SEO Writing: 12 Tips for Creating SEO-Optimized Content

Tushar Pol

Nov 20, 202312 min read
seo writing tips

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What Is SEO Writing?

SEO writing is the process of writing content in a way that’s intended to make it rank higher in search engines like Google for relevant keywords. 

This involves: 

  • Optimizing your content for target keywords 
  • Making sure your content is helpful to readers
  • Helping search engines understand what your content is about

This guide teaches you why SEO writing matters and how to hone your SEO writing skills in 12 easy pointers. Read on.

Why Is SEO Writing Important?

SEO writing is important because it helps you reach more people who are interested in your content.

When you write with SEO in mind, your content has a higher chance of being discovered in Google.

For example, we’ve spent the last few years doing SEO-focused writing for our blog.

That’s one of the main reasons why our blog gets more than 1.1 million visitors from search engines per month, according to the organic traffic estimation in Semrush’s Domain Overview tool.

Domain Overview report for "semrush.com/blog"

It’s a drastic increase from several years ago. And this growth wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t paying attention to SEO when writing content.

Think of SEO as a bridge that helps search engine users reach your content.

Without this bridge, even the most valuable content might go unnoticed.

Make sense?

Good. Now, let’s see how to actually create SEO-optimized content.

12 Tips for Creating SEO-Optimized Content

1. Find Your Primary Keyword

Before you start writing, you need to determine your primary keyword.

The primary keyword is the main term (or phrase) you want to optimize your content around. To improve the chance that your content shows up when someone searches for that term or phrase in Google. 

To find your primary keyword, use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

Let’s say you’re writing an article about a vegan diet. Type “vegan diet” into the search bar and click “Search.”

“vegan diet” entered into Keyword Magic Tool search bar

And the tool will show you potential candidates for your primary keyword.

Keyword Magic Tool results for "vegan diet"

Having access to all these keywords is great. But how do you know which one to choose as your primary keyword?

Here are some tips to consider.

Your primary keyword should:

  • Be relevant to your content—i.e., it should reflect the main topic of your content
  • Have a decent search volume. Enough people should be searching for that keyword. What constitutes a decent search volume depends on the niche of your website. See the “Volume” column to see how many people search for each keyword.
  • Be within your ranking capabilities. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to rank for. See the “KD %” column to see the ranking difficulty of each keyword. The higher the number, the harder it is to rank for that term.

For example, you might choose “vegan diet plan” as your primary keyword if you’re creating a step-by-step vegan diet plan for beginners.

Plus, this keyword has a decent search volume of 2,400 searches per month and a not-too-challenging difficulty score of 66%. It’s also clear that users searching this term want to learn something. 

“vegan diet plan” result from the keywords list

So, it’s definitely a good primary keyword to target.

(Targeting a keyword means using it in your content. We’ll see how to do that correctly later in this guide.)

2. Choose Your Secondary Keywords

Once you have a primary keyword to target, you’ll also need to find secondary keywords.

Secondary keywords are keywords closely related to your primary keyword.

These may include synonyms, related subtopics, or long-tail variations (meaning highly specific terms) of your primary keyword.

Using secondary keywords is important because:

  • They increase your chances of ranking for even more keywords—not just for the primary one 
  • They’re comparatively easier to rank for. While the primary keyword may have a lot of competition, the secondary keywords likely have less.

Here’s how to find secondary keywords in Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.

First, see whether your primary keyword has a default grouping on the left-hand side.

If it does, click on it. And you’ll see all the related keywords belonging to that group.

These keywords are close variations of your primary keyword. And they make for great secondary keywords to target in your content.

Keyword groups for "vegan diet" highlighted on the left-hand side in Keyword Magic Tool

Another way to find secondary keywords is to use the “Questions” tab on the left-hand side.

This will show you all the questions that people are asking related to your topic.

Some of these questions (secondary keywords) might be worth addressing as subtopics in your content.

“Questions” results for "vegan diet" keyword

3. Satisfy Search Intent

After you’ve identified your keywords, you need to make sure the content you create satisfies search intent.

Search intent is the reason why users search for your keywords.

For blog posts, your primary and secondary keywords will likely have informational intent. This means users want to learn something about a topic.

And the best way to teach them about a topic is to use the right content format.

Some common content formats include:

  • How-to guides
  • List posts
  • Step-by-step tutorials
  • Definition posts
  • Comparison posts

You can find out which content format works best for your topic by looking at the top-ranking pages on Google.

For example, we see that almost all top-ranking pages for “vegan diet plan” are guides with advice on how to adopt a vegan diet. And meal plans to help readers get started.

