What is an SEO Content Writer
What is content writing? 11 tips for more organic traffic and more readers
At Ahrefs, we write a lot of content. We have over 230 blog posts and 170+ videos on our YouTube channel (almost all of which are scripted).
That's why we get an estimated 370,000+ monthly visits to our blog from Google alone:
And 350,000+ monthly views on YouTube:
In this post, we're sharing some simple content writing tips that helped us reach these numbers and which you can apply to your own content.
- Write about content people are looking for
- Create the right content for your target keyword
- Create a data-based overview
- Make your content linkable
- Write a compelling headline
- Start your introduction with the AIDA formula
- Make sure your post is easy to read
- Write the way you speak
- Add transition phrases
- Get feedback on your spelling
- Keep an everyday notebook
1. Write about content people are looking for
When it comes to blogging, most people write about topics that excite them. While this is great, such articles are often only relevant for a short time.
You may get an increase in traffic after being advertised to friends and in your own network (so-called “spike of hope”), but this decreases quickly (“flatline of nope”) as soon as interest decreases.
The best way to fix this problem is to write content on topics that people are looking for. As long as your post ranks on Google for relevant and popular search queries, you will get sustained passive organic search traffic.
So how do you find such topics?
The easiest way is to use a keyword research tool. Enter a relevant topic into a free keyword tool like Ahrefs Keyword Generator and it will show you up to 150 keyword ideas and their estimated monthly search volume.
In general, the higher the search volume, the more organic traffic you can get if you rank high in the search results.
As soon as you have found a keyword with possible traffic potential, add it to our free SERP Checker tool to see the pages in the top ranking. When these pages get a high number of visitors, it confirms that the topic has potential for organic traffic.
For example, we can see that the top-ranking pages are getting significant search traffic for the query “best way to lose weight”. So if you run a fitness blog, this is probably a good topic to cover.
Note that we also do keyword research for our YouTube videos. If this is also relevant for you, try our free YouTube Keyword Tool.
Keyword ideas from our free YouTube Keyword Tool.
2. Create the right content for your target keyword
Have you ever noticed that Google seems to know what you are looking for, even if your input is vague or verbose?
For example, look at the results for this query:
Although we didn't mention Katy Perry or “fireworks”, somehow Google got what we were trying to find.
This is because Google's entire business model is based on showing the most relevant results. That's why they've invested a lot over the years to understand the meaning of unclear searches.
This means that if you want to rank for a certain keyword, you have to find out what searchers want and give them exactly that.
How do you know what that is? Look at the search results and follow what you see.
For example, let's say you want to rank for “cold brew coffee maker”. Most of the top-ranked pages are lists of the best coffee makers, which is why you should create this type of content as well.
You'll have more trouble ranking a site that sells coffee makers because users aren't looking for them.
Recommended reading: Seeker Intention: The Overlooked Ranking Factor You Should Optimize For
3. Create a data-based overview
For each article on the Ahrefs blog, I create an outline for the targeted topic and show it to Josh, our Head of Content. He then comments on them, makes suggestions for improvement or adds new ideas that I have overlooked.
Creating an outline like this helps us consolidate our ideas before we start writing. We can simply discard or restructure the post before we commit to a few thousand words.
It also prevents writer's block. Whenever we get stuck in the design phase, all we have to do is come back to the outline.
Orienting oneself to the similarities of the results in the top ranking is a good way to create an outline. After all, if most of the top-ranked pages answer certain questions, that is a sign that this is something searchers want to know.
Which means you should include these subtopics in your post as well.
Let's say you want to write about backlinks. If we look at the top-ranking pages, they all follow a similar format: Definition> Why They Are Important> Types of Backlinks
We can simply use this format as the basis for our outline.
If the similarities aren't immediately apparent, you can use Ahref's Content Gap Tool for inspiration. This tool shows keywords that one or more pages are ranking for and these often reveal potential subtopics that you can cover.
For the above example we only have to insert a few pages in the top ranking for “backlinks”, leave the bottom field empty and click “Show keywords”.
Many of these keywords will just be different wordings for the same search. But if you look carefully, you will discover some potential subtopics. We can use this to create an effective outline.
4. Make your content linkable
According to Google, links are one of their top three ranking factors. Our own study also showed a strong positive correlation between links and organic traffic.
If you want to rank on Google for something that is even remotely competitive, you need links. And if you want your content to generate links, you need to understand why people are linking to posts on that topic.
The best way to do this is to look at the backlinks to the top ranking pages to understand why people are linking to them. If you find that a lot of people are linking for the same reason, it probably makes sense to mention that thing or something similar in your post.
For example, let's say you want to rank for "Affiliate Marketing". If we look at the top ranking pages for that keyword, most of the pages have a lot of backlinks.
Let's pick one of these sites and check the backlinks in Ahrefs Site Explorer. Just by skimming the “Anchor and backlink” column, we see that some people are linking because of the statistics mentioned in the post.
It would probably make sense to mention this statistic or something similar in our post.
Are matching reasons for linking always so obvious? Of course not. You won't always see clear tendencies, but this step is still useful before you start writing your content.
