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How to Make Sure Your Writing Meets Top SEO Standards

How to Make Sure Your Writing Meets Top SEO Standards

Pretty much everything you do online has to do with content – whether you’re creating landing page copy, a blog post, or a technical product description.

And while SEO copywriting used to be a specific skill you’d seek from employees, freelancers, and yourself, it’s now something you can ‘outsource’ to software.

At least, that’s the promise among solutions that design software for facilitating the content creation process.

To see if this dream-come-true is even remotely possible, I’m reviewing the quality of Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant and SEO Content Template.

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On the Importance of SEO-Conscious Copy

In the online world, we are no longer writing for the audience only. So it’s not just the editor or the readers that have to find your text appealing, you also have to seek favor from Google’s ever-changing algos.

That’s why SEO-friendliness is at the heart of any content writing efforts.

Given you want your page to rank high and appear at the top of Google’s SERPs, as a content creator, you have to go through a lengthy prep process – studying Google’s algorithms, staying tuned to any changes, as well as running SEO research for every single piece you’re about to start writing.

So if any tool offers to take the SEO hassle away from the writing routine, it’s at least worth a try.

Review: SEO Writing Assistant

Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant (SWA) is a tool that instantly analyzes the top 10 pages for your target keyword and location (you specify them at the setup stage), giving you insights on the best practices as well as actionable recommendations for enhancing your copy’s SEO-friendliness.

The tool can be used in two ways:

  • You can copy/paste your text right into the tool, get all the recommendations, and do some editing right there.
  • You can use SWA as an add-on for Google Docs and WordPress. So if you’re creating a copy for your blog that runs on WordPress, it’s easier to go with the add-on.

The Top SEO Writing Assistant Features

The tool collects all the data from your content – the audit takes less than one minute – and you will immediately get an overall score.

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For your convenience, the total score gets highlighted in different colors: red signifies a bad score, and the greener it gets, the closer you are to SEO perfection.

Then, you can take a deep dive into the four main audit categories to see where there’s space for improvement:

  • Readability check

SWA measures the readability of the top-performing posts for your target keyword based on the Flesch reading ease score formula and assesses if your copy meets the golden standard.

Readability

From word count to title issues, SWA will point you in the right direction in case you’re boring your readers with too much text or are using a title that might get truncated in Google.

There’s more. SWA actually checks your content for any content issues, showing you exactly where you can improve hard-to-read sentences, use simpler vocabulary, or should split paragraphs.

Content-Issues

So it’s not just about improving SEO indicators, but also about helping you publish more user-friendly content.

Top feature: I really enjoyed the fact that SWA shows you precisely which sentences, words, and paragraphs can be improved. Once you’re done editing (from what I’ve experienced, you can easily follow the tool’s directions here), you’ll see your score go up!

  • SEO check

The SEO audit of the copy primarily focuses on keywords, linking, and alt attribute (aka image meta) issues.

Well, considering we’re not dealing with the whole page or a site, I can’t really imagine what else could get checked SEO-wise. But let’s take a more nuanced look.

SEO-Target-Keywords

SWA instantly pinpoints where you’ve done a good job and where there is room for copy-polishing.

Keywords-wise, you will get a huge notice if your copy doesn’t target the most important keyword, specifying where you should add it (title, H2s, etc.).

On top of that, you’ll get a list of recommended keywords (related search terms that can give you an SEO boost), marking the ones you’ve already used, and showing the ones you can add to your copy.

Typically, it’s not a tiring job – in most cases, I simply use the recommended keywords as synonyms (e.g. you can say keyword analytics instead of keyword analysis), and hit the target.

Alt-Attribute-Issues

Links-wise, it’s convenient that SWA reveals how many links should be added to your text (in case you’re not using enough) and whether you have broken links.

As for alt attribute issues, it really depends on your workflow. I work in Google Docs first, so I never add my alt attributes before I upload my copy to the blog. But in case you’re writing on WordPress without any preliminary drafts, this feature will come in handy.

Top feature: I love how visual it is to see the full list of recommended keywords, and see them checked once you add them. This way, you can reach some ultimate keyword optimization, without the need to manually double-check if you’ve missed important keywords.

  • Tone of voice check

Now back to user-friendliness, SWA also analyzes whether your copy has a consistent tone of voice.

Tone-Of-Voice

If the competing posts are all somewhat formal, it will set this tone as the target for your copy, assessing whether you’re using formal enough language.

You’ll get to see your consistency score, as well as a direction of where and how you can improve your language.

Top feature: Of course, the casual/formal indicator is extremely handy, because it would be too time-consuming and probably inefficient to be going through the entire copy in search of words that miss the mark.

  • Originality check 

Originality analysis is one of the best overall features of SWA, especially if you have outsourced content writing to a freelancer or received a guest post and want to make sure you’ve received an original piece.

Originality

SWA crawls the entire web, highlighting the parts that have been plagiarized in red. And, as you know, plagiarism is a big no if you want to get your copy any organic visibility.

Review: SEO Content Template

Semrush’s SEO Content Template (SCT) creates a template with top SEO recommendations based on your target keyword and best practice from top-performing content pieces.

The key features are:

  • It gives you a recommendation on the text length.
  • It shows a target readability score.
  • You get a list of semantically related keywords that should be included in the copy.
  • You get an idea about potential backlink opportunities, as the tool shows you websites that link back to competing pieces.

These features turn SCT into a handy tool if you’re just getting started with your piece or are outsourcing your writing activities.

But I’d advise using SCT in any case just to get those ideas on potential link-building partners. A good backlink can be worth a thousand rightly placed keywords.

SWA and SCT Pricing

Both tools are a part of a wider Content Marketing Platform from Semrush.

Access to the Content Marketing Platform will come at $200 a month, but it features six tools that cover the entire content marketing workflow – from topic research and content creation to mentions tracking and performance monitoring.

You can only get access if you have a registered and paid Semrush account.

Things to be aware of

While it’s hard to think of any downsides, I can highlight these few:

  • With keyword recommendations, you don’t get a benchmark on the number of times you should use this or that keyword. This gets slightly negated as the tool lets you know if you’re doing any keyword stuffing.
  • It’s not the cheapest tool for low-traffic websites, it’s only really worth it if you are doing decent numbers.
  • I normally do a lot of reading before creating any piece, but now that the tool does a lot of the work for me, I feel like I’ll be going through much less content. It’s good for time management, but bad for general curiosity.

Why I recommend using both SWA and SCT tools

Here are the top reasons why I think both SWA and SCT are worth the investment:

  • SWA takes the hassle away from SEO-optimizing your copy.
  • The tool covers things beyond SEO, helping you create more user-friendly pieces. And user-friendliness, in turn, helps to boost your SEO.
  • The add-on helps to save time and resources. Previously, I had to do a lot of manual research learning about things SWA checks automatically – from keyword research to optimal text length.
  • SWA allows me to do a quick quality check on any piece that gets published – even if I didn’t write it.
  • The biggest upside is that you can finally focus on the creative side of the writing rather than constantly think of SEO.
  • SCT is invaluable for those who need to create actionable briefs and for helping you plan out your link-building strategy.

All in all, my experience with both tools, and especially the SEO Writing Assistant, has been nothing but valuable.

If you want to create content that has an impact, leave more time for the rest of your marketing activities and stop worrying about SEO compliance, these two tools have the power to make a difference.