Chapter 2. On-Page SEO

9 Key Steps in SEO Content Writing for Individual Web Page

9 Key Steps in SEO Content Writing for Individual Web Page
Tag:

SEO content writing requires a lot of techniques and experience.

Your page content should be relevant to the searched keyword for a higher page rank on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

And its relevance is evaluated by crawlers through the keywords on the page.

The keywords or descriptions shown on SERPs should make users click to increase CTR (Click Through Rate).

The most important part is providing valuable and engaging content to users. Good quality and relevant content creates longer user engagement time and increases referrals (backlinks), resulting in better page ranking.

It's not complicated, but you need to take time to understand how users can be engaged by your content and how crawlers evaluate your content to rank your page.

Here, we'll explain 9 key steps in SEO content writing based on frequently used SEO techniques.

  1. Set a Target Keyword
  2. Understand and address the User's Search Intent
  3. Optimize Page Structure and Content-Length
  4. Place the Target Keyword
  5. Make Engaging Title and Headings
  6. Create Easy-To-Read Content
  7. Leverage Visual and Interactive Content
  8. Add Relevant Internal and External Links
  9. Do a Final Quality Check

Step 1
Set a Target Keyword

Setting a target keyword is the first step in SEO content writing. The details of how to analyze keywords were explained in the previous learning section, "Why Is Keyword Research Important and How To Do It?". Below are the key points for the target keyword design.

  1. Use one primary target keyword per page
  2. Start with a long- or mid-tail keyword
  3. Prepare semantic keywords

For more details, go back to the previous learning section.

Step 2
Understand and address User's Search Intent

What is search intent?

The primary goal of search engines is to provide information that search engine users are looking for.

As search engine users may not put all words in the search box when they search for information, you need to understand the underlying purpose or motivation behind a user's search query.

The underlying purpose or motivation is called Search Intent.

Understanding search intent is crucial for effective SEO and providing valuable content to users.

Search intent is often categorized into four types of intent:

Four Search Intent Types

Navigational Intent

When users are looking for a specific website or webpage, they may search for "Nike home page" or "Netflix".

Informational Intent

When users seek information about a particular topic, they may search for "today's weather" or "how to cook eggs".

Commercial Intent

When users are researching and comparing products/services before deciding on one option, they may search for reviews like "refrigerator ranking in 2023" or "best smartphone".

Transactional Intent

When users intend to complete a specific action, they may search for "hotel reservation in Los Angeles" or "buy MacBook Pro".

How to address search intent in SEO writing

Once you understand search intent, you must consider what information and flow of information can satisfy the user's search intent.

The following steps will cover the actual implementation of satisfying a search intent. Here, we'll introduce one useful technique, persona, to nail down users' search intents.

Persona

A persona is a fictional character representing your target audience, created to understand their demographics, behaviors, and motivations for more effective marketing.

Defining a persona who may use your target keyword helps you crystalize your idea of content writing.

Persona and Search Intent Examples

You can also leverage AI to define the target persona. Below is an output example from Chat GPT with the prompt.

ChatGPT Prompt

"Persona for the 'SEO Content Writing' keyword"

Persona generated by ChatGPT

  • Name: Sarah
  • Demographics: Female, 30 years old, professional content writer
  • Goals: Improve SEO writing skills, attract more clients, increase organic traffic to her website
  • Challenges: Staying updated with SEO trends, finding relevant keywords, creating engaging and optimized content
  • Motivations: Enhancing career prospects, gaining recognition as an expert in SEO content writing
  • Preferred Information Sources: Industry blogs, online forums, webinars by industry experts

This fictional character allows you to expand your imagination to understand users' needs.

Step 3
Optimize Page Structure and Content-Length

At this step, you'll write the content of your page.

Before writing each detail of your page content, you need to define the page's structure, flow, and volume.

To structure a web page effectively, you need to master how to use headings, especially with H1, H2, and H3 tags.

Page sectioning example
Web Page Sectioning with Headings

The flow of information is also essential to engage users.

You must also manage content length to provide enough information to attract users and crawlers to the target keyword.

Headings

Headings for human users

Humans need well-organized information to understand new ideas. Making web pages using headings naturally helps us to create structured content.

Visual representation is also essential for users to grasp key points quickly. When you use WordPress or other CMS services, you can select an appropriate theme for your target audience.

If you are building your website from scratch, use proper CSS for headings to attract your target audience.

Headings for crawlers

HTML tags provide semantic information for crawlers to better understand each web page's content.

Crawlers handle heading tags (H1 to H6) as a sign of key information on this page. For example, H1 is treated as the most essential information on the page.

