How to add SEO to your writing (without losing quality)

Content creators face two challenges with online writing: writing for search engine optimization (SEO), and writing with the audience in mind (i.e. writing for SEO while sounding human.)

Hitting SEO targets for keywords, search rankings, and Google analytics can confuse the creative process when keyword planning is left undirected. Alternatively, the writer’s imagination can override useful SEO practices, making their literary fireworks die a slow death on the 17th Google Search page.

As Rhino Secret Founder Sean McGeehan said, “It’s hard to find a good writer to really hit the sweet spot. You have your writer that’s a really good writer but they’re not good at writing for SEO. Then you have your other SEO writers who sound spammy. They write stuff and it doesn’t sound right when you read it.” In online writing there is a fine line between targeting end-users and targeting ROI.

Compounding the problem, marketing managers and content strategists often fail to deliver clear, measurable objectives to writers.

So McGeehan wondered if there was a way to streamline the writing process—to provide a framework for the writers, and a structure for the words?

Imagining the App

Rhino Secret—a name McGeehan simply devised to be catchy—was born from McGeehan’s own frustrations with writing. He works in the mortgage business by day, and does marketing for businesses on the side. Years ago, much of his work involved content marketing. In this process, he found it extremely easy to get off topic with his writing.

“The topic I set out to write about would have one keyword in the title, but it wouldn’t appear again in the body of the content. By the end, the writing was all over the place, it wasn’t targeted toward anything.”

These frustrations continued when he would hire writers, because he’d have no clear framework to give them for SEO writing. As a result, returned pieces were often off-focus, diverting from the initial assignment. McGeehan struggled to measure the effective SEO for the writing he received, and had trouble clearly communicating these SEO objectives in the first place.

Through this process he imagined a visual keyword tool for SEO. This would be something that provided a structure for the words, allowing the writer to type in pre-determined keywords on the right column, and content in the middle.

Once complete, the writer could hit “submit” and view how many times each keyword appeared in the content. This way, if a writer had pre-determined SEO targets for three keyword variations to appear four times each in the piece, they would have a clear way of measuring it. This structure ensured that the writer keeps on track both with writing for the intended audience and for SEO.

Creating the Interface

Today, Rhino Secret is this box to write in. The tool allows the writer to determine their topic and select keyword variations, along with how many times they want to include them in the content.

From there, the writer can plug in the keywords and content to see how many times the keywords appear in the piece. They can then save and share the editable link with a custom URL, or export the content as a PDF or Word document.

Content Optimization

Rhino Secret can optimize content for search engines in various ways. Users could apply it to YouTube video content, blog content, social media posts, and more. McGeehan likens the future of Rhino Secret to that of Canva for words.

Canva is a design platform that enables users to create visual graphics for preformatted web content—such as Facebook and Twitter banners, blog posts, Infographics and more. Similarly, Rhino Secret could provide a different structure for each bucket of copywriting—such as short blog posts, long blog posts, Twitter, Facebook ads, YouTube descriptions, and more.

For example, a Facebook post template may include 30 words, an image, three keywords, two hashtags and an external link. A short blog post, on the other hand, may include 400 words, with three keywords appearing four times in the body, title and sub-headline of the post, and two links to outside sites. Rhino Secret could count the number of times each keyword appears in different areas of the social content.

This idea of writing to a pre-existing structure is the essence of Rhino Secret. “It gives the writer a box to write in—so they can have creativity, within certain parameters.”

After thinking about this tool for years and not wanting to pay the price he was quoted by web developer shops for the project, McGeehan heard about Gigster on the Twist podcast This Week in Startups. He said it connects people with the designers to build the tool, and at a fair price.

“Gigster is the referee to make sure I don’t get gouged by an engineer. I need someone to watch over the whole project and moderate it . . . It was exactly what I thought it would be, which is nice.”

McGeehan does not have expectations for monetizing the online tool. He plans to stick with his original intention of using Rhino Secret himself. He currently uses the tool primarily to give clear instructions to hired writers. But despite its name, it’s not a private site. Rhino Secret is free to use and available to anyone.