Content is king. This is the adage that has been adopted by online businesses for years, and it's entirely true... but what does it really mean? From understanding SEO and keyword density to optimizing your content and understanding how search engine bots work, there is a lot to understand about how to write content that ranks, and how, exactly, "content is king".
Once you understand why content is king (and how) you'll begin to piece together the right strategy, process, and tools that you can use to create content that not only resonates with your audience but also ranks higher in search engine results pages.
I've been pretty successful at doing all of the above over the past 7+ years, and I enjoy sharing what I've learned with others.
So, without further ado - whether you're creating a blog post, product description, or a landing page, or you just want to learn more about content optimization in general, you'll find the secret formula for unlocking content that ranks in the paragraphs below.
Research First, Create Content Second
In order to create content that ranks, you'll want to have the right tools and be armed with the proper information before actually writing anything.
Because you'll want to understand how your potential customers are trying to find your product or service online.
In other words, what words (aka "keywords") are they using to search?
Are there variations of those keywords? Are they using long phrases or questions to search? And if so, how much competition is there to try to rank for those keywords or phrases? Is it better to create video content? Written content? Both?
You will likely be surprised by all the different terms and phrases that people are using to search for your product or service.
You may also be surprised at the types of questions they're asking.
Once you're armed with all of that information, it's much easier to develop a content strategy to connect your potential customers with the answers they're looking for.
Understanding Search Intent
One quick note…
Before your create content (using the instructions below), you need to understand search intent.
Search intent is what helps you understand why a person is searching for something.
Are they asking a question?
Do they just need some information?
Are they researching how to get somewhere, or how to do something?
Once you understand the reason behind the search, then you can create the content that solves that particular query.
For example: If they type in “how to” before a phrase, their search intent is probably to learn a DIY skill. If the query starts with, “buy”, or other similar keywords, then it's probably a “commercial” intent. Meaning, they're ready to make a purchase. If it's “find” or “go to”, or other words like that, that means it's probably a “navigational” intent.
Understanding what type of search intent is behind the search will help you better understand what type of blog content to create… or if you should even write a blog to answer that query at all.
The more frequently a customer sees your brand, the more likely they are to remember you and conduct business with you in the future. With that in mind, it makes sense to rank for all kinds of search queries, even if it doesn't seem like that particular query may have any immediate financial benefit to rank for it.
How to write content that ranks
Once you have properly researched the keywords that your customers are using, and the type of answers they're looking for... now you have the necessary information to know how to write content that ranks so your potential customers can actually find it.
ONE: Write for your audience
First off, you'll need to make sure that you are writing for your audience. Search engines have made it very clear in the past few years that if you're creating content in such a way as to try to fool the algorithms into ranking your content higher - you'll eventually be penalized and de-ranked.
Google, in particular, uses something called Natural Language Processing.
NLP (Natural Language Processing) is a technology that is able to determine if your content is just written to appease the bot overlords or if you wrote it in a natural human language with information your customers actually need.
So, put your audience first.
Create the content to help your audience solve whatever query they're trying to solve.
TWO: Use the words your audience uses
When you create the content for your audience, you should be using the words that they use.
When you do keyword research to determine what content you should create, those words are what your customers are using.
That's how your customers talk.
So you need to use them, too.
You should use all of the keywords, phrases, and all their variants when creating your content because that's the verbiage your customers were using to try to find your product or service.
It makes sense that you would then answer their questions using the same verbiage.
Use your customers' words in the H1 Tag (your main title), your H2 Tag (your subtitles), and in the content body (your paragraphs). You can also use images with alt-tags (image descriptors) that have words your audiences use as well.
Mix in those same words in your Meta Description. A Meta Description is that little text "preview" of articles (usually 2-3 lines of text) that you see when you search for something online before clicking through to read it.
That short preview of the article on Google/Bing is the "Meta Description" of the article.
Make sure your customer's words are mixed in there, too.
A Word of Caution:
Just don't use the same one keyword over and over again because that's considered "keyword stuffing," and the search engine bot overlords don't appreciate that.
Pick a single keyword phrase (aka "long-tail keyword") and use that sparingly throughout the content. Then mix in other variations of it and related keywords (aka "semantic keywords") throughout the rest of the content.
For example: "how to write content that ranks" could have variants like "how to write SEO optimized blog posts" or "how to learn content SEO". And then there are "semantic keywords". Those are keywords that are related to the main topic. So, in this case, those could be words like "organic traffic," "free marketing," "keyword research," etc.
THREE: Answer the readers' query
You absolutely need to use the words your potential customers are using... but you also need to answer their questions.
If you don't answer their question in your content, then you won't get ranked very high.
Because that's the search engine's entire job... connect their customer (the person searching) with the best content results that answer their question.
So, answer their question.
