How to create SEO-friendly content that really ranks
Every day while working with my clients I find that people have a totally different idea of what SEO is and how content should be created in order to rank.
Even some top blog, or even Search Engine Blogs that accept guest posts from external writers do no follow some basic rules in the articles they publish.
Rules, you say?
What other rules than creating a high-quality piece of content with 1000-2000 words with value, nice images, and more value, do I need?
Well, sure you can create the best article, with the highest value but if nobody finds the article on the internet (in Google) you have a problem.
You either have to pay Facebook or any of the other content promotion tools or just live with it.
So what are the most important SEO rules to follow when writing an article? No matter which topic, if B2B or B2C, niche or competitive, construction or travel.
So before we start to dive deeper into “What copywriters should do to create high-value content that can be found on Google” let’s quickly recap the basics.
- Every written article should be for the user.
- Every piece of content should solve a problem or answer a specific question
If you are a writer these 2 are pretty obvious but if you are learning SEO and getting more traffic and visits is the ultimate goal you need to go back and remember yourself that you are not writing content for SEO, you do it for the users.
Topics in this post:
What is SEO and why is it important
SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is one of the most important Online Marketing Channels of a website. People search terms in Google, Search Results show up and these search results link to websites.
So if your website shows up for one of these search terms, there’s a high chance that users will visit your website.
Now, what is important to know is, that Google determines which results to show depending on many different factors:
- one of them is the “keyword” or “search term” and how close a piece of content is to that keyword the user just searched.
- Search Engines evaluate every single website and URL available online and determine the relevancy of them for millions and millions of search terms.
- Search Engines analyze the text, the website structure, and many other aspects to determine your content is relevant enough for a certain topic.
Select the right topic and terms in the headline
Select the right topic. Before starting to write a piece of content make sure you select a topic that is interesting for the target audience you are writing for.
How? Well use this simple trick before you start to write:
Go to Google and type in a couple of terms. Which terms? Well, the ones that a user would search for to find your piece of content without knowing the exact headline.
I want to write about “Jewish history in Barcelona” then type in Google “Jewish history… barcelona”
Google will suggest you some top terms in the little pop-up that give you a clear idea about what people are searching for on Google.
Yeah well, I knew that you’ll say – MAEH, even though many have heard about Google suggest, I see so many content writers and so-called SEO experts who totally forget about this and cannot find one single exact matching term in the content. Like, constantly.
Wait, I am not saying you should use these keyword suggestions throughout the whole piece and spam the article. This has nothing to do with keyword density or keyword stuffing, it’s about making sure that you use the terms people are searching for when writing about a specific topic.
One example I used for many years when teaching people about SEO is this:
What is this image? Write down the term you would search for it on Google.
I can assure you that in the audience there are normally less than 3 persons that have exactly written the same term. Yes, mostly less. Now why is that important for SEO copy or articles you write in general?
It’s important to keep in mind that people search for topics in a different way. Google can relate many of the keywords and understands a keyword family pretty well but if you are not using similar terms, or semantic terms or how other’s call them “related terms” you will never be able to rank for these topics.
Again, this has nothing to do about spamming the article, it’s about the use of terms in the headline and throughout the content.
Let me give you another very precise example. And just to make sure: This is not against the Author, I love these guys, but I wonder why this particular example is not ranking for the most relevant terms.
It’s a great piece of content, it’s long, it’s on a prominent domain, it’s up to date but in my opinion it is just not using the right terms or better, it’s not using the terms users are looking for.
Don’t get me wrong here, SOMETIMES this can be a great way to discover new areas and topics but many times it’s just a lack of using the terms we know many people are searching for.
Structure your article correctly
In order to be able to rank with your content nowadays, you have to be able to structure content correctly. (and it’s actually not that difficult)
Please use H1 in the headline, H2 in the article or Subsubheadlines, H3 for SubHeadlines and so on. I’ll not go too much into detail about this because I think everyone that that has some idea about content writing should know this and should be able to format a piece of content correctly. If you don’t, please don’t call yourself a content writer or content expert 🙂
The best way to check if your formatting is correct is actually using this little SEO “trick” or implementation that is widely used in recent years. The content index. The content index table helps the user to quickly get an overview of the article he is about to read and it’ll be set up based on the formatting of your content. So if the content, headlines, and subheadlines are not formatted correctly this little index looks shitty.
