The Essential SEO Content Writing Checklist [12-Points]
Chances are, if you are in the business of writing, SEO, or lead generation, or if you have explored digital marketing for your business, you’ve probably heard the term ‘SEO content’ a few times. But what is ‘SEO Content’ exactly?
The goal of SEO is to make your website, and its content, easy for search engines like Google to understand what it is about. Search engine optimization is the process of ensuring your site appears higher in search results than your competitors.
The purpose of SEO content writing is to create blogs, reviews, and articles that target a certain audience and drive them to your website, to your product/service, or to your lead form. Search engine algorithms used to be extremely easy to game in the past. This resulted in articles that were so stuffed with popular keywords that they were barely readable. Back in the day, if I were writing an SEO article, I might write a whole paragraph under the heading “SEO writing, writing for SEO, how to write SEO articles.”
Those methods usually led to spammy websites. Search engines began considering other factors to determine whether a site is relevant in response. They’re not just interested in relevant keywords, but also in quality.
A blog or article is one of today’s most successful content marketing tools, but it is important to optimize them for search engines. The length, voice, and titles of your content also play a part in its SEO-friendliness, but after you get the hang of it, your content will take you to the top of the search engine results.
To help you get started, here is our SEO content writing checklist at Yroc:
- Not Too Long, Not Too Short
- Keep it Organized
- Use The Active Voice
- Keep Vocabulary Simple
- Write Short Sentences
- Write Short Paragraphs
- Use the Focus Keyword in Your Title
- Include Keywords in Your Subheadings
- Use the Target Keyword Throughout the Text
- Maximize External & Internal Links
- Use Relevant, High-Quality Images
- Use Examples to Illustrate Your Points
Our 12-Point Guide to SEO Content Writing
1. Not Too Long, Not Too Short
Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to writing content, but there are some general guidelines to follow.
Many people turn to the internet in search of quick, easy answers, but they also need some assurance that the information they are reading is accurate. Aim for between 800 and 1700 words as your ideal word count. In this article, information is provided in a way that is clear and concise, but the length is still long enough to hold people’s interest.
2. Keep it Organized
Structure matters just as much as content when it comes to SEO. When it comes to determining what your content is about, and when it should be shown to searchers, search engines use page titles, headers, URLs, meta descriptions, and content titles.
Your focus keyword should be naturally incorporated throughout the body of your content, but it is especially important to include it in the Page Title, H1, URL, and meta description. Search engines and readers will be able to anticipate what will appear in each section. Use H2 and H3 for subheadings and only one H1 per piece of content.
Making your blog more readable and interesting for readers by using images or videos is a great way to improve the readability of your blog. Take advantage of the title, caption, and alt-text when including rich media content in your blog. Although search engines cannot see your images, they can read your descriptions.
3. Use The Active Voice
Be careful not to overuse the passive voice in your writing. You should instead write in an active voice. This will help your content to be easily digested and understood. Passive voice usage, however, can cause content to feel distant to the reader, as the reader may not be entirely clear about who or what is performing an action.
Saying “An editor reviews the blog” as opposed to “The blog is reviewed by an editor” seems much more clear. Do you agree?
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress can help you determine whether or not your content overuses the passive voice.
4. Keep Your Vocabulary Simple
If you want your audience to connect with your content, keep it as clear as possible. Keep it simple and avoid overcomplicating things. It can not only help readers digest content more easily, but can also help search engines better understand and distribute your content.
Here’s an example from plainlanguage.gov:
Notice how the message on the right conveys the exact same information, without using too many words or repetitive statements.
As a general rule, try to write as if you were having a conversation with a friend or colleague; if you sound more natural, your readers will relate better.
5. Write Short Sentences
You can also make your content more readable and SEO-friendly by writing short sentences. Long sentences tend to ramble on for long periods of time, and readers may find it hard to understand what you’re trying to convey when your sentence goes on and on without end. Make longer sentences shorter by using transition words to connect complex thoughts or ideas.
