I have been blogging for quite a while now. And, after attempting to create blogs only to realize that no one’s reading it, I’ve gone through a complete change in my approach.
In order to create a loyal fanbase, you have to figure out a way to reach out to the right audience. And in order to get in front of the right audience, you need to figure out what they’re searching for on Google.
That’s where SEO copywriting comes into the frame.
So, this post is for those who want to write optimized content for search engines, so that the posts can rank higher & better serve the users.
Quick note: This post doesn’t contain any hack that will put your content at the top soon after you apply it. I will share exact techniques to be eligible to rank higher.
Without further delay, let’s get started.
Understanding how search engines work
I have explained this in detail, but to save some time, here’s a brief.
The job of a search engine begins even before you search for anything. There’s an element, web crawler that continuously keeps crawling all the links on the web.
This is to collect as much of information as possible and understand the information served on the webpages.
The collected information is stored on the database called knowledge base. The only job of this KB is to organise similar content so that the whole bunch can be served when required.
Next is the algorithm that does the job of ranking the information fetched from the KB. When you search for something on Google, the information is fetched from the KB & the algorithm ranks it based on over 200 ranking factors.
Without getting into the details of how the algorithm work, I’ll simply summarize it’s working as the algorithm is designed to rank the most relevant content on the top.
By relevance, the algorithm considers the search intent into consideration along with several other factors.
The search algorithm is way more complicated than I have made it sound. But as beginners, this much is enough for you to know. As you continue to grow, you will realize more & more about the algorithm.
With that said, let me share the ingredients required to write an SEO friendly.
Start creating SEO friendly content for your blog
The most elementary requirement to create search engine friendly content, is understanding the need to create the post.
The trick is to find the problem that the target audience is facing & tracking back to possible solution, either from experience or researching.
Speaking of research, it’s the second most important element of creating content that solves the problem.
Once you have a post that solves the problem, the users will engage with it, in form of sharing it on social media, comments or simply spending time on the page.
This indicates to the algorithm that your page is being helpful & it will gradually rank higher & higher.
So, the best place to start is to begin with researching.
By researching, I also mean the topics & then the solutions for it, if you don’t already know.
It’s important to understand that you cannot know everything. So throw you ego into the dustbin & research for topics that your target audience is searching for.
On the other hand, you might have topics ready but you may or may not have the probable solutions.
Either way, Here’s how to research for SEO friendly content:
- Check the forums like Quora & Reddit where people post real questions. The trick is to find topics & not focus too much on keywords since the topics will have keywords by default. You can also use SEMrush, Ahrefs, SERPstat, Moz, Google Trends & Ubersuggest for more insights on keywords.
- Think in terms of search intent. Ask yourself, why would someone search for something you’re going to blog about. Create a scenario & persona around the search term. This helps you figure out the topics you can cover in order to solve their problem(s).
- Simply lookup for the search result that is already ranking and find gaps in the existing post. As part of this exercise, the tricks are to avoid covering what’s already there & writing what’s not served already.
- Search for as many questions as you can find so that you can address them in your blog post. There’s this amazing search engine feature by the name, FAQ schema, which is a part of the structured data of the Google search engine. These features are highlighted in the SERPs as it helps the end-users to.
Best practices to write SEO friendly content
Writing a search engine friendly blog is more of a practice than it’s a theoretical knowledge.
There’s writing, and then there’s SEO writing that actually moves the needle for you. The trick is to abide by these best practices while you naturally write your content in continuous flow, like I’m creating this one, enjoying the monsoon amidst the pandemic of 2020 (it will be a great walk down the memory lane if you’re reading this after 2020).
Here are the best practices that have become the DNA of my writing over the years. I want you to have this as your DNA for the rest of your life.
- Understand the ranking factors: Though there are over 200 ranking factors, you don’t have to worry about all the 200. There are only a handful of ranking factors that are primary & rest all are subjective to the primary ones. Here are the top 10 ranking factors that you should care about.
- LSI keywords: LSI keywords are related keywords that make your content more thorough. Think of it this way, when you write about ‘how to make a cup of coffee’, you just can’t write coffee, little more coffee & some more coffee. You must drill down to types of coffee machines, coffee beans, types of coffees you can make, the proportion of the ingredients to make various flavors of coffee & more. That’s how related keywords work.
- Keyword optimization: For a very long part of my career, I’ve done this very wrong. I begin with keywords & stick with it until the end of the post. This still works but only if you have a contextual approach. I have changed my approach recently. I open-heartedly write whatever my experience says & let the search engines rank my content. Once my content ranks, I get the impressions data which I can optimize. Impressions are a number of times my blogs get indexed irrespective of the rank. That’s what I need to optimize.
- Optimize the meta tags: The title tag & description tags are collectively called the meta tags. The title tag is what search engines see & description is what’s shown on the SERPs to the end-users which further explains them about the post. Your job is to make it as helpful & compelling as possible. Behold! Don’t stuff it with keywords, & a clickbait is a strict no-no. Furthermore, as per the psychology of numbers, you can use odd numbers in the headings.
- Focus on search intent: As I have mentioned above, search intent is the ‘why’ part of the searcher. Thankfully, there are no tools for coming up with the search intent. I’m glad the blogger must come up with the search intent themselves, this keeps the game real & it’s a great leveler.
- Optimize your blog posts for structured data: Structured data is how the search engine makes the SERPs more presentable. There are a ton of search gallery elements for structured data, which you can find here.
- Optimize for featured snippets: Featured snippets or answer box is one of the most engaging features that helps the users find answers directly in the SERPs. Though some users have reported having noticed a drop in organic traffic, there’s always a workaround. If your pages are ranking for featured snippets, a small percentage of the users would click to know more & since you’re at the top, your pages are going to get all the traffic.
