What is the outline of SEO

What is SEO Copywriting? How to Write Better SEO Texts

Writing SEO texts involves researching, planning, creating and optimizing content in order to rank on Google and other search engines for a desired keyword.

Google's success depends on delivering content that best answers a searcher's query. If you want people to see your content, it won't do much if you incorporate some SEO measures afterwards. Instead, you should consider SEO right from the start when writing your content.

This guide includes:

Why SEO writing is important

There is a lot of content on the internet that is never seen because it does not rank and therefore never gets the chance to impart knowledge, be helpful, impress and win customers (and it also cannot shed a good light on you, than the person who wrote this content).

In contrast, if you consider SEO when writing your content, it will help you generate organic traffic and get suitable readers and potential customers for your website.

The Ahrefs team, for example, has expanded the blog from around 5,000 to 555,000 organic monthly visits over the past five years. The content ranks and generates targeted traffic for the page on which potential customers can learn how they can use Ahrefs to generate more traffic and thus more sales. Sooner or later some of them will set up an account.

Traffic increase for the Ahrefs blog. Data from Ahrefs Site Explorer.

How to write SEO optimized texts in 5 steps

SEO copywriting involves researching and writing text that ranks in search engines, but that doesn't mean you're writing unnaturally for a robotic audience. Your main goal is to understand what people are looking for so you can tailor your content to meet those needs.

Here is a beginner-friendly 5-step framework that will help you write a blog article with SEO in mind. I've added examples from this guide for each step so you can see what's behind the research and writing process.

  1. Find a keyword with traffic potential that is relevant to your company
  2. Determine the search intent
  3. Determine the subtopics that you should include
  4. Create an outline
  5. Write your article

P.S .: You can see that the actual writing of texts is only the last step - this is common when you consider SEO when writing. First, you need to research what people are looking for, what they expect to find, and what to write accordingly. Only then can you start writing.


1. Find a keyword with traffic potential that is relevant to your company

Start by identifying a topic that is relevant to your company. Think of search terms people type on Google to find your product or service: this is your seed keyword.

For example, if you wanted to write something for a company that sells lamps, your seed keyword could be “lamp” or “lamps”.

Start your research by adding your seed keyword into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and clicking the Questions report to find keyword ideas formulated as questions. Most of the results will be searches for information that you can rank for with a blog article.

You can also use the Phrase match report to find queries that contain your seed keyword and are sorted by monthly search volume. But it doesn't always make sense to write a blog article for these keywords. The format depends on the search intention (see step 2 below).

If your site is relatively new, you can narrow down the list further by filtering for keywords with low keyword difficulty (<30) and high monthly search volume (1000+). It is usually easy for them to rank and there is still potential for traffic.

For example, “Best Desk Lamps” seems like a good keyword with a high volume of searches. And if we look at the SERP overview, we see that the top-ranking page receives around 7000+ visits from Google every month, so there is definitely potential for traffic.

Estimated monthly organic US search traffic for the top-ranking page. Data from Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

Following this process, I started with the seed keyword “SEO” for this guide and found “Write SEO texts” in the phrase match report. It became my chosen keyword because it has good search and traffic potential, is relevant for our desired target group and we are currently not ranking for it.


2. Determine the search intention

Once you've identified a primary keyword with good traffic potential, you need to understand what people who search for it want to find. This is also known as search intention. If your content doesn't satisfy them, there is a good chance it won't rank high on Google.

You can determine which pages are best suited to the search intention by looking at the hits in the top ranking in the SERPs and what we call them, identifying 3 Cs of the search intention:

Type of content (content type), format of the content (content format) and perspective / perspective of the content (content angle).

Type of content

The type of content (e.g. landing page, blog article, video, etc.) that ranks in the top positions provides an accurate indication of what content you need to create.

If you have identified your keyword in the question report, the hit in the top ranking will almost always be a blog post, article or video, which provides information to searchers who want to learn something:

The hits in the top ranking for “how do touch lamps work”, both of which are blog posts.

However, if you get your keyword from the Phrase match report If you've chosen, you will find keywords that have no informative intent, which means that you will not rank a blog post. The SERP for people looking for “table lamps” suggests, for example, that they are in buy mode, as the hits in the top ranking are category pages for e-commerce shops.

The hits in the top ranking for “table lamps”, which are category pages from e-commerce shops.

Content formats

The most common format in the top positions (e.g. how-to instructions, list articles, editorials) will give you an idea of ​​how your content should be structured. For example, most of the posts for “best desk lamp” are list articles, so you should write one for this keyword.

