SEO content writers produce articles with an end goal of increasing organic traffic to their website.
SEO-friendly blog posts may also attract backlinks which helps build the authority and trust within Google.
SEO content writers typically handle content with precision from topical research, common questions to using correlation tools like surfer seo.
Let’s find out what the best search engine optimisation copywriters say is the key to success for ranking higher in Google with content strategies.
- 1 Best SEO Copywriters In The World
- 2 Difference Between SEO Content Writing vs. SEO Copywriting?
- 3 Best SEO Copywriting Tools
- 4 What is an SEO content brief?
- 5 Who Creates the SEO Content Brief?
- 6 How do you write an SEO brief?
- 7 What Makes a Great SEO Copywriter?
- 8 What is the Information Gain Score?
- 9 Surfer SEO vs POP vs MarketMuse vs CORA
- 10 Summary
Best SEO Copywriters In The World
Being tasked to receive feedback and tips from the best SEO copywriters in the world was great fun.
Check out what the best copywriters had to say for tips and tricks to scaling your content strategies and improving existing content.
There is one key ingredient I look for when hiring a great content writer.
Sure, it’s important to find writers who are focussed, organised, great researchers and adaptable, but sometimes this just doesn’t cut the mustard!
The quality that stands head and shoulders above the rest is for a writer to be truly passionate about what they do, and this is something I now actively seek when onboarding new content writers.
We have found that someone who possesses this passion for writing is more likely to develop and excel as an SEO copywriter, even if they lack some of the other characteristics you would usually look for. It also helps with staff retention long term.
Since the update from google to rank passages of content individually, we make sure that each header on the page is followed by exceptionally written content that perfectly meets the user intent.
We do this by ensuring that we have covered the page topic in its entirety, by including every possible subtopic on the page and treating this as its own mini-article within the main topic.
“We’ve recently made another breakthrough, and are now able to not just index webpages, but individual passages from those pages. This helps us find that needle in a haystack because now the whole of that one passage is relevant. So, for example, let’s say you search for something pretty niche like ‘how can I determine if my house windows are UV glass.”
Google is now more effective at indexing individual passages with the latest AI-based Passage Indexing, returning them in the results for specific long-tail search queries. According to Google, 7% of all search requests will be improved by this technology, which is quite a large proportion if you consider the impact of previous Google updates.
A couple of ways to ensure you are fully covering the topic include:
- Google Suggest – Use Google Suggest/Autocomplete to find what sub-topics people are searching for around the main topic. TIP: Log out of Google or use ‘incognito mode’ to ensure your search history doesn’t sway results.
- People Also Ask – find missing questions from the PAA section and provide a superior and more concise answer. This also increases the likelihood of grabbing the Featured Snippets.
You have a better chance of ranking when you build content in line with what Google already sees as important. You are less likely to rank if you ignore the intent and focus all your attention on the main keyword. Fully understanding intent means you understand what is required to rank.
Great content in isolation isn’t great content.
Hubs of great content are how you build topical relevance, authority and sustain growth over years. It’s known as ‘maturing your clusters’ and I’ve personally seen this help sites grow from 100s to 1,000s visits per day.
Consistency is absolutely crucial when it comes to building relevancy and authority.
Through using tools such as Page Optimizer Pro and Cognitive SEO, is that you can leverage their recommendations and create fully-fledged content briefs which, with a little bit of extra sauce, encompasses everything you’d need to make that page the best in the SERPs; without the need of multiple revisions.
This minimises the risk of poor content being written from the start and allows me to sculpt internal links, build entities, anchor phrases and begin to fill my site with hyper-relevant content hubs that are of SERP-leading quality.
My content briefs include everything from semantically-related phrases, people also ask (PAA), internal anchors, word counts, header structures, Wikipedia references etc., to give my writer a full understanding of what I need from them.
By completely bypassing the back-and-forth between SEO and content writer by giving all that’s needed up front, I’m able to get better quality content out much quicker.
This, in turn, allows me to mature topic clusters and provide breadth and depth on topics that are important to my authority as a brand. Once you’ve mastered the art of maturing your clusters, link equity (both internal and external) is compounded. Sending authority into a tightly-knit, expertly-written folder of content that will give you mind-blowing results.
When you’re putting together your content briefs, think about this:
- What gaps are your content writers supposed to fill?
- What new angle can you bring to the table?
- Headers, entities, secondary phrases and internal anchors
- DFR (distance from relevancy) i.e., how do you limit relevancy dilution
- Your writer’s creativity
- Could this generate links naturally? Or is it just to hit a content quota?
