SEO generally involves a bit of shifting around tags, carefully creating highways for crawlers to find your pages, and meticulously linking authoritative websites to slowly climb up the rankings.
While it’s true that the “if you build it, they will come” approach to web content does not actually drive traffic – because good content doesn’t always bubble to the surface – it’s also true that the limits of your content are the limits of your ranking.
Think of your content as the potential ceiling for your page ranking, and your SEO strategies as the actual progress toward that page ranking.
Even with perfectly optimized pages, B grade content probably won’t rise to a #1 Google ranking. On the other hand, A+ grade content without SEO may start to go stale and acquire mold on the second page of Google. Put aside your Excel sheets, keyword research, and optimization guides for just a minute.
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of SEO-friendly content that has the potential to rank #1.
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Number 1: Write for Humans
I have touched on this topic in many of my past blogs, but I will say it again here; content is king. It is very important to make sure you have solid and unique content. Always write your content for humans not search engines.
Your content needs to engage your readers and compel them to take action. It needs to be interesting, relevant and informational. They days of key word stuffing and only writing for search engines are over. By writing content for humans, you are writing for search engines.
You need to think beyond PageRank and understand that optimizing for users is more effective than optimizing for engines.
Number 2: Quality Copy Always Wins
Decide the effect you want to produce in your reader.
Following on from our last point: good copy appeals to humans and as a result, will help you rank better in search engines.
Of course, to work for search engines, you need quality copy with strong anchor text and clearly defined headlines. Since Google’s Panda algorithm update back in 2011 (where many websites suffered a severe dip in search authority) marketers must focus on creating the best user experience possible to rank well.
Good copywriting that incorporates keywords both sparsely and naturally is the key to boosting your organic rankings – allowing you to humanize your brand while creating a better customer experience.
Number 3: Write Compelling Meta Descriptions
A page’s meta description is a short blurb (less than 160 characters) that gives readers a summary of what the page is about. The meta description doesn’t appear on the page itself, but it does display along with the title of the page in search results, and Google may use it as a featured snippet if it matches up to a user’s query.
For best search results, write a unique, compelling meta description for each page on your site to pique readers’ interest and get them to click through to your site to read more.
Number 4: iPod or Zune- Which Would You Choose?
Almost 10 years ago now, the race for the portable mp3/mp4 player market began.
Apple launched the iPod classic, soon followed by the iPod touch, while Microsoft launched the Zune. The Zune was a pretty colossal failure, while the iPod went on to help Apple become even more of a leader in technology.
The funny thing is that many argued that the functionality of the Zune was actually better than that of the competing products. The problem was that it was bulky and ugly and not exactly the cool product to be seen with.
In short: looks matter.
And just like a case and logo affect the user experience with an mp3 player, the design of your website affects the user experience of any of your readers.
Even with the exact same content, two different designs can yield drastically different results. Users may love one while not even to bother reading through to the other.
If you want to create a better piece of content for a search, start (or finish) by improving the appearance.
Number 5: Research the Keywords
To perform keyword research, use effective keyword tools. These will help you identify phrases that can potentially send the most amount of traffic to your evergreen blog posts.
Time-sensitive vs. evergreen content
As time-sensitive content gives you spikes in traffic, evergreen content is what drives visitors to your blog, all the time. Both are necessary for SEO, but it is evergreen content that ultimately gives your blog substance.
Time-sensitive content grabs people’s attention by piquing their curiosity for a short time. It is evergreen content that is the information people are looking for when using search engines. Having readily available evergreen content that provides the answers your readers seek, is organic, and highly favored by Google.
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Number 6: Use Long-form & Short-form Content
In the early days of the web, short-form content helped you grab up the market share at a hundred words a pop. You could produce a lot of articles, with few words, and do it quickly, to drive a lot of traffic.
With increasingly crowded web spaces and demanding searchers, Google’s algorithms have begun privileging longer and longer content. Sort-of.
If your goal is to satisfy the searcher’s query, and you get to pick between a 250-word article and a 3,000-word article, there’s generally a higher chance that the 3,000-word article contains something in it that satisfies the intent of the searcher.
Yet, sometimes that 250-word article delivers the bullet point answer in a beautiful featured snippet, and those other 2,750 words are no longer needed and definitely not read.
According to an aggregation of research, the ideal content length for high-ranking pages should be around 2,000 words. This is a good starting point and a great place to gauge your word count, but it isn’t the Holy Grail.
