How to create content that connects with search engines AND humans
You might have heard that Google takes over 200 ranking factors into account when deciding what content to show first. Getting your blog on that coveted first page begins to sound near impossible – or a fluke at best. While tackling a blog post is no easy feat for your average Joe, how can you swing the ranking odds in your favour without compromising your all-important human audience?
We’re big fans of using a solid process to streamline your writing. It’ll help you develop an idea, organise your thoughts and decide what’s critical to include and which ideas you can ditch. All of this leads to a search-engine-lovin’ blog and importantly, one that your audience loves too. So, where do you start?
Tip 1 – Begin with a defined content strategy
Once you know your audience and who you’re writing for, developing a content strategy is crucial. This’ll keep your content on track and aligned with your business goals today and into the future.
At an individual blog level, keyword research is, well, key. Writing about something that interests you or something you think your audience wants to know is tempting, but being guided by research is just plain smart. With Google processing an average of 40,000 search queries every second, knowing what your audience is looking for (so you can be the one to provide them with the answers) will make your writing relevant and widely read. Popular tools that can help you with this are:
- Google keyword planner – find the most relevant keywords for your business and get insight into how often certain words are searched for.
- Ubersuggest – from digital marketing guru Neil Patel, this tool provides you with everything from keywords to content ideas and allows you to see what’s working for your competitors.
- Ahrefs – like Ubersuggest, this is another all-in-one SEO tool offering competitor analysis and keyword suggestions.
- Google trends – gives you a feel for searches that are declining or rising over time.
Tip 2 – Check out your competition
Once you’ve got a handle on what your audience is searching for and landed