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How to write SEO content that ranks?

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SEO friendly content

What is SEO content?

SEO content refers to the type of content created by using good on-page SEO practices in order to achieve better visibility and higher search ranking positions.

This type of content is specifically optimized to have a competitive advantage in the search results.

Almost all content on the web is created with the goal of reaching the maximum amount of relevant audiences. However, most content fails to achieve this goal since they simply don’t deserve it.

Writing good SEO content requires planned work and taking consistent action. It is not the most fun thing to do. Since it will require keyword research, creating a content outline, and working on a proven to work SEO template.

However, if planned well, the future organic ranking positions pay off the hard work invested.

Using the necessary tools can shorten the content production period by accelerating the efficiency of the process.

Before we delve into, I would recommend trying the SEMrush Content Marketing Platform for free.

The common misconception about the SEO content is to think of it as keyword-stuffed content that is unnatural for the human reader.

I can relate to this type of thinking since it holds a certain amount of truth in it. Because in the earlier ages of Google, content is written only to trick the algorithms.

Truth to be told, it worked quite well for a while. SEOs wrote content with 5% keyword density and ranked for very competitive keywords. Search engines quickly discovered those vulnerabilities in their algorithms and patched those issues.

Nowadays search engines are more sophisticated. They use artificial intelligence to understand if the content is written in a natural way.

It is no secret Google tested millions of pieces of content to develop the search algorithm that can pick up a fluent, and informative piece of content than a junk that provides no value to the users.

Is SEO Content Dead?

is SEO dead?

I don’t think it is dead or outdated. The only thing changed the techniques of creating SEO content.

SEO is an evolving science. The strategies used to work in the past may/may not work today. The best way of knowing what type of content ranks is reverse engineering an already ranking content. Analyzing what type of content ranks will show us what Google really wants to see.

Knowing what Google wants to see will help us developing a viable SEO content strategy.

Today search engines want to rank the new generation SEO content. It is the type of content that provides the best user experience for the people. It is an informative, readable, and most importantly engaging type of content that sticks people to read to the end.

How To Optimize Content for high search ranking positions?

If we want to create a super optimized piece of SEO content, we need to write first for the people. Because any piece of content created ignoring users will yield poor results in the long run.

Google tests the user’s behavior on the page to understand the quality of a certain piece of content. If people don’t read it and bounce back to other search results, it signals low-quality content to Google.

Does keyword research still keep its importance in creating SEO content?

Yes, it is still very important to make good keyword research today. However, it is necessary using keywords contextually rather than forcing our content to stuff the keywords.

If we don’t consciously include the keywords that we want search engines to rank us for, we will drastically reduce our chances of competing in our niche.

Search engines are still using keywords on the pages to make a decision on the relevance of the content.

There is no doubt that keywords make content discoverable in search engines. Unless we don’t overdo it, it always perfectly makes sense to include our keywords a few times in our content.

Keywords help search engines to find, understand, and relate our content better.

Where to start creating it?

Before creating any piece of content, you should first set the target audience. Because once you know your target audience, you can plan your content much more strategically.

Is your audience belongs to certain demographics? Do they have common interests and similarities?

If you do your research in advance and create the ideal customer persona for your business, you can communicate with your audience much more effectively.

How can you make your content more SEO friendly?

Here I am going to mention some of my best strategies to make your content friendly with the search engines.

Make a good keyword research

The primary goal of any content created for the web is to be found by the search engines. You need to define beforehand which keywords you plan to target.

If you fail to make comprehensive keyword research, you pretty much lower the chances of your content to be found by the search engines.

Know in advance which keywords have value for your business. Define from those keywords the ones you can be competitive. Keyword research by far the most important ingredient of any SEO content plan.

Create content with the optimum length

Before writing any piece of content, you need to know how long it should be. I don’t mean writing for the sake of having a certain amount of words in your content. I rather mean the depth you plan providing with your content.

