SEO Editing: How to Edit Content for SEO

Did you know that over 90% of articles don’t get any organic traffic from Google?

One way to greatly increase your chances of ranking and getting traffic is the process of SEO editing. 

In this article, we tell you what it is about and give you our 9 best tips for editing content for SEO.

What is SEO content editing?

SEO content editing is the process of reviewing an article to improve its quality for users and search engines. It is similar to regular content editing in improving the flow and readability of the content, but it also involves doing it with an understanding of search intent and semantic SEO.

Another important editing skill that is beneficial to SEO is copywriting. Making every sentence lead to the other creates higher engagement and improves conversions as well.

Content editing vs. content refresh

Content editing is done before publishing and has the goal of improving the whole article to match the desired level of quality. Content refresh, on the other hand, is done months after an article is published in order to improve its rankings.

Both can have a similar process, but content refreshes can also only be adding or replacing a section or updating outdated information.

Who should edit content for SEO?

The SEO editing should be done either by someone with both SEO and writing expertise (which is rare) or by the collaboration of a writer and an SEO. It is best to get a second pair of eyes for editing or separate the writing from the editing if you do both.

9 tips for editing content for SEO

1. Know the search intent and your audience

This is a prerequisite for quality SEO editing. The search intent is the ultimate motive behind the target keyword. Taking the time to understand the search intent can give you an enormous competitive SEO advantage.

In other words, it’s the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. If you can talk to some of them, even better.

With this understanding, the editing process becomes much easier since you’ll know right away what will resonate and what won’t.

2. Try to make the title tag stand out

The title tag is the most important element of the article. It’s a ranking factor and determines in big part if people click on your page.

A good title tag has the keyword in it (ideally at the beginning), it’s noticeable, and has an element of intrigue.

Brackets and parentheses can help you stand out (if others aren’t using them) but the best is to have something truly unique.

With that said, it’s best to have a simple and to-the-point title tag than using clickbait techniques.

The meta description is the extension of your title tag that can also be optimized. However, if you don’t have one Google will generate one for you based on your content. 

3. Make the article skimmable

Most people don’t read entire articles; they skim them – They’re looking for something specific or evaluating if the article is worth reading.

Make sure your header tags are easy to scan. It’s not necessary to have your keyword in each subheading. But each one should be relevant to the article title.

The first sentence of each paragraph should also be easy to scan. A good tool to help make your whole article easier to scan is the Hemminway app.

4. Let go of the fluff

Writers tend to add lots of unnecessary information when writing first drafts.

Fluff content removes credibility. Anything that doesn’t contribute to the article’s main goal should be removed. This can go from a word to an entire section.

Remove filler words like “very”, “always”, “just”, and “really” unless they are absolutely necessary.

A common issue after removing fluff content is that you end up with an article that is too short. It’s ok to have fewer words than your competitor if your article is more helpful. But it’s best to get the word count back up by adding more information where it makes sense.

Lastly, avoid using jargon or technical terms unless it fits with your audience.

5. Take advantage of featured snippets opportunities

Answers to questions are often opportunities for featured snippets.

Spot these opportunities and have summary answers in 40 to 55 words. The answer should be preceded by the question in a header or text.

These short answers should have a “Wikipedia” tone, using scientific words and synonyms.

List-post elements also have the opportunity to be featured snippets. For these, you just need to have your list in the same header tag (often H2 or H3).

6. Use a content optimization tool

If you use it right, a content optimization tool can lead to significantly more rankings and traffic. And save you time on topic and keyword research.

Many choose to use one in the editing process since writers tend to do keyword stuffing when using it while writing the article.

The danger with these tools is that people tend to prioritize their arbitrary score over integrating only the keywords you can add naturally.

Here are the 3 most popular optimization tools:

  1. Clearscope
  2. Marketmuse
  3. SurferSEO

Any of these can work. It’s best to choose one and take the time to learn how to use it.

No need to pay much attention to keyword density. But it’s best not to have high numbers of occurrences for terms over their recommended use.

7. Check for spelling and grammar

In the past, you would need a proofreader to correct spelling and grammar. But these days, tools like Grammarly makes this process much cheaper and easier.

The paid version of Grammarly is well worth it if you’re serious about your SEO.

8. Check the tone

A consistent tone helps create an emotional connection with your visitors. For the tone, it’s best to have guidelines to stay consistent and integrate it while the article is written to minimize editing work. 

For more on this topic, you can read 5 Steps to Nail Your Tone of Voice.

9. Add internal and external links

This is an important step often overlooked. There are 3 types of links you should be adding:

  1. Add internal links to your other related articles
  2. Find other of your articles to link from
  3. Add links to authoritative sources (avoid competitors)

For one and two, you can browse your blog categories to find relevant articles to link from (or link to). Or you can also do a “keyword” search to get a list of relevant pages.

Internal links search in Google

Closing thoughts

There more you do SEO editing, the more your judgment will improve and you’ll get pretty good at knowing when an article will perform or not.

Once you’re aware of its quality, you can keep working on the articles until they are at the required level.

But don’t overdo it or delay your publishing schedule. You can always come back later for a content refresh.