Google's SERP for “vegan diet plan” query

So, if you were to target this keyword (and related secondary keywords), you need to create something similar: a guide on how to get started with a vegan diet.

Doing so will improve your chances of ranking higher.

4. Create Quality Content

Quality content is at the core of effective SEO writing. Without focusing on quality, no amount of optimization will help you rank higher.

But what is quality content?

It’s content that:

  • Is accurate
  • Provides value to your audience
  • Is original and unique
  • Is engaging and interactive

How do you create quality content?

Hire someone who’s not only a good writer, but who also has first-hand domain expertise.

This is especially important if you’re creating content around “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics. 

YMYL is a term Google uses to describe topics that can have a significant impact on a reader’s well-being.

These include topics related to health/medical advice, legal matters, financial planning, or news/current events.

Google holds this type of content to a higher standard because of the potential implications on readers’ lives. 

Misinformation or poor-quality writing in these areas can lead to serious repercussions.

For example, if you’re creating content around vegan diet plans, misinformation in this area may lead readers to make health-related decisions that can negatively impact their well-being. 

That’s why working with a qualified health expert would be a smart move.

They can help you create accurate, valuable, and original content that covers all the aspects of a vegan diet plan.

By creating quality content this way, you can build trust with your audience. And establish yourself as an expert in your niche.

5. Leverage Keywords in Your Content

Incorporate your researched keywords into your content organically. 

Google looks at the words in your content to understand what it’s about. So it can rank it appropriately.

But keep one thing in mind:

Avoid keyword stuffing. At all costs.

Keyword stuffing is the practice of using keywords in an unnatural way. It’s a tactic some use to try to manipulate search engines into ranking their content higher. 

See how the example below is doing it wrong:

Keyword stuffing example shown on "What is vegan diet?" section

You want to avoid doing this.

Keyword stuffing can make your content look spammy to both Google and your readers.

And your content may not rank very well as a result.

To check whether you’re using keywords correctly, try Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant.

It highlights when any of your keywords are used in an unnatural way.

"mountain bikes" keyword highlighted in SEO Writing Assistant

6. Structure Content with Subheadings

Subheadings (H2-H6) are miniature titles that divide your content into sections.

They’re important for SEO because they help you:

  • Organize your content and make it easier to read and understand
  • Use keywords and related terms in a natural way
  • Allow users to easily scan content for the information they need. Which is great for the user experience.

See how the example on the right is much easier to scan for information?

A infographic showing a page with no subheadings (left) and subheadings (right)

You need to structure your content similarly.

First, start by writing a catchy title that includes your primary keyword. This will be your H1 (the first heading in your content).

Then, organize the rest of your content with relevant H2 subheadings, H3 subheadings, and so on.

(H2 subheadings should support your H1, H3 subheadings should support your H2s, etc.)

Like this:

H1, H2 and H3 subheadings structure

By organizing your content with subheadings, you can create a clear and logical structure that helps both Google and your readers understand and navigate your content.

7. Make Your Content Easy to Read

One of the key aspects of good SEO writing is readability. 

Readability is a measure of how easily your audience can read and understand your content.

If your content is difficult to read, readers will bounce off your page (and likely never come back).

Behavior like this signals to Google that your content is of low quality. So, it may not rank very well.

Using subheadings is a good start. But there are also other things you need to do to improve readability:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs. This will make your content more scannable and digestible.
  • Use simple and clear language. So readers of all levels can understand your writing.
  • Use visuals. Images, infographics, videos, graphs, or other visual assets are powerful tools that can enhance your content and make it more engaging. 
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists. They’re great for presenting information in a clear and concise way.

Run your content through Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant to measure its readability.

The tool tells you how easy it is to read and understand:

"Readability" section of SEO Writing Assistant

It also highlights words or sentences that could be rewritten to enhance readability.

SEO Writing Assistant highlighted a sentence that could be rewritten to enhance readability

Internal links are links that point to other pages on your own website. 

They direct readers to other valuable, relevant content.

An infographic showing an internal link to a relevant content

Internal links are also important for SEO because they distribute link equity (ranking power). So other pieces of content can also rank higher.

When adding internal links, make sure your anchor text (the clickable text that includes a link) is relevant to the linked content.

The idea is that the link should be super relevant. 

So, don’t add links anywhere and everywhere for the sake of it. Only link to content where it naturally makes sense.

For example, if you’re writing an article about a vegan diet, you can add links to other pieces of content that provide more information on topics such as:

  • How to deal with common challenges of veganism
  • How to find vegan-friendly restaurants and products

These links will help readers learn more about a vegan diet. And show Google that your site is an authority on the topic.

