In a recent article, A Freelance Writer’s Basic Guide to SEO, we had several requests asking how SEO knowledge can be used in practice, when writing articles. Naturally, we are only too happy to oblige.
The methods I am going to talk about in this article have not been learnt in online courses, nor have they been taken from theory manuals you can download for a price on the Internet. Everything I am going to discuss has been gained from hard experience, both as a writer (over 10 years), and as an I.T. consultant (University degree and 18 years in the business).
Is Writing an SEO Article Complicated?
No. There are no magic formulas or weird science to SEO, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing things. There are guidelines, however, as you will discover in this two-part article.
SEO writing is very much a matter of common sense, and the application of some very simple points that are based on the idea of well constructed articles, and well constructed websites. Surprised? Don’t be. Just read on.
SEO writing is no more complicated than writing a standard article for a magazine, the only difference being, there are a couple of other factors to consider. But the basics are always the same, which is where I am going to kick this article off.
Get The Basics Right
Whether the article is for your own website or as part of a freelance writing contract, the most important thing to always remember when writing a Search Engine Optimised article, is to make it a GOOD article.
By good article, I mean the article must be useful to the reader. It should provide them with a benefit they can visualise, or offer something of value to them that is applicable and relevant to their lives or businesses. It should be something they can relate to easily.
There’s no point in writing a technically good SEO article, for it to be a load of nonsense to the reader. Not only will the website concerned lose a potential customer or lose out on traffic and advertising revenue, but the article will become a non-entity and be a complete waste of everyone’s time.
If the article is no good to the reader, don’t expect it to be picked up or linked to by affiliates, link marketers, or any other medium that could have provided valuable promotion or marketing – all of which would have boosted the website’s rankings.
Always remember to write for the HUMAN who will read the article at the end of the line, not the search engine algorithm that finds it. Get that right, and you are already half way there!
Components of SEO Content
An SEO article is made up of two distinct, but very important components:
1) it has to contain relevant and value added content
2) it has to be supported by good website infrastructure (the ‘techy bit’)
As I have already mentioned, SEO article content must be topically relevant, and provide value to the reader. And as with a standard article on any conceivable subject that’s possible, it has to have a new angle, a good initial hook, and and it must be important to the reader. Writers of articles for all kinds of publication will tell you this; it’s what you learn on day 1 at freelance article writing school.
What they might not tell you until much later, is that in an SEO article content must include certain keywords and keyphrases that are relevant to the topic, and the article context. These keywords and keyphrases must appear seamlessly in the article, and not disrupt the natural flow of the piece; they should ehnance it and be inconspicuous at the same time.
I’ll cover the ‘techy bit’ in the part 2 of this article.
Keywords and Keyphrases
There’s no science to figuring out what keywords to use within the content of your article, so that they show up in search engine results. Forget about AdWords, keyword software, scientific algebrae, and costly training courses. In my opinion these are expensive sledgehammers being wielded to crack a nut,and in my experience, are only designed by people hoping to make a quick buck by taking advantage of what writers don’t know.
Here’s what to do. Sit down with a notepad and pen, and write down all the words and phrases that could possibly relate to the subject/business interest you are writing about. Almost all of these will (or should) be getting used in the meta data of the web page, but this will probably not be of your concern anyway (this is also covered in the ‘techy bit’ in part 2).
Some of the keywords you write down, can be used within the SEO article.
For instance, I recently wrote an article for a website that is in the business of superior tourist accomodation in the Scottish Borders – a bed and breakfast. The keywords and phrases I came up with were: “bed and breakfast”, “hotel”, “guest house”, “Scotland,” “Borders”, “tourism”, “accomodation”, “Scottish Tourist Industry”, etc.
However, in most cases, especially if you have been hired to write an SEO article for a third party, it is more likely you will be given certain keywords to use within an article in advance. This is fine – they’ve done the brain storming for you – but however they came up with the words and phrases, it’s your job to write a quality article that has them embedded in the text.
It’s not difficult, as you will see in part 2 of this article next week, when I look at applying the keywords and keyphrases, utilising hypertext links in text, keyword density, and web page optimisation (the ‘techy bit’).
38 thoughts on “How to Write an SEO Article – Part 1”
Wow! Thanks, this really helps!
Nice tips. I like using to help find related keywords, as well as the Google Adwords Sandbox. Lots of great ideas will pop out of there!
Thats such a nice article i read it until end..
What a great article. Lori, of Freelance Moms posted a link to this article and I’m so glad she did. My blog is newer, this year and so this article is quite helpful. Thanks!!
You really should proofread you work more carefully. This article had a number of glaring typos. Each one diminishing your credibility as a expert source on all things about writing. You also employed the term “remit” excessively. A trip to the Thesaurus would not have hurt.
Warren, can you point the types out? I am not the author of the article, but still I can not see them.
I am sure you noticed that this article was written with a Queen’s English right?
Yeah Warren, I’m actually also wondering what typo’s you picked up… Maybe “optimised”, spelled with an “s”? Hmmm…. Your knowledge of english obviously isn’t so good if you’re not aware that, colonially speaking, that is the correct spelling… Thus damaging your own credibility….
Perhaps you should get your facts straight before attacking what is, essentially, a well-written and informative article by someone who has the guts to offer advice on an industry as complex and in-depth as SEO..
I’m not complaining, just noting that you don’t spell out SEO until the 6th paragraph.
Isn’t it typical to spell out the acronym the first time it appears?