There are more tags that provide semantic information for crawlers. Check Layout Semantics and Heading and Paragraph Tag in our HTML & CSS Introduction course to understand semantics.

Only one H1 tag on each page

As the H1 tag is usually used for the page title, you should use only one H1 tag on each page. For example, "9 Key Steps for SEO Content Writing" is the title of this page, and an H1 tag is used for the title.

Note: Meta Title

The <title> tag in the <head> section of the HTML document is called Meta Title, which is not shown on your page.

The meta title can be shown on the SERP when your page is ranked.

H2 and H3 tags to structure your page content better

Especially for lengthy content, it is easier for users to understand the key points of the page content with these sections.

For example, we used around ten H2 tags to create sections and numberous H3 tags to make multiple subsections.

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

As reading is a learning process for readers, you need to provide information in a proper order.

As humans cannot understand new information without context, you need to control your content's flow, so your audience can understand the key points better.

Recently, web pages have been more frequently read on mobile devices. You also need to attract the target audience quickly.

Several approaches are available to set the page's flow. The example below is a frequently used template for blog posts.

Article Content Structure Example

Introduction:

Describe the page's clear objectives (what users will get from the page).

Table of contents (optional for a long page):

If the page is long, showing a table of contents after the introduction section helps users locate the topic they seek.

Body:

Provide the page's main content with sections and subsections.

Conclusion:

Show a summary of the page.

Frequently Used Article Page Structure

2000-3000 words per page

As your page competes with other pages to get higher search result rankings, the page needs to show crawlers the relevance and importance of the page's information.

To demonstrate relevance and importance, you must create a relatively long web page with comprehensive information related to the target keyword.

Several numbers are mentioned in several blog posts. Recently, many have said you must create a page with at least 2,000 words.

Creating a long web page requires a lot of effort, so 2000-3000 words can be a good number for a web page to get better search results.

If you want to build more competitive content, you can also target a higher number.

Step 4
Place the Target Keyword

As you need to tell crawlers how your page is relevant to the target keyword and beneficial to the users, you need to include the target keyword on your page effectively.

There are particular locations where crawlers tend to check in order to assess the relevance of your page to the target keyword.

You must place the target keyword in those locations.

7 critical locations to place the target keywords

There are several locations where you must place your target keywords.

When you place the target keyword, you need to consider how naturally it is incorporated into the sentence.

Target Keyword Placement (SEO Tools as a target keyword)

1. URL

The first important location where you must place the target keyword is the URL.

Human users and crawlers can understand the page's topic from the URL.

For example, the following pages are ranked #1 and 2 for the "SEO tools" keyword.

#1: 36 Free SEO Tools for DIY SEOs

#2: The Ultimate List of the 60 Best SEO Tools (Free & Paid)

Their URLs are shown below:

#1: https://ahrefs.com/blog/free-seo-tools

#2: https://www.semrush.com/blog/free-seo-tools

From this example, you can see that each page uses the keyword in its URL. You can guess from the URL that their target keyword may be "free SEO tools".

Tips: Use Hyphen in URL (Not Underscore)

According to Google, the hyphen is recommended as a word separator in URLs. Below is an excerpt from Google Search Console Documentation.

"Consider using hyphens to separate words in your URLs, as it helps users and search engines easily identify concepts in the URL. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs."

URL structure best practices for Google

2. Meta Title

The meta title is defined by the <title> tag in the <head> section in the HTML document.

As it is not shown as the main content on the web page, it is often called a "meta" title, although the <meta> tag is not used.

The meta title is usually displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and in the browser tab.

Several sources say the optimal meta title length is 50-60 characters. You must include the target keyword once within this character count limitation.

3. Meta Description

The meta description is defined by the <meta name="description"> tag in the <head> section in the HTML document, and it is usually displayed on SERPs.

Several sources say the optimal meta description length is 150-160 characters.

For mobile devices, SERPs show only around 120 characters; some experts say that the optimal meta description length is around 120-160.

You must include the target keyword once within this character count limitation.

4. H1 Tag

The H1 tag is usually used as a shown web page title. Unlike the meta title, the phrase in the H1 tag is visible on the web page.

You can use the same or different phrases in the H1 tag and meta title tag, but ensure you include the target keyword once.

To give more tailored information to crawlers, you can use different phrases between the meta title and H1 tag; however, you must maintain consistency between them.

5. First paragraph of the page

Having the target keyword in the intro section of the page is essential.

The target keyword should be in the introduction section's first paragraph (or within 100 words from the beginning), so that your audience and crawlers can clearly understand what the web page is about.

