Writing for SEO: The Anatomy of Successful Website Content

Last updated on February 15, 2019

As an agency, at Jack & Bean, we offer unique content creation services for our clients as part of our suite of SEO services. We write a lot of content, not just for ourselves, but in collaboration with clients who do not or cannot do so themselves. I’m plugging us here because we have done this – a lot. Through both industry research and trial-and-error we have figured out a slew of factors you need to consider whenever you set to writing seo-friendly content.

1) The Quality of Your Writing

The first obvious aspect of successful content is simply writing well. This skill is acquired with practice, and you will get better over time by just doing as well as analyzing your successful competitors. However good or bad you are now, you can and will get better with critical repetition. You can always come back to older web content (that you control) and improve it as your skills advance.

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Utilizing content-creation platforms like webtexttool can help assist your web-focused writing. This particular tool gives you two scores out of 100 for SEO and content. For SEO, it ensures your page title, description, headings, main content and other aspects align with your main target keyword and general SEO practices. The content score is determined by estimated reading level/difficulty, text credibility, gender neutrality, sentiment and even text layout.

We use webtexttool internally to guide our content creation efforts. We don’t take its advice as gospel. For example, sometimes it will tell us we’re too verbose or long-worded when we want to be, but it’s an excellent content-creation anchor. Yoast’s extremely popular SEO plugin for WordPress is a great free alternative that has more limited but still useful functionality to help guide SEO-focused content writing. Again, don’t obsess with all the metrics, but it’s a solid guide in most aspects, and there is a paid version as well with more features.

2) Topic Uniqueness

What makes your content different than what’s already been said? This is a huge question that must be answered before you begin, or your content will just a clone of other content already published. Don’t just rewrite an existing article. Take a topic, and do one of the following, ideally aiming for this prioritization:

  1. Discuss something that hasn’t been discussed before by anyone. This is the best type of content and is SEO gold, even in extreme niches. Naturally, such topics are also extremely difficult to come by, and your opportunities for these topic gems will be rare.
  2. Find a dramatically new angle on something already discussed. Always aim for this if you can’t achieve brand new subject matter. A good guide is to be controversial yet defensible, to stimulate discussion and interaction.
  3. Explain an existing topic better. This will likely be your bread and butter, in conjunction with aspects of the previous approach when possible. You often won’t have much to go on for some subjects except to try to improve upon what’s already been discussed.
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You can craft unique content from:

  • Data your company produces
  • Insights you have because of your industry experience
  • Stories from people you have access to
  • Customer experiences and reviews

Unique and genuine content stands out and is much easier to promote. Visitors and other authors will be receptive to your unique and improved discussion and backlinks will be more likely to develop as a result. Even excellent content will often be ignored if it is too mainstream.

3) Understand Your Audience

We have found that focusing on large, unique utility articles such as tutorials, thorough guides and how-tos (like this article) have been most effective at ranking well for both B2B and B2C content writing. Most of the time we barely promote the company’s offerings, if even at all, in successful content pieces. The point rather is to offer a resource that is relevant, useful, and will build credibility and DR, influencing our overall Google ranking. This is because we understand the audiences of our industries we write for, and what they’re actually searching for.

Case studies, examples and authoritative interviews/quotes are also great, but we have largely used them as supplementary material, in addition to number-based research and data with references to add authority. Most of our articles have irrefutable references that make our core points for us.

This simply illustrates how we tailor the content we write to appeal to our (client’s) target audiences. Consider yours carefully and understand that some trial-and-error may be required to find what your audience is interested in. However, you can minimize wasting time writing content your audience doesn’t want with the proper tools, a solid loadout of which are explained in our article about free bottomless content sources. Part of writing successful content is making efficient use of your time.

4) How Your Content Looks

The way your content displays on-page also makes a tremendous difference in how it is perceived. You don’t want to just throw thousands of great words on a page. Most visitors will scroll through and browse your page, either looking for something specific or deciding if they want to stay and read your article. You want the structure to be idiot-proof and attractive. Make use of layout variations, quality images, short paragraphs and sentences, headings and subheadings, quotes, lists and other enticing features. Your goal is to get visitors to find your page attractive and want to stay.

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One great tool we use for creating visuals quickly and professionally is Visme. You should also look to your competition for inspiration if you find yourself struggling to add variation in your own content. We recommend outlining your topic, consider your structure and images based on how much you can write about each section, write it, and then lastly…

5) Create an Enticing Headline

Your title is often the only thing people will see when they have the opportunity to click on your article. It needs to snag their attention, and yet contain some variation of your keyword/topic for relevance. You are essentially aiming to create accurate clickbait. Be sure to brainstorm at least half a dozen title options and spend significant time perfecting it.

