A huge part of my job at Workshop Marketing is managing the delivery of new websites for our lovely clients. One of the main challenges with this is ensuring the site can keep up with competitors in terms of search visibility. If you’re anything like me and want to improve how your site ranks on Google you’re probably wondering: How can SEO be done in the easiest way?
Three words: useful, authoritative, CONTENT. In short, content that your audience will genuinely find useful written by somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
Don’t have much copy on your site? Then start a blog page, write about what you know and answer the questions your target audience are really asking. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you have copy-writing flair! Writing great content can be straight forward, if you know how…
What is Google looking for?
Before we get onto content, let’s take a step back and discuss what google is really looking for. For so many years, SEOs have been treated like mythical wardens of Google’s secrets. The business of SEO has seemingly been all about persuading and tricking Google into awarding your website with a high ranking by any means necessary: social bookmarking, link directories, automated link building, keyword stuffing and the list goes on. But not anymore, Google has all but made traditional SEO practises extinct.
And we don’t have to make assumptions over what Google is looking for anymore either. In 2018, Google published the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines – the actual guide used by the human testers hired by Google to rank your website. You can read all 164 pages like I have and what you’ll find is that there’s no quick fix anymore. If your content isn’t of exceptional quality, you can forget it.
That’s why it’s so important to remind ourselves what Google’s aim is: to deliver the best possible results to the user’s query. It’s as simple as that. Google’s algorithm is smarter than you, and it’s evolving!
Google pass/fail metrics
Yes content is king but there are a few pass/fail measurements that you should be wary of. This is the nuts and bolts you need to get right to show Google your page is trustworthy. Here are Google’s fundamental pass/fail metrics:
- Site speed, above 20% is fine. Information on how to speed up a site quickly can be found here. Or, watch this video.
- SSL Certificates – It is vital that sites have HTTPS versions.
- Malware – It goes without saying that if your site is dangerous, it will probably be penalised.
- URL length – keep it short and sweet, avoid dashes (-) if possible.
- Too many ads and affiliate links.
- Age of content – keep information relevant by regularly updating your content.
- Schema usage.
Why is this relevant to me?
Stay with me here… Your ultimate SEO goal is probably to rank for a highly competitive selection of keywords right? Search terms that concisely explain what you do and who you are, such as ‘Digital Marketing Agency’, ‘Business IT’, or ‘Business Consultancy’. But ranking well for this type of top line keyword is difficult and requires a lot of domain authority.
Great content = More organic traffic = Better website = Better search visibility.
So how do we get good domain authority and rank well for competitive keywords?
You need a long term content plan. You have to demonstrate to Google that your site is a helpful website and worthy of good search visibility. A great way to do this is by claiming position 0 on niche search terms by writing an answer to a niche question that people are genuinely asking.
By targeting niche content topics and writing genuinely useful and helpful content, you WILL win snippets and drive more traffic to your site. Not traffic that bounces away, but users that read and engage with your content because it’s relevant content, and very specific to what they’re searching for.
This tells Google that your website is high quality and deserves more search visibility which in turn will improve your chances at ranking for the more general (and competitive) search terms.
Do I need a keyword research tool?
Keyword research tools can be a good place to start for some very general content categories, but the results shouldn’t really form the basis of your SEO/content strategy and here’s why:
- No matter what they tell you, search volume metrics cannot be trusted (discrepancy between tools, generally low volumes)
- They aren’t good at finding natural long tail keywords
- They give difficulty levels to keywords which cannot always be trusted. I recommend examining the SERP yourself, how good is the content there? Is there a snippet? Could your content be better that the current 1st place result?
So how do I find great ideas for blog content?
To find content niches, it’s a good idea to do search analysis. This is what I do:
- Start with base level keywords. Use your business ‘buzz words’ to generate a big list of keywords with a keyword generator.
- We then need to filter out the terms that are simply too broad. For Workshop Marketing, they might include: ‘Digital marketing’, ‘marketing agency’ etc. We’re looking for the less obvious terms – don’t be put off by search volume or difficulty.
- Use this to find niches within your topic, maybe things that don’t spring immediately to mind. E.g, for Workshop I might be looking for ‘Marketing Agency’ and find ‘Marketing Automation’.
- So now let’s explore Marketing Automation as a niche:
- Search for it in Google trends, anything to report here?
- What do people want to know about it? What might someone ask Google?
- You’re probably aware of Google’s incredibly efficient auto-suggestion feature? Let’s use it to our advantage! If you begin typing a potential question into the Google search bar, it will often auto fill/suggest the rest of it using data from what people are actually searching for. Type the following options into the search bar without completing the search, see what Google auto fills/suggests for you.
- What | How | Where | When
- Can | Does | Is | Will
- Marketing Automation A|B|C|D…
- Can | Does | Is | Will
- What | How | Where | When
- Mark down any of these suggested Natural Long Tail Keywords (NLTKs) that could work in a blog. You will no doubt get some other off the wall suggestions from Google. Now actually search for these NLTKs and see if there are any other semantically related searches that could be of use. You’re looking for SERPS that don’t yet have a snippet.
- Voila! You should have a lovely roster of content titles with empty snippet slots ripe for the taking.
4 tips for writing great SEO-friendly content
- Write the first sentence and then the answer paragraph first. This will help you focus your writing as you already know the conclusion.
- Don’t try to come across like an expert in your blog – instead present yourself as your reader’s neighbour who has had a similar problem.
- In your second paragraph, bold the text if it directly answers your question. This gives you more chance of landing yourself a snippet spot.
- Write 3-5 subheadings to keep the structure of your blog and make sure you have enough to say. A long blog post will usually outperform a shorter one.
How long should my articles be?
Google likes meaty content. The length of your content really depends on how much detail you actually need to answer the question you’re intending to answer, but these are good guidelines based on this video:
- Response Posts – 1,350 Words
- Aim to get a snippet that is yet to be won. Super niche!
- Staple Posts – 2,500 words
- Slightly more competitive. More general information aiming to answer a few big questions.
- Pillar Posts – About 3,500
- Long white papers/ebooks. It’s good to build a web of shorter of content around your Pillar Post.
So, how can SEO be done in the easiest way? You cannot rank well on Google without unique and relevant content. There must be a reason for users to visit your site and the only fool proof method of doing this that will put you in good stead for whatever algorithm updates Google has in store, is to write authentic, organic and valuable content. Target those niches, fill the void and write better content than your competitors. If you do it right, your efforts will be rewarded!
Get in touch with us today to chat about an SEO content strategy 🙂