We spoke to 126 SEO leaders: 7 steps they use in SEO writing for blog articles

Last updated:
May 20, 2024

In SEO writing, while many teams continue writing for algorithms (e.g. keyword stuffing), the ones who succeed are the ones who follow intent and write for humans.

This guide shares what top teams are doing in SEO writing—distilled into 8 essential steps that could help you write a winning article.

1. Choose your Primary Keyword

Over 95% of pages get no traffic on Google. And one reason is, these pages are targeting keywords that nobody is searching for.

Avoid this by doing keyword research using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner.

When doing research, consider these important factors.

Search volume: Focus on keywords that have a decent search volume, which is largely industry dependent. Bottom line is, it has to be high enough to be worth your time.

Competition: Keywords with a high search volume have strong competition. Try to find long tail keywords that have decent search volume but low to medium competition.

Relevance: High search volume and low competition doesn't signify a good keyword. Go for keywords that are relevant to your content.

Intent: Consider what users expect when they search a keyword. Are they looking for how to brew coffee or the nutritional content of brewed coffee? Target keywords that match the intent of your content.

2. Analyze Your Top Competitors

Enter your primary keyword on Google and click into the top 5 to 10 SERPs. Consider why are they ranking well?

Few things you'd want to look out for.

What types of articles are ranking?

Are these listicles or how-tos or something else? Even if your keyword says "how to sleep better", it doesn't mean you should write a how-to.

Because if you enter this keyword on Google, you'll find that most articles are listicles. You'd want to follow this style of writing.

Listicles ranking for keyword "how to sleep better"

What H2s are they using?

Scroll through the articles the find out what are their H2s. Include these in your article—these are likely what searchers want answers to. Remember to rephrase them in your own words.

What makes their content good?

Do they include images, infographics and up-to-date statistics to back their claims? Did they write this with the help of experts and did they include strong examples to illustrate their points? Take notes and see how you can incorporate these into your article.

How long are these articles?

More words doesn't mean your article will rank better. But having a good length does indicate how comprehensive your article is and whether it satisfies searchers' query. Try to match or write something longer.

What secondary keywords are they using?

Secondary keywords are keywords that are related to your primary keyword. Find them in the H2s and H3s, anchor text or meta description.

Pick 2–3 that you can naturally work into your article.

For example, if your primary keyword is "how to sleep better", secondary keywords could be:

  • Tips to sleep better
  • Ways to improve sleep
  • Sleep improvement hacks

This research step can take hours, if not days. Hypotenuse AI’s SEO mode takes away the manual research work by researching SERPs/PAAs, length and secondary keywords for you.

3. Craft your outline

Now, you should have a good idea of what H2s to use, what the format of your article could be, and what angle you should go for.

Before you start crafting your article outline, conduct a content gap analysis to find topics that’ll help your article stand out.

Review your competitors notes and look for content that could be missing but valuable for searchers. Here are 3 places you can find inspiration:

Study PAAs (People Also Ask): When you Google your primary keyword, you'll see this section. It's a goldmine of topics you could include.

People also ask section for keyword "how to sleep better"

Refer to your sales calls: What questions or pain points keep popping up in your client meetings? These are likely what other potential customers have in mind.

Include a personal experience: This is probably the strongest point. If you could share your unique experience, your article would resonate deeply with your audience and improve trust.

Once you have all you need, build your outline in 3 steps.

  1. List the main headings and subheadings you plan to use.
  2. Under each heading, write bullet points of the topics you want to cover. Keep it concise using 2–5 bullet points per heading.
  3. Review your outline to remove any redundant or overlapping bullet points. Consolidate related points under one heading.

Having a well-structured outline will make your writing easier. Imagine realizing that you missed an important point midway through your article—not fun.

4. Write your first draft

When creating content for your audience, make sure it provides real value. Focus on answering common questions and solving problems. Where possible, try to use screenshots or graphics to illustrate your points.

Know your audience

To write well, you'll need to understand your readers’ needs, pain points, and interests. With that, you'll be able to pepper in real advice that can satisfy their search intent.

