- What are SEO content tools?
For publishers, SEO content tools are a set of text-focused tools that will help editors and writers craft better content. Regardless of your own business goals, a better blog post means an article the reader will learn from. However, and we all know it, we do write for people, but for search engines too.
The best SEO content writing tools allow you to know that your blog posts are going to be understood and seen as meaty by search engine algorithms. Indeed, in order to be successful a brand that uses organic search needs:
- Hand-picked keyword universe
- Thorough research for the terms
- Blog posts for these specific keywords
- Search engines to notice their greatness
- Readers to come in and learn
- Conversions (sales, opt-ins, etc.)
Throughout this journey, tools will come in handy at every stage. The idea behind any content writing software for SEO is to save you time. It’s the same idea behind computers.
“Let’s do what a human being does, a thousand times faster, with a lot more input data, and therefore a similar or better accuracy.”
SEO content tools are different pieces of software used by editorial teams to help show expertise over the keywords covered in order to rank higher on search engines. The goal of such content writing tools is to increase the quality and topical relevance of their published content using various optimization strategies.
For instance, tools can help writers find co-occurring terms or LSI keywords that are often found in content that discuss their target keyword. Or, editors can add questions people ask for in the article’s outline to enhance their appearance on Featured Snippets.
Most SEO content tools excel at different tasks. Some will find related keywords and concepts (topicseed), others simply score your blog post based on a target keyword (Yoast SEO), and so on. Content marketers tend to use several tools so they have each stage of their editorial pipeline covered and enhanced through software.
Content writing tools for SEO can be used during the research phase, as well as during the actual writing and editing of the article. There is a plethora of tools available –free and paying– and each will help you perform a few tasks better, faster.
Sorry, no SEO tool, so far, will write blog posts for you. Natural language generation is not ready at all for everyday use cases. However, many tools will assist you in discovering keyword clusters around a target term, enrich your content with questions, as well as scoring how readable your text is. All of these are inputs used by search engines to rank your content.
We’ve gathered and described the main tasks that SEO writing tools perform today. Most tools will do a few of them well, but no tool has it all covered for now.
The most important task content marketers require from SEO content tools is analyzing a piece of content. It can be your own, a competitor’s blog post, or a text used during the research phase.
The goal of a content analysis depends on the user performing it. You may want to visualize, very quickly, what keywords are used on a group of blog posts from a competitor. Or, you may want to build a list of co-occurring keywords from a Wikipedia page.
Regardless of the use case, analyzing textual content is hard but so precious. Reading a blog post can take up so much time, let alone reading thirty. Imagine adding a bar next to a keyword every time you find it in a blog post. A nightmare, right? Therefore, SEO content analysis is what marketers need help with the most.
A core subtask of content analysis is to assess a blog post’s on-page SEO. This is done before or after it’s published and helps you see improvements to make to craft an SEO-friendly article.
Generally, the tool has a list of hard-coded rules and a number of points associated with it. Each rule is tested against the article and then scored. Finally, the tool computes the final score and highlights what should be improved.
Manually, this would take you a while every time. There are dozens of rules (keyword density, distribution, heading optimization, meta tags, etc). An on-page SEO tool takes a second to do it all.
Content writers perform content research to prepare for the article writing phase. They brainstorm ideas, see what other articles cover, and research competitors, too.
In the end, after a thorough research phase, you should have a list of:
- essential takeaways
- supporting keywords
- questions people ask
- common headings
The second phase of content research, after gathering loads of information, is to structure it into an outline. Lists are a starting point. They are not structured enough to be the be-all and end-all. However, once you have these, you pretty much have most of your content’s subject matters ready to be pieced together, in a structured and readable fashion. Generally, in a clear outline within a content brief.
Analyzing competitors’ blog posts is a great way to outrank them. For instance, look at the top 30 pages on Google for your target keyword. Then, read each article and summarize all 30 of them to outwrite and outsmart competitors with much better content (e.g. pillar pages, 10x content, etc).
Let me highlight that auditing a competitor’s SEO content strategy is not copying them. You will lose at this game since you are always chasing their tail.
However, most keywords already have articles about them so seeing what the top-ranking ones use as supporting terms, headings, and on-page signals can only help you craft a better performing blog post.
Most text analyzers like to provide content scores – which are easy and appealing yet very obscure. We do not particularly recommend content scorers. They are quite efficient at marketing themselves, yet very finicky in terms of actual algorithmic achievements.
Content scoring tools are not all bad but the conclusion is, if all they offer is a score, give these a pass. What you want is raw data that you can draw your own conclusions from. Now, if they offer a score and tabular/raw data alongside, great!
Perhaps the largest category in SEO content tasks is researching topics and keywords. This is somewhat of a science and an Art. Keywords should be competitive enough to be worth the effort, but not too competitive to remain realistic. Keywords should be clustered together and tiered:
- primary keywords are the ones you want the article to rank for
- secondary keywords are supporting the primary ones by showing comprehensive topic coverage
- tertiary keywords are used to show the breadth of topic and have little impact in actual rankings
While you generally know your primary topics before writing the article (i.e. target keyword(s)), secondary and tertiary ones are little more delicate.
“Document ranking using word relationships” is a patent by Google that allowed the entire SEO community to understand what the future is made of. Basically, search engines now understand how well a document (e.g. a blog post) covers a primary keyword by the company this keyword keeps (e.g other common keywords in the same article).
that allowed the entire SEO community to understand what the future is made of. Basically, search engines now understand how well a document (e.g. a blog post) covers a primary keyword by the company this keyword keeps (e.g other common keywords in the same article).
For instance, a search engine crawls a web page, detects the main keyword(s), and then checks its own knowledge base to find what other words often appear with these main keywords. Then, it judges how comprehensive the web page is.
