For most companies, the majority of your web traffic will probably come from search engines.
Maybe those site visitors searched the name of your company, or maybe they searched a topic related to the work you do. Either way, this demonstrates the power of search engines — and the unique opportunities they provide.
If someone is actively Googling questions or issues your company can help solve, then you have yourself a pretty well-qualified lead. Your job, then, is to employ search engine optimization tactics to make sure your website gets in front of as many of these search engine users as possible.
There’s no better way to drive qualified traffic to a website.
Where SEO Writing Fits In
Here’s the thing: Google, Bing, Yahoo! and any other search engine can do a fairly good job of elevating the most relevant results for a particular search term, but their algorithms aren’t perfect and need a little help.
SEO writers structure the information on your site to make sure the right signals get to the search engines’ crawlers, the little bots that creep across the web to identify and index websites. So, if you’re a dentist in Dayton, Ohio, you’ll want your practice’s website to be at the top of any results when people search for things such as “dentist dayton ohio” or “teeth whitening dayton.”
You’ll largely do this by optimizing your site for a specific set of keywords and by creating SEO-friendly content. The next three sections of this guide discuss exactly how to do this. Then, you’ll be armed with enough knowledge to know whether you have the resources to handle SEO efforts in house or whether you need to hire an SEO professional to help you out.
It Starts With Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of identifying the best keywords to build content around, and is the foundation of good SEO writing. It’s a tedious process that takes time, but it’s definitely worth being diligent at this stage.
You’ll almost definitely need to buy a keyword research tool, but there are a variety of options to fit everyone’s needs and budgets. No matter which tool you use, the process will be very similar. You’ll be exploring long lists of keywords and filtering for four things:
- Relevance — Is the keyword a logical and natural fit for your business?
- Search volume — Are people actually searching for your keywords on a monthly basis?
- User intent — You know how some people walk into a clothing store just to browse and others walk in with the intention of buying something? Organic website visitors are the same, and the keywords they use will signal their intent.
- Competition — Other businesses will be competing with you for the same keywords. The more competition, the harder it will be to rank in a search engine’s results page (or SERPs).
For a deeper dive into this phase, Rand Fishkin from Moz has an excellent video tutorial on conducting keyword research against this rubric:
Your SEO Writer Must Create Helpful, Engaging Content
In the old days, SEO writers could get away with stacking a bunch of keywords at the bottom of a web page or writing clunky pieces of content that read as if they’d been written by a robot (actually, some of those pieces were).
But the search engines caught on quickly, and today they routinely penalize websites for trying to get away with this kind of SEO black magic.
Therefore, there is only one sustainable method for doing good SEO: Publishing good stuff. In certain industries, it’s a real challenge to keep your content fresh and interesting, but remember that the people who land on your site via search have already proved they’re interested in what you have to say.
So, if your company has a line of products it sells, for instance, you can create SEO-friendly content that digs into the nuances of what those products do. If your writer is thoughtful and thorough, you’ll create an asset that delivers real value and keeps readers on your page for more than a few seconds (bonus: that’s a signal of quality search engines are looking for).
Slotting Keywords Into Your Content
It might make sense to build a piece of content around a single keyword, or it might be better to group a handful of keywords together for one piece. Either way, make sure to put your keywords into a checklist as you start writing; this will keep your keyword groups organized and ensure you don’t forget one.
There are two primary ways to work your keywords into your copy: Building the copy around them, or sprinkling them in after the fact. This largely depends on the keyword.
A conversational search string such as “exercises for back pain” could be a headline or subhead your can build around.
A less conversational keyword, however, might need to wait until after you’ve written your first draft. From there, you can find a place in the copy where the keyword more or less fits, then finesse the sentence to accommodate it.
How Many Times Should These Keywords Appear?
As many times as would be natural, and not more or less. There is no keyword density benchmark you can reliably shoot for. If the success of a piece of content hinged solely on whether “how to wire money to Kolkata” appeared three times instead of two in an article, the Internet would be a pretty dire place.
Making Keywords Sound Natural
Use common sense here. “Teeth Whitening Dayton” would make a terrible headline. If there is a natural way for those three words to fall in that exact order, go for it. Otherwise, no need to worry. Search engines are smart enough to deal with prepositions and punctuation.
That means you’ve got a couple of options for that “teeth whitening dayton” keyword:
- Separate with a comma or a period. “…the city’s must trusted practice for teeth whitening. Dayton residents have come to our practice for 25 years.”
- Separate with a preposition. “The most highly rated practice on Yelp for teeth whitening in Dayton.”
Think Strategically and Publish Regularly
Search engines work a lot like FM radio: They tend to focus on fresh, new content and greatest hits.
This has two big implications for SEO writers:
- We have to publish regularly to keep a stream of fresh content going.
- When a piece goes over especially well, it can all but cement its place on the first page of SERPs for specific keywords.
The best way to keep this all organized is with an editorial calendar. Sticking to a calendar ensures you will regularly produce SEO-friendly content, and can help you budget for bigger pieces of content that might require a little more work.
Do You Need to Hire an SEO Writer?
This is the big question for many small business owners, who already have little time to devote to new projects. SEO writing requires a commitment of your time and a willingness to learn some esoteric ideas, after all.
Hiring an SEO article writing service can relieve a bit of that pressure and let you hand over a crucial pillar of marketing that might not be one of your core competences.
If you’ve made it this far, though, you know enough of the basics to either start learning SEO skills yourself or identify good SEO writers.
If you decide to hire, keep these two things in mind:
- SEO skills aren’t enough when scrutinizing writers. They also need to be able to think creatively, have some degree of expertise in your industry, and should also know the ins and outs of search engine marketing — because the rules are always changing.
- Hire a handful of SEO writers for test projects, evaluate their work, and only then make commitments for future work. The test run will let you identify any deficiencies in the skills above. Maybe a candidate who initially looks good cannot think creatively, or maybe the candidate employs old school SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing. Keep an eye out for those red flags. You know enough at this point to know what to look for.