Provide practical solutions

Most articles offer generic advice. So if you could share your real-life experience on how you solved a problem, readers and Google would really love to put you on first page.

Use visuals

Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Instead of using 100 words, explain your point with 1 infographic, screenshot or graph.

Writing valuable content tailored to your audience builds loyalty and trust. When readers take your advice and solve their burning problem, they become customers or even brand advocates.

5. Optimize for Readability and brand voice

Nobody likes to dig through walls of text or read a monotonous article. Readability and upholding your brand voice are equally important for ranking well and engaging your audience.

Improving readability

Aim for an 8th to 12th grade reading level to strike a balance of being descriptive yet easy to read. Use tools like Hemingway editor as a guide.

Start by breaking up chunks of text using paragraphs or different format styles. For example, you can use bullet points or create comparison tables.

These variations and white space reduce friction and helps your readers get to the bottom easily.

Then, read your article aloud to see if it sounds natural and fluent.

One thing to note is to avoid overusing your keyword. You can use synonyms or related terms. But never use "sleep" 100 times in your article or your reader might end up snoozing.

Adhering to your brand voice

You may have a brand team that does this, or you may be following a brand guideline.

Even if you're optimizing for search engines, it's important that your article sounds like every other piece of content across your website, social media and ads.

Maintain a consistent tone and style that aligns with your brand. Drop any unnecessary jargon or complex terms that could confuse readers or seem out of character for your brand.

In the end, you want to write what you would enjoy reading and where you find value. Instead of watching for algorithms, use your human self as a guide to optimize your copy.

6. Create a Compelling Title and Meta Description With Your Focus Keyword

When you Google, you'll see a meta title and meta description (or a short summary) under every search result.

Your article's success relies on that because it determines whether searchers click through.

Meta titles

Your page title is the first thing searchers see on Google. Keep it compelling and concise at under 60 characters containing your target keyword.

Meta descriptions

Keep meta descriptions between 155 to 160 characters, including spaces, to ensure the full description shows in search results.

Include your primary keyword in the meta description, as this helps signal to Google what your page is about.

You can also add a call-to-action like "Learn more" or " Read the full guide" to encourage people to click through to your page.

When writing your meta titles and descriptions, use elements like authority, time of year, numbers, or location to help your page stand out.

(Would you listen to dieticians or someone else on healthy diets?)

If you’re using Hypotenuse AI’s article writer, you can skip the manual writing and create meta titles and descriptions from your blog article by clicking the repurpose button.

7. Optimize Your Content With Internal Links

Internal links help search engines discover and understand the content on your website.

Start by reviewing all the articles and pages you have, then consider how you can link in and out of your new article.

Prioritize linking relevant pages into the new article to help Google find this page, index and understand what the article about. It also passes on the link juice.

Some points to note when building internal links.

Use keyword-rich anchor text

For example, if you have an article on “SEO strategies,” link to it from your new article using the anchor text “SEO strategies” rather than “click here.”

Connect high-authority pages to new content

This helps with search rankings. If you have an authoritative article on “content marketing,” link to your new “SEO writing” article from there.

Consider linking older evergreen content

When publishing new articles, don't forget your older content. Take this chance to bring them back into search results. You can link to articles on similar topics, from the same category, or those that complement your new article to add value for readers.

Ensure your links open in the same browser tab

While internal links are meant mainly for search engines, they should still provide value to humans reading the content. Keep your internal linking balanced by not over-optimizing any single page.

Internal links, when used properly, are a simple yet powerful way to help search engines fully experience the depth and breadth of content on your website

If you find it takes too much time, you can try Hypotenuse AI’s SEO pro mode—all that linking can then be automated.

Last words

SEO writing may take many hours to complete. But this hard work pays off when you start seeing it on the first page of Google.

If you find yourself lacking the resources to do this, try Hypotenuse AI's SEO mode. It can shave off 80% of the time you spend creating an article that ranks.

See SEO mode in action

Book a time to see how SEO mode can speed up your SEO workflows.

Sushi has years of experience driving growth across ecommerce, tech and education. She gets excited about growth strategy and diving deep into channels like content, SEO and paid marketing. Most importantly, she enjoys good food and an excellent cup of coffee.

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