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20 pro SEO content writing tips

Genuine insights and tips from the pros

Do you want to use your content to boost your website ranking? We know you do; otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. We’re going to provide you with some expert tips from our team that’s working on the frontline of search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital content.

While we go into the basic stuff you probably already know, we’re also going to unlock some new concepts that will help your SEO writing. All for free.

SEO content writers of the word unite! Together we can fight back against AI and create a world where content puts the customer first!

What is SEO content writing?

Before we get into the advice, we’ll define what SEO content writing is. For us (and others may disagree), SEO writing is content that you create with the explicit intention of improving your search engine ranking.

SEO content isn’t product pages, service pages, about us pages, or location pages (although they should be optimised for search). We’re talking about content, like blogs, case studies, FAQs, etc., published to boost your position in SERPs.

Make sense?

The best SEO content isn’t SEO content at all; it’s just valuable content.

SEO content writing tips

Sit down, get a coffee, open your notebook and your mind. That may sound like Garth Marenghi (we love him), but we’re going to download some solid gold SEO writing tips directly to your brain.

Tip#1          Don’t write for SEO

If you’re writing to try and game the Google algorithm, it won’t work. Google doesn’t publish details on how it ranks content, and the algorithm changes. Instead of chasing something, instead, focus on providing quality content for your audience.

The best way of writing for SEO is not considering SEO at all.

This sounds like some sort of nonsense, but it comes from extensive from experience working with SEO agencies. Solely focusing on content as a mechanism to boost your Google ranking results in dreadful content – and the last thing the world needs is another derivative blog.

Tip #2          Do the basics like a pro

This SEO guide isn’t for entry-level writers but for experienced SEO content producers. So, we’re not going to run through the basics (keyword research, content gap analysis, competitor analysis, etc.).

What we will do is remind you never to take anything for granted. When compiling your keywords, defining your structure, creating your headings, and writing your meta tags, always *take your time*.

Doing this every day can cause you (and us) to develop habits and familiar patterns that make writing large amounts of content easier. While improving your workflow can lead to content ideas and structures becoming stale – and when that happens, you’re not delivering the best impact for SEO.

Tip #3          Think like a customer

When you think like a writer, you write like one. You become one of those bores describing themselves as “passionate about words”.

As a writer, you have one job: to create connections with people. That’s the job of a writer, and you can only do that if you think like a customer.

Personas here are helpful, but these pen portraits can always be reductive, distilling an individual down to a bog-standard list of characteristics.

Instead, imagine the real person. When writing this guide, we imagine you’re someone who understands what SEO content is but could benefit from a fresh perspective that you can use to carve out a niche in a competitive market. You could be a freelancer who’s struggling for inspiration or a content manager in a business who wants their company to connect more effectively with customers.

Who are we wiring for? It’s you.

Tip #4          Explain it like a 5-year old

You can’t control who reads your content. Assuming a level of knowledge can be dangerous, and it can damage your content.

When creating content on anything from the simplest concept to the most challenging, think about how you would explain it to a 5-year-old. If you can’t do this, then you’ll never be able to create content that captures the complexity.

This is a great exercise when interviewing people. It can break them free from the stream of consciousness they’re used to giving and get them to consider what they do in a new and interesting way. Capture this and make it the core of your content.

Once you’ve laid the basic foundations, you can build up the layers of complexity.

Tip #5          Write for skimmers

People don’t read web pages the way you want them to. As long ago as 2012, Search Engine Land warned writers to keep things short and simple, but we still see (and edit!) content written for dedicated readers.

Keep your content short, targeted, and easy to read for skimmers.

Tip #6          Write how you speak

Even professional writers make the mistake of creating SEO content like a writer. But SEO isn’t about creativity; it’s about clarity. When writing for SEO, consider writing how you speak.

This doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules of grammar, write phonetically, or discard punctuation. Instead, it’s about finding a natural rhythm that’s easier out loud than on a page.

Again, we’re assuming you know the basics of how to write but try not to include too many subclauses. Instead, each sentence should convey one idea and do so clearly.

If you’re creating a blog post or article for someone else, including interviewing them, for example, always try to reflect their tone of voice in the content. This is particularly important when working with owner-operated businesses or those with a strong and established TOV. The better able you are to capture the way someone speaks and translate it into written content, the more successful you will be as a writer.

Tip #7          Remember, you’re a human

The writer is the (often anonymous) interlocutor between the reader and a business. You’re the channel through which the company can convey its ideas. But as a writer, you’re making value judgments, filtering out what’s irrelevant, and focusing on the core content.

When writing and editing your content, think about building human connections. What do your readers want to know, and what’s the most effective way to convey it?

Too many writers use writing assistants when creating content. We’re talking about Grammarly, Wordtune, Zoho, etc. While these systems are undoubtedly powerful and effective, they’re reductive. The language models inside them aren’t as sophisticated as the creators would have you believe, and by blindly following their suggestions, your content can become stale.

The true power of content comes in creating personal connections. AI, machines, and automated editing software can’t do that. Embrace your human frailties and create better content!

Tip #8          Professionals introduce personality

This is a follow-on from the tip above and is what marks out the difference between a pro SEO writer and an amateur.

Professional writers aren’t afraid of going against the rules and introducing some personality to their work. This can include messing with structures, using unique phrases, or just writing in a unique way.

When you sit down to write a blog or piece of content, consider how everyone else would do it – and do the opposite. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s an interesting exercise that gets you to actively engage in the content production process rather than engaging autopilot.

Tip #9          Ignore online guides (but not this one)

The internet is full of clickbait junk, and some of the worst offenders are SEO content guides created by agencies. They’re going to provide you with the basic tips that anyone who’s being paid to write for SEO should already know.