Bottom line, as an SEO content writer you must absolutely compile a long list of secondary keywords, also called LSI keywords, supporting keywords, or even co-occurring keywords.
Sometimes, these keywords are not even similar to your keywords. An article about
coffee most likely has
tea in its content. But generally, supporting keywords are common sense once you list them (e.g. for SEO you would expect
keywords, in the article).
The only way for SEO content tools to come up with accurate and smart keyword suggestions is to crawl a lot of data. There is no way around this. Therefore, such tools tend to either be free and inaccurate, or paying and accurate. Each tool has its own information retrieval algorithms to come up with the right supporting terms (e.g. n-gram frequency, syntactic analysis, LSI graph, etc).
Search engines pay attention to the shape of your content, too. A lot of people put all their effort into content depth and going in as many details as possible. Yet, for a user to learn, they need to actually read the page they just landed on.
The readability of a blog post is based on a lot of factors:
- article length
- page loading speed
- section breakdown
- grammar and syntax
- sentence length
- paragraph length
- transition words
- headings and subheadings
There is obviously more to this list. In fact, just think of what makes you click on a Google result and then close the tab without reading much.
Some articles may be super in-depth and informative but they simply are too blocky to be digestible. We’ve all seen these huge blobs of text without subheadings, formatting, or even illustrations.
A lot of SEO content writing tools have specific rules to check any article against. Here again, they will compute a score and inform you of what must be changed. Most of them follow the Flesch–Kincaid tests to assess how readable a blog post is.
A rare task performed by content writing tools for SEO is the discovery of content gaps between pages. You generally use such a feature to see what keywords your competition is using than you are not.
Tools rarely embed this feature due to the computing power and engineering it requires to compare two or more documents. It’s not an easy task simply because words with similar meanings differ a lot (
coffee… should this be considered the same, or not?)
Natural language is so complex for a machine. Subtleties aren’t always clear so most tools prefer to avoid content gap discovery altogether. Those who have it aren’t very accurate unless they use modern machine learning and powerful algorithms – but they then cannot be free to use! We power such algorithms at topicseed, and it’s indeed expensive to run but at least you can accurate results.
The best SEO content tools include Yoast SEO, topicseed, Keyword Planner, Grammarly, and Moz Keyword Explorer. They are good value for the money spent, and the data is accurate.
Nearly all WordPress websites have Yoast SEO installed. It is a free tool (with a premium membership available) to help you write better articles directly in WordPress. Yoast focuses on on-page SEO signals as well as readability.
Yoast SEO’s engine, in its current and latest version, has advanced content assessments with open source specifications. Meaning, there is nothing mysterious about it. If you just want the result, you can. If you want to know what’s under the hood, you can too.
Shameless plug – topicseed is our own suite of SEO content tools for editorial teams, agencies, and freelancers. We help you analyze any blog post in depth: keywords, clusters, topics, entities, syntax patterns, data visualizations, sentiment analysis, and a lot more. You can improve your own content, or dissect high-performing articles from direct competitors.
Additionally, for any given keyword, we offer you a list of questions people ask as well as lists of supporting keywords (i.e. co-occurrences and LSI keywords) straight from our topicgraph.
Using topicseed, you can analyze collections of documents to see what terms occur the most often, or occur is the most across documents. Finally, you are able to discover content gaps between two or more pages. This is great for existing content that is underperforming.
The most popular keyword tool but a tad messy. It gives so many options, often far-fetched, that it somewhat lost its appeal to many SEO experts and marketers around the world.
However, considering its free price tag and the fact that it’s a Google product, we should all use it at some point. Perhaps not every day, but it’s a good tool to build decent keyword clusters or strategize next year’s content plan.
Based on historical data, the tabular listings offer some ideas on how competitive each search query is, and how much search volume you can expect for it.
Most content marketers and SEOs use Search Console to learn about their inbound search traffic. Yet, a great way of using Search Console as a content writing tool is by discovering specific keywords that you already wrote about, and find new neighbors to target that are low-hanging fruits.
What do I mean by low-hanging keywords? Well, they are keywords for which your website already gets some decent impressions but almost zero clicks. Generally, they are keywords you rank at top of the second page for, and beyond.
Google already trusts you enough to put you so close to its first page. So you now have two options:
- Write a new article targeting these neighboring keywords
- Improve the existing article by using more supporting keywords
Let’s say you wrote about the
best tv remotes once. And right now, a lot of search queries related to
tv remotes have you on page 2. List all of these queries and find a way to incorporate them in a new blog post – or update an old one.
Google Search Console, therefore, acts as a keyword research tool. But not out of nowhere since these keywords are already based on existing content and keywords you perform decently well against. You just need to cluster them together, write about them, publish and wait to see the results.
Here a 6-minute video from Open Book SEO showcasing how to do such analysis.
Syntax, grammar, and overall readability of a web page all matter in today’s search engine algorithms. Pertinent results must be read and fully digested by users.
Grammarly is a great Google Chrome Extension –free, with a premium option– that corrects a lot of silly mistakes we make. From useless commas to repetitive words, Grammarly will fix your basic errors with very little effort.
Some online editors (e.g. Hemingway App) check your content as you type and show recommendations on a sidebar to improve your article’s readability.
To summarize, content tools dedicated to search engine optimization are mnot common but they exist. I do not know of any marketer not use at least one of the above. SEO content tooling is so important in our era of content creation at scale. A single keyword may require a collection of five articles written and published to target every single user intent, for instance. Old techniques are outdated and topical relevance now takes a holistic approach. Indeed, related keywords must be found and questions must be answered.
Content writing tools help editorial teams write better content for real humans, not bots.