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April 29, 2016

15 SEO Rules for Today’s Online Content Creator

If you want to succeed as a modern online content creator, it’s important to know a thing or two about good search engine optimization (SEO) practices.

SEO is the process of optimizing a website or content so that search engines and people can locate it and read it easier. The whole process of SEO has changed greatly since I stepped in, around 2011. (See my infographic timeline). For a writer, the rules of SEO are relatively simple. It revolves around good and natural writing skills. Back in 2011, I had to know things like calculating keyword density on every page I wrote. Today, it’s more about optimizing your headline, subheaders, and most importantly, writing well. Engaging headlines that are optimized for your reader matter more than stuffing them with keywords.

15 Guidelines for the SEO Writer

SEO involves many things and it can be a complex beast to tackle, but when it comes to writing SEO content, it’s fairly simple once you know the rules. These 15 guidelines are designed to help you win at SEO every time you sit down to type.

1. Do your research

A plane wouldn’t leave the runway without a designated flight plan and you shouldn’t start writing without first conducting ample, focused keyword research. Keyword research can help you determine which words you should be targeting and make you more visible to your audience.

2. Be descriptive

The “show don’t tell” spiel that was hammered into you by your Grade 6 English teacher has come back to haunt you after all. When writing SEO content, it’s important to be descriptive in everything you do. This includes your headlines, metas, body content and CTAs. What is the text about? What will it do for your audience? Why should they read it? What will they get for clicking on this button or that link? Make it all clear and you’re bound to have better conversions and more traffic.

3. Don’t duplicate

Duplicate content is dangerous for the SEO writer and when two pages look too much alike, Google removes one of them from the indexes. To avoid this, follow Google’s best practices and focus on high-quality, original content first, and then use canonical link elements to avoid duplicative content problems wherever they may arise.

4. Don’t stuff your content

Keyword stuffing is one of the cardinal sins of SEO and, if you don’t avoid it, it can kill your ranking. As a general rule, keyword density should be no more than three percent within your content. Once you’ve determined your target keywords and phrases, they should appear in your header if they can do so naturally, in the subheaders, and throughout the body content several times. This keeps your keywords feeling natural and prevents you from being dinged by the Google Gods.

5. Write great metas

The purpose of metas is to help search engine crawlers determine what the page is about. Therefore, the 150 character-long meta description may well be one of the most important pieces of your content. To write great metas, make them descriptive, persuasive and interesting. By doing this, you’ll ensure ample click-throughs and attention from readers.

6. Make your titles irresistible

Approximately five times as many people read your headline as read your body content. That said, headlines are the single most important piece of content you’ll write. A great headline does two things: it supplies information and it helps people decide if they should read or not. To make them great, headlines must be unique, specific, urgent and useful.

7. Don’t spam anyone

Nobody likes spam and if you head to forums or blog comments and create unnatural link profiles, you’re going to find yourself in a version of SEO purgatory. If you want to earn yourself links and views, get out there and interact from a point of genuine interest rather than spammy sneakiness. This means reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, asking and answering questions on sites like Quora, and getting involved in niche-specific communities. Although it won’t earn you online fame overnight, this approach is much more sustainable than spamming people with links to your site.

Quora Screenshot

8. Write original content

People come to the Internet looking for answers and information and if all you do is provide them with a regurgitated version of someone else’s content, you’re not going to stand out from the crowd. With this in mind, focus on writing original content in your unique voice. What are you an expert at? What can you offer your visitors that nobody else can? Original content goes much further than the simple “don’t copy content” commandment; it also means being uniquely you in everything you write.

9. Post often

If users get to your site only to find out that it hasn’t been updated in six months, they’re going to click “back” immediately. Posting often can help you avoid this. Don’t kill yourself by posting every single day – simply set a realistic goal that you can adhere to and make an effort to update all of your social channels at least once a week. This keeps content fresh and users interested.

10. Incorporate quality links

One of the most important factors for SEO ranking is links. Google wants to see that you’re getting your information from high-quality sources. When writing your online content, focus on linking to industry leaders and well-known publications. If you need help determining what’s a quality link and what isn’t, download the MozBar to your browser and only link to things with a DA score of 50 or higher.

Download MozBar Screenshot

11. Vary your content

Would you want to eat the same thing for dinner every night? No! And your readers don’t want the same type of content over and over again. Your common denominator should be originality and value, but beyond that you should experiment with content types like blogs, videos, podcasts, memes, infographics, and Q&A sessions. This keeps your content interesting and helps you reach a wide variety of users.

12. Earn quality backlinks

Just like the links you use are important for SEO, so are the links that use you. Earning high-quality back-links is a process, and it often involves steps like offering guest posts, interacting with thought leaders in your industry, or offering to review a product. By writing high-quality content and reaching out to other SEO writers, you’ll begin to build quality backlinks in no time.

13. Pay attention to your site

When it comes to getting good at SEO, your content matters, but your site does as well. To make sure that you’re not missing rankings for silly reasons, ensure that your site is coded correctly, easy to navigate, loads quickly, and is visually appealing. Google hates sloppy sites and yours will be down-ranked if it fits the bill.

