As much as I love experimenting with marketing tactics and techniques, when it comes to content creation for my sites, I used to prefer the traditional way.
After all, what can be so ground-breaking about content writing?
You pick a topic (although I do use various tools for ideation and keyword analysis), do some thorough research, take your own experience and insights, amalgamate them and share them with a wider audience. And having been running a popular site like Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) for a while now, I do know that the audience comes first, and ranking algorithms should come later.
But this is where it can get misleading.
While content creation should always be reader-centered, we are no longer operating in the print space where you could rely either on a winning shelf placement or a loyal audience.
Google opens up an array of possibilities to expand your content’s reach, and if you want to nail that organic visibility, you have to take Google’s algos into account as well. Especially if content writing is not simply a fun or brand-support activity, but rather a revenue driver.
Content Writing: The Old Way
Now, here’s what I used to do to ensure my content pieces were reaching the utmost optimization bar.
Once I had my topic picked out, I’d simply Google the preliminary subject line and do a manual check of which pages get the top spots across the search results.
Then, I’d go through the top results and try to define some common patterns based on a few criteria:
- How long are the pieces?
- What kinds of keywords are being targeted (for this, I’d check the subject line, H2s, H3s, and the rest)?
- What pages and sites do the top content pieces refer to (aka link back to)?
- How user-friendly is the text arrangement? And so on.
But the problem with this approach is that it is based on the subjective perception of the text, it’s very time-consuming, and you have to wait for content performance results before you can do a double-check on whether you are meeting all the best practices.
Of course, I’ve been writing forever and managed to get incredible results doing this the old way. My site’s authority now extends its power to most of my content pieces, but you might not face the same results. Algos get more and more sophisticated. The competition online gets fiercer and fiercer.
That’s why I’ve decided to try out Semrush's SEO Content Template (SCT) & SEO Writing Assistant (SWA) tools, Frase.io, as well Inlinks.net to see how they can change my content writing routine, and probably yours.
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Content Writing: The New Way
I am going to use Semrush to demonstrate the process and explain how your “new” content creation process can be like.
While the first steps of the content writing process remain pretty similar – I do pick out a wider topic, run some initial keyword research, etc. – the two tools completely altered the rest of my routine.
1. Pick your keyword and run it through SEO Content Template
Semrush’s SCT tool allowed me to laser-focus my content efforts on the writing rather than constantly think about the SEO part of the process.
All I do is simply enter my keyword and the target location, and the tool gathers all the best practices based on the top 10 search results – from basic to some higher-level recommendations:
- Page title (optimal length and keyword usage), meta description, and H1 tips;
- Suggestions for semantically-related keywords (I make sure I include those in the text);
- Target text length and readability;
- And even insights on the most impactful link-building partners.
Say, I was working on a piece about e-commerce marketing and wanted it to get a ranking chance across Google’s US SERPs.
2. Get to the writing
Now that I have some initial idea about text length, readability (the level of the text’s complexity), and similar keywords that I should target as well, I get to the actual writing.
And the tool I’ll mention later helps to unleash your creativity and only worry about the copy and all the storytelling parts of the job.
3. Run your text through the SEO Writing Assistant tool
Once my copy is complete, I rely on the magic powers of the SWA tool that checks my text for compatibility with all the best practices – from SEO and readability to tone of voice and originality.
While you can upload your text to the SWA tool, I’ve actually downloaded the add-on and connected it to my Google account. So once my copy is ready, I simply switch on the add-on within Google Docs and get a full analysis of my text along with improvement suggestions.
Check the general score
Of course, getting 10 out of 10 is a dream come true for any SEO-conscious content writer, typically a copy that hits an 8 mark is okay to go.
If I see a lower score, I take a deep dive into each check and use the tool’s ideas.
Ensure optimal readability
SWA analyses the text for readability, making sure the copy corresponds to a certain readership level based on insights from the top-ranking content.
Moreover, you’ll get alerted in case your text is too short or too long or if the title needs some tweaking.
You’ll even get ideas on what to do about your copy – rewrite hard-to-read sentences (with these sentences marked in red), replace complex words, and more.
Go full SEO-friendly
As you enter your target keyword before setting up the add-on for your copy check, it automatically identifies if your text hits the target. In case it does, you’ll see a lot of green marks, as well as possible recommendations for adding up more keyword power to your text.
But the analysis doesn’t stop there. You’ll also get your images checked for any alt attribute issues and even get notices if you’re linking to the wrong pages.
Make your tone of voice consistent
On top of more hardcore SEO issues, the tool also pinpoints if you’re using the right tone of voice.
If all your rivals are using a formal tone, going the casual way might be wrong. So I always pay attention here and in case I have some issues, I use the tool’s ideas for improvement and make some tweaks.
Plagiarism is not only a big no-no in online publishing. A plagiarised copy not only gives you a bad image of your website / business, it can also lead to all sorts of duplicate content issues that can result in Google penalties.
Thus, you want to avoid plagiarism at all costs. This is where SWA’s plagiarism check swoops in and saves the day, showing exactly where you might have used some text that already exists out there on the web.
Content creation is such an essential pillar of the content marketing process. Despite great advances in AI writers and content creation tools, at the moment these remain a very mixed bag of tricks. The concept is fantastic – especially in the “new” semantic Google era.
Some like the SWA introduce interesting elements that add value to the content creation process. But until we see a drastic improvement in actual content creation capabilities, they remain, at best, a crutch for the hobbling man.