SEO Writing: 13 Tips on Writing Blog Posts That Rank on Google

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Courtney Feairheller


I’ve written hundreds of blogs as a content marketer, but I’m still susceptible to the amateur mistake of thinking about writing for SEO only after a blog is already written.

blogging for seo, magnifying glass and typewriter

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However, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to think of SEO as the bookends of your blog and to let it inform what you should write as well as optimize when you’re done.

In fact, whenever I’ve consulted my SEO marketing software before writing a blog, it’s given me insight into what questions my audience is asking, how I can simplify things, and what kind of outline I should follow. SEO content writing doesn’t need to be boring or feel like it was written by a robot, either.

Read further to get tips on how to incorporate SEO in your blog writing while still creating interesting, useful content.

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    Why is SEO content writing important?

    Without SEO, your content is less likely to rank highly on search engines. Ranking lower may hinder your ability to attract and engage with your target audience. It may also make your content seem less credible and authoritative.

    A 2024 First Page Sage study found that the clickthrough rate for websites in position one on the SERP is 39.8%. This number drops drastically to 18.7% for websites in position two and then down to 1.6% for websites in position 10. When you get to page two of Google, that number gets even lower.

    This means that if your website is not on the first page, there’s a small chance consumers will find your website organically. Fewer visits to your site mean fewer opportunities to generate leads and, ultimately, revenue.

    Your next best option is investing in advertising to get those users to your site. But that costs money, and if you’re on a tight budget, why not invest time in SEO writing? It’s free and will likely bring you traffic for much longer than a campaign would.

    SEO also addresses the top five issues that marketers currently face (see pictured below). By doing sufficient SEO research, you should be able to generate new ideas for your blogs, increase engagement, attract traffic, reach your audience, and generate leads.

    writing for SEO data

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    The Basics of SEO Content Writing

    When getting started with SEO content writing, it’s important to understand the basics. Here are some fundamental principles to follow when incorporating SEO into your writing.

    Keyword Optimization

    Keyword optimization is all about strategically using relevant keywords and phrases in your content to boost its visibility and ranking.

    This aspect of SEO is super important because it helps search engines better understand your content, thereby increasing the chances of it appearing in relevant search queries and attracting organic traffic.

    To select the best keywords, you’ll need to research and identify what exactly your target audience is looking for and align it with your content’s topic. Finding the right balance between incorporating keywords in a way that makes sense to readers and satisfies search engine algorithms is key.

    I’ll go more in-depth about how to find keywords and how to disperse them throughout your content in the tips section.

    User Intent

    User intent refers to the motivation or purpose behind a user's search query. It’s all about figuring out what they really want to discover when typing something into a search engine.

    There are generally four types of user intent:

    • Informational intent. When someone is seeking information or answers to their questions. They may be looking for definitions, explanations, how-to guides, or research materials.
    • Navigational intent. When someone is searching for a specific website or brand. They already know what they want to find and are using a search engine to navigate to a particular webpage.
    • Transactional intent. When someone is ready to take action, such as making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or booking an appointment.
    • Commercial intent. When someone is researching products or services with the intention to buy later. They are comparing products, reading reviews, and looking for the best deals before making a decision.

    By understanding user intent, you can create content that aligns with what people are looking for and boost your chances of showing up in search results. Each industry and niche also changes your user intent.

    For example, SEO for lawyers will be a lot different compared to SEO for marketers. It's all about giving people what they need and providing them with a good search experience.


    Writing for SEO isn’t just about what you write. It’s also about how you write. It isn’t enough to just place keywords into your content and call it a day. You need to consider how your audience’s experience will be when they read it.

    This is where readability comes in.

    Readability is all about striking the right balance between optimizing for search engines and ensuring that your content is enjoyable and valuable to human readers.

    In addition to optimizing your content with keywords and internal links, you’ll want to focus on user experience. Write in a reader-friendly manner by using clear and concise language and avoiding jargon. You’ll also want to utilize headings and make your content more scannable (more on that below).

    When writing and editing your content, ask yourself: Is this easy to understand? Does this have a logical flow? Is this engaging? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you may need to make some changes.

    Historical Optimization

    Every SEO writer knows that an evergreen blog post will never be completely finished, even after it’s been published. Thanks to algorithm updates and competitors targeting the same keywords, search results are always changing.

    That’s why it’s important to have a content update strategy in place to ensure your older web content remains fresh and relevant in search engine rankings. This practice is called historical optimization.

    To figure out which blog posts you need to update, assess your older content by conducting a content audit to find underperforming or outdated pieces. Then, determine how to improve the piece.

    This usually involves refreshing the content by adding new information, removing outdated information, optimizing keywords, and improving formatting and readability.

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      1. Start with keyword research.

      It’s estimated that Google processes over 70,000 search queries a second. Staggering, right?

      If you want to cut through SERP clutter and outrank your competitors, you need to target the specific keywords and phrases your potential customers are searching for. Otherwise, how else will they find your content and website?

      Start with a keyword research tool. Sites like Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner give you details on what users are searching for and how popular those queries are.

