SEO Tips for Content Writing — A Lazy Writer’s Guide

SEO joke about SEO tips
Background by Bekky Bekks on Unsplash

According to SEMrush, search is the number one traffic source to blogs across all industries. Yes, numero uno.

Not knowing anything about the SEO will get you as far as those “I got 100 followers on Medium” articles.

SEO matters. It is not a sprint. But, if done right, it will create results in the long run.

Writing Articles for SEO

An online education company I worked for in the past, used to categorize all articles into three groups (types). For each article type, we had a different workflow and checklists.

For starters there were articles created to rank. These pieces required extensive keyword research, a briefing process that made sure authors knew what the goal was.

The other two types were viral articles and rewrites, but we won’t get into those.

To write an article for SEO means to research keywords first, write second, and finally optimize for the search engines.

Doing it the other way around really doesn’t make too much sense. If you write first without the research and then decide to “do some SEO” you are set for failiure.

It makes no sense to write about groundhogs on a space exploration mission on planet Kaarina-2493 and then consider SEO. No one searches for for groundhogs with astronaut suits on… or do they?

An astrounout groundhog wearing a space suit by NASA
Image source SpaceNews

Tip #1: Use Only The Right Tools

There are billion of SEO tools out there today.

The reality is you only need a few important ones. Anything other than that will make you invest too much energy.

#1 SEO Tool: Answer the Public

This tool should be every writer’s best friend. It’s not just an SEO tool, it’s the fountain of great ideas.

Anything you find here was actually generated by the readers.

And it is free.

An illustration showing questions usually asked around the topic of SEO
Image from Answer the Public

Go ahead, just type in 1–2 words (your topic) and you will get plenty of keywords around which you could structure your articles. This is a great chance to create content that relieves the pain your readers have.

#2 SEO Tool: Ahrefs Keyword Generator

This free tool by Ahrefs is one of the best SEO assistants you can find online without giving up a penny.

You type in any target keyword or phrase, and it will pull the top 100 keyword ideas. Its database consists of over 8 billion keywords.

It is a great addition to Answer the Public because the Generator will display two important metrics:

Search volume — how much the keyword is googled
Keyword difficulty — how difficult it is to compete for the keyword

The higher the search volume, and the lower the keyword difficulty, the bigger the opportunity to rank high gets.

The ideal case scenario would be to have a keyword with a difficulty of 0 (zero) and a search volume of 10k.

Pro tip: If you are just beginning and your content is not ranking at all, find those specific long-tail keywords your competitors are not picking up. These will have a search volume of 50 to 500 and a difficulty of 0.

#3 SEO Tool: Yoast SEO

Yoast is a tool that makes SEO really easy for both newbies and experienced SEO writers. It will help you create meta descriptions and insert your focus keywords into an article.

You should know how to use Yoast correctly. Not everything should be green ✅.

Google’s algorithm deciding if you should rank first is actually an artificially intelligent robot. And at this point is recognizing if you are spamming the content with your focus keywords. If you choose to put it in every subheadline and paragraph, you will also bore your users to death and have irrelevant content as a bonus.

Actually, since recently it’s become very clear.

Google rewards websites that keep their audience glued to the content.

So you need a quality content that is easily digested and/or of value to your readers.

Of course, you might not be using WordPress which means you can’t really do anything with Yoast.

If you are using another CMS for writing, just google the name of your CMS or webpage builder and add “SEO”. You will find something decent enough to help you edit the content.

If you are a writer here on Medium, go into SEO settings and optimize the content within the settings.

Tip #2: Use a Dozen of Keyword Variations For The Article

So, after checking out these tools, you have resources and solid knowledge to collect the phrases. In order to create an interesting piece that answers the sum of the related questions from your readers, you’d have to collect 5 to 30 keywords into a sheet or somewhere where you’ll have it close.

Here is a sheet I created when I was doing my SEO preparation. Go ahead, download it and use it as a template. It’s a clutter-free document that is really easy to understand

Screenshot of a Keyword Research Sheet

Anyways, what I did there is I categorized my keywords into 3 simple groups.

1️ Focus keyword — a phrase you want your content to rank for the most. If it makes sense, you put it in a headline, subheadline, and inside the paragraphs. But remember not to force it.

2️⃣ Secondary keyword — a search term you want your content to rank for as well. More importantly, these play a supporting role in your focus keyword. They should also appear in subheadlines and throughout the content.

3️⃣ Root Keyword — a multi or a single-word phrase that represents the topic of your article. This phrase should be naturally used most often within your article and maybe if you are lucky, you might rank for this one.