In fact, it's almost always best to answer it early on in the article.
As in the first paragraph or two.
The rest of the article can expand on the main answer to their query if they want to keep reading.
FOUR: Provide unique insights
One of the easiest ways to get people to keep reading your content is to provide unique insights.
It also needs to be original content.
Search engines don't generally favor duplicate content (e.g., content that has been repurposed from elsewhere).
Clearly, they have an interest because they searched for the very thing they clicked through to read about... so give the viewer all kinds of juicy details!
But don't just drone on and on. Be concise, keep things as short and straight to the point as possible. Even the most interesting topic in the world can quickly become boring with an awful narration.
Ps. Apologies if I'm boring you! 💁🏻♂️
FIVE: Include a call to action
Assuming you're creating content to answer a potential customer's questions, you probably want them to do something, too.
Like buying a product or scheduling a service.
If that's the case, you'll need to ensure that your content includes a compelling "call to action" that converts viewers into customers.
If you did a great job with creating unique content that not only answered the question but also provided unique insights into the topic and established yourself as a trustworthy and authoritative source on the subject... then the conversion should be relatively easy.
But sometimes, converting someone from a casual viewer to being an active participant is easier said than done.
But no worries - these Content SEO course videos show you how to make sales a whole lot easier.
Now that you know HOW to write content that ranks... it is helpful to learn some of the important "why's" behind the "what's" of Content SEO.
If you don't want to keep reading and would prefer videos instead, I totally understand!
What is content that ranks?
SEO content, short for search engine optimization content, is any written content that's written well enough to rank high on search engines.
Good SEO content is a core part of search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of increasing the amount and quality of traffic to a website by getting it higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).
It is website content that is written to help people who are looking for specific information online.
This information could be products, services, or topical information.
It is usually content that is written for a specific audience, with the goal of helping that audience solve their problem.
Optimized content often consists of keywords that have the potential to be searched by a lot of people and is generally written with the intention of attracting more users to your website.
Why is highly-ranked content important?
With the right approach, your content can be a powerful component of your overall marketing strategy. Creating great content that ranks can be your most powerful asset in your marketing arsenal.
It allows you to put your product or service in front of as many people as possible, increasing your reach and customer base.
Research data (by Sistrix) indicates that 28.5% of users click on the first search result on Google. Followed by 15.7% for the second link in the search results, 11% for the third, 8% for the fourth, and by the time you get to the bottom of the page, only 2.5% of people click on the last result.
That means the higher you rank on the first page of search results for any given keyword or phrase, the more people will visit your site vs someone who ranks beneath you in SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages).
So, ranking your content as high as possible is incredibly important. And incredibly valuable.
A Real Life Example
For example, one of my new business websites recently went from 0 to 1,800 views in less than 90 days. Then, it went from 1,800 views to 20,000 views in the following 12 months. And from 20,000 views to 65,000 views in the 11 months immediately after that.
This was accomplished entirely by writing content that ranks high in SERP's.
Ps. I did not spend a dime on advertising that entire time.
The long-term benefits of content SEO
Many businesses often rely on paid ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Others rely on PPC ad campaigns on platforms like Google, Bing, and others to drive traffic to their website.
However, paid ads can become tedious and expensive over time and often require constant testing.
With SEO content, you can harness the power of organic search traffic to drive more visitors to your site.
Once you establish a strong foundation with your SEO content, you can rest assured that your efforts will be paying off for years to come.
Once content is ranked, it's not generally quick to get de-ranked.
For example, I've had articles that have consistently ranked in the Top 3 results for 2+ years, attracting thousands upon thousands of readers.
You can see why Content SEO is a very cost-effective marketing strategy.
What are the components of well-ranked content?
By understanding the key elements of SEO content and learning how to apply them to your own writing, you can significantly improve your chances of ranking high in search engine results.
With that in mind, here are some of the key elements you need to keep in mind while writing SEO content:
1/3: Keyword Research
Choosing the right keywords is one of the most important things you need to do before writing your first SEO content. While it’s not recommended to stuff your content with these keywords, you need to make sure that your content is targeted and relevant to the topic you've chosen to write about.
The best way to make sure you're on track to creating a great piece of content that ranks well is first to do thorough keyword research. That will help you understand what words (or phrases) your customers are using to find information on that topic so that you can create content that answers their query as accurately as possible.
Keep in mind that targeting a keyword that has high search volume but is very competitive can prove to be difficult, but don't let that discourage you. There are keyword and content strategies that can help you overcome those difficulties.
Make sure you read the next section below. Because while content SEO is definitely important, Google is constantly updating its algorithms to make it more difficult for spammers to rank high in SERPs.
2/3: Writing For The Audience
This brings us to the second important component of content that generally ranks well online: writing your content for the audience, not the search engine.
