“Content is King.” Bill Gates, an American business entrepreneur and software engineer, wrote an article titled “Content is King.” In this essay, he stated that content is where much of the “real money” will be earned on the internet.
Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. – Bill Gates
And he was correct.
Even now, more than 20 years later, content rules the world as the means by which much money is made on the internet. Every good digital marketing strategy includes a content production strategy.
What Is an SEO-Friendly Article?
When you write for search engines, you should concentrate on giving readers useful information that responds to their questions. Moreover, it requires optimising for key words and phrases that help search engines in understanding your article.
Search engines might display your article for related queries in the top results if you write an article that is well-optimized for your readers. You can work to expand your audience and drive more traffic to your website by including an SEO strategy into your content. Pro tip: When creating your keyword list, make use of some of the greatest tools for keyword research that are accessible.
9 Steps to Writing Articles That Are SEO-Friendly
The following list of 9 steps will help you write articles that are search engine friendly:
- Good keyword research is required for powerful SEO articles.
- Identify the Correct Format and Search Intent
- Make a Meta Title That Is Well Optimized
- Make an eye-catching H1.
- Optimize the Meta Description
- Structure and readability of the content
- Add Visual Content
- Make Your URL Readable
- Adjust Interlinking
1. Good keyword research is required for powerful SEO articles.
Keyword research helps you find which keywords are best to target and provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching for on Google. The insights you may gain from these actual search terms can help shape both your content strategy and your overall marketing plan.
People use keywords to find solutions when conducting research online. So if your content is successful in getting in front of our audience as they conduct searches, you stand to gain more traffic. Therefore, you should be targeting those searches.
Keyword research informs you what topics people are interested in and, if you utilise the correct SEO tool, how popular those topics are among your target audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.
1. How to Do Keyword Research
The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products.
Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like:
What are people searching for?
How many people are searching for it?
In what format do they want that information?
However, The following are a great collection of free and premium tools that will help you discover new keywords related to your website or business.
- Google Ads Keyword Tool
2. Research Your Topic
In SEO, writing great content is the key. To write great content, you need to know two things:
- Who your audience is. (Our guide on finding your target audience can help)
- To know what topics matter to them. If you’ve already defined your audience, you need to start planning to answer questions they have and provide them with solutions.
You can use our Topic Research Tool to help you get started. The tool helps to find your audience’s interests and shows a wide range of related topics, popular article titles, and questions people ask for your primary keyword.
2. Identify the Correct Format and Search Intent
What a user is searching for is defined as search intent. Google invests heavily in training algorithms how to accurately interpret user intent and encourages article authors, SEO writers, and web administrators to respond to requests with relevant content.
The search intent for a keyword should determine the content style you select, the message you convey, and the call-to-action you leave. There are four different categories of search intent, and each category has a set of standard phrases that you would expect to be associated with it.
As the name implies, informational keywords are those used by a person looking for a specific piece of information. Some related keywords in this category include “guide,” “tutorial,” “recipe,” or question words such as “how,” “what,” or lists with “top,” “best,” “checklist” in the title. For example, “Best music festivals in 2021” is an excellent demonstration of informational intent.
Navigational intent describes the scenario where a user is looking for a specific website or page. These types of queries work well if you already have an established brand (or products and services) and get healthy traffic from direct sources. For example, a user searching for “Netflix” is looking to enter the website and to navigate through until they find something they want to watch. Similarly, someone looking up “Indeed” is going to peruse candidate profiles or job listings until they find what they’re looking for.
Commercial intent describes the scenario where the searcher is considering a purchase and wants to investigate their options. Related keywords that typically appear with these searches include product modifiers like “cheapest,” “review,” and “comparison.” For example: “Cheapest tickets for the Rolling Stones.”
As you might expect, transactional intent describes when the searcher is ready to purchase something. Expect to find this intent paired with keywords such as “buy,” “price,” “coupon,” or “deals.” Using our music festival example from earlier, “Ultra Music Festival Tickets” would fall under this category.
These clue words will help you determine not only what your searcher is looking for but will help you understand what their true intent is.
3. Make a Meta Title That Is Well Optimized
Your article’s headline is not necessarily the title shown in search results. Consider that your article has two headings: the H1 tag displayed on the page and the meta title tag shown in the search results snippet.