If you take anything away from me, it would be this: spend the extra time up front with content research. Think about how you can sustain content creation over a period of 12 months. Build a framework and SOP that you can outsource to accelerate this where needed.
Content clusters and topic modelling will continue to be a huge part of SEO in 2021. It’s deeper than writing as much as you can on a single subject; it’s how you connect the dots between pages.
My go-to content tools:
Depth on your pages, breadth in your clusters = you’ll always win.
Content is Queen (I am British) over the last year, we’ve written over 15 million words of content for a range of different websites. I always get asked how do you keep the quality and scale with SEO content writers. Now with it being two fundamental questions, I will answer in two different parts.
What is Great Content? The main issue with this is everyone has their version of quality and what they deem is quality. Have you ever had an article or a book proofread by different proofreaders? I can guarantee they will all have different views on how it should read because the quality is in the reader’s eyes.
So one of the critical elements we like to do to ensure our content is on par; we research the niche and come up with a list of keywords (using tools like SurferSEO can help, but again isn’t necessary), and then we give the writers the list of keywords explaining that we would like to see each mentioned and if they can include each keyword at least once. The more important keywords in the headers, try to make it enjoyable with a new edge for the reader; this is often overlooked if they have their head down and ticking keyword requirements generated by tools.
How Are We Scaling SEO Writers? I do have teething issues with this, but the age-old adage comes into play.
“Pay peanuts you get Monkeys”
We only use UK University Graduates (Generally Journalism Graduates) to do our writing; this usually comes with a higher tier of costings. If you’re getting content done for <$10 for 500 words, then garbage in-garbage out, now; not every writer within this price range will be bad, but as someone who has hired over 150 writers within Searcharoo in the last three years and also let go over 75% of them, this is a pre-requisite that I use.
Once you’ve nailed this part and have a few good writers, the key is to keep them happy and employ a proofreader. Proofreading is essential, and you want someone who is meticulous and will keep the writers on their toes; their job is to keep the writers adhering to an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) provided by you or the client; you can thank me later as this ensures your writers don’t get complacent, which also happens over time.
A final bit of advice: Cover the topic as a whole. Don’t be shy to write a few articles on the same topic. If you are having issues with keyword cannibalization, then that means you need to build more content and more internal links/external links to help Google understand your intent around the pieces; unless you are trying to rank the same pieces for the same keywords, then you need go back to the drawing board.
We all know we need content but it must be the “right content” for your site to get the rankings you are after every single time.
My name is Marie Ysais and I am from Rule Your Rankings, SEO Unstuck. My SEO strategy often relies on content to raise hundreds of keywords in the SERPS.
The first question I am always asked is, how do I figure out the type of content that will boost rankings? As you know, coming up with content ideas can be very time consuming and when you’re adding content in large volumes, it can become very overwhelming if you don’t have a system in place.
A few quick rules to help you order content like a pro:
Your content must always be relevant to your site.
Your content must never compete with the current content on your site.
To make sure I follow those two rules I use the content gap technique to find all of the topics I need to add to a site. I am looking for content gaps that are site-wide in this phase and I use the Ahrefs tool to help me get this done very quickly.
Ahrefs has a nice content gap feature that allows me to take my top 3 competitors and compare their ranking keywords in the top 10 to my site. The tool looks for ranking competitor keywords that your site isn’t currently ranking for and that helps me to make sure my content isn’t going to compete with current pages or posts on my site. This tool also makes sure my content ideas will be fully relevant to my site. To make this work you want to grab the actual competitors of your site that targets similar keywords to you and ranks in the top three in the SERPS.
Once I have the data I place the content gap ideas into phase 1 for easy competition, phase 2 for medium competitive keywords and phase 3 for high competition. I begin by grabbing the phase 1 keywords and then our team quickly comes up with titles for each article by using google suggest questions and answers. By placing the content orders in order of competition and working within each phase you are helping your site grow organically and will grow to become an authority site. One of the biggest mistakes you can make while working with content is adding content that isn’t relevant and/or adding content that competes with content you already have on your site. If you use these tips you won’t have those issues and your content will actually compliment your site by adding relevance.
As the content ages, you are rewarded more and more with new keyword rankings but this isn’t the only thing we do to improve traffic and capture ranking improvements. Be sure to check out what Moon has to say as she has the second half of this system that helps us improve traffic, authority and ranking every single time.
One question that comes up very often is about content for affiliate sites and how to target keywords and keyphrases.
The answer: *drumroll please*
Hi, my name is Moon Hussain and I am the co-founder of Rule Your Rankings FB group, where Marie and I focus a lot with on-site SEO, content strategies, and link silos.
