seo content writing

The Complete Guide to Effective SEO Content Writing in 2023

Did you know that less than 10% of web pages get organic traffic from Google? That’s pretty shocking, isn’t it? Most of what we write never gets the attention it deserves.

There’s a reason why so many web pages fail at getting organic traffic from Google and other search engines. One of the major reasons why is poor Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and content to get the highest possible placement on search engine results.

But why is SEO so important? According to Search Engine Journal, 28.5% of customers click on the first search engine results. Many studies conclude the same: the vast majority of Internet traffic from search engines goes to first-page results. Therefore, if you want organic traffic from Google, it’s imperative that you master SEO on some level.

Unfortunately, when creating content for our blog or website, we often tend to focus on creating something that reads well without considering how many people will read it. This is one reason why it’s relatively easy to write a compelling piece yet still get very few page views.

However, whether you’re writing for yourself, your company, or agency, getting pageviews is the main reason why you write and post your work online. Fortunately, it’s possible to write great content and have it perform well on search engines at the same time. But high-quality SEO content writing is both an art and a science.

Moreover, Google has changed its algorithm many times over the past couple of years to favor content that’s written for humans over robotic content simply meant to game an algorithm. In other words, the human touch of writing has never been more necessary than it is now. 

In this article, we will consider what it takes to write quality SEO content that ranks well and produces high ROI. Specifically, we will discuss the key elements that affect SEO, how to plan your writing, and what it takes to keep your audience reading. Each of these human factors behind writing will help your content perform its best on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

Understanding Key Elements That Affect Your SEO 

If you’re going to win at SEO, you need to know what Google is looking for in top-quality written content. It’s easy to say, “just make it easy to read,” but there’s a lot more to it than that. Especially because Google made many changes to the algorithm with their 2022 update, due to bad practices such as SEO spam and keyword stuffing in meta descriptions, where writers add too many keywords to an article. Keyword stuffing can also involve using the same keyword too many times.

Additionally, some SEO factors are secondary to the writing itself but can still influence your SEO content writing. Here are some of the most important examples.

Domain authority

Marketers talk about Domain Authority a lot, to the point that you can’t discuss SEO very well without mentioning it at some point. While it’s technically a tool that helps marketers understand how likely their page is to rank well on Google, a high score is something you should always strive for. That’s because Google and other search engines are trying to make it harder for spam websites to rank at the top of any page.

Dwell time

Similarly, dwell time is an SEO measure that expresses how long people stay on a given webpage. From a writer’s perspective, if a webpage has a high dwell time, there’s a good chance that it was written well. People typically do not spend time on websites that do not provide them value.


It’s unsurprising that Google considers the relevance of your material when it decides how high to rank your webpage. After all, the point of search engines is to help people locate the information that they want or need. Google looks at two major aspects of relevance — how well the content matches its keywords and how well it meets the audience’s expectations.

From a writing perspective, the importance of relevance underscores the need to stay on topic and to provide our potential readers with value. We’ll talk about this more later.

Appropriate keywords

As with relevance to a topic, Google relies heavily on the use of appropriate keywords. These keywords are what people generally use to find information on Google. For that reason, it’s critical that the keywords you use represent a topic to the greatest extent possible. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble with your content ranking well on Google because it’ll ultimately get put in the wrong place.

Overall quality

Finally, Google considers the overall quality of your content. This is one of the areas in which Google made significant changes in 2022. It used to be that you could insert keywords as they came off of a checklist and hope for the best. Now, the best content in a particular niche is supposed to perform better than its robotic, generic, poor-quality competition.

Here’s a good pie chart from Moz that can help you visualize these standards. We didn’t cover every factor represented in it, however, many of these factors are beyond the control of a writer or at least are heavily influenced by other factors we can’t control.

seo content writing
Image Source: Moz

Planning Your SEO Content Writing

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that Google uses to determine which pieces of content deserve the top position on relevant SERPs. In fact, the algorithm can be relatively complicated. Therefore, before you can write effectively, you need to plan ahead. it’s important that you have a good plan, both strategically and from the standpoint of composition.

If you’re a business owner who needs content writing services, these are the kinds of questions you’ll want to answer for your agency or your writer.

Here are some ways that you can plan ahead for your content writing. Many of these will also help you produce higher-quality content and not just help you get ranked.

Know your audience

Marketers call this defining your buyer persona. In other words, who do you want to read your content, regardless of where it’s posted? For example, many companies that sell athletic shoes will find their buyer persona in younger people.

As you write, you’ll want to take your buyer personas into account. So, in the sneaker example, you’ll want to create content that presents your shoes as something desirable, useful or convenient for people in that demographic group.

Know your competition

Most writers don’t think about their competition enough. After all, they have a lot of ideas that need to be put out there. Hand writers who subcontract with companies often have an information sheet or something similar that tells them what to say.

However, proper content planning requires you to see what other people are saying about a particular topic. Your competition could be a fellow blogger or writer, a competing company website, or any other online writing that might rank ahead of yours on the SERPs. 

To learn about your competition, start by running Google searches on your topic. Typically, you’ll see several different articles or blogs that already discuss the topic, and these are your competitors in this case. Your ultimate goal is to write content that’s better than theirs so that you can take their search engine ranking away. 

Similarly, you need to study what content does best for your competitor. For internal teams and content agencies, many software programs help sift through the massive amounts of material seen on the Internet on a given topic. Some of them are also useful to individuals, such as bloggers and affiliate marketers, who produce less content.

Whether you use software or not, the idea is to find the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor’s content. Then, you can find opportunities to make something better or tap into unexplored areas. Remember that Google judges content based on quality, and analyzing the competition provides an unparalleled opportunity to raise the bar.

