How to Write SEO Content That Works
Hi! If you’re looking for SEO content writing samples then click here and skip to the end. If not, hello. Relax a little, you’re in for a treat.
The State of SEO Content
Have you ever stopped to consider the sheer amount of SEO content writing that populates the internet?
Practically every site you have ever visited on the web has been optimised for search. That’s millions upon millions of pages populated with billions and billions of words. Keywords and key phrases, long-tail and high value.
Meta-descriptions, page titles, punctuation. Lists, ordered and unordered.
And behind all that, sat at their desk, is a copywriter tapping away at their keyboards.
You don’t know their names, but they’re the storytellers of your online experience. The creators of your digital narrative. Getting you to click on search results, funnelling you through the page, they write the unheard story of your browsing habits.
You’ve seen so much of it, but you are probably still oblivious as to what it is and what it does. If not, why else are you looking for SEO content writing samples?
So let’s get down to it.
How do you write SEO content that REALLY works? Let’s look at the key factors and see some SEO content writing samples that will get you scaling those search results.
Coming Up With Keywords
This is the core of your content writing. The foundations upon which you will want to build your copy. And much like the foundations of any structure, if you get it wrong here, well, the rest of it is going to collapse.
Perhaps not collapse. Poor keyword choices can’t collapse your whole website, but it will mean that the return on your investment will be minimal. If anything at all.
So you need to find the best keywords to be targeting. How do you do this? There are a few tools that should be in any SEO copywriter‘s arsenal.
Look, let’s be honest. When we’re talking about SEO content, we’re talking about going up the ranks on Google. Sure, Bing and Yahoo should be a consideration, and maybe Yandex and Baidu depending upon your market. But Google is really the big boy in the playground.
So what better tool to find keywords than Google’s own Keyword Planner? Well, maybe there are some, but we’ll get to those in a second.
Search for the base keywords that are relevant to you, and the Keyword Planner will display other keywords you can target. You can arrange these by relevance, cost-per-click, competition and monthly search volumes.
Ahrefs is one of our favourite SEO tools for finding keywords. It gives you serious info on your keywords, the competition you’re going to face and what you’re going to need to do to outrank them. This is pretty much everything you need to know about writing SEO content.
Ahrefs will help you with:
- competitive analysis
- keyword research
- backlink research
- content research
- rank tracking
- web monitoring
In the keywords ideas section you can input your base keyword and get more content ideas, much like the keyword planner.
Time for Meta Text
If keywords are the core, meta tags are the skeleton of your SEO content writing. They’re the keyword-informed backbone upon which you build your on-page copy.
As with most things, there’s plenty of debate on what tags to use, how important they are and how to optimise them. So let’s break it down simply.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are small snippets of text (or meta data) embedded within your website’s code that explain the page’s content. Your users will not see the tags in the content itself, instead meta tags are read by search engines and browsers.
They will be written in HTML in the <head> of your page. But don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to code in order to use them. Depending upon which platform your website has been created there will be native tools that allow you to add meta tags to your content, as well as a host of plugins to help you get the most out of them.
If you’re on WordPress, for instance, Yoast is an absolute diamond. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
Let’s first look at the two major meta tags you need to use for SEO.
Here’s what the code looks like:
<meta property="og:title" content="How to Write SEO Content That Works [Plus Content Samples!]" />
This is the title of your page and the heading that will be displayed in Google’s search results. It should contain your main keywords, of course, but in a way that ensures your target audience is going to click your link.
Google generally displays only the first 50-60 characters of your title. You can include more, of course, but it’s best to keep it under 60.
That means you’ve only got 60 characters or less to grab their attention.
<meta property="og:description" content="Do you need to know how to create SEO content that will not only ensure the top positions, but will get the click too? Come and take a look at some of the best SEO content writing samples and get inspired." />
In case you don’t recognise it, this is the blurb that’s displayed on the results page. Once again you need to be sure that your content keywords are placed in the meta description. And you also need to make sure you’re tantalising your potential visitor into wanting to find out more.
Pro-tip: check what your keyword competitors are saying and make sure yours sounds better!
There are plenty more meta tags that you can use, but these are the most important when it comes to writing your SEO content. These include content-type, viewport, robots and social tags. For more information on meta tags you can find a comprehensive list here.
