Tools I always use for SEO writing

SEO writing is a type of content creation, where you write in a style that optimises it for search (making it ‘search-engine optimised’). There are now a profusion of SEO tools out there to help you improve the quality of your content and help it achieve a higher Google search rank. The SEO services, platforms and plugins check the quality of your piece, give it an SEO ranking, provide you with keyword suggestions and phrases related to your article topic, and even steer your future content strategy. Many SEO assistant tools offer similar services and it’s about finding which one works best for your website. In your toolkit, you will need a CMS plugin, a keyword generator, analytics information and a platform to manage your content.

This guide will focus on:

  • Yoast SEO
  • TextOptimizer
  • Google Console & Google Analytics
  • SEMrush

I’m going to keep updating this post as I start to work with different SEO tools.

A WordPress SEO writing real-time plugin

Yoast – SEO writing within WordPress

SEO writing with the help of the Yoast plugin

Yoast is brilliant for SEO writing. If you’re going to use Yoast as your main search engine optimization tool, I implore you to learn all you can about it in the Yoast SEO academy. If you don’t, it’s easy to miss out some of its neat features and not make the most out of the plugin. The academy covers WordPress for beginners, SEO copywriting, site structure, keyword research and a whole lot more. It’s good to dip into whatever level you’re at with SEO learning. I’ve used both free and premium versions of the plugin, so I’ll give a quick run down of each.

The free Yoast plugin can be quickly installed through the WordPress plugins section. Once you’ve activated it, it should appear beneath your text editor when you’re composing a post. Through the plugin, you can choose how your post will look in search and on social (Facebook and Twitter), and also indicate to search engines the type of content you’re creating. As you’re writing, Yoast rates your SEO and the readability of your article. Choose the focus key phrase you want to rank for, then keep checking in down on the plugin as you go along writing. I still write and edit first in Word before dropping into the WordPress content box. It’s then easy to make edits and improvements to the text based on the Yoast suggestions. I never trust my internet connection to hold out long enough for me to save the copy! Here is a screenshot of the free Yoast plugin from my digital content editor piece. I’m pleased with the results.

Yoast SEO writing analysis

The more you get used to SEO writing with a plugin, it becomes second nature to be always thinking about your keyphrase density, keyphrase synonyms, h2 and h3 headings and text length. You’ll find that the other green traffic lights on the screenshot are aspects you need to tinker with outside of composing the copy: for example, the meta title and description, image alt attributes and internal and outbound links. As for the red and yellow lights flagged, I feel I’ve been unjustly penalised. The ‘link keyphrase’ problem is flagging as red because I added jump-to links at the top of the page. I chose to ignore the ‘keyphrase not at the beginning of the title’ improvement because the SEO title ‘What is a Digital Content Editor?’ is the Google question I would like the article to rank for.

Yoast Premium builds on the features above. It costs $89 (£65) per year. With the Yoast free plugin, you can only select on keyword or phrase, whereas the paid-for version allows you to select multiple key terms for your article. It also helps you organise your content a whole lot better, pointing out pieces that are not easily accessible and encouraging internal linking. I’m also a big fan of its redirection manager that makes it super-easy to point users to away from 404s and towards your most suitable content on your website.

Another similar plugin in RankMath. It’s similar to Yoast SEO and is growing in popularity because it offers more free tools, including the option to select multiple keywords. It’s worth checking out both Yoast and RankMath but do be away you shouldn’t use both at the same time.

A tool to make your content-rich

Text Optimizer – for the keywords you missed

Text Optimizer (or for the French version) is a great tool for when you think you’ve got your copy perfect. Once you’ve published a post, copy the URL over to Text Optimizer and it will tell you how rich your content is in terms of keywords. Before using the tool, I would have answered ‘Yes, of course, my text is content-rich” but with an ‘insufficient’ score of 31%, there is certainly room for improvement. My digital content editor piece, despite scoring highly with Yoast, could be further optimised with the inclusion of these keywords in the screenshot below.

