A complete guide to SEO content [including 12 SEO writing tips]

A complete guide to SEO content [including 12 SEO writing tips]

7 minute read

A complete guide to SEO content [including 12 SEO writing tips]

7 minute read

A complete guide to SEO content [including 12 SEO writing tips]

Masooma Memon

GatherContent Contributor, Writer

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Creating SEO content is rarely a walk through the park ... which is probably why 90.63% of pages get no organic traffic.

If this is you, do you know why your SEO content isn’t performing as well as it should? A leading reason may be that you don’t have a well-defined SEO content strategy in place.

Sure, you’ve probably been studying ranking factors that can help you improve your SEO game, but you’re probably not taking the action needed to rank in the search engines.

In this guide on SEO strategy, let’s walk through a solid 6-step framework to creating a high-performing SEO content strategy. We’ve also included our best SEO copywriting tips for you as you create new content.

Let’s start.

What is SEO content?

SEO content is any content created with the intent of ranking well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Put another way, it’s content that is optimized for SEO.

Good content that ranks isn’t content that is optimized for SEO only. Instead, it’s content that keeps the reader's experience in mind and ensures it answers any questions about the target keyword or phrase.

But why worry about optimizing for your target audience? Isn't it easier to just optimize for a keyword?

Well, these two should be synonymous. Google is dedicated to satisfying its users. So when your content does that, it ends up ranking well. A win-win.

For instance, when a searcher finds their answer on your page, they are likely to spend more time on your site, which increases your click-through rate and reduces your bounce rate – two leading ranking factors.

💡 Learn more: Why SEO is about people, not the search engine

SEO Content Types

The following are SEO-friendly content types:

  • Lists. For example: “101 newsletter ideas to try today”
  • Guides. This is in-depth content on a topic that’s spread over multiple way pages. Moz’s guide to SEO is a good example of this.
  • Articles. This could be interviews, news, features – commonly published by news publications.
  • Videos. These could be bite-size clips or long-form videos explaining a topic comprehensively. (Tip: YouTube is the second-largest search engine and has its own SEO structure for optimizing video content.)
  • Blog posts. Blog posts answer questions your target audience has, which can also target specific keywords or queries.
  • Infographics. These visualize data and help capture organic traffic of searchers looking for quick answers to their query.
  • Product pages. These offer product descriptions while also serving as landing pages for PPC campaigns.
  • How-to pieces. Such a piece of content is applauded for being actionable in answering a search query step-by-step.
  • Images and slideshows. These could be anything from supplementary and explanatory graphics to a PowerPoint presentation.

6 Steps to an SEO Content Strategy

To make sure you’re doing SEO right, follow these steps.

1. Revisit your audience

For creating any successful strategy, you must first know who it’s for.

Start with identifying your target audience to understand their pain points and the problems they’re searching for. This will guide your keyword research and content creation.

2. Identify your goals

Write down your goals for creating SEO content. Do you want to drive organic traffic or do you want more conversions?

Upperrank founder David Farkas shares some goals you can set:

  • “X% increase in organic traffic and conversions
  • Obtain the desired rankings for the keywords
  • Increase user engagement by increasing the average time spent on the site”

3. Research keywords and validate ideas

Your audience research can be a goldmine of keywords, phrases, and questions your audience is searching for. Start there.

Jake Peterson, SEO Specialist at Atiba, advises starting with a seed keyword and researching keyword variations and questions around the keyword.

From there,

"Create a large spreadsheet along with the keywords’ estimated search volume, keyword difficulty level, and estimated cost-per-click (CPC). Also, put the top URL in the spreadsheet to see what kind of competition the keyword has. Sometimes, keywords run into big brands or high-authority sites which tells me to not go after that specific keyword or variant."
Jake Peterson
Content and SEO at Atiba

If you’re only starting out, you can also benefit from targeting long-tail keywords to rank better in Google search results.

Once you have a list of target keywords ready, you’ll want to brainstorm ideas for content topics on them.

"Find topic ideas in Ahrefs’ question generator, Google keyword planner tool, by scouring Google’s ‘people also ask’ feature, and by reading through forums on Reddit, Quora, etc.,"
Adam Gingery
Chief Operating & Paid Advertising Officer, Majux Marketing

For each keyword, also decide the content type – will it be a guide, a how-to piece, or a short-form article?