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As we mentioned in the last section, we recommend waiting until you’ve written your content to craft your title last. Sometimes the direction of your article will change and morph as you write, making the title you began with no longer representative of what your article is about. And since your title is extremely important, you don’t want to burn time creating a title you end up ditching due to inaccuracy. Take our word for it, do this last.

6) Authority

Utilize the knowledge of those who came before you and are experts in the field you’re writing about. Cite often and bolster your arguments with legitimate data and sources. If you ever had to write a high school or college research paper, the concept is virtually the same. What you say matters very little unless you obtained the research yourself.

Always cite your own professional experiences when possible. However, since you probably aren’t obtaining research-grade data consistently, look to authoritative sources whenever necessary to round out your arguments.

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Always look for opportunities to interview and chat with giants in your niche. If you can manage to interact with and interview subject matter experts in your field, not only will you have incredible insight and accuracy for your content, but you likely can score a backlink from them to your article!

7) Internal Links

The big articles you write, “cornerstone” pieces as the online community has come to call them, are the breadwinners. They are the articles the majority of your backlinks will ultimately link into and what will earn most of your SEO authority. However, you likely have content, products and services on other pages relevant to these articles. These cornerstone pieces give you the opportunity to link to other internal pages for increased traffic as well as potentially passing on some SEO credibility.

Here’s a shameless relevant plug of an example of relevant internal links from this, a cornerstone article of ours: We offer SEO content writing services for businesses who can’t do it themselves. if you’re reading this article and the task of writing content and dominating your SEO competition seems more than you can handle, it might be time to have a conversation with us. If it seems up your alley to handle it yourself, we invite you to dive deeper into the SEO process by utilizing our white hat SEO guide.

Be sure to round out your large content pieces by promoting both further reading and your products/services. Your site should be an interconnected web of links, and once you have a few related pieces written, they should all link to each other where relevant.

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You always want visitors to stay engaged on your site as long as possible. It’s good for SEO, and it’s good for business. Towards that goal, take care to not overdo it with internal self-promotion and risk annoying your visitors into bouncing. Keep internal links appropriate and relevant.

8) External Links

External links to outside websites serve several roles. External links are how you promote the content of others altruistically in the form of a backlink. You can also use external links to reference authoritative external sources as a way of establishing credibility, as we have done quite a few times in this very article. Just take care to add rel=”nofollow” to links you don’t want being considered part of your content or that you don’t want to potentially share your SEO profile with. For more on this here is a candid support article from Google themselves on rel=”nofollow” that we have appropriately linked to in that very manner.

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According to a well-controlled study done by rebootonline.com, “outgoing relevant links to authoritative sites are considered in [Google’s] algorithms and do have a positive impact on rankings.” Google does indeed seem to weigh the quality and relevance of linked content and factor it into your rank. So not only are external links recommended, you should be including them in all of your content whenever possible. To beat that dead horse though, focus on quality over quantity.

9) Content Post Frequency

The frequency with which you post content does nothing for your Google ranking, and in fact can lead to you cannibalizing your own articles by having them compete with each other for the same keywords. It’s much better to have a few large “cornerstone” articles than many small ones about very closely related topics.

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You’re also less likely to keep your existing audience engaged if you are constantly bombarding them with mediocre content updates. Frequent posts for the sake of frequency do nothing except water down your efforts. It’s fine to post frequently, as long as you are not sacrificing the quality of your content. In our opinion, if you are posting articles daily, you are likely sacrificing quality, unless you are dedicating your efforts full-time to content writing.

10) Content Depth & Length

Fewer, high-quality articles should also be larger and more in-depth. Better, deeper content coverage leads to more organic traffic potential, even if it’s ranked lower than the competition for some specific keywords, as it will rank for more keywords overall when written in a balanced and natural manner. Google also factors in time visitors spend on page when considering ranking, so the longer you can actively engage readers, the better.

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Due to this, the search volume for a single keyword is a very poor indicator of potential traffic, due to multiple keyword rankings, which means the actual search traffic can be many times higher. This is why we recommend you look at the total search volume traffic for top-ranked articles and not just the traffic for a given keyword, when researching keyword topics to include in your content. More on that in our article about proper keyword research with Ahrefs keywords explorer.

TL;DR: Writing for SEO is Hard!

Content writing is time consuming, difficult, and even if you’re an excellent writer for traditional mediums, your style may not be optimal for the web for a variety of reasons. You need to constantly stay critical of your work and utilize any tools and peer-review at your disposal to hone your craft and keep your quality superb. Should you ever decide you don’t have the time or patience to write for yourself, our content writing services are always available for consideration.

Last updated on February 15, 2019

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