SEO Content Writing – How to Create Copy That Ranks

Equally as important to the keywords you research before writing your posts and the backlinks that build it’s authority is the structure and formatting of the words and the way you format them.  Quality content isn’t just something that creates conversions and causes reactions, it is also properly designed for the reader and the search engines, structured to be absorbed as well as indexed and complements the website regardless of the page it’s on.

Below you’ll find how to format and structure when doing your SEO content writing as well as the little nuances that do make a difference in your ability to have a page rank in the search engines, gain exposure and most importantly, convert into revenue and leads for your business or blog.

Here are the sections so you can more easily navigate the post.

  • What is relevant wording that doesn’t compete
  • How to structure for featured snippets and UX
  • Ensuring it is appropriate for SEO, Social Media & UX
    • Title tags
    • OG, Twitter, Pinterest
    • Browsers
  • Tone and Purpose By Page Type
    • Category
    • Product
    • Blog post
    • Homepage
    • About us
    • Locations
  • Avoiding Building Competing Content

seo content writing

How to Create Relevant Content Based on Topics

Just because two things mean the same for us as humans does not mean they are the same for the search engines.  A good example are squat exercises and booty workouts.  Both have search volume and in our minds are similar, but they are incredibly different for a robot or spider.

A piece of content about squat exercises will probably feature examples that also work out your booty and feature instructions of how to do the specific exercise movements.  That’s also what Google shows when you search for it.  Butt workouts on the other hand generate more product oriented terms like videos, routines and systems.  This is because the potential intent of the query is different, even though they can workout the same body part.

If you do keyword research you’ll see that “butt” is a good modifier for squat exercises, but the two are not synonymous for SEO purposes and that’s where the confusion sets in.  Let’s jump in deeper with some examples of why butt is a modifier and why a post about squats should not and probably will not rank for booty workout terms.

  • Exercise is a specific movement or series of movements and workouts are routines and a full series of exercises and are all inclusive with multiple styles.
  • Squats can workout your butt, but there are multiple types of exercises that can create the desired goal of a more toned dariere.  The more inclusive series of exercises which can include kickbacks, squats and extensions will be a better resource and better to optimize for the workout terms.  Each section on the other hand could be optimized for exercises for a better booty with the exercise being the core part.
  • If your post is solely and only about squats, then there is no reason to show it for butt terms since it is not the best solution out there.  However, if butt is a modifier for the squats like squat exercises for a better butt, then this post is 100% relevant and has a better chance at showing up.

That is the difference on relevance and what you should think about when doing content writing for SEO.  Think about how you can create the most relevant and topically related piece that solves a problem, provides a great user experience and has the right and most relevant modifiers.

How to do SEO Content Writing For Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are the answer boxes and rich media at the top of the search results.  It could be a list, a video, a chart or other items.  These are currently being used for voice search and for desktop or mobile results.  The best part about them is that they aren’t married to the top position or even the same site.

Many of these featured results can have an image from one site and the link to another giving both the access to traffic.  I’ve seen some where the site that has the snippet is in position 7 or lower.  Getting the answer box is all about formatting and giving the best UX.  Here are some of the ways I’ve gotten different featured snippets based on the query and content.

Image Snippets:

If you look at numerous results, the images are almost always landscape and not portrait.  Start by modifying your images so that they fit horizontally.  Now look at the name and alt tag on the image (description too).  Make sure it matches the section of the website it appears in, that it complements the H tag and that it matches the search query that it is supposed to show up for.  Last, do proper image optimization.  This is another topic altogether.  The same goes for videos you want to rank, although YouTube optimization is also a great way to do this.

List Search Results:

From recipes to crafts, survival queries, gift guides, ideas and anything else that involves steps or organization, you’ll see lists showing up in answer boxes.  The nice part about a list result is that it is either a bullet list or a numbered list (OL or UL) and is done through basic HTML.  The trick is to make sure you have it properly labeled and you’re using the right one.

If it is a step-by-step guide and you must follow the order, a numbered list is ideal.  If it is what you need in order to do something or ideas, then an unordered or bullet list is perfect.  Think about it this way.

