What Is SEO Content? A Guide to Creating Content for SEO


If you’re relatively new to the world of search marketing, you may have heard the term “SEO content” being thrown around in marketing meetings.

The beginner's guide to creating content for SEO

This beginner’s guide is designed to answer three questions:

  1. What is “SEO content”?
  2. What types of SEO content are there?
  3. What is my SEO content strategy?

If you have any questions about strategies for SEO content creation that I don’t answer here, let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them here or in a future blog post.

Let’s get started!

What Is SEO Content?

To understand what marketers mean by SEO content, it’s helpful to break down the phrase into its component parts:

  • “SEO” refers to search engine optimization, or the process of optimizing a website so that people can easily find it via search engines like Google.
  • By “content,” we mean any information that lives on the web and can be consumed on the web (more on the various types of content below).

So, putting these two concepts together: SEO content is any content created with the goal of attracting search engine traffic.

I’m not going to tell you everything you need to know about optimizing your content for search engines here; that’s a whole ‘nother guide. But here’s a super-quick refresher on what you’ll need to do in order to SEO your web content:

  • Keyword Research: If you want to generate traffic through search, it’s best to do keyword research before you start writing. This way, you can focus on keywords for which a certain amount of search volume already exists – in other words, write toward topics that people are already searching for information about.
  • Keyword Optimization: Know where and how to use keywords in your content for maximum searchability. (SEOMoz offers a great guide to on-page optimization.)
  • Content Organization: The content on your site should be organized in a logical way. This is not only good for SEO, it also helps visitors on your site find other related content easily. (The longer they stay on your site, the better.)
  • Content Promotion: Increase visibility to new content you create by sharing it on social networks and building links to your content (both internally and from external sites).

SEO Keyword Tool

A keyword research tool like the Keyword Niche Finder will help you identify specific topics to target in your SEO content.

A Quick Word on Intentions

It’s important to keep in mind that if search engine traffic is your only goal, your results will probably suffer. In order to please both the search engines (who will reward you with high rankings over time) and potential customers and return visitors, you need to offer value above and beyond search engine optimization. In other words, don’t produce “thin” content that ranks and get clicks, but doesn’t provide any additional value to the search engine user. Sites that promote “thin,” low-value content run the risk of being penalized by Google; they also tend to have high bounce rates and low conversion rates.

Types of SEO Content

SEO content can include any of the following:

  • Product Pages – These are the bread and butter of any retail e-commerce site. A good product page can serve as both SEO content and a PPC landing page.

  • Blog Posts – A blog is one of the easiest ways to create a regular stream of SEO content. In general, blog posts are more engaging and more likely to attract links than product pages, so they can be a great way to build some authority for your site. (Keep in mind that blogs are very flexible, and you can use them to host any of the below types of content in this list.)

  • Articles – Think news article, interview, or feature piece. This is the main kind of content you’ll find on most newspaper- or magazine-style websites.

  • Lists – A list is really just a kind of article, but framing it as a list (such as “10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill” or “101 Things I Hate About Google”) makes it easier to scan. These types of titles also seem to be more clickable when found in search results or in social media feeds.

  • Guides – A guide is a longer piece of content that explains in detail how to do something. (Guides are often broken up onto multiple web pages, though it’s a best practice to allow users to view long content as a single page if they wish.) You can post a full guide on your website, or you can post a summary or excerpt, requiring visitors to fill out a registration form to read the full guide. This can be a good way to generate leads, but keep in mind that putting up a registration wall will likely reduce the amount of SEO traffic you can drive to that guide.

  • Videos – In general there are fewer videos on the web than pages of text; consequently, it can be easier to rank on the first page for a competitive keyword by creating a video instead of an article. Depending on what type of site or business you run, videos can be a great way to attract and reach an audience. Consider creating video tutorials of how to use your products. Or illustrate a process that is related to your business – for example, a plumber could make a video showing how to unclog a sink. (A note on SEO: You might consider including a text transcript of your video. Here are some additional tips for optimizing videos.)

  • InfographicsInfographics, or large-format images that contain a lot of data (often in the form of graphs or charts) on a single subject, can rack up a lot of page views and links. However, because so much of the content is embedded in the image and therefore not readable as text by search engines, it’s important to carefully optimize the rest of the page. You can use one of these five free infographic templates to get started.

