How to Write Article for SEO Keywords and Structure Content For SEO
SEO is the best source for traffic to your blog as it is highly targeted, sustainable traffic that you can build your audience with. Once we’ve identified our target SEO keyword, which should be low competition and meet our keyword criteria we now need to optimize our post with the keyword to communicate to search engines and readers what our content is about.
We optimize our posts for a specific keyword using a combination of “on-page SEO” or “on-page optimization” and SEO writing. On-page SEO is the process of placing our target keyword in specific areas of the content to signal to search engines the topic (and keywords) for our post. SEO writing is the process of researching SEO competition and searcher intent for a specific keyword and using that information to frame and write an article that is more comprehensive, engaging, and competitive than all other alternatives in the Google search results.
In this chapter, we will guide you through the on-page SEO keyword optimization and SEO writing processes to help you write content that ranks on page 1 of Google.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Is “On Page SEO”
- The On-page SEO Checklist
- How to Frame an Article for SEO
- How to Benchmark Content against ranking competitor content for SEO
- How to Write for SEO
- How to Optimize Click Through Rate from Google and Search Engines (for SEO)
- Off page SEO: Sharing content to spark engagement
- Off page SEO: Popular Link building tactics
THE TAKEAWAYS & FACTS UP FRONT
- On-page search engine optimization (SEO) for a targeted SEO keyword signals to search engines (and readers) what our content is about
- Good SEO keyword research should include outlining our content for readability and benchmarking against the top 10 results in Google for the keyword
“On page Search Engine Optimization”, more commonly called “on page SEO” is one of the essential components of optimizing a website to be crawled by search engines and ultimately to rank highly for specific keywords in Google.
We accomplish complete on-page SEO by placing our chosen keywords for a post in a handful of strategic places with in our posts according to our on-page SEO checklist
Why is on page SEO important?
On page SEO, strategically placing our target keyword within our post, is important for two reasons:
1) it clearly communicates the target keyword of our article to search engines
2) it clearly communicates to our readers that our content is exactly what they’re searching for.
Once we have identified our target keyword for a post, we must return to the post and confirm that it has been properly optimized on page. To do this, ensure the target keyword is placed in each of the text sections / post elements of your post.
On Page SEO Checklist: Everywhere to Include Your Target SEO Keyword
- H1 Tag (likely title tag)
- H2 and H3
- Meta Description
- Image Alt. Attribute
- Image Caption
- In Paragraph Text (3x)
- In first 100 words of paragraph text (1x)
- In first 1000 words of paragraph text(1x)
Although no plugin is required to do on-page SEO, confirming that you’ve optimized your entire post appropriately can be time consuming or tedious. Your first option is to manually search (using “ctrl + F”) your post for your target keyword. The easier approach is to use an SEO plugin that checks your post for your target keyword.
Additionally, a good SEO plugin allows you to easily edit your meta description and edit a separate title that applies specifically SEO, allowing you to create a very SEO optimized title to show up in search engine results while maintaining your more reader friendly title on your own site.
I highly recommend using the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. The free RankMath SEO plugin is praised by bloggers as well.
ON PAGE SEO FAQ:
- Do I need to use the SEO keyword exactly?
- Yes, you do need to use the verbatim keyword in the post elements listed in our on-page SEO checklist
- What is the best plugin for on page SEO?
- Yoast is my favorite, highly recommended, and free. RankMath is another highly recommended, free SEO plugin
- Can I optimize my post for more than one keyword?
- Absolutely, and it is highly recommended that you optimize every post for one primary keyword and 4 to 5 alternate keywords as long as the text remains natural
- How should I optimize for non-primary keywords?
- Follow the same on page SEO checklist for all of your non-primary SEO keywords, however, avoid including extra keywords in the title or meta description as it can cause the post to look spammy and read in a more unnatural way.
- Can I use the keyword too much?
- Yes, it is possible to use a keyword too much. Avoid “over-optimizing” or “keyword stuffing” a post. Instead, stick to the number of instances listed in the on-page optimization checklist. If you do need to repeat the same words again, use synonyms for your SEO keyword or use an LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) tool like LSI Graph to find the keyword synonyms recognized by Google for your SEO keyword
What is search intent
Search intent is the true reason behind a search and ultimately revolves around what the average searcher for the term we’re optimizing for is hoping to find during their search.
