Writing content that ranks require a well-planned strategy. We cannot simply develop the content and left alone for search engines to rank it.
However, many “white hat SEO gurus” today suggesting people writing the content and leaving the remaining job to Google.
This could be true only in an ideal world.
Writing great content is very important. However, it is only one piece of the equation.
Search engines still having difficulty to decide what good content is. Hence, they include user feedback in their algorithm as a ranking factor.
We should optimize our content for search engines to prioritize it over our competitors.
How to achieve that?
It is achievable by following the right SEO practices.
Let’s discuss the necessary steps we should take to create super competitive content that ranks.
Make Content Research
Every content marketing campaign should start with the research process.
Where to make our research?
There is no better place than Google since we want our content to rank on Google. Type the topic you are interested in creating content on the search bar and hit enter.
Determine The Competition Level
Content marketing is a competitive business in nature. You need to know the competition level of a topic before creating content around that.
Finding competition-free content opportunities can provide an immense advantage for our favor.
Here I have asked Google “How often do baby chameleons eat?”
Google returned 8,010,000 results for this search query. In my experience, if Google can come up with less than 50,000,000 results the topic is usually not very competitive.
It doesn’t mean we can rank for it right away. It only shows there is still a good amount of space to rank if we can produce a good piece of content.
Obviously, this approach doesn’t cover the search volume data. Our search query may/may not have enough search volume to offer a good ROI.
Find Low Competition Keywords With Good Search Volume
If you pursue very high competition keywords too early you are missing out other easy to achieve opportunities. New websites should only focus on low competition keywords to start receiving organic search traffic from Google.
If a new website ranks for low competition keywords, Google can do user testing earlier possibly to finalize the Google Sandbox period. Also ranking for low competition keywords gradually increase the domain authority which makes it easier to rank for high competition keywords.
How to find low competition keyword opportunities that we can rank?
Keywords that have a relatively high search volume with low competition are the ones we should pursue. It is, in fact, a keyword supply or demand equilibrium that dictates if we can rank for a keyword.
I like Doug Cunnington’s KGR(Keyword Golden Ratio) to find almost competition-free niche content opportunities. There are also many good reviews about his technique and can be a good option to follow.
Learn The Content-Length Of Your Competitor
Content length is another important factor affects Google rankings. The common assumption is longer the content higher positions we can have.
There is certainly some truth in this assumption.
If you have 5000 words of rock-solid content with good usage of titles and subtitles, you hold good chances in terms of on-page SEO. Because most content on the internet is around 1000-1500 words on average.
The reason is quite simple.
By writing a long-form of content you naturally cover more topics. More content also can provide more depth to explain a subject.
Long-form content tends to rank for long-tail keywords. Unless you don’t fill up your pages with fluff, longer content is always a better option.
What is the optimum word count for content that ranks?
It is difficult to answer this question. Because it really depends on many things. Your niche and the level of competition are all major denominators. Usually going with the flow is fine. Create content about the same length or a little longer than your competitor.
If you are in a low commercial intent niche, you may write 1000 words of content and still rank #1 on Google. On the other hand, in competitive niches, you may need to write content more than 10,000 words to compete with the other sites in that niche.
Check The Domain Reputation Of Ranking Pages
Once you make research on Google, check for the domain authority of ranking pages of your competitors. If all pages ranking on #1st page of Google have high domain reputation, you may choose not to write content about the topic.
At least you can neglect those topics at the very early stages of your blog.
Check If Google Lists Paid Search Results
If you want to learn the competition level of any niche topic the first thing you need to do is making a Google search.
If Google comes up with paid search results there is a good chance of potential profitability with the competition as you may expect.
Searches that don’t return any paid ad results are usually the ones that cannot be monetized.
Research What Google Autocomplete Suggests
Google Autocomplete is one of the most efficient keyword research tools. Many content marketers use it regardless of they use expensive keyword research tools or not.
Once you start typing on Google, if more keyword ideas are generated by autosuggestion, there are good chances for search volume and competition.
Understand What Your Audience Want
Knowing your audience is essential to tailor a custom content strategy. If you know them well you can develop more targeted content.
Know Your Audience
When developing content you should consider ethnicity, gender, age, location, education level, employment, marital status, household composition, and so on.
Obviously you can never know all of the points just listed. However, you can ask your audience what kind of content they would love to see?
Consider adding a mini poll at the end of certain pieces of content. Ask a few brief questions and collect user data from your audience.
Let’s say you’ve got a weight loss blog that provides practical information that people can implement in their lifestyle.
Clearly, your audience is the people who are trying to get in shape. However, it is still not well enough definition for your target audience.
Weight loss advice for a 20-year-old girl and 50-year-old men are going to be different. You need to make it clear to which audience your content is addressing.
Who is the person most likely to benefit from your content? If you can describe your typical reader clearly, your content is more likely to help that audience. As a result, it will create more sales and conversions.
Talk Like Your Audience
We’ve got to be able to talk like our audience. Ideally, we want to be able to mimic the vocabulary that they are most likely to understand. If you’re in a photography niche use the terminology and certain phrases your audience can relate to. If your niche works best with the visual content, use images more often.
