SEO writing plays a critical role in implementing your content marketing strategy.
And even though SEO writing can seem complicated, the right set of guidelines can help you create good posts easily and to great effect.
In this post, we’re sharing our SEO writing checklist for 2022. Here are ten tips covering what makes a blog post optimized for search engines.
The ultimate SEO writing checklist for 2022
Use these guidelines as a checklist when you draft a blog post for your website.
However, remember that common sense matters too.
Always write for your audience first. Think about what their needs are and do your best to meet them. Then use the following tips to organize and present your content in the best way possible.
1. Start with search intent
When people search online, they have a purpose or intent in mind.
You can determine what that is by looking at the keywords they would use. Looking up search results for the keyword will also help you understand what customers intend to do.
For example, if someone searches for “best running shoes,” they want to purchase a pair of shoes. But if someone searches for “how to clean running shoes,” they’re looking for tips or advice on how to accomplish this task.
There are three common types of search intent:
- Informational: A user is looking for information on a topic. An example would be “how to prepare pasta.”
- Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website. People who type “Facebook” or “Amazon” most likely want to visit these websites.
- Transactional: The user is looking to buy something. Typing “Lego Transformers price” indicates that the searcher is ready to purchase this product.
However, search intent isn’t so always straightforward. Someone searching for a celebrity’s name may want to know who they are, find their social media or watch their latest movie.
Keeping these intents in mind, you need to build a blog post around satisfying the searcher’s needs.
2. Pick a focus keyword or phrase
If you have only a general idea of the topic you want to write about, brainstorm a list of potential focus keywords or phrases. Then pick one that overlaps your interest and your audience’s need.
If you want to write about “goal setting” and realize that people are looking for good apps to help them set goals, then the keyword “best goal setting apps” is right for you.
To help you choose the optimal keyword or phrase, use an SEO tool. The most popular are Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Moz Keyword Explorer.
A tool like Ahrefs can help you explore related keywords, traffic, and keyword difficulty.
You can further narrow down your keyword choice based on how much competition there is for that keyword and how many people are searching for it.
Long-tail keywords usually have less competition and are easier to rank for. If your keyword was “best goal setting apps” a long-tail keyword might be “best goal setting apps for android.”
As the second keyword is more specific, there will be less competition for it, giving you a better chance of ranking higher on the first page of search engines such as Google.
Google offers great resources for discovering long-tail keywords built right into its search functions.
Google autocomplete suggestions, and the “People Also Ask” and “Related Searches” sections provide a great way to discover keywords. Entering your keyword and seeing what else comes up will give you an idea of other things people want to know.
You should have a clear keyword in mind at this stage as you’ll use it and similar terms repeatedly in your blog post.
3. Optimize Your Headline
Your headline or blog post title is the first thing people see. And you need to optimize it so that people click on it and so that Google understands what your post is about.
Here are some important headline optimization tips you shouldn’t ignore:
- Make your headline or title clear, short, and straightforward.
- Keep it descriptive. “How to Bake a Rich Chocolate Cake Without Flowers” is an example of a descriptive title. This will help search engines and potential readers understand your article better.
- Use a headline analyzer to make optimization easy. The higher your headline score, the better.
- Add your keywords to the headline. And the closer it is to the beginning, the better.
A few tweaks to your title can make a big difference in terms of traffic. So, don’t neglect this part of your blog post.
4. Structure your post
Another key aspect of competent SEO writing is a well-structured post.
There are two essential reasons why structuring your blog post matters.
First, people scan content when they first come across it. Organizing your post well is vital to making it easy for your readers.
Second, good post organization tells search engines what your post is about and how it’s different from other pieces of content on the same topic.
Here are some tips to help you structure your content well:
- Write short paragraphs with only 3-4 lines each.
- Use H2 and H3 tags for subheadings. Make sure they’re descriptive too.
- Use bullet points to make your content more scannable.
