How to Create the Best Content for SEO
Any rumors you may have heard about the death of SEO have been vastly overstated. What is true, however, is that the focus has shifted from provider to audience. Instead of producing product pages, sales one-sheets, and other company-centric content, you must pivot and create great content focused squarely on your target personas and their needs.
Why Does Content Quality Matter?
63% of marketers say content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. High-quality content creation is a top inbound marketing priority for 63% of marketers, indicating its significance for businesses of all sizes. By producing exceptional content, businesses can entice fresh customers, generate leads, and enhance search engine rankings.
Blog posts are 67% more likely to rank on the first page of Google than other types of content. Regular blog posts are a potent weapon in the arsenal of SEO. They allow businesses to boost visibility in search results and attract organic traffic to their website. This highlights the need for companies to invest in high-quality content creation as part of their inbound marketing strategy.
Long-form content (1,500+ words) receives 3.5 times more organic traffic than short-form content. Businesses that create long-form content provide more value to their readers and increase their chances of landing on the top of search results. So, if you want to rank higher, invest in creating in-depth content that truly resonates with your audience.
Visual content (images, infographics, videos) is 94% more likely to be shared on social media than text-only content. Including visual content in blog posts can increase social media engagement and drive more traffic to a website, as visual content is significantly more likely to be shared on social media than text-only content, making it more engaging and shareable. Therefore, businesses can benefit greatly from visual content in their blog posts.
Content marketing generates 3x more leads per dollar spent than traditional marketing methods. Investing in content marketing is a savvy business move as it generates significantly more leads per dollar spent than traditional marketing methods. Businesses can grow and expand their brands by attracting new customers through high-quality content creation.
We've combed our archives and wracked our collective brains to come up with our top tips on how to create effective content for SEO. There's a combination of suggestions directly related to the content and some that may seem tangential. Still, these items will help boost your reputation with readers and search engines. And that's the best way to improve your SEO. And eventually, exceptional content will drive sales and growth for your business.
So where to begin?
1. Do your research
Great content starts with great research. And great SEO does too. There are three primary areas you need to be researching before every piece of content is written: audience, topic, and keywords.
To direct your content to individuals within your target audience, you must first understand that target audience. Study your marketing demographics and the personas you use for your content. Then go deeper. Where are they spending time online? Go there and do some social monitoring. See what they're talking about, and if they mention you, is it good news? You need your presence on these same platforms to be engaging, and to be engaging, you need to know these folks better than they know themselves.
Of course, you need to be researching your topics as well. But notice that this is only one of three areas we're discussing here. It is just as important to know your topic as it is to know your audience. You don't need to become a recognized expert on your subject matter, but it does help create a sense of trust and authority if you're at least conversationally fluent. Demonstrate that you fully grasp the topics by interacting in the comments. Answering questions on the fly is a great way to show mastery of a topic.
And lastly, the old SEO standby, keywords. Take the questions your audience is asking online and use them as the basis for your keyword work. Gone are the days when you could just stuff a page with individual ranking keywords and see a spike in visits (That's called keyword stuffing, and it's a big no-no. Doing this will tank your SEO these days). Semantic searches via text entry and voice command are taking over the world of search, so you need to be sure your pages contain answers to the questions being asked. Use this research time to find the questions. Then, formulate the answers to include long-tail keyword phrases and work them into your pieces.
How-to tip: Understand your audience's needs and pain points.
The first step in creating great content is understanding your audience's needs and pain points. What are they struggling with? What questions do they have? What information do they need? Once you have a good understanding of your audience's needs, you can start to create content that is relevant and helpful to them.
Example: Let's say you're a business that sells software for small businesses. Your target audience is small business owners looking to save time and money. You could create a blog post with tips on using your software to improve productivity. You could also create a case study that showcases how your software has helped other small businesses succeed.
2. Go deep
Google and the other search engines have been tweaking their search algorithms, and longer-form pieces now rank much higher than they used to. To stand a chance of making it to page 1 in the results, you must regularly post in the 1,500-2,000 word range. These pieces should have a single topic focus, answer a pressing question, or otherwise be based strongly on your keyword research from above.