It would certain make for easier reading for those of us not SEO-savvy.
Generally, I love your tidbits.
@Shane – None of us is perfect in the typo department–we can only work at being as good as possible. Once you’ve gone over something a bajillion times, you do tend to see what you think is there and not what is actually there–a hazard experienced even by reputable publishing houses. (I’m an indexer/former tech-publicity writer turning SEO writer, so I’ve seen a lot of manuscripts in the page proof stage.)
I have to say I did smile at your comment, because you made an error which is one of my personal pet peeves–“typos” is the plural. “Typo’s” would be used only when you mean typo is, typo has, or something belonging to the typo.
And you can correct my own typos! Thanks for the helpful article and discussion.
Oops–I see I just made a basic error, not a typo! It was Warren’s message I was responding to originally–sorry, Shane, my bad (though I’m an apostrophe-use evangelist and will respectfully stick by that part of the comment). Maybe it has something to do with writing about errors…
Hey, I had to write a SEO article this morning. SEO articles aren’t something I’d written before and finding starting tips wasn’t too easy. Thanks for your guide! I’ll be passing it on to any readers at:
HI! I am new to the site. The other articles in this site are easy to read and just wonderful, But honestly i cant understand this page. Could you please simplify it for the benefit of beginners.
You laid it out clearly. Thank you!
This is a very well written article on SEO writing. It’s been a great help to me, in fact this whole series has been. Thanks again for putting in the time to write these SEO articles.
That’s nice tips. Exactly what I need because that what I have to do
Thanks for posting a nice basic piece and great introduction to writing with SEO in mind.
Nice post regarding SEO friendly article writing tips.
Thanks Colin! I think its too helpful for new writers.
Thank you for providing these tips! I couldn’t help notice the comments regarding SPaG errors in the article. I was not reading with my editor eyes, but two errors in the following sentence made me stumble. I’m sure you will want to correct them.
And as with a standard article on any conceivable subject that’s possible, it has to have a new angle, a good initial hook, and and it must be imortant to the reader.
(Double “and” in the final clause and “important” is misspelled.)
I was trying to find somewhere good to learn about article writing, which was great apart from after that its just bitching!!!
Thanks a lot for such a knowledgeable and nice article.
Thanks for a nice article, very useful 🙂
Great post on writing seo articles. Been banging my head as where to find some good tips on writing optimized articles. Not very difficult but it’s apparent you have to put a little work towards it.
As I am beginner so this article is very helpful and I have learned a lot
he methods I am going to talk about in this article have not been learnt in online courses, nor have they been taken from theory manuals you can download for a price on the Internet.
FYI–learnt should be “learned.”
Also, you must be from England, judging by some of the spelling choices, so I won’t comment on them.
As I have already mentioned, SEO article content must be topically relevant, and provide value to the reader. And as with a standard article on any conceivable subject that’s possible, it has to have a new angle, a good initial hook, and and it must be imortant to the reader.
But I must point out that imortant is not a word.
Thanks for the article, however.
Great article full of useful information thanks
Ha ha ha- How to write and starts with, “learnt!” No thanks.
This article was very helpful – where is Part 2 that is supposed to discuss the “techy bit”?
Anyway, I study history AND I believe in relishing the present moment and I want to think that is not as contradictory as it seems.
This article is excellent, and is well-written.
Excellent article. You have just answered my question as to what should be in my article.
Great work Colin. Thanks a lot for sharing these useful tips. I have read the first part and i am going to read the second as well. Could you tell me some similar helpful tips to write press releases as well. I am not that good at writing press releases so please do share your insights on it with me. Thanks again.
Well written article. I just assumed that what one person referred to as typos (i.e., realise) that the author may have been British and therefore it did not bother me. As one who writes a newsletter twice a month I know how difficult it is to proof your own work. I go over my articles carefully and still manage to miss typos and misspellings sometimes.
The only glaring mistake I saw was accomodate. The correct spelling is accommodate.
Overall, I found the article to be useful. Thank you!
“over 10 years” should be “more than 10 years”
“kick this article off” should be “kick off this article”
“good initial hook, and and it must be imortant” delete one “and” and spell “important” properly
accomodate is also spelled improperly
there are some misplaced commas and some spaces missing
I know i’m replying to an old thread, but seriously, before commenting on other people’s grammar you should really get your facts straight. For example, ‘kick off’ is a transitive phrasal verb (this means it takes a direct object). Transitive phrasal verbs are usually seperable – kick off is one of these. You can ‘kick off the game’ or you can ‘kick the game off’. Also, ‘learnt’ is a perfectly acceptable past participle alternative to ‘learned’ (a lot of people make the mistake of using ‘learnt’ as the past simple form of the verb ‘to learn’ but this writer has correctly used it as a past participle in the present perfect tense.
Contents is one of the important things in our blogs so we need to have good & fresh to have a good traffic and visitors. Watch out for the grammar. 🙂
Thank you very much for providing such an informative article. As a beginning blogger, I so appreciate your help as I am learning to navigate these new waters, successfully.
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most sort after service on the internet, to many, it is a rocket science that can’t be learned. To some, it’s as easy as cake. But the truth is, with little determination and knowing what exactly to work on, SEO becomes relatively easy.
Thanks for a wonderful write up. I’ve learnt a thing or two.
@Simon, thanks for your encouragement with regard to SEO learning. Many people do just the opposite probably to deter others to come into this field. By the way, it’s not ‘sort’ after, rather ‘sought’ after. 🙂