  • Slideshows – A slideshow is a way to display a series of related images. Sometimes pictures are more important than text – say you’re trying to show what all the stars wore to the Oscars. Here again, SEO of your title, captions, image file names and so on is important because there is less for the search engines to “read.”

  • Glossaries – I swear more people use Google to look up terms than they use a dictionary. (Do you even know where your dictionary is?) If you work in a specialized industry, a well built-out glossary can be a good way to capture some search traffic. Think cooking terms, medical terms, fashion terms, architectural terms …

  • Directories – A directory is a useful taxonomy of links to sites or resources around a given topic. For example, a perfume blog might create a directory of places to buy perfume, from major department stores to independent shops around the country.

These are just some of the basic types of SEO content, but don’t let this list limit you – the possibilities are virtually endless.

How to Develop an SEO Content Strategy

If you’ve been producing content in a haphazard manner, hoping and praying that some of it eventually ranks, it’s time to buckle down and commit to a more methodical SEO content strategy for the web.

Here are four steps to defining and refining your SEO content strategy:

Define your goals

First, determine your goals as a website or business. Are you looking to drive sales through your website? Do you monetize your site via ads and therefore just want to increase traffic and return readership? Your goals will determine what types of content you should focus on.

Slick, glossy online product page for razors

A great example of a minimal, yet sleek and elegant, product page

If you’re primarily trying to drive product sales, your primary focus should be attractive, informative product pages that are optimized for both search and conversions. Your secondary focus could be helpful blog content that illustrates when and how to use your products, linking to those pages where relevant (it’s best if your blog is not entirely self-promotional, though).

If your site operates on an advertising model and the goal is to attract new readers through search, you’ll want to focus on rich content (such as long-form articles or video resources that are informative, entertaining or both) with “stickiness” (“sticky” content keeps visitors on your site longer or encourages them to return).

Consider your audience

Know your audience – surveys and your analytics software can help you get a better picture of your typical visitor or client. Consider developing marketing personas, or characters that represent your ideal site visitors and customers. Then think about what kinds of content those personas would be looking for.

Buyer personas concept

For example, if you operate a B2B website that targets C-level executives, you might want to create high-level white papers that can be downloaded and saved to read later.

If your business targets teens and tweens, you might want to focus on frequent updates with less text and more images and video. You’ll also want to be sure your site is optimized for mobile usage.

Create an editorial calendar

Once you have an idea of who you are targeting and why, you can start to build out an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a schedule that dictates when you will publish new content and what type of content it will be. This will help you stick to a regular schedule (it’s especially important to create new content on a regular basis if you have a blog), as well as prevent you from scrambling to come up with a topic for new content at the last minute.

A few tips for creating and adhering to an editorial calendar:

  • Use Outlook (or Google Calendar) – Share the editorial calendar with your whole marketing team. Set up reminders for authors so they get a notification when a deadline is coming up.
  • Consider creating ongoing features – For example, a food blog might do a meatless recipe every Monday. Many blogs do link roundups once per week (including this one). Create a category page for each ongoing feature, so visitors can find all of your Meatless Monday recipes or link roundups in one place.
  • Give yourself plenty of lead time when producing more complicated types of content, such as videos and infographics. These often need multiple rounds of edits to perfect and can be more complicated to optimize for search.
  • Don’t plan too far out in advance – Calendars often get derailed after a month or two, due to changes in marketing goals, budgets, or staff, so don’t try to plan out a schedule for the next year and risk wasting a lot of time and effort.

Analyze and re-assess

Finally, stay on top of your site’s analytics. Regularly analyze your SEO content to see what’s working and what isn’t. Good measures of success and engagement include page views, links, comments (on blog posts and some other types of content), social shares (Facebook likes, tweets, etc.), and conversion rates. Your analysis should have two goals:

  • Study your successes so you can repeat those strategies – Look for patterns. Does your audience love videos? Then make more videos! Adjust your editorial calendar going forward so you can focus more time and effort on the content types that really resonate.
  • Carve out time for updating and improving older SEO content – If you tried to optimize an article for a certain keyword, but it’s getting more traffic for a different variation of that keyword, then go back in and re-optimize it for the new keyword. You might be able to significantly increase traffic by putting that keyword in the title, for example.