These guides are damaging to content. Why? Because they suggest that anyone and everyone can create compelling content by understanding the structure you must follow. But this isn’t true.

Today – and in the future – the originality of your content and the insights inside it are of critical importance. SEO writing guides, particularly those that focus on structure and not content, aren’t worth your time.

Tip #10        Avoid puns

Puns are lazy, and they’re also exclusive. If you don’t understand the reference point, your pun will fall flat.

A good pun makes us smile as much as the next person, but overusing any technique can make your content harder to read. In some cases, puns just appear lazy, so avoid them where you can. This isn’t really an SEO writing tip, but we hate poor puns, so if including it here removes one pun from the internet, it’s worth it.

Tip #11        Make content comprehensive

Think a 500-word blog will achieve anything? It won’t. Google wants content that’s comprehensive and, more importantly, demonstrates authority.

Neil Patel may disagree, but we recommend you publish detailed, keyword-rich, and professionally written content that’s comprehensive. By comprehensive, we’re talking about 1,500 – 2,000 words. The guys at Wix have found that 2,450 words is the “sweet spot” for content, although that may have more to do with the fact that page builder sites aren’t optimised for SEO.

Is 3,000, 5,000, or even 10,000 steps too long for a blog post? No. In fact, you’ll find several blog posts on the 42group site that exceed 4,000 words. This isn’t a crude attempt to keyword stuff, but the fact that the subject demands it.

Instead of focusing on word count, focus on readers.

Tip #12        Answer every question

Your content must deal with any topic or subject in the greatest possible detail you can. As a writer, you must approach a question from every angle possible – and incorporate that into your content.

Traditionally, FAQs would do this, but there are ways that you can reflect questions throughout the text. How can I use questions in my SEO content? There you go – you just have.

Questions are a great way to engage your reader in conversational content. Including questions within the text can make the article feel less like a lecture and more like an exchange of ideas.

Tip #13        Have fun with formats

Every SEO content writing guide tells you to structure your content in a linear fashion, with an intro, headings, subheadings, FAQs, and conclusion. They do this because it’s easy, not because it’s effective.

You should aspire to create content that’s unique, original, and engaging – not the same as everything out there. The last thing we need is 1500 more words explaining what a page title or meta tag is.

Creativity can’t be dictated but must be discovered. Try something new with your content and see what happens – the results could be incredible.

Tip #14        Make headings interesting

SEO guides will tell you to stuff your headings full of keywords, which can lead to content that sounds the same. It may prove successful for search engine crawlers, but it’s not going to deliver the most rewarding experience for the reader – and that’s going to limit its impact.

Instead of stuffing your heading with keywords, think like a reader, and ensure every heading improves the experience. Headings are used by skim readers (remember them) to navigate through an article, so

Tip #15        Make content a dialogue

Conversational content is an effective strategy that we love. Instead of presenting yourself as an authority on a topic talking down to a reader, position yourself as a guide taking your reader through a process of discovery.

This works best with a narrative approach, working through a problem methodically. Through the content, you can ask questions and respond. Creating dialogue-driven content builds up layer over layer of content to provide a comprehensive overview of a topic.

Tip #16        Identify your commonly used words – and avoid them

Every writer has stock phrases they love to use. The problem happens when you use them over and over and over again. Work long enough for the same client, and your content will become stale.

It’s a great idea to read over your old content and identify words, phrases, and even article structures that you use too much.

Casting a critical eye over your own content is a part of becoming a better writer.

Tip #17        Read books, not blogs

Blog writers shouldn’t be blog readers. The best SEO writers aren’t SEO writers at all; they’re just writers.

If your sole focus is on creating content that ranks, you’re letting your reader down. We have faith in you. We know you can do more!

One of the biggest traps every SEO writer falls into is reading the type of content that they write. Want to know a secret? We don’t read blogs (unless we have to). When we’re relaxing with a coffee or glass of red wine, we’re going to be found with our heads in a book. It could be a book about psychology, historical fiction, a biography, or anything that takes our fancy.

Reading fiction, for example, can provide you with incredible insights into the way humans think and feel. This can influence how you approach your writing and (yes) benefit SEO. A well-read writer is going to be much more effective in using language and creating content that’s original, engaging, and interesting.

Tip #18        Edit like a reader

The editorial stage in SEO writing is often used to add more keywords, including various permutations. But that’s not going to help you create content that builds human connections.

Online readers want answers. They’re less likely to invest time in a blog if it’s not quickly getting to the point and delivering value. While you may love a delayed drop intro, your readers won’t. Before publishing, posting, or sending your content to a client, edit like a reader.

The ability to edit like a reader is one of the key skills that sets apart an SEO writing pro. Get it right, and you won’t struggle to find work.

Tip #19        Never, ever, ever, (ever) copy

How many times has a client contacted you and asked you to generate a blog based on an existing title or published post? This happens far too often for our liking and reflects the worst part of SEO content.

If someone has already written a post before, then do something new. And always refuse to copy other people’s content.

Tip #20        Create human connections

In a world that’s being subverted by fake news and the rise of AI, the work of writers like you is more important than ever before. Why? Because only you can create human connections with your readers.

AI platforms are like eager assistants. They’re full of ideas without the focus, skills, or experience to make them work. While the language models show promise, the content AI create is unfocused, inaccurate, and – worst of all – immature.

To succeed in SEO and as a content writer in any niche, embrace your advantage over AI – and focus on creating human connections.

What does 42group know?

Quite a lot, actually. We’re regularly creating SEO content for some of the world’s biggest brands, exciting start-ups, SaaS businesses, and others who don’t fit into that category. Which are you?

In the end, it doesn’t matter. If you need SEO content that’s fresh, bold, and never boring contact 42group.

 

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