SEO content writing is so much more than just writing. You have to keep your audience in mind, your keyword, and once you write the content, you have to make sure it gets out there and does what it’s supposed to. So we’ve put together a list of terms to keep in mind while you’re writing to make the process a little easier. Some of them are practices you should be putting in place to create epic content, and others are tools to help you polish up that epic content.

Keyword Stuffing – Sure, you’re writing compelling content. You’ve got something to say, and you want your readers AND search engines to get it. This does not, under any circumstances, mean you should keyword stuff.

Example: If you’re writing about free SEO tools for WordPress, and you use the phrase “free SEO tools for WordPress” an excessive amount of times throughout your blog, you’re going to upset your readers first, and potentially search engines as well.

Research has shown that search engines are now picking up on synonyms and phrases that relate to certain keywords. So try to vary your phrasing: “free tools,” “SEO tools,” “plugins for WordPress,” whatever makes sense, so that you’re not driving your readers insane, because ultimately they’re the ones you have to convince.

Originality – If your content is nothing else, it should be original. There’s no point in copying information from other sites or other pages; duplicate content will only bore your readers, and earn you penalties from search engines. The best way to generate compelling content is to make it original, and unique to you. You might have to do some research for your blog or your content, but once you’ve done the research, put your sources away. You know the information, and it will be easier to write in your own words if you write from your own mind, rather than trying to paraphrase 15 other sources. Your content will be more fluid and contiguous if it only contains your voice, rather than a million other sites compiled into one.

Compelling – If you’re already writing content for SEO, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “compelling content.” It’s the current tagline for content that is interesting and engaging to readers, and even if it sounds like it’s being overused, your content should most definitely be compelling. Sometimes we get so caught up in optimizing content for search engines, that we forget actual people are supposed to be interested in our work too.

If you’re having problems determining the interest level of your content, imagine your mom, best friend, or significant other was reading it. Would they want to read it? Would they be interested? Would they keep reading? If not, you might want to consider a rewrite.

Power Words – Since we’ve established that we’re writing for humans as much as for search engines, we’ve got to clear up how to keep the humans interested. Today’s internet user doesn’t have a long attention span, and there’s enough content at their fingertips for them to quit a site after reading just one sentence. So, you might consider using power words to draw them in. What’s a power word you ask?

Simply put, it’s a word that adds spice, or power to your writing. Words like sharp, fervent, invigorating, plummet, jaw-dropping, scandalous, obnoxious, and blacklisted are power words. They create an image or provoke a feeling for the reader, which makes their experience with your content more delightful. You can use power words in emails, blogs, newsletters, whatever you like, because no one wants to read boring content anyways. Here’s a link to 317 power words you might incorporate into your content.

It is good to remember you don’t want to overuse power words either. If you use them too often, your audience will simply become numb, and the power words will lose all their power. Sprinkle them in sparingly to retain attention and remain compelling.

Thesaurus – For content writing, the thesaurus is your best friend. Sometimes you’ve used a word too many times, or you’re just stuck and can’t think of the word you’re looking for. This is where the thesaurus comes in handy. It will help you vary your word choice, which is another great way to keep people interested. Don’t worry too much about it hurting your rankings either. Search engines are getting better and better at recognizing synonyms, so as long as you’re keeping your keyword in mind, and placing it tastefully, you should be able to create content that’s interesting and still ranks well.

Spelling and Grammar – It might sound silly, but you have to have proper spelling and grammar to be a decent content writer. First of all, it’s a basic skill that any writer should have, and second of all, good grammar and spelling go a long way with your viewers. When people see something that is misspelled or grammatically incorrect, you lose authority almost immediately. So brush up on your “yours,” “theres,” and “its,” and run a simple spell check before you hit the publish button.

Proofread – As we just mentioned, spelling and grammar are seriously important, which means proofreading your content should be a top priority. Have someone read your content before you publish it. They’ll be able to catch little things you might’ve missed, and save you a lot of trouble later on. Proofreading is super easy, and it ensures you’re publishing professional content that people legitimately want to read.

No time to make someone else read it? Read it to yourself outloud. Reading out loud makes you slow down and look at every word, which means you’ll be able to catch any spelling errors, awkward sentences, or minor flaws.

2016 SEO checklist