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What's the Best Way to Write for SEO?

by Christine Mortensen on February 13, 2016

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We field a plethora of really great questions from our clients on a daily basis, and there’s one in particular I’d like to share with you because it comes up so often.

“When someone is designing a website and a copywriter is writing for the site, does the writer write with SEO in mind? Or... does the writer write as usual allowing for some chunks of copy to be tweaked by an SEO expert? Does SEO content copy matter, for example, on a law firm site? Thank you.”

The short answer to this question is—ideally yes—the person responsible for writing the site content should be writing with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.

However, not everyone is well versed in current best practices for SEO and what’s worse, many people are still implementing tactics, from merely two or three years ago, that are no longer effective.

Write first to inform... then to entertain

Write first to educate your readers and prospective buyers

When writing anything at all your first guiding principle should be to inform the reader. It may sound silly that we have to mention this, but we still see many instances of online content containing an awkward keyword phrase jammed into every other sentence. No one wants to read garbage so be sure you’re writing with humans in mind first—not search engines.

Then write to entertain your audience

Your second guiding principle should be to entertain. What I mean by that is to make what you’re writing both informative (remember principle #1) and interesting. People have a whole internet’s worth of content to choose from. Make sure you are taking a unique approach to what you’re teaching your audience. You don’t have to go as far as BuzzFeed with your titles or subjects, but you don’t want to get too academic and dry. Earn people’s hearts and you’ll win their minds.    

Now it’s time to write for Google

Your third and last concern when creating great content should be to optimize for search engines. Nail the first two principles we just discussed and often times this third one will more naturally happen because you’re appeasing your readers first by creating great content rather than creating overly contrived prose.

This is not to say that writing strategic, well-formed content for the web is an easy process though! It’s quite the opposite. Great content is carefully crafted and takes time. It’s why our clients pay us as well as they do!

Once you have web page copy or a blog post that both informs and entertains, take another read through it with an eye towards SEO.  

Also, consider these statistics:

  • The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
  • The number of domains linking to a page correlate with rankings more than any other factor (so write amazing things that people will want to share and link to).
  • Content with at least one image outperforms those without any images. Be sure to include descriptive, relevant alt text for every image on your site.
  • Pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.
  • Having a low bounce rate is often associated with higher Google rankings.

5 Steps to Crafting Killer Content

  1. We bring everything back to identifying your audience. What problem is your content helping your audience solve? With this person and their problem or objections to purchase in mind, think about what they would search on to solve their issue. Make a list of the phrases they would type into Google or the search engine of your choice.
  2. This will serve as the beginning of your keyword list. Now, you should have a set of keywords you will want to generally target from a strategic level—long tail phrases we want to rank for. This gets you going in a strategic direction.
  3. Once you have that strategy figured out, when it comes to the actual writing, my rule of thumb is to always write for humans first, SEO second. Google is smart enough now that it takes context and synonyms into consideration so exact keyword inclusion is not needed as much as it used to be. Once the article is written and edited, doing another sweep for keywords is recommended.
  4. Don't forget to write your meta description, use H1 and H2 tags to format your post, create a captivating title, and use alt text for ALL images.
  5. Share, share share! Search rankings now take social signals into consideration so make sure you are posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or what ever niche networks your audience is using.

SEO these days also incorporates content marketing tactics so social signals come into play too (because you didn't already have enough to do, right?). Make sure your posts are easily shared via social and display well across channels.

The way we look at search engine ranking at Sprk’d is that just like web development, there's backend SEO and frontend SEO. 

A Tale of Two SEOs

Sprk'd front-end SEO for websites

Backend SEO

"Backend SEO" is making sure your site is technically sound (on a CMS system), your sitemap is set up properly, meta tags, H1's H2's being used, alt text on images, all that good stuff and more (there's a LOT). Get this right and you'll be in prime position to rank well over time with ongoing content creation. That takes us to…

Frontend SEO

"Frontend SEO" is more of the content strategy/marketing activities you do on an ongoing basis like blog post writing, guest posting, social media management, etc. Create stellar, truly helpful content for customers/clients—not just "ok" content. Make sure your blog posts are shared in the social networks and online publications your audience will most likely read.

Write strategically.

Wash, rinse, repeat and keep up on the necessary backend updates.

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Topics: Content Marketing, SEO