Just keep in mind that the root keyword is a more complicated topic. It could be used as a focus keyword for a long-form article as well as a seed topic for creating multiple articles.

However, for you, it’s important to have these three for every SEO piece that you craft.

Tip #3: Make Your Content Readable, Skimmable, and Valuable

I’ve seen writers that dive too deep into SEO and make the mistake of writing awfully structured and “overoptimized” pieces. You will recognize these articles because your eyes tend to hurt instantly.

You shouldn’t create content for robots. You should write for humans, robots love that.

This should be your goal as a writer regardless of whether you are into SEO or not.

What is the point of making articles that no one is going to read, ever?

Let me give you three best practices here:

  • Write readable content because you want people to read your piece
  • Make it skimmable because most people just fly over your content
  • Create value because it is what your reader came for

Tip #4: Enrich Your Content

Image with a “best value” certificate stamp
Image edited by the author

Again, if you are not really into SEO at least approach it from your readers’ perspective. What would make them want to read the article?

You can even improve the content for your own selfish reasons — to get more traffic. The point is:

Writing for SEO means creating a rich content.

Here are a couple of things you should do to upgrade your content.

1️⃣ Include Images

Images make your articles attractive and easier for the eye. Imagine yourself writing for 8-year olds. It could help.

Don’t forget to name your images with focus or secondary keywords and include alt texts. Alt-text is just a short description of your images. Robots and people love these as well.

2️⃣ Embed videos

Videos are fun and could bring extra value to your readers. The search engine also seems to like it where it makes sense.

Don’t force it though. Having video doesn’t mean you’ll rank

3️⃣Link your existing content to your new piece

In SEO there is something called internal linking. You know about it most likely. Well, if you have been publishing for a while, go back to that content. Edit it and push some traffic to your fresh content.

This is important. I keep seeing websites doing everything wrong with the SEO repeatedly rank high because of internal linking.

4️⃣ Edit your meta descriptions

Again, this is what both humans and robots enjoy seeing. A meta description is a short paragraph that appears on Google when people search for your content.

The meta description should include your focus and your secondary keywords.

5️⃣ Ask websites for some link juice

This is the most complicated step and writers don’t usually do it. And frankly, they shouldn’t.

But it is still good to know that this could help your content both rank higher and get some relevant traffic.

A pro tip: give links to other websites/authors and let them know about it. There is a chance they will return the favor.

What Does SEO Stand For In Writing?

There are three fundamental components that make SEO what it is. And that is if we skip all the mumbo jumbo.

These components are search, text, and spiders.

1. Search 🔎

Or what is widely referred to as googling, is the most fundamental concept.

In order to find something on the internet, you look it up. If you want to find some SEO tips for your case specifically, you’d type in something like “writing for SEO tips”.

Just remember, you never search terms in google with your A-game grammar. You just write how it pops up in your mind.

Same as everyone else. And here is a little AHA thingie.

If you always find the right content on Google, you already understand SEO.

You are just not conscious of it. It’s a fine starting point.

2. Text ✏️

Text is and always will be at the core of search. Meaning, if you search, you’ll most likely end up with a text.

Making sure text is descriptive to both people and search engines is what makes one text easier to find (and read) than the other.

The content you create is a collection of text and images as well isn’t it? So if you just write, you’re already doing SEO. You are just bad at it.

Aside from text, there are multiple other components like meta tags, robots, HTTP, sitemaps… Well, a science fiction movie to be honest.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to get into that, ever. Unless you like Sci-Fi…

Image of a Robot saying “hello there” with HTML title tags.
Edited image by Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash

3. Spider (web crawler) 🕷

A web crawler is a bot and each search engine has its own.

Google has it’s bot, and it’s called, you guessed it, a Googlebot. The name web crawler derives from the first search engine ever created called, second chances, a Web Crawler.

The bot simply crawls the web, searches the content, picks up the new stuff, and indexes it. Once your content was indexed, it can be found on Google.

That is it in a nutshell.

Now, there is a way you can flirt with a crawler. You know, make your content easier to find.

The four writing tips for SEO I am about to share will help with that.

Bonus Tip: Enjoy The Process

Writing articles for SEO still means writing content for people. This means you will still be doing the same thing you enjoy the most and that is creating content.

Having insights on search engines means you are literally getting a sixth sense of what your readers want to know more about.

It will make you a better writer overall.

So, enjoy it and don’t go too deep. Great content matters the most.

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I write words that entertain & educate. I entertain because I like being entertained; I educate since I wish to understand.

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Luciano Kovacevic

Luciano Kovacevic

I write words that entertain & educate. I entertain because I like being entertained; I educate since I wish to understand.

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