Make sure you also have an understanding of each keyword’s search intent and the secondary, relevant keywords that accompany it.

4. Create an editorial calendar and content briefs

With your list of target keywords and topics ready, take the time to organize them in a publishing schedule.

With each topic, add a due date and an assignee – someone who’ll take over the content writing. This could be an in-house writer or a freelancer.

Need to Know: By assigning dates to your content projects in GatherContent, you can easily get an overview of what’s due in a calendar format.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar.
GatherContent helps you create editorial calendars easily and effectively.

To ensure writers create high-quality content, make sure you hand them content briefs. These should pack in information on the topic’s target keyword, secondary keywords, and guidelines for search engine optimization.

Need to Know: Create template briefs in GatherContent. Then, add embedded instructions for writing each section of the content piece. This way, writers are more likely to stick with the guidelines.
Create briefs with embedded guidelines for writers in GatherContent.
GatherContent helps you create briefs with embedded instructions that assist writers in creating SEO-optimized content.

5. Create a link building plan

Link building boosts your site’s domain authority and helps improve ranking. In fact, creating a comprehensive post on a target keyword and waiting for it to rank naturally is never enough – particularly if you have a new site.

The solution? Actively building backlinks for each piece of content.

To this end, find out site linking to the keyword-based pieces. Then, reach out to them explaining you offer a better resource that’s worth linking back to.

6. Publish and track results

Once you hit publish, take the time to review the results.

For example, monitor Google Analytics to understand the traffic your posts are driving, how long visitors are staying on the page, and what they’re clicking on.

To ensure you’re tracking progress the right way, pre-select the metrics to monitor based on your goals. Every quarter or so, review progress against these metrics.

Finally, an important piece in the SEO content strategy puzzle: keep refreshing old, evergreen content.

The Google algorithm loves fresh content and prioritizes it when ranking results. Be sure to add this step to your content marketing workflow.

💡 Learn more: Wrapping search and SEO into your content strategy process

12 Tips for SEO Content in 2022

Here are our 12 best writing tips.

Dive deeper and do more: On-page SEO checklist.

1. Write for your readers (meaning: no keyword stuffing)

The aim is to keep readers on the page. A human voice can help do that. Remember: keyword stuffing reads like a robot, so add keywords naturally.

2. Create content based on the questions readers have

The key to good SEO content writing is ensuring you answer all the questions readers have on a given topic. Find these by looking at what searchers are asking about in the People Also Ask section. Then, answer them thoroughly in your content.

3. Add keywords strategically in your SEO content

Use keywords in your headings, introduction, last paragraph, and throughout the content where suitable.

4. Structure content for readability

Divide content with subheadings, write short paragraphs, and break text into bullet points where possible. This helps to keep readers on the page by making it easy for them to read.

5. Write direct, to the point subheadings

Direct subheadings provide visitors the context they need to understand your page has the answers to the questions they have. This aids readability and helps you snag a place in Google’s featured snippets.

6. Write keyword-enriched meta descriptions

Aim to write inviting meta descriptions that compel readers to click to read your content from the search results. To this end, use action verbs such as “learn,” “dig in,” “read” to encourage searchers to read.

💡 Tip: This is where copywriting comes into play. Read our tips here.

7. Add alt text to all images

Alt text makes content accessible and easy for Google to understand and rank. Make sure all your images include a short descriptive text of what’s in the image.

8. Create compelling page titles

Add your target keyword to the page title tag. It’s also important that your headline entices people to read – answering what’s in it for them can help with this.

9. Break text by adding helpful visuals

This helps with readability and ranking. Explanatory visuals such as a concepts map, for example, can further readers’ understanding of a topic, keeping them on the page. A large part of writing content for SEO involves creating helpful visuals to break text, support learning, and add value.

Plus, other sites may feature your images and link back to your content, earning you more backlinks that then contribute to your ranking.

10. Write short URLs

Add your main keyword as your URL instead of the entire headline. Also, never add numbers as those can complicate future content updates.

11. Add transcripts to all video content

Transcripts tell Google what’s said and explained in your video content. Add them to the videos as you upload them so they can rank for relevant search queries.

12. Add internal links to your content

This helps keep people on your site while giving Google an idea of the interlinked topics you cover.