Experts recommend that the average sentence length should be between 14 and 18 words, after years of exposure to internet and television content. Keep the majority of your sentences under 20 words, while mixing things up.
In addition to evaluating your content for readability, Yoast SEO can determine the average sentence length.
Here’s an example from Yoast:
The Yoast SEO plugin can evaluate your content for readability, including the average sentence length in a piece of content.
6. Write Short Paragraphs
In terms of the importance of structure, you’ll want to make your content more readable by utilizing white space and short paragraphs.
Short paragraphs are easier to read, no matter what you say. People tend to scroll on pages with a lot of white space since it’s easy on the eyes. It can also help readers stay on your site longer, reading more pages and possibly reading more than 1 page, which reduces bounce rate. Reduced bounce rates will ultimately improve your content’s organic ranking.
7. Use The Focus Keyword In Your Title
You should create blogs or articles with a target keyword or keyword phrase in mind.
Ensure your focus keyword appears in your article’s title (the main header). Search engines are able to tell what topic the article focuses on by knowing this.
Suppose you’re the content manager for a university and you’d like to rank for the term ‘biomedical sciences,’ so you plan to write a blog about the benefits of a biomedical science degree. If you include your focus keyword in the title (H1) of your blog, search engines like Google will clearly see what your blog is about.
8. Include Keywords in Your Subheadings
Adding subheadings to your content makes it easier to read. Navigation through your blog should be easy, with clear explanations of what each section covers.
Your focus keyword may also be used in your subheadings when it makes sense. When search engines crawl your site, headings are given more weight than text. Including keywords there can boost your ranking.
If your blog was about biomedical sciences, you might include a subheading like, ‘Top Career Opportunities in Biomedical Sciences.’ This would naturally use your keyword, add clarity to the content, and enhance its SEO value.
9. Use Your Target Keyword Throughout The Text
Headings aren’t the only place to use your target keyword. Your target keyword should be included in the first 100 words of your content. Additionally, your main keyword should be used throughout your article, as well as a few related keywords. Keep it natural.
Take, for example, the keyword “SEO writing” that I am currently optimizing. In order to make my SEO writing sound natural, I would not use the phrase SEO writing whenever possible. It sounds unnatural.
10. Maximize Internal & External Links
You’ll want to include two types of links throughout your articles.
- Internal Links: Include links back to any related posts or service pages on your own domain. In addition, search engines can better understand the structure of your website and connect to your content.
- External Links: Your page will be more relevant to your readers’ searches if it links to related sites more frequently. Being relevant also helps you rank higher. It’s important to link to credible, reputable sites, and to avoid links to direct competitors.
Both situations call for SEO-friendly anchor text that is relevant and concise, rather than a generic ‘click here.’
11. Use Relevant, High-Quality Images
Text can also be broken up with images, which makes it easier to read and improve user experience. Using the alternative text and caption fields can also improve SEO for your blog or article. Whenever possible, the alt text field should contain the focus keyword and describe the image.
A WordPress image optimization example follows. Once you’ve embedded an image within a blog post, use the edit screen to add a caption and alt text.
Your images should support your content and add value for your readers. You will rank higher in search engines if your readers interact with your content for a longer period of time.
12. Use Examples to Illustrate Points
Search engines crawl content to find valuable information. You want to be sure your content is useful, informative, and credible since this is the ultimate goal of search engines.
When you write in generalities without providing any concrete examples, readers can find it difficult to relate, or worse, they might think that you’re blowing smoke. Be specific in your writing.
Want to know more? Contact us.
This checklist has been simplified for your convenience. Each time you are working on a new piece of content, make sure to keep it close at hand.
You may feel like this is more work than you’re willing to commit to SEO writing if you own your own business. After all, there are more important things you can do with your time, like serving your existing customers.
You can get your website noticed by many online marketing companies. Our SEO content writing experts at Yroc Consulting can help you take your SEO content to the next level. Have questions? Give us a call!
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