For the last few years, Marie and I have seen a huge trend in high cases of keyword cannibalization and, frankly, those are 99% of our clients.
Here is how keyword clusters can save your site.
First, what are keyword clusters?
Simply defined, they are a cluster of keywords that can be grouped together due to their relevance.
A few years ago, you could create separate pages or posts around the same topic, targeting different keywords such as:
Years ago, this worked well. When I tested this on my own affiliate sites, I either saw outright keyword cannibalization OR funny behaviours (like none of the pages ranking at all) until I merged the content.
With that said, keyword clusters are super easy to organize.
The trick with keyword clusters is you can’t go too broad and you can’t go too small. To determine what’s perfect, it’s a process you have to experiment with (just like anything in SEO) until you develop the feel for it.
How can one go about organizing a keyword cluster and creating a specific page/post for it?
Let’s start with a free tool: Google.
Type in “best ice cream maker”.
Now, let Google’s suggestions be your guide. It will list extremely related key phrases and/or most popular ice cream makers that people look up!
A few keywords that were suggested: “best icecream maker 2020”, “best icecream maker under $100”, “best ice cream maker for home”, “best ice cream maker electric”, “best ice cream makers with compressor”, and so on.
The art is in making sense out of which of these keyphrases make sense on a post trying to recommend products.
Also, notice how “best ice cream makers” and “best ice cream machine” are synonymous, and Google is also dishing out the exact same.
Make your work easier. Why target 5 different keywords on 5 different pages/posts and try to rank all those pages when you can write a beautiful guide around all the keywords that makes sense?
When you do this, you eliminate issues like keyword cannibalization.
Another method you can explore is using a paid tool called Ahrefs.
Take the first five competitors that are returned in Google for “best ice cream maker” and use Ahrefs to explore what keywords they are ranking for.
Combine the free method with doing competitor keyword research and you can produce a killer article that will rank for the amazing amount of keywords/phrases.
Lastly, once you launched this beautiful piece of content, give it a little bit of time, and you will see in Google Search Console which additional “accidental keyphrases” your content has the potential to rank for.
My testing on 50 affiliate sites revealed that Google isn’t kind to smaller sites if you don’t follow the rule of keyword clusters.
Tips and tricks on how to create amazing content at scale?
The streamlined process is the biggest part of this equation. Amazing content at scale means that the majority of the articles created will hit the nail on the head. And I will highlight the majority because we need some tradeoffs here.
Content writing at scale means hundreds of articles per month at least, an automated content plan to execute with automated guidelines is a must if you want to set up a well-performing SEO content creation process.
Tip no.1 – don’t overkill. Too many adjustments to automated briefs and lack of belief in data will cost you time. Your time does not scale. It’s better to produce 100 articles where 80 will be top-notch, 10 just OK, and the other 10 miss the point than 10 articles where 9 are brilliant.
Tools content writers should be using?
Content writers should have close cooperation with the person ordering the content. They have to know what is the next topic to cover and where it lands on the page. Throwing orders randomly at a horde of writers is good enough for PBNs, in general for content that is not meant to be ranking or converting.
When the writer knows the whole content strategy instead of the single article brief – there is a high chance that the outcome will be 10x better just because the writer will care and understand the purpose.
It all boils down to the Content Planner and Content Editor in Surfer. The first one allows us to layout the content clusters that are the most relevant to the topic and start executing from there. The writer knows what’s next, what’s the context, and how to cobble it together that contextual internal linking will be actually possible without content injections as they know all the topics to cover.
Every single article executed with automated guidelines from the Content Editor is basically the holy grail of content creation at scale. You can’t afford on revising articles from the SEO-wise perspective, you can’t afford even on creating briefs manually to keep the pace. That’s why Content Editor in combination with Planner makes the whole process effortless.
The importance of content hubs (topical clusters)?
We write content to build authority and expertise in a particular niche. Content Hubs allow focusing on this area explicitly. Going too far away from the topic or narrowing down the category too much will be a failure.
The Snowball effect is possible when you will start writing content from the most relevant topics and continue until you cover them all. How do you know where to start and finish? I already mentioned the Content Planner, which is a solution to this issue. You can use other tools like Keyword Cupid or the one that Pablo Rosales is creating, however, I recommend Planner as I know exactly how it is made.
Tom De Spiegelaere
If you’re looking at doing anything at scale, your content SOPs are the most crucial part.
They will make or break your project.
