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Image showing a large magnifying glass over a webpage with wifi symbols and a graph on the left hand side. SEO content writing blog post and guide

How to Write SEO Optimized Content

TJ Kiely

Sep 29, 2023

Let’s be honest: all that time, effort, and brainpower you put into content marketing for your brand are useless if no one sees it. Sure, you can always share your blogs on social media or with your email subscribers. But for many brands, the bread and butter of their business comes from search traffic. That’s where writing SEO optimized content plays a huge role.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of making your content easily understood and discoverable by search engine algorithms. This way, when someone searches for something you offer, you stand a better chance of appearing higher in the search rankings.

Here’s a rapid-fire guide on how to write SEO-optimized content.


What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO is the process of optimizing your web content to help increase your rankings placement in a search engine. Blog posts, landing pages, and even images can be SEO optimized to make them easier to find via search.

For example, let’s say your company offers a media intelligence platform 😏. In this case, you want anyone searching for keywords like “reputation management” or “how to contact journalists” or “PR marketing strategy” to find and click on you in search results. If you have SEO optimized content, you'll show up before, or close to your competitors, ideally "above the fold" on a search engine page.

SEO is an amalgamation of many moving parts, including:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Keyword research
  • LSI keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Anchor text
  • Meta descriptions and title tags
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Bounce rate

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most important considerations when optimizing content for SEO.

Why Is SEO Important in Content Writing?

  • Earn organic traffic
  • Reduce customer acquisition costs
  • Rank higher in search engines
  • Brand recognition
  • Outrank competitors for industry searches

Google's algorithm favors high-quality content, plain and simple. Content quality is determined based on based on several factors, such as the presence of internal links and external links, keyword frequency and placement, content length, headings, and more.

Logically speaking, a search engine's role is to return the most relevant search results to its users. That’s why it looks for certain signals that indicate a good match between query and content.

The more high-quality content you write, the better chances you have of ranking for your desired keywords.

Ranking matters because it helps to drive more people to your brand. And the more people who discover your brand, the more authoritative you become. This means more reputable websites will link to you, which leads to more brand awareness on the part of the consumer. So when they search again for related keywords, they will recognize your name above others. Good SEO optimized content is a self fulfilling prophecy!

Every time someone clicks on your content on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), it indicates to Google that they returned a good match to your search query.

SEO content helps you earn organic website traffic. Search engine optimization does a lot of the heavy lifting for you simply by positioning you in front of people actively searching for what you know, sell, or provide. In turn, this can help you lower customer acquisition costs, reduce ad spend, and increase brand awareness.

How to Think About Your SEO Content Strategy

Simply checking the boxes on a list of SEO-focused suggestions isn’t enough to rank well. There’s a rhyme and reason behind SEO-friendly content.

Here’s how to approach an SEO content strategy:

Tip: Learn more about search engine optimization in one of the best SEO podcasts .

Keyword Usage in SEO

List of keywords in a content marketing strategy

Keywords are what drive every SEO content strategy. A keyword is a term that someone types into a search engine, such as Google, with the goal of finding information, solutions, or a product.

Tip: A "keyword" can mean a single word, or a phrase

You can use data-driven SEO tools like AHREFS or SEMRush to find relevant keywords in your niche or industry. In most cases you will want to choose keywords that have a high search volume and low competition. There are times, however, when your strategy should take into consideration what are called "long tail keywords". These are keywords that may have far less search volume, but are also far less competitive. Meaning that you have a better chance of dominating those search results.

Where to place your keywords

Where you place keywords within your content matters.

Your main keyword should be included in the...

  • Title (and title tag and meta description)
  • First paragraph
  • Conclusion
  • At least one H2 header within the content
  • Sprinkled naturally throughout the rest of the content

Aim for a 1-2% keyword density, as using the keyword too many times can get you flagged for keyword stuffing.

Use LSI keywords

You should also include Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords, which are keywords that are related to your main keyword.

For example, if you’re writing about SEO, an LSI keyword could be “search engine optimization” or “SEO copywriting.” LSI keywords add context to your content and help the algorithms better understand what your content is about.

Consider search intent

Last but certainly not least, consider the intent behind the search. Keyword intent takes the user’s thought process into account. In other words, why would a user be searching for this keyword?

For example, if someone is searching for a “red blazer,” chances are they want to buy a red blazer. They’re likely not interested in how to make a red blazer or when blazers first entered the fashion industry.

The three most common search intent types are informational, transactional, and navigational. Using long-tail keywords can help you get more specific about the type of searches you want to attract.

Internal links and external links in your content are quality indicators. It’s an easy way to provide access to additional information or sources to support your own content, and it also signals that you're not trying to operate in an echo-chamber or only link to yourself.

Ideally, you have a link-building strategy in place to gain links from outside sources that point back to your own website, using descriptive and contextual anchor text. Inbound links demonstrate that other sources have deemed your content reliable and high-quality, and search algorithms pick up on this activity and reflect positively on you.

Content Ideas for SEO


If you want to increase your rankings, and are looking for content ideas, a good place to start is to discover what people are already searching for in your wheelhouse, and then build content clusters around them.

