You already know you’re competing with a lot of other businesses for those prime, high-up places in search engine results.
The best weapon you have against that competition? SEO-researched content.
In other words, you want content that’s search engine optimized — AKA specifically designed to do well with search engines because it makes use of specific keywords.
The biggest problem is that SEO is complicated. It’s part art, part science, part guessing game. That’s because there are so many factors that go into what ranks, drives traffic, and converts readers into customers.
If you’re picturing the first page of your most recent Google search results, you might already be thinking about how you can get your business in that #1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP). But don’t forget to think more deeply. There are some situations where you’ll do better ranking fifth or sixth on the SERP for one SEO keyword or phrase than you would if you ranked first with another.
If you’re new to SEO and creating SEO-researched content, don’t be intimidated. We’re going to walk you through how to choose appropriate topics, write content for maximum ranking, and analyze your results so you can keep improving.
Here are the steps you should take.
1. Find SEO Keywords
The first thing you should know about choosing SEO keywords is that they’re competitive. Especially general keywords — everyone is using them. Not to sound pessimistic, but very few of us would stand a chance being general.
Instead, focus on less competitive, long-tail keywords. For example, it will be a lot harder to rank in the top spot for “wedding photographer” than for “natural light wedding photographer Cincinnati Ohio.”
Do Some Keyword Research
When you begin planning your content, start by deciding which keywords you want to use. There are apps built for keyword research that will tell you two important metrics:
- Volume: How often that keyword is being typed into search engines (specifically, how many times per month)
- Difficulty: How hard it will be for you to be ranked using that keyword based on how much competition you’ll have
Different apps out there have different features and capabilities. Some are even available at different price points. If you ask us our personal recommendation, we’ll point you to Keywords Everywhere because it’s easy to use and inexpensive, yet effective enough for everyday professional use. It also tests well against other keyword research tools in terms of accuracy. Other options include Mangools, Semrush, and Ahrefs.
If you notice some discrepancy among these tools with regard to the volume and difficulty they report for certain words, don’t worry — there will always be a little bit of variation. Just pick one tool and stick with it.
Make a List of SEO Keywords
Open up that keyword tool. Now it’s time for you to start searching!
Come up with as many keywords related to your industry or field of expertise as you can. Remember how we talked about highly competitive words versus not-so-competitive ones? Aim to have a good mix of popular (i.e. competitive) keywords, narrower niche words (i.e. noncompetitive), and some in between.
Create a spreadsheet and group your keywords together based on how they’re related. Identify the topics you want to talk about and what keywords you’ll focus on in each piece of content.
Look at Your SEO Competition
If you want to stand a chance against the competition, it’s always good to look at what they’re doing.
See how your direct competitors are using the keywords you’re planning to use and how those keywords seem to be serving them. If they have a blog post on a specific topic that uses high-competition keywords, pay attention to whether that blog posts seems to have more hits compared to their other blog posts.
Don’t Forget: Quality Still Matters!
Yes, keywords are helpful for boosting your content, but don’t forget that quality still matters. Ask yourself…
- Are you able to write content that is better written, more informative, and generally higher quality than what is already ranking?
- Do you have something new to add to the conversation, like your own research or case study?
- Are you able to better answer the searcher’s question than the existing content?
If yes… then you’ve got a green light to go ahead and start outlining your new content piece.
If not… take some notes about what it would take to improve on the existing content. Updated data? A cool infographic? A great interview? A detailed how-to?
Figure out what you would need to do to improve on the existing content, and decide whether that’s something you can realistically do.
If you can’t realistically improve on the existing content, move onto your next potential topic. We do not recommend writing low-quality content just to try to rank for it. You should always have a service mindset when creating content and look to better serve the searcher, not try to trick Google.
2. Create Your Content
Start with an Outline
After you’ve brainstormed and organized your keywords into a list, it’s time to outline your content. Outlining your content helps you create a framework using your research and keywords, organize your thoughts, and break writing your content into more manageable, less intimidating chunks.
Here are some best practices for outining your content:
- Use headings. Headings (H1, H2, H3) should highlight primary topics. Your focus topic / keyword should be in your headings and in your body text.
- Figure out internal and external links. You want internal links to your own related content as well as external links to authoritative sites that support the claims you’re making or provide more detailed information on topics you’re addressing. Google loves links to Wikipedia, .gov, and .edu sites along with sites that get a lot of traffic and have a lot of authority, such as news outlets and magazines. You want to show both Google and your readers that you’re an authority on the topic and that you can back it up with relevant information.
Organize and Draft in a Google Doc
We recommend drafting your content in a Google Doc and then copying and pasting the content into your blog or page builder.
Why? For one, it’s always helpful to keep a record of drafts and changes. Plus, you’ll have a place to keep any performance notes on your content. Last but not least, you avoid the dreaded “I worked on this for three hours and then my computer died and lost everything” scenario.
Format Properly for SEO
Before you hit “publish,” take a critical look at your formatting:
- Make sure your headings are structured properly.
- Make sure your text is easy to read and skimmable by using italics, bold formatting, or larger font to highlight important points.
- Make sure that your links all work and that your new piece of content provides an overall good user experience.
3. Analyze Your Results
How long will it take for your SEO-researched content to rank? The short answer is it depends. Here are some factors it might depend on:
- The level of competition
- The quality of your content
- How often Google indexes your site
- Whether your content is shared on social media or linked to from other sites
- The search volume for your topic
- Whether your site has any technical performance issues
- Your site loading speed
- Your site’s level of authority
These are only several of many factors. In ideal conditions, you could see your new content piece in the first few pages of Google results within a couple of months, with the best results usually seen within six months to a year.
If 6 Months Sounds Like a Long Time…
Maybe you just read, “You could see your new content piece in the first few pages of Google results within six months to a year” and thought, “That’s not fast! What is this nonsense? SEO is BS!”
Well, not so fast, friend. SEO is definitely a long game. Anyone who promises they can get your content ranking in a matter of days or weeks is probably lying to you and/or selling something.
Sure, some content ranks faster (again, there are so many factors at play in what is shown on the SERPs) but generally, you should check on your content six, nine, and 12 months out from publication using Google Search Console or tools like Semrush and Mangools.
Always Aim to Improve Your SEO
Don’t be afraid to tweak and improve your content after it’s published. In fact, you should be doing that! Improve your content around the three- to six-month mark if you’re not seeing the results you hoped for.
Our mantra when it comes to publishing? Published is better than perfect… However, that comes with the caveat of needing to readdress and modify your published content as necessary.
Need More Guidance?
We know SEO-researched content is crucial to expanding your digital presence and getting in front of the right people. It’s also time consuming… which is one of the reasons that our team here at Till is always willing to jump in and take care of creating content for our clients.
Interested in learning more about what we do? Request a case study or book a discovery call with us today. We want to hear from you!