Why is search intent important?
As Google’s algorithm grows and complex computing concepts like machine learning help search engines understand exactly what a post is about (beyond simple keywords), the value of search intent will continue to grow in SEO and your site’s success will hinge on your ability to align your content with not just the target keyword, but search intent.
An example of search intent in action
Though the concept of search intent seems (and is) simple, we need to do light search intent research to analyze the search intent for a target SEO keyword.
For instance, if I asked you what you would hope to find if you search the phrase “traveling to Russia,” what would expect to find? Perhaps a blog about Russia travel? Notes on someone’s experience traveling to Russia? Perhaps flights into Russia? With the keyphrase alone, it is very difficult to guess the intent behind the search.
Now, when we actually go into Google and search “traveling to Russia”, I find destination snippets, a Russian visa page, tips for Russia travel, and “things I wish I knew for my first trip to Russia”.
This second step, searching in Google, allows us to better understand searcher intent. For a broad term like “traveling to Russia” we realize most searchers are interested in visa information and listicles with tips for visiting Russia for the first time. By scanning the page one results of Google to identify the common topics, sub topics, and words shared by each of the results, we better understand and can better address search intent.
This potential ambiguity of the search intent for keywords is one more reason we love longer, longtail keywords that tend to be very descriptive and less ambiguous about the intent behind them.
Understanding Search Intent Helps Us Determine If We Can/Can’t Write the Article
Oftentimes, when we find an SEO keyword, we have an idea in mind of what we want to write, but Google is only going to rank sites that match the average searcher’s intent and need they’re trying to fill. Using Google search and some quick analysis to understand the true intent helps us determine if we’re capable of writing about what is most likely to rank. Once we’ve decided whether or not we can write on the general topic, we can do more in depth research to see what sub-topics we’ll need to cover (via competitor analysis) and ultimately write a frame of our article with all of the necessary sections to rank.
How to assess and address searcher intent for a target Keyword: Review competitor posts, headers, and sections
The easiest way to fully analyze the search intent for a keyword is to click through and scan the posts of the first 20 results in Google. The top-20 results will be very well SEO’ed and structured making it easy to scan and extrapolate the sub-topics.
For each post clicked, scroll down the page scanning the headers to identify the sub topics included in the article to address search intent. List all of the sub-topics you analyzed in the headings of the top 20 posts, organize them in a logical flow as you would for a post, and you have a frame for your article that completely addresses search intent for your target keyword, with all of the sub-topics
The best source for discovering what content will do best in Google is Google. This makes Google our most powerful tool for “framing” content. By benchmarking our content against the highest-ranking competitor content, we create a frame that serves as a map for creating high performing content.
By examining and deconstructing the top 10 to 20 results in Google for a given keyword we discover the sub-topics and sections we need to fully answer a searcher’s question, fill the searcher’s need, fully respond to the search intent, and perform well on the metrics that matter to Google (click through rate, time on page, and pages per session)
In the next section we will lay out the steps that tie together creating a frame for an article that responds to user intent and is more informative than all other ranking pages in Google for our target keyword.
Now that we’ve gathered the essential data for a well optimized post (keyword, search intent, competitor post contents, etc.), we will now piece together the essential information into an outline for a great article.
Our goal with this outline is to have the structure for a post that fully responds to search intent and user needs and structures all of the information we will deliver in a logical way with good flow. The following process will walk you through create an outline for your article.
THE PROCESS OF FRAMING AN ARTICLE FOR SEO
- Identify your target SEO keyword
- Confirm Search Intent for your target keyword using the top 10 results in Google
- Write an article frame consisting of section headers and using your own article research and knowledge
- Table of Contents
- Remember the content guidelines: Max 3 paragraphs between headers, 7 lines per paragraph
- Review your headers to confirm you have included your primary and secondary SEO keywords
- Perform competitor benchmarking research of the Top 20 results in Google to bolster article frame adding any missed topics learned by scanning the headers, sections, and general topics of the competitor content
- Analyze Google SERP search snippets and FAQs in search results to ID extra, structured content (e.g., FAQ, answering specific questions, step by step processes, content structure (listicles, processes, reviews, etc.))
