Number One Mistake of Content Writers: Ignoring SEO Basics

You’re most likely an excellent writer. I bet you did well in school. The highlight of your day is probably writing clever headlines and spicy lead paragraphs.

All of these things make you a content writer that any business would be lucky to have on their team, even if it is on a freelance basis. But in the world of content writers (and there are many of us) too many writers ignore search engine optimization (SEO) basics, which is a must in today’s online marketing world.

How do you make sure NOT to ignore SEO content writing basics?

Here’s how: Make a checklist and check every piece of content you submit to a client against the list. All the information I’m about to give you is from the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and various other Google resources, and each of these items should be part of your SEO writing checklist.

In other words, look no further for SEO content writing basics.

  • Understand that it’s important to write for the user first and search engines second. That means:
    • Absolutely no keyword stuffing.
    • Keep the content interesting and fresh (e.g., break news, do research, get clever with those words, etc.).
    • Make content easy to read. Write short sentences and paragraphs, and do not include jargon. Write like a human being, not like a robot.
  • Ask your client if she has any keyword phrases she’d like you to focus on. If not, take a look at the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and find relevant keyword variations to use within the content you write. Notice that I said “variation.” Don’t rely on one single keyword or keyword phrase. Change up the keyword phrase using different word orders and conjugations. This will help you hit all the bases and hopefully attract more searches.
  • Organize website content writing so that it is easy to read. Use headlines, sub-headlines, lists, bold and italic formatting, etc.
  • Keep most pages between 200 and 500 words.
  • Add links. Be sure to use concise, interesting, and keyword-rich anchor text.
  • Suggest title tags and meta description for each page of web content you write. Both title tags and meta descriptions should briefly describe the page using targeted keywords. Put the most important words first.
  • Encourage your client to develop a site that is easy to navigate and meets usability standards. It’s okay to make website design suggestions, because you are not only an SEO content writer. You are also a marketing consultant. Remember that!

Part of the job of an SEO content writer is to communicate the value you bring through content. Be sure to explain the importance of the SEO steps you took to your client. By educating the client and providing the content they need, you increase the likelihood of getting rehired and getting referrals.

Sara Lancaster of the No. 2 Pen is an online marketer, consultant, and website content writer.

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