6. Select H2 and H3 Tag

H2 and H3 tags are used as section and sub-section headings on a web page.

Unlike the H1 tag, optimal character counts for H2 and H3 are rarely discussed. H2 and H3 tags can be shorter than the H1 tag.

You likely have multiple H2 and H3 tags on your web page. It is better to include your target keyword in some H2 and H3 tags for SEO purposes.

7. Image tag ALT attribute and image file name

As crawlers cannot understand images, you need to tell them how relevant the images are to the target keyword.

You may need to consider adding your target keyword in two places.

  • Image tag ALT attribute: the alt (alternative text) attribute works as a replacement for the images when the image is not available for some reason. This attribute can also tell crawlers what this image is about.
  • Image file name: As the image file name is part of the image's URL, you indicate its relevance to the focus topic of your web page through the file name.

The ALT attribute and image file name should concisely describe the image's content. If the image is relevant to the target keyword, you can naturally incorporate the target keyword in the image ALT attribute and its file name. If the image does not represent your target keyword's idea, you don't necessarily need to include the target keyword.

If the image is only used for decoration, you should not include the target keyword in its ALT attribute and file name.

Keyword density

Keyword density refers to how frequently a target keyword appears in a piece of content compared to the total word count.

For example, if there are 10 keywords on a 1,000-word page, keyword density is 1%.

Long ago, the number of searched keywords on a page was an important factor for search ranking; however, this is no longer true.

Search Engines are now prioritizing the quality of content and relevance to the keyword. Unnatural use of keywords can even be penalized.

There is no clear guideline for keyword density; however, you can gain a general understanding of the average keyword density by checking it on your competitors' pages.

We examined example pages ranked #1 and 2 in the "SEO tools" keyword to check keyword density.

  • The first one has 5 "SEO tools" and 66 "SEO" out of 3,643 total words on the page. Keyword density is 0.13% for "SEO tools," and 1.8% for "SEO."
  • The second one has 23 "SEO tools" and 63 "SEO" out of 5,601 total words on the page. Keyword density: 0.41% for "SEO tools," and 1.1% for "SEO."

From these examples, you can see that keyword density is less than 1-2%. This can be low enough to create high-quality content naturally, especially if you are targeting a long-tail keyword.

Naturally incorporate semantic keywords.

When writing for a topic you are familiar with, its semantic keywords (i.e., keywords related to the target keyword) are naturally incorporated into your sentences. However, you may miss some critical semantic keywords identified in the first step.

You don't need to include all the semantic keywords. The most important thing is to incorporate them naturally. Checking your semantic keyword list may also help you in content writing.

Step 5
Make Engaging Title and Headings

Once you set the page structure and draft title and headings, you need to refine them to attract users by making them more engaging.

Attractive headings can increase user engagement (e.g., average engagement time). An attractive meta title can increase CTR (Click-through Rate) on SERPs. Better user engagement and better CTR can improve search result ranking.

To check what the top-ranked pages' titles look like, we use example search results of "SEO tools" again.

The list below shows the top 10 US search results on the day this learning section was drafted.

  1. 36 Free SEO Tools for DIY SEOs
  2. The Ultimate List of the 60 Best SEO Tools (Free & Paid)
  3. 32 of the Best SEO Tools for Auditing & Monitoring Your Website in 2023
  4. Moz Free SEO Checkers & Premium Search Tools
  5. 41 Best Free SEO Tools (2023)
  6. 110 Top SEO Tools That Are 100% Free
  7. 100% Free SEO Tools - SmallSEOTools.com
  8. The 9 best SEO tools in 2024
  9. 27 Simple and Free SEO Tools [Updated for 2023]
  10. 56 Top Free SEO Tools

You can see some commonalities from the examples.

Engaging Title and Headings

Use numbers effectively

In the example above, 9 out of 10 titles use numbers. You can see how you can get attention from users by using numbers.

Add catchy words

Adding catchy words is also important to get users' attention. In these examples, all titles use at least one word from Free, Best, or Top. Ultimate, Premium and Simple can be effective words to engage users.

Show year (if relevant)

In the example, 4 out of 10 titles use the year of update. As search engine users tend to look for fresh information, it is good to highlight it if your page has recently been published or updated.

Leverage Separators

As the title or headings have optimal character count, it is good to leverage word separators such as "()" parentheses, "[]" square brackets, "-" hyphen, ":" colon, or "|" vertical bar.

These are the examples from the home pages of major SEO tool providers.

