How to Write SEO Articles: 8 Steps for Search Engine Optimization

How to write SEO articles, SEO Writing, Keyword Research and Optimizing Search Engine Results to Increase Website Traffic

Summary: In this article, you’ll learn how to write SEO articles, perform keyword research, target broad and long-tail keywords and increase your website traffic with our step-by-step guide to writing for search engine optimization.

Introduction

A basic understanding of SEO can make a world of difference in the digital marketing world. Optimizing search engine results to drive people to your website starts with coming up with quality, relevant content. By thinking like an online searcher, instead of a marketer, you’ll quickly learn how to write seo articles that provide value and get people to your visit your website.  

What is SEO and How it Works

Before we jump into how to write for SEO, let’s talk about the basics. SEO in marketing terms stands for Search Engine Optimization. A search engine is essentially an “answer machine”. When someone visits a search engine online, they’re typically looking for three things: (1) an answer to a question, (2) a solution to a problem, or (3) a piece of information. The user will then string words or phrases together to ask a question (often called “the query”) and enter it into a search engine.

Next, the searcher will browse through a results page for the closest match to their query. After clicking on a result, users scan for a solution or follow a link (to a different webpage) to find a solution. If the question isn’t answered or the solution isn’t presented right away, users will return to the search results and browse for different links. Oftentimes, people will try a new search with refinements to their original query to make results more specific.

The most common search engines are, Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask. As you’d expect, Google dominates the search engine market in the U.S., with 64 percent of users and over 3.5 billion searches per day.

How Relevance & Popularity Impact Search Engine Ranking

So how do search engines decide which web pages should be at the top of a results page? Simply put, search engines “crawl” the contents of a web page and rank based on relevance and popularity. In other words, they track what people do or how they interact with your page(s): i.e. what pages they spend time on, react to, comment on, and link to. Your content must not only be relevant to the query, it must also be shared and talked about.

Writing for Search Engine Optimization

Companies and individuals spend thousands of dollars on building a website with quality content, visually captivating images, easy navigation, etc., anything to stand-out from their competitors. So why is SEO so important in digital marketing? Imagine investing all this money to build the perfect website and no one ever sees it or uses it. Without SEO, a website won’t show up on search engines. It’s that simple.

Effective marketers should understand the abilities and limitations of a search engine if they want their website to rank on a results page. Think of it like having a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak your language. If I’m speaking English to someone who only speaks Mandarin, am I confident that they are understanding and digesting what I’m trying to say? Obviously not! Writing content for SEO is essentially, building, formatting and annotating your website in a way search engines can read and understand.

Websites are constantly competing for attention and higher rankings in search engines. If SEO is done correctly, your website will undoubtedly get more traffic and visibility.

SEO vs PPC

Oh great, another acronym!? The term SEO often goes hand-in-hand with PPC (Pay-Per-Click) in marketing. The big difference between SEO and PPC is that one is free and one is not.

PPC are the ads that appear at the top of a results page, above the organic listings (SEO). Companies can bid on keywords to have a link to their website show up at the top of a search engine results page. If a consumer clicks on a sponsored link or ad, it costs the company a varying amount of money, based on keyword value, i.e. how many others are trying to target this keyword. In short, paying for placement.

SEO traffic is organic (FREE) website visitors, ranked according to relevance and popularity and shows up below the paid ads on search engines.

While many businesses integrate both SEO and PPC into their digital marketing strategy, data indicates that people choose organic search results over paid.

Now that we have a general understanding of SEO and how it works, let’s walk through a step-by-step guide of how to write SEO articles.

Step 1: Start with Creating an Outline

What is the main topic of your article? What topics is the article discussing? Brainstorm and outline all the topics you want to cover in your article.

Remember, the longer the content, the more value to readers, the lower your bounce rate (the number of one-page visits to your website). An article should be around 1500+ words, ideally over 2,000. More on that later.

Step 2: Get Your Keyword Research On

Once you’ve outlined your topics, it’s time to get your research on. We don’t just want visitors to our website, we want the right kind of visitors. By doing keyword research, we are able to see exactly what people are searching for and how many people have searched for it. This research can predict shifts in demand, changing market conditions, services and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In other words, understanding consumer motivations. It’s much more important to match the intent of the searcher as opposed to matching their exact keywords. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your content by writing an article packed with keywords. Instead, focus on the intent of the searcher and use keywords that improve the quality and relevance of the article.

