🎨

Spring Promo30% OFF Surfer plans & AI bundles until April 24th. Celebrate the release of Auto-Optimize and Internal Linking! 🎉 Grab the discount and take your Content Score from meh to ah-ma-zing in a single click. ✨

Save with Surfer

10 Actionable SEO Content Writing Tips To Rank Higher

In a crowded landscape where everybody is a content writer and has access to AI tools, writing high-quality content for readers isn't as much of an effort as it used to be. Even so, 91 percent of online content does not receive any search traffic.

To really stand out, your content writing must also appeal to search engines. And that requires writing specifically for search engines. 

What you will learn

  • How SEO writing content differs and its role in content optimization
  • How to write content that appeals to both search engines and readers
  • Examples of companies who create SEO content well

What is SEO content writing?

SEO content writing is the practice of writing content in a way that makes it easier for search engines to understand the context and meaning of your page's content. Writing in this manner can help your blog posts rank higher in the SERPs and drive traffic to them while also providing valuable information to readers.

SEO writing includes using relevant keywords, internal and external links, and on-page SEO without sacrificing readability or quality. Remember, while search engines rank your content, it will still be read by human readers.  

By combining SEO best practices with persuasive writing, SEO content writers can create content that attracts more website visitors and encourages them to take action, such as subscribing to a newsletter or making a purchase.

Take our article on submitting your website to search engines, for example. The search volume for our target keyword is about 480 monthly searches divided by all the search results.

But because we used SEO writing principles in our content, it now ranks for several other keywords and brought in 45% of that figure because we're bringing in traffic for related search queries that we may have missed otherwise.

Search results are crowded, regardless of how niche you think your industry is. WordPress users alone produce about 70 million new posts each month.

And an estimated 70% of people don't scroll past the first page of Google. SEO content writing can help put your pages on the first page of search engines, where people will actually read them.

SEO content writing basics from an expert

Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR, SEO researcher and consultant, has some actionable techniques for SEO content writers. In summary,

  • Front load your keywords in title tags
  • Demonstrate to the reader that they are in the right place immediately and satisfy search intent in your content
  • Organize your content in a logical hierarchy. Each section should naturally lead to the next
  • Focus on including detailed information, attributes, and facts that your topic should contain within the context of your article
  • Keep your sentences simple and easy to comprehend for search engines. Answer questions directly in as little sentences as possible 
  • It isn't enough for your content to be well written. You must cover areas that other competing pages have not, and provide new original information  
  • Aim to exceed your competitor's topical coverage for the same subject. This means that in the eyes of a search engine, your website is deemed to cover the same topics in greater depth
  • Content should be as short as possible but as long as necessary

SEO content writing examples

Here are some examples of implementing effective SEO content writing best practices:

Pick up Limes

Pick up Limes is a plant based blog that caters to the vegan and vegetarian community via content that is written for those interested in plant based nutrition. Everything from their aesthetic to topic choices are carefully curated for a specific type of audience.

NerdWallet

The best student credit cards page on NerdWallet is a good example of how you can cement your position in the search engine rankings by keeping your articles frequently updated with the latest information.

Wix

Wix' ecommerce website security article mixes educational content while natively showcasing Wix products as a convenient solution to their readers' problems.

Verywell Fit

Verywell Fit features content around health and nutrition, complete with author bios and medical reviewers to demonstrate E-E-A-T principles (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust) of their content.

10 guidelines for SEO content writing

Think of SEO content writing guidelines as things you can include in your content to help search engines understand it better without sacrificing quality for readers. Implementing these can move your blog posts to the first page of search rankings where your users can find you. 

Here are 10 content writing tips for SEO. 

1. Research and understand your audience

To write great content, you have to know whom you're writing for. Understand who your readers are and become acquainted with the topics they discuss and the terminology they use.

This will help you use these terms in your content and communicate more effectively. In turn, your readers will appreciate being understood and reward you with trust and loyalty.

Google's stance on putting your reader first is pretty clear. 

You can do a few things to study your audience.

  • Create buyer personas that represent your target audience, based on market research and data from your existing customer base. These customer profiles can help you understand the demographics, preferences, and challenges of your readers, enabling you to write in a way that speaks directly to them.
  • You can also examine your website's and social media's analytics, as well as data from surveys to pick up on trends and preferences that give you a clearer picture of who your audience is and what they're looking for.
  • Speaking to your sales and support teams can reveal qualitative insights into customer buying journeys that you may not find in consumer reports and excel sheets. 

