SEO Article: Keys to Writing an Article Optimised for Google

Published on 29 May 2023 - Updated on 29 May 2024

By Andréa Bensaïd

Founder of Eskimoz. I support companies of all sizes in their digital acquisition strategy.

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Writing a high-performing blog post requires specific skills. You need to capture (and keep) the reader’s attention, make them want to read to the end, and answer their questions. But you also need to meet Google’s algorithm requirements, adapting your writing to the prerequisites of SEO. This is the sine qua non condition for climbing the SERP rankings and generating more traffic, without ever forgetting to add value for the reader. In this article, we will give you the main keys to writing an SEO article, i.e. optimised for Google AND tailored to address users’ concerns – as these two goals are inseparable.

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Why Write Articles Optimised for Google?

An SEO article is one that meets the search engine algorithms’ requirements (specifically, the most popular one – Google). In practice, the writer adopts several SEO best practices to ensure the text ranks high in the SERP (the search results page).

The challenge: content is abundant online. It’s estimated that 4.4 million blog posts are published daily worldwide! (Source.) This gigantic number gives you an idea of the challenge: for content to be read, it first needs to be visible to users. To achieve this, it must appear in the top results on Google – as users mainly click on the best-positioned organic links: 70% of clicks are concentrated on the top five natural results (Search Engine Journal).

Another challenge: even an excellent ranking in the SERP doesn’t guarantee sustainable traffic and position because quality also matters. If the content doesn’t meet users’ expectations or consider their search intentions, it risks disappearing from the radar quickly… Even if it was rigorously optimised.

In short, an SEO article serves a dual purpose: it is optimised for Google and high-quality enough to satisfy users.

How Does Google Work?

Before revealing the secrets of an SEO article, it’s important to understand how Google works. The search engine aims to organise information (all available information!) to present it to users and provide the most relevant answers possible.

To do this, the engine must decide which content to favour. How does it do that? It’s simple: the algorithm ‘scans’ online pages to index them and assess their relevance concerning users’ searches. Of course, this content isn’t served immediately after being posted online: it is ‘put on hold’ for a while in the database until Google is sure of its quality. (By the way, that’s why SEO strategies are often said to take time to show results!)

Writing an SEO article involves identifying the criteria Google uses to choose content to highlight in a search. However, these criteria are not explicit. Google does provide some generic guidelines for content production (make your site interesting, understand what readers want, cite sources, adapt length to the topic…), but overall, Google keeps its secrets. SEO experts’ role is to master these parameters and identify the levers to position an article high in the SERP.

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What are these levers? That’s what we will discover now.

How to Write an SEO Article?

An SEO article meets two complementary goals (not contradictory, as one might initially think): it targets both Google’s robots, which crawl pages to index them, and users, who seek answers to their questions. The complementarity of these two goals is simple: content must be optimised to be visible and satisfy users simultaneously to be considered relevant by Google – which will improve its ranking, visibility, traffic volume, etc.

Here are the steps to follow to write an effective and relevant SEO article.

1. Identify a Keyword to Target

Before starting to write, define a theme (related to your sector) and a topic, then identify the main keyword to target in your SEO article. (Note that topics can also be defined later based on identified keywords.)

The aim here is to determine the terms your target audience uses for their searches. For example, for car insurance, users type phrases like ‘cheap car insurance,’ ‘online car insurance,’ ‘young driver car insurance’, etc. These queries are subjects that can be addressed through a series of content: an SEO article to find cheap insurance, another to help prospects understand online subscription, etc.

Choosing the main term to use is not random. It’s crucial to analyse the positioning of different keywords and select the most relevant ones according to your strategy: popular terms (with high search volume) but not too competitive (to have a chance of ranking for them).

Therefore, it may be worthwhile to swap overly generic keywords for ‘long-tail’ expressions, less searched but with higher conversion potential. For example, avoid ‘car insurance’, which is very competitive, and prefer a related query like ‘how to cancel car insurance’, which is highly searched without too much competition but promising to position your content at the end of the conversion funnel.

2. Define the SEO Article’s Objective

You have a topic and a keyword to target. Now, think about the goal your SEO article should achieve. What do you want to say to your readers? Which questions do you aim to answer? What added value will you provide?

To this end, it’s essential to understand the search intent behind the chosen query. Taking the example of ‘how to cancel car insurance’, the intent is clear: the user wants concrete information on the steps to follow to close their contract – so that’s precisely what you need to offer in your content, considering the variety of possible situations (cancel when selling the vehicle, cancel to change insurers, etc.).

A good approach is to consult the search results for the chosen query, directly in your keyword identification tool. Open the related pages and see how the best-positioned content meets users’ search intent to inspire your approach.

3. Structure the SEO Article

To write a perfectly optimised article, you need to create an explicit and relevant structure, meeting several prerequisites. This structure should include…

  • An introduction (possibly written as a header) presenting the topic and listing the main questions the SEO article should answer. Use this to include your main keyword and work on the semantic field.
  • A body text divided into roughly equal paragraphs, each dedicated to an idea, following the inverted pyramid format (the most important idea comes first, secondary ideas follow).
  • A main title (H1) and subheadings (H2, H3…) introducing different sections and clearly indicating their content. Remember that titles and subheadings are crucial for SEO: by structuring the content, they help robots better understand it. Titles should also include the main keyword and/or its variations.
  • A conclusion summarising the main ideas and highlighting the key takeaways for readers.

4. Write a Sufficiently Long Article

The ideal length of an SEO article is still debated, but one thing is certain: an optimised blog post should have at least 300 words, ideally at least 500.

Google likes long articles: studies show that the best-positioned content in the SERP is around 2,000 words – although length isn’t the only criterion explaining this performance. According to a HubSpot survey on its content, the ideal SEO article should be between 2,100 and 2,400 words.

Yes, that’s a lot. But the longer the content, the more likely the topic is thoroughly covered, with a maximum of keywords used and a well-developed semantic field. Hence Google’s interest. However, it depends on the topic and the depth you want to give it: better a 600-word SEO article with high added value than an unreadable 5,000-word piece.

5. Strategically Place Keywords in the Content

Integrating the main keyword should follow a certain logic. It’s about finding a perfect balance between informing the algorithm (by including enough occurrences) and offering readers an accessible, relevant, and enjoyable text.

Indeed, an overly present keyword risks making your SEO article unreadable, which Google doesn’t want. Moreover, the search engine can understand your content through other means: it identifies variations of the main query, analyses synonyms, and recognises the semantic field related to the topic. Therefore, a 1% density (one keyword per hundred words) is considered sufficient, provided many co-occurrences and synonyms are used.

Furthermore, the keyword should be inserted…

  • in HTML tags (Hn titles, title, alt for images…),
  • in the introduction,
  • in the first paragraph after the first sub-heading,
  • in the conclusion.

Don’t forget the meta description, which appears in the SERP under the title: although its SEO weight is low, this tag informs users and encourages clicks.

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6. Optimise the Article for Featured Snippets

On Google, featured snippets are direct answers provided by the engine to users’ questions, displayed at the top or right of the regular results. Only the ‘best’ answers get this prime positioning, offering maximum visibility and encouraging users to click the link.

It’s possible to optimise your SEO article for a chance to be featured as a featured snippet, like a Position Zero – a highly sought-after spot due to its visibility. To do this, apply a few simple rules: answer the question succinctly (but completely), include the query in titles and subheadings as a question, use bullet lists, etc.

7. Link the Article to Other Site Content

Does your SEO article complement a series of content on the same theme or topic already published on your site? Link these pages with hyperlinks. This is called internal linking, an optimisation lever not to be overlooked.

This internal link network helps improve the new article’s popularity and that of existing content, by virtue of the authority thus conferred. Moreover, these links help crawlers understand your site’s structure and how pages coexist. They also allow access to different site pages, like using bridges to cross from one bank to another.

Beyond the SEO interest, linking is useful to users, who can find other content on the same topic, thus continuing their navigation on your site (reducing the bounce rate).

Finally, consider external links in your SEO article: direct your readers to resources independent of your website, with high authority (institutional sites, media, encyclopedias…) to cite sources and build a stronger, more convincing content.

These best practices should help you write an article that is both optimised for Google and high-quality for readers. But, of course, that’s not enough! You must then promote this content on the different channels frequented by your audience and monitor its position in the SERP.

Another important point: an SEO article is just one brick among many, and many are needed to build a coherent and solid structure. To evaluate a site’s relevance, Google considers not just one or two contents, but all available pages. In short, if you aim to achieve real SEO performance, your entire website must be high-quality and optimised.  

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