With that, we’ve reached the end. Here’s hoping you rank better with all that you’ve learned today.


Creating SEO content is rarely a walk through the park ... which is probably why 90.63% of pages get no organic traffic.

If this is you, do you know why your SEO content isn’t performing as well as it should? A leading reason may be that you don’t have a well-defined SEO content strategy in place.

Sure, you’ve probably been studying ranking factors that can help you improve your SEO game, but you’re probably not taking the action needed to rank in the search engines.

In this guide on SEO strategy, let’s walk through a solid 6-step framework to creating a high-performing SEO content strategy. We’ve also included our best SEO copywriting tips for you as you create new content.

Let’s start.

What is SEO content?

SEO content is any content created with the intent of ranking well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Put another way, it’s content that is optimized for SEO.

Good content that ranks isn’t content that is optimized for SEO only. Instead, it’s content that keeps the reader's experience in mind and ensures it answers any questions about the target keyword or phrase.

But why worry about optimizing for your target audience? Isn't it easier to just optimize for a keyword?

Well, these two should be synonymous. Google is dedicated to satisfying its users. So when your content does that, it ends up ranking well. A win-win.

For instance, when a searcher finds their answer on your page, they are likely to spend more time on your site, which increases your click-through rate and reduces your bounce rate – two leading ranking factors.

💡 Learn more: Why SEO is about people, not the search engine

SEO Content Types

The following are SEO-friendly content types:

  • Lists. For example: “101 newsletter ideas to try today”
  • Guides. This is in-depth content on a topic that’s spread over multiple way pages. Moz’s guide to SEO is a good example of this.
  • Articles. This could be interviews, news, features – commonly published by news publications.
  • Videos. These could be bite-size clips or long-form videos explaining a topic comprehensively. (Tip: YouTube is the second-largest search engine and has its own SEO structure for optimizing video content.)
  • Blog posts. Blog posts answer questions your target audience has, which can also target specific keywords or queries.
  • Infographics. These visualize data and help capture organic traffic of searchers looking for quick answers to their query.
  • Product pages. These offer product descriptions while also serving as landing pages for PPC campaigns.
  • How-to pieces. Such a piece of content is applauded for being actionable in answering a search query step-by-step.
  • Images and slideshows. These could be anything from supplementary and explanatory graphics to a PowerPoint presentation.

6 Steps to an SEO Content Strategy

To make sure you’re doing SEO right, follow these steps.

1. Revisit your audience

For creating any successful strategy, you must first know who it’s for.

Start with identifying your target audience to understand their pain points and the problems they’re searching for. This will guide your keyword research and content creation.

2. Identify your goals

Write down your goals for creating SEO content. Do you want to drive organic traffic or do you want more conversions?

Upperrank founder David Farkas shares some goals you can set:

  • “X% increase in organic traffic and conversions
  • Obtain the desired rankings for the keywords
  • Increase user engagement by increasing the average time spent on the site”

3. Research keywords and validate ideas

Your audience research can be a goldmine of keywords, phrases, and questions your audience is searching for. Start there.

Jake Peterson, SEO Specialist at Atiba, advises starting with a seed keyword and researching keyword variations and questions around the keyword.

From there,

"Create a large spreadsheet along with the keywords’ estimated search volume, keyword difficulty level, and estimated cost-per-click (CPC). Also, put the top URL in the spreadsheet to see what kind of competition the keyword has. Sometimes, keywords run into big brands or high-authority sites which tells me to not go after that specific keyword or variant."
Jake Peterson
Content and SEO at Atiba

If you’re only starting out, you can also benefit from targeting long-tail keywords to rank better in Google search results.

Once you have a list of target keywords ready, you’ll want to brainstorm ideas for content topics on them.

"Find topic ideas in Ahrefs’ question generator, Google keyword planner tool, by scouring Google’s ‘people also ask’ feature, and by reading through forums on Reddit, Quora, etc.,"
Adam Gingery
Chief Operating & Paid Advertising Officer, Majux Marketing

For each keyword, also decide the content type – will it be a guide, a how-to piece, or a short-form article?

Make sure you also have an understanding of each keyword’s search intent and the secondary, relevant keywords that accompany it.

4. Create an editorial calendar and content briefs

With your list of target keywords and topics ready, take the time to organize them in a publishing schedule.