14. Use sitemaps

Want to make your site easier to navigate without a whole lot of effort? Install a sitemap. A sitemap is a Google plugin that creates a full list of all of your posts, pages, or archives. This sitemap then automatically submits the list to search engines like Google and Bing without you having to do anything. This makes your page easier for search engines to index and helps you be more visible online.

15. Beef up your social media platforms

As it stands now, Google is beginning to look at social media as an indicator of a site’s authority, relevance and value. This means that if your article has thousands of shares on Facebook or hundreds of re-tweets, that it’s probably pretty valuable. With this in mind, it’s important to beef up your social media profiles. This means ensuring all information within them is current, interacting with content, posting fresh content often, and getting verified accounts where you can. While it may seem simple, a solid social media strategy can help you stand out from the crowd.


In the modern world of SEO, it’s important to have good rules to write by. Incorporate engaging writing skills, optimize whenever you write as naturally as you can, and create content with your audience primarily in mind (not your keywords). Good writing is essential and the No. 1 skill when it comes to SEO content.


Julia McCoy is the founder of Express Writers, a serial content marketer, and bestselling author. A dedicated self-starter since an early age, by age 13, she'd written a 200-page book and taught herself Internet marketing. At 19, Julia dropped out of college and a nursing degree to follow her passion, teach herself online writing, and start her agency. Within two years, Express Writers grew by 400 percent, and today, Julia’s agency serves more than 5,000 clients. Julia is a bestselling author, the creator of The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course, host of the Write Podcast and Twitter Chat #ContentWritingChat. She just published her second bestseller, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, November 2017.

29 Responses to “15 SEO Rules for Today’s Online Content Creator

    avatar baterias-pc says:

    Thanks for sharing , it is very helpful

    avatar SHAREit says:

    SEO is changing the way we are going to rank our websites in future. We always know that it works very well in terms of long term goal now a days.

    avatar Ramsay says:

    Thanks so much for including my article in this one. Really good write up. Will share on Twitter.


    avatar Peter says:

    SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engines.
    Thanks for sharing helpful post

    avatar radhaa says:

    nice write up. Helps me a lot..

    avatar Aslam Khan says:

    Thank you sir, this is a Fantastic content. Thanks for discussing with us. I understand many factors from this content.

    Howdy! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you’ve got here on this post. I’ll be returning to your website for more soon.

    avatar العاب says:

    Thank you very much Julia, you really described the topic very clear and in detail 🙂 I will follow your guide to improve my SEO 🙂

    seo is the best way to improve online business , and this 15 Guidelines is very importent for that .

    I Think some of Tips all most SEO are following but nice to get more information from you.
    Sagar Ganatra

    avatar Kim Deppe says:

    Excellent article and I plan to violate rule #8 by sharing it liberally with my clients and colleagues!

    avatar SEOTemplate says:

    Realistic information for ethical SEO practice. I think the SEO world is rather making more sense than it use to in the past. Content should remain the King!

    avatar Neha says:

    Nowadays its getting hard to rank on google. New website needs lots of things correct before getting into first page.

    Quara answers really help. It is a great way for getting in touch with others. Thanks for the great tips.

    avatar cg says:

    Wow wonderful article. Really informative. Very well written and thanks for sharing.

    You’re my hero Ms. McCoy….. I find this a most helpful and timely plan for skilled, sensible SEO. I am quite new to SEO and am trying to get several WP blogs going while paying attention to proper SEO for same. This is as close to a step by step guide as one could wish. Thanks…

    avatar delizard says:

    Hi, thanks, nice article!
    A little question about it: you think that 250/300 characters articles are still important and relevant for organic search. or it’s necessary to write more long blogpost?
    thank you, bye!

    Great checklist for bloggers. Content writing is the #1 strategy for SEO in my opinion. Without it you don’t have a chance in the SERP’s.

    Thanks for this really great and amazing post man.

    avatar SnapTube says:

    And the best thing which we all want to know is also given here man, its good to know this.

    avatar Aventura12 says:

    Thanks for sharing a great information about the content creator. Main and only one things which is very important, which is fresh and uniqueness. Always use fresh and unique content and easily readable and understand.

    avatar SEO Learner says:

    I really like the topics you discussed in the article. As SEO professionals we really need to focus on the ethical side the industry which is becoming very important day by day. The worst thing is when we create contents for a search BOT instead the human users. Thanks again

    Thanks for sharing a great information about the content creator. Main and only one things which is very important

    And I know that this post is great and amazing also.

    avatar Hammad says:

    9 out of 10 times people give you seo strategies but No one gives you content writing strategy !
    Hats off to you Man !

    The way SEO is being practiced this today, I bet you writers are sure to get back to their desks.
    It is more refined than the content spinning software’s used to trick google.

    avatar Sam Schnider says:

    Very useful information we will implement all of this information on our website. Thanks for sharing the information.

    avatar bigboss10 says:

    Really good write up. Will share on Twitter.

    avatar mawra says:

    website Seo include many of these factors but I heard about Twitter is also a main factor in Seo ! is that True ?

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