In a recipe post you need to show ingredients and instructions.  The ingredients do not have to be in any order but the instructions do.  Ingredients go in a UL or unordered bullet list while the instructions go in an ordered list.

As a bonus tip, if you’re list does get the ranking and you have more bullets than there is space, it may encourage the user to click through to your site for the full one.  Just don’t stuff it to generate that type of result.  If you do then you may no longer provide the best possible solution and you could potentially lose the ranking.

Charts and Tables:

If there are multiple options per selection, if you have comparisons or other types of queries with more than one outcome, you’ve probably seen a table or chart show up.  This is also very easy to get an answer box for.  Simply create it using basic HTML and label it properly.  If your answer and chart is done well, in the proper position and gives a great solution, it may get the featured snippet.

How to Write Title Tags for SEO, Social Media and Users

Title tags aren’t only a ranking signal for search engines, they are used as bookmarks and navigation, they impact how algorithms evaluate your web pages (not website) and are an actual impression on if a potential reader or customer should or should not engage with you.  Having them as part of your SEO content writing strategy isn’t as simple as coming up with a catchy and branded phrase, it is developing something that is clear, helpful and meets algorithmic needs.  Let me explain by channel and type of title tag.

Writing Meta Titles

Also known as a title tag, these are used as ranking signals by search engines, are shown in browsers on the back and forward buttons by and as the wording for a bookmarked page.  Meta titles should contain the keywords you want to rank for, but more importantly should explain what the specific page is about.

If someone is going through your site and comparing articles, your meta title should let them know exactly which page it is and not be too similar.  Search engines also need the same clarity.  That is why it is important you not only include the relevant keywords you want to show up for, but you also avoid fun plays on words and branding items, and instead explain clearly and in plain english what the person will find if they click on the title tag so they can go to this specific page instead of another.

OG, Twitter, Pinterest

Title tags and SEO content writing do not only impact search results, they impact your social media and whether you can go viral, gain exposure or just collapse.  Google and Bing’s algorithms look for very different things than Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other networks.  For example, Facebook looks to penalize click bait (think the 9 best ways too….) while Google is probably ok with numbers.  That is why it’s important to check and make sure your website does not auto fill the meta titles for social media and other algorithms.

  • Facebook – The title tag here is called open graph.  Make sure it is up to Facebook standards and has no click bait, misleading or scammy/spammy wording.
  • Rich Pins – Pinterest doesn’t mind numbers, in fact I’ve seen sites get rewarded for using them as it is an algorithm designed to help people find ideas and baited content…but the content still has to be quality.
  • Twitter cards – Do what works for you.  Just make sure it fits within Twitter’s character counts and you can include hash tags in the title tag.  That’s something that not many people do.  It is case by case, but if you can get the right hash tags to be shared automatically, and that is part of how people use Twitter, why wouldn’t you?
  • Browsers – as someone is clicking back and forth or bookmarking the page, all they see is the meta title.  If your meta title doesn’t change based on the page or is filled with fun branded terms, the person will not know how to find the page they are looking to return to and will just leave.  This happens more than you think so fix it immediately if you want to provide a good user experience, and that is what SEO content writing is all about…creating a good user experience.

What is the Right Tone and Purpose By Page Type

Knowing how to write for each type of page is equally as important as the keywords on it, and is one of the most common errors I find when auditing a website.  Unless it is an about page, you should make it about the end user on the page and not about yourself.  Here’s an example if you’re a hair salon or day spa.

Instead of saying:  (This is an example of bad copy)

We’re here to make you look and feel amazing.  With more than 20 years of experience, our team of stylists, masseuses and estheticians work hard to keep you happy, because we know that when you’re happy you’ll come back and also refer a friend.  That’s why we work to make sure you always leave feeling good, happy and confident.

Say:

From the moment you walk in until the moment you leave, your needs are what matter.  As you sit down to have your hair cut, the stylist will begin by listening to what you want and then walk you through the process to give you a look that makes you feel confident and great.  If you’re looking for a facial or a massage, no problem, just let the attendant know what you want and he or she will ensure you have the experience that helps you glow and leave feeling amazing.  Your happiness is what matters and that’s what we aim for.