Within those SOPs you should have a decent section on tips and tricks to maximise readability, making sure visitors stay on the page to the end, or at least to the first CTA.
In most niches this means having SOP sub-sections on how to show character and personality in your content, make it informal, people should feel like they’re talking to a friend when reading the content.
- Use (possessive) pronouns like me, we, I, us… to encourage the feeling of a community.
- Use transitional phrases to guide the reader from one sentence to the next. Give your writers a resource on how to use and implement transitional phrases.
- Cut the fluff and use short sentences and paragraphs.
Another important sub-section should focus on design.
Even though they’re technically just writers, they should know roughly what the finished content piece should look like… after all, they’re ones doing the research and writing.
We usually go with a mobile-first design, so the writers should keep this in mind and think about how this content piece will look on mobile.
Having short paragraphs already fixes one of the main issues… which is potentially having massive walls of text.
But in addition, we want to break up the text with interesting visual elements that can serve as transitional elements from one sub-topic to the next.
These are things like lists, images, CTAs, and one of my favourites… quote blocks (which you can then custom design so they look super slick).
All of the above is, of course, in addition to your general content structure SOPs based on query intent… I think the above is as important as the contents of the content itself.
You can hit all the right topics, but if the content doesn’t flow, your conversion rates will suffer… and if you’re doing this at scale w/o implementing some of the above, you’d just be compounding the losses as you publish more content.
Creating top-notch content at scale comes down to two things; providing clear instructions for the writer and preparing formatting templates for different types of content.
Clear instructions should include a process that eliminates the room for errors. In other words, you should create a template that answers all their questions.
The tone of voice, writing style and other general aspects. It’s also important that you keep adding and improving this document, as you onboard new writers, they’ll have new questions, which you can simply add to the existing version.
Second is the formatting template. When you’re writing content at scale, it’s beneficial to sort content into content types.
You can then create formatting templates for each specific content type.
A formatting template would normally include a breakdown of sections, length of sections in words, headings, pictures and all other general pieces that you want the writer to include in the content.
I’m personally not as big on the on-page SEO tools, as the majority of other SEOs. I prefer to focus on the user experience, instead of changing around the word averages to please the almighty Google. 🙂
One tool that I would recommend to any content writer is Hemingway.
It helps evaluate the grammar complexity & overall flow of the content piece. The writer’s overall goal for the article should be to keep sentences short, easy to understand and to the point.
I believe topical relevance is the single most important piece of a successful SEO campaign.
I believe Google has a certain number of words/pages it wants to see before it will “allow” your site to rank for a certain topic.
This is also the reason why I always suggest that you first EXTENSIVELY cover and write about every single aspect of your niche, before jumping over and expanding to a new niche.
The Tips and Tricks on How to Create Amazing Content at Scale are down to creating great standard operating procedures.
One of the approaches that can be adopted is to follow the natural online marketing funnel. This means that by identifying your Persona and Business goal, half of the preparation for creating SOP is done.
The second part of the natural approach is putting up the website’s structure.
By doing that, you get all the topics and subtopics pop up clearly making it obvious which major queries you should target not just randomly but fitting your business needs as well.
A website’s structure is like a canvas that you then fill with all the subtopics connected together, which can also be referred to as content hubs/topic cluster or topical islands.
It doesn’t mean you need to create insanely long lists with thousands of keywords for every page. You’ve already got a subtopic that you can expand on.
It also doesn’t mean you need expensive tools. It’s absolutely possible to prepare SOPs for writers with a bit of simple coding (Python works for me) to automate work with inexpensive or almost “free” tools, such as:
- NLP API: Analyze your competitors’ content, collect the entities, make use of these in your own content. Either with Wikipedia API or by scraping, analyze the content Google’s knowledge graph is based on
- Knowledge Graph API: Analyze the strongest entities
- Vision API: For optimizing visual content and making sure Google understands it the way you need it.
For writers themselves, however, I don’t usually need to use any particularly complex tools. When you have a very good structure, a good writer will write very good content on topic with all the good words you need. Many writers use quite simple tools, such as Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway, etc.
Content hubs are not something new but got to be more adopted since the time Google introduced that topic layer to the Knowledge Graph. By optimizing for all those categories and subtopics, you not only get better rankings in each cluster, but you also get more exposure in different SERP features.
As you are properly connecting content in the hub, you are thus creating relations between the subtopics covered on the website, making it easier for Google to understand all those connections and fit you into their knowledge graph.
If you truly want to create amazing content at scale, then you’ve got to put the work in upfront by creating detailed SOPs, style guides, best practice guides, detailed outlines and swipe files for your SEO content writers.
