Content marketers love to toss around buzzwords.

From going after low-hanging fruit to growth hacking your way into existence, these terms have truth, but the meaning gets lost if overused.

SEO (search engine optimization) has become one such buzzword. People who don’t truly understand the term and its requirements use it to impress clients or prove credibility. As an agency that offers SEO services and emphasizes SEO-focused content marketing, these people make us look bad.

We decided to go back to the basics to set the record straight. Here is a guide on what SEO content actually is, why your business needs it, and how to create optimized content that will rank.

What is SEO Content?

SEO content is content written with the intent of ranking on a search engine like Google. SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”

Search engines look at certain elements, such as keywords, site structure, and copywriting, to determine if a piece of content fits what the searcher is looking for. If your content isn’t properly optimized, the search engine won’t rank your content in the top results.

The definition of SEO content and icon of a website

Google’s ranking algorithm has changed over the years, but the quality of website content is a consistent factor. When looking at the impact of content as a ranking factor, a study by Moz weighted page-level keywords and content features at 15% importance, and a more recent update weighted on-site content at 21% importance. So, while a website’s technical structure should be optimized for SEO, creating well-structured content is also key.

Why Is SEO Important for Business?

There are many reasons why content creation is helpful for businesses. You may use some posts to boost your credibility in the industry, while others can build links to your website. SEO content does a little of both and can significantly increase your website traffic along the way.

Icons illustrating why SEO content is important for business

Boosts Organic Traffic

Creating SEO-driven content that ranks will drive organic traffic to your website. You can see this happen in any industry.

For example, in the cooking space, the keyword “grams to cups” has 82,000 monthly searches. The Instacart post ranking #1 drives monthly organic traffic of 43,588 visits per month.

Screenshot of an Instacart blog post

When looking at the finance industry, the keyword “average electric bill” has 8,500 monthly searches, and the top result drives monthly organic traffic of 2,400 visits per month.

Screenshot of the website


Not all posts will earn the first placement on Google, but ranking in the Top 10, in general, will still increase your organic traffic.

Looking at the SaaS industry, the keyword “pricing strategy” has a search volume of 35,000 and is very hard to rank for. The post, ranking number 5, still drives 11,600 visits per month.

Screenshot of a Zapier blog post


So, as you can see, individual posts that rank on Google can greatly contribute to a site’s overall organic traffic.

Raises Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is not easily measured but greatly contributes to a brand’s success. If no one has heard of you, how do they know they need your product?

Creating SEO content around your brand’s product or service will help you increase your brand awareness. If your content ranks on Google, more users will click on it and familiarize themselves with your offerings.

You can create this brand awareness by layering your content topics. For example, if you provide an apartment search resource, your content can target users before they even search “apartments for rent.” By focusing on terms like “notice to vacate” or “how to get an apartment with bad credit,” you are layering content around your apartment search product page. People will reference your guides and earn your trust before they are ready to find a new apartment. Then, when they begin their search, your brand will come to mind.

Attracts Top and Middle-Funnel Customers

It’s hard to have a marketing conversation without bringing up the funnel. And while tofu (top funnel) is not part of my diet, it has made it into my SEO strategy. In fact, top-funnel content can be more valuable than the bottom-funnel topics you might have been focusing on.

Creating content that targets broader terms can catch users in the awareness and consideration stage. This allows you to guide them to a solution (hint: it’s your product).

Earns Passive Links

You want to work smarter, not harder, right? Creating content that’s optimized to rank can help you obtain passive links over time.

If Google thinks your content is good enough to rank, bloggers and reporters will think it’s good enough to cite in their articles. Specific categories of SEO content we’ve seen do well at earning passive links are statistics posts, definitional posts, resource lists, and cost calculators.

For example, the keyword “startup statistics” only has a search volume of 150, but a website with a domain authority of 74 was able to have the post rank at Number Two and earn 931 passive links.

Screenshot of Embroker blog


Adding shareable assets to these ranking SEO posts will also increase your likelihood of obtaining these passive links.

How to Write SEO Content

So you’ve decided you want your content to rank on Google. Great! Join the club.

Unfortunately, many additional factors will contribute to your post ranking in the Top 10. Your domain authority, site speed, and site structure are among the many factors that will impact your ranking.

While you might not have control over those elements, you can write a solid piece of content. To help, here is a rundown of how to write SEO content.

7 steps for writing SEO content


Step 1. Find a Keyword

Choosing the right keyword to target is essential. You want to pick keywords with a strong tie to your brand, decent search volume, low difficulty, and a search intent you can match with a blog post.