- Brainstorm what questions the searcher will likely ask next, decide whether to include the answers in the article, write a new article, or link out
- Keyword expansion and answering the “what next”
- Google Autosuggest
- Google FAQ snippets
- User forum FAQ’s
- Keyword expansion and answering the “what next”
- Consider additional ways to bolster your content with relevant information
- Google Autosuggest
- Related keyword suggestions
Now that we’ve created a frame for our content, we need to “fill it in” to create our content.
Aim to write no more than 3 paragraphs between each header, with a maximum of 5 sentences per paragraph. If you do happen to exceed 3 paragraphs, add another header or a relevant image to break up the text.
Check that your post is optimized for the target SEO keyword according to the on-page SEO checklist
After you’ve completed writing, return to the on-page SEO checklist to ensure your post is optimized for your keyword in the appropriate places, and includes 4 or 5 non-primary keywords to boost competitiveness.
Do use keyword synonyms, don’t stuff your post with keywords
Avoid keyword stuffing or “over-optimization”, which occurs when we include a specific keyword too much. This kind of writing feels robotic, unnatural, and damages the user experience. To maintain the user experience while practicing good SEO, use synonyms and related keywords based on LSI tools (like LSI graph) or related keywords according to SEO tools and the Google search results.
Add internal links to other content on your site, to keep the reader reading on your site
Throughout your content, sprinkle links to other content on your site, embedded in the text. This is a great way to keep users on your site improving your metrics and their experience. Aim to add at least 5 internal links in every post.
Add a section with related content recommendations after the conclusion
The “Click Through Rate” in Google is a percentage that is the number of clicks our posts receives in the Google search results divided by the number of times the result shows up in search (all called ‘impressions’). Click through rate is one of the easiest and most rewarding elements of SEO to optimize as it takes so little effort and creates such a high payoff
Why is CTR useful?
Search results with higher CTR are pushed higher in the rankings
Google’s algorithm has a complex method of evaluating posts and that takes into account many unknown metrics – but one of the metrics we do know about is “Click Through Rate” in Google search. If a result in Google is clicked more often than the competitor posts (thanks to a good title and meta description) Google takes this as a sign that searcher’s find that link more valuable. Google responds to this by pushing that result up in the rankings.
Ultimately, increasing CTR increase your ranking, which increases traffic.
A small increase in CTR (~1%) translates to a dramatic increase in traffic
The average CTR varies by position in Google, but in the bottom portion of the top 10 results, a CTR rate of 3% to 7% isn’t uncommon. Increasing that by even a single percent is a large jump in traffic for a single article. That makes for an easy traffic boost by simply improving a title and meta description.
How do we Optimize CTR: Titles and Meta Descriptions?
The click through rate in Google revolves completely around two elements – the title and the meta description.
The title and meta description are the first elements of your post that searchers interact with as they are the two elements that show up in the Google search results.
Make your title and meta description more enticing, more emotionally driven, and clearly more useful and searchers will click your link over the competition every time.
Titles of posts are the first things we, as readers, see whether we’re scanning search engine results, social media, or even a list of articles on a blog. As writers, by crafting engaging titles that incite emotion, draw the reader in, and make the reader feel what will happen, we drastically increase the chances of a reader clicking on our post and making it to our site so we can begin cultivating a relationship with the reader through great content.
In this section we’ll share some ideas on how to make clickable titles that pull reader’s in.
Tips for great titles
- Use your target SEO keyword at the beginning of the title (for SEO and CTR)
- Use power words that drive action
- Use emotional words that engage the reader and connect on a level beyond logical
- Use odd numbers in the title
- Keep titles shorter than
- Limit the title to 60 characters
THE BLOG MILLIONAIRE’S PERFECT TITLE FORMULA
Of all of the “formulas” for creating titles, I’ve found The Blog Millionaire Podcast’s Brand Gaille’s approach with the “Perfect Title Formula” to be the best as it is easy to follow and has given me great results. Anytime a post is underperforming in Google CTR, try using the perfect title to spruce things up.