Again, this circles back to good keyword research. When you can find high-volume keywords, you can potentially reach more people with your content.

Tip: If you aren't ready to dive into an in-depth keyword research exercise, you can use the "People also ask" and related searches that Google provides.

In this example, we used the keyword "How to garden". In "People also ask" Google has hinted at plenty of other ways we could expand on this search, to provide users with more relevant articles:

Example of a Google search result including "people also ask"

Quality content for SEO

Serving its users quality content is Google’s main goal. But since the term “quality” is subjective, how can you ensure your content is higher quality than other content that’s already ranking well?

There's more to well-optimized content than being well-written.

The best practice is to research what’s already been said about the topics you want to write about. Pay attention to the sources they link to, the length of the content, and any missed opportunities for improvement (e.g. adding an image, infographic, etc.).

Also, consider the user intent and make sure you’re writing to address the why behind the search. Your target keyword and related keywords should be specific enough to reflect the intent of your audience.

For example, if everyone else is writing in-depth guides on a topic, chances are you can’t write a 500-word blog post on that same topic and expect to rank well.

7 Content Optimization Tips to Try Today

Now that you have a baseline understanding of the role SEO plays content marketing and business strategy, let’s put it into practice in your writing. Use these SEO content writing tips when fleshing out your strategy:

1. Write for humans first, algorithms second

Human and robot working at a desk.

While SEO copywriting should appeal to algorithms, it must also make your human readers happy. You’re catering to real people, after all, so don’t make your writing so formulaic and robotic that it loses any emotion or clarity. This investment could have a big impact on boosting your campaign performance through semantic SEO.

This is especially important if you are using content marketing as part of your PR strategy. PR is all about humanizing your brand and appealing to your target audience through emotional connections.

2. Don't discount the headline

Your headline will be the first thing users see and help them decide if your content will meet their needs. Studies show that 70% of us only read the headlines before sharing an article.

If you want people to share your content and drive even more free website traffic, you need to spend time crafting a good headline that sets the right expectations.

3. Include a meta description

Google search results.

The meta description is the small snippet of text that appears under the search result title. It’s a preview that shows the reader what the article is about, which can encourage them to click through.

If you do not specify a meta description, Google might create one for you based on your content. It’s best to choose how this meta description reads. You can usually make it more compelling than the search engines.

To optimize your meta description, include your main keyword and give a brief description of what your content is about.

4. Illustrate with images

Images help to break up long walls of text and make your content more attractive. Plus, images can help to illustrate your story or article and provide even more value to the reader (think charts, graphs, etc.).

Images can help keep your content engaging. A content marketing metric that Google also takes into account is bounce rate. If users leave your page shortly after arriving, this means your content wasn't relevant to them (so you may have had too click-baity of a meta title. Tsk tsk!). And this action can result in a penalty from search engines.

Google is starting to favor websites that provide better accessibility, so another positive reason to use imagery with descriptive alt text is to help the visually impaired.

5. Write long-form content in short sentences

Your content should be written to cater to the average reader. Using short sentences (~20 words or fewer) supports user-friendly content. Plus, it’s easier for algorithms to skim and comb your content, especially if it's a longer piece.

6. Keep Creating Fresh Content

Fresh apple to spoiled apple.

Another quality signal is the age of your content. SEO content marketing isn’t a one-and-done activity, but rather an ongoing journey. Regularly creating fresh content helps you continue building authority and brand awareness.

You can also update existing content with new facts, links, stats, and images. Search engines take notice when content has been updated.

7. Hire an SEO Copywriter

If you’re not ready to dive into an SEO strategy yourself, hire someone who is already skilled in all things SEO. An SEO copywriter is like a secret superpower that helps you start leveraging all of these tips immediately. 

Tools to Help You with SEO Content Writing

As you’re beginning your SEO content marketing journey, there are plenty of tools to help you on your way. The right digital marketing tools can help you spot opportunities to discover topics to write about, improve optimization, and even track analytics and performance.

Here are our favorite tools for SEO, in no particular order:


UberSuggest keyword overview.

If you’re just getting started with keyword research, UberSuggest is a simple yet powerful keyword tool. It’s free to try and will give you a long list of relevant keywords, search volume, and difficulty.


Ahrefs results.

For more advanced keyword research and backlink building, ahrefs is a tool used by larger agencies. It will track your backlink performance so you can monitor your brand authority. Plus, get insight into the keywords your competitors are ranking for so you can one-up them.

Hemingway App

Hemingway app page.

For help with SEO writing, there’s Hemingway App. This free online tool lets you copy and paste your content and “grades” it based on complexity. It highlights areas that you can simplify to make them more reader-friendly, helping you appeal to your target audience and search algorithms alike.


Meltwater Media Monitoring page.

Meltwater’s all-in-one suite of social listening, brand management, and competitive insight tools can guide your content creation strategy. Gain real consumer insights to help you decide what to write about. Then, monitor your social shares and performance across multiple channels to see how and where you're moving the needle.

Writing SEO content takes all the pieces of a very large puzzle into account. The good news: it gets easier the more you practice. You’ve got to start somewhere, so put this guide to SEO into practice today and watch your impact grow over time.