“What’s good for Google is good for the gaggle”—we totally just made that up, but it kind of works.
What we’re saying, in a less corny way, is what’s good for search engines is also good for the masses of people browsing the internet, looking for answers and solutions. So, when you take everything in this blog article to heart and implement it on your website, you’re not only improving your content for search, you’re improving your users’ experience. SEO optimization is a win-win.
Ready to learn how to write for SEO? Your chariot awaits.
What is SEO?
In basic terms, SEO is the practice of optimizing your website’s content and technical elements to make your site attractive to search engines so that it appears near the top of the search engine results page, or SERP. (Lots of acronyms, but you’ll be speaking the language by the end of this.) Your SEO efforts determine which of your website’s pages will rank and where.
Before we dive into all the nuts and bolts of writing for SEO, we want to make one thing clear: Google’s search algorithms are always changing, but one constant is that they favor user-friendly content. Optimizing your website content for search isn’t about following a long list of technical do’s and don’ts. Much of it is common sense that provides your user with a better experience and more useful content, which is smart to do anyway, regardless of search rankings.
Think of SEO optimization like this: Creating unique, relevant and valuable web content in your audience’s language with a user-friendly website experience that works equally great on desktop, tablet or mobile. If you can accomplish that basic goal, you’ll be on your way to satisfying both Google and your online visitors.
Three secrets to writing SEO-friendly content.
Drum roll, please…
Conduct keyword research.
According to Moz, “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?”
Determining the best keywords or keyword phrases for your company or organization is one of the first steps to successful SEO optimization. You need to know what people are searching for in order to make yourself more findable, which seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of people bypass this part and go directly to the writing stage. That’s like skipping your homework all semester, then planning to ace your final exam.
We’d suggest a different strategy. To begin compiling your list of keywords, start here:
- Think like a searcher, not like an insider.
- Always include your location.
- Look at your competitors.
Be mindful of keyword density.
Here are two important definitions to keep in mind as you optimize your website for SEO:
Keyword frequency: How many times a keyword or phrase appears on a page.
Keyword density: The ratio of the number of times a keyword or phrase appears to the total number of words on the same page.
We mentioned earlier that too much of a good thing is bad, so you’ll want to find the sweet spot between using the right keywords enough and using them too much. Paying attention to keyword density will help you avoid keyword stuffing, which Google will dock you for. Technically there is no “ideal” percentage, but we’d recommend staying between 1–2.5%.
Here’s an example: In our blog article, Marketing Automation: What It Is and How It Makes Your Work Life Better. The keyword density for the target keyword phrase “marketing automation” is 2.04%. And we used that phrase in each of these recommended spots—all great places for keywords:
- <h1> tag
- <h2> through <h6> tags
- Title and description tags
- Start of the page copy
- End of the page copy
- Image ALT tags
Luckily, there is a tool to help you check your keyword density, and we’d recommend using it for the key pages on your website. If your percentage checks out to be too high, no worries—just swap out some of those keywords with synonyms or other similar terms.
Understand the searcher’s intent.
When you determine your keywords, you have to understand your user’s language; now it’s time to look at their motivation, or intent—not only what they’re searching for, but why. When a person types a word or phrase into a search engine, they have a particular goal they want to achieve, or a search intent. In recent years, Google has gotten pretty good at determining user intent, and to keep up, it’s important for you to as well. Here are the main four types of search intent:
- Informational: You’re simply looking for information, and that’s what Google is serving you.
- Navigational: This is a search where a user is intending to locate and link to a specific website, but they don’t know the URL.
- Commercial: Here’s where someone is getting ready to plop down some money, honey—or at least, they’re in the process of considering it.
- Transactional: If you’re conducting a transactional search, you’re serious about parting with some cash.
Take a look at your list of keywords and phrases and enter them one by one in a search engine and study what you see on the SERPs for each. What’s the most common intent you see for each term you enter? Then, look at your content. Does it match? If not, adjust your strategy.
Want more secrets to writing for SEO?
Are you still with us? Great, because there’s more! Conducting keyword research, being mindful of keyword density and understanding search intent is a great place to start. But to really stand out and rise to the top, you’ll want to employ three more secrets.
Download our latest ebook, “Writing for SEO: How to Create Content to Engage Your Audience and Rank on Google.” Our SEO experts and copywriters will take you behind the scenes of creating website content that will not only resonate with your online audience, but get you in good with Google and other search engines as well.