How to write and optimize content for SEO

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Inbound Marketing

When we talk about content marketing or inbound marketing, we are always talking about content production. While both strategies are really important when it comes to generating traffic, qualified leads and sales for your business, besides requiring you a great deal of time, they also assume that you know how to write and optimize content for SEO.

When it comes to writing content for websites and blogs with the goal of generating qualified traffic through the search engines and subsequently converting that traffic into leads and sales, one of the most important aspects is SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

When we write an article in a blog, optimizing that content for SEO is key to getting a good rank of that text in Google’s organic results. There are several technical aspects that you can take into account, and the most important thing is you write to your users, that is, write to anyone who will read your texts and do not try, in any way, to manipulate the rules to get ahead of your competitors.

NOTE: When you write with robots in mind and not focused at your users, you are harming yourself in two ways: first, you will be penalized by Google for trying to take advantage of the algorithm in some way; and then you will be writing content that is of little relevance to your readers because of that manipulation, which makes your conversion and client loyalty to decrease.

There are several ways for you to write content. However, writing good content and properly optimized for SEO requires a greater dedication and especially some strategy on your part. Let us take look at how to write and optimize content for SEO.

How to Write Content for SEO

Nowadays, although Google’s algorithm seeks authenticity above all with regard to content published on websites and blogs, it continues to use several factors, both internal and external, to determine if one content is more relevant than the other. Contrary to what many people believe, Google does not care if one content is better or worse than the other. The work of Google is not to analyze that, but the relevance of that content to that search the user is performing.

When you type something in your browser, Google looks for the best possible answer to your question. Not necessarily the “best” content comes out the front, since the meaning of “best” is quite subjective. For Google, what matters is the relevance of that content to the user who performed the search. If this article answers the user’s doubts and clarifies it in relation to this topic, then this content is more relevant than another that may leave the user still in doubt about something.

Of course, writing good content is not just as simple as that. But if we assume that your content does not meet that requirement, then everything else will be in vain. More important than good optimization is you always think about the user who is performing the search and the content that you are going to deliver to him in response to that doubt.

1. Choose what to write about (keyword research)

Although the vast majority of publishers do not think about it, the reality is that not all keywords are relevant to the search level. If you think about writing an article on how to lose weight fast, for example, did you know that there are dozens of other more interesting keywords to work on than the keyword “how to lose weight fast”?

To understand which are the most interesting keywords to use in my own articles, I use the KWFinder tool, which is absolutely fantastic and really accessible. With that tool I can easily understand what to do in each moment of my content strategy. Take a look:

KWFinder - Keyword Research

By typing “how to lose weight fast” in KWFinder, I quickly discover that the keyword has only 3,600 monthly searches on Google in Brazil, and even though it is not bad as a long tail keyword, it is not what I am looking for. Below, KWFinder gives me dozens of other keyword options in the same niche market. If I organize the results by the “Search” column, I can see which keywords are most searched on Google in Brazil every month on that subject:

KWFinder - Monthly Search Volume

That way, I easily realize that there are dozens of keywords with a lot more monthly searches and I can adapt my content strategy to match that analysis. Of course it does not mean that I am going to create weaker content, on the contrary. It means, however, that I will have to write content around that keyword rather than the one I had originally thought. Or do both!

Another advantage of that fantastic tool called KWFinder is that it also gives a holistic analysis of everything related to those keywords, such as the average CPC value in Google AdWords, the level of competition to advertise in PPC and even Keyword SEO Difficulty, which is a score from 0 to 100 and which basically measures the difficulty of taking Google’s first place for that search, taking into account all the first organic results on Google.

That will give you a broader and more objective notion to apply to your content strategy correctly and start creating relevant content that is actually searched on the internet.

2. Keyword density in the content

It is amazing how 90% of digital marketing newbies believe that using the keyword in 3% of their text will help them improve their position on Google instantly. However, things do not work that way. When the goal is to optimize content for SEO, keyword density is relevant but not the most important aspect of all. In fact, a density of 0.7% ~ 0.9% may be enough to successfully position your content on the first page of Google.

More important than keyword density in content is the quality of that content. It is not worth to create weak content and put your keyword in focus 37 times. That simply will not help. Focus your strategy on writing content that can really help your reader clarify their doubts about that topic. The more you think about taking advantage of the algorithm, the less natural you are.

3. Internal links and external links

One of the most neglected aspects by publishers is the internal and external linkage in their content. Unfortunately there are still many people who think that linking to other sites is releasing relevance to their content, when in fact what happens is precisely the opposite. When you link to other sites with relevant content, you are not only helping your user, but also enhancing the relevance of your content because you are citing credible sources that will assist your reader during the search process for that subject.

Internal linking is also very important. Whenever possible, make 1 to 3 internal links in your content. In addition to linking to other relevant material on your site/blog, you are reinforcing those articles for certain keywords. Of course, whenever you link internally to other articles, it is very important that you use a relevant anchor text for the ranking of that subject.