      For an inside look into how Ahrefs can aid you in your SEO keyword research and beyond, check out our case study and exclusive interview here.

      Google Trends can also give you a feel for what keywords are popular at any given time. If you see searches steadily declining over time for a specific keyword, you know that’s probably not the right keyword to target for your marketing. The opposite is true for rising trends.

      If you’re ever running low on keyword ideas, get inspiration from your competition. Use competitive intelligence tools to see what keywords their domains currently rank for. If these keywords are relevant to your business, consider using them too.

      However, keep in mind that the most obvious keywords don’t always align with your strategy. Additionally, your focus keywords will evolve over time as trends shift, terminology changes, or your product/service line grows.

      Be sure to conduct keyword research periodically to ensure you’re still focusing on the right keywords for your target audience and not missing out on vital ranking opportunities.

      2. Use headings to your benefit.

      Headers help Google’s web crawlers understand your blog post and the sections within it.

      Think of the crawlers as readers who are skimming your blog. They want an overview of what your article will cover. That’s your H1. Then, your H2s, H3s, and H4s break down the subtopics within the piece.

      So, your subheaders should reflect the content in the body and include high-intent keywords. When you use the right keywords, meaning the ones your target audience is using, you have a much higher chance of ranking on the SERP.

      3. Optimize your content for featured snippets.

      Featured snippets on Google are the most direct answers to search queries. For instance, if I were to search, “How do you write a blog post?” Google might use a featured snippet to show the best answer.

      writing for SEO, snippet

      To earn a featured snippet on Google, you'll need to answer the question thoroughly and succinctly.

      For instance, if the search term is “How to screenshot on Mac,” you can put “How to Take a Screenshot on a MacBook Computer” as your H1 or H2, followed by the steps in a numbered or bulleted list.

      Once you’ve done that, be sure to include part of the question in your answer. Using the example above, you would start the paragraph with the following: “To take a screenshot on your MacBook, here are the steps…”

      Additionally, start each sentence with an actionable verb, like “click” and “select.”

      If the keyword for which you want to capture the featured snippet requires a definition, write an answer that’s no more than 58 words.

      4. Write for humans, not search engines.

      With all these SEO guidelines, it can be easy to forget that when a user searches on Google, they are looking for an answer. The best way for you to improve your chances of ranking is by writing high-quality blog posts.

      What does that look like? Thorough answers, scannable sections, organized subheaders, and visual aids.

      Keep your buyer personas, their motivations, challenges, and interests in mind. It’s also important to choose topics that will resonate with your potential customers and address their pain points.

      While some SEO tools can help on the technical side of your site, you can also opt to use content writing SEO tools to help you write correct, concise, and human-friendly content that will rank well and engage readers.

      Different tools also measure content engagement, allowing you to see how long people are spending on a page, whether or not they're visiting multiple pages, or how far people are scrolling down your site.

      Pro tip: Writing can be difficult when keeping all of these variables in mind. One way to simplify the process is to organize your main thoughts. Then, use them as a prompt for an AI tool, like HubSpot’s free AI blog writer.

      writing for SEO, blog writer

      You can then go through that draft and add the personal touches and optimizations that make it fun for humans to read.

      5. Optimize your title.

      Even with a great, SEO-friendly post body, a bad headline could hurt you in the SERP.

      To title your post with SEO in mind, write something compelling that also incorporates your main keyword. Here are a few tips:

      • Incorporate numbers. (“5 Ways to Rock a Matte Lipstick.”)
      • Include your offer in the title. (“How to Write a Cover Letter [+ Free Template]”)
      • Add a teaser. (“We Tried the New [Insert App Name] App: Here's What Happened”)

      Check out this blog on SEO to gather more ideas on title optimization.

      6. Include keywords in your meta description.

      Are you adding meta descriptions to your post? If your answer is “no,” then you‘re probably not getting as much traffic as you could. Let’s get into why they're important.

      By now, we‘ve talked about a couple of the ways a blog post can communicate with Google: subheaders, keywords, and snippets. However, that’s not an exhaustive list.

      Meta descriptions are another area Google crawls to determine search rankings. Meta descriptions are the one- to three-sentence descriptions you'll find underneath the title of a result.

      writing for SEO, metadata

      Use meta descriptions to sum up what your post is about, and remember to:

      • Keep it short.
      • Use one to two keywords.
      • Make it compelling. After all, there are going to be other posts similar to yours so you’ll want your description to stand above the rest.

      Most content management systems (CMS) have meta description boxes built-in, so you likely won't have to look far to use the function.

      7. Answer the questions no one else will

      In his bestselling book “They Ask, You Answer,” Content Marketer Marcus Sheridan and Inbound speaker explains that answering avoided questions is “an approach to communication, company culture, and the way we sell as a business.

      It starts with an obsession: “What is my customer thinking?” And when I say “obsession,” I really mean that. It extends past “What are they thinking?” to “What are they searching, asking, feeling, and fearing?” Some companies think they understand these questions, but the fact is most do not.”

      These “taboo” questions might be pricing, how much your product costs, industry tips, and secrets no one wants to get out, or basically anything that your industry is avoiding writing about. The benefit to answering these kinds of questions is they are untapped SEO opportunities.

