How to create SEO content and climb the search ranks

If you want to improve your website’s search rankings and increase the amount of organic traffic, an effective SEO content plan is essential. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how creating tailored SEO-friendly content not only gives higher visibility in search but also improves the quality of your content and creates deeper engagement with your brand.

Key takeaways

  • Understand SEO and user intent to optimize content for search engines
  • Create different types of content, conduct keyword research, analyze competition & craft compelling headlines
  • Optimize on page elements & promote your content across multiple platforms to increase visibility

Understanding SEO content

Building blocks that outline aspects of SEO like keyword research, on-page SEO and content promotion

Creating SEO content in order to achieve higher search rankings and draw more organic traffic is a key element of successful digital marketing; because it’s not content marketing vs SEO, it’s content marketing and SEO.

Develop content that answers the search query + promotion = traffic. Simple math.

This type of writing and content creation requires an understanding of user intent, refined keyword research skills, readability, optimization as well as the ability to deliver value for readers.

Harnessing all of those and building a top-notch SEO content strategy significantly increases the odds of making it on the holy first page of Google results, bringing more attention from potential customers.

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Types of SEO Content for Better Rankings

A folder with icons representing types of SEO content spilling out

Taking a varied approach to content is a strong tactic for helping you climb the search rankings and generate more traffic.

Why? Because not everyone takes in information in the same way. Some people like reading, some are deep into social media, while others prefer videos.

Various types of SEO content should be incorporated into your SEO content planning because by appealing to different users and their search intent, it’s possible to raise your online visibility as well as draw more visitors to your site.

Just within SEO copywriting there is a ton of variation in what you can do; blog posts, product pages, how-to guides, infographics and more.

For example, consistent blogging creates regular opportunities for user engagement and also brings potential backlinks which lead to increased trustworthiness and authority.

Optimized product pages designed for conversion target users looking for something specific you offer.

Even the videos you put on YouTube need their titles and descriptions SEO optimized so they can be more easily found.

Diversifying the types of SEO content facilitates complete coverage when dealing with diverse intents leading to greater ratings within search results. Because the best content for SEO is the type of content your audience prefers.

Conduct effective keyword research

Keyword research and analytics for “sock”

Arguably the most important part of creating content for SEO is the keyword research. Consider it the foundation of everything else.

Fortunately, there are keyword research tools like Ahrefs or Semrush that make the process relatively painless.

The goal is to develop topics and content ideas that include a selection of primary and secondary keywords that are relevant; with enough search volume to make it worth creating the content.

Keyword strategy also needs to include long tail keywords which, by nature, have lower search volume but represent higher intent because they’re so specialized.

A great keyword research tool will also help you evaluate your competitor’s use of target keywords, letting you know where you’re most likely to be successful.

Target and secondary Keywords

Difference between target and secondary keywords, using “breakfast” as example

Here’s the main thing about keywords, when creating content, it’s important to select one primary, target keyword. This specific keyword is going to be what you optimize the entire piece of content for and will inform the rest of the many secondary keywords you use.

In other words, the main keyword should be at the core of your article while other terms act as auxiliary phrases that help optimize content for relevant searches.

This page, for example, is optimized for "create SEO content" and some of the secondary keywords (and phrases) are "search intent", "long tail keyword", "fresh content", "ranking factor" and more.

Using a wide variety of competitive keywords increases your visibility in search and gives you a better chance to rank higher.

Long-tail keywords

Chart showing long-tail keywords make up the majority of searches

Long tail keywords are specific phrases that appeal to your ideal user, allowing you to create stronger and quicker connections with people who are genuinely seeking out what you offer.

Their search volume is lower but using them is a smart way to reach the niche audiences you’re after.

Think about it, a person who searches "basketball jerseys" has lower buying intent than someone who searches "LeBron James 2016 championship jersey".

The more specific the keyword, the higher the chance you’ll show up.

A keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find long-tails:

  1. Start by entering a keyword or phrase;
  2. Look through the list of suggested queries that expand upon more precise words;
  3. Evaluate both the competition metrics and search volume rate before deciding on one;
  4. Make sure the ones you choose make sense for your content

Analyze keyword competition

Keyword competition analysis for shoes

Knowing what your competition is up to is required. Any research tool worth its salt is going to help you assess how much competition there is, clue you into the keyword difficulty and help you explore ways to rank better.

You can gather intel on everything from their current position on the search engine results pages (SERPs), backlink sources and how well-optimized their content is.

Use this knowledge to improve your own SEO strategy by finding keyword gaps you can fill and create better content around to drive folks to your site.

Create SEO content that’s engaging and optimized

Example of a blog highlighting the necessary attributes to create SEO content

The first order of business has to be creating high quality content, all the SEO tricks and tactics in the book don’t mean squat if your content is uninspired, boring and tough to digest.
Search engines won’t love it either as they’ll see people bouncing quickly as a bad sign.

You need an enticing headline to get the click, then your text needs to be arranged so it’s easy on the eyes while also focusing on SEO elements and carefully incorporating keywords into your material.

The key is to strike a balance between being engaging to viewers while still getting all your SEO benchmarks checked.

Write compelling headlines

A strong page title for a blog about marketing strategy

You’re going to want to invest serious time here because a strong headline is what grabs attention, gets someone to stop their scroll and click on your content.

To make sure it comes up in search, a headline must include your target keyword — plus intriguing words that spark interest, create intrigue or invoke an emotion from readers.
The ideal length for a headline is 50-60 characters.

By utilizing power words and phrases in a title, you can boost the likelihood of users clicking through and interacting with your stuff.

Which page title are you more likely to click?

"Create SEO content: Boost clickthrough by 257% in a year" or "Why you need to create SEO content"

Probably the 1st, no?

It bears repeating, don’t gloss over the headline.

Structure content for readability and SEO

Blog example with numbering and bullet points for better readability

It’s not just what you write or create that makes a difference, how you structure it plays a huge role in readability.

Structure your content with appropriate and frequent headers and subheaders, utilize line breaks often and incorporate things like bullet points to dramatically increase readability – and help search engines index your page better.

The usage of H2 and H3 tags, for example, allows the search engine algorithms to understand the importance attached to each section. Note: you should also include your primary and secondary keywords in these headers.

URL structure matters too, having a simple, concise URL that contains your target keywords helps in optimizing for SEO.

This is why it’s important to plan before you start creating, build outlines that guide you towards writing SEO-friendly content.

Avoid keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing with term “air conditioner”

Search engines can and do penalize web pages for overusing keywords.

This black hat SEO technique negatively affects search engine rankings, website traffic and, frankly, can annoy site visitors.

To prevent this from happening, you just have to avoid cramming keywords into your content.

Focus instead on providing high quality information that readers will find useful while integrating related keywords. Avoid repetition of the same words and phrases over and over (whether they’re keywords or not).

Use a tool like Clearscope or Surfer SEO to understand the ideal keyword density to aim for.

On-page SEO elements to boost search ranking

The Yoast SEO plugin interface for WordPress

Some of what boosts your search rank isn’t in the content itself but rather some of the technical parts of a page known as on-page SEO. Factors that need attention include:

  1. Title tags – Keep them succinct, distinctive and add keywords when possible
  2. Meta descriptions – Must attract searcher and have an effective call-to-action
  3. Image alt text – Incorporate concise and descriptive alternative text for images that include keywords when it makes sense

By refining these components, you’ll improve your odds of getting to page 1 of the search results.

Develop a content calendar and publish consistently

13 develop a content calendar and publish consistently

One thing that can quietly make or break your content marketing strategy is consistency. You can be producing the best SEO content but with an ocean of content being published daily, it can quickly be forgotten. Consistency builds trust, keeps you top of mind and in front of your audience.

