You’ve probably heard the phrase… “content is king”.
And you’ve probably never heard someone say… “No. Are you crazy? You don’t need content on your website to rank”.
We know what you’re thinking “Right, I know I need content on my website… but how do I get my blog posts to rank on the first page of Google?”.
A lot has changed in the SEO world since the phrase “content is king” started being used. Despite that… creating high quality, engaging content matters now more than ever.
It matters a lot.
Today’s ranking factors all focus on creating a better customer experience. As John Mueller (Google’s very own Webmaster Trends Analyst) once tweeted, “awesomeness” is the key to ranking in Google. Yep… “awesomeness”. Technical stuff, right?
In this blog post, we are going to take you through a few tips that you can implement immediately to help increase your blog post rankings on Google search engine result pages – and to start creating “awesome” content.
If you’re just starting out with blogging, we suggest you start by reading the post we recently wrote about starting a blog.
Finding Blog Topics
So… what are you going to write about?
Before you choose your topic, you should do a bit of research to make sure your topic is something people (ideally, a lot of people) are actively searching for. Writing about something nobody is interested in, isn’t going to get you any traffic… or results (thanks, captain obvious).
Alright, so where do you start?
One of our favourite strategies is to check out online forums. You can easily do this by searching Google for: inurl:forum + “a topic related to your business” (e.g. inurl:forum + how to keep indoor plants alive).
Next, briefly look through a couple of threads that you come across. Once you have found one that you like, search Google for that phrase. If there are a lot of results, you are on the right track. If not, repeat this step until you find one that does.
User Intent And Keywords Users Are Searching
Put the pen (keyboard?), down.
Before you turn into Hemingway, you need to identify what the potential reader’s intent is.
You can do that by asking yourself some of these questions:
- What kind of information do they need?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- What would they search in Google to find the information they are looking for?
- What kind of information do they value? (testimonials, stats, facts, research, awards, etc.)
- What would make the content more authoritative? (quotes from industry professionals, links to authoritative sites, official reports, etc.)
The answers you come up with by answering these questions will set you on the right path to writing a blog post that will resonate with and engage the reader.
Identify these and list them.
Next, you want to start working on a list of keywords. The quickest way to do this is to complete a Google search for your topic and look at the suggested keywords that are listed for related searches in the search bar (Google suggest) and at the bottom of the results page.
Identify what your target keyword will be and list any potential secondary keywords. You should also brainstorm some synonyms and closely related words and add them to your list.
Once you start writing, use your primary keyword in the title and main headings. Complement ot with secondary keywords and closely related words throughout your blog post.
Structure and layout
Now it’s time to start thinking about is the structure and layout of your post.
No, this isn’t a writing lesson, but bear with us because the structure of your content is a huge ranking factor.
Hear us out…
A well-structured, well-written article will keep the reader engaged and interested. In SEO lingo that = a higher “average time on page” and a lower bounce rate… which tells Google that the page must be great… which will score you some serious Google love.
If you are not a comms major, fear not. Here’s a little strategy that might do the trick.
Once you have found a relevant course, check out the “course outline” or “syllabus”. This will give you a good starting point for laying out your content. Don’t copy it, just use it as inspiration. Check out at a few similar courses and put together a blog post structure that works for you – and (more importantly) will appeal to your audience and their needs.
Now, it’s time to get creative.
Get yourself a blank piece of paper and figure out how you want to break up your text. If you need inspiration, grab a magazine and work out what they do to they break up the text in long articles.
Hint – think images, videos, tables, charts, quote or testimonial boxes, call outs, etc. Check out our post on Google’s Featured Snippets to learn more about how your content’s format can help improve your CTR.
Headings are another great way to break up your text. Remember, the title of your article should be styled as a <h1> tag (this is usually done automatically, but best to double check). Since heading tags follow a sequential order, your subheadings should be styled as <h2>, and so on. You might need to call on your web developer for this one.
Tip – include your target keyword in one of your subheadings.
You should place a bit of importance on the title of your blog post. You want to make sure it is very closely related to the reader’s query and entices them to click through.
Here are some tips:
- Include your target keyword in your title.
- Try to use emotive words such as “ultimate”, “complete”, “definitive”.
- Let the reader know it will be a quick/easy ready by using numbers “Top X ways” or “X easy steps”.
- Describe what type of content you are writing by using words such as “guide” or “review”.
Applying these tips will not only help your post rank for long tail versions of your primary keyword, but will also help draw the reader in and entice them to click through.
Blog Article Lengths For SEO
We’ll keep this one short. Longer content typically ranks higher.
Do with that what you will…but we suggest writing posts that are at least 1800+ words.
Let’s Get Social – Sharing Your Articles on Social Media
Think of social shares like word of mouth.
By including social sharing buttons on your blog, you will increase the likelihood of it being shared and make it easier for the reader to share your content more widely.
Another way to increase sharing is to transform some of your article content into tweetable snippets. All you need to do is:
- Head over to the clicktotweet website
- Sign in with your Twitter account
- Click Basic Link
- Write the message you would like tweeted and generate the link. Make sure you include the link to your blog post in the message and your Twitter handle.
- Add a plain-text link or button to your post (e.g. add something like… Tweet it … next to a tip or quote)
Linking Your Article – Links, links, and more links
Internal links, external links…we love them all!
Linking to other sources of content further validates your topic (and keywords), makes your post more authoritative and provides the reader with useful resources.
External links (aka a link to another website, not yours) are great because they support your blog post and its content. By linking to related content from trusted sources, you will help Google understand what your topic is, and make it more authoritative and legit (for lack of a better word).
Internal links (aka a link to another page on your website) can create a very positive user-experience for you reader. Instead of having to go off and browse your blog for relevant topics, you can direct them directly to the relevant resources.
This is helpful, and Google likes it.
Another plus, is that users will spend more time on your website. Remember what we said about time on page, bounce rate and SEO street cred?
This might be obvious by now (it’s 2019 after all) but you absolutely need to make sure your website and content is mobile friendly. We’re not kidding – more than half of website traffic now comes from mobile (check your Analytics).
Responsive design is the bare minimum.
You need your mobile site to be fast and seamless. If you are not sure where to start, check out the article we wrote earlier this year about how you can speed up your website for mobile.
This post should give you some fresh ideas for coming up with content, and writing it in a way that helps you improve your rankings and score a sweet spot on the first page of Google search results.
Skimmed through? Here’s a quick recap:
- Choose a topic that is actively being searched for.
- Identify what the potential reader’s intent is.
- Identify your primary keyword and use it in your title and main headings.
- List secondary keywords and closely related words and use them throughout your blog post.
- Ensure your article is well-structured and well-written.
- Use proper heading tags.
- Craft an enticing title.
- Write 1800+ words.
- Make social sharing easy.
- Include internal and external links.
- Optimise for mobile.