They can be closely related or similar, but they don’t necessarily have to be identical. The most important thing when writing for SEO is that each tag must contain your target keyword.
Although the H1 tag is one of the on-page SEO signals showing search engines how the page is structured, the meta title is more important for SEO purposes.
The meta title introduces your content to the audience. That’s why it’s often the primary piece of information a user uses to decide which result to tap on, especially when searching on mobile.
To make your title attractive for both search engines and searchers, follow the basic rules:
- Write a unique title for each page. If you use the same title on different web pages, Google can show an alternative title instead of yours.
- Consider the user intent. Choose a title that indicates what problem users will solve or the benefit they will get from reading your content. Include the clue words to catch users’ attention and entice them to click.
- Keep the title between 15 to 40 characters long. The maximum length is approximately 60 characters—any text beyond that can be truncated automatically.
- Include your target keyword in titles. Search engines use titles to understand whether the content is relevant to the query. However, don’t over-optimize.
4. Make an eye-catching H1.
If you need to add more creativity to your article, there’s a little more room in the H1 tag than in the title tag.
Here’s what you need to consider when writing your H1 heading:
- Create a unique H1. This will help prevent visitors from getting lost between similar pages on your site.
- Use words like ‘how,’ ‘why,’ ‘what,’ and ‘where.’ This way, you help people understand what they will find on the page below — guides and how-to articles also drive 2x more traffic than other types.
- Use numbers like ‘top 10,’ ‘5 best,’ ‘N things…,’ etc. Articles with list headlines get 2x more traffic and 2x more social shares than other types.
- Describe what is discussed in the text body. The H1 of the page should describe the content; otherwise, Google regards the discrepancy as low content quality.
Topic Research can help you quickly find the most resonating headlines. After entering a topic, you’ll instantly see popular headlines that have the highest amount of backlinks and social engagement.
5. Optimize the Meta Description
As discussed in our piece on SEO basics, the meta description is what users see under the page title in Google results. It can be the perfect way to encourage a user to click on your link over your competitors’ if you write it carefully.
To properly optimize the meta description, there are five basic recommendations:
- Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description. Also, create meta descriptions that accurately describe the specific page.
- Include a relevant keyword in the meta description.
- Keep them about 1-2 sentences (140-160 characters) long. Even though there’s no limit on how long a meta description can be, search result snippets are typically truncated to fit the device width.
- Meta descriptions don’t just have to be in sentence format; it’s also a great place to include the critical information scattered throughout a page. For example, product pages might have a price, age, manufacturer in their description. These descriptions become even more attractive for both search engines and users.
- Target an emotion and add a call-to-action if it’s relevant.
The meta description is one of the best ways to grab the attention of new visitors, so give this optimization step enough attention.
6. Structure and readability of the content
Imagine you open one of the results in the SERP, and there’s one continuous piece of text. How likely would you be to continue reading? You’ll probably try to use the Ctrl+F shortcut or just leave to find a better-structured article.
Good structure is an essential element of high-quality content development. Subheadings make your content scannable and easier to read. According to our study, 36% of articles with H2 and H3 tags have higher performance in terms of traffic, shares, and backlinks.
Here are some recommendations on how to make your content readable:
- Make your text long if it’s necessary. Long reads of 3000+ words get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length (901-1200 words). But this doesn’t mean that a short article is bound to rank poorly—it depends on what users need.
- Consider adding a table of contents. If the article is long, add a table of contents at the beginning of the article to let visitors quickly go to the desired section.
- Use H2 and H3s. Well-structured articles with both H2 and H3 tags are more likely to be high-performing. Structure the article to make it easier for the user to understand the content, but don’t overdo it by making the structure too complex with multiple subheadings.
- One paragraph equals one idea. Divide the content into logical, digestible segments to keep readers engaged.
- Answer user questions. Attract users’ attention by including their questions in subheadings.
- Highlight important ideas. You can use bold font or change the font size. This helps to emphasize, makes the text easier to follow, and helps cement the main ideas in users’ minds.
- Divide long sentences. Just like breaking your content up into paragraphs, divide long sentences into shorter ones.
- Use bullets and numbered lists. Using them, you can convey large amounts of information in a concise form. Bullet points also increase your chances of getting a Featured Snippet.
