It's easy to say, "I'm just a writer. Why do I need to know about search engine optimization?" The answer is pretty simple. If you don't know about organic SEO when you're writing web content, your writing is going to suffer. In order to create killer content that's also well-optimized, you need to know at least a bit about what search engines are looking for, and how they work.
What is Organic SEO?
Before we can talk about how to incorporate organic SEO into your writing, it's important to make sure we're all on the same page. Organic search engine optimization, or organic SEO, is a term that refers to the methods websites can use to boost their rankings on a search engine without paying for advertising. Common methods include achieving certain keyword densities, creating high-quality authoritative content, and backlinking.
So, what does that actually mean for writers? A lot. Content writers are the front line when it comes to organic SEO because, as you'll see, it all boils down to that content creation.
1. Keywords Aren't Everything
You were probably introduced to SEO by keywords. The idea is pretty simple: if you include a search term enough times in a text, search engines will bring up that content for that search term. The problem is, a lot of search terms don't seamlessly flow in writing meant for human consumption. So what are you supposed to do?
The answer is pretty simple, and hopefully it's the conclusion you came to as well: write for human consumption. Mostly. See, if you try to shove an awkward keyword in too many times, you'll actually hurt your search engine rankings. Instead of using that keyword, you'll want to take advantage of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI is the algorithm that allows search engines to find similarities between words and phrases. It's why when you Google "how to write top content," you'll also get results similar to "tips for writing great content." Google recognizes these as similar, and the cool thing is, if you're writing compelling web content, you'll be using LSI keywords naturally, just by covering a topic. You'll still want to maintain a keyword density, but make sure to use more LSI keywords than exact match ones.
2. Size is Opportunity
For a while, the mantra was less is more, but Google is actually trying to fight "thin content." Thin content is not just short, but it doesn't provide much in general. The idea behind short content came from increasing demands on our time and waning attention spans, but one study found that long-form content consistently outranked shorter content. It's hard to stuff a lot of value and quality in 500 words, so it's not that surprising that Google is starting to give stronger rankings to longer content.
That being said, size is opportunity, not an automatic boost. Long-form content needs to be optimized still, needs to be high quality, and needs to be focused.
3. Quality over Quantity
Perhaps the most important thing you can take away from learning about organic SEO as a writer is that it's all about quality. While you may hear statistics like you should be posting 16+ blog posts a month, it's more important that you deliver quality content than that you hit a benchmark. Search engines, especially Google, are looking for sites that provide a quality user experience. While that extends to things like site design, you should be focusing on retaining and engaging users with your content.
You've probably heard the phrase "Content is king," and it's true. In the end, the one thing that will affect organic SEO more than anything is having high-quality content. With that in mind, it's crucial that writers at least know the basics of SEO.
Earlier, we said that writers are the front line, and we want to reiterate that. If you're working with a marketer or an editor, it's not their job to make sure that your work follows the best SEO practices. Getting it right the first time not only streamlines the process; it means that the content will be better because it was created with organic SEO in mind from the beginning. And these days, better optimized content tends to just be better content in general.