In WordPress you have to have this content index in 2019, you can install a (lightweight) plugin to do this. If you are working at a business, request it to the DEV team.
It’s important because the content that is ranking nowadays is very long but it also re-emphasizes the headlines, sub-topics that were used throughout the article, and as they are super-optimized these sub-topics should be an additional SEO value for your content piece right?
Now you’ll always have these “busy/important/vip/iknoweverything/lazy” developers (sorry guys :*) who tell you they cannot install this or that plugin or they cannot do that bla bla bla because they want to keep the site fast and secure. Yes, we SEO’s want to keep the site fast, too – So there are 2 solutions: Or either program that shit and show your dev skills or give me the f*** content index installing the plugin. Easy as that.
Once you got to the point to convince the developers to use WordPress, just push through and make sure you get the implementations you need. But be aware, you are the one that has to come up with the arguments, plugin proposals, implementation requirements. So make sure you know your shit and have options available. The only way to get to this level of SEO guruness you need to have experience and probably some WordPress sites to be able to play with stuff.
(By the way, how many developers are actually still out there rejecting WordPress for the content or blog development BLOWS my freakin mind) – ok, that’s for another article.
Want I want to tell you here is that you have to fight to get these implementations through, don’t let developers tell you how to do your job, get the implementations you need, fight for them, raise the issue in meetings, again and again. If people brush it off *because they know shit* ignore it and push for the implementation.
The “content index” is only one very very small piece of the huge puzzle we are trying to figure out each day but it’s a piece that is important for content formatting. Again, I am not saying that you cannot rank with a piece of content that hasn’t the content index, I saying that many SEOs use it nowadays to make the long form content easier to access and easier to understand for the user – which helps us to achieve the ultimate SEO goal
Another important point in terms of structure are the paragraphs. Make sure they stay short and sweet. Remember that when people read on the mobile, the screen gets a lot smaller, so having shorter paragraphs helps the user to easily read through your content.
Write unique, valuable content and write for the user
This is an interesting one. Yes, it’s getting more and more difficult to create unique content or deliver valuable insights on certain topics. Everything has been said. “There are no more tourist attractions in that city you are writing about”, you might think but the truth is, with a couple of searches on Google and some more time and love put into a piece of content the level of quality is improved drastically.
I see it every day. People still think they can get away with low-quality content pieces and some externalized content writer, pay 50$ or 100$ or even 200$ to get that super duper mega piece that will make them rank forever. It’s doesn’t work like that. Google knows it, you know it – heck, even my grandfather knows it by now. You need to have high-quality content. HIGH quality. Better than the other results.
So again, when checking on the topic you are about to write about just check the other top 10 results that are already there. Can you provide a better piece of content that the first 10 results that show up for the 3-5 terms you hammered into the keyboard or that Google suggested?
No? Then don’t even border. No need to waste the time. You might be showing up there for some days, maybe weeks but if the article you wrote isn’t any different or more valuable to the user than the other top results that show up you’ll not create any vale for your business or domain – or simply said NOT RANK for long.
Also, if you think that you can hire some lousy content creators and us that content directly, without revision on your website – BEEEEOOOP – fail! You can outsource content writing but it ways, like in 95% of the cases it’s necessary to review the piece you get back.
You can pay incredible high amounts of money to get others to write for you, but you’ll have to put in a little extra time to give it that last little spin – that optimization. At the end it’s the SEOs job to make sure that the content which gets published on a domain has been optimized and reviewed correctly. Do that or put a process in place to get it done.
Image Optimization: Size, Weight, Alt Tags, Captions and Descriptions
Part of that process is the image optimization. In order to rank high with a blog post, it has to load fast. (On-Page Speed is one of the most important things to work on in terms of SEO in 2019)
So make sure that the images:
- Have the correct file name (not Screenshot XYZ)
- Have correct file size (the smaller the better)
- Use Title and Alt Tags
- That the image looks good
Your article should now be ready to put it in Draft. Give it a couple more checks, like making sure that the URL is short and sweet but still contains the important terms and then finally, hit publish!
That’s it your piece of content should now soon show up in a search. There are ways to accelerate the process of content discovery like having a sitemap or tweeting about your content on Twitter. But that’s another story.
If I missed some important or if you have some questions about SEO friendly content development points feel free to leave a comment or contact me. Also, our Newsletter subscription is back up and working. So if you are interested in what we do, sign up and might receive 1 email per month that contains juicy internet marketing tips for free.