There are so many theories about creating SEO content that ranks. Someone who’s new to SEO and content marketing is bound to get lost. Some experts opine that you should write purely for search engine rankings. But your readers are human, aren’t they? If you don’t provide value, they are going to bounce right back.
Some self-proclaimed SEO gurus write purely for their audience, tossing every Google recommendation out of the window. Still, they get the rankings. The question is, what’s the right formula for creating SEO content? Here’s the answer. You’ve got to write for an audience, but design it for Google.
Let’s get this straight. Content is king. Content is the key to more traffic, better rankings, more social shares and organic backlinks. Google has explicitly stated that content is one of the top 3 ranking factors. That’s not all. Websites that post content regularly get more organic traffic than ones that don’t.
However, there’s a method to the madness. We are not in the early 2000s anymore where you could get away with tactics like keyword stuffing. Internet rankings in 2021 are all about user experience. That’s what you should aim for while creating SEO content.
The #1 rule of creating SEO content – Choose your opponent carefully
There are two primary parameters that will make or break your content. That’s the topic and the keyword. The topic determines how interesting or valuable the content will be. The keyword determines how competitive it will be.
Some people get lost in the chicken and the egg conundrum. But we recommend that you pick the topic first. Once again, there are many ways in which you can do this. You can just analyse your competition and pick topics that they are ranking for. Alternatively, you can head over to messaging boards. Reddit for instance is a treasure trove of information. There are people with real-world problems looking for solutions here. Craft an article that solves those problems.
That brings us to the next parameter, keyword research. We can probably write a million words on keyword research without getting bored of it. But to keep things simple, look for the low hanging fruit or long-tail keyword phrases. These are generally low competition keywords, such as question-based queries. Never go straight for high competition keyword phrases. It will be lost effort. Why compete against a brand like Backlinko or Yoast, when you can compete against a local competitor?
Actionable tip – There are two tools that we recommend for keyword research. Ubersuggest and Google Suggest. If you are looking for ‘questions’, check out ‘Answer The Public’. Just plug in a few terms and phrases related to the topic and it will auto-generate a large list of questions related to it.
#2 – Write content that adds value
Here’s a little nugget. Write content that provides genuine value to the reader. That’s all there is to it. Is the reader looking for information? Try and provide all the information that you can about the subject. Don’t cut corners with the word count here.
For instance, if a reader wants to find out about setting up LinkedIn ads, write everything that they need to know. You can very well write something compact, like ‘5 tips for Linkedin ads’. But in all probability, that article will languish at the bottom of SERPS. That’s because it does not offer anything novel. It’s just another blip on the radar. Instead, try to make your article better than every other article that ranks for that subject.
Actionable tip – Open the first 5-10 articles that rank for your desired subject and keyword. Analyze the articles for the information that it covers. Now try and find more about the subject. Chances are that it’s more difficult than you thought. Well, no one said that ranking on page one of Google was going to be easy, did they?
Bonus tip – If the top 10 articles average 1500-2000 words, try to write a monster 5000 to 10000-word article while creating SEO content. Google loves long form content. So will your audience.
#3 – Design the content for your audience
You have picked a winning topic and created the best article on it. Now it’s time to design it for your audience. Some businesses are thrown off when we mention this. Aren’t we creating SEO content? Why design it for the user?
That’s because the two are more closely linked than what most people believe. Google has always kept user experience at the forefront. It is in fact, page experience is one of the ranking factors, just like backlinks. So is dwell time. That’s the amount of time in which a visitor clicks on the back button and reaches the search results page again. So if a reader lands on your page and bounces back, it shows Google that something is amiss. Maybe the UX is poor, or the content is thin.
To that end, create great content and make it easy to read. Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to achieve this.
Here are a few simple, but effective rules for content optimisation.
- Use short sentences. Space them out. People hate large blocks of text.
- Use lots of multimedia. Read point number 1 again. No large blocks of text.
- Use sub headings, bullet lists and anything else that makes it easier to skim through.
#4 – Keyword optimisation still works while creating SEO content
Now let’s make it Google friendly. Like we said earlier, it’s not the early 2000s anymore. You cannot stuff a post with keywords without inviting a penalty. But, you definitely need to tell Google that this is the money keyword here. So include it in the first 100 words. This is called ‘keyword prominence’.
It’s like giving Google a shout out. ‘Hello Mr. Google Bot. Here’s a juicy keyword for you. Please rank this page for this keyword’. Now that wasn’t too hard, was it? Next up, start building internal links to other relevant pages on your website. There’s no fixed rule to this. You can build up to 5-10 links. If you have created a virtual silo for your website, use it to spread the links out.
Actionable tip – Use Surfer SEO. It’s a terrific software that clubs keyword research with optimisation. In this case, you have already completed keyword research. You can use it to structure your content. It has tonnes of features. But one of them is competitor content analysis. It runs an analysis of your competitor’s top content and shows you the ranking factors that matter. It’s a no-brainer tool for structuring content. What’s amazing is that they have a free chrome extension. Give it a shot.
#5 – Featured Snippets can help while creating SEO content
Featured snippets are short blurbs of text that Google automatically picks from a web page. Google generally shows it for questions. But it can also show up for search terms with informational intent. There are four types of snippets. A definition, a table, an unordered list and an ordered list. What’s incredible about featured snippets, is that it places you in Position #0. That’s one position above the first position in SERPs.
Let’s say that your amazing content piece ranks at #9. If you manage to rank for a snippet, you can outrank the #1 website. Search Engine Land did some research on this position. They say that it accounts for 8% of all clicks. Imagine if you can land that position for a keyword with 10,000 monthly searches. You just got 800 clicks without any extra effort to rank there. What’s more, is that your organic click-through rates skyrocket.
All said and done, how do you increase your chances of getting featured? To be honest, there’s no official guidelines on this. Moz has created a huge list of content structuring tips here.
Actionable tips – Here’s a brief checklist.
- Aim for keywords with informational intent.
- Include the possibility of featured snippets ranking during keyword research.
- Select question-type keywords or queries.
- Include relevant data about the subject. If it’s a product, make a list of specifications.
- Lastly, make the content as relevant and useful as possible.
#6 – Focus on EAT
Google has time and again stated that better and more relevant content is better for rankings. Recently, they spoke about manual content reviews to hone their automated algorithms. You can read more about this in the ‘Quality Raters Guidelines’.
If you are too busy to read through that, here’s an overview. Google now focuses on E-A-T. That stands for Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness. This means that the reputation of the author is now considered equally important while creating SEO content. What does their history say? Are they qualified and experienced enough to write on the subject?
In case you lack the expertise, hire a content writing team, or an expert who can contribute to your site.
Actionable tip – Ensure that your author bios are in place. Link to social media pages, publications, qualifications and anything else that can add to their credibility.
Creating SEO content is not as simple as it once used to be. Rockstar Marketing can help develop a targeted content marketing strategy that generates rankings and traffic. Speak to our content marketing experts now to know how we can help.