A well-written article that sits on page 10 of search engine results does your brand no good.
Even the 10th spot on the results page does little good. A Backlinko study shows it gets 10 times fewer clicks than the first organic result.
But then, you likely already know that. While no magic bullet exists to rise to the top of rankings, you can always work harder to improve your position. Here’s a refresher so you can move forward today.
With limited space on page one, Google can’t show every well-written blog post when a user searches for a term, phrase, or question. It selects what it thinks are the best results to satisfy the searcher’s intent.
How? It follows the EAT methodology – expertise, authoritative, and trustworthy. (The latter could go further than the content to include the overall page quality. Let’s dig into each one.
Merriam-Webster describes an expert as someone with “special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.
Google defines expertise as content that demonstrates excellent knowledge of satisfying your audience’s search intent. You achieve this by:
- Doing keyword research to know what interests your audience
- Understanding the stage of your audience in their buyer’s journey when they do a search
- Writing compelling content based on those interests and stages
Everyone can quickly become an expert. Google isn’t interested in only expertise. Google wants to deliver content that’s authoritative too.
Dictionary.com defines that as “substantiated or supported by documentary evidence and accepted by most authorities in a field.”
Google defines authoritative as based on the number and quality of backlinks to your website and social media shares.
Google also uses branded search to gauge the authority of your website.
You achieve authoritativeness by:
- Developing a comprehensive guest blog strategy
- Creating a backlink program where your site agrees to include relevant links in your content and other sites agree to include your relevant links in their content.
- Promoting your site’s content on your social media channels and asking your followers to share
How to Create SEO-Friendly Content (Ultimate 2021 Checklist)
How can you craft engaging and SEO-friendly content from scratch? We have identified 12 key steps to take to optimize your copy for users and search engines. Use this guide to map out the entire process – from keyword research, to copy optimization and content audit.
Content with expertise and authoritativeness is vital. But Google also must trust your website. Google bears the responsibility of ensuring that only trusted websites show up in search results.
You can earn trustworthiness by:
- Avoiding the need for people to leave negative reviews
- Improving your domain authority, which is derived by looking at the number of unique domains linking to your site and the authority of those linking domains.
8 ideas for SEO favorable content
When you understand the EAT guidelines, it becomes easier to know what type of content is more likely to win approval in the eyes of Google search results. But how do you create it? Let’s walk through eight ideas.
An evergreen topic remains relevant for a long time. (Like an evergreen tree, it’s vibrant year-round.)
If you’re a brand that sells a low-fat food product, you might think to create an article on how to lose weight. When you explore the phrase in Google Trends, you find the topic has had interest over time:
2. Do keyword research
While Google Trends indicates a general interest, you want to go further in your research. Validate (or invalidate) your idea by conducting keyword research. You can better understand how frequently audiences are searching for your target or related phrases.
Let’s say your evergreen topic is how to make money online. Your keyword research reveals it has a high search volume, indicating it could be a good topic to write about. Neil Patel shows how the results appear for “making money online” in Ubersuggest:
3. Find long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are search terms with three or more words. Addressing these keywords is essential if you want a chance for your content to appear in the featured snippet section of Google search results. Featured snippet content also is more likely to be heard during voice searches. A Backlinko study showed 40.7% of voice-search answers came from a featured snippet.
Start with your primary keyword. In this example, let’s use “content marketing.” Input that word or phrase into a tool like Answer the Public to see what niche topics (and long-tail keywords) might be relevant.
With this information, you can:
- Conduct a search for the target long-tail keywords to see what content exists on the first results page.
- Identify a relevant angle that isn’t being covered by everybody else.
- Use a tool like SurferSEO to determine your ideal post length for your keywords. (You can do this manually by clicking on each current search result on page one and checking their word count.)
- Outline your article using these long-tail keywords as subheds.
- Write the article to answer all or most of the questions around your long-tail keywords.
For the past five years or so, more SEO content creators have found a topic cluster model works. To do this, you:
- Create long-form content that covers the primary topic.
- Craft clusters of content around that topic.
- Link to those clusters from the core long-form content.
Ninja Outreach did an internal linking campaign similar to the topic cluster approach, resulting in a 40% increase in organic traffic.
Because they are prominent and the first thing searchers see, headlines have a big influence on search clicks. You must craft captivating headlines. It’s not a quick fix, but it can have a big impact in slowly rising in the ranks.
In many cases, your keyword should fit nicely in your headline. For instance, if the keyword is “improve SEO rankings,” the title “How to Improve SEO Rankings with Quality Content” would work well. It earns a high score for audiences, as noted by Emotional Value Headline Analyzer tool, and matches the SEO intent.
Once searchers click on your headline, you want them to stay. That requires an excellent introduction.
Usually, the first four sentences should hook your readers. And if they don’t, your bounce rates might spike, which could hurt your SEO rankings.
Let’s look at a few excellent introductions.
This lede from Gotch SEO immediately includes a stat that readers would want and offers a solution, demonstrating expertise:
Or you can use your intro to say what your audience knows, so they see themselves, state their problem, proffer your article as the solution:
While linking to other sites is helpful for following Google’s EAT guidelines, you don’t want to link haphazardly. Pick sites with good domain authorities that rarely delete their content.
Going forward, have a plan to regularly check those outbound links to make sure they’re still working and pointing to content that’s still relevant and accurate.
Content readability is an indirect SEO ranking factor. Though Google doesn’t measure how easy your content is to read, searchers certainly do. If they struggle to understand or have to strain their eyes consuming dense paragraphs, they aren’t going to stick around (and that’s going to have a direct effect on rankings.)
To make your content more reader- or viewer-friendly:
- Write for grades seven to nine (or even lower if possible). You can use tools like the free WebFX readability tool to evaluate the grade level.
- Use images. These could be screenshots, photos, charts, etc. Images are helpful to break up blocks and blocks of gray text. They also can help illustrate what you’re saying, making it easier for your audience to understand. Don’t forget to optimize the images
- Limit the number of sentences in a paragraph and use bulleted or numbered lists. Though your content may not follow a perfect structure, these features let readers skim the content.
- Add subheds to break the content into sections. Use them frequently, particularly in longer content.
Make a feast of content for SEO
Improving SEO rankings with quality content is not a one-off adventure on Google. To improve your content’s rankings, you have to set a great table and revisit it regularly to make sure everything is still in place, ready for Google to EAT.
All tools mentioned in this piece come from the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add it in the comments.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute