If you want to drive business growth and opportunities, especially online, you need written content. But not just random content. Strategic, targeted SEO-friendly content that has the potential to rank high in search engines like Google.
Whether you are a content writer or a marketing manager evaluating content from your writers, ensuring you have such SEO content can become so much easier if you have content optimization tools that give you the necessary information and recommendations and help you through it.The SEO Content Template and the SEO Writing Assistant from SemRush save you time in research and optimization, resulting in content that will rank higher than your competition. #seocontent #contentwriting #contentoptimization Click To Tweet
However, not all parts of the tool are to be used in the same way.
In this post, I will share how you can use the SEO Content Template and the SEO Writing Assistant to get SEO-friendly content more efficiently: more optimized, in less time.
You will know which parts of the tool to really APPLY the recommendations from, and which parts are there to just help you DOUBLE-CHECK that your content is optimized.
What is SEO content?
SEO content, also called SEO-friendly content, is any content that is optimized to help search engines understand it easily, consider it of high value, and thus rank it high for the relevant search queries. The end result being higher organic traffic.
SEO content can be written, visual, or audio, and will need to be optimized for suitable search engines. For example, videos need to be optimized for Youtube.
In this post, we will focus mostly on written content, specifically, blog posts.
How to write SEO content?
There are 3 steps to creating content that is search engine friendly.
Step 1: Research
If you want to rank high in search engines, you have to determine two things:
1. Which keyword(s) you want to rank for
2. Which pages are your competition. i.e, which are currently ranking in the top 10, what are their success factors, how they are using which keywords, where do they get their links from. So you can beat them.
Step 2: Write
Now that you know these 2 factors, you can write your content that is better than your competition's and perfected for search engine optimization.
Step 3: Optimize
Your content all ready? Don't hit publish yet! Check it for optimization:
- If you've missed any keywords
- If there are other keywords you can add
- If your title, meta description, heading tags, are all optimized
- If your content is easy to read
- If your content is too long or too short, or perfect for your topic
After you publish, try to get as many links to the content piece you can, to indicate its relevance and authority to search engines.
What is the SEO Content Template & the SEO Writing Assistant?
These are two AI-powered content optimization software from Semrush that help you do the research before the content is written, and optimize your written content for SEO. The information in the content is all yours.
How to perfect your content for SEO with these content optimization tools?
To use these 2 tools to make your content SEO friendly, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Sign up for a free trial of the Semrush Guru Plan
Usually, the free trial is for 7 days. You can get an exclusive 14-day trial period through this link or the image below.
Step 2: Choose a keyword(s) for your content
Think about an idea for your content, and find a keyword that you would like to select primarily. To cover this step in detail or to find ideas and keywords for your content, read my other post on what to blog about to rank higher in SERPs.
Go to the Semrush dashboard, click on SEO -> Keyword Magic Tool, to get related keywords.
Related keywords are also called semantic keywords. So they are related to your topic/ keyword but are not exactly the same.
For example, when I needed ideas and keywords for my content piece 'how to write your first blog post', my target keyword was 'first blog post', but my other keywords were the below:
"how to format blog post in wordpress"
"how to get a blog published"
"elements of a good blog post"
"blog post ideas for beginners"
"first week of blogging"
Step 3: Do your research with the SEO Content Template
Put your target keyword in there, and click Create SEO Template.
The tool then displays different sections for research and recommendations.
Section 1. Top 10 rivals
The first part of the SEO Content Template shows you the top 10 pages that rank for the keyword. In other words, your top 10 in Google SERP.
For you to rank in the top 10 and drive website traffic and business growth, you need to beat at least one of those pages. Who cares about the 2nd page of Google anyway?
But to beat them, you know what they're doing and how you can do better.
Check the results that I got, below, for my keyword 'first blog post', for my post on how to write your first blog post.
A caveat here. You can see the same results with keyword research as well, when you enter your keyword in SEO -> Keyword Overview.
It is important to know this difference because the Semrush Pro plan gives you access to keyword research. Only the Guru plan (more expensive) gives you access to the SEO Content Template. So just to see the 10 SERP, you don't need to use the Content Template.
However, it becomes very useful when you have multiple keywords you want to enter as your target keywords.
See the example below, when I created the template with multiple keywords.
You see a snapshot of the top 10 rivals for each keyword. You can just click on the blue arrow next to the URL and check out each post. This really helps in competition analysis, especially when you want to check which URLs rank for more than one keyword.
Without this tool, you would have to enter the keywords in the Keyword Magic Tool one by one, export the top 10 in an Excel sheet, and then compare the results.
How to use this section: APPLY recommendations for COMPETITION RESEARCH.
Section 2. Key Recommendations
This is the key part of the SEO Content Template, where it gives you specific recommendations to optimize your content. It has 4 sub-sections to it.
Semantically related words
You can of course go to SEO -> Keyword Magic Tool, enter your target keyword, and do the research for semantic keywords as you may have done already.
However, unlike the Keyword Magic Tool, the SEO content template is that the latter gives you recommendations specifically based on your top competition, for all the keywords you entered.
The semantic keywords listed here, for example, are different from what I entered as target keywords.
How to use this section: APPLY recommendations in CONTENT.
This section tells you where your competitors got their backlinks from, so you could also try to reach those websites and ask them to link to you.
It is really a hit and miss with this one. Some of these recommended sites could be in your own or a related niche, and links from them could be really useful. Some of these, however, may not be very relevant for you.
So you have to click on each site and see if that's a site you would like to do a link-building campaign for.
Without this section, you would have to look through the backlink profile of each of your rivals and note down all the sites, which will take a LOT of time.
The SEO Content Template actually does that work for you, almost like an assistant, so you can directly start analyzing the sites and start your link-building.
I did both the processes for my keyword. The template saved me 2 hours to find a handful of sites.
Once you have selected some relevant ones, check out their domain rating and traffic to see if their links to you could help drive your traffic and boost your SEO. Sites with low domain rating/ traffic may not be worth investing your efforts in.
How to use this section: APPLY recommendations for (selective) LINK-BUILDING.
This section tells you how easy or hard it is to read the content from your top 10 competing pages. You can try to keep yours at a similar level, but it is more important to write in a way that suits the topic and your brand story.
When you actually start writing the content or evaluating content written by someone else, you can check your readability score. We will cover this in the SEO Writing Assistant section.
How to use this section: DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
This is self-explanatory. Based on your competition's content, this section recommends an average text length. But again, it is more important to write as per your blog post topic.
In fact, Google loves long-form content. So if you have a longer piece of content, it's really okay, as long as what you write makes sense, it's not just fluff.
My blog post is 5000+ words when the recommended length here is about 1200.
How to use this section: DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
Section 3: Use of keywords by competition
If you click on each keyword, it shows you the top 10 pages, and how the keywords have been used in them.
You can click on each keyword to see the use of keywords in the top 10 pages ranking for that keyword.
However, you will see the use of each word from your keywords, not just the keyword as a phrase. So naturally, it's a lot of words that are highlighted.
You can just do a quick skim through to see how the keywords have been used and how often. No need to go into details.
How to use this section: Apply recommendations for COMPETITION RESEARCH.
Section 4: Basic SEO recommendations
A seasoned content writer who writes SEO-optimized blog posts knows all the below points about basic SEO. So this section is nothing new, it just serves more as a reminder to optimize the post.
How to use this section: DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
You can choose to export all the data and analysis from this SEO template to an MS Word Document. It helps in different ways:
1. If you are a writer: you can get the Word Document if you're more comfortable with that format or want to be able to access it offline at any time.
2. If you are a marketing manager: you can simply hand over the Word document to your writer, who may not have access to this tool.
Step 4: Optimize your content with the SEO Writing Assistant
Though it is called the Writing Assistant, this tool really helps more to check that your content is optimized. And if not, do the necessary edits.No tool can help you actually write if you don't have value to offer through your content. You need to know what to write, for whom, as per your brand. Tools can only help to make your content SEO friendly.#contentoptimization… Click To Tweet
Thus, it is a fantastic help for marketing managers who are not actually writing the content, just making sure it's optimized and on-brand. Get the Writing Assistant, and check how your content scores as per the recommendations. If it's not, you as a writer can fix it yourself, or as a manager, can ask your writer to make the relevant edits.
The Assistant comes as an add-on.
Many content writers write with Google Docs. Or if they are writing for a WordPress site, then they write directly on the CMS.
Accordingly, the Writing Assistant has 2 options: as an addon for Google Docs, or as a plugin for WordPress.
Go to Content Marketing -> SEO Writing Assistant. Choose the one you feel comfortable with, and install it.
The Google Doc add-on pops up to the right of the screen.
You can see it when in the Google Docs menu you go to Add-on -> Semrush SEO Writing Assistant -> Show.
I finalize my content on WordPress after starting in Google Docs, so I got the WordPress plugin. These are the sections it shows you, at the bottom of the content:
Readability: Your post readability vs. average. DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
Words: Your post length vs. their recommended. As mentioned earlier, just write the number of words necessary for the post. DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
Title issues: The tool checks if it's SEO-friendly, with keywords, the number of words, etc. APPLY recommendations to OPTIMIZE TITLE.
Content issues: There are some recommendations on the structure and form of writing, which are worth checking out, just to make sure that your writing fits your content topic. DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
SEO: There are two sections here: target and recommended keywords.
The target ones you entered in the beginning. In case you have missed one, it will not be in green and you can add it to your content. The recommended ones come from the content template, so you don't have to go back and check one by one from a list. Just add them to your content, and they will be highlighted here. APPLY recommendations to OPTIMIZE CONTENT.
Alt attribute issues: You need to add alt text to all your images in your post. This is just a reminder. DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
Link issues: Again these are just reminders. Some parts may be relevant, when nofollow links are pointed out, so you can make them dofollow if you need. APPLY recommendations for CORRECT LINKING.
Tone of voice: You can SKIM through the evaluation in this section, to see if you want to edit some parts, like some passive voice parts to active. DOUBLE-CHECK CONTENT.
Originality: This is an important one, especially if you're reading content from an outsourced writer. Run it for a plagiarism check, to ensure your content is unique. APPLY recommendations to CONFIRM UNIQUENESS.
And that's how you use the 2 Semrush content optimization tools to research and optimize your content for SEO.
Have you tried these tools or any others to optimize your content? What have been your experiences? Would love to hear in the comments!