Approach / perspective of the content

Look for repetitive topics on the pages that appear in the top rankings and write down unique perspectives and opinions. For example, a common viewing angle for “how to develop film” is that it can be done at home.

For this guide, the search intent for “Write SEO Texts” was pretty straightforward:

Type of content → Blog post / article
Content format → Guide / How-to instructions
View of the content → Complete guides, techniques for beginners and / or writers new to SEO.

In order to match the search intent and get a better chance of ranking this guide, I decided to create a comprehensive SEO resource for authors instead of a roundup of quotes or a list article about the best tips for writing articles.

The search intention is generally an underestimated ranking factor that also helps you to optimize your existing content.

Our "What is SEO?" For example, the article was originally a roundup with responses from 40+ SEO specialists who answered this question and provided their own definition. After looking into the search intent behind this question a few months later, we discovered that no one was looking for 40+ definitions: most people wanted to learn something, and the discrepancy between search intent and our content has probably become one less successful article.

So we rewritten the page and coordinated it better with the search intention, which more or less led to a significant increase in traffic overnight.


3. Determine the subtopics that you should include

You already have a good primary keyword and you know what type of content, what format and what perspective you will take into account when writing.

At this point, devote yourself a little longer to research: you should now take a closer look at the pages in the top ranking (your competitors for this keyword) and the SERP to determine the subtopics that you should include.

Use a doc, text editor, or spreadsheet to write down the following information.

Method 1: Analyze your competitors' content and headlines

A list of (sub) headings helps you to understand the content of your competitors at a glance and to get an idea of ​​which sub-topics you should include in your article. You'll also get a few ideas on how to make your article better, more useful, and more original.

Visit the pages in the top ranking and look at the structures (e.g. headings). You can use Ahref's free SEO toolbar to get a quick overview of headings on any page. Click the checklist icon to open the on-data page report, scroll down until you see the list with headings and make a note of recurring topics.

For this guide, most of the top-ranked articles have a "What is SEO Writing?" Include subheading, which signaled to me that I need to include this definition as it is something that seekers want to know.

Method 2: Check PAA boxes

Re-enter your primary keyword on Google. The People Also Ask (PAA) feature can give you a clue of what else people have on their minds when they do this search:

You don't have to answer every question that comes up, but you may get a better understanding of what people expect to find on a page. In the example above, it looks like people are looking for current content (“2020”).

Method 3: identify what your competitors are ranking for

If you know what your competitors are ranking for, you can make sure that you include the topic and don't overlook anything important.

You can find data for keyword rankings by copying the URLs of the top ranking pages into Ahref's Content Gap Tool and clicking “Show keywords”.

Look for similarities between the pages. You are not identifying keywords here that you simply include in your content, but subtopics that should be included in your structure.

4. Create an outline

If you followed the steps up to here you will have:

  • A primary keyword
  • The format, type and angle of your content
  • Relevant subtopics that you should cover

Now is the time to create an outline. Open a new Google Doc (or whatever text editor you use) and put a tentative title at the top of the page. This will help you to have clarity and not lose sight of the primary point of view when writing.

Then write a logical sequence of headings using an "inverted pyramid" approach. Start with the essential and most important points about the topic and logically expand your argumentation in the article to other topics.

In my case, I started with a definition of SEO writing, explained why the topic is important, and then moved on to a linear sequence of how-to-how-to steps. The section on tips, which you will read soon, is useful but not critical - information that cannot hurt and is at the end of the pyramid.

If you are seeking feedback on your outline, it is helpful to elaborate on each section. This helps your editor to understand how you design your content and prevents misunderstandings.

5. Write your article

You have finally reached the writing phase in which you convert the outline into a formulated draft. As an author, you already know what to do here. However, there are a few useful principles that you can follow:

Write colloquially and with your target audience in mind

By the time you get to writing, you have already covered the most important SEO elements so that you can concentrate fully on writing colloquially and naturally.

Choose a slang style and avoid convoluted sentences and unnecessary "drivel". Tools like Hemingway help to get to the heart of your work and simplify it, but they won't recognize technical jargon, so you have to trust your own judgment here.

Example of technical jargon that Hemingway considers difficult to read.

Remember to keep your target audience in mind. For example, if you are writing an article for beginners, think about what knowledge they already have and what you need to explain. It can help to imagine a specific person for whom the draft is being written.


Use the vocabulary of your target audience

Unless you're an expert in the field you're writing for, you may choose general words and phrases that won't resonate with readers, which can damage your credibility. For example, if you are not a mountaineering expert, you may not know that “reaching the top of a mountain” is called “summit success”, but an interested audience certainly knows it.