A well-defined target audience ensures that you begin on the right note by selecting appropriate keywords, topics, and content formats. 

2. Satisfy your keyword’s search intent

Successful content satisfies search intent. It's quite simple, really. Give users what they want, and they will respond positively. 

As Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Martin Splitt tell us,

“You have to have really good content. And that means you have to have content, that serves a purpose for the user.”

Your readers are scattered across various stages of the buyer's journey, which typically consists of four main phases: awareness, consideration, decision and advocacy. Each stage is characterized by different needs and intent. 

As an SEO content writer or manager, consider your keyword's search intent to align your content with the appropriate stage of the buyer's journey to meet search intent.

Informational intent

At this stage, users are just discovering that they have a problem or need. They are seeking general information, educational content, and potential solutions at a high level. This is the awareness stage.

Here is an example of informational search intent. 

Navigational intent

Users with navigational search intent are evaluating different options to address their needs or problems. They are interested in comparisons, reviews, and expert opinions. The user stage here is consideration.

The reader here is more solution-aware and is considering action. Buying bitcoin, for example.

Transactional or Commercial intent

At this point, users are ready to commit to a specific solution, product, or service. They are looking for detailed information, pricing, testimonials, or case studies. This stage is the decision stage and is supported by commercial pages. 

Search intent is crucial. 

If you create promotional content for users in the awareness stage, you may fail to address their need for information, instead leading to a poor user experience. This can tell search engines that your content isn't relevant, which can hurt your search rankings.

So how do you determine the search intent of a search query?

Good news, it’s right in front of you.

Let’s use the keyword “hire content writers" as an example. What can we see here?

All the pages ranking in the top 10 positions are characteristic of transactional search intent. They offer direct hiring services or show you platforms where you can hire. 

You can tell from these results that Google considers people searching for this query to have commercial intent. Therefore, your best chance to rank for “hire content writers” is to publish a direct response landing page that is optimized for search engines. 

Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to identifying search intent. 

 If you were instead considering creating a how to guide, this should be enough evidence not to. Google will not show your page because of misalignment in search intent and your content.

You can repeat this process for every keyword to determine what type of content you should write, to rank in the SERPs. Or use a keyword research tool like Surfer's that shows you hundreds of related keywords with search intent. 

It's also worth looking at your competitors' blog posts ranking on the first page, to see what they're like. Are they in depth walkthroughs, or short guides?

3. Include related keywords in your content

You can write the best article in history. It could be actionable, informative and engaging. 

But what's the point if your audience can't find it?

Conducting keyword research for your blog post is essential to identify the most relevant keywords and phrases that 

  • Google considers related entities and expects to see in your topic
  • your target audience uses when searching for information related to your topic
Search engines today consider related keywords, and variations to determine the relevance and quality of your content instead of relying solely on exact-match keywords.

Using these keywords in your content can signal subject context and depth to search engines and improve your chances of ranking higher in search results, attracting more organic traffic to your website.

You can conduct keyword research manually and identify semantically relevant keywords using these simple tips.

Google Autocomplete

As you enter your keyword into Google's search bar, it will suggest popular and relevant search terms based on user data, helping you discover additional keywords and phrases.

People Also Ask

The "People Also Ask" feature in Google search results displays a list of questions that users often ask about your topic. This can help you pick long-tail keywords and potential subtopics to cover in your content.

Related Searches

At the bottom of Google's SERPs, you will find a list of related searches. These suggestions can offer insight into other relevant keywords and user search patterns associated with your topic.

To instead, automate keyword research and look at a list of semantically relevant keywords you should include in your article, head to Surfer Content Editor.

  1. Type in your primary target keywords
  2. Click Create Content Editor

The right Terms panel will show you keywords for your topic, and how many times they should appear so you can focus on writing instead of keyword research. 

Know the SEO joke?

“An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”

Keyword stuffing, get it?

Follow the suggested optimal range for keyword placement to make sure you don't overoptimize and risk a Google penalty.

4. Add secondary keywords to your subheadings

You can make it easier for search engines to understand the structure and context of your web page by using related keywords and variations in your subheadings.

Along with your URL, search engines like Google assign greater weight to these areas on your page, and almost expect to see relevant keywords there. 

