how to write for SEO

How to write an SEO-friendly blog: a step-by-step process

Jordan Stokes
Sep 22, 2020

Many people know how to write blogs, but not many know how to write SEO-friendly blogs. If you’re struggling to gain visibility on search, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve rounded up all of my writing tips and included a 10-step process you can follow to create a solid piece of SEO content for your blog.

B2B content marketing: the importance of SEO

If you’re a marketer and have found yourself here, chances are you already know the importance of SEO for content marketing and blogs. In case you don’t, here’s a little bit of a refresher.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to maximize your website’s content in order to rank higher than your competitors. If you are writing content based on what your target markets are searching for, you are more likely to reach your content marketing goals. Attaining a higher search rank is achievable when you appropriately add keywords into your own content and guide readers through the funnel.

Essentially, if you let your SEO keyword research results guide your content strategy, you can answer the questions people are asking the most — and when you provide helpful, educational content that informs your reader, they’re that much closer to moving down the funnel and becoming a customer.

SEO-friendly content: topic clusters

Following a topic cluster approach to your SEO + content strategy will do wonders for your brand's visibility and website authority.

Topic clusters are formed during your keyword research and should be aligned with your company's value propositions. You want a good, solid balance of topics you're targeting. Try narrowing it down 5-10 main topics from your keyword research with hundreds (if not thousands) of keywords and long-tail keywords for each. The more manageable your topics are, the better chance you have to produce high-quality content and capture your industry. In other words, don't go after 20 topics, you'll only burn yourself out and hurt your strategy.

Each of your topic clusters should have a pillar page, typically a guide or long informational post that covers a broad topic. The cluster content are the shorter pieces of content or "subtopics" that all backlink to your pillar page to build authority.

Your pillar page should be optimized for the highest volume keyword in that topic cluster. As a rule of thumb, high volume keywords should be your pillar pages, while low to medium volume with high priority for your market are where your opportunities lie.

For example, suppose you're a marketing company and your keyword research revealed content marketing as a topic. In that case, your pillar page could be a full guide covering "content marketing" using that main high volume keyword. Your cluster content will then use more specific long-tail keywords, which would be developed as a series of blog posts such as content marketing metrics, content marketing strategies, content marketing calendars, etc. These blogs, acting as your cluster content, should be their own posts, as well as sections in your pillar piece, all linked together for your link building strategy.

Keywords and funnel stages

Depending on the stage of the funnel the searcher is in, the keywords they’re using will vary, which ultimately drives your content strategy. Make sure you have keywords and content to drive your audience down the funnel. In other words, don’t focus all of your efforts on the awareness stage or top of funnel content.

How do you figure out what funnel stage a keyword is in?

You need to look at how your audience and users are searching. Someone searching simple and generic words like "content marketing" isn't likely in the market to consider anything. They’re just browsing and looking to learn so that search term should be used within an awareness content piece. If they were a little further down the funnel, their searches might turn into something like "content marketing pros and cons", and a decision or bottom of the funnel keyword might be "content marketing companies".

Use our content marketing guide to find out how much content you should pour into each funnel stage. Below is an example of keywords for each stage to give you an idea of what you might write about and how they are different.

Note: This is a B2B example. The buying and search terms may look different if you are working with B2C. 

seo friendly content keyword examples

Note: This is a B2B example. The buying and search terms may look different if you are working with B2C. 

5 SEO-friendly tips every B2B content marketer should follow

When it comes to writing a solid SEO-friendly blog to gain visibility in search, there are certain rules you should follow.

Of course, not all of your content will be aligned with your keyword research, but you need to make sure you have the right balance. For example, your audience might be interested in knowing about a particular service you offer, yet you don't have anything in the keyword research related to it and that's okay. As long as you have a balance of SEO-friendly content and content that adds value to your audience, you will surely see results.

Here are a few of my tried and true tips every content marketer should follow.

  1. Write in searcher’s terms
  2. The more content, the better
  3. Structure matters
  4. Add subheads and images
  5. Use keywords

While you might want to use descriptive writing techniques to grab a reader's attention, you're there to offer them a service or product. Sometimes, an extensive backstory or introduction is unnecessary. For example, if you're writing about a particular topic you know your customers are searching for, you should get to the point and address it early to reduce the risk of losing their attention. 

To write in searcher's terms means to think about how you might search for the topic you are planning to write about. This will also come naturally if you follow your SEO keyword research and the keywords your audience and intended customers are using.

The more content in your post, the better chance it has to rank, especially for a competitive keyword with a higher search volume. I try to aim for 1,000-2,000 words a post without writing aimlessly (don't force it). 

You'll want to ensure you use your keyword throughout the post.

Make it easy to read, please! If you're writing a long post, it needs to be easy to read, otherwise, you're risking a high bounce rate. Your blog post structure should include multiple headings, images, inbound and outbound links that include your keyword or keyword variations for easy reading.

As you structure your blog post, subheads and images should fit within the post naturally. Subheadings and images not only make your post easier to read, but they make it more engaging and invite your readers to stay on your website longer.

