If you’re an SEO, blogger, content marketer or in any position related to producing/promoting content online, you’re probably well aware that it’s becoming much more difficult to keep up with the competition.
Did you know that since roughly 2005 every year, the number of blog posts & articles being published has been increasing at a staggering rate?
According to the WordPress Activity page, there are about 54.2 million blog posts being published every month.
5 years ago, I remember when there were only a handful of truly well-known SEO bloggers out there, but today I can’t keep up with the thousands of new faces that are becoming noticed as expert SEO bloggers/writers all over the web. This type of market saturation is getting exceedingly difficult to keep up with for writers around the globe.
High quality and engaging content is now the only prevailing force that lets you stay ahead.
Being a content writer (or blogger) is becoming a very coveted skill set to possess that can provide annual salaries as high as 65k. Many writing graduates are shifting towards becoming SEO writers because of the growing demand for bloggers and SEO content writers, but if you’re not familiar with the best practices for SEO writing, it can be somewhat daunting. Today I’d like to share some tips that will help you become an efficient and effective SEO writer/blogger.
As you may know, there are many advantages that high quality content production can provide a company or brand such as better SEO positioning, better brand awareness and an increase in sales/prospects. In order to obtain these types of results you need to be well-educated in the field of SEO content writing. Some of the core factors behind effective SEO content writing range from the way your content is written, to the methods used to later promote it and draw conversions from it.
Let’s dive into each of these points to show examples and tips on how to execute these best practices.
Truly engaging & fresh topics
First and quite possibly the most important factor to consider when writing any type of SEO content is going to be the title of your blog or article.
Similar to the best practices for email marketing subject lines, when you create a title for your content, it is the first thing people see and is the one line of text that will either influence the viewer to actually click the title and read the post or simply ignore the post all together.
This is because most websites showcase only the title and a small excerpt of their latest blog posts, rather than show the entire content of each blog post on an endless page that requires a ton of scrolling. Below is an example of a blog that shows only titles and excerpts of each post sorted by publish date, which is how most mainstream blog sites are layed out.
Effective topics are generally well-thought-out, and use keywords or trigger phrases that will truly entice the audience you’re targeting through your content marketing.
As a writer, you must think like your target audience and create around topics you think they would want to read about and the questions they ask about your product or service. Researching topics that your competitors are using is always a great place to find topic ideas, especially if they have a strong organic presence. I encourage you to read this really great article that was written on Copyblogger, which dives deeper into creating engaging topics about boring niches.
Creating sticky, shareable content
While including keywords in your content is helpful for SEO (to what degree is always up for debate), it’s not something that humans tend to enjoy reading as much as search engines, which leaves writers stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
As an SEO writer, you must know when to draw the line and sacrifice using keywords in your content to ensure your readers are actually engaged with your content.
When you create really engaging content that readers enjoy, they end up sharing your content with their social peers, which in itself is more powerful than having keywords in your content for SEO.
My tip to you is to learn how to use less keywords and focus more on giving the readers what they truly want to read. I also strongly recommend using Google Analytics to measure the behavior of your audience, if you monitor your bounce rate and average time on site you will get a good idea as to how your audience reacts to your content.
Below is an example of a report that shows the behavior of visitors broken down by entry path (AKA landing page).
The report shows us the average bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit and conversion rate for each landing page in an easy-to-digest report.
Obtaining new writing opportunities regularly
Creating content on your own blog is great, but if you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your blog then it’s really not that effective.
While some say that guest blogging is dead, I strongly disagree because I personally am guest blogging aggressively and my SEO rankings for my blog couldn’t be better.
I also network with several well-known SEOs that continue to use guest blogging as part of their content marketing strategy in 2015 and plan to continue in 2016. Although the way SEOs engage in guest blog posting has changed drastically over the years, it’s still something that is very effective when it comes to increasing brand awareness and improving organic rankings.
In its most basic form, guest blogging lets people know that you’re an expert in your field and that lets you share your knowledge and experience with an audience that will appreciate reading your content. When you create great content, and place it on various blogs, which ideally have a lot of regular traffic coming to them, you end up getting more referral traffic to your website, more social followers and in most cases more inquiries/sales.
Obtaining these types of guest blog posting opportunities can be tricky and tedious process to take on, I’d recommend using resources like Who Is Look Up Tools to try and find contact emails for certain blog owners or website owners that you want to publish your work on. The “Who Is Look Up Tool” allows you to search any domain and return certain information including the administrator's email (if the domain is not registered as private).
You can also find social media profiles or pages for authors or blog owners/moderators and attempt to ask for a guest blog posting opportunity using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. I wrote a post recently that explains how you can obtain guest blog posting opportunities for yourself or your client, which you can read here.
Managing comments from your readers
When you become a well-known writer with content featured all over the web, you will eventually build up a following of readers who enjoy commenting on your content for a variety of reasons.
Some readers will try to connect with you to discuss business opportunities, some will ask questions about your post, others will simply give their feedback or opinion on the topic you chose to write about.
A good author does his best or her best to reply to each comment that deserves a response. In fact, most blogs that offer guest blog posting opportunities make it a requirement for you to respond to all comments to ensure that their readers are getting the attention they deserve.
