When and where your website appears in Google search results depends on multiple factors, and one of the most important is the caliber of content on your site. High-quality SEO content can improve your rankings for relevant search queries, help you build trust with your target audiences, and increase your domain authority. Here’s how to create quality SEO content and use it to boost your site’s performance.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website’s content and structure to improve its organic rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). The ultimate goal is to increase the quantity of relevant organic traffic to your site.
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO copywriting (or SEO content writing) is the process of producing web content that supports the goals of an SEO strategy. Strong SEO content can attain high search engine rankings by providing value to your target audience. SEO copy should inform, entertain, and enlighten readers—but to do this, it must also conform to the standards search engines use to prioritize which content users see.
How can SEO copywriting benefit your website’s performance?
Creating high-quality content can improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website and build trust with your target audience. Here’s an overview of the benefits:
Increased organic traffic
Creating and publishing keyword-optimized content can improve your site’s organic search performance, resulting in more traffic to your site.
More relevant site traffic
SEO copywriting can also improve the quality of traffic to your website by allowing you to target users with a need your business can solve.
Ability to target specific audience segments
You can also use SEO copywriting to target specific user sets. For example, you might create a landing page promoting a free trial of your vegan smoothie delivery service optimized for search queries like “quick healthy meals” or “vegan smoothie recipes.”
SEO copywriting is an inbound marketing strategy, meaning that its goal is to help your target customers find your company without an advertisement or a sales representative making first contact. This type of marketing content can generate a particularly strong return on investment (ROI). Once published, SEO copy can continue to produce results without any further action on your part.
4 SEO copywriting best practices
SEO copywriting requires an understanding of how search engines rank relevant content to meet reader needs. Use these SEO copywriting tips to streamline your content creation process to write copy that performs well in search engines and provides value to target audiences.
1. Find the right keywords
Keywords—the words and phrases that best describe a page’s content—are one of the main building blocks of an SEO copywriting strategy.
To find relevant keywords, you’ll need to do some keyword research. The keyword research process involves matching the language on your website to search terms your target audiences use when looking for information. Here are a few best practices:
Use keyword tools
You can use keyword research tools to help you identify the right keywords for your content. These tools contain information about search volume (how often people search for a particular keyword) and keyword difficulty (how much competition there is to rank for a specific keyword). Many tools also recommend keywords for a particular subject area.
Consider search intent
Search intent (or keyword intent) refers to the reason a user makes a particular search query. Keywords that signify purchase intent, such as “where to buy new garden hose,” are particularly valuable for boosting sales.
Use multiple types of keywords
Start by identifying your target keyword (or primary keyword), which is the word or phrase that best summarizes the content of a particular page. You can then use a keyword tool to generate related keywords, including semantic keywords and long-tail keywords. Semantic keywords are keywords related to your primary keyword; for example “coffee filters” and “coffee beans” may be semantic keywords related to your primary keyword “coffee machine.” Long-tail keywords are keywords that contain three or more words, are highly specific, and generally have lower search volumes (for example, “best kettles for pour over coffee” rather than just “kettles”).
2. Use keywords strategically
High-quality SEO content uses keywords to tell search engines what a piece is about without sacrificing the reader’s experience. Here are a few ways to use keywords effectively:
Calculate keyword density
Keyword density refers to how often a keyword appears relative to the other words in a piece of content. Overusing keywords is known as keyword stuffing. Search engines penalize this practice, and readers tend to respond to it negatively. SEO experts recommend a keyword density of 1% to 2%.
Search engines pay particular attention to title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and other types of meta tags. Best practices include writing meta tags that accurately reflect a page’s subject and using keywords in meta tags as appropriate.
Use SEO copywriting tools
SEO tools like Yoast SEO and Semrush can evaluate on-page content readability and provide keyword optimization insights.
3. Optimize structure for SERPs
Page structure helps both readers and search engines effectively digest your content. Readers frequently skim web copy in search of a specific answer, so making your content easy to scan can increase its value to readers. Here are a few tips:
Use headers and subheads
Headers and subheads break up your content visually, allowing readers to quickly scan an article and locate relevant information. Headers and subheads also help search engines understand the main points addressed by your content and deliver it to users with aligned search intent.
Bulleted and numbered lists make it easy for users who are scanning your content to understand the relationship between ideas.
Add a table of contents with anchor links
If your content is long, consider adding a table of contents. It helps users find what they're looking for and can even boost your chances of getting a featured snippet in search results. Using jump/anchor links will help readers get to what they want to—fast.
Use frequently asked questions (FAQs)
An FAQ section allows you to provide succinct answers to users’ most common questions. The answers to FAQs on your page may also appear in a “People also ask” feature on the SERP.
4. Write for readers
Have you ever seen web copy that reads like this: “See our best outdoor dog beds for large dogs. Our best dog beds for outside are waterproof dog beds and washable dog beds.”
This is an example of content that prioritizes search engines over readers. The writer isn’t thinking about the information a reader needs to make an informed decision—they’re thinking about how many times they can fit their keywords into each sentence. Tatiana Tanizaki, senior SEO specialist at Shopify, says brands should, “Prioritize creating content that delivers value and meets your audience's needs. Put readers first, rather than search engines.”
Search engines prioritize reader-friendly content—and even if you manage to rank well with SEO content that isn’t designed for readers, you’ll risk alienating potential customers and damaging your brand. Here are tips for writing content that delivers value:
Use buyer personas
To better understand your target audience, create buyer personas—fictionalized representations of your ideal types of customers. Try writing SEO copy with these specific readers in mind.
Write content first and add keywords later
Instead of fixating on keywords from the start, try drafting your piece with a focus on the information a reader will need to understand your topic. When you are done, revisit your work and add keywords where they naturally occur in the flow of information. This strategy can make creating content easier and result in a final product with a more natural structure.
Answer search intent
When in doubt, ask yourself what problem your content is trying to solve (or what a user’s search intent is likely to be when they type a keyword into Google). Create content that solves the problem or answers the user’s primary question. Content that provides a clear, thorough answer to a relevant question is likely to satisfy readers and perform well in search results.
SEO copywriting FAQ
How much do SEO copywriters charge?
SEO content writers frequently charge between 10¢ to $1 per word, depending on project type, its difficulty, and their level of expertise.
Is it necessary to use exact-match keywords in SEO copywriting?
Most SEO experts recommend using a mix of exact-match keywords and partial-match keywords in SEO copy. This strategy allows businesses to benefit from exact-match searches while reaching a larger potential audience and avoiding unnecessary repetition.
Should I prioritize search engines or readers when writing SEO copy?
Successful SEO copywriting uses strategies that support strong search engine performance to create valuable, reader-friendly content—instead of prioritizing one need over the other.