  • Moz.com - Official Site | Get Started for Free Today
  • Semrush - Online Marketing Can Be Easy
  • Ahrefs - SEO Tools & Resources To Grow Your Search Traffic

You can see that all of them use the "-" hyphen after their brand name.

Step 6
Create Easy-To-Read Content

Many users who read web pages are expecting quick reading.

Users especially avoid complex sentences when reading web pages on mobile devices.

You may still need to handle complex topics, such as scientific topics or industry-specific topics, but even for those topics, you need to make an effort to deliver critical points to your audience in a reader-friendly manner.

Create Easy-To-Read Content

If your content is difficult to read and does not engage users, the bounce rate will increase, and user engagement time will be low, resulting in low search result rankings.

Here, we highlight some of the critical tips to create easy-to-read content.

Avoid using long sentences

Long sentences are not suitable for web pages.

If you wrote a long sentence in your first draft, cut it into several shorter sentences.

Use bullet points

Bullet points are often used to logically structure your writing.

Compared to sentences with multiple conjunctions, you can deliver key messages more concisely.

You can also use an ordered list to highlight the number or order of key points.

Show examples for clarity

It is also easier for us to understand new concepts with examples.

For example, we used several sample cases in the previous step Make Engaging Title and Headings, as the word "Engaging" is too ambiguous to understand without examples.

You don't need to use examples all the time. If the concept is clear enough without examples, you can skip using them.

Step 7
Leverage Visual and Interactive Content

You may get bored if you see a web page full of text. Web pages with visual or interactive content can generally improve user engagement, resulting in higher search result ranking.

Visual and Interactive Content for SEO Content Writing

Visual Content

Visual content includes images, charts, videos, etc.

Well-designed visual content can help users to understand new concepts better.

Visual content can also help to grab users' attention and encourage them to stay on your page longer, reducing bounce rates.

Reading text continuously may be tiring, so simple image inserts can also help users take a breath during long reading sessions.

Interactive Content

Interactive content includes quizzes, polls, user comments, etc.

Creating interactive content and functionality may be time-consuming and costly, but if you have the time and budget, you can consider having interactive content on your pages.

Most web pages lack interactive content, which can be a differentiating factor in winning over your competitor's page.

Step 8
Add Relevant Internal and External Links

Not only backlinks but also links to other pages are crucial for SEO.

There are two types of links – links to internal pages on your website and links to external pages.

External Links and Internal Links

Links to internal pages

Internal links help users and crawlers to find relevant pages on your website.

The more internal links you have, the longer users tend to stay on your website. This can increase user engagement and positively impact search result rankings.

You can check your website's internal link status using Google Search Console. Check the Links section on the left sidebar.

Links to external pages

It is important to have external links to high authority score pages.

The reliability of the information you provide is critical to building your page and domain authority.

You can show your information reliability by referring to highly reliable pages for relevant topics.

Step 9
Do the Final Quality Check

Google provides web page content guidelines – Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content.

The guideline emphasizes the quality of content. As content quality is also listed as one of the five key factors that determine search results, you need to make sure that your content is better than that of your competitors.

Quality improvement requires endless efforts. Considering your time limitation, we recommend performing quality checks on at least the four aspects below.

Final Quality Check for SEO

Grammar and spellcheck

Grammar and spellcheck are minimum requirements. You should use grammar check software such as Grammarly.

The tone of voice consistency check

When you write long content, the tone of voice may become inconsistent.

Also, depending on the target audience, the appropriate tone of voice can differ.

You need to ensure that the tone of voice is appropriate and consistent throughout the page.

If you want to write high-quality content, consider using some tools to check the tone of voice, such as SEO Writing Assistant provided by Semrush.

Semrush SEO Writing Assistant
Semrush SEO Writing Assistant

Visual check

Although your text content is well-structured with heading tags, if the visual representation is messy, your content may engage the audience poorly.

Select a suitable theme if you use a CMS (Content Management System), such as WordPress.

If you build your website using HTML and CSS, you need to optimize your CSS to make your content well-styled.

Several aspects need to be considered for the visual check, such as font size, font family, margins between each element, image position, and overall layout.

You also need to check if your site is optimized for mobile devices.

Information reliability check (E-E-A-T)

Recently, Google has emphasized the quality of content. Information reliability is critical as search engines' primary purpose is to provide helpful information to users.

E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is essential in providing reliable information to users.

Addressing all points of E-E-A-T may be challenging, but you should ensure that your information is reliable enough.

Conclusion

We explained 9 key steps for SEO content writing. The 9 key steps are quite comprehensive and based on recent SEO techniques discussed in the SEO community.