Content managers should create training guides to train all your writers.
You must do this before trying to scale.
Creating great content is a major struggle for SEOs because low priced writers aren’t very good and high priced writers don’t make business sense usually.
So the solution is to put in place a very simple, step by step system that affordable writers can use for inspiration, writing, and quality checking their own work.
That way, they know how to write good stuff and have a ton of rich information to pull from when they get stuck.
Plus, new writers will love you for showing them how to write better so you’ll build stronger bonds with your team.
TL;DR – put a quality structure in place before trying to write great content at scale.
If you don’t, you’re going to have a bad time… Period.
Difference Between SEO Content Writing vs. SEO Copywriting?
SEO content writing primary goal is generating organic traffic via Google.
Copywriting primary goal is to convert traffic into leads and sales.
The best SEO writers in the world are able to create amazing content that ranks and also converts into sales.
Best SEO Copywriting Tools
The best SEO copywriting tools are:
- Page Optimiser Pro
- Surfer SEO
- Cognitive SEO
- Market Muse
There are other great copywriting tools available but above are the top 5 SEO tools for content creation.
What is an SEO content brief?
An SEO content brief is a standard operating procedure created that compiles all the information an SEO content writer needs to execute a piece of content.
The SEO content usually outlines the headings, people also ask questions, primary keywords and secondary keywords to the article.
The advantages of creating an SEO content brief is to make sure your copywriters stay on topic to the subject matter.
Who Creates the SEO Content Brief?
The SEO Content Brief is created by one of the following roles:
- Content Strategist
- Content Manager
- Editorial Manager
- SEO Strategist
- Senior Content Writer
The creation of the content brief should be regularly updated so the SOP is an ever-evolving document.
How do you write an SEO brief?
Here is our step by step guide on how to write an SEO brief:
- Write the title tag of the page (primary keyphrase to optimise for)
- Create the subheadings (to keep the writer on the right track)
- Give important secondary keywords
- Add people also ask headers for the writer to answer
- Describe the target audience, style and tone for the article
- Share the brief with the copywriter
What Makes a Great SEO Copywriter?
A great copywriter is passionate about the content they produce and genuinely believe it to be the best on the internet.
Every single heading section should be written to fill the information gaps and be the best answer for each passage of content.
Correlation tools are great but what information gain score is your article giving additionally to the top 10 ranked websites.
What is the Information Gain Score?
The information gain score is a recent Google patent that introduces the concept of how much more information one source may bring to a person who has seen other sources on the same topic.
Webpages with higher information gain scores may be ranked higher than pages with lower information gain scores.
Using correlation tools like Surfer SEO or Page Optimiser Pro is great for analysing the SERP to set the format of the page.
But it is critical your content provides unique, additional perspectives to the subject. Do not focus on SERP analysis only. Providing talking points that are unique to your content is also critical to ranking in January 2021.
Surfer SEO vs POP vs MarketMuse vs CORA
Surfer SEO, Page Optimiser Pro, Market Muse and CORA all help you identify what Google is already currently ranking in the top 10 and how you can correlate your content to be in line with theirs.
You can emulate the word count, keyphrase, features, and subheadings.
In many SEO Groups, they dislike this approach as say the tools are teaching you to be copycat SEOs.
However, the best SEO Content Writers will use this data to understand the search intent Google is ranking and give the foundations of what is needed.
Once you have found out what Google wants to rank and mimic those factors then you can look to fill any content gaps and improve upon the existing top-ranked sites.
CORA, Market Muse, SurferSEO, and POP all fall into correlation SEO with Surfer rolling out a Natural Language Processing (NLP) tool covering both correlated and predictive content ranking factors.
As Google algorithms on every update are improving in the way they can read content and understand entities then the content quality has never been as important.
Gone are the days of scaling spun content or duplicated content.
Quality content is here to stay and now being able to scale high levels of amazing content is at the forefront of many SEO agencies attention.
For SEO Content Writers to generate quality content – the brief is the most important part because you need to let the copywriters understand the intent, tone of voice and reason for the page which is being written.
If for some reason the SEO Copywriters do not receive a great content brief then hours can be spent optimising existing content.
Should you acquire any digital assets then a great technique to start with is carrying out a full content audit of the website and carrying out content expansion strategies to improve what is currently there.
In 2021 content marketing agencies are going to keep climbing in rankings as Google clamp down more and more on black hat hacks.
Our time and investments are being spent on finding ways to improve and develop our SEO Copywriters knowledge so we can deliver exactly the content the search engines demand and more importantly offer value to the searchers.