When it comes to dealing with your commenters, you always expect there to be someone who challenges your ideas or viewpoints. It’s the nature of human psychology and behavior, there is always going to be that someone who wants to make their presence known on your post as the “One-Upper”.
On the flip side, there are oftentimes commenters who truly appreciate your work and that simply want to kindly thank you for providing such insightful content, which you should always take the time to thank and show your gratitude towards. When readers interact with the author it’s a good sign that your content is being read from top to bottom, and readers that leave comments are generally great to connect with on social media because they will likely share your content with their audience (especially if you ask them nicely).
To learn more about managing your comments effectively, I recommend reading this post which goes into more detail about ways to handle comments from your readers.
Promoting your content on social media effectively
While it may seem blatantly obvious, you’ll want to rely on social media to deliver your content to your social media audience. I tend to rely on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Instagram, but there are many other social media platforms out there that can bring huge value to your social strategy with regards to sharing your content.
Keep in mind that most social media platforms have unique audience types. For example, LinkedIn is comprised mostly of professionals, so if you’re writing for a B2B company you might want to focus more of your efforts on LinkedIn when it comes to sharing your content, not only as a company or personal update but also when sharing your blog posts in groups/communities within LinkedIn.
You’ll also want to tailor the way you share your content for each social site that you use. For example, Twitter is used mainly to stay on top of news or information via hashtags while Facebook and LinkedIn are not so reliant upon the use of hashtags.
Most social media sites allow users to create groups, communities or hangouts which you should be using as a place to share your content. Doing so will help grow your following and also help get more traffic to your blog posts, which is something that you should be striving for. Take the time to hunt for relevant groups or communities on LinkedIn and Facebook that are likely to contain members that will appreciate your content.
I’ve used Linkedin to join groups such as “SEO Beginners", where I share content that novice SEOs really enjoy reading. Over the years, I’ve acquired several new clients and followers from sharing my blog posts in that community.
When you post anything on social media you should keep in mind that posts with images included in them tend to get many more clicks than those that do not have an image attached to it. When possible, you should try to create a nice featured image or infographic that will help social media users understand what your post is about without even having to read the title or post excerpt.
Generating conversions from your blogs & measuring them
The point of getting more traffic through SEO writing is typically either to increase brand awareness or to get more traffic. Ultimately, both are bi-products of trying to get more conversions.
Conversions are actions that advertisers set up as goals that they want their visitors to complete. A conversion goal could be generating a phone call, form submissions or transactions (if it’s an eCommerce store). Setting up conversion goals in Google Analytics is easy and you can learn how by visiting the Google Analytics help center.
Once you have your goals set up as conversions in Google Analytics, you can start to analyze your blog post pages to see which ones are generating phone calls, form submissions, newsletter sign ups, etc. When you have this type of data, you can then start to see what type of posts, topics, blogs or referral sites are providing you with the best performing traffic.
Some of the best metrics to analyze when auditing your traffic reports are going to be:
- Bounce rate
- Average time on site
- Pages per visit
- % new sessions
- Conversion rate
When you see a particular page or set of pages that are driving really good traffic to your website, you should try to figure out why that certain subset of data performed so well compared to others, then try to replicate the same effect in your future posts.
Getting links to your site for SEO
For most SEO writers, the obvious goal is to obtain links back to their website or to their client’s website.
With this desire to obtain links, comes some tricky problems that both writers and blog moderators have to deal with. For blog moderators, the last thing they want to do is to have a bunch of outbound links to service pages or product pages because, from a technical SEO standpoint, having too many outbound links that point to promotional/affiliate pages can end up hindering the organic traffic performance of their site.
For many writers, their goal is to not only publish content on a popular website to get referral traffic, they also want to get a backlink from each post to help their website (or client’s website) to rank better organically.
This is because the number of links that point to your website often has an impact on your website's domain authority, which is evaluated by search engines heavily when deciding where your page should rank organically.
The key to getting back links from your blog posts or articles is to only link back to your web pages when it’s absolutely appropriate. For example, if you include a link to a page on your website that goes into great detail about a topic or event that you mention in your blog then essentially you’re providing the reader with value.
If the reader has the option to click on a link, which takes them to a page where they can learn more about the topic or event that you mentioned, then you’re doing the right thing. You might have noticed that I linked out to a post I wrote in the past about email marketing when giving my tips for creating effective topics, which is a great example of how to properly earn backlinks.
If you follow through with guest blog posting as I recommended, you will usually also get the chance to include a link to your website in your author bio section which is very helpful for growing the number of backlinks you acquire as part of your SEO strategy. Below is an example of a bio section that I included a link to my website in.
Don’t be discouraged if the links you include to your website in the body of your post or article get removed by the moderator of the blog/site you’re posting on, it’s just part of the game.
Assuming you’re going to follow through with all of my recommendations, you should be excited to start getting more from your content writing efforts.
It’s worth noting that my entire company has been built solely through organic SEO traffic, which can be directly attributed to our content marketing strategy (which I’ve outlined in this post entirely).
Our company has grown from a few visitors a day to over 100 visitors per day (organic visitors), simply because we write great content and do it in a way that will appeal to readers and search engines.
If you’re using additional tactics or methods, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, I know that there are tons of other tactics that I could not cover in one post and I’d love to hear about them!