Keyword research is a much larger topic that you can write a whole blog post about, but here are a few strategies for finding keywords:

  • Use content marketing tools to see what your competitors are doing. What topics do they cover? What are their top trafficked pages?
  • Try using the hub and spoke strategy. Focus on long-tail keywords that tie directly back to your product pages.
  • Take a look at Google Trends. Is there anything trending in your industry that you can speak to?
  • Use Answer the Public to see what additional questions people ask about your topic. Do any of them have a high search volume?
  • Explore Exploding Topics to see what topics have had a recent growth increase.

Step 2. Evaluate the SERP

Once you decide on a keyword, you must evaluate the SERP. The first thing to look for is search intent.

Icons illustrating the types of search intent


Some types of search intent include:

  • Informational intent: the user is searching the term to find information
  • Navigational intent: the user is looking for a specific result
  • Transactional intent: the user is looking to purchase something
  • Commercial investigation: the user is in the market for something but wants to compare options

The type of search intent will dictate whether you should proceed with the keyword or find a different one. SERPs with navigational and transactional intent will likely require a product page to rank. It’s best to avoid them and focus on informational and commercial investigation searches.

Another consideration when analyzing the SERP is the types of websites that can rank.

For example, let’s say you’re a real estate brand interested in targeting “things to do in nyc,” with a search volume of 40,00 and a difficulty of 60.

Ahrefs screenshot of articles ranking for keyword


Looking at the top results, you can see that you’ll need a high DA to rank. You’ll also notice that it’s mainly well-known news and travel sites ranking. As a real estate site, you’ll have a hard time competing.

Step 3. Outline the Post

Once you’ve chosen a keyword and verified that you can compete with the current SERP, you’ll want to outline the post. Outlining a post will help ensure you include all the key SEO elements.

For more details on correctly structuring a post outline, see my previous post on blog post templates. It includes downloadable templates you can use to get started.

There are several SEO elements you’ll want to include in your outline:

  • A list of your keywords and related keywords
  • A blog post title that includes your keyword and will drive CTR
  • H2/H3 structuring that will help users find what they’re looking for
  • Internal linking to relevant product pages and related posts

Outlining the post will help you naturally include these elements as you write. A well-structured post is also easier for the reader to follow.

Step 4. Write Your Post

After all that, you’re finally ready to write the post.

While you’re writing, be sure to keep your audience in mind. The tone of your piece will depend on what your readers want to hear. For instance, a post by a cybersecurity company will probably be more technical and direct, while a perfume brand might use a warmer and more playful tone.

In addition, you’ll want to hold the reader’s attention. Long pages of copy are difficult to read. Keep your paragraphs short (five lines max) and use visuals to break up the copy.

When writing your SEO content, you’ll want to make it as comprehensive as possible. Ensure you’ve included everything your reader might want to know about the topic. Referencing the People Also Ask questions on Google can help you determine related queries that you should answer in your post. Maybe even try leveling it up with an animated infographic or video.

Check your spelling and grammar with tools like Grammarly or Hemingway. Even the most experienced writers make mistakes.

Step 5. Optimize for SEO

When you write the post and create the visuals, you’ll be ready to upload to your CMS. WordPress is the most common, but other popular options are Wix, Drupal, Squarespace, and Weebly.

When you upload, there are additional SEO elements to take into consideration:

  • Optimize your URL structure so it includes your keyword.
  • Include an optimized meta description.
  • Choose a relevant category for your post.
  • Create alt text for any images.
  • Ensure all your links open in a new tab.
  • Use the Yoast plugin to help you optimize, but don’t feel obligated to get every post “in the green” – some requirements aren’t necessary.

Download our SEO content checklist here:

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Step 6. Improve Web Design 

In addition to optimizing the post itself, the web design of your overall site plays a crucial role in ensuring visitors have a positive user experience. No matter how good your content is, poor web design will lead visitors to click out of your site. Meanwhile, good web design will keep users engaged, leading to more traffic and conversions.  

Here are a few blog design best practices to implement for SEO: 

  • Feature recent articles front and center.
  • Create a blog category dedicated to popular posts. 
  • Organize categories based on user intent.
  • Display 15+ posts on each page. 
  • Offer a search tool. 
  • Include a small hero image.

Learn more about web design for SEO.  

Step 7. Track Your Results

Once your post is live, you can start to track your results. Remember that SEO is a long game. Posts can take a few months to a year to start ranking.

If you continue to target attainable keywords and optimize for SEO, you should start seeing an increase in your site’s traffic, grow your brand awareness, and gain passive links.

Keep Learning About SEO With Siege Media

There you have it. The next time someone mentions SEO but their content doesn’t follow this basic structure, you can call their bluff.

Learning more about these content marketing topics can help you understand who knows what they’re talking about and who is just regurgitating buzzwords. For more information on how to level up your SEO knowledge and get content ranking faster, check out our online SiegeLearn content marketing course.

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