SEO Writing Tips: 5 Blog Writing Do’s and Don’t’s
Writing for SEO is not all that different from writing well in general. You want to make it clear, compelling, and as concise as possible. But there are a few essential SEO writing tips you should know if you’re new to the world of blogging.
We’ll start with keywords, word count, and a few notes on style.
Writing for SEO means choosing your words carefully. If a word or phrase reoccurs throughout a web page, the search engine algorithms are more likely to dig up that page when someone searches for that phrase. Those are your keywords: words and phrases that help to define what your blog post is about.
Do: Use Keywords Them Strategically in Each Blog Post.
An effective keyword is one that:
- Accurately reflects what the blog post is about.
- Is something your customers are searching for.
- Does not have steep competition for the keyword.
We visit the topic of how to use effective keywords in greater depth here.
Don’t: Stuff Blog Posts Full of Keywords.
Search engine algorithms look at more than the number of times a keyword reoccurs in a blog post; they also consider its semantic value. Algorithms penalize sites that engage in ‘keyword-stuffing’, which means cramming a dense volume of keywords into a post to try and game the system. While the ideal keyword density is up for debate, writing for SEO means integrating strategically-chosen keywords into natural-sounding prose.
2. Post Length
Ironically, it often takes longer to write a concise piece than a lengthy one. But there is such a thing as being too concise when it comes to writing for SEO.
Do: Write At Least 500 Words.
Like your high school English teacher, search engine algorithms may take points off if your work is too short. There’s no strict word count for blog writing, but any page with fewer than 300 words may come under scrutiny for having thin content. We generally aim for 500 words at minimum.
Don’t: Pad It Out With Fluff.
Most readers are looking for fast, clear answers. Don’t bury key information beneath a lengthy introduction or sprinkle it among irrelevant tangents. If you are stretching to reach 500 words, consider broadening your chosen topic.
3. Active vs. Passive Voice
There are two ways to write action. One approach puts the force driving the action first; the second focuses on the person (or place, thing, etc.) at which the action is directed. That’s the simplest way to explain active and passive voice, a choice which can have a big effect on a blog post’s readability.
What does this have to do with SEO writing tips? It’s simple: the more people enjoy reading your post, the more likely they are to consume it in full, explore the rest of your site, and share it with others. Search engine algorithms take these as signals of a high-quality post that should rank well in the search engine results.
Do: Use Active Voice Whenever Possible.
With few exceptions active voice makes for clearer, more effective writing. Active voice is generally more concise and transparent than passive voice, and it flows naturally. Try reading some examples of examples of active and passive voice out loud: you’ll notice how active voice is smoother.
Don’t: Use Passive Voice Unless You Have To.
Passive voice, on the other hand, is often stiffer and less exciting compared to active writing. While most readers won’t nit-pick your post for passive voice, it will affect their reading experience. Switching from passive to active voice is a small change that has a big impact on the quality of your work.
4. Grade Level
Grade level is a way of measuring how easy a post is to read. The higher a post’s grade level, the more work it takes to read and comprehend its content. You can assess your post’s grade level using Microsoft Word’s built-in writing tools or a free tool like Hemingway Editor.
Do: Write for An Accessible Grade Level.
Don’t shut out potential readers by using long, complex paragraphs and unnecessary jargon. For a general audience, we recommend aiming for a grade level of six to eight. This limitation also has the benefit of encouraging you to write clearly and concisely.
Don’t: Make Errors.
Writing at a sixth-grade level doesn’t mean you should make sixth-grade spelling and grammar mistakes. The occasional typo is fine, but readers are unlikely to read through a post that is rifled with errors.
5. Be Connected
Your blog is not an island. There are many reasons to incorporate outbound links to other sites into your post. Chief among them is the fact that high-quality links gives your readers more value when they visit.
Do: Vet Your Sources.
Emphasis on high-quality. Search engine algorithms judge you by the company you keep, penalizing sites that link out to sub-par pages. If you wouldn’t put something on your own blog, don’t link to it, either!
Don’t: Forget to Give Credit.
There are times when backlinking is mandatory. Borrowing content from other sites without attribution is plagiarism, which can tank your search engine ranking as much as your reputation. Always take notes on the origin of your information while you’re researching your blog post.