In this learning section, we explained techniques for SEO content writing on individual pages. Check the next learning section if you want to manage multiple related pages.


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

SEO content writing requires a lot of techniques and experience.

Your page content should be relevant to the searched keyword for a higher page rank on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

And its relevance is evaluated by crawlers through the keywords on the page.

The keywords or descriptions shown on SERPs should make users click to increase CTR (Click Through Rate).

The most important part is providing valuable and engaging content to users. Good quality and relevant content creates longer user engagement time and increases referrals (backlinks), resulting in better page ranking.

It's not complicated, but you need to take time to understand how users can be engaged by your content and how crawlers evaluate your content to rank your page.

Here, we'll explain 9 key steps in SEO content writing based on frequently used SEO techniques.

  1. Set a Target Keyword
  2. Understand and address the User's Search Intent
  3. Optimize Page Structure and Content-Length
  4. Place the Target Keyword
  5. Make Engaging Title and Headings
  6. Create Easy-To-Read Content
  7. Leverage Visual and Interactive Content
  8. Add Relevant Internal and External Links
  9. Do a Final Quality Check

Step 1
Set a Target Keyword

Setting a target keyword is the first step in SEO content writing. The details of how to analyze keywords were explained in the previous learning section, "Why Is Keyword Research Important and How To Do It?". Below are the key points for the target keyword design.

  1. Use one primary target keyword per page
  2. Start with a long- or mid-tail keyword
  3. Prepare semantic keywords

For more details, go back to the previous learning section.

Step 2
Understand and address User's Search Intent

What is search intent?

The primary goal of search engines is to provide information that search engine users are looking for.

As search engine users may not put all words in the search box when they search for information, you need to understand the underlying purpose or motivation behind a user's search query.

The underlying purpose or motivation is called Search Intent.

Understanding search intent is crucial for effective SEO and providing valuable content to users.

Search intent is often categorized into four types of intent:

Four Search Intent Types

Navigational Intent

When users are looking for a specific website or webpage, they may search for "Nike home page" or "Netflix".

Informational Intent

When users seek information about a particular topic, they may search for "today's weather" or "how to cook eggs".

Commercial Intent

When users are researching and comparing products/services before deciding on one option, they may search for reviews like "refrigerator ranking in 2023" or "best smartphone".

Transactional Intent

When users intend to complete a specific action, they may search for "hotel reservation in Los Angeles" or "buy MacBook Pro".

How to address search intent in SEO writing

Once you understand search intent, you must consider what information and flow of information can satisfy the user's search intent.

The following steps will cover the actual implementation of satisfying a search intent. Here, we'll introduce one useful technique, persona, to nail down users' search intents.

Persona

A persona is a fictional character representing your target audience, created to understand their demographics, behaviors, and motivations for more effective marketing.

Defining a persona who may use your target keyword helps you crystalize your idea of content writing.

Persona and Search Intent Examples

You can also leverage AI to define the target persona. Below is an output example from Chat GPT with the prompt.

ChatGPT Prompt

"Persona for the 'SEO Content Writing' keyword"

Persona generated by ChatGPT

  • Name: Sarah
  • Demographics: Female, 30 years old, professional content writer
  • Goals: Improve SEO writing skills, attract more clients, increase organic traffic to her website
  • Challenges: Staying updated with SEO trends, finding relevant keywords, creating engaging and optimized content
  • Motivations: Enhancing career prospects, gaining recognition as an expert in SEO content writing
  • Preferred Information Sources: Industry blogs, online forums, webinars by industry experts

This fictional character allows you to expand your imagination to understand users' needs.

Step 3
Optimize Page Structure and Content-Length

At this step, you'll write the content of your page.

Before writing each detail of your page content, you need to define the page's structure, flow, and volume.

To structure a web page effectively, you need to master how to use headings, especially with H1, H2, and H3 tags.

Page sectioning example
Web Page Sectioning with Headings

The flow of information is also essential to engage users.

You must also manage content length to provide enough information to attract users and crawlers to the target keyword.

Headings

Headings for human users

Humans need well-organized information to understand new ideas. Making web pages using headings naturally helps us to create structured content.

Visual representation is also essential for users to grasp key points quickly. When you use WordPress or other CMS services, you can select an appropriate theme for your target audience.

If you are building your website from scratch, use proper CSS for headings to attract your target audience.

Headings for crawlers

HTML tags provide semantic information for crawlers to better understand each web page's content.

Crawlers handle heading tags (H1 to H6) as a sign of key information on this page. For example, H1 is treated as the most essential information on the page.