If you lack expert knowledge, you can expand your vocabulary by first researching existing content:

  • If you write about physical products, read reviews on e-commerce sites like Amazon or watch product introductions on YouTube
  • If you're writing about a service (e.g. software), check out specialized forums, blogs, or social media groups.
  • If the topic is extremely subject-specific, consider interviewing an expert in the field and using the terms mentioned in your draft.

Add a unique element

An SEO outline is a bit like a coloring book: you have the general outline, but how you bring them to life is up to you.

Your research pays off here too, as you know what your competitors have done, which can help create something unique. The content that ranks most frequently for “writing SEO texts”, for example, uses general examples: in contrast, I have decided to follow a “meta” approach and show how a real article goes from the original idea to for publication.

Stick to the outline, but be prepared to change it

You will probably find that an outline created for SEO purposes makes sense in the abstract, but needs some tweaking when you write your first draft. That's perfectly fine.

For example, my original outline had four main steps. When I worked this out, however, it became clear that one of the points can be divided into two steps: I have therefore made a note in the outline and modified the draft accordingly.

5 simple and powerful tips for SEO writing

Writing SEO texts does not stop with what is visible on a page. If you want your content to have the best possible conditions to rank well and generate traffic, consider these additional tips to optimize other elements.

1. Create an engaging title
2. Choose short and clear URLs
3. Optimize for the featured snippets
4. Use internal linking for better context
5. Make your content even better with pictures

1. Create an engaging title

Your title tag is the most prominent element in the SERP and you won't get any traffic (or a good SERP CTR) if people don't want to click it.

Look at the titles of the pages in the top ranking and write one that could secure the clicks for your competitors. Include the primary keyword and communicate why your page matches the search intention and how it offers added value. Where possible, also use:

  • Numbers (e.g. “27 ideas for wedding gifts” or “How to cut your own hair [4-step guide]”
  • Adjectives (e.g. easy, great, fast, cheap)
  • Topicality (e.g. "The best bizarre socks for 2021")
  • Brand name (e.g. Ahrefs SEO Guide)
  • Value proposition (e.g. "How to make brownies in less than 10 minutes")
  • Unique (e.g. "App errors: 10 insights we learned from launching (and setting) our app")

Writing a good SEO title has nothing to do with clickbait: you don't want visitors to bounce back from your site to the SERPs if your content isn't convincing, so be honest.

Tip: Use a SERP preview tool to see what your title will look like before you click “publish”.

2. Choose short and clear URLs

Create an SEO-friendly URL by keeping it short and simple. Your primary keyword is usually sufficient. Short URLs are easier to read, while long URLs in the SERP may be abbreviated and the context may be lost as a result.

Avoid using numbers and a date in the URL as these can be difficult to change if you want to update your content in the future.

3. Optimize for the featured snippets

Featured snippets are brief summaries that appear at the top of Google's organic search results. Many searches have featured snippets and if you can secure one, it gives your work instant visibility in the SERP.

To optimize for your primary keyword snippet, look at the SERP to understand the format for the existing result. For example, you might see a list as a Featured Snippet:

A list snippet is usually taken from your headings, so if you have analyzed the search intention correctly, you should have automatically optimized your content for this snippet by simply structuring your article logically.

In other cases, you might see a paragraph snippet:

In this case, your goal is to answer the search query concisely and directly.

4. Use internal linking for better context

You can't cover everything in one article, so use internal links to point people to additional resources that give more context. And since Google uses internal links to find new content, they're good for SEO too.

For example, I could have included a lot more useful SEO copywriting formulas, but that would just be a distraction from the main point. Instead, I can refer you to additional resources on SEO copywriting and SEO content if you want to read more on the topic.

5. Make your content even better with pictures

An SEO writer works mostly with words, but images help your readers follow you better and can add additional value to your content. Nobody enjoys continuous text (unless in a novel): Use images strategically to loosen up text and visualize certain points.

Additional point: using images like these that you've seen so far in this guide will also convey to your readers that you are “real” and have knowledge of the subject, especially if you direct them to specific actions or your thought process explain.

Final thoughts

If there is one thing to remember from this guide, it is this: SEO writing is not about using as many keywords as possible in an article to score on search engines or to get people to use it to click a specific hit. It's about writing good content that is really helpful to your target audience, which in turn will help you rank better and increase your traffic.

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Translated by Heike Radlanski. Heike deals with all aspects of online marketing and product management.