Keeping so much information in mind when creating content may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, you can rely on SEO tools that can help you with optimizing your content before publishing, like Semrush SEO Writing Assistant. You will get all the necessary recommendations in real-time and can assess your text right in Google Docs or WordPress:
- Check your overall optimization status—ensure your text is perfectly structured for a target keyword and written in an SEO-friendly style.
- Adjust your text length and optimize reading time—check if your text matches the average word count for your top 10 competitors.
- Add recommended keywords—the tool will suggest adding some related keywords to your text to increase the article’s SEO potential.
- Make your tone of voice consistent—make sure your content piece complies with your overall brand voice—casual, neutral, or formal—and detect sentences that stand out.
- Ensure your text is unique—avoid plagiarism by finding out the total percentage of copied words in your text and seeing the original sources of content from across the internet.
7. Add Visual Content
Besides optimizing your writing for SEO, images are an essential piece of the content puzzle.
Different visuals across a page can help convey information to the user better and circulate your content better.
Use info graphics, checklists, templates, and other types of visual content to deliver value to your audience faster and in a more catchy way.
The more valuable, engaging, and relevant content is, the more backlinks you are likely to get. Backlinks from authoritative websites make your content trustworthy for Google. Thus, the search engine ranks it higher.
The other benefit of pictures and videos to any blog post or copy is that they can be ranked in the Images and Video sections of Google and even get into Featured Snippets and attract additional traffic.
Be sure to optimize your visual content. Below, you’ll find the main things you should do.
1. Reduce the image size
Images are often the most significant contributor to overall page size and can make pages slow and expensive to load. If you resize images to their maximum display dimensions, you’ll almost always find that your site loads faster, bringing improved SEO benefits and a better user experience.
PRO TIP: analyze your site speed with PageSpeed Insights.
2. Create descriptive image names
Using ‘music-festival-people.jpg’ is a much clearer way to tell what an image shows than ‘IMG00353.JPG.’ Change a generic filename to a descriptive name to give Google clues about the subject matter of the image.
3. Add alt tags
Alt tags provide a text alternative to an image for search engines and those using screen readers to access a web page.
There are a few best practices when adding image alt texts:
- Describe the contents of an image in as much detail as possible. This will help it rank on Google Image Search and give context about how it relates to your page’s content.
- Make alt tags relevant to the topic of the page that it is on.
- Be sure to write unique alt texts that describe the specific contents of the image rather than repeating the page’s main target keyword or other images’ alt tags.
8. Make Your URL Readable
It’s essential to write a quality URL that clearly describes the page’s content to help your readers understand what the page will be about.
URLs get copied and pasted regularly, and sometimes when a link has no anchor text, the URL itself serves as the anchor text. In other cases, users can hover on the text to see the link in the lower-left corner of the browser window. A readable URL explains what is inside.
Which of the links would you trust more: ‘https://www.example.com/discover/top-festivals-usa/’ or ‘http://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1’?
A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Remember that based on only these few words, users’ brains decide whether this content is helpful for them or not.
Here is what Google recommends to keep a URL readable:
- Use punctuation in your URLs, and use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) between words.
- Make your URL descriptive and match the page’s primary keyword.
- Use lowercase rather than mixing in capital letters.
- Make it as short as possible while still describing the contents of the page.
9. Adjust Interlinking
Internal links are links that point from one page to another on your website. Having a solid internal linking structure ensures that you point users and search engines to valuable, relevant pages with other content to reference.
According to Google:
“Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”
1. Internal linking helps search engines
To add your site pages to its massive database of discovered URLs, Google sends robots to investigate your site. Robots fetch a few web pages and then follow the links to find new URLs. So, for search engines, interlinking is used to discover contextually relevant content on your site.
Besides showing your site’s structure and offering relevant content, internal links pass authority between pages and ultimately may improve rankings. If a page, for instance, has authoritative external links pointing to it, it will have built up a PageRank score. This authority can then be passed to another page of your site by way of internal links.
2. Internal linking helps people
For users, interlinking is also a significant element in helping to navigate and find more helpful information on your website.
Internal linking should not be done once, but something that needs to be monitored constantly. Here are our suggestions on how to create internal linking.