There are more tags that provide semantic information for crawlers. Check Layout Semantics and Heading and Paragraph Tag in our HTML & CSS Introduction course to understand semantics.

Only one H1 tag on each page

As the H1 tag is usually used for the page title, you should use only one H1 tag on each page. For example, "9 Key Steps for SEO Content Writing" is the title of this page, and an H1 tag is used for the title.

Note: Meta Title

The <title> tag in the <head> section of the HTML document is called Meta Title, which is not shown on your page.

The meta title can be shown on the SERP when your page is ranked.

H2 and H3 tags to structure your page content better

Especially for lengthy content, it is easier for users to understand the key points of the page content with these sections.

For example, we used around ten H2 tags to create sections and numberous H3 tags to make multiple subsections.

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

As reading is a learning process for readers, you need to provide information in a proper order.

As humans cannot understand new information without context, you need to control your content's flow, so your audience can understand the key points better.

Recently, web pages have been more frequently read on mobile devices. You also need to attract the target audience quickly.

Several approaches are available to set the page's flow. The example below is a frequently used template for blog posts.

Article Content Structure Example

Introduction:

Describe the page's clear objectives (what users will get from the page).

Table of contents (optional for a long page):

If the page is long, showing a table of contents after the introduction section helps users locate the topic they seek.

Body:

Provide the page's main content with sections and subsections.

Conclusion:

Show a summary of the page.

Frequently Used Article Page Structure

2000-3000 words per page

As your page competes with other pages to get higher search result rankings, the page needs to show crawlers the relevance and importance of the page's information.

To demonstrate relevance and importance, you must create a relatively long web page with comprehensive information related to the target keyword.

Several numbers are mentioned in several blog posts. Recently, many have said you must create a page with at least 2,000 words.

Creating a long web page requires a lot of effort, so 2000-3000 words can be a good number for a web page to get better search results.

If you want to build more competitive content, you can also target a higher number.

Step 4
Place the Target Keyword

As you need to tell crawlers how your page is relevant to the target keyword and beneficial to the users, you need to include the target keyword on your page effectively.

There are particular locations where crawlers tend to check in order to assess the relevance of your page to the target keyword.

You must place the target keyword in those locations.

7 critical locations to place the target keywords

There are several locations where you must place your target keywords.

When you place the target keyword, you need to consider how naturally it is incorporated into the sentence.

Target Keyword Placement (SEO Tools as a target keyword)

1. URL

The first important location where you must place the target keyword is the URL.

Human users and crawlers can understand the page's topic from the URL.

For example, the following pages are ranked #1 and 2 for the "SEO tools" keyword.

#1: 36 Free SEO Tools for DIY SEOs

#2: The Ultimate List of the 60 Best SEO Tools (Free & Paid)

Their URLs are shown below:

#1: https://ahrefs.com/blog/free-seo-tools

#2: https://www.semrush.com/blog/free-seo-tools

From this example, you can see that each page uses the keyword in its URL. You can guess from the URL that their target keyword may be "free SEO tools".

Tips: Use Hyphen in URL (Not Underscore)

According to Google, the hyphen is recommended as a word separator in URLs. Below is an excerpt from Google Search Console Documentation.

"Consider using hyphens to separate words in your URLs, as it helps users and search engines easily identify concepts in the URL. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs."

URL structure best practices for Google

2. Meta Title

The meta title is defined by the <title> tag in the <head> section in the HTML document.

As it is not shown as the main content on the web page, it is often called a "meta" title, although the <meta> tag is not used.

The meta title is usually displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and in the browser tab.

Several sources say the optimal meta title length is 50-60 characters. You must include the target keyword once within this character count limitation.

3. Meta Description

The meta description is defined by the <meta name="description"> tag in the <head> section in the HTML document, and it is usually displayed on SERPs.

Several sources say the optimal meta description length is 150-160 characters.

For mobile devices, SERPs show only around 120 characters; some experts say that the optimal meta description length is around 120-160.

You must include the target keyword once within this character count limitation.

4. H1 Tag

The H1 tag is usually used as a shown web page title. Unlike the meta title, the phrase in the H1 tag is visible on the web page.

You can use the same or different phrases in the H1 tag and meta title tag, but ensure you include the target keyword once.

To give more tailored information to crawlers, you can use different phrases between the meta title and H1 tag; however, you must maintain consistency between them.

5. First paragraph of the page

Having the target keyword in the intro section of the page is essential.

The target keyword should be in the introduction section's first paragraph (or within 100 words from the beginning), so that your audience and crawlers can clearly understand what the web page is about.

