Writing SEO content is about more than writing well. It is about writing smart. When you are blogging for business, your writing has two primary objectives:
- To engage your ideal audience, and
- To organically increase your SEO
You may think these objectives are separate from each other. The truth is that you cannot accomplish the second objective unless you have accomplished the first.
When you write content that engages the audience, they are more inclined to share, like, tweet, and link to your post. These actions naturally (organically) increase your search engine rankings.
Organic SEO (search engine optimization) is a phrase that encompasses all the processes you use to get a natural placement on organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Online marketers love organic SEO because they recognize it as the golden ticket!
70% of the links that search users click on are organic.
70-80% of users ignore the paid ads and focus on organic results.
75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
Organic SEO offers several advantages over paid online advertising:
- It is affordable. No direct charge per click or impression.
- It is sustainable. Unlike paid SEO efforts, your organic traffic won’t dry up the moment you stop paying.
- It gives you a way better click-through-rate (CTR). Generally, more users click on the organic results. This means that you can expect to get more clicks from a highly placed organic listing than from a highly placed paid ad.
- You have a strategic advantage over paid ads. Once you have made it to a good place in the organic results, competitors can’t just buy their way in. They can buy ads, but statistics show (see above) that you are still in the stronger position.
When you are blogging for business, your blog posts need to both super-readable and SEO-friendly. Stressed out yet? No need to worry. It is possible to do both.
In this article, I am giving you 21 tips to help you master blogging for business. To make it easier, I am organizing the tips based on the steps I follow when creating posts.
Writing SEO Content Step 1: Topic Research
Tip #1 Know your audience
Who are you writing for? Try to be specific. When you can visualize a buyer persona clearly, it is easier to connect with the audience they represent. Every element of your post, from your topic, writing style, and tone, to your choice of images, should be designed with the reader in mind. To learn more, read How To Use Buyer Personas and Become A 5-Star Marketer.
Tip #2: Know your topic
Research your topic thoroughly. If you will be using quotes, statistics, or excerpts from other articles, don’t forget to cite sources.
Tip #3: Consider making your post “Evergreen”
The term “evergreen” refers to content that remains fresh and relevant to readers over the long haul. In contrast, time-sensitive content may create an immediate buzz but its life span is short. For example, a post titled “5 Ways to Be a Better Manager in 2015” might do well in January of 2015, but an evergreen post titled “How to Be a Better Manager” would be perpetually relevant.
When it comes to evergreen versus time-sensitive content, it is not an Either-Or situation. You need to create both timely and timeless pieces. The important thing is to make the choice BEFORE you start writing. To learn more, read Evergreen Content: Why You Need It And How To Create It.
Tip #4: Don’t fall into the research rabbit hole
Once you have started writing, do not allow yourself to keep searching for more information. Research is important but it can become a rabbit hole. At some point, you need to stop googling. Set the timer on your phone and when the alarm goes off, close your browser and start writing!
Writing SEO Content Step 2: Keyword Research
Tip #5: Know your focus keyword
The focus keyword is the word or phrase that you want your page to rank for, so when people search using that keyword, they will find you. For blog posts, you will usually want to use a long tail keyword. That’s a phrase containing multiple words.
I get help from the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. For this article, I chose “writing SEO content”.
Tip #6: Use your keyword strategically
When writing SEO content you want to use your focus keyword in 5 locations: your headline, the title of the page, the page url, within the content of the article, and in the meta-description. After reading this post, do a quick check and you will see that I have followed my own advice!
Writing SEO Content Step 3: Write
Tip #7: Lay out the bones of your post before you start writing
Every post should have three basic parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Make a list of headings to guide the order of information within the post. If possible, one heading should include your focus keyword. In most cases, you final heading should be “Conclusion”.
Tip #8: Put some thought into your headings
Headings are important in so many ways. Firstly, they will help you put your thoughts in order, which speeds up the writing process and makes your post more readable. Secondly, they are important for SEO. Headings help Google figure out your main topics, which helps in your ranking.
Tip #9: Use a conversational tone
I try not to get too bogged down with readability and SEO preferences when I am writing the first draft. Instead, I pretend that I am having a conversation with someone (one of my buyer personas). Business blogging is about explaining your topic in plain, simple terms. A conversational tone keeps you from veering into jargon. You may want to read How To Move Past Business Jargon..