On the other hand, if you’re writing about business law, visual stuff may not be very applicable to your reader, but instead, quotes from government websites would help make your content appear more credible.
Write Relevant Content
I remember countless times I have searched something on search engines very hard but couldn’t find it.
Also, sometimes the content I have started to read went off-topic by bringing other discussions on the topic. This is going to turn off the reader and will decrease the user experience.
The common mistake many people make is to consider relevance as a fixed object. Either you can make it or you can break it. Relevance, however, is a dynamic concept that has multiple levels to achieve.
More effort to improve the relevance of the content, better results we can expect from it. For example, if your content is not consistent with the headings you used, you can simply revise your headings to make your content more relevant immediately.
Also, if you have outbound links that point to sources that are only partially relevant to your content, by pointing them to more relevant sources, you can instantly improve the relevance.
Relevance without any doubt improves the user experience. How is that possible?
People just hang out on those websites that provide a good user experience. If they can’t find out what they’re looking for, they’ll leave that content to look for another one.
If people can find what they’re looking for in the content, they’re more likely to consume more content from that resource.
In my definition, the relevant content is the one that responds most accurately to the question without losing itself in unnecessary details.
Let’s look at the major characteristics of relevant content.
Content that solves a problem
Relevant content should be able to solve a specific problem. If the problem can not be clearly described, we can not even talk about being relevant.
Our content should be able to discuss the problem and provide some sort of solution.
Content Focused On One Simple Goal
Content that is focused on solving multiple problems usually leaves the topic easily. Although it is tempting to provide solutions to multiple problems, it is hardly the best thing to do.
We want to describe our goal clearly before we start writing the content. If we can’t explain our goal in one or two sentences, it means that our goal is too complicated.
The relevant content should be easily navigated. It should have its own intrinsic flow, which allows the reader to keep reading until it is finished.
You may write the most informative content, but fail to structure it well. By doing so, you automatically reduce the relevance of your content.
As the best practice, all content should be structured by using headings and subheadings.
Large blocks of text are very difficult to read. Especially on mobile devices.
Try to keep your paragraphs two to three lines at the maximum.
We want to have a good distribution of images and text to provide the best user experience possible.
Use Keywords In Your Content
Make Keyword Research
Keywords are the primary ingredient of any marketing content campaign. Writing content for the reader is a good idea, but not enough.
One of the best practices to enhance relevance is to do more in-depth keyword research. Targeting only the best matching keywords is highly important.
Keywords make our content uniquely valuable both for the readers and the search engines. Hence making comprehensive keyword research is very valuable.
If we are developing content for web our content should be discovered easily by the search engines. We also want search engines to prioritize to serve our content before the other content competing with ours.
Use Optimum Keyword Density
I definitely don’t recommend repeating the same keywords more than it is enough. It should be as often without the human reader feeling unnatural. Include keywords in your content, but moderation is key.
Including relevant keywords in our content not only helps people find all content easily but also improves the relevance with our actual topic.
Use Keywords in your meta title and meta description
A meta description is the first station to start a journey into the content. Once the content is published, search engines list websites on SERP.
Searcher selects the most appealing content by looking at the meta title and meta description. Anyone who targets a good search engine position should focus on creating enticing meta titles and meta descriptions.
Write Comprehensive Content
Provide sufficient depth
Relevant content should be more than a yes or no response to the question. It should have a sufficient number of supporting arguments based on the facts.
Information can only be solidified if the base point is well established. I am therefore very much in favor of providing satisfactory proof that unites around the core subject.
Write Readable Content
Readable content is a direct ranking factor because it improves the user experience. People less likely to bounce if they can get our message without an effort.
Readability increases search engine rankings. Higher search engine rankings improve the amount of website traffic we receive.
Check For Grammar and Punctuation Issues
Most people just write content and publish it right away. People don’t really like to proofread to rectify the issues with their content.
There are many things wrong with this approach.
We may grammar and punctuation mistakes in our content. Even if we use tools that automatically correct our mistakes, there may be still mistakes.
Also, we may miss or overemphasize certain topics more than it is necessary. Proofreading is a great opportunity to write the same sentences shorter to further improve the readability of our content.
Implement E-A-T ( Expertise, Authority, and Trust)
Always include the author’s names & biographies of your content. Google quality guidelines state that:
“Understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T.”
YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages require special attention. They should only be created by experts with documented expertise on the subject.
Publish Great Content Regularly
If all bloggers have one thing in common, they have to post great content all the time. It’s the only way to drive a steady flow of traffic and keep the audience interested in their blog.
Search engines today reward websites that frequently publish high-quality content. It’s the way we establish authority status in whatever niche we pursue.
How many times a week should I blog?
If you have a blog, publishing medium-long content 2-3 times a week is perfect. Blogging once a week is accepted as a minimum by many content marketing authorities.
Blogging less than once a week does not really show a serious commitment to this business.
Keep It Mobile Friendly
You have to make sure your content is displayed equally fine on mobile devices as it is on desktop. Google values the mobile user experience very much.
Your content should be structured with a “mobile-first” approach.