The Perfect Title Formula
Odd Number + Superlative/Power Word/Emotional Keyword + Target Keyword + Secondary Keyword
- 17 Amazing Reasons for Backpacking the Balkans and Traveling Croatia
- 21 Essential Costa Rica Packing List Items for Your Jungle Vacation
- 7 Fastest Ways to Save Money for An Around the World Vacation
…now let’s break this down
Odd Number: Numbers in titles are often clicked as it implies the article is well organized and scannable. Odd numbers are clicked more often than even because they feel more natural and less packaged. Lead your title with a number in any post you can.
Superlative/Power Word/Emotional Keyword: Power words, emotional words, and superlatives drive clicks as they communicate “the most” of whatever the reader is looking for and connect on an emotional level (vice intellectual) which drives a more impulsive urge instead of a thought. Whenever your titles feel boring, add an emotional word or power word.
Target SEO Keyword: Using the exact SEO target keyword serves our on-page SEO purposes foremost, but also connects with the reader by communicating the content has exactly what they searched for, communicated in their exact language (used to search). Oftentimes, even using the same words but changing word order can reduce clicks.
Secondary Keyword: If it can be accomplished naturally, add a secondary keyword to drive more clicks. If it can’t be done naturally and feels like forced SEO, avoid it.
The meta description is the short paragraph long description that is displayed in the Google search results after your title. Though the meta description doesn’t count directly for SEO (with Google), it is still important for convincing searchers to click your link over all of the other options.
Why does the meta description matter and why should you use it: to increase Click Through Rate
Though the meta description isn’t counted directly into your SEO (the keyword used in the description don’t count), the opportunity to convince searches why your result is the appropriate for their search is valuable because it can help you increase your click through rate in Google. Search results with higher click through rates move to the top of Google more quickly. Additionally, creating a good meta description (or improving it), along with improving your title and making it more clickable, is the quickest way to increase traffic to a post that is already ranking in Google.
The meta description is often underused or not used, but ensure you use it for every post
Roughly 55% of bloggers make the meta description too long and ~30% of bloggers don’t even edit the meta description. For you, this means if you spend an extra 10 minutes crafting a good meta description, your post will be set to outperform the competition in Google.
How do we edit the meta description?
The easiest way to edit the meta description is by installing the free Yoast SEO plugin. After installing the plugin, scroll to the bottom of your post while editing and editable fields for both the meta description and the title displayed to search engines will show up
Guidelines for a good meta description
We will go through writing a good meta description step by step, but keep these meta description tips in mind
- Use the target keywords
- Use emotional keywords and power keywords to make your meta description emotionally driven and persuasive
- Drive a call to action to click on the meta description (Discover X, learn about the Y you need to…, etc.)
- Make the keyword relevant to the title and your post with flow and a natural bridge between the two
- Limit your meta description to 156 characters
- Use the free Yoast SEO plugin to help you easily edit and optimize your meta description
- Only use numbers and text in your meta description, no special characters
How to write a good meta description:
- Search your target keyword in Google
- Read all of the results on page 1 of Google for your target keyword – reverse engineer the meta descriptions by noting the power words and emotional words they use, their call to action, and common ideas between them. Take these notes and build the ideas and driving emotions into your meta description
- What emotions are they trying to drive?
- What calls to action are they using to get people to click?
- What ideas are repeated between them
- Write your meta description using your target keyword in the first half of the first line: Google highlights target keywords in meta descriptions, which helps draw the user’s eye to your post
- Use emotional keywords in your meta description to make it emotionally driven and persuasive
- Focus on an action within your meta description followed by a preview of the benefit users will gain: “Discover the ‘X’ that will help you ‘Y’”
- Limit your meta description 156 characters
- Return to your Google Analytics data to check the “CTR” and continue experimenting and optimizing the meta description accordingly
ACTION ITEMS FOR THIS SECTION
- Understand the elements of the on-page SEO checklist and record them in your playbook
- Pick a keyword and follow the process to write an article frame for SEO
- Take that same keyword and practice benchmarking that frame against the top 10 in Google
Practice writing a Meta description and Title optimized for click through and benchmarked against the top 10 results in Google