The first option is what you normally see.  It’s called “we, we” syndrome and only talks about the salon and benefits to the owner.  The same goes for a retailer “Our XYZ is the best and nobody can beat our prices”.  The second one isn’t the best writing (it’s late at night right now and I’m tired), but it is all about the potential customer and the benefits to them.  That is the difference and is what can help to drive the extra conversions.  It also has natural tie ins for internal links which can help to deduplicate content and help pages rank.

Now that you have an idea on how to avoid “we, we” syndrome, it’s time to go over what to consider with your SEO content writing by page type.

  • Category – Categories are a complete set of everything and should be aimed at helping the person to narrow down their search, learn to use the page, answer generic questions about the product category and not specific products.  It should also encourage clicking around the filters and products to find the right one while getting the person excited to shop and through to a product page.
  • Product – these pages should start by getting the person ready to shop immediately.  If there is room above the fold, address the biggest concerns or stopping points quickly and easily.  Later on the page answer specifics about the product, if it’s compatible with A, B and C or if it can or cannot be used to do X, Y and Z.
  • Blog post – these are used to answer questions, work as link bait and to inform people within your niche.  They should be relevant to your core products or services and be appealing to your audience.  They don’t have to be specifically about your products every time, but they do have to be relevant to your business overall.  You can also use them for a long game by writing content appealing to a potential customer, even if they aren’t ready to use you for another year.  That’s why remarketing pixels and creating audiences are awesome and blog posts are one of the best ways to build them.
  • Homepages – This is the face of your company or store.  It should be inclusive of everything and give a quick, clean and easy way to find the exact category, product or section the visitor needs.
  • About us – The one time you can have “we, we” syndrome is on the about us page, mostly because it is about you.  Yes, you could avoid “we, we”, but you don’t really need to since the person is expecting bios and bragging.
  • Locations – If someone is looking to find you, make sure you don’t ramble on, they are probably ready to engage.  Give them the easiest way to find you whether it is an interactive map, a phone number to call or a fast form that loads and doesn’t have too many fields.  As a bonus, you may want to include the specific location’s hours on these pages and if you have a closeby location opened earlier or later, include that too.

What is Competing Content and How to Avoid It

Competing content is when you have two pages that are too similar so Google and other search engines cannot tell what they are about, or which to show for what phrases.  Instead of showing them both, they devalue both until you fix it, but you have to detect it first.

Think about a store that sells the same tshirt in multiple colors.  A natural instinct is to modify the text on each color, but that isn’t always feasible which is why we have ways to deduplicate competing copy using internal links, canonical tags and meta robots.  Here’s another example.

Suppose you sell toys.  You have a category for Star Wars toys which is perfect.  It is all encompassing for all toys from Star Wars, but then you see there is also a search volume for plush toys, collectibles, action figures, light sabers and other items.  Often times I see the content writer creating titles and H tags that say Star Wars Toys again, but these sub-categories and product pages are not Star Wars toys, they are modified versions.

“Light Sabers from Star Wars”, “Star Wars Plush Toys” or “Star Wars Action Figures & Collectibles” make better options.  Those are what these sub categories are actually about and they complement, not compete with the main category.  The other issue I come across is that as someone is writing an article about collectibles or action figures in general, they’ll mention “Star Wars toys” in it and link to the Star Wars action figures page.  This is also incorrect and very common with SEO content writing.

Search Engines take the words you build internal links off of serious.  If the phrase is “Star Wars toys” then it should always and only link to the main category.  If it is exactly “Star Wars action figures” then it should link to the action figures sub-category page and not too an action figures main page.  There is no room for error here if you want to rank and not end up with competing copy.

SEO content writing isn’t tricky, it is all about remembering what the goal of the page is, talking about the benefits to the end user and properly formatting the page to give the best possible user experience.  That could mean anything from reassuring you are the right choice to answering common questions and addressing concerns.  Just don’t keyword stuff or overdo it, if you do you may find yourself not ranking well or getting a devaluation or penalty.

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