      I saw this in real time on a client’s website, which I helped with. The company didn’t want to discuss how much their service costs in case competitors decided to underbid them. I pushed the idea of a pricing calculator instead — to let people put in their information and what they’re looking for to get a price range.

      Their quote requests skyrocketed. No competitor was willing to even give a price range on services, so my client generated SEO traffic to capture new leads.

      Consider writing an entire blog that addresses a topic your industry doesn’t want customers to know about to see what kind of traffic you can generate.

      8. Resist the urge to keyword stuff.

      The goal is to make your page fully optimized, not overbearing. Find natural fits for keyword additions, but don't force them to the point where your content is illegible.

      For example, if your keywords are “account-based marketing,” “startups,” and “sales,” avoid a meta description like this: “Sales for account-based marketing startups.”

      Instead, try focusing on one or two keywords to make the description more natural: “Are you looking for killer strategies to boost your account-based marketing game? Discover our research-backed techniques in this post.”

      With this approach, you‘re still using keywords, but you’re not oversaturating the post. Remember, your goal is to solve for your audience. If your users have a poor reading experience, that will signal to Google that your post may not be meeting their needs.

      6 Free Blog Post Templates

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      • "How-to" Post
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      • And More!
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        All fields are required.

        You're all set!

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        9. Link to high-authority websites.

        As you build out your blog post, don’t be afraid to link externally.

        Linking to reputable websites not only offers blog readers additional reading material to expand their knowledge, but it also shows search engines that you’ve done your research.

        Nothing strengthens a blog post like research-backed statistics from influential websites. Compelling stats help you build a more convincing and concrete argument that will help you gain trust from your readers.

        10. Aim for scannable, longer posts.

        In an age of short attention spans, you would think shorter blog posts are the way to go. But in fact, search engines like Google actually prefer longer, in-depth blog posts.

        Think about it: the more content on the page, the more clues search engines have to figure out what your blog is about. At HubSpot, we’ve found that the ideal length is between 2,100 and 2,400 words.

        The downside to longer blogs is that they may overwhelm your readers. One way to combat that is by breaking down your content into bite-size, scannable chunks.

        Don’t forget about bullet points – they’re great attention grabbers and easily digestible, especially on mobile devices.

        Turn a long-winded sentence into two and keep your paragraphs to three sentences or less.

        Pro tip: Need help fine-tuning? Check out Hubspot's AI Paragraph Rewriter tool for effortless refinement.

        11. Link to other posts on your site.

        Linking to other pages or blog posts on your website helps search engines create an accurate sitemap. It also helps your audience discover more of your content and get to know you as a trustworthy, credible source of information.

        On the user side, Internal links to other valuable content keep readers on your site longer, reducing bounce rate and increasing your potential for a conversion. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

        When linking to any pages on your website or even outside sources, use natural language for your anchor text. Avoid using spammy or generic calls to action, such as “top-rated cheap laptops” or “click here.”

        Instead, use descriptive keywords that give readers a sense of what they will find when they click on the hyperlink, like “Download your SEO guide.”

        Never force-feed links to your top web pages, featured products, or discounted items. Include links that enhance the points made in your posts and naturally tie in with the subject matter.

        12. Avoid AI-generated blogs and content.

        It’s no secret that AI has come a long way, and that means more and more blogs are generating entire blogs written by artificial intelligence.

        However, AI is not so advanced that both humans and search engines can’t identify a blog written by AI. This means that AI-generated content is getting flagged by search engines and hurting your SEO.

        Instead of having AI generate entire blogs for you, instead use AI as a tool to speed up your creation process and to check for SEO. For example, you can have AI create an outline for you based on search engine results so you have a starting point for your writing.

        You can also ask for SEO assistance by inputting content you’ve written and asking AI tools to check it for optimization.

        I wouldn’t let any AI tool be your sole SEO checker because you will definitely still want a human touch, but it can be a great place to begin optimizing. Check out this list of AI SEO tools to get started.

        13. Feature a FAQ section in your blog

        Search engines reward content that gives them direct, easy-to-identify answers to frequently asked questions.

        For example, Google has a “Quick Answers” section at the top of their page that will link to blogs with authority that are answering questions. A great way to take advantage of this in your blog is by clearly posing questions with the answers right underneath.

        Remember, you want to answer concisely and optimize questions for SEO as well. Adding FAQ sections can also be an easy way to refresh an old blog and update it to improve SEO.

        Get Started with SEO Writing

        There are a lot of tips and tricks to optimize your blog to get better SEO results.

        Still, SEO can be overwhelming for a lot of content writers and small businesses because it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.

        Consistently putting out helpful, authoritative blogs that are fully optimized is your best bet for making the first page.

        One thing I love about SEO is that it’s an algorithm, so it’s fair to everyone. If you follow the rules, there’s no reason why your blog shouldn’t perform exceptionally well.

        Remember, SEO criteria are an ever-changing beast, what works one year will not work the next.

        Subscribe to HubSpot’s Marketing blog to get the latest information about what Google and other search engines are requiring to make the first page.

        Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


        Topics: SEO

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