There are two types of keywords, broad keywords and long-tail keywords, which we’ll break down next.

Understanding Broad Keywords & Long-Tail Keywords

Broad keywords are shorter, 2-3 words, and target a larger audience.

Long-tail keywords are longer variations that include the broad keyword. We want to choose the longest keywords possible that include a high-trafficked broad keyword. Long-tail keywords usually convert better than broad keywords, because consumers are likely further along in the buying process. The more specific, the greater chance a person searching is ready to buy or make some sort of move forward.

Example: If someone searches “varicose veins,” they’re likely looking to learn more about varicose veins. The question we have to ask ourselves is why? Do they have varicose veins?  Are they worried they may have them, or that they may one day have them? Does someone in their family have them? The list goes on. If you optimize a piece of content for this broad term alone, it’s difficult to provide a proper solution…

On the other hand… if someone searches “varicose vein treatment options,” it’s much more clear.

Using a keyword research tool (we use Moz Keyword Planner) and Google Related Searches, identify keywords people are searching related to the topics you want to discuss in the article.

Steps to do this:

  1. Google search the primary topic of the article. i.e.: “How to Write an SEO article” and check out the related searches at the bottom of the page.2
  2. Choose 2-3 of the related Google search queries and determine which has the highest monthly search volume using Moz Keyword Planner.

Become a Searcher Yourself

Test the term or phrase in Google and see which websites are ranking. This competitive research will give great insight into how difficult it will be to rank for the keyword you are targeting. If a search results page shows lots of paid advertisements at the top, this means it’s a high-value keyword because it has a high conversion rate.

Step 3: Determine Your Target Keywords

After performing keyword research and determining which 2-3 have the highest monthly search volume, it’s time to determine which keywords we want to target. Using this article as an example, I’ve listed the broad and long-tail keywords I want to target.

Target Broad Keyword(s)*: search engine optimization (11.5k-30.3k), SEO articles (Monthly Search Volume: 201-500), SEO writing (851-1.7k), what is SEO writing (851-1.7k), what is SEO marketing (501-850), search engine optimization seo (11-50), optimizing SEO (101-200)

Target Long-Tail Keyword(s)*: how to write SEO articles (11-50), SEO article writing, (11-50), SEO content writing tips (0-10), how to write for seo (11-50), SEO writing basics (11-50), writing content for SEO (11-50), writing for search engine optimization (0-10), how does search engine optimization work (11-50), what is SEO traffic (0-10), how to do seo (501-850), optimizing search engine results (0-10)

Step 4: Choose a Title with a Punch

Use a free online headline analyzer (we like Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer) to determine the best possible title for the article. Make sure to include your target long-tail keywords in the title. Ideally, you’d include the longest variation, ie: “how to write SEO articles”. But if your long-tail keywords don’t make the best and most engaging title, you can put it in the sub-title instead. I’ll also put it in the URL (more on that later).

Goal: aim for a score of 65 or higher and 🙂 sentiment score.

When in doubt, questions always make great titles. Adding a year at the end also makes them more specific. You can also get good ideas for titles by looking at titles of competitor articles ranking for the same keywords.

Step 5: Optimize Your Content for SEO

Update your outline based on keyword research, incorporating long-tail keywords into the title and subtitles, H2 headings and H3 headings, where appropriate. Make sure your keywords are in important locations so that search engines can easily read and see that your page is relevant to the searchers query. Don’t spend too much time trying to include certain keyword phrases that may not fit or make sense. Searchers will quickly spot a keyword heavy article, decreasing the credibility of your content, and likely increasing bounce rate.

More On-Page SEO Optimization

Title tag, body content, headlines (H1, H2, etc.), URL, meta description, & IMG alt attribute all contribute to SEO rankings. A meta description is a tag that is a short description of the page’s content. This description is a short snippet (or summary) that will be displayed below your link on the search results page. IMG alt attribute is the title of a picture or graphic that search engines can read.  Make sure to use your long-tail keyword as the title of a picture or graphic. All on-page optimization should be consistent throughout your article.