Keyword research is critical

seo content writing
Image Source: Mangools

No matter what your SEO strategy is, using the right keywords is critical as keywords are what Google and other search engines use to rank content. Fortunately, there are several keywords for each topic, and in some cases, there are literally dozens.

To find the right keywords, there are some options. The first one is to use a free keyword tool, like Semrush, Surfer SEO, and others mentioned in this article from Zapier. These typically check the relevance of different words or phrases and analyze which ones are getting the best traffic. 

Next, you’ll analyze your keywords to determine which ones will likely work the best. Besides being appropriate for your content, you’ll look for the competitiveness of a keyword. Some keywords within a niche are very competitive, while others have very little material. At the same time, some keywords can be too obscure to help significantly.

Strike a balance between competitiveness and relevance, then settle on a few to use in the finished product, and make sure to fine-tune your approach over time.

Make a content calendar

If you’re responsible for choosing topics, you’ll need to create a content calendar. These are written documents that spell out what topics you’ll write about and when. They also include an article length and a list of keywords that’ll appear in each piece of content.

Ideally, you’ll create a calendar a few months in advance. The reason content calendars are so important is that they ensure you never run out of topics or keywords to cover. In other words, content calendars keep you organized in the same way your events and appointment calendar does.

Here, choosing topics is frequently the hard part. You need to choose relevant topics for your industry or subject and, at the same time, not duplicate other websites too much. Remember that the value you provide to your readers is what keeps them on your website, improving your search engine rankings over time. 

Keep the algorithms in mind

But even with great keywords and optimal audience specification, it can be hard to rank well. That’s because there’s a lot of material on the internet, and you need to convince a series of computational filters that you have relevant content. In other words, you need to ensure your content approach can satisfy search engine algorithms such as Google’s Helpful Content and the EAT algorithm. Both of these help vet content for classification and ranking.

Ultimately, the most important thing you can do as a writer is make your content or copy as high-quality as possible while still incorporating the keywords properly.

Appeal to your audience

While aiming for SEO content writing, always have your audience in mind. In particular, make sure that you prioritize the reader experience and that you provide original, comprehensive value, as that’s what keeps them coming back to your website or blog. This is true even with corporate blogs that mostly talk about company news. 

Remember how dwell time can boost SEO? An appeal to your audience is one of the best ways to increase dwell time.

Once you have the right topics and keywords, the basic principles of good writing apply:

Have a “hook” to grab their attention. 

In literary speak, a “hook” is an opening that makes your reader pay attention and read further. For instance, our opening to this article aimed to create a hook by presenting a surprising statistic.

This technique is easier than you think: simply find a fun, interesting or surprising fact, or state your point of view in an innovative or bold manner, and use it to your advantage to engage your audience.

Write with engagement in mind

The term “engagement” refers to the interaction and connection between a business or brand and its audience. For instance, the most basic notion of engagement on social media is receiving a  “like”, while bloggers may look for comments and shares. Each of these items helps boost your SEO content writing effectiveness.

With that said, the best way to boost engagement is by providing clarity on a relevant original topic or approach in ways that invite your audience to interact with your content. For blogs and similar material, making the article up-to-date, relatable, and interesting where possible often keeps people reading and sharing.

And the best part is that engagement can boost your organic traffic, which in turn improves SEO.

Answer their questions clearly

Another way to boost your SEO is by answering people’s questions clearly and in a timely manner. Typically, people want to read the most relevant information and be able to identify it quickly in a piece of content. However, they also don’t want to read a technical manual when a brief answer will work for them. Instead, make your writing clear, organized, and easy to digest. Breaking up your content through subtitles and bullet points is a good way to do so. 

Sure, sometimes it’s difficult to answer clearly. However, this condition also gives a special opportunity because you’ll likely have less competition. In addition, it’s likely that you’ll get more backlinks if you’ve written the best material on a certain topic. Those backlinks also help with SEO, so they’re definitely valuable when they come from legitimate sources.

Give them a bonus 

Sometimes people want a full explanation of a topic, or they need a good resource to share with others. Leverage this by making your SEO content writing something they’ll look forward to reading. Sometimes this involves giving something “extra”, like a good sense of humor that lightens up a difficult subject, charts and infographics that make the content more dynamic, or just delivering the information they need quickly.

For each piece of content, think about the extra mile you can cover to differentiate your content from your competitor’s. 

Keep it human 

These days, AI-based writing assistants are a hot topic. Developers argue that you can write more material faster with these applications. Computer programs write content by using existing content to assemble something new. You can add target keywords, choose the length, and more.

However, using an AI writing assistant without human help can backfire for several reasons:

  • Humans always prefer communication with a human touch, originality, and personality. Remember the controversy over e-mail being impersonal? Now it’s AI writers in the hot seat.
  • Google doesn’t approve of AI-generated content. In fact, they’ve said that eventually, this content will be ineligible for a ranking on the internet. The technology to enforce this isn’t quite ready yet, but for now, the human review team removes examples of AI content that they can find.
  • AI lacks the capacity to analyze context and deliver the nuances and intricacies that human can.
  • AI isn’t fully automated. It requires vast human input and all necessary data to be provided, as well as any descriptions and specific details to generate the content. 

Save time and money

If you don’t have time to do all the things discussed in this article, there is an alternative. Before you run out and take unnecessary risks with an AI assistant or standalone freelancer, drop us a line. We have an army of dozens of writers, plus project management. We’ll work with you to develop an up-to-date SEO content strategy, then assign the writing work to our team.

Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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