What Does a Content Writer Do?

Attracting attention from search engines is just one of their superpowers.


Danielle M.

9/29/20234 min read

A person's hands on a laptop computer
A person's hands on a laptop computer

It’s that time of year. Between the back-to-school nights, neighborhood Oktoberfests, and holiday get-togethers, content writers are encountering more crowds—and more questions.

Sometimes, a content writer can blend into a crowd, wearing a subtle half-smile and making small talk about the weather. But occasionally, curious minds want to dig deeper, and a content writer has to explain their chosen profession.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, like James Patterson?” Dollar signs flash in the person’s eyes, and they edge closer. “How many book deals do you have?”

“Actually, I’m a content writer.”

“Oh, I see.” A pause. “So you…”

“I write for businesses online.”

“Okay.” A polite half-smile. “What do you write?”

Clearing their throat, the content writer starts to explain.

A content writer fulfills search engine requests

People come to the World Wide Web with their problems. Whether they type into Google “finding a good orthodontist in Milwaukee,” or scream into their smart speaker, “How to get a huge roach off the ceiling”—people want answers, and they want them quickly.

A content writer produces blog posts, web articles, whitepapers, and/or social media posts for business brands, integrating keywords into their writing to fulfill search engine requests.

The keywords a content writer incorporates are sometimes short—just one or two words, like “Milwaukee orthodontists” or “ceiling roaches.” These short phrases are known as seed keywords.

More frequently, a content writer will use specific long-tail keywords, which are three words or more, such as “Milwaukee orthodontists open on Labor Day,” or “ceiling roaches in my Sarasota FL rental.”

A content writer delivers insights, research and facts

Business brands deal in niche-specific issues. A content writer creates pieces to educate website visitors (potential brand customers) about matters relating to these niches.

The more valuable and relevant the niche writing is, the higher that work will be ranked on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines like Google use an automated ranking system to prioritize helpful content writing.

If a piece of content is well-fortified with research from credible sources, and if it’s an original piece of work, it will be well-positioned to earn a coveted top spot on the SERPs. A high ranking on the SERPs translates to increased customer interest for businesses large and small.

A careful content writer optimizes their content for screens

A content writer understands the specific reading patterns of website visitors. To locate answers to a search query as efficiently as possible, a typical website visitor will skim the text, bouncing their eyes from one chunk of digital print to the next. The website visitor’s eyes become scanners—like they’re searching for sweet, ripe berries on a bush.

A content writer uses extra white space in their writing to make it easy for website visitors to scan the text in a nonlinear way. (Note: although some content writers enjoy reading Victorian novels in their free time, a smart content writer will not allow that dense, wordy literary style to influence their digital writing.)

A savvy content writer follows SEO best practices

As search patterns and algorithms have shifted over time, so have SEO best practices. An up-to-date content writer will stay abreast of these changes and will use that awareness to position their work for SERP success.

One example is “keyword stuffing,” a relic of the old algorithms’ past. Back around the turn of the millennium, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was popular to throw as many keywords inside of a piece of content as possible. The search engines would prioritize content with relevant keywords—the more, the better.

Eventually, developers caught onto these pulls for rank, training the algorithms to recognize keyword stuffing as a punishable offense. In fact, a search engine might actively ban a page that deploys unnaturally repetitious tactics such as keyword stuffing.

A creative content writer considers how people search

With the advent of voice search, more content writers are considering how to incorporate long-tail keywords into their writing that sound like natural speech. Voice searches are more likely to phrase a query as a complete question (“Where can I find an extremely large sun hat in Philadelphia?”) as opposed to a fragmented group of words (“extra large hats Philly”).

More and more, content writers are using complete questions as the titles of their pieces. They’re also finding clever ways of seamlessly inserting these questions into the body sections of their work.

Careers in content writing

Some content writers work as direct employees for businesses, usually in the marketing department. Other content writers freelance for (or are employed by) agencies or content platforms, and they typically craft content for multiple agency clients. Still other content writers are “free agents,” writing for their clients directly.

Some content writers perform their own keyword and marketing research, while others receive this information from another employee or freelancer. A content writer might have expertise in a specific field, or a content writer might be a generalist, using their research skills to write for various industries.

Skills needed to be a content writer

A content writer needs to draw from a wide and varied skill set. Their work should be clear and understandable. Their writing also needs to satisfy the needs and preferences of the business requesting the content.

Good content should never be “salesy” because a jaded public will quickly click away from an article that looks too much like an ad. But there’s a difference between a piece of content written for a business and an encyclopedia article. The business content should always incorporate a call-to-action (CTA), inspiring the website visitor to take the next steps to become a customer or client.

Content Writing Professionals

If you need content for your brand and want to hire a professional, native-English content writing team, reach out to 1st Class Writing. Our talented writers take pride in their work and enjoy helping businesses to reach their customer acquisition goals.