Here are some tips to race for featured snippets:
- Readable fonts, 16pt suggested
- Target keywords in heading
- Bullet points
- Smaller paragraphs
- Use eye-catchy media
- Italicize & bold to emphasize
- Fill the gaps & create better content: There’s a technique coined by Briann Dean, founder of backlinko by the name SkyScraper technique. In this technique, the idea is to find the gaps in existing content that are ranking on page #1 of Google. Then you need to build on top of that and get organic links to your page.
- Optimize internal & external links: Links are one of the most misunderstood concepts. You must interlink the new pages in the top-performing posts so that the crawler can crawl it & then index it. For external links, there should be an etiquette that you must not do-follow all links as you will losing the crawl budget or the SEO authority.
- Have strong on-page SEO: On-page SEO is useful for keeping your blogs SEO friendly. Here are some of the best practices that will help you. Here’s a definitive guide that will help you up the game of On-Page SEO. To save your time, here are some pointers you can keep handy for ease of use.
- Site speed
- Target long-tail keyword
- Image optimization
- 301 Redirects only
- Anchor text optimization
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Avoid black hat SEO
- Avoid duplicate content
- Avoid thin content
- Avoid auto-generated content
- Have great navigation & site structure: Navigation comes as a part of user-experience & SEO. Linking to the most important content (pillar content) in the menu helps the user get started with your blog. Furthermore, the crawler will link to the posts inside the pillar content. Also, it’s important to have a decent site structure which makes it easier for the user to navigate & use your blog.
- Repurpose your content on social media: Relying just on search engines is a huge mistake. Repurpose your content on social media so that the new users also show up on your blog & convert. Just sharing the posts on social media doesn’t count as repurposing. One must actually reframe the content with a new context that resonates with the audience on the social platforms.
- Forget about keywords & focus on SEO: Once you start rolling with your content, it’s important to focus on the search engine aspect of your post. Just focusing on keywords will do nothing more than stuff more keywords in the blog post.
- Take a break & come with a new pair of eyes: Editing a proof is as useful as writing is. Especially when you’re writing in a flow, it’s easier for you & I to commit spelling & grammatical mistakes. I use Grammarly to keep my grammar & spelling in check. Though I have it, I’m making it a habit to have a fresh look the next day I write my blogs. I’ve personally found that it not only eliminates the bias of not seeing my own mistake, but it also helps me get ready for the day. I have no idea how this works, but by beginning my day by editing my content, I’m pumped up for the rest of the day.
These were some of the most helpful techniques for improving the game of On-page SEO & overall SEO.
However, you can make the workflow even more fluent if you take help of tools.
Let me share some tools I use in daily blogging life.
Helpful tools to optimize your blog pages for search engines
- Google trends: I use trends to find trending stories in my target geography. I decide on my URLs of posts based on my research on trends.
- Answer the public: This tool spits out questions people are searching online. Simply enter the target keywords & you will have questions & their variations in a matter of seconds.
- Ubersuggest: I’ve been using this tool since its earliest days. The tool is a miniature version of premium tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz & Serpstat.
- Canva: Create stunning graphics for your blog at absolutely no cost. Though the assets you get for free are limited, its enough to get started with.
- Quora & Reddit: I used it for topic research & repurposing content. It might a platform, but to me, it’s a tool.
- Yoast SEO: A WordPress plugin for creating a custom title for SERPs, managing SEO score at the of writing the post.
- Ahrefs keyword generator: Generate keyword ideas as relevant keyword is an important ingredient for an SEO-friendly post. This free tool can show you 100 keywords related to the seed term you enter.
- Keyworddit: If you’ve got inspired by my idea of using Reddit for topic research, here’s a tool that will help you get keywords in specific subreddits. You just have to enter the name of subreddit & you have access to all the trending keywords in the subreddit.
- LSI Graph: LSI Graph helps you figure out the related keywords that can help you cover potentially important topics.
- Alsoasked.com: This tool fetches questions from People also asked boxes. It can help with topic research without getting tangled in SERPs looking for that.
Here’s an example of what the tool can do:
Frequently asked questions
SEO is search engine optimization & the content is you create to competing for the top position in the SERPs.
SEO is important to get free organic traffic from search engines. The way search engines are evolving, it is more important than ever to focus on SEO. More & more people are beginning their online experience from search engines, & therefore this is the opportunity to sell your product/services.
1. Product pages
2. Blog posts
7. Infographic posts
8. Slideshows (Slideshare)
9. Glossaries &
10. Discount pages
There’s isn’t any ideal length per se, but studies have found that longer content tend to rank higher. This doesn’t mean you stuff all irrelevant content to fill up the space. Those posts are ranking just because it covers a lot of ground in terms of context.
Search intent is the soul of the search. The reason behind the searcher finding a solution on Google. It is figuring out the whole scenario so that you can cover that as part of solution.
It’s the percentage of target keyword present in the body of your blog post. Ideally, I used to keep it anywhere between 1-2%. The reason is I used to cover related keywords & questions to cover the topic & be contextual. Now that I don’t focus on keywords anymore, I keep it simple by mentioning the target keywords only in a couple of headings, that too if it’s natural.
If you already have a blog or planning to start a blog, these practices are extremely important to live by.
I’ve restricted myself to have only the most important aspect covered in this SEO copywriting guide, as you will be figuring it out as you move along with the blogging journey.
For now, you can start with simple blog that follow the textbook & experiment along the way. This guide is handy for those who’re just starting out & have no idea about the basic practices for creating content that search engines can understand.
With that said, I request you to share this post on your social network & with anyone who has just started out as a blogger. It will help build their foundation & you will get the chance to lend a helping hand.
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