Surfer's Content Editor suggests examples of relevant headings that are used in content that's ranking well for your target keywords.

You can also use an outline generator that will insert subheadings for you.

Including related keywords in your H2s and H3s helps search engines better understand the focus, relevance, and organization of your content, which can lead to higher search rankings.

This article for example, is about SEO content writing guidelines, and so you will notice that our page's content is broken down into smaller headings that touch various aspects of writing for SEO content. 

  • What is SEO content writing?
  • SEO content writing basics
  • SEO content writing examples
  • 10 guidelines for SEO content writing

And so on. 

These include keyword variations that are semantically related to “SEO content writing.” And helps Google understand that this article is a helpful resource for “content marketing tips” and related queries. 

For example, if you're writing a blog post about "The Health Benefits of Yoga," you might use the following headings and subheadings with related keywords:

H1: The Health Benefits of Yoga (page title topic)

  • H2: X health benefits of Yoga
  • H3: Increased flexibility
  • H3: Enhanced strength
  • H3: Improved balance
  • H2: Mental benefits of yoga 
  • H3: Reduced stress
  • H3: Better focus and concentration
  • H3: Enhanced emotional well-being

 Implementing on-page SEO best practices like can also benefit your readers by providing a clear article outline, making it easier for them to navigate and find specific information, as well as help you rank for more than one search term. 

5. Write compelling headlines

Since newspapers began, headlines have been used to judge the rest of the article. A compelling headline in your H1 page title can affect the number of people who click on your page when it shows up in the search results for relevant search queries. 

Google has been known to select H1 page tags in favor of your meta tags 60% of the time, so we suggest keeping them alike to have more control.

 Even though CTR is not a direct ranking factor, it can affect your rankings if an underwhelming headline in your H1 meta tag isn't enticing enough for readers to want to read your article. 

Follow these guidelines to write an effective headline for your meta title.

  1. Keep your headline under 70 characters
  2. Include your primary keyword early on to signal relevancy
  3. Be descriptive yet concise
  4. Don't keyword stuff your page titles
  5. Make it specific and relevant to your audience
  6. Use number and convey benefits to make a headline more appealing

Ultimately, a good headline should be optimized for clicks by arousing interest in the reader. Don't overdo it with clickbait titles though; this isn't Youtube. 

To find out if your meta title is optimized for click through, head to Surfer Audit,

  1. Enter your URL and target keywords
  2. Click Create Audit

Scroll to the Exact keywords report to see the status of your title tag. For example, this article's title doesn't seem to have the exact keyword it its title tag. No wonder then it's ranking on the 9th page of Google!

You can also see that the page's title length is longer than the optimal suggested character length in the Title and meta description length report.

Here are examples of good headlines:

  1. "10 Proven Strategies to Boost Your Email Marketing Conversion Rates"
  2. "Discover the Secret to Glowing Skin with These 5 Natural Ingredients"

These headlines are effective because they are clear, concise, and convey the main topic of the content while incorporating relevant keywords and enticing users to click further. 

6. Include target keywords in metadata

Along with your meta title, your meta description can significantly enhance your content's CTR performance and improve your search position. As one of the four main areas Google looks for relevancy, including your target keyword in your meta descriptions can help signal context. 

Another reason to include related keywords is that,

Google will bolden keywords it finds relevant to the search query in your meta description.

Thus, drawing attention from browsing users and improving your page's chances of being clicked. 

Use these SEO writing tips for more effective meta descriptions.  

  1. Ensure your meta description does not exceed 155-160 characters to allow readers to see the complete description without any information being truncated
  2. Use persuasive language that conveys your content's value to entice readers to click through to your web page 
  3. Insert related keywords and search phrases to cover a broader range of search queries and stand out in the search engine results
  4. Convey the value of your page without keyword stuffing or using click-bait. 

The meta description for the same article I checked above lies within the optimal character length.

7. Implement internal and external linking

A good writing practice for SEO content is to include relevant internal and external links on your pages.

Internal links can connect to related pages within your website to help create content hubs by clustering related topics, while external links support your content with credible sources. 

Search engines use links to discover new content, so it is a good idea to link to new pages for them to be found and indexed easily. Use descriptive anchor texts in your link to convey what the linked page is about. 

Internal linking also helps users find additional content that can expand their education and move them further along the buyer's journey. 