Step 6: Identify Keyword Competitors

Identify the top 5 keyword competitors and update the outline to incorporate sections that your article might be missing. The primary goal is to make sure your article is the most comprehensive article on the internet for the keywords we’re targeting.

How to Find Competitors:

  1. Go to Moz Keyword Planner
  2. Search for your target longtail keyword, in this case “rent to own pros and cons.”
  3. Look at top five results under Serp Analysis on the right hand side (you’ll have to click “see full analysis” to see all five).

Step 7: Write an SEO Optimized Summary

Add a summary section at the beginning of the article. Make sure to include your longest keyword variation in this summary.

Step 8: Recheck Your Keywords

People are searching online related to you target keyword. Use Moz Keyword Planner and sort results by “are questions.” If there are additional questions we haven’t answered in the article yet, consider adding an FAQ section.

More SEO Content Writing Tips

Links! The streets between pages. Writing to get other websites to link from their page to yours (by coming up with high-quality content), will boost your popularity and thus, improve your ranking.

TIP: The earliest link on the home page ranks first.

The Anatomy of a URL

URL’s are addresses for documents on the web. Each document (web page, JPG, PDF, etc.), is unique. How you choose to structure a URL or link is highly valuable from a search perspective as this binds all pages together. A good rule of thumb is to take a users perspective. For instance, is the URL readable to humans and does it contain at least an idea of the content of the page? Using your long-tail keyword in the URL is hugely important (use hyphens to separate words as all web browsers can read hyphens). Generally, the shorter the better.

Know the Value of Your Keywords

Is it Relevant? Will the searcher find what they’re looking for? Will this traffic produce financial results?

Moz does a good job explaining how to determine the value of a keyword. “For example, assume your search ad generated 5,000 impressions in one day, of which 100 visitors have come to your site, and three have converted for a total profit (not revenue!) of $300. In this case, a single visitor for that keyword is worth $3 to your business. Those 5,000 impressions in 24 hours could generate a click-through rate of between 18-36% with a #1 ranking (see the Slingshot SEO study for more on potential click-through rates), which would mean 900-1800 visits per day, at $3 each, or between 1 and 2 million dollars per year.”

How Do I Know if My SEO Article is Working?

If people are interacting with your website, clicking links, and visiting different pages on your site, this indicates that you’re doing something right. Crafting a page with quality content including relevant images, multimedia and links, could be exactly what the searcher is looking for. In the end, that’s the goal. Note: Securing organic rankings will not happen overnight! Once you’ve written a high quality piece of content you may start to see first page rankings for your target long-tail keywords (ie: how to write an SEO article outline) in a couple of weeks, but it can take 3-6 months to rank for more competitive broad terms (ie: SEO article outline).

How is Social Media Ranked?

We’re still not entirely sure how search engines rank social media interactions. We do know that it’s treated differently than links and is becoming more and more important and powerful.

User Experience (UX) Matters!

User Experience (UX) matters MORE THAN EVER!  This is due to engagement metrics. The better the UX, the less searchers use the back button and choose a different result. Making a website that is easy to navigate, read and understand, increases engagement metrics and decreases bounce rate.

How to Write SEO Articles: Google Webmaster Guidelines for SEO Content

General guidelines that Google recommends in order to find, index and rank your website for SEO optimization include the following:

Basic Principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not search engines
  • Don’t deceive your users
  • Avoid tricks to improve search rankings
  • Consider what makes your website stand out from others in your field

Techniques to Avoid

  • Auto-generated content
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Hidden text or links
  • Irrelevant keywords to improve ranking

How to Write SEO Articles: Bing Webmaster Guidelines for SEO Content

For better SEO rankings using Bing, general guidelines Microsoft recommends include the following:

  • An easy-to-read, keyword-rich URL structure
  • Create new, keyword-rich content that matches what users are searching for
  • Double check content is not buried inside rich media like, Adobe Flash Player, JavaScript, etc.
  • If you want your URL or company name indexed, don’t put that text inside images

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better understanding of how to write an SEO article and how it impacts traffic to your website. As you write and optimize your content, remember to always keep in mind the searchers perspective. Ask yourself, how can I write the best, most comprehensive article on the web? By following the simple steps in this article, you’ll be well on your way to increasing website traffic and your organic search presence.

To learn about Pay-Per-Click or PPC, check out my recent article on “How to Structure You PPC Campaigns“.