5. Write a compelling headline
People won't click your post if the headline is boring and unimaginative.
This means you should learn how to write a headline that is irresistible and gets your readers' attention so they will want to learn more.
How you do that? Use a proven formula.
Here are just a few that we've used in the past:
- How you (in [period]) [achieve a desired result]
- [Number] of proven [actions / possibilities] to [achieve the desired result]
- [Number or how you] simple / simple possibility (s) to achieve [desired result]
- [Number] reasons why you [do not achieve the desired result]
Looking for more? There is a long list of them.
Just make sure that you take the search intent (see point 2) into account when writing a headline.
6. Start your introduction with the AIDA formula
Headlines convince readers to click. Introductions convince people to read.
So how do you write a compelling introduction?
Use the AIDA formula.
Most people would describe the AIDA formula as a copywriting formula - one that you can use to write blog articles from start to finish. But I've also found that the AIDA formula works perfectly for introducing blog articles.
This is how the AIDA formula works:
First of all, you win the attention of your readers. For example, in our article on content hubs, we started with a bold statement.
In the next step you should interest by providing interesting facts, stories or examples. In our case, we have given an interesting example of a content hub.
Awaken in the third step Desire read on by explaining why it is important. In our example, we pointed out that the page was strategically built for traffic and links, and we showed (figured out) that it worked.
Eventually make her do one plot to be carried out. Ever since we started using the AIDA formula for our blog article introductions, we've been using a linked table of contents to make it easier for readers to read sections that interest them.
Pretty easy, isn't it?
7. Make sure your post is easy to read
Take a look at the following picture:
When you're reading, there is nothing more daunting than running text. If your post looks like this, you will lose readers.
Instead, you should break the text up into sections.
The easiest way to do this is to use images. For example, most of our posts on the Ahrefs blog include annotated screenshots such as the following:
Such images help clarify certain ideas or concepts better than words alone.
But pictures are not the only way to avoid the monotony of texts. You can also use videos, GIFs, infographics or simple subheadings (H2-H6 headers).
8. Write as you speak
Try reading the following:
If you're like me, you probably fell asleep halfway through.
I'm not saying this writing style is wrong. It is a scientific paper written for scientists - people who understand this language.
It is different for most of us. We prefer to read something that is simple and easy to understand.
Therefore write colloquially. Imagine you are talking to a friend. Write the way you speak.
For many of us, however, this can be difficult. We were taught to write in a formal way from an early age: with passive language, correct grammar and formal words. To avoid this imprint, check your content with a tool like Hemingway. This will help you identify words or phrases that you would not normally use.
9. Complete transition phrases
Reading fluency is extremely important. It helps keep the reader engaged.
If readers have to reread a word (or even a sentence) at any point, you will likely lose their attention and they will leave your page.
An easy way to make your phrasing fluid is to add transition phrases.
These phrases help create a natural flow of reading. Here's an illustration of how they can improve your writing fluency:
Some common transition phrases you can use are:
- Concerning the next point
And here's an extensive list of transition phrases to use next time you're writing.
10. Get feedback on your spelling
Good content is seldom created alone.
As a content writer, you are too close to your own work and you will not find mistakes on your own. Therefore, another person's opinion can be very valuable.
For example, it took me a month to write my very first blog post for the Ahrefs blog. The reason for this was that my drafts were continually being torn in the air by our editors Tim and Josh.
Every post on our blog is subjected to this test. We take turns reading each other's drafts and giving feedback. We point out things like lack of logic, poor reading fluency, unclear points, poorly worded sentences, etc.
We even let our readers know that every article they read is not the work of one person but of many people working together to make it great.
Even if you work alone, this advice can work. You can easily get input from other people, such as partners or colleagues. If necessary, you can also join communities that will help improve your writing.
Your input will make your job a lot better.
11. Keep an everyday notebook
What is an everyday notebook?
According to Ryan Holiday, an everyday notebook is:
“… A central resource or collection point for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information that you will come across in the course of your life and as you continue to educate yourself. The purpose of the book is to document and organize these treasures for later in your life, your work environment, when you write something, for a speech, or whatever you do. "Ryan Holiday, Bestselling author
If you keep a book like this, you won't waste time looking for ideas when it is time to write. You can easily find it in your everyday notebook and use it to work out your outline.
Personally, I keep my everyday notebook in Notion. Here's a glimpse of what my everyday notebook looks like:
This section (“Writing”) is one of many categories that I have created. Every point you can see here is a new page that I created and took notes for a book, podcast, post, etc.
And this is the first place I start before I start blogging.
Writing can be mentally taxing, and procrastination often seems tempting. And if you wait for inspiration before you start writing, then you will never publish anything.
If you don't publish anything, you won't rank.
To fix this problem, use a content calendar. This is a schedule that records when you want to post new content and what content you want to publish.
For example, this is our content calendar at Ahrefs:
A content calendar forces you to set deadlines for upcoming content, which prevents procrastination and obliges you to click the “Publish” button.
Only by publishing content do you have a chance to be ranked on Google.
Have I forgotten any important content writing tips? Let me know on Twitter.
Translated by Heike Radlanski. Heike deals with all aspects of online marketing and product management.
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