6. Select H2 and H3 Tag

H2 and H3 tags are used as section and sub-section headings on a web page.

Unlike the H1 tag, optimal character counts for H2 and H3 are rarely discussed. H2 and H3 tags can be shorter than the H1 tag.

You likely have multiple H2 and H3 tags on your web page. It is better to include your target keyword in some H2 and H3 tags for SEO purposes.

7. Image tag ALT attribute and image file name

As crawlers cannot understand images, you need to tell them how relevant the images are to the target keyword.

You may need to consider adding your target keyword in two places.

  • Image tag ALT attribute: the alt (alternative text) attribute works as a replacement for the images when the image is not available for some reason. This attribute can also tell crawlers what this image is about.
  • Image file name: As the image file name is part of the image's URL, you indicate its relevance to the focus topic of your web page through the file name.

The ALT attribute and image file name should concisely describe the image's content. If the image is relevant to the target keyword, you can naturally incorporate the target keyword in the image ALT attribute and its file name. If the image does not represent your target keyword's idea, you don't necessarily need to include the target keyword.

If the image is only used for decoration, you should not include the target keyword in its ALT attribute and file name.

Keyword density

Keyword density refers to how frequently a target keyword appears in a piece of content compared to the total word count.

For example, if there are 10 keywords on a 1,000-word page, keyword density is 1%.

Long ago, the number of searched keywords on a page was an important factor for search ranking; however, this is no longer true.

Search Engines are now prioritizing the quality of content and relevance to the keyword. Unnatural use of keywords can even be penalized.

There is no clear guideline for keyword density; however, you can gain a general understanding of the average keyword density by checking it on your competitors' pages.

We examined example pages ranked #1 and 2 in the "SEO tools" keyword to check keyword density.

  • The first one has 5 "SEO tools" and 66 "SEO" out of 3,643 total words on the page. Keyword density is 0.13% for "SEO tools," and 1.8% for "SEO."
  • The second one has 23 "SEO tools" and 63 "SEO" out of 5,601 total words on the page. Keyword density: 0.41% for "SEO tools," and 1.1% for "SEO."

From these examples, you can see that keyword density is less than 1-2%. This can be low enough to create high-quality content naturally, especially if you are targeting a long-tail keyword.

Naturally incorporate semantic keywords.

When writing for a topic you are familiar with, its semantic keywords (i.e., keywords related to the target keyword) are naturally incorporated into your sentences. However, you may miss some critical semantic keywords identified in the first step.

You don't need to include all the semantic keywords. The most important thing is to incorporate them naturally. Checking your semantic keyword list may also help you in content writing.

Step 5
Make Engaging Title and Headings

Once you set the page structure and draft title and headings, you need to refine them to attract users by making them more engaging.

Attractive headings can increase user engagement (e.g., average engagement time). An attractive meta title can increase CTR (Click-through Rate) on SERPs. Better user engagement and better CTR can improve search result ranking.

To check what the top-ranked pages' titles look like, we use example search results of "SEO tools" again.

The list below shows the top 10 US search results on the day this learning section was drafted.

  1. 36 Free SEO Tools for DIY SEOs
  2. The Ultimate List of the 60 Best SEO Tools (Free & Paid)
  3. 32 of the Best SEO Tools for Auditing & Monitoring Your Website in 2023
  4. Moz Free SEO Checkers & Premium Search Tools
  5. 41 Best Free SEO Tools (2023)
  6. 110 Top SEO Tools That Are 100% Free
  7. 100% Free SEO Tools - SmallSEOTools.com
  8. The 9 best SEO tools in 2024
  9. 27 Simple and Free SEO Tools [Updated for 2023]
  10. 56 Top Free SEO Tools

You can see some commonalities from the examples.

Engaging Title and Headings

Use numbers effectively

In the example above, 9 out of 10 titles use numbers. You can see how you can get attention from users by using numbers.

Add catchy words

Adding catchy words is also important to get users' attention. In these examples, all titles use at least one word from Free, Best, or Top. Ultimate, Premium and Simple can be effective words to engage users.

Show year (if relevant)

In the example, 4 out of 10 titles use the year of update. As search engine users tend to look for fresh information, it is good to highlight it if your page has recently been published or updated.

Leverage Separators

As the title or headings have optimal character count, it is good to leverage word separators such as "()" parentheses, "[]" square brackets, "-" hyphen, ":" colon, or "|" vertical bar.

These are the examples from the home pages of major SEO tool providers.

  • Moz.com - Official Site | Get Started for Free Today
  • Semrush - Online Marketing Can Be Easy
  • Ahrefs - SEO Tools & Resources To Grow Your Search Traffic

You can see that all of them use the "-" hyphen after their brand name.