IMPORTANT: Whilst the ‘keywords’ meta tag is still in circulation, it’s regarded as defunct by Google and the SEO community. This is because it’s so prone to abuse. So whilst you can use it, it’s best avoided.
Writing Killer Meta Tag Titles
It’s not good enough to just write the your keywords in your meta tags. No! You need to be doing much more than that.
We are talking about copywriting at the end of the day…
You need to know how to write killer page titles that grab the attention. Grab that click. Get people PUMPED!
Firstly of all, put your important keywords at or near the beginning. Simple.
Searchers scan results in split seconds so if they don’t see words relevant to their query you’ll just be over looked.
Which brings us neatly onto our next point. BE BOLD.
Writing perfect title tags isn’t just science. It’s an expression of your brand and your values, so talk in your brand’s tone of voice.
Optimise Those Page Titles
Siege media splits optimising title tags into 5 ‘reference’ points to improve your CTR:
Pretty self-explanatory. If your price point is lower than the rest of the market, let it be known. And don’t say cheap! If possible, let your users know what your products or services cost exactly.
This doesn’t simply extend to price. The same applies to things such as interest rates.
It was predicted that more content would be produced in 2017 than in the previous 5,000 years of human existence. This lead to an update on Google’s freshness algorithm and this impacts your title tags.
Make sure they’re up to date and relevant!
Use the volume of your content to show just how comprehensive your copy is. If it’s a listicle say how many items are on that list. People want to know that you’ve got lots of info for them, so tell them.
We live in an on demand society. People want things here and now. So if your business is focused on delivering services within a short timeframe, specify this here too. Do you do next day delivery? How long to master the course you’re selling?
If your branding is on point, this could be the most powerful inclusion in your page title. Just stating your company name could ensure the click-through and smash the top spots.
Excellent Meta Title Examples
So let’s look at some great examples of SEO titles.
Here’s an extremely simple change to the page title from Coderwall which produced a 14.8% lift in CTR.
See, it needn’t be complicated. All RankScience did here was add the word ‘example’ to Coderwall’s title. After implementing this site-wide Rank Science have seen month-to-month CTR growth of 8%. That’s huge.
Here’s another great example taken from Digital Current showing how using more ‘human’, descriptive language can help:
The title in the second search result tells you nothing about what’s on the page. And no-one is going to bother reading the meta description to find out. That means no clicks, regardless of your search position.
Here are some further examples of how to improve the allure of your meta titles:
In fact, if I’m honest with you, their infographic on improving your title tags for CTR is just absolutely boss. See it in full here.
Crafting Clickable Meta Descriptions
Here’s where you can have a bit more fun. With up to around 300 characters to play around with, you get to craft a meta description that is not only informative, but seductive. Emotive.
You can use this space to get across your brand’s tone of voice and generate that all important click. So let’s look at the top tips to improve your meta descriptions…
Make People Curious
Do not read that as click bait. People are sick of click bait. Instead think of ways that you can peak the searcher’s curiosity and get them through to your website.
How do you do this without saying, “number 35 will BLOW your MIND!” Well, pose ponderous thoughts:
- Discover how to…
- Have you ever considered…
- What would you do if…
Take this as an example of a meta description that peaks your curiosity:
Not only have they nailed the volume reference as outlined above, but the meta description is putting the reader in the driving seat. Asking them to invoke their own imaginations and giving a sense of the mysteries that await them on the other side of the click.
Sell Your Benefits
That does not mean sell the features of your product or service. Those can come later. This means tell the reader what the benefits of those features will be to their everyday lives.
Get them excited about how clicking your link is going to improve their job, their appearance, their income, their commute…
Higher rankings, more visitors and a better site? Yes please! So read on to find out the features of Yoast that will get you there.
The only criticism I have is that that line could be moved to the top. Push the features to the forefront.
Present Your USP
What’s so great about you? Do you have an exclusive product that can’t be found anywhere else? Do you have the largest collection of products on the market? Are you including incredible extras in your services?
Great! Use your meta description to talk about them.
Let’s look at how Barclays are using their meta descriptions to encourage people to work for them as an example:
Not only are they outlining their benefits, as spoken about above, they’re telling you how these benefits are exclusive to the brand.
This runs through the whole concept of this arm of the bank; Youniquely is built on the premise that you’re going to get something here you can’t get anywhere else.
The Body Beautiful
Now to the body of your text.
