Business owners and content marketers are constantly in search of ways to improve their search rankings on search engines in order to drive traffic and hopefully gain more interest in what they offer. There are many ways to go about finding success with search rankings, but one search engine optimization (SEO) ranking factor reigns supreme: Content.
Not just any content. Quality, beefy, resourceful content that drives users to take action. Content that is created in harmony with SEO and intended to be picked up by search engines.
Our purpose in this post is simple; to provide you with an understanding of why content is important for search rankings and show you what you can do to create valuable content.
First, let’s start with the difference between SEO and Content. SEO refers to search engine optimization, or the process of optimizing a website so that people can easily find it via search engines like Google. Content, on the other hand, refers to any information that lives on the web and can be consumed on the web. Put those two together, and you have SEO content — any content created with the goal of attracting traffic on search engines.
Writing to improve search rankings means planning your content with SEO in mind and usually involves writing blogs using elements that will increase your search visibility and Google ranking. In this case, you’re optimizing your content with the sole objective of improving search engine ranking.
Creating rank-friendly content through methods like blogs is vital to your marketing strategy because it enables you to appear in search results and drive organic traffic. According to WorldOMeter, content marketers publish almost five million blog posts daily. That stat alone should explain the importance of content creation centered around best SEO practices. You need to be able to stand out amongst the competition and be findable to your intended audience.
Now, while you aren’t necessarily fighting against five million blog posts to show up in the top five for a specific topic, you are fighting to gain the attention of your intended users. Gone are the days where just having a website was enough to stand out. You are in a sea of businesses who all have websites — your biggest weapon against them will be your content.
Engaging content is at the heart of a solid search ranking. Great content increases click-through rates and earns more repeat site visits, links, shares, and higher time on page. This signals that your content is relevant, useful, and deserves to rank higher in search results. As more people engage with your content, you’ll start to see it climb to the top of the search engine rankings.
Google processes over 6.7 Billion searches a day and is the main search engine used online. As more businesses figure out what the search engine is looking for, Google has raised the bar on which websites will be ranked at the highest level (see their 200 ranking factors here).
Businesses need to change how they leverage online marketing through Google and other search engines. Key elements that Google looks for in websites for ranking include:
Although things like links, page speed, domain elements, and technical SEO or backlinking are all important, absolutely nothing matters more to online ranking than well-written, quality content that’s relevant to end-users. Keep your content concise, detailed, well-written (using proper grammar and spelling), and relevant to your intended audience, and you’ll be on your way to meeting the top criteria for being discovered by search engines.
Your audience is why you’re doing what you’re doing. This means your content needs to center around what they search for and provide answers to their deepest problems. Search ranking is a lot more than putting keywords in order. It is an art to learn how users think and respond. You need to always be asking, “Why are people searching for these keywords?”
The better you understand your audience and build repeatable buyer personas, the better you’ll be able to shape your content. According to Google’s evaluation guidelines, searchers have four different purposes while looking for a particular keyword.
To better understand this concept, you can conduct your own searches to get a firm idea of user intent, and what your competitors are offering. This method will give you insights into audience search behavior, and also help you to create more persuasive content.
Keywords are search items that users type in on search engines and need to be added and considered when crafting content.
Let me also be clear in including this suggestion: Don’t saturate things like blogs, videos, infographics, and social posts with one specific keyword. BUT do include relevant keywords and surrounding terms to make it clear to search engines what it is you’re trying to convey.
Choosing the most appropriate keywords requires three steps:
When considering that last point, you should incorporate long-tail keywords with low volume and low competition. While writing pillar pages, you should target short-tail keywords with high capacity and high competition.
Knowing what your competitors are up to (good or bad) is important as you shape content that will be picked up by search engines.
Are your competitors forgetting to address a portion of your industry that you might be able to leverage? Are they addressing all audience pain points? How are they handling content? Is it performing well? If so, why?
These are all questions you should be asking as you shape content. Here are some additional competitor tactics to help in this content creation.
You already chose your keyword/topic; now search and analyze the results. What is the highest-ranking content? Read them carefully to understand why they’re ranking. Then, fill up any flaws you find.
You’ll start to see the reasons why rival content marketers are doing better than you. Analyze whether it’s ranked because of comprehensiveness, detailed blog posts, content structure, or any other reasons. Iterate your work from there.
Take an opportunity to write a new blog using the same keywords or update a similar post with your competitors’ ranking keyword terms. It can give you an edge and improves your rankings significantly.
Your content should have several outbound links that help the reader to navigate to the primary resource for more value. For this, linking to top credible sites is excellent since it adds lots of value to your content, and improves search ranking.
Attempt to insert statistics and references as much as possible, or invite guests to contribute and then link to their material. Not only does it prevent readers from thinking you made everything up, it shows you took the time to do your due diligence in serving them up with the best information possible.
SEO and improving your search rankings may seem foreign upon your first introduction, but starting with quality content is the best first step. If you’re looking for more resources on SEO and how to manage it for your small business, be sure to check out our post on SEO for Dummies. And as always, we’d love to sit down and chat if you have any questions or need guidance on where to begin. Contact us today!