Google has made significant strides in a relatively new technology known as "Natural Language Processing." That technology is largely able to identify AI-generated content as well as content that was written with the sole goal of ranking higher on search engines.
So, when creating content, it needs to:
You can do this by including firsthand experiences and insights, using images and videos that you personally took or created, and giving the reader unique insights not generally found on the topic on other websites.
In other words... create quality content that your customers will enjoy reading (or watching), and do not try to take a bunch of shortcuts.
This acronym stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Most search engines have algorithms that determine what content gets ranked higher than others, and part of that process is determining:
Their algorithm uses various tools to determine the answers to these questions. But through research and surveys, many SEO companies have been able to get a better understanding of how they do it.
Google does not disclose all of the information about how their algorithms work. Still, it's widely accepted information that it's a wide-reaching formula that touches multiple data points across the internet to understand better who you are, what your business is, and what level of value your content offers.
Tools and Resources for Writing SEO Content
Keysearch - This is a great SEO tool that you can use to conduct keyword research and identify the right keywords to target with your content. The tool also helps you estimate how many people are searching for these keywords in their search engine.
Google Trends - Another great tool that you can use to conduct keyword research is Google Trends. This tool can help you identify trending topics in your industry, as well as related keywords that you can use in your content.
An SEO Writing Tool - If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to write SEO content that follows Google’s guidelines, then you can use this SEO Writing Tool. It offers you a variety of templates that can help you write the framework for content within minutes.
While it's not recommended to use the raw material that a writing tool generates, it is often a great starting point to get the creative juices flowing. It's also a fantastic way to overcome writer's block.
Optimizing Images and Videos for SEO
We know that visuals can help drive more traffic to your website, but what you may not know is that images and videos can also help improve your SEO content.
This is because images and videos can help you attract a larger audience to your website and hold their attention for a longer period of time.
This has a significant impact on your SEO content since it increases the time spent on your website.
If a visitor spends more time on your website, they will likely click on the various links that you have featured in your content. This means that not only do images and videos help improve your SEO content, but they also help increase your page views and page-click-through rate (CTR).
This can help improve your SEO ranking and make your content more appealing to potential customers.
Additional tips for optimizing titles and meta descriptions
Your SEO content’s meta description and title are two of the most important elements that you have to focus on when optimizing your content for search engines.
These two elements can help you increase your click-through rate (CTR).
Meta Description: Your meta description is a short blurb that can be up to 160 characters long. This is what people see when they search for something on Google, right before they click on a result.
Title: Your title, on the other hand, is what appears in bold above the Meta Description, as well as at the top of the page when people click on your content. While your title should be compelling (to get people to click), it should also be relevant to your content.
Nothing is worse than click-bait, so a title that's not relevant to the content (or vice versa) can be incredibly damaging to your rankings in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Promoting Your Content
Now that you’ve written some incredible content, the next step is to promote it.
The thing to remember here is that content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort, just like SEO content.
You can promote your content in a number of ways, including:
Guest blogging - Guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to promote your content. By writing guest posts for other websites in your industry, you can help build your reputation as an expert in your field, as well as drive more traffic to your website.
Find influencers - Another great way to promote your content is by finding influential people in your industry and collaborating with them. This way, you can get your content in front of a larger audience and help you get more exposure.
Ultimately, organic traffic is the way to go, but a good way to try to accelerate the process of getting your content ranked higher on search engines is to give the search engine algorithms some data that shows that OTHER people like your content, too.
Guest blogging does this by getting quality links back to your website, and influencers sharing your content can help it get spread around the internet, which in turn can earn quality backlinks, as well as a chance that it could go "viral".
All of that is positive signaling to the search engines that you've created something valuable, and it deserves to be ranked higher.
Personally, I use Missinglettr to help me distribute my content. It's mostly automated and hands-free. The little effort I do put in is aided by semi-automated processes, so I save money and time in my content distribution efforts.
Measuring the Success of Your SEO Content
To determine whether your SEO content is successful or not, you need to measure two things:
The best way to track these metrics is by using Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console.
With these tools, you can track which keywords people are using to find your content, how high your content ranks for those keywords, the number of people who are visiting your website, as well as which pages they’re clicking on and looking at.
You can also track your viewers by the devices they're using and a whole lot more.
Armed with the data from Search Console and Analytics, you can monitor and make necessary changes to continue improving your SEO content.
SEO content is one of the most important elements that you need to focus on when growing your online business. Not only does it help you rank higher on search engines, but it also helps you convert more visitors into paying customers.
Once you learn how to write content that ranks, you can increase your revenue and grow your business faster than ever before.
With the right approach, SEO content can become your most powerful marketing asset.
Not sure you're there yet? No worries! Just take my content SEO courses, and you'll be creating rock-solid content that ranks in no time at all.