Text Optimizer SEO writing analysis

I went through the article again and received a score of 51%. While I do think Text Optimizer is a highly useful SEO writing tool, it’s still imperative that you’re not keyword and synonym stuffing so much so that you lose the original meaning of the text. It helped me to include relevant terms such as ‘high-quality content’, ‘blogging’ and ‘copywriting’. However, some terms that it suggested I include like ‘influencer’, ‘marketing strategy’ and ‘infographic’ add nothing of true value to an article about content editing.

Text Optimizer also provides data on what questions people are asking search engines. This is handy in giving your content direction. It shows the number of sites publishing answers to each question as well which can help you decide whether it’s worth you trying to compete for the first, second or third search ranking, or selecting a different question to write about.

The free version allows you to analyse text, as I’ve demonstrated above. This is sufficient if you already have a solid content strategy and are just looking for inspiration that will give your SEO writing an extra boost. It’s $60 (£45) a month for the paid version. You’re paying for Text Optimizer to guide you in your content creation. The fact that you can search through the millions of questions people are asking is invaluable for helping get your content at the top of the search engines of relevant customers or clients.

A tool to monitor and analyse your results

Google Console & Google Analytics – for planning and monitoring content

As an SEO writer, Google Search Console may not immediately be in your remit. While the tools above help you write content — through suggested topics and keywords — Google Search Console tells you the search terms that are actually bringing traffic to your site. The search terms you want to rank for and the keywords currently connected to your site can be wildly different. Knowledge of what users look for on your website can steer the direction of your content, as much as the ideal keywords and phrases suggested by TextOptimizer and SEMrush. It’s vital to know where you’re going but it’s also important to know where you’ve been. This is the main tool I use for deciding where to create new content or focus on updating and optimising older content.

Google Analytics is an essential tool and guide for tracking the performance of content to determine if you should improve or remove content or steer it in another direction. These Google tools go hand-in-hand in helping with content strategy and looking back at what to do with historical content. It can determine if your SEO writing should focus on improving old content or producing new content. The best part? They’re both free!

An all-in-one content platform

SEMrush – for a full content overview

I like SEMrush because it measures the strengths and weaknesses of your site. It captures all of your information in one place: authority score, organic search traffic, backlinks and keywords you rank for. It’s possible to compare site analytics with competitors, see what your competitors top pages are, and traffic journeys. If you’re looking for plenty of comparison data on competitors, SEMrush is certainly worth signing up for.

seo writing sem rush

In terms of SEO writing, the SEMrush platform provides semantically related words to include in your copy, a readability score and recommended text length. You can get these features for free by using a combination of the Yoast plugin and Text Optimizer. The major perk of SEMrush is its suggestions of where to acquire (roughly 15) backlinks. You can do topic research with the platform and get an SEO Writing Assistant add-on for WordPress, both of which will benefit your SEO writing.

seo writing sem rush

Is it worth paying for? Yes, if you’ve got an active website with a regular stream of traffic. It’s brilliant for SEO auditing, researching competitors and improving your website content as a whole. However, if your focus is on SEO writing or you’re just starting out, I don’t find it to be the most cost-effective option. While it’s a fantastic tool for SEO teams and executives, as an SEO writer, it’s easy to gather a lot of the data SEMrush offers through the other free versions of the tools I’ve mentioned above.

Is it worth paying for? SEMrush is $99 per month for the standard premium package. It’s pricey for a freelance SEO writer but if you’re got an active website with a regular stream of traffic, it’s definitely a valuable investment. It’s brilliant for SEO auditing, researching competitors and improving your website content as a whole. However, if your focus is on SEO writing or you’re just starting out, I don’t find it to be the most cost-effective option. While it’s a fantastic tool for SEO teams and executives, as an SEO writer, it’s easy to gather a lot of the data SEMrush offers through the other free versions of the tools I’ve mentioned above.

Similar tools to check out before signing up for SEMrush are Ahrefs and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. Ahrefs is more expensive at $179 for the standard package and Ubersuggest is the cheapest option on the SEO scene at $12 a month. I am going to explore both of these platforms in detail in another blog post soon.

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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