Unfortunately, the common advice about the length of content is “the longer is better”. This is not the case every time. Writing the very long form of content all the time may not provide the best ROI for your content development efforts.

Then how long content should be?

It should be as long as it is supposed to be. What I mean with that, you need to do a SERP Analysis before creating content.

How long your competitors are writing?

Go to Google and make a search typing your keyword. Then check the word count of all the results on Google’s 1st page. If the average length of content is 1500 words, you don’t need to write 5000 words of content.

Is there a better way to know the average length of the content of my competitors without manually visiting every website?

There is a better way but not free. SEMrush offers SEO Content templates that let you know about the length of content you should create.

Use Interesting Headlines & Subheadlines

It is said you have only 8 seconds or less to make an impression when people visit your website before they turn away.

I don’t remember how many times I have seen great content with a very uninteresting headline.

If your content cannot attract visitors creating at least a little bit of curiosity, it is not going to serve your content marketing goals.

People will not read your content, they will not click your affiliate links or signup your email list, in short, your content will not convert.

I would say headlines and subheadlines are by far the most important elements of any content. They are the essential elements that visitors notice first when they land on a page and decide if they remain on it or not.

The importance of using the right headlines and subheadlines are not only limited to that.

Search engines prioritize the keywords in these sections by giving more importance to determine the relevance of content. They match keywords in headlines with the other words in content to create long-tail search queries.

Most SEO plugins recommend using your keywords in your headings since it is one of the best ways of determining the relevance of your content.

Headings improve user experience of your content by making it more skimmable and lowering bounce rates.

No one wants to read a large block of text since it is hard to follow. Nowadays more and more content on the web produced with smaller blocks of text that are digestible for the reader.

Because most of us skim the content on a page by reading headlines & subheadlines before deciding to read it entirely.

💪Use power words

Use power words in your headlines that grab attention. Don’t simply use a plain vocabulary all the time. Spice it up by adding power words in your headings.

Highlight important points

Focus on highlighting important points on how your product/service could help your audience to solve their problem and make their lives better.

Explain the features and solutions that you can offer different than your competitors can do for the same problem. Let the readers know how your product/service addresses a certain problem and what features you offer may help them solve the problem.

Invoke curiosity

Each piece of content we produce should aim in keeping the visitor on the page as long as possible. It is the most effective way of increasing sales and conversions.

We can achieve this goal by asking certain questions to the reader in our content that will raise curiosity to make them want to know more.

Don’t overinform the reader with your headline or subheadline. It is a common mistake many content marketers make. You may give clues about the content that will follow the subheadline but don’t overdo it. Leave a reason for the reader to consume your content.

Write readable content

Readability is the level of ease that a reader experiences consuming a certain piece of content. In other words, keeping the language simple enough to make the content understandable far more efficiently.

Focusing on readability increases the chances of our target audience will actually read and interact with the content we publish.

Readable content has more SEO advantages for ranking. Search engines assign a readability score for every page. The score achieved is a direct input for the algorithms evaluating websites.

readable content

It is not hard to know if your content is readable. You don’t need to ask your friend’s opinion to know about it.

There are SEO tools and plugins that can score the readability of your content. I use Yoast SEO plugin which automatically scores my content even when I am just typing it.

Here is a screenshot from my Yoast SEO plugin already scored my content for the part I have completed so far.

Yoast readability score

As you can see I am doing pretty well in terms of readability. I would say any score over 60 is good enough. Obviously better the score higher the chances of your content ranking. Because Google still algorithmically scores the overall readability.

Therefore, readability should be our major concern in creating any type of content.

Write uniquely valuable content

Many people rewrite content by aggregating other articles on one page. Unique content does not only mean unique in wording. If the content fails to bring new opinions on the table it may not be seen as unique by Google.

Google can algorithmically understand if the things you mention in your content are available everywhere else. If you don’t offer something new your content may not rank well although it passes the Copyscape.

Encourage Taking Action

Each page on your site should have a clear and concise intent behind it. Either promoting a certain product, asking people to join your mailing list, call you for a quote, or to get them to contact you for details about your services.