There you have it – SEO Content 101. As mentioned above, please let me know in the comments if you have other questions about creating and optimizing content for SEO.

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Jan 18, 2012

Nice article.Content is one of the main aspect SEO.Good quality and fresh content is very useful to generate more traffic.

Aug 06, 2012

This is amazing article about SEO content.Keep your writing, I'll back for next update.

Zain Munawari
Jan 20, 2012

Wow, this awesome. Always wanted to learn about SEO Content and this article gives out the right insight. Thanks for posting! :-)

Nick Stamoulis
Jan 20, 2012

Content creation and distribution is essential for SEO.  Content is about much more than what's on your website.  It's necessary to build your online real estate and create content that will improve visibility across the web.  An SEO campaign without content is severely limited. 

Michael Cordova
Mar 31, 2016

Especially since Google's announcement that content is (currently) one of its top 3 ranking factors. Even if Google didn't exist, quality content would be important.

Amie Marse
Jan 24, 2012

Hey there :)Found this on B2Community but I didn't see a profile on there so I wanted to make sure you saw my thanks!This is so insanely comprehensive, thanks for the hard work :) I wish more people pushed the assessment. I can't tell you (I'm sure you know) how many people work crazy hard but never check stats. Kudos :)

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 24, 2012

Thanks, Amie!

Feb 05, 2012

Thanks for Sharing

Ozio Media
Feb 15, 2012

This is an excellent piece for Internet marketers who are at a more novice level, with enough information to make it interesting for more experienced marketers as well. The how-to part is especially informative, and points out not only how much is involved in doing SEO content right, but the importance of making sure that key role is being filled by someone with know-how and experience. So much on the web is done by trial and error, and this is an area where a mistake can be difficult to recover from.

Aug 12, 2012

I think the most basic definition of SEO has become; The process of building a websites reputation to place on top positions of competitive keyword phrases. SEO has come a long way since the first Search Engine. Before search engines ranked on content and information. Now it has become a fight for popularity and reputation. Keep up the good information. I look forward to reading more!

Joeal Manimtim
Sep 11, 2012

Hi Elisa, This is excellent! People don't focus enough on the value of their content these days.It's the only reason why people visit your site. Content should be everyones priority.Cheers! 

Sep 26, 2012

Its a great article, you have written a nice content.This post is helpful for me.Thank you very much

Oct 29, 2012

Elisa,It  has become obvious that content is king when it comes to SEO. I believe infographics will be my next goal.  Thanks for the info

Article Rewriter
Nov 27, 2012

This is a good article, lots of good information to chew over here. I've tried rewriting old PLR articles with varying degrees of success.

Feb 04, 2013

Elisa,Thanks for the great information. I read through and started looking at my blog and realized that I really did not take into concideration any keyword research at all. I am going to start reparing that now but let me ask you. My average article is about 500 to 700ish words is that enough or should I write more? Thanks for your time I appreciate this was a well written article that I found very useful. Thanks Again SammyK :)

Elisa Gabbert
Feb 04, 2013

That might be enough as an average. But don't be afraid to go longer if the topic/keyword demands it!

Fadi Seeman
Mar 21, 2013

Yeah! In oder to have a success in SEO you should have a content that rocks.

SEO Tips
Mar 25, 2013

Elisa,It  is true that content is king when it comes to SEO. I believe infographics will be my next goal.  Thanks for the information. 

guerilla marketing
May 13, 2013

Great little article! Giving the basics of SEO in an incredibly light and informative way. Very easy to read and understand thank you for your help!

Sep 29, 2013

Hi Elisa!Thanks for the post!Do websites like Mashable have a SEO strategy? Rephrasing my question, if my articles have nothing to do with keywords and are more of a feature kind, how could it be SEO-ed?. Thanks in advance.Yoosuf

du hoc nhat ban
Oct 15, 2013

Content no 1, i did it ;) It  is true that content is king when it comes to SEO. I believe infographics will be my next goal.  Thanks for the information.

