The other day, a client asked me how to outsource content writing for SEO purposes. I explained the various steps and enclosed a content writing template. I realized that this might be helpful to you, too.
The pagematch document helps me to map topics to specific pages on my client’s website. Sometimes, they have all the pages already that simply need to be refreshed, massaged or edited, or rewritten entirely to fit the matched topic.
But other times, we need to create new content from scratch. This is where I fill out a content order form that I send to content writers to whom I outsource.
Now, if my client is a good enough of a writer (or they prefer writing their own content), I still fill out the order template as a way of guiding them. It’s to suggest the kind of content I recommend for their blogs in order to achieve the traction they want, and the things I want the article to include.
More often than not, however, I will have the content reviewed and edited by SEO content editors. It’s not about diluting the content’s value by stuffing it with keywords. It’s about adding all the other elements that go into the article, such as tags, images, links, formatting, etc.
I’d rather have quality content that’s useful and relevant to the audience than SEO-driven content. As it should be with you, too.
Here’s a look at what I typically include in my content writing orders. Using “cosmetic surgery” as an example, an order form can look something like this:
- Tile (60 characters maximum): 5 things to consider when choosing a cosmetic surgery procedure
- Topic: cosmetic surgery
- Primary Keyword: cosmetic surgery procedure
- Secondary Keywords (comma separated): plastic surgery, cosmetic surgeon, plastic surgeon
- Links: anchor texts must include primary keyword in one of them.
- Inclusions: photo of a woman in her 50s looking in the mirror, contemplating doing something about her appearance.
- Size: 1,200 words
- Additional: include in content pricing considerations, doctor credentials, importance of before-and-after photos.
- Description (160 characters maximum): write meta-description and include primary keyword.
- Headers: include 2-5 H2 tags with secondary keywords, and add them where they make sense.
- The title is both the title tag and H1 HTML tag unless specified otherwise. Title tags are no more than 60 characters in length. Either I write the title for them or give the writer an idea of what I want as a title.
- The topic is the main topic of the article. Typically, it’s the core idea or theme (e.g., topical cluster or parent topic), which can sometimes be the blog category that the article will be filed under. But not always.
- The primary keyword was determined while doing research with my tools, either Ahrefs or SEM Rush. Using Rank Math plugin in WordPress, for example, it’s labeled as “Focused Keyword.” It’s also the word that the tool uses to measure its SEO score and offer suggestions for.
- The secondary keywords are variations of the primary keyword or keywords that fall within the same topical cluster. They could also be other non-related keywords but that support other posts, or keywords for creating context and internal links.
- Any links, either internal links to other blogs on the same website or external links to supporting documentation, articles, or related reading. A great tactic is, if you have an FAQ on your site, you can link to a question and answer regarding a term that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
- Inclusions are anything I want to be added to the article, such as images, embeds (video or audio), graphics, quotes, snippets, or scripts.
- Size of the article. Pretty self-explanatory.
- The additional section is anything else I want the writer to include, watch out for, or avoid in their article. For example, “Do not talk about [this] but be sure to describe [that].” (If the content is for a licensed professional, I’ll add critical instructions to avoid breaking any regulations or to respect any ethical boundaries.)
- The article description is meant for the HTML’s meta-description, which is up to a maximum of 160 characters. It’s also perfect to add as the article excerpt and content to be used when social sharing. Again, Rank Math offers this ability, where you can include the exact content you want to be used when readers share your post on social media.
- Any headers throughout the content, either written for them or instructions on what they should involve.
A final comment, and it’s related to the last point (#10). A really cool technique is to reverse engineer content that’s outranking you by using winning content as a way to add more content or to improve your existing posts.
Steve Toth, owner of SEO Notebook, describes this process as follows:
- Google the main keyword you want to rank for.
- Open the top ranking blogs and note their H1-H3s.
- Rephrase the headings/topics that you like.
- Write 200 words of copy for each new heading.
- Do this for 3-5 headings (creating a new 1,000-word post).
- Publish the post and submit it to the search engines.
Remember, earlier I said you can edit and refresh older articles to make them more palatable and SEO-friendly. Well, if you’re a bit more of an SEO geek, here’s a way to use Steve’s technique above but with existing content:
- Open up Google Search Console.
- Find a keyword with high clicks and impressions but not ranking well.
- Copy the link to your article that’s associated with those results.
- Google the keyword and look at the first 3-5 top-ranked search results.
- Visit them, and look at their H1, H2, and H3 tags. Note them somewhere.
- Compare them to the headings you already have in your article.
- Select 3-5 topics you haven’t covered that have decent search volume (either check them with your SEO tool or use your intuition).
- Go back to your article, rephrase and include the headings you’ve selected where they make sense.
- Write 200 words for each of those topics and make them H2s.
According to Steve, he used this technique by adding these new sections even at the bottom of the article, and it was quite effective in doubling traffic to existing content. If you want to use this technique, Steve has graciously offered a link to his Blog Accelerator Technique with more detailed instructions.