You need to A/B test with your specific visitors to see which kind of content they like best – short or long. I always suggest doing a mixture regardless, because if the user favors short one day the algorithm may prefer long the next.
I also suggest running a content audit to historically see what word count length has been the most beneficial in the past.
Number 7: Social Media Helps
Content isn’t necessarily great in the marketing world until it is shared or passed along to others. In order to get your content noticed, you need to incorporate social media tools like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook onto your sites. Promoting your content is just as important, if not more important than even writing the content.
Make sure you build up your social media accounts to have many followers. The sites that do well are those who have built up their social presence in addition to the amount and quality of content on their sites. Build your social sites up first, then start increasing the quantity and quality of your content to promote it.
Number 8: Watch the Trends, But Don’t Blindly Follow Them
When you see a dozen highly ranked web pages on the same topic, it’s tempting to try to get in on the action. It’s helpful to know what topics are trending, but instead of creating your own piece of copycat content, focus on finding your own unique take to provide real value to your audience.
Creating great content isn’t easy, but that’s the only way you will be able to achieve and sustain #1 rankings.
Think of each article as an investment. The more time and resources you spend making it the best resource on that particular topic, the more you will get out of it down the line.
But keep in mind that it will take time. It takes months of consistent publishing of top-notch content to see any results, and you won’t get 100,000 visitors per month over night.
The last major point I’d like to leave you with is don’t just use a single strategy or tactic from this article—combine them.
Think of a typical Quick Sprout article:
- Is it long and in-depth? – yes
- It is clear, simple, and actionable? – yes
- Is it user-friendly and readable? – yes
- Is it backed up with expert opinions and statistics? – yes
- Does it give readers multiple options? – sometimes (this could be improved)
My average article ticks 4 out of the 5 points for creating great content. That is how you create content that truly deserves to rank #1.
This has encouraged me. It has shown me that I have been doing more things correctly than I thought I was, but also has illuminated some things that I could be putting more focus on (or less).
Always blessed by your insight and grateful for your sharing of it!
You’re welcome Craig and thanks for your comment. 🙂
Very nice article as always. Informative and to the point. Thanks for sharing Ali.
You’re more than welcome Shishir. Nice to hear that you liked the article.
These are very good tips that anyone with a website should follow. I agree that the most important thing is to create high-quality content that the visitors find useful. This way your content will also help market itself: once you get some visitors and they really like your content, they are likely to share it on their social media accounts. Also, if they have a website, they might link to your post.
But sometimes it is very hard to get people to find your content in the first place. And like you said, social media can be a great help with this. I have found that Pinterest is a great platform to market your content and get visitors. And the great thing is that you don’t even have to have a lot of followers. Just create visually appealing pins with an appropriate description and you will start getting some traffic right away.
Thanks for all the great tips and keep up the good work!
Hi Joonas, yes one of the benefits of SEO is that you don’t need social media followers to get traffic for your business. You help people with your content and they come to your website through search engines more and more. )
I want to thank you for sharing these tips for creating a great piece of content. I agree with you when you say that SEO is a long-term game and today, it’s critical to write a great piece of content directed toward users. The days of manipulating search engines are over.
I find the tip number 3 extremely useful. I noticed that my posts for which I haven’t written a meta description suffer lower rankings compared to those that include this feature. This small action plays a significant role in search engine optimization. Thanks for pointing it out.
All in all, thanks for sharing this useful article. Looking forward to more content from you!
Thank you for your comment Ivan and glad to see that you’ve found this post useful. )
Thank you for this article. Actually the first one really connected to me in a way that is natural, write for humans and not for search engines. Because I love to help people in the same hobby I have that I am passionate with.
So I naturally help and write for co-hobbyists that needed help. For the others, I am unknowingly applying them already. I sometimes have less than 1000 words article, and sometimes even 4000 + words articles.
I am also using Jaaxy tool for my keyword research and I spent blood and sweat to design my website as it is for the ease of UI and overall experience of my readers both in PC and mobile.
I really like how you outlined and explained every ways to make a very high quality content and website design. I think I am doing meta descriptions in every page/posts I have but I will have to recheck them if they are compelling enough.
You’re on the right track Lemuel. Focus on creating quality content for your website and you’ll get result for sure. )
This was a great article. I have only been writing posts for a few months and still learning, so I found the post really helpful.
I love the idea of creating green content that lasts into the future, I take the attitude that if I put in the effort now then I will see the rewards for years to come.
People just don’t take the time to create valuable content and eventually it lets them down.
Thank you Emma, glad to see that you’ve found my article useful. )