Writing for SEO: Here's What Every Small Business Needs to Know
If you focus on the most evergreen of SEO writing strategies, you can build a foundation that doesn’t just work today, but tomorrow and every day after that, too.
Search Engine Optimization has always been a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it area in marketing.
The SEO tactics that worked a year ago might not work today, and – perhaps even more annoyingly – the strategies that work today will almost certainly not work tomorrow.
Sounds like a headache, right?
Right. But it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, if you focus on the most evergreen of SEO writing strategies, you can build a foundation that doesn’t just work today, but tomorrow and every day after that, too.
“So, what is this strategy?” we hear you ask.
The answer is simple: content.
With that in mind, let’s break down exactly what SEO content writing looks like today, and how you can leverage it to supercharge your business.
Part 1: The ever-changing nature of search algorithms
As we all know, the goal of SEO is essentially to enable search algorithms to determine that your content is the most authoritative and relevant source for a given query.
To do this successfully, search engines like Google regularly push algorithm changes. These are designed to target sites that employ certain “black-hat” (read: shady) tactics to game the system, and they can quickly result in sites being deindexed, or down-ranked.
Luckily, high-quality content is a white-hat tactic and shouldn’t be affected by algorithm updates. That said, it’s still worth checking your site positioning after new updates are launched to see if you need to revisit old content that previously ranked well.
Part 2: How to perform keyword research (the 2020 way)
Okay, now let’s get down to the good stuff.
No matter what your business does, you’ll have a natural target keyword or phrase that represents your product or service.
This could be ‘golf shoes’, ‘cupcakes’, ‘unicorn hats’… you name it. These single keywords tend to have high traffic....but also high competition.
Thankfully, there are also a host of related long-tail keywords which you can (and should!) also target to net some SEO juice.
To carry out keyword research right, it’s essential to focus on what people actually want to read by paying attention to these long-tail queries.You can use a number of free tools for this process, including UberSuggest, AnswerThePublic, or simply Google Ads Keyword Planner.
(A quick note: We’ll be working with UberSuggest throughout this article, but the process is similar in other tools.)
All three tools allow you to simply input a seed keyword, and they’ll then generate a plethora of related words and phrases you can work into your content. They’ll also tell you how much competition there is in the search results, too. Pretty handy stuff.
Pro tip: If you’re using UberSuggest for this process, don’t forget to check out the tabs at the top of the results box to get tons of ideas for related long tail keywords.
We dive into how to do keyword research in even more detail in this post — be sure to check it out for more info.
Part 3: A quick primer on search intent
It may sound like a buzzword, but search intent is such an important consideration when writing for SEO.
In fact, optimizing your site for search intent can be one of the most powerful strategies you implement.
So, what is search intent, exactly?
In a nutshell, search intent is a term Google uses to describe what a user wants to achieve when they carry out their search. This intent can be broadly broken down into three categories:
- Transactional: A user wants to buy something.
- Navigational: A user wants to find something.
- Informational: A user wants to learn something.
Understanding the intent of visitors is absolutely key to optimizing your website’s content.
So, how do you figure out search intent?
As part of your keyword research process, you’ll come across many different key phrase formats, including “how do I…” or “what is…” or “where can I buy…” – these are all solid indicators of intent.
However, to really be sure which one of these three categories your keywords fall into, simply take a look at the articles that rank highly.
Taking the unicorn hats example from above, we can see that all of the top results are transactional in nature, which means, yours should be too.
Using high ranking articles as a guide, you’ll be able to tweak your content strategy and map all the keywords you want to rank for to search intent. For example, you can create different pages which map to either transactional or information searches, with a slightly different angle on each.
Part 4: Optimizing your content for featured snippets
Another powerful SEO strategy to write for in 2020 is the featured snippet. Have you ever searched for something on Google and been presented with an answer right there without clicking on any result?
If so, you’ve seen a featured snippet. If not, here’s a snapshot:
Google is very secretive about exactly how it chooses featured snippets, which means earning one isn’t exactly a science. What we do know, however, is that featured snippets are always a short, concise answer to a direct question – often taken from lists.
There are a few different content layouts which can improve your chances of being selected as a featured snippet, but one of the most effective is a Q&A. By answering common questions about your industry, product, or business, you can deliver content with an information search intent perfectly structured for featured snippets.
Whether you actually get one or not? Well, that’s up to the Google Gods.
Part 5: SEO content writing quick-wins
If you’re pushed for time and just need a few quick-wins for your SEO content writing, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few essentials to keep in mind as you build out your content:
- Don’t forget that you’re writing for humans, not machines. In 2020, we (thankfully) don’t write for robots anymore. That means that your content should be easy to read, have an appropriate tone-of-voice, and — most importantly — genuinely add value for your target audience.
- Decide on word counts by checking out high ranking articles. There’s no use writing a super long post, if all other high-ranking articles hover around the 500 word mark. So, before you put pen to digital paper, take a look at what competitor sites have produced to help you decide how long your content should be.
- Keep your old content updated. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is to push content live and then forget about it. So, if you make one resolution this year, make it this: think of each and every piece of content as a living thing. Don’t be afraid to revisit your older posts and bring them up to date to ensure they’re as helpful as possible. Keep adding and tweaking them to make sure you’re consistently the best resource online for a given topic.
Still feeling bamboozled? Get help from the leading Colorado Springs SEO agency: Marzullo & Associates.
We hope this guide has given you the building blocks you need to level-up your SEO strategy using content. If you need extra support and guidance, or simply want to outsource this process to a team of experts, get in touch with Colorado Springs’ leading SEO agency: Marzullo & Associates.
Or, for more killer tips about the murky world of content marketing and SEO, stay tuned to the Marzullo & Associates blog.