Inside Surfer Audit, you will find recommendations for which pages you should insert links in for internal content.  

External links are websites you refer to on your page to support information you've included in your content, like statistics, studies, or examples. External links can help readers who are interested in learning more about your topic, which perhaps falls outside the scope of your content strategy. 

For example, we talk all things SEO and content marketing related on our blog here, but you won't find advanced breakdowns on search engine algorithms or patents because a very small percentage of our readers may be interested in this information. 

When inserting external links, choose reputable sources that add value and context to your content, as search engines see them as indicators of trust and quality. Doing so will also tell search engines that your blog posts are related to the linked content.

8. Create content hubs

When you're writing for SEO, creating an article or two isn't enough. Google relies on E-E-A-T factors to understand your position on the topics you write about, and is looking for credibility.  

And one way you can enhance this is by aiming for topical authority in your subject by creating content hubs. 

Content hubs are structured as a central pillar page that provides a high-level overview of the topic, with several related subtopic pages linked to it.

This interconnected network of content allows users to easily navigate through different aspects of the subject, while search engines can better understand the context and relevance of your content.

Instead of producing isolated blog posts, content hubs allow you to comprehensively cover various aspects of a topic, making your website a go-to resource for users seeking information on that subject. This approach signals to search engines that your website is an authoritative source on the topic, leading to improved search rankings.

Head to Surfer Keyword Research tool to find tons of keyword clusters for your target keyword. 

  1. Enter your target keyword
  2. Hit Create Keyword Research

For example, let's say you are targeting “customer support”. The tool shows 93 clusters that you can create to signal topical authority to search engines. 

Clicking on any card will reveal multiple keywords that are related to the main keyword, along with metrics like search intent, monthly search volume, keyword difficulty and traffic potential. 

9. Rewrite and update content

We've known for a while now about Google's fondness for fresh content

It's quite common to write content once and then forget about it. But one of the easiest ways you can increase website traffic is by republishing existing content

Revisiting old articles to update them with the most relevant and recent information available can lead to a boost in search rankings, as it demonstrates to search engines that your content is current and valuable. 

For starters, update your titles to include the current year so that your page is relevant in the SERPs. 

You can do this by entering previous years in the Google search bar. 

site:yoursite.com “2022”

To check if your article has semantically relevant keywords that search engines want to see in your content, head to Surfer Content Editor.

  1. Toggle the Import content from URL switch on
  2. Paste the URL of your existing blog post
  3. Click Create Content Editor

On the right Terms panel you will find the current status of suggested keywords in your article. Those highlighted in green are used well while your content is missing non highlighted keywords, with yellow for the ones in between.

10. Measure your content performance

Measuring the performance of your articles isn't a writing tip but is often overlooked which is why I'm including it here. 

Tracking your content's performance is crucial for developing a successful content strategy because it lets you know what's working and what can be improved.

By closely monitoring your content marketing KPIs, you can make data-driven decisions that help you optimize your content and ultimately boost your website's search rankings.

You will be able to identify which categories or content hubs are delivering returns on your content marketing investment, so you can focus on those areas for better results.

Knowing your metrics can also help you allocate resources more efficiently and manage your content marketing efforts better.

As an SEO content writer, here are some high level metrics you should monitor. 

  • Organic traffic: This will indicate how well your content is ranking and attracting users
  • Engagement metrics: Time spent on the page, bounce rate, and pages per session to determine if your content engages readers
  • Backlinks: Assess the number and quality of external websites linking to your content
  • Conversions: Measure the actions taken by users, such as subscribing to your newsletter, downloading a resource, or making a purchase, to determine the effectiveness of your content in driving conversions.

By regularly tracking these metrics, you can refine your content strategy to focus on topics, formats, and channels that yield the best results for your content marketing goals

Key takeaways

  • Write content that appeals to both search engines and readers
  • Your content must satisfy your keyword's search intent
  • Use relevant keywords, internal and external links, and on-page SEO without sacrificing readability or quality
  • Keep your articles relevant and updated to be favored by search engines

Conclusion

SEO driven content writing is an iterative process that requires you to create new content and optimize them over time for better results. Implementing these guidelines can help your writing contribute to your content's performance instead of just creating the same content everybody else is.

Like this article? Spread the world

Get started now,
‍7 days for free

Choose a plan that fits your needs and try Surfer out for yourself. Click below to sign up!

Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics