Content is king, spouts the self-proclaimed experts on LinkedIn and Twitter. People know what’s up.
If so, why is great content so hard to come by? Why, in a time where search engine optimization (SEO) is considered key to digital marketing and overall SEO strategy, so many people still flounder when it comes to creating SEO-friendly content? Just look at every piece of content ever put out onto the internet. How hard is SEO content writing, really?
In this article, I will highlight the best tips for creating great content that drives search engine rankings, click-through rates, and conversions.
Do note that for the purpose of this article, content here refers to text, image, or video content found on a web page of a website. Other content types like social media post captions and ad copy are not included.
Also, the tips that I will be sharing with you can apply to a variety of pages like your home page, landing page, product page, or blog post. If the tip applies to only specific types of pages, I will make sure to let you know. Now, on to the juicy stuff.
What is content SEO?
Content SEO refers to the practice of optimizing website content to improve its visibility and ranking on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) and be found via organic search.
This includes optimizing the text, images, videos, and other forms of content that appear on a website, to make it more relevant, informative, and valuable to users, as well as search engines. It falls under on-page SEO, one of the three pillars of SEO (the othe two being off-page and technical SEO) and is just part of your overall SEO strategy.
So by extension, SEO content basically refers to web page content that has been optimized for both search engines and users.
The goal of content SEO is to improve the visibility of a website in SERPs, making it more likely that users will find and engage with the website, which can ultimately lead to more traffic, leads, and conversions.
What are the differences between SEO content and other types of content?
At its very core, SEO content is simply website content that has been optimized using fundamental SEO techniques.
These include having a deep understanding of searcher intent, good keyword research, keyword clustering, keyword allocation, and more. They create a solid foundation necessary for a page to even be recognized for a potential result on the SERP for a particular query. In fact, they form the foundation of any SEO strategy.
What are the benefits of good content SEO?
1. Better search engine rankings and thus, increased visibility online
Optimizing content for search engines can help to improve a website’s ranking in SERPs. This can increase the odds of searchers clicking on your web page when searching for specific keywords. And this, in turn, can potentially lead to more traffic and conversions.
If you think that these don’t matter and that one ranking position won’t make a difference, think again. Look at the screenshot above for two pages ranking on position 6 and 7 for the keyword “side hustle singapore.” The search traffic (ST) metric value differs greatly. So believe me when I say that you can get a vastly greater number of searches clicking on your site the higher up the SERP your web page goes.
2. Increased credibility
A website with good content SEO can establish credibility and trust with searchers. After all, it’s to no one’s surprise that people tend to trust sites that show up on page one more than those that show up on page two and beyond.
Furthermore, genuinely valuable, informative, and high-quality content tend to rank better as well. This provides an added boost to your site’s credibility when it ends up on page one. And this can ultimately lead to increased engagement, customer loyalty, and ultimately sales.
3. Sustained, long-term growth
Those of us in the game know that good SEO is a long-term game. It can take a many months before you even see some good results. But spoiler alert, SEO is still worth it. And here’s why.
Google’s algorithm is updated up to 600 times a year and has hundreds of known and speculated ranking factors. Ranking high on the first page of SERPs is hard, but once you do, you pretty much stay there for a very long time if you are consistent in your SEO efforts.
This can eventually lead to the elimination of your ad budget completely and help you save costs in the long run.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do SEO-driven content marketing well
1. Understand who you’re targeting
SEO is more targeted than you think. A change in a single word in your key phrase can lead to very different results showing on the SERP. This means that different people are looking up different variations of the base key phrase. Hence, Google is serving different results based on that difference.
If you’re running a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business you should know very clearly what type of buyers you are looking to target. For instance, Calendly may optimize its site to make them more visible to people looking to streamline the meeting scheduling process.
2. List down all your product and service offerings.
For this, I’d recommend you go crazy. List down all your product and service offerings. If you are an online cookie store, this may be what your product offering looks like:
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Online cookie store
- Butter cookies
- Sugar cookies
- Mint cookies
Once this has been done, check your site to see if you have a single page for each of your offerings. If not, now might be a good time to create one for them. This allows you to maximize your content SEO efforts and cast a wider net to reach out to multiple groups of buyers.
3. Pick your SEO tools
As an SEO specialist myself, believe me when I say you can’t run an SEO campaign without the various tools available. There’s nothing else that provides you with the data necessary to even begin your content SEO efforts. Having been in the SEO world for a while now, these are my top three picks:
Arguable the most well-known SEO software out there, Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool that supports the user with a large variety of SEO functions. These include keyword research, backlink auditing, and some basic technical SEO features like server response code reports.
My favorite feature is their Chrome extension that gives you a bird’s eye view of how well your competitor pages are performing for all the important SEO metrics like domain rating and a number of keywords the page is ranking for.
Like Ahrefs, Semrush is pretty much an all-in-one SEO software as well. That said, there are several standout features.
For example, Semrush’s keyword magic tool has an incredibly powerful keyword clustering function. This allows you to filter for keywords with a specific word in them. Back to the cookie store example. If I’m only running an online store, I will need to optimize my page for “online” keywords. By adding the “online” filter in Semrush, I don’t have to sieve through long lists of results. All my results will automatically have the word “online” in them.
c) Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is simply not talked about enough when it comes to keyword research. Just think about it. Who other than Google itself has the most accurate SEO-related data? This includes a huge variety of queries your pages are ranking for, the number of impressions and clicks each page is getting, and the average ranking position of each query.
Privately run SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush have an amazing repertoire of keywords, don’t get me wrong. But their repository is nothing compared to Google’s own database. Having run SEO campaigns across a large number of niches and for campaigns targeting different countries, I’ll tell you this. Privately-own SEO tools do not cover as wide ground as you may think.
Very often, I find myself not being able to find English keywords for countries where English is not the primary language. Also, niche industries like maritime equipment and security QR code labels (I know, right?) also seemingly have a lack of keywords. But when I look in GSC, all the keywords I need are there.
That said GSC, unfortunately, does not have search volume data. Might be due to privacy concerns, but who knows really. What’s important here is that GSC is able to help you identify keywords that other SEO tools cannot.
4. Master the concept of search intent
Search intent, also known as user intent, refers to the reason or purpose behind a user’s search query. In the context of SEO, understanding search intent is crucial because it can help to inform the creation and optimization of content to better align with the user’s needs and improve the chances of the content appearing in SERPs.
There are four main types of search intent:
- Informational intent: Users are looking for information or knowledge on a specific topic. They might be searching for a definition, an explanation, or a how-to guide.
- Navigational intent: Users are looking for a specific website or webpage. They might be searching for the homepage of a brand or a specific product page.
- Transactional intent: Users are looking to make a purchase or perform a specific action. They might be searching for a product, a service, or a form to fill out.
- Commercial Investigation intent: Users are looking to research a product or service before making a purchase decision. They might be searching for reviews, comparisons, or pricing information.
When creating or optimizing content for SEO, understanding the search intent behind a user’s query can help to ensure that the content is relevant, informative and valuable to the user. You need to create content that matches the search intent of the keyword you want to target.
And to identify the search intent of a keyword, just look it up on Google. The top-ranking pages will tell you exactly what type of content you need to rank. Back to the “side hustle singapore” keyword I was mentioning earlier. If you look it up on Google, you’ll see that the top results are all listicles listing the types of side hustles you can take up in Singapore. This means that to even attempt to rank for that keyword, you’ll need content doing the exact same thing.
5. Do good keyword research
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of search intent and aware of the best SEO tools out there, it’s time to get down to business.
Good keyword research forms a solid foundation for any SEO content strategy.
Using the SEO tools available, look up the target keywords that best match the pages for all products and services you listed in step 2. Do not overly rely on search volume. There are other keyword metrics that you should consider, but I won’t into too much detail here.
For each page, I’d strongly advise that you assign multiple keywords to it. And here’s why.
6. Put multiple keywords of similar intent into a cluster
Web pages will naturally rank for variants of the same keyword even if you chose to target only one. Say you are targeting the keyword “buy chocolate chip cookie online”, if you run a full-on SEO campaign that includes link building, your target page will naturally rank for other variants like “chocolate chip online shop” or “order chocolate chip cookie online”.
This is due to Google’s algorithm having natural language processing (NLP) capabilities that allow it to understand similarities in the meaning of different words and phrases. But if Google can rank the page organically for keyword variants, why include multiple in a cluster from the start you ask?
Well, including keywords into on-page elements like your page title and header tags (H1, H2, H3 etc) provides an incredibly strong signal to Google as to what your content is about. This can increase the odds of your page ranking for multiple variants of a keyword faster.
7. Use the skyscraper technique when creating your content outline
Coined by Backlinko founder Brian Dean, the skyscraper technique is essentially a framework that helps you create better content than your competitors.
All you need to do is to look at the content of your top competitors for a target keyword and see what type of content they cover. Now, all you need to do is to ensure that you cover the grounds that they’ve covered, and add in areas that they missed out on. This helps you create well-rounded and in-depth content.
Say for example you are targeting a keyword in the medical niche like “knee surgeon singapore”. And when you looked at SERP, all the top competitors did not talk about patient aftercare. This is a hint that you can include on your landing page. Of course, you can never be 100% sure that that is the content you need to outperform your competitors. But as I’ve said, SEO is a long-term game. So try out as many options as you can.
8. Optimize the on-page SEO elements on your web page
By on-page elements, I’m referring to things like your page title, meta descriptions, and header tags. As I’ve briefly mentioned, these send strong signals to Google as to what your content is about.