CD Calkins
Nov 07, 2013

I'm looking for a content writer for blog if anyone is interested....

Nov 20, 2013

Excellent post on seo content, Content is the 'King' of SEO, thanks for sharing keep updating on latest trends of seo content marketing. Thanks u. 

Mar 23, 2014

yeah, it's true for effective seo we should have great relaveant content. thnks for your great post.

Rakesh Desai
May 01, 2014

This has been an amazing content I have ever read. Its completely an thought-provoking information about basics of SEO and its importance. Thanks for sharing, as its been a effective guide for me as I am new to this industry and it helped me a lot with my queries & confusions.

May 26, 2014

If you are going to continue in this line of work, might I suggest you take a course in grammer first and foremost. 

Aug 18, 2016


Arvind Pandit
Dec 05, 2016

Please let me know if you're looking for a author for your weblog.
You have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset.

If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd really like to write some material
for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.

Please send me an email if interested. Thank you!

billig webhotell
Jan 06, 2015

Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment
(it was extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing.
Do you have any tips for first-time blog writers?
I'd really appreciate it.

Spook SEO
May 16, 2014

We know that content is king. If you've got a unique, high quality, and SEO-friendly content that will be use in marketing your products/services online, for sure you can drive more traffic to your website and boost your search engine rankings.

Jul 02, 2014

This information was useful to someone who has interest to write SEO content.

Jul 31, 2014

Please if you have a sample of the article you have designed please help see it because am new in,the industry

Jul 10, 2014

To get 3,000 to 4,000 unique visitor per day the matter is good quality content. Each of my blog post get 1,000 to 3,000 natural links. Find professional writer is the best method and justin thosoju on the facebook is the good writer.

dunia remaja
Jul 24, 2014

Thank you for sharing your knowledge..it is very useful for me who still need guidance..

Aug 12, 2014

well..informative blog..I am plannign to rewrite content for one of my websites.I would like to ask about keyword density. please guide for the same..thanks in advance ..  

Sep 23, 2014

Thanks for the input. This article made me understand what SEO means, I wish to have a blog soon.

Parvinder Rathore
Oct 14, 2014

Coolest article ever !! Nicely written and explained. Though I have taken some idea from it and written it in my own words. I hope you don’t mind and will love it :)  

Sep 21, 2016

I'm amazed, We have to admit. Seldom will i run into a blog that's both educative and interesting, and undeniably, you've hit the nail about the head.

The issue is something that insufficient people are speaking intelligently about.
I am thrilled I came across this during my seek out something regarding this.

Nov 04, 2014

Optimizing website according to the search engines is one of the essential things to promote business online. You shared very interesting information out there. Keep posting such impressive information.

Nov 08, 2014

These tips are very useful and everyone should keep in mind these things while writing a great blog post. These things will make the post more informative and will bring more traffic. Thanks for sharing.  :)

Nov 03, 2015

Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one!

It's on a totally different topic but it has
pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

Roderica B. Tolomia
Nov 14, 2014

Hi Elsa, This article is indeed comprenhensive and informative.  I have found it very helpful for groping new oDesk contractors like me. SEO Marketing has been presented as a basic skill in writing.  I hope you can share some articles and guidelines. Thank you so much!

SEO Marketing
Apr 23, 2015

Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you, However I
am having problems with your RSS. I don't understand the reason why I can't
join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS problems?

Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond?

Duncan Randall
Nov 18, 2014

Hello Elisa,Finally you have problematic questions. Now I can be able to write more great for my clients, informative, SEO optimized and blogs that can drive targeted traffic. Thanks for this information. It’s a GREAT POST.

Ron Babich
Jan 19, 2015

Great article. Good job making it simple for everyone

seo help bd
Feb 16, 2015

Really nice post.

Desoki Abozed
Mar 30, 2015

Finally you have problematic questions. Now I can be able to write more great for my clients, informative, SEO optimized and blogs that can drive targeted traffic. Thanks for this information. It’s a GREAT POST.

Apr 03, 2015

Thank you for your very nice article, do not forget to read my articles also

May 21, 2015

Thank you for your very informative article. For me Content is still the King.

May 28, 2015

Nice way to introduce to SEO content. It is quite interesting and will be look for updates.