A content calendar is a hugely beneficial tool to that end, allowing you to manage, organize and optimize your entire content creation workflow.

With a clear calendar for overseeing the process, it’ll be easier to get your blog content, long form articles, videos, etc. out to your target audience regularly, amplifying awareness as you go.

Analyze and adjust your SEO content strategy

Google Search Console analytics

Monitoring the performance of your SEO content regularly is essential for maintaining and improving rankings.

Working with SEO content checkers like Google Analytics, Search Console, Semrush, Moz or Ahrefs, gives you valuable insights into how your content is doing and ways to make it better.

From updating existing content to identifying content gaps to competitor research that leads to new keyword ideas, continuous analysis makes a big difference in trying to stay ahead in today’s digital landscape.

Regular reviews and appropriate strategic adjustments give you a better chance to create SEO content that improves your search rank.

Promote your content for maximum exposure

Buffer interface for scheduling posts

Promotion is imperative, if you publish content but don’t tell anyone about it, who will?

Whether it’s social media, email campaigns, guest blogs, podcasts, etc, the goal is to reach your audience, wherever they are and on the platforms they prefer.

Social is particularly good for creating meaningful interactions with potential customers while raising brand awareness at the same time.

Developing an email marketing strategy allows you to create and talk to an audience that is asking to hear from you, meaning they’re warmer leads. Plus you can personalize this channel more.

Doing a guest blog on another or featuring a guest on your own blog is cross promotion that expands your audience and is a boost to your reputation and theirs.

All of this is considered off-page SEO and helps build backlinks to and from reputable resources, while internal links help keep people on your site.

Bottom line, making sure your content gets seen increases traffic and builds trust.


The nice thing about building search optimized content is that outside some of the technical stuff, a lot of the requirements are pretty intuitive. You need to know the specific keywords you’re targeting, you need to understand what your competitors are up to and make sure you create different types of content to catch your audience’s attention no matter where they are.

Remember, on top of best SEO practices, the success of your strategy relies on consistency and promotion.

Now that you know how to create SEO content, you just have to get started and Slickplan’s website content planning suite is the perfect place to begin.

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Frequently asked questions

  • How do you structure content for SEO?

    Organize your content to ensure maximum SEO potential by taking advantage of headings and elements like bullet points for readability and scannability. Supply alt text for images as well as using keywords in titles and subheaders. Include related words throughout the page plus internal/external links with a clear call-to-action at the end.

  • How do I start writing enticing SEO content?

    For successful SEO content, first do research and figure out which keywords to target. Create structure by building an outline with headings and subheading, inserting keywords when possible. Add target and secondary keywords throughout your piece and write an attention grabbing title. Add a meta description, alt text for images and build links in too.

  • How do I create local SEO content?

    For local SEO, you can use the name of your city and surrounding regions in your content, along with adding name, address & phone number (NAP) to either your header or footer. Identify keywords unique to your area, utilize Google Trends research and, of course, optimize for Google My Business.

  • How to do image ALT text for SEO?

    Be as descriptive and concise as possible about the image, aiming to keep it under 140 characters. Utilize target and secondary keywords when it makes sense, don't slide them into every description. Don't start with "image of" just go straight into what it is.

  • What are the best SEO tools for content idea generation?

    Paid tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Surfer SEO and Moz are stellar for idea generation. You can also take advantage of free tools like HubSpot's Blog Ideas Generator or check out the "People also ask" section when you Google a target keyword.

  • Do you have to write content for SEO?

    You don't have to but you're putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage if you don't because first and foremost, optimizing for SEO is a way to optimize content for readers. The content that readers keep going to is what ranks higher. Not following basic SEO best practices like proper structure, developing keyword strategy, ensuring readability and scannability will lead to an article that folks will more likely bounce from.

  • Are bullet points good for SEO?

    They're great for SEO! Bullets allow you to quickly highlight and feature relevant content, they make your article more readable and scannable. They're also an excellent tool for writing content that's more persuasive.

Steve Tsentserensky

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