- Add images, videos, and infographics to break up your text and make it more visually appealing.
- Use formatting options like bold and italics for impact but use them as little as possible.
5. Add keywords in a natural way
Adding your keywords to your blog post is expected. It shows that your content is relevant. But it’s important to sprinkle them in a natural way, as opposed to shoving them into your content.
You may have heard that you should focus on keyword density. That is, making sure the keyword makes up between 1-3% of your post.
But this isn’t something you should worry about. The goal is to use your keyword throughout your post, without making it sound forced. And to use variations of your keyword to make it sound natural.
For example, along with “best running shoes”, you can add “best shoes for runners,” and “athletic shoes,” and so on.
6. Distribute keywords across your post
Regarding SEO writing, where you place your keywords is just as important as how often you use them.
Search engines seem to pay attention to where you place your keywords and give more weight to those placed:
- In the title
- In headings and subheadings
- At the beginning of your post – within the first 300 words
- In the meta description
- In at least one image alt text
But don’t go overboard with keyword placement. A few strategically placed keywords will do the trick.
7. Use LSI keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are words and phrases related to your main keyword.
LSI terms are important for ranking because they create context and tell search engines what your post is about.
Let’s look at the term “vegan beauty.” You can write about the best vegan brands or provide general information about what vegan beauty means.
If you add the names of brands and store locations in your post, it’s evident that your vegan beauty post is about the best brands and places to buy products from. It’s transactional, and Google will show this post to searchers who want to buy vegan products.
But if you wrote a post that included ingredients, recipes, and tips on making your vegan beauty products, your post is more informative and would come up for those searching for “vegan beauty recipes” or “homemade vegan beauty products.”
Using LSI keywords is a powerful way to show search engines the context of your post and what it’s really about.
And using tools to help you identify and add the right number of LSI terms can make a significant difference to your SEO efforts.
Check out tools such as LSIgraph to help you find the right LSI keywords for your blog post. You can also look at Google’s search results page for ideas or use the free Google Keyword Planner.
8. Focus on readability
Online audiences are inundated with content. As a result, people don’t read, they scan content.
To capture your reader’s attention, you need to make your content readable. Here are some tips you can follow:
- Write at an 8th-grade college level
- Use “You” in your copy and speak directly to people
- Avoid jargon and long sentences
- Avoid using the passive voice
And here’s a pro tip: use Hemingway App and similar readability tools for content creation. Any complex sentences or words get highlighted and you can easily revise your text to make it more readable.
9. Link to appropriate content
Good SEO writing involves adding internal and external links to your post.
Linking to other relevant posts on your site helps search engines understand what your post is about. It’s also a good way to keep readers engaged and on your site for longer.
And when you link to external, high-authority sites, it adds to the credibility of your own site. Just make sure you’re linking to quality sources and not just any old site.
Also, link internally whenever you can. If you’ve written a post about the best vegan concealers and there’s another post on your site about the best vegan foundations, link to it.
Doing so keeps readers engaged and also helps with your SEO since Google will know that your posts are related.
10. Answer related questions
Towards the end of your blog post, answer a few pertinent questions related to the content or add an FAQ section to your post.
Answering relevant questions shows Google that your post is comprehensive and helpful. Ad you’ll be more likely to see an increase in ranking.
You can find related questions in the “People Also Ask” section on Google and in the ‘Related Searches’ section at the bottom of the page. Look for questions that are relevant to your post and answer them in your FAQ section.
Answering questions is also a great way to round out your post. You can use it to address any concerns that people might have or add additional information that didn’t fit into the main body of your post.
Now, over to you
There are several factors that impact whether your content appears as a top search result.
Building backlinks, establishing Expertise, Authority, and Trust (EAT), your website’s load time, and more all play a role in your ranking.
But the bottom line is this: if you want to rank high on SERPs, you need to write high-quality, comprehensive, and keyword-optimized content.