SEO. These three letters have kept business owners and webmasters busy for years. It has started debates and discussions in both online and offline venues. The acronym refers to Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of drawing traffic to your website (or your client’s) and getting the site to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Among the fundamentals of SEO is content writing. After all, it is excellent content that primarily drives more traffic to your site. If you want your SEO efforts to be truly successful, therefore, you’ll have to work on your content. Your content writers don’t have to know everything about SEO, as long as they know what kind of content you need from them. What’s important for content writers is for them to know how to write content that gets your site found online.
SEO Content Writing in 2014
If you’ve paid attention to SEO in 2013, you’ll know that was the year that was said to change SEO forever. Google launched one algorithmic update after another, which completely changed the way people approached (or should approach) SEO. Here are some basics you’d do well to bear in mind if you want your 2014 content writing efforts to be a resounding success:
1. Get to Know Your Audience
This advice has been repeatedly given over the years, and it remains relevant despite the recent changes. Before you start brainstorming ideas for content, you should learn as much as you can about the people for whom you’ll be creating content. What do they need? What kind of information are they looking for? What type of content are they likely to appreciate? What issues/problems are they seeking solutions to?
When you treat your audience as the cornerstone of your content writing efforts, your chance of getting more traffic to your site significantly improves. And the first step towards understanding them is to think of them as people, rather than simply as an audience. You need to hold conversations with them to know what they seek and encourage them to talk to you. Their feedback will be your best tool for knowing what types of content to publish.
2. Manage Your Keywords
Yes, keywords are still important, but you should refrain from stuffing every piece of content with keywords even when the message gets completely overshadowed. Keyword use in content writing is now both a science and an art. You need to insert these words into your content such that search engines are able to easily crawl them without your site getting penalized for keyword stuffing. Remember that keywords help improve your content; they’re not the content itself, so keep it simple.
3. Make Killer Headlines
Headlines almost always affect a person’s decision on whether to click through to a particular piece of content or not. This is why they’re crucial to content writing success. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the get-go, and a killer headline is among the best ways to do just that. Make sure your headlines intrigue, inspire, or indicates something controversial. No matter how well-written your content is, it won’t do you any good if your headline doesn’t grab attention first.
4. Keep It Relevant and Informative
Relevance is the key to SEO content writing in 2014; pretty much the same as it was in 2013. Therefore, if the topic you plan to cover in your content isn’t really relevant to your business (and to your audience), then don’t even bother to start writing that content. You’ll just be wasting your time. Let’s say you’re in the business of selling shirts with custom designs. There’s no reason why you should write about, say, cosmetics, is there?
Other than relevance, you should also make sure your content contains valuable information. The kind of information your audience seeks is among the things you strive to find out when you’re getting to know them, right? Well, you can’t stop at finding out what they want to know. You need to provide them with the information they need!
You can’t just keep saying you have the best shirt designs or you can make any design they want, you need to tell them more about how you come up with the designs, what material you use, etc. The verdict as to whether you’re the best at what you do should come from the audience, not you. If you can tell them how your business solves a particular problem or addresses a particular issue for them, then that would be even better.
5. A Note on Word Count
There are differing opinions on how long web content should be for search engines to deem it worth a high SERP ranking. For us, content that’s between 400 and 1200 words is ideal. However, we really don’t advise you to focus too much on word count when it comes to content writing for SEO. Rather, you should make sure each piece of content you publish is of excellent quality and you get your message across.
Don’t be afraid of posting long-form content. People don’t really mind reading 2000-word articles as long as they contain fresh and valuable information, and they help the reader make an informed decision about a product or service. Even Google favors longer content, according to QuickSprout. So, focus more on the quality of your content; word count should only be a secondary concern.
Of course, a truly successful SEO content writing campaign requires a lot more than these five fundamentals discussed herein. They do, however, form the basics you need to adhere to if you want your campaign to succeed. Perhaps what’s more important than the above tips is for you to always make sure your content is original. If you need to hire a professional content writer, then do so! Content has always been king of SEO and will probably always be. As long as you take the right approach and keep your end goal in mind, you should be on your way to success.