Page titles, also known as title tags, are the text that appears in the browser tab or as the clickable headline for a webpage in SERPs. They are one of the most important on-page SEO elements, as they provide a summary of the content on a webpage and indicate the topic of the page to both users and search engines. And because your title tags are what searchers first see on SERPs, optimizing it can increase your click-through rate.
Header tags, on the other hand, are HTML tags known as H1, H2, H3, etc. tags. They are used to structure the content on a website and to indicate the hierarchy of information on the page. They are important for SEO because they help search engines understand the content and organization of a webpage.
Optimizing meta descriptions is important for SEO content because it helps to inform search engines and users about the content of a webpage. Meta descriptions are the brief summaries that appear below the title of a webpage in SERPs. They provide users with a brief overview of what the webpage is about, and can help to increase the likelihood of users clicking through to the webpage.
Your keywords should always be in your page title and H1 tag, and sparingly in your H2s and H3s.
9. Conduct in-depth research on the topic
While the skyscraper technique provides a useful framework that helps you identify what you need to add to your page to rank well, it doesn’t mean that you can neglect the research portion and simply copy and paste content from competitor pages. You’ll still need to show that you’ve done your research.
For example, if you were writing a blog post on how people can generate leads via their websites, it’d be great if you included statistics in your article even if your competitors didn’t. If you were to write content for a landing page for an e-commerce store selling flowers, you could perhaps go a little deeper and talk about the meaning behind each type of flower you sell.
Whatever you do, don’t write basic content that your competitors are already putting out there on the internet.
10. Don’t neglect E-E-A-T
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
While not a direct ranking factor, E-E-A-T is part of Google’s search rater guideline. This is a document used by third-party quality raters engaged by Google to evaluate websites that appear in its SERPs.
E-E-A-T helps Google assess your site’s credibility.
To do this, they use rating scales defined in the guidelines. The outcome of their assessment is then used as the basis for the hundreds of smaller updates that constantly improve the algorithm and help ensure better-quality search results.
This is especially important if your site or business is operating in the ‘your money your life’ (YMYL) industries. These are niches that can have a significant impact on people’s lives and include medicine, health and fitness, finance, and social issues. After all, you don’t want a random freelance writer writing about the best investment plans out there without actually being an avid investor on the side.
Here are some ways you can work on improving your site’s E-E-A-T.
a) Product and service reviews
There’s no better way to signal that you are putting out good products or services than genuine customer reviews.
Having product or service reviews visible on a website is important because it helps to create a sense of trust and credibility with potential customers. When people visit a website, they want to know that others have had positive experiences with the business and that the products or services being offered are of good quality. Seeing reviews from other customers can help to establish this trust and credibility, making it more likely that potential customers will consider making a purchase.
On top of that, a Bright Local survey revealed in 2021 that 77% of respondents “always or regularly” read reviews before making a purchase. So if you really want to drive conversions and reduce bounce rates on your site, including reviews is an absolute must.
b) Author bios and pages
This is perhaps more relevant for blog posts.
Having a detailed author bio on each blog post is an indicator that your article was written by someone who is of authority on the topic the content is about. This can give your site a boost in its authority score when being rated by Google’s quality raters. Apart from author bios on each article, you should also create an author page that lists all the articles ever written by that person.
. And as a cherry on top, you can mark up the page with the Person schema code. Schemas are basically pieces of JSON code that highlight certain sections of your content to Google’s algorithm. For instance, marking up an author page with a Person schema that contains information on the writer’s place of employment can signal to Google that the person has experience in the field that their writing about.
c) Proof of experience with the product and service
If you are writing a review blog post, you need to include evidence of you actually purchasing the product or service. Let’s take this review by lifestyle blogger SimplyPeiqi on a chicken rice hawker stall in Singapore.
Clearly, you can see that the blogger did go to the stall to try the food before making the review. This is important as it helps boost your site’s experience score.
11. Optimize your images
When it comes to images, search engines rely on the file name, alt text, and captions to understand the content of the image. By including relevant keywords in these elements, search engines can better understand the context in which the image is used on the webpage and the content it represents. This can help to improve the visibility of the webpage in SERPs and increase the chances of the image showing up in Google Images search results.
In addition to improving search engine visibility, optimized images can also improve user experience. By using relevant keywords in the alt text, users who are using screen readers or have images turned off in their browsers can still understand the content of the image. This can help to make the content more accessible and inclusive for all users.
Do you have a better idea of how to do good SEO content writing now?
And there you have it! These are my top tips on how you can create high-quality content. Remember, creating SEO-optimized content should just be part of your overall SEO strategy to drive organic traffic to your site.
Running a linkbuilding campaign to build backlinks using optimized anchor text rations, using PPC campaigns to signal to Google that your site has activity by driving traffic, and using social media to distribute your content are other SEO techniques that form part of a well-rounded search campaign.
That said, I hope these tips have been useful for you and I hope that you can take some of these to apply to your own website.