4. Optimizing text content

When you write an article for your company website or blog, optimizing that text is equally important so that Google understands what is most relevant, but mainly so that your reader can read that content in an easy way. That is what we normally call diagonal reading, which helps you structure your content correctly, organizing all information in a logical way, and optimizing content for SEO.

The use of headings, subheadings, dotted or numbered lists, bold, italic, etc., besides being ways for you to add style to your content are, above all, ways for you to tell Google which are the most relevant parts of the content and the hierarchical organization of that very content. When you have a text of 1,000 or 2,000 words, that information has to be broken into small blocks of text, not only for your readers to be able to read that information more quickly, but mainly for Google to understand how the text is organized, since not all content has the same weight or relevance.

5. Use of images in the articles

The use of images in the articles is done for two reasons: first, as a way to make your content more friendly to your reader, making reading easier and giving greater relevance to certain themes in your text; second, because images are optimized with title and alternate text, which allows you to position your keyword also in the optimization of your images.

6. Big or small texts?

While there are no concrete studies that say you need to create lengthy content, there are a number of reviews that have been made by various experts, which indicate that larger, more relevant texts often tend to get better ranking on Google. For many years I have been a fan of creating more extensive material, since in addition to being more complete and relevant to my readers, they leave little room for that person to go looking for more information elsewhere.

There are also a number of indications that Google prefers large and comprehensive articles because they consider them to be more relevant to the question the reader asked when typing their search. This is not a scientific fact, but if you like writing, focus on creating really complete content that can dispel any doubts your reader has about a certain theme. That will help you improve the position of that content in the organic results of search engines.

How to optimize content for SEO

In addition to writing good content, better yet, relevant content, you also need to take into consideration several technical aspects related to SEO. Optimizing content for SEO is important for several reasons, but mostly for that content to be found. What is the point of writing dozens of articles on your blog if no one can find them when they do a Google search? That is what I would call a waste of time!

To prevent that from happening, now that you already know how to write good content and especially how to do an analysis before you start writing about a certain subject (read step #1 above), it is time for you to learn how to properly optimize your content for SEO.

How to write and optimize content for SEO

For those who write content regularly, I recommend using WordPress. The WordPress editor is really interesting, and plugins like WordPress SEO from Yoast help you to easily understand what is wrong with your texts, optimizing content for SEO in a much more interesting way.

As you can see in that first image of an article I wrote here on the blog, there are three key points to consider in the beginning of the text. Let us take a look at each of those points:

  1. H1 Header – Each article or page you publish on your site can only have one H1 header. A site cannot have more than one H1 header per page. This is one of the most basic SEO mistakes committed by thousands of publishers on their websites and blogs. The title of your article should also contain the keyword for which you want to optimize that subject. The title is one of the strongest elements of a page.
  2. Optimized URL – If you want to rank your article for “how to lose weight fast” but have decided to write a title similar to “10 strategies I learned about how to lose weight fast”, you need to optimize that URL so it contains only the more relevant keywords. Everything else is superfluous and totally unnecessary. Having your keyword in the URL is also important to better rank your content.
  3. H2 Subtitle – The main subheadings of your content should use a H2 header markup. An article with several major subheadings will logically have multiple H2 headers. There is absolutely no problem for you to create several H2 tags. In hierarchical terms that is how it works. If you have a subtitle within a subtitle, you would use an H3 header then, and so on.

How to write and optimize content for SEO

As we saw earlier in this article, there are several ways for you to design and organize information throughout the structure of your content. That helps not only your reader, but also Google’s robot to interpret that information in terms of relevance.

  1. External linking – External links help you create links to articles in other sites you own, as well as to sources that will help the reader better understand certain topics you are addressing in your text. It is not recommended that you link to a competitor of yours with the same keyword you are working on, but it is relevant that you link to other sites, including competitors, when you realize that their content may help to enlighten your readers. Google considers it relevant and that is good for you.
  2. Quotes – If you want to quote someone on your content, WordPress has an HTML markup for quotes that helps you define that paragraph as a quote. In addition to highlighting that part of the content, making it visually more appealing, you are also informing Google the relevance of that passage.

How to write and optimize content for SEO

Large texts, with more than 1,500 words, need a much higher level of organization and structure. If you imagine yourself reading an article with 3,000 or 4,000 words, you probably would not be able to read it if it were written continuously like a book, right? Therefore it is important to optimize each visual and structural aspect of those texts, with features of images and other important elements.

  1. Image optimization – Images have three attributes that you need to work on to exhaustion: file name, title and alternative text. In each of those attributes, you need to put the keyword related to the image content and whenever possible the keyword of your article. Those attributes are very important and extremely relevant for Google to understand what those images are about.
  2. Internal Linking – Like external linking to articles from other sites, you need to make internal linking to your own content. As I said earlier, internal links help keep your readers on your site longer, and most importantly help you better rank other contents on Google for certain keywords. If you have an article about “sports cars” and want to rank that article for that keyword, you must link to it when you write that anchor text in any of your other articles.

IMPORTANT: Internal and external links must be diversified. If you link to articles using always the same anchor text, you will be too pushy and Google will understand that. The same thing happens when someone links to your site. If you want to be the first on Google when someone searches for “realtor”, you need to get links not just with that anchor text, but with a number of others, such as your site URL and less accurate anchor texts. That would be a diversified linking profile and Google would not pick on you for trying to manipulate the game.