As you accumulate several pieces on related topics, it's time to think about a Topic Cluster. This is when you have several pages, all linked to each other, on one topic. Then, put up a pillar page to link to all the related pages and link them back to the pillar page. This builds what Google calls "authoritativeness" and is a fantastic way to up your SEO pull.
How-to tip: Create long-form content that is informative and comprehensive.
Google and other search engines reward long-form content that is informative and comprehensive. This is because long-form content is more likely to provide users with the information they seek. When creating long-form content, be sure to:
Choose a topic that is relevant to your audience.
Do your research and gather as much information as possible.
Organize your information in a clear and logical way.
Write in a clear and concise style.
Use images, infographics, and videos to break up your text and make it more visually appealing.
Use internal and external links to related content.
Example: Let's say you're a business that sells software for small businesses. You could create a long-form blog post that provides a comprehensive overview of how your software can help small businesses improve their productivity. The blog post could include information on how the software can help businesses with customer relationship management, project management, and accounting tasks. The blog post could also include case studies that showcase how your software has helped other small businesses succeed.
3. Be readable
Readability when talking about SEO means several things. Writing clearly and concisely is part one, of course. But you also need to be taking into account the physical readability of the page itself. Is there enough white space? Are your images spaced appropriately? How's the load time of the page? How's your mobile optimization? Here are some aspects of readability to be sure you take into account:
White space matters. Like, a lot. Surrounding your words with clean, open space is the best way to keep your readers focused on the words.
Break up the monotony. Using images that are on point and relate to your topic and mixing up the paragraph size are simple ways to disrupt the page without disrupting the reader's flow.
Subheads are critical. Use plenty of them so even your skimmers can follow the piece's flow and stay interested to the bottom. Subheads are also given higher weight than regular text, so use them to highlight your short-tail keywords to bring more punch to the SEO side of the article.
4. Mix it up
This is another point that has multiple aspects. Vary the length of pieces, the topics, the depth, and the medium to keep readers coming back. Return visits are key to your site's overall SEO, so this variety is a great way to keep people interested in what you post next.
- Try some shorter pieces in the 750-1,500 word range. Keep the focus on a single question you found in your keyword research.
- Also, do some definitive, "ultimate guide" style pieces that go into greater depth. These should be in the 3,000-3,500 word range.
- Mix up your content types while you're at it. People want to see videos, images, infographics, and more. Thought about a podcast? Now's the time.
The definition of SEO is expanding along with everything else in the online world. It now includes everywhere people search, not just on-page at Google, Yahoo, etc. That means if you put up a podcast, you need to be sure you rank on iTunes, Stitcher, and everywhere that podcast can be downloaded. And if you're doing video content, you need to rank on YouTube, Vimeo, and wherever else you host that content.
5. Demonstrate your authority
Want that coveted "snippet" slot at the top of the SERP? You must remember a few key points, as that spot is reserved for sites with authority.
- Pay attention to your formatting. Bulleted and numbered lists help, as does definitively asking and answering a question from your keyword research.
- Include statistics and numbers. And be sure to cite your sources; these links to other authoritative sites raise your ranking.
- Reputation is calculated using information from your site (about page, author bio), guest post author bios, and what's being said about you elsewhere. Spend time on social monitoring to see what people say and respond where appropriate.
Google and other search engines reward websites that demonstrate authority on their topic. You can demonstrate your authority by using the following techniques:
Use formatting: Bulleted and numbered lists, headings, and subheadings can help make your content more scannable and easier to read. This makes your content more likely to be read by users, which in turn helps to improve your website's authority.
Include statistics and numbers: Using statistics and numbers can help to add credibility to your content. This is because statistics and numbers are often seen as more objective and reliable than other types of information.
Cite your sources: Citing your sources shows that you have done your research and are not simply making things up. This can help to improve your website's authority and credibility.
Example: Let's say you're a business that sells software for small businesses. You could create a blog post with tips on using your software to improve productivity. In the blog post, you could use bulleted lists to list the different tips and cite statistics from studies that have shown the benefits of using your software.
A lot of information to take in at once. So here's a quick rundown of the high points:
Research, research, research to provide relevant, engaging content.
Do solid research on your audience, topic, and keywords; the rest will fall into place as time passes. Use your energy to create content that answers your audience's questions, and watch your reputation and authority spike along with your readership numbers!