- Writing content that Google loves starts with choosing a killer topic. Your content must appeal to your audience first and foremost before optimising for targeted keywords.
- You also need to optimise the metadata and leverage your content using your professional and social networks.
- Read on to learn how to write great content that ranks on Google in five simple steps.
You’re sitting at your desk with a steaming mug of coffee ready to get you through your next article, but...
Everything’s reading poorly.
You’re swimming in keywords.
Your client or your organisation has been harping on about writing compelling content to customers, so you push through and are now halfway through that mug of joe when bam… you’ve got the writing blues.
Sound familiar? Then take a long draught and get settled in. You’re going to be okay because we’re going to take you through, in detail, how to write content that Google will love, which your client will love and that their customers will love too.
How to Write Content That Ranks
This is how you write great SEO-friendly content that ranks:
- Pick a killer topic
- Write content that is genuine, relevant and valuable
- Choose winning keywords
- Optimise your article for Google
- Leverage your optimised content
1. Pick a killer topic
If you’ve already been provided with the topic you’re writing for, feel free to skip to the next tip relevant to you. We’re going right back to first principles, baby!
Most of the time, there are multiple search engine optimisation opportunities available and only so much resource for article writing. How do you choose the subject matter that’ll have the most impact?
I’m going to break it down to you simple - write what is most useful to your users first.
Worry about Google after the fact. While that may seem counterintuitive, and yes, we all want to rank, but guess what? In response to everyone publishing hordes of content just to rank, Google’s quality guidelines are continually moving towards encouraging websites to provide genuine, relevant and valuable information to their visitors. At the end of the day, content that your users love is content that Google loves. Optimise for your keywords after you’ve got a great article, not the other way around.
To put that notion into practice, look at what your users are interested in.
- What are their needs?
- What challenges do they face?
- What pain points can you solve for them?
You need to provide real insights into their issues that they can’t find elsewhere and address those queries that you know your users are asking. If you’ve got the answers to everyone’s burning questions, jump in and start jotting.
2. Write content that is genuine, relevant and valuable
Remember above, when we said to provide genuine, relevant and valuable information to visitors? We’re going to use those attributes as our guiding stars to benchmark the quality of your content.
Genuine content means that it isn’t copy-pasted from anywhere else and is credible knowledge. It’s not in Google’s interests to bring up search engine result pages (SERPs) full of duplicate pages or incorrect information, so it’s no longer in your interests either.
Do the hard and smart stuff and you’ll reap the benefits: write your own copy, support claims with facts and references, use a tone of voice that is authoritative and builds trust with users.
Ensure that your brand, tone of voice, and messaging is consistent across all articles. Nothing comes off worse than garbled language in an article, and it’s a sure-fire way to destroy users’ perceptions of your expertise, authority and trustworthiness, so be clear and concise.
Relevant content means that it should be written to meet your customer where their head is. When you start writing, be aware of which part of the user journey your readers will be in. Are they repeat customers? Will they be looking through fresh eyes? Or are they industry peers?
Keep in mind the article’s objective in relation to their user journey stage and sales funnel to ensure that your content address their concerns and questions.
Valuable content means that it improves your users’ experience in some way. For example, they could gain new knowledge, be entertained, or find a solution to their needs. You can encourage this in your content by providing deeper insights than other articles surrounding your topic, and/or creating evocative and emotive responses with your writing style and clever use of media.
I’m sure you’ve heard that a picture paints a thousand words, and the use of quality images and videos to reinforce your content provide more value to your audience.
3. Choose winning keywords
I won’t lie, this section isn’t to cover the entire process of keyword selection. There are plenty of SEO articles out there to take you through the individual steps like finding keyword opportunities by including question-format keywords in your research. We’re going to assume you’ve done your keyword research and are now looking to apply those keywords to your article.