Most of the time internet marketers neglect including a strong call to action in their content. Visitors land on the website just read the information and leave. I believe having a weak or no call to action by far is the biggest lost opportunity for the websites.

Because the websites that don’t encourage visitors to take a certain action will naturally have a low conversion rate. If there are low conversions there is low profitability.

🍊Time Your Call To Action

It is important to time a call to action (CTA). If it is thrown haphazardly in your content, it may repel the visitors from your site right away. It is always necessary to build a relationship with the visitors before asking them to take the action you want.

Hence, provide good quality of content and warm up the visitor for the action you will ask them to take.

🍊Write a Credible Supporting Copy

It is unlikely that people will take the action you want without you build trust with them. Building trust is a very important step and affected by many factors. However, the copy you write is going to be the major denominator of it.

The copy’s trustworthiness is not simply its truthfulness. It’s also about the tone used by writing the content. If the copy perceived as impersonal, manipulative and aggressively pushy trying to sell something people will not likely take that action.

It is right that a particular language tends to convert better to market products or services.

However, most websites make the mistake of using the call to action phrases like “buy today”, “deal of the day” or “last chance” too early in their copy.

However, knowing where and when to use these words can make or break the deal.

Implement a good internal linking strategy

Google crawls websites through the internal links on the pages. The internal link architecture of a site tells Google about the relationship between different pages, posts and other content.

Also, links help to improve the user experience on a website. People can click a specific phrase to read the other content you’ve referred to.

When designing an internal linking strategy, you need to consider the relevance and the relationship between your pages.

Optimize Your Images

Content on a page is not just text, but rather a combination of text with images and other types of multimedia.

We can not ignore images when we talk about SEO content that ranks.

Implementing good image SEO practices are important to improve overall user experience.

Provide polls and surveys

Good content is engaging content that keeps people on the page for an extended period of time. Google tracks user engagement metrics such as time spent on the website and bounce rate.

Based on the user data, Google repositions the websites accordingly.

We want to improve user engagement on our website. One of the best ways to achieve it is to include polls and surveys asking people’s opinions.

If people read our content, click around the page and scroll further, we’re doing pretty well in terms of the user experience we provide on our website.

Always Proofread Your content

SEO Content is created to earn a good search engine ranking position. We cannot expect a copy full of grammar and punctuation issues to rank on Google. Content with these types of issues also likely hurt your credibility and trustworthiness.

Proofreading your content is always a great idea. Because we as humans will naturally make mistakes when writing content.

Even you use some type of grammar tool that fixes your mistakes when you are typing, you still need to proofread your content.

You will always find redundant words or phrases that distract the consistency of your content’s natural flow.

Enable Blog commenting

Allowing people to comment on your page is a good idea to extend the amount of page content, and improve user experience on your website. Google wants to see the content people are actively engaging with.

However, don’t allow auto-approved blog commenting on your site since your website will get spammed in a short period of time.

If you cannot decide if you should allow blog commenting on your site you can read this post here.

Encourage social sharing

Social media is one of the best ways to increase traffic on your website. However, it is not the actual benefit I am going to talk about. Social sharing is a good measurement proving user interaction on your site to the search engines.

If no one else tweeting your post or pinning your images your content may not be good enough.

The mistake people make is buying social sharings trying to deceive Google to show their websites different in fact its. You will need some social media interaction to signal Google that your site is shareworthy. However, more is not better when it comes to social signals.

As the best practice, always ask people to share your content preferably at the end of your content. Include social buttons to your pages to encourage people sharing it.

Final Thoughts

SEO content is high-quality content. Because search engines prioritize this type of content.

If you make good keyword research and write interesting content you will likely to rank your content. Obviously, it will also depend on your niche and how your competitors are performing.

Don’t try tricking Google since it will not likely provide you a long term advantage. SEO is a marathon rather than a sprint. If you take the right actions consistently your campaigns will be at where you want them to be.

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