How do you write as well as a full-fledged SEO content writer? The truth is most professional SEO writers are self-taught and just read blogs to keep up with current trends… like you are now. So you’re halfway there.

Like most of SEO, good content writing best practices are always evolving. However, there are a few things you can start doing tomorrow to write better content that actually ranks.

Here are 10 of them.

1. Ask “Who Cares”

This is the first step, ask yourself who cares about what you’re writing. Write it on a sticky note and put in on your screen. That’s one of the most valuable article writing tips you’re ever going to get.

It’s not a mean question, just a way of being crystal clear about the purpose of what you’re about to write and who it’s for.

If you can honestly answer the question in your own mind, start typing! If not, you may have to flush the idea out a little more.

2. Write About Something That Matters

This is sort of a continuation of the last point. You need to write something of interest to your audience or customers.

If you’re a business, write about blogs that answer the question your customers ask you every day. Those are actually called longtail keywords (more on keywords later).

If these are things people are asking you, that means they are also asking Siri, Google or Alexa. You want your content to be the answer that pops up when they do.

You can find out what these questions are with paid keyword tools. But you’ve got a free head start if you can use frontline customer service questions.

You can also do some free keyword research by taking a deep dive into social media conversations, or see what people are asking on Reddit or Quora. You can also spy on your competition’s website and social presence.

3. Don’t Worry About Exact Match Keywords

Exact match is so 2008. You don’t have to ruin your writing by awkwardly wedging exact match keywords into your web content anymore. No need to write “best bars Chicago” anymore.

Google is more in tune with the natural syntax and cadence of how people search for things these days. The longtail keywords we mentioned earlier are a part of that.

4. Also, Don’t Worry About Keyword Density

For years, SEO experts analyzed and debated the exact number of times you needed to use a keyword to create SEO friendly content. That number often floated at about 2.5%.

This is no longer a number you need to worry about. Again Google is growing more intuitive in how it looks for keywords. Now, they want organic keyword usage, instead of keyword stuffing.

In fact, if you use a keyword poorly, ruin the flow of the writing, or just stuff words where they don’t belong, that will actually hurt your SEO ranking. Users will abandon your content, which hurts your read time and bounce rate.

The key takeaway here is to write for human beings first, search engines second.

5. Write the Lead and the Title Last

This is the most crucial part of the page or blog; the opening. You earn the reader’s attention with your headline, then it’s on the lead sentence to keep it.

Too many people start a blog conversationally. And to be blunt, boringly.

You need to grab the reader’s attention by hitting a pain point. Don’t just identify it, hit it.

Let’s say you’re writing a piece about divorce:

  • Bad lead: Divorce can be a very stressful time for anyone
  • Good lead: Are you worried about losing your house during your divorce?

See how the second one goes right after what the audience is feeling? It helps to write this part last after you really know what the blog is about.

6. Don’t Burry the Lead

This is the number one problem with today’s online content. A title or headline will ask a question, then not answer it until the end of the blog. This is called burying the lead.

Sometimes it’s a tactic to get people to read the whole page. Sometimes it’s simply bad writing.

In either case, don’t do it. People will not stick around if they can’t find what they were promised. There are hundreds of other blogs out there that can give it to them.

7. Match the Reader’s Voice

Use the same verbiage that your audience uses to speak directly to them.

You can find these words doing the same research you used during your keyword research. If they say their problem is frustrating, use that in your content.

8. Optimize the Image (Yes, the SEO Content Writer Does This)

Yes, the writer is often in charge of optimizing the image. That means you should add the keyword to your:

  • Caption
  • Description
  • File name

You will be amazed how much SEO power that can unlock.

9. Be Careful of How Much You Quote

Yes, quotes can add credence to a story. But they can also get you in trouble if you use too many quotes (Google sees it as duplicate content), or from the original source, if you don’t attribute it correctly.

It’s always better to paraphrase than to quote.

10. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Let’s use a very easy mistake to make as an example. Assess vs. Asses. One of those words is a verb and the other is a noun, and we’ll leave it at that. Mixing them would be… bad. You’re now a proofreading horror story.

You always need a second set of eyes to look over your work. Also, feel free to leverage tools like Hemmingway or Grammarly.

But there is no substitute for human proofreading.

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