Let’s first take a look at how users actually read webpages before we get into the nitty gritty of on-page SEO. Over to the experts at Nielsen Norman Group for this one.
Back in 2006 they found that most users scan written content in an ‘f-shaped pattern of reading’.
This pattern is characterised by the reader’s eyes fixated at the top and left side of the page.
- The reader scans across the upper portion of the page.
- They move down slightly and scan across, but a shorter distance than above.
- Their eyes move vertically down the page, scanning the left hand side.
What do we take away from this? Well…
- The first lines of your text receive more views than any other.
- The first few words on the left of each line receive more views than the others.
Now, this isn’t an exact science, and not everyone will read your pages like this. There are other reading patterns:
- The layer-cake pattern is when the reader scans headings and subheadings and skips the body text.
- The spotted pattern is when the reader scans chunks of the text as if they’re looking for some specific text.
- The marking pattern is when the reader’s eyes just focus on one spot as they scroll down the page.
- The commitment pattern is when the reader reads everything on your page. (This is the pattern you want, obviously.)
In fact, the f-shape pattern is the worst case scenario, so it’s the best place to start when creating your content.
How Do We Use This Information?
So let’s say someone comes to your webpage and they’re hell-bent on scanning your content in an f-shape. How can we ensure that we still get them to take away what we want?
Here’s how to best structure content on a webpage:
- Include the most important information in the first two (small) paragraphs.
- Use bold headings to highlight the important points.
- Begin these headings with the most important words!
- Highlight small groups of content with a border or using a different background colour.
- Use bold to spotlight important phrases.
- Format links properly and ensure they’ve got the right anchor text.
- Use bullet points to breakdown important info that needs to be remembered.
- Cut out any waffle. Seriously. Do it.
Writing On-Page SEO Copy
The Opening Paragraph
Look at the first paragraph as your elevator pitch. You want to narrow down your whole premise into a sentence or two to assure your reader that not only are they in the right place, but you’re the right person to tell them what they want to know.
How do you do this?
- Be explicit
- Be straightforward
- Be confident
Importantly this paragraph should contain your keyword, or an iteration of it. One of my favourite ways of doing this is by posing a question and stating that you have the answer.
Let’s take the keyword ‘save money on car insurance’ as an example:
Do you want to save money on car insurance? Read our 5 top tips on reducing your insurance bill.
For SEO purposes you’ve got the keyword out there right away. You’ve also engaged the reader and explained that you have the solution that they’re looking for. Of course, perhaps some people aren’t looking for your 5 top tips, but in that case they know you’re not the article for them.
Don’t try and please everyone by being vague!
Calls To Action
Any webpage should have a purpose. Unless you’re creating an encyclopedia, you’re either looking to make a sale, generate a lead or instigate an action.
This should be done throughout your post by using various CTAs. In regards to SEO, this is the perfect place to position further keywords. Let’s take a look at an example:
YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY, TIME IS MONEY…
Here you’re introducing a sense of urgency, reusing the keyword and (hopefully) creating an action.
Lists, lists, lists
If you’re clued up on SEO, you’ll know all about Google’s answer box (also known as featured snippets). Shooting you to the top spot of Google, this is the perfect way to generate click-throughs.
There are a variety of ways that we can optimise for Google’s featured snippets, but let’s look at how we can use lists.
Constituting around 19% of all answer boxes, the list feature maxes out at 8 points and usually has a title lifted from your page. Therefore, to optimise, ensure you’re putting the keyword above the list on your page and including more than 8 items so that the searcher will click through to your site to find out more.
Let’s look at an example of this optimised:
Nice and easy.
There is plenty of competition to get into these boxes, so be sure you’re conducting proper research!
Hi! I’m A Heading!
Your headings need to be attractive and summarise what the paragraphs below are about. This allows your reader to quickly scan through your text and find the part that’s most applicable to them.
Whilst some SEO experts say that headings aren’t important for SEO, we disagree. Well structured, smartly used keywords in headings can work wonders for long-tail keywords and capture some important searches.
If possible, using these headings as anchor text in your navigation is an excellent little trick…
Creating a considered text structure is extremely important for SEO, but also your readers, who, after all, are the most important thing.
Using the tips above will ensure that your on-page copy is optimised for searches, though just writing your content in this way isn’t enough to get your site to Google’s top spots. There are many factors such as page speed, code optimisation and backlinks that are incredibly important too.
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