Optimizing your content for SEO is the most effective way to ensure your content will rank in search engines. What is your audience searching for? Which keywords are easiest and hardest to rank for? Addressing these questions before you begin writing will save you time and trouble wondering why your content is underperforming. Here are five tips for optimizing your content for SEO:
Relevant Topics and Effective Headlines
First and foremost, optimizing your content for SEO means making sure you’re writing about topics people are searching for! Choosing timely topics and deriving effective headlines are essential for getting your blog seen. An obscure topic may perform well for a very specific subgroup of people, but if you want your blog to really perform at scale, it needs to be relevant to the most number of people.
When researching topics in your niche, consider using available tools like Buzzsumo, Answer The Public and HubSpot Topic Generator. Buzzsumo is particularly effective at providing the data to see what content is performing best in your niche. This is endlessly valuable! Thinking about utilizing the skyscraper method? Seeing what has been published in your niche lets you determine what your next topic should be and how to structure it.
Another favorite is Answer The Public. This site functions as a visual keyword and content research tool. Offering free and paid services (honestly, the free services are more than enough for most people), Answer The Public uses suggested searches from both Bing and Google to create a “search cloud” offering keywords and content topics. If the visual throws you off a little, you can opt to reformat the data in list form, making it more easily readable.
Next on the list for SEO content writing is keyword research. You’ve picked a topic, now you need to incorporate relevant keywords. This doesn’t mean stuffing as many keywords as you can down the throat of your readers, but more on that later.
SEMrush provides the amazing Keyword Magic Tool under Keyword Analytics. Type in your seed word and it provides an incredible list of relevant keywords along with mountains of data including (most importantly) keyword volume and keyword density. You have the option to filter out certain items and check not only specific keywords, but also view searched questions using your seed word. The latter can be particularly helpful in topic research, as well.
Adding the keyword results to their Keyword Analyzer gives you a customized list you can easily export for personal use. This makes it easy to keep data for future use in other blog posts, as well.
When researching, look for keywords with varying levels of volume and density. Choosing only high-volume keywords makes it harder for your content to rank for them. Choosing a combination of higher and lower volume keywords allows you to rank more easily and get visibility for the tougher words. A not-so-secret, though often overlooked, tactic is to incorporate long-tail keywords in your content. Optimizing content for SEO also means remembering who you’re writing for: people. Think about how people type in search queries and utilize that language into your content for a clever way to rank more easily.
Continuing the consideration of who you’re writing for, readability factors into optimizing content for SEO. Content needs to be crawlable, but the most important thing is for it to be readable by the audience. Simply keyword stuffing your content won’t help it rank. How are you benefiting the reader if they can hardly make it through your content?
Syntax plays a big part here. SEO content writing means using language your readers are used to. This doesn’t mean avoid technical terms. It means writing similarly to regular speech patterns. Writing too formally makes your content stuffy and boring. People are more likely to read and share content they find informative and relatable. Don’t lose your audience before you get the chance to show your expertise!
There are a variety of tools you can use to check the readability of your content. Yoast SEO provides a readability score for content and is easily incorporated with implementing on-page SEO. Another tool for checking the readability of your content is Hemingway Editor. This site also has a desktop app and provides a readability score for your content along with color-coded areas for improvement.
On-page SEO is essential to getting your content to rank. Improper technical structuring can lead to crawlers misreading your content and causing it to underperform. Yoast SEO is a great plug-in which analyzes your content and provides ways to improve your SEO. It will highlight keyword density for provided target keywords, analyze images, check header tags, meta descriptions, internal/external links and a whole host of other items.
As mentioned previously, Yoast SEO also rates the readability of your content and provides suggestions based on keyword density, verbiage, voice and word length. This makes the plug-in a sort of one-stop tool for optimizing your content for SEO!
You’ve optimized your content for keywords, structure and everything else. What’s next? Get it out there! Off-page SEO is essential to getting your content seen. Outreach for link building, guest post submissions and sharing on social media all improve the visibility of your content and drive traffic to you site. As your brand becomes more and more established as an authority and web traffic increases, your domain authority will increase and ranking will improve in the SERPs.
Content writing isn’t simply putting words on the page. Planning and developing an SEO content writing strategy is the best way to get your content ranking. Considering your next post already? Use these tips and see the difference for yourself.
A version of this article originally appeared here.