With each topic, add a due date and an assignee – someone who’ll take over the content writing. This could be an in-house writer or a freelancer.

Need to Know: By assigning dates to your content projects in GatherContent, you can easily get an overview of what’s due in a calendar format.
Use GatherContent to create your editorial calendar.
GatherContent helps you create editorial calendars easily and effectively.

To ensure writers create high-quality content, make sure you hand them content briefs. These should pack in information on the topic’s target keyword, secondary keywords, and guidelines for search engine optimization.

Need to Know: Create template briefs in GatherContent. Then, add embedded instructions for writing each section of the content piece. This way, writers are more likely to stick with the guidelines.
Create briefs with embedded guidelines for writers in GatherContent.
GatherContent helps you create briefs with embedded instructions that assist writers in creating SEO-optimized content.

5. Create a link building plan

Link building boosts your site’s domain authority and helps improve ranking. In fact, creating a comprehensive post on a target keyword and waiting for it to rank naturally is never enough – particularly if you have a new site.

The solution? Actively building backlinks for each piece of content.

To this end, find out site linking to the keyword-based pieces. Then, reach out to them explaining you offer a better resource that’s worth linking back to.

6. Publish and track results

Once you hit publish, take the time to review the results.

For example, monitor Google Analytics to understand the traffic your posts are driving, how long visitors are staying on the page, and what they’re clicking on.

To ensure you’re tracking progress the right way, pre-select the metrics to monitor based on your goals. Every quarter or so, review progress against these metrics.

Finally, an important piece in the SEO content strategy puzzle: keep refreshing old, evergreen content.

The Google algorithm loves fresh content and prioritizes it when ranking results. Be sure to add this step to your content marketing workflow.

💡 Learn more: Wrapping search and SEO into your content strategy process

12 Tips for SEO Content in 2022

Here are our 12 best writing tips.

Dive deeper and do more: On-page SEO checklist.

1. Write for your readers (meaning: no keyword stuffing)

The aim is to keep readers on the page. A human voice can help do that. Remember: keyword stuffing reads like a robot, so add keywords naturally.

2. Create content based on the questions readers have

The key to good SEO content writing is ensuring you answer all the questions readers have on a given topic. Find these by looking at what searchers are asking about in the People Also Ask section. Then, answer them thoroughly in your content.

3. Add keywords strategically in your SEO content

Use keywords in your headings, introduction, last paragraph, and throughout the content where suitable.

4. Structure content for readability

Divide content with subheadings, write short paragraphs, and break text into bullet points where possible. This helps to keep readers on the page by making it easy for them to read.

5. Write direct, to the point subheadings

Direct subheadings provide visitors the context they need to understand your page has the answers to the questions they have. This aids readability and helps you snag a place in Google’s featured snippets.

6. Write keyword-enriched meta descriptions

Aim to write inviting meta descriptions that compel readers to click to read your content from the search results. To this end, use action verbs such as “learn,” “dig in,” “read” to encourage searchers to read.

💡 Tip: This is where copywriting comes into play. Read our tips here.

7. Add alt text to all images

Alt text makes content accessible and easy for Google to understand and rank. Make sure all your images include a short descriptive text of what’s in the image.

8. Create compelling page titles

Add your target keyword to the page title tag. It’s also important that your headline entices people to read – answering what’s in it for them can help with this.

9. Break text by adding helpful visuals

This helps with readability and ranking. Explanatory visuals such as a concepts map, for example, can further readers’ understanding of a topic, keeping them on the page. A large part of writing content for SEO involves creating helpful visuals to break text, support learning, and add value.

Plus, other sites may feature your images and link back to your content, earning you more backlinks that then contribute to your ranking.

10. Write short URLs

Add your main keyword as your URL instead of the entire headline. Also, never add numbers as those can complicate future content updates.

11. Add transcripts to all video content

Transcripts tell Google what’s said and explained in your video content. Add them to the videos as you upload them so they can rank for relevant search queries.

12. Add internal links to your content

This helps keep people on your site while giving Google an idea of the interlinked topics you cover.

With that, we’ve reached the end. Here’s hoping you rank better with all that you’ve learned today.


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About the author

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer for SaaS. When she’s not writing actionable blog posts or checking off tasks from her to-do list, she has her head buried in a fantasy novel or business book. Connect with her on Twitter.

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