How to write and optimize content for SEO

When structuring your content, never forget that everything has a logic. The information is organized according to a logic of relevance for each part of its contents.

  1. H3 Secondary Subtitles – Inside a main subtitle (H2) of your article, you decide to create several other subtitles for various ideas on that theme. Each of those subheadings must use an H3 header markup. Hierarchically you would have a structure similar to this here:
    H1 – Article Title
    H2 – Main subtitle
    H3 – Secondary subtitle
    H3 – Secondary subtitle
    H3 – Secondary subtitle
    H2 – Main subtitle
    H2 – Main subtitle
  2. Dotted Lists – Dotted lists are a great way for you to synthesize content and make it more readable for your readers. That is also an interesting way to summarize certain paragraphs of your content. WordPress also includes a markup for dotted and numbered lists and that will help Google understand that the content is a list and/or a summary of a content previously covered.

How to write and optimize content for SEO - Nofollow External Links

Another important aspect to take into consideration is the external links to less relevant websites or affiliate programs. Whenever you use an affiliate link and do not put a “nofollow” tag on it, you are passing authority from your site on an affiliate link, which does not make any sense at all, since you do not want that link to be better ranked on Google.

Links can be categorized in two ways: internal and external. And they can have two types of attributes: “dofollow” and “nofollow”. “Dofollow” links are all those that you probably already normally create in all of your articles. “Nofollow” links are links that tell the search engine robot not to follow that link and not pass authority on it as it is not relevant to the case.

Whenever you link externally to affiliate programs, to your Facebook page or Instagram profile, you should always use “nofollow” links since it does not make sense to pass authority on such links.

Link “dofollow”

<a href=”http://www.facebook.com”>Facebook</a>

Link “nofollow”

<a href=”http://www.facebook.com” rel=”nofollow”>Facebook</a>

Putting that tag rel=“nofollow” you already warn the Google robot that the link should not be followed by it and that it is not relevant. That does not mean it is not relevant to your reader, okay? It does not harm you in any way. It is simply a way for you to disregard certain links without having to pass authority on them.

Social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, for example, link externally with nofollow automatically. You will probably never get a “dofollow” link from one of those social networks.

How to write and optimize content for SEO

Finally, you need to optimize the SEO of your article, that is, the “title” and “meta description” that will appear in Google’s organic results and several other things that you can try to improve on your article so that it is properly optimized and get a better position in the SERP (organic results page).

  1. Title Tag – Here you define the title of your article when someone performs a Google search and your article is found. This title is usually equal to the title of the article and should contain its main keyword. Keep in mind not to write long titles because Google has a character limit for them.
  2. Meta Description – The meta description is basically the description of your article in Google’s search results. It should summarize the content of the article and/or entice the user to click to read your story. It is important that the main keyword appears in that description as well and that, in case you use a strong call-to-action, make sure the content matches. Otherwise the user will click and realize that your content is not so good and/or has nothing to do with the subject in question and you will generate a high bounce rate for that content.
  3. Keyword Analysis – If you use WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, you can put the keyword in that field and ask the plugin to make an analysis of your content. It will scan all of your text and check if it is properly optimized for that keyword. The plugin analyzes several factors such as keyword density, titles and alternative texts of images, paragraphs, etc.
  4. SEO Article Analysis – At the end you have a list of several aspects analyzed by the plugin. A perfect article in terms of optimization should have these items all marked with green. Sometimes it is tricky to get all the greens, but the most important thing is to see if you are not making a mistake or forgetting something important. As you can see in the image, the plugin looks at several important things:
    1. External links with “nofollow” and “dofollow”;
    2. Internal links with “nofollow” and “dofollow”;
    3. Use of the keyword in the first paragraph of the article;
    4. Keyword density;
    5. Use of the keyword in the meta description;
    6. Dimension of your meta description;
    7. Use of the keyword in the subheadings of the article;
    8. Use of title and alternate text attributes in images;
    9. Quantity of words in the article;
    10. Use of the keyword in the title of the article;
    11. Size of the article title;
    12. Use of the keyword in the article URL.

When analyzing all criteria, we easily realize whether a certain article is properly optimized for SEO or not. More important than all that is to understand if we forgot something important and/or if we are doing something wrong, such as using the keyword too often in an unnatural way. All of those aspects are, above all, a way for you to understand what you are doing right and wrong, and optimize your content so that they get the most out of all those technical aspects of SEO.

A good SEO is not to do SEO

Lastly, let me tell you that over the 10 years that I have been working with SEO and content marketing, one of the things I learned was that a good SEO is not doing SEO at all, that is, the less I think about SEO, the better content I create and the better results I get.

When you start trying to take advantage of SEO to manipulate the system, you end up not being natural in your writing. Google will understand that, and your readers will get that as well. The most important thing is to always write with your reader in the first place. Once that is done, everything else will be secondary, even though it can be optimized.

Good Businesses!


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