Step 6
Create Easy-To-Read Content

Many users who read web pages are expecting quick reading.

Users especially avoid complex sentences when reading web pages on mobile devices.

You may still need to handle complex topics, such as scientific topics or industry-specific topics, but even for those topics, you need to make an effort to deliver critical points to your audience in a reader-friendly manner.

Create Easy-To-Read Content

If your content is difficult to read and does not engage users, the bounce rate will increase, and user engagement time will be low, resulting in low search result rankings.

Here, we highlight some of the critical tips to create easy-to-read content.

Avoid using long sentences

Long sentences are not suitable for web pages.

If you wrote a long sentence in your first draft, cut it into several shorter sentences.

Use bullet points

Bullet points are often used to logically structure your writing.

Compared to sentences with multiple conjunctions, you can deliver key messages more concisely.

You can also use an ordered list to highlight the number or order of key points.

Show examples for clarity

It is also easier for us to understand new concepts with examples.

For example, we used several sample cases in the previous step Make Engaging Title and Headings, as the word "Engaging" is too ambiguous to understand without examples.

You don't need to use examples all the time. If the concept is clear enough without examples, you can skip using them.

Step 7
Leverage Visual and Interactive Content

You may get bored if you see a web page full of text. Web pages with visual or interactive content can generally improve user engagement, resulting in higher search result ranking.

Visual and Interactive Content for SEO Content Writing

Visual Content

Visual content includes images, charts, videos, etc.

Well-designed visual content can help users to understand new concepts better.

Visual content can also help to grab users' attention and encourage them to stay on your page longer, reducing bounce rates.

Reading text continuously may be tiring, so simple image inserts can also help users take a breath during long reading sessions.

Interactive Content

Interactive content includes quizzes, polls, user comments, etc.

Creating interactive content and functionality may be time-consuming and costly, but if you have the time and budget, you can consider having interactive content on your pages.

Most web pages lack interactive content, which can be a differentiating factor in winning over your competitor's page.

Step 8
Add Relevant Internal and External Links

Not only backlinks but also links to other pages are crucial for SEO.

There are two types of links – links to internal pages on your website and links to external pages.

External Links and Internal Links

Links to internal pages

Internal links help users and crawlers to find relevant pages on your website.

The more internal links you have, the longer users tend to stay on your website. This can increase user engagement and positively impact search result rankings.

You can check your website's internal link status using Google Search Console. Check the Links section on the left sidebar.

Links to external pages

It is important to have external links to high authority score pages.

The reliability of the information you provide is critical to building your page and domain authority.

You can show your information reliability by referring to highly reliable pages for relevant topics.

Step 9
Do the Final Quality Check

Google provides web page content guidelines – Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content.

The guideline emphasizes the quality of content. As content quality is also listed as one of the five key factors that determine search results, you need to make sure that your content is better than that of your competitors.

Quality improvement requires endless efforts. Considering your time limitation, we recommend performing quality checks on at least the four aspects below.

Final Quality Check for SEO

Grammar and spellcheck

Grammar and spellcheck are minimum requirements. You should use grammar check software such as Grammarly.

The tone of voice consistency check

When you write long content, the tone of voice may become inconsistent.

Also, depending on the target audience, the appropriate tone of voice can differ.

You need to ensure that the tone of voice is appropriate and consistent throughout the page.

If you want to write high-quality content, consider using some tools to check the tone of voice, such as SEO Writing Assistant provided by Semrush.

Semrush SEO Writing Assistant
Semrush SEO Writing Assistant

Visual check

Although your text content is well-structured with heading tags, if the visual representation is messy, your content may engage the audience poorly.

Select a suitable theme if you use a CMS (Content Management System), such as WordPress.

If you build your website using HTML and CSS, you need to optimize your CSS to make your content well-styled.

Several aspects need to be considered for the visual check, such as font size, font family, margins between each element, image position, and overall layout.

You also need to check if your site is optimized for mobile devices.

Information reliability check (E-E-A-T)

Recently, Google has emphasized the quality of content. Information reliability is critical as search engines' primary purpose is to provide helpful information to users.

E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is essential in providing reliable information to users.

Addressing all points of E-E-A-T may be challenging, but you should ensure that your information is reliable enough.

Conclusion

We explained 9 key steps for SEO content writing. The 9 key steps are quite comprehensive and based on recent SEO techniques discussed in the SEO community.

In this learning section, we explained techniques for SEO content writing on individual pages. Check the next learning section if you want to manage multiple related pages.


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