the article is to inform the reader as opposed to pushing a transaction upon the reader. Google is remarkably good at determining the intent of an article; and it is paramount we take it into consideration before we start writing. The four types of intent are commercial, transactional, informational and navigational.

Once you’re onto development of content; this is when it starts to branch into overall writing talent/ experience and your ability to pivot to SEO conditions, generally, this is what we start looking for:

  • Keyword Placement:

    Though the statistical optimum for keyword placement is 0.75% density; we aim for 1-2% as 0.75% is only attainable in specialized long form content. Anything exceeding 4% puts the writer in extreme risk of keyword stuffing penalties.
  • Real World Relevance:

    Simply; produce content that individuals want to click on and read. Though content can serve a purpose with a less significant audience, it is always better to write compelling content that is both easy to read and relevant to common questions posed by readers.
  • Use Headings and Subheadings:

    Use compelling headlines and subheadings that accurately reflect the content’s structure and make it easy to skim; both for the reader and the search engine. This can be done with the use of H1-H4 tags.
  • Readability:

    Not only does grammar and sentence structure matter, but so does overall format. Search engines favor long form articles that utilize subheadings, lists, and visual content to break up walls of text. Short form is also an option, but long form articles remain optimal.
  • Images and Multimedia:

    Use relevant images, videos, infographics, and other media to enhance the content’s appeal and engagement. Though often unrealistic to make specialized graphics for each of your articles, utilize specialty graphics on your cornerstone content or long form content.

Utilizing a mix of all of these things will leave you with strong content that will be read well by the search engine algorithms; thus, ranking you higher.

Step 3: Optimizing for SEO

Now that your article is written, you can shift your focus to the next major step for strong SEO content; optimization. In order to make your life significantly easier; integrate YoastSEO into your site. This gives you the easiest, most user friendly experience for adjusting on page elements. It mostly allows you to easily change how your result looks when it shows up on google. Optimization can easily be broken up into 4 steps:

Incorporate your target keywords in key on-page elements:

  1. Title:

    Your title should be something compelling to the reader, while also utilizing your focus keyword at the beginning of the title. Additionally, make sure to set your title as an H1.
  2. Meta Description:

    Write a meta description that summarizes the content and entices users to click on your link in search results. Include the primary keyword in the meta description to indicate relevance to search engines and users. Generally, you want them between 50-160 characters in length.
  3. Slug:

    Create clean and user-friendly URLs, also known as slugs, that reflect the content’s topic. Include the main keyword in the URL, if possible. Short and descriptive URLs are preferred by search engines.
  4. Image Alt Text:

    When using images, be sure to provide descriptive alt text that includes relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand the content of the images. Alt text also improves accessibility for users with disabilities.

When you fulfill these four tasks when posting your content, you’re able to control how Google and other search engines portray your search results; from the URL structure to the actual visual SERP.

Step 4: Structured Data and Schema Markup

In the realm of SEO , structured data and schema markup are like power tools. They're the secret ingredients that can boost your website's visibility and attractiveness in search results. By using structured data and schema markup, you're not just communicating with search engines; you're improving your chances of getting noticed by the right audience and enhancing your SEO efforts. First, let’s describe the difference between the two:

  • Structured Data:

    Think of it as giving your web content a clear structure or organization. It’s like putting your information into neat boxes so that search engines can easily recognize what’s what. When your data is organized this way, search engines can use it to display more helpful and detailed information in their search results.
  • Schema Markup:

    This is like adding labels or tags to your content to explain what’s on your web page. These labels follow a standardized language that search engines understand. It’s like adding special tags to your book review to say, “This is a book review, here’s the book’s title, author, rating, and where to buy it.” This extra information can then be displayed in search results, making them more informative and appealing.

So, structured data and schema markup help you present your web content in a way that search engines can easily grasp, leading to better, more informative search results for users. It's like providing a recipe for search engines to follow to make your content shine in search results.

Step 5: Internal and External Linking

In the world of SEO content, linking is fundamental. Internal and external linking are the keys to guiding your readers and search engines to the right information. Both of these types of links are absolutely crucial for effective SEO. Internal links improve navigation and SEO structure within your site, while external links build trust and context. Together, they enhance the user experience, bolster your website's credibility, and boost search engine rankings. Let's dive into the significance of internal and external linking in SEO content.

  • Internal Linking:

    Internal linking plays a crucial role in SEO content by connecting different pages within your website. These links act as pathways, guiding both users and search engines to relevant and related content on your site. By strategically placing internal links, you improve the overall user experience, making it easier for visitors to navigate your website and discover valuable information. Additionally, internal links distribute link authority throughout your site, helping individual pages rank higher in search results. This can also enhance the indexing of your content, ensuring that search engines find and understand your website’s structure and hierarchy, which is essential for effective SEO.
  • External Linking:

    External linking, also known as outbound linking, involves linking to other websites or sources outside your domain. While it may seem counterintuitive to send users away from your site, external linking can be highly beneficial for SEO content. It establishes credibility and trust with both users and search engines by showing that you’re referencing authoritative and reliable sources to support your content. Additionally, it can foster relationships with other website owners in your niche, potentially leading to backlinks (inbound links) to your content, which is a significant factor in SEO. When done thoughtfully and contextually, external linking can enrich your content, providing additional resources and perspectives for your audience, ultimately enhancing your content’s value and SEO performance.

In conclusion, internal and external linking are both essential components of successful SEO content strategies. Internal links improve navigation, enhance website structure, and aid in indexing, while external links bolster your content's credibility and authority. Together, they contribute to a better user experience, increased trustworthiness, and improved search engine rankings, making them indispensable for any comprehensive SEO approach.