So, now that you’ve got a fantastically written article, by humans and for humans, we aren’t going to screw it up with lots of keyword stuffing. This is super important! There are plenty of examples of keyword-stuffed articles online that even if there’s good information nested in the content, it’s a struggle to read and diminishes its value.
To counteract this, evaluate your keyword research with a few different perspectives and rate them in terms of:
- Search intent - what is the user looking for?
- Importance to the business - how big a part does this keyword play in terms of the organisation’s goals, priorities and profitability?
- Priority - how urgently do you need this keyword to rank?
- Keyword difficulty - how competitive is the market for this keyword?
- Keyword volume - how much are the traffic searches for this keyword on a daily/monthly/yearly basis?
- CTR - how likely is it that your target demographic would click on your article once it ranks?
- Seasonality and trends - is it the right time to be putting work into this term?
By the time you’ve run your keywords through the wringer, in conjunction with the topic(s) covered by your article, you’ll be able to narrow down your keyword selection to make the job easier. With your keywords in hand, address search intents (usually multiple search intents) for a given query and start assigning those relevant terms for optimisation.
4. Optimise your article for Google
Awesome work! You’ve got the topics, done up the article, and assigned multiple keywords per relevant topic. But the day is not done and now we are finally ready to boogie.
How to Optimise Your Article for Google
Here’s your cheat sheet of optimisations from the top of the page to the bottom line of text:
a. Title tags
Make sure your title tags clearly and succinctly explain what the page is about and optimise it to include your target keywords. No gimmicks, no caps lock, keep it classy.
b. Meta description
This is the text below your SERP link, so make it catchy to elicit clicks, while providing clear context for the page they will reach by clicking through. Feel free to include targeted keywords.
c. H Tags
Make sure there is a single H1 on the page or Google won’t love you. As always, make sure your H1 is read-worthy, and then optimise for the target keyword, in that order of importance! After that, be sure to use a consistent heading structure for heading hierarchy such as H2s for sub-headings, H3s for sub-sub-headings, etc.
d. Content optimisation
Refrain from linking to external resources or external pages multiple times in the same article and avoid phrases such as "read more" and "click here". Instead, use contextual anchor text for links for better readability.
e. Media optimisation
Media files can get big, and big means slow page speed, which nobody likes. Google definitely doesn’t, and your customers will bounce more readily. Optimise your images, videos, audio files and PDFs to find a compromise between quality and file size. Optimise the meta data within your media as well to save on file size and include alt attributes and/or title attributes to improve searchability, user experience and context for when the files fail to load.
f. Mobile optimisation
Google now indexes the mobile version of your page first, so be sure to check your draft on smaller screens to ensure the experience is seamless. Keep it lightweight, readable and navigable!
g. Structured data
Optimise your structured data to provide a richer search experience for users.Google supports an ever-growing range of schema that you can incorporate to help the search engine interpret what your content is conveying in greater detail.
h. XML sitemap
Make sure your page is indexable and present on your website’s XML sitemap. Remember, if Google can’t find your URL, it doesn’t exist!
i. Search console submission
Via Google Search Console, you can also manually submit your URL to request indexation. Directly providing a positive signal is never a bad idea, so provide multiple opportunities to encourage Google to crawl and cache your content.
5. Leverage your optimised content
If you’ve stuck with us all the way to this point, congratulations! You can now reap the fruits of your labour and have opened up new marketing opportunities for your efforts. As you start to build traffic to your content, it’s worth considering how to maximise its effectiveness and make use of it in more ways than just sitting on your website.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- From an organisational perspective, you can append a CTA at the end of the piece to entice users to enquire or buy from the business.
- From a customer perspective, you can add “Share” buttons to help spread your content throughout the customer’s networks. You might even go viral!
- Redistribute your content through other channels such as e-mail marketing, social media and industry publications.
- Let your real-life relationships know about your new content to reach new audiences and inbound links to boost traffic and leads even further.
- Encourage engagement and participation with user-generated content on the post’s comments, if it’s appropriate to your situation.
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