Think about it, would you rather read one long post with just text? Or a post broken up into sections with clear subheads, images, and graphics so you can skim and find what you are looking for?

If you are following SEO best practices, these are additional places in your blog to use your keywords for optimal search rankings. This includes your text, as well as your headings (your title is typically an H1, followed by H2, H3 etc.), meta description and alt image tags.

10 steps to writing an SEO-friendly blog

If you’re just getting started on a piece of SEO-friendly content, here is a step-by-step process you can follow from start to finish.

  1. Keyword research - Start by brainstorming topics and keywords that your audience may type in their search bar to find you. See tips on how to conduct SEO keyword research here.
  2. Topic research - Research your keyword and topic, and gather information and practices from top-ranking articles...then write something better.
  3. Outline post - Outline your post with headings and subheadings.
  4. Focus on the reader's needs - Make sure the post and language you use are always focused on the reader's needs. You can follow a pain, claim, gain model.
  5. Fill it with value - The more valuable a post, the more engagement you will see. Make sure all of your posts are filled with value. This could be anything from lists, tips, images, downloadable assets and more.
  6. Include focus keyword and keyword variations - As mentioned previously, you should always include your main focus keyword and keyword variations throughout your post.
  7. Follow a link building strategy - One benefit from writing good, valuable SEO-friendly content is you can build site authority and increase your rankings through internal and external linking and backlinking. 
  8. Optimize your post - Make sure your post is optimized for the right keyword. This should be a new keyword (one you have not yet used), as you don't want to compete with yourself. In that case, if you do already have a post ranking for a keyword and it is the keyword that it should be ranking for, you have a couple options: 1) If the post already ranking is relatively up-to-date, reoptimize it to make it better or 2) If it is outdated and needs a rewrite rather than a few tweaks, write a new, better-optimized post and just leave the old one be.
  9. Add a CTA - If not in all of your posts, the majority of them should have a CTA or action item so readers can learn more and move down the funnel.
  10. Review & revise - Like any content piece, you should always go through a series of revisions. If you're working on an SEO piece, this is an excellent opportunity to make sure keywords and links are used appropriately.

SEO-friendly content should be done right

If you don't write your content the "right way" and follow best practices for SEO, it can actually hurt your overall content plan and marketing goals in the long run.

As long as you are writing high-quality, easy-to-read, and shareable content that focuses on your audience's pain points and aligns with your keyword research, you will be in good shape to gain significant visibility in search (over time, of course).

Remember to add keywords, but don't force them. Something called "keyword stuffing" can kill your SEO and all of your long, hard work. Keyword stuffing happens when your focus keyword is loaded into the page's meta tags, visible content, or backlink anchor text. Google reads this as a search penalty.

Keep an eye on your keyword density. While you should naturally and purposefully add the keyword into the areas it matters most, you still need to be careful not to over-optimize your post. Keyword density in SEO is the percentage of times a keyword is used in the copy.

Keyword Density =

(Number of words in the post) / (Number of times keyword appears in the post)

As long as you tastefully and naturally use your keyword within your post, you shouldn't have to worry about your density ratio. After all, it should be pretty clear whether or not you've stuffed your post.

For example, something like this is very unattractive and is clearly keyword-stuffed:

Strengthen your brand with stellar content marketing. When it comes to content marketing, not many content marketers know how to balance a content marketing strategy that delivers growth and tangible results. All too often, we've seen content marketing ignored due to misconceived value or slow returns.

Instead, try:

Strengthen your brand with stellar content marketing. When it comes to content marketing, not many people know how to balance a solid strategy that delivers growth and tangible results. This stems from slow returns and misconceived value because some businesses still choose to ignore a key piece of their marketing plan: content.

Your website should aim to educate. The moment you start writing for search engines and stop writing for your audience, the more likely you are to deter readers from your site. As you can see, adding in keywords everywhere doesn't sound natural and can hurt your chances of ranking and result in a search penalty.

Show up where your audience is 

Level-up your brand and strategy with SEO-friendly content that aligns with your keyword research and value propositions while moving your audience down the funnel.

The best thing about content marketing and writing SEO-friendly blogs is that you get to show up where your customers are. You're not flooding their inbox with messages they may never open –– you're writing content for your website with the goal that it will show up in search and in front of their eyes.

You should write the post that you would want to read––the one that answers all of your questions if you were to Google that one topic or keyword.

Please Note: This post only reviews the content aspect of optimizing a post. There is also a technical approach to SEO that includes optimizing for things like load time, image size (compress your images), routinely checking for broken links, etc. 

It's also important to note that content can always be improved. Your keywords and overall content performance should be routinely monitored so you can ensure a solid strategy for sustainable growth. Always continue to update and optimize content as needed. 

Your content marketing strategy is lacking without SEO. Why? SEO-friendly content leads to better user experience, ranks higher in search, increases website visitors, and offers a good way to make search engines understand your website content to build authority.

Finally, remember to keep your content original. (You will get penalized for duplicate content!) 

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