Writing SEO Content Step 4: Review
Tip #10: Review. And Review. And Review.
Writing SEO content (like writing anything worth reading) is as much about editing as writing. Perhaps more so. When reviewing your post, you need to consider both readability and analytics. Obviously, you should proof-read for spelling and grammar. But that is just the beginning. I go through my posts repeatedly, focusing on a specific issue each time (e.g. paragraph structure, transitional phrases, links, etc.)
Tip #11: Keep paragraphs short
The average attention span is dropping like a stone in water. Plus, the majority of your online readers are likely viewing your post on the small screen of a tablet or the even smaller screen of their phone. This makes long paragraphs seem even more overwhelming.
As a rule, paragraphs should not exceed 5-6 sentences. Personally, I prefer them shorter than that and often keep my paragraphs to only 1-3 sentences. (Like in this tip!)
Tip #12: Break content up evenly
Make sure the content is divided up evenly between headings. If you have one heading that has way more text than the others, try to break it up.
Tip #13: Length counts
Be aware of length. Google likes longer articles. In blog posts, try to avoid going under 300 words. Ideally, aim for 1500 words or more.
Tip #14: Use your focus keyword in the post
Incorporate your focus keyword into the post, but not too frequently. Google will punish you for what is known as “keyword stuffing.” Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.
A good rule of thumb is 1-2% of your text. So, if you end up with a 1500-word article, you can safely mention your keyword 15-30 times. Ideally, your keyword should appear in the first sentence of the post.
Writing SEO Content Step 5: Refine
Tip #15: Use transitional words and phrases
Transitional words and phrases build connections between paragraphs and sections. Readers appreciate transitions because they link ideas and concepts and make text easy and natural to read.
Tip #16: Avoid using passive voice
Passive voice is when you make the subject of the sentence the receiver of the action instead of the thing being acted upon. When you switch to active voice, sentences generally move along better and seem more dynamic. Example:
Passive voice: Our product is recommended by doctors.
Active voice: Doctors recommend our product.
There are situations where passive voice is appropriate. That said, you should try to stick with active voice most of the time.
Tip #17: Add Links
If you have written previous posts on the same, or related topic, link to them. This will improve your ranking in Google and, of course, your reader may be interested in the extra posts.
Don’t be afraid to link out to external resources as well. There is analytic data to support the idea that search engines like great sites that link out to other great sites. And linking out incentivizes links in.
Tip #18: Always Use Images
Never post an article without images! And when adding an image to your post, edit the image first to make sure it contains alt attributes with the focus keyword.
Writing SEO Content Step 6: Reduce, Re-Use, Re-Cycle
Tip #19: Use a variety of formats
Writing SEO content is hard! When you create something that connects with your ideal audience, your next thought should be how to maximize the impact. Think about all the ways you may be able to re-purpose that content.
Can you condense the points into an infographic? Or a video? Or a slideshow? Are there quotes and statistics you could turn into tweets? Do you have enough related posts to create something larger, like an E-Book?
The more ways you can package your SEO content the better!
Tip #20: Take advantage of Online Tools
There are lots of free tools available online. They can help you do everything! I have a collection of favourites that help me find and re-size great images, insert tweets in my posts, make infographics, and more. Check out 6 Free Blogging Tools!
Tip #21: Keep posting!
Adding more information to your blog reminds search engines that your site is alive and well. Google crawls inactive sites less often, which can negatively affect your rankings.
More importantly, you need to keep posting in order to attract and engage your audience, which is the ultimate goal of blogging for business.
Creating an ongoing flow of content can be challenging. Schedule time for content creation into every work week. And don’t panic if you have an occasional run-in with writer’s block.
It happens to everyone and it will pass. I wrote an article about How to Beat Writer’s Block. It has a few simple trick to help unclog your brain!
Put simply, great content is king. When you have mastered blogging for business you will be able to consistently create and distribute SEO content that really connects with people. This will put you at an advantage over competitors who haven’t figured out the basics of content marketing.
Article written by Kim Scaravelli, CEO, Trust Communications Inc.
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