Google could be showing featured snippets for your primary and secondary keywords. Which are huge opportunities to increase your visibility.

Featured snippets are direct answers that are returned by Google, usually in the form of a paragraph, list, or table.

For example, if you search for “is vegan diet healthy,” you might see a featured snippet like this:

Featured snippet on Google SERP for “is vegan diet healthy" search

Google typically pulls the featured snippet from one of the top-ranking pages.

You can steal this snippet from a competitor by optimizing your content for it.

First, search for your keywords using Google to see whether there are any featured snippets in the search results.

If there are, consider:

  • What types of snippets they are (paragraph, list, or table)
  • What content they display and how they format it

These aspects will help you understand what Google and users are looking for. And how you can improve your content to rank for those featured snippets.

Generally, the optimization process boils down to:

  • Providing clear and concise explanations in simple language
  • Aligning your content to the formatting used in the current featured snippet. For example, if the snippet shows a list, you should also use a list in your content.

Doing this will improve your chances of winning a featured snippet.

10. Create an Optimized Title Tag

A title tag is the title of your webpage or article that may appear in search results.

"The Secrets to Losing Weight on a Vegan Diet" title tag on Google SERP

Google looks at the title tag to understand your content’s topic. So it can rank the content appropriately.

For users, the title tag is their first impression of your content. Users read it first before deciding to click through and read more.

So, it’s worth optimizing it. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Make sure your title tag entices users to click. You can use power words, numbers, and brackets for that.
  • Include your primary keyword in your title tag (preferably at the beginning). This will help you rank for that keyword and show relevance to the user’s query.
  • Keep your title tag around 55 characters long. So Google doesn’t truncate it in search results.

Here’s an example of a good title tag:

How to Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet Plan (7 Easy Steps)

As you can see, this title tag is around 55 characters, includes the keyword, and uses a number and power word to entice a click.

You need to do the same with your own content’s title tags.

11. Write a Compelling Meta Description

A meta description is a short summary of your article that can appear below the title tag.

Meta description under "The Secrets to Losing Weight on a Vegan Diet" title tag on Google SERP

Google may not always display the meta description you set for your article. Sometimes, they override it and generate the description that they think will work best for users.

And it’s worth mentioning that meta descriptions aren’t a direct ranking factor. 

Despite all this, it’s still worth optimizing them. Because a well-written meta description can entice users to click on your article.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Use active voice. This will improve clarity by addressing users directly.
  • Use action verbs. This will nudge users to click through and explore your article. So, use phrases like “learn more,” “find out,” or “dive deep.” 
  • Keep it brief. Google cuts off meta description after about 105 characters on mobile. So, keep it to one to two short sentences to stay below that threshold.
  • Use your target keyword. This will signal to users that your page covers the topic they want to learn about.

Here’s an example of a good meta description:

Wondering how to lose weight on a vegan diet plan? Dive deep into the secrets many don’t talk about.

As you can see, this meta description is under 105 characters, includes the target keyword, uses active voice, and includes an action verb to entice a click.

You need to apply the same principles when writing meta descriptions for your own content.

12. Optimize Your URL Slug

A URL slug is the last part of your page’s URL.

Here’s an example:

"lose-weight-on-a-vegan-diet" URL slug

Google looks at the URL slug to understand what topic your content covers.

That’s why it’s important to optimize your slug:

Here are some best practices to follow when determining what your slug should be:

  • Include your target keyword. This can help Google understand what your article is about and show it for relevant queries.
  • Use hyphens to separate words. Hyphens are the standard way to separate words in a URL slug.
  • Avoid using dates. Dates in your URL slug can make your article look outdated.
  • Be concise and descriptive. Rather than being overly long or confusing.

By following these tips, you can create an optimized URL slug that will help your article rank higher on Google and drive more traffic.

Start Your SEO Writing Journey

That’s pretty much everything you need to know to go out and start writing SEO content.

For every piece, follow the advice we’ve shared above. And your articles will likely start ranking well on Google.

And using Semrush tools can make your SEO writing process even easier and more effective. 

Start your free trial today.

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Tushar has been involved in SEO for the past four years, specializing in content strategy and technical SEO. He gained his experience in agencies, where he worked on various ecommerce and B2B clients. On Semrush blog, he writes about SEO and marketing based on experience drawn from his client work, focusing on sharing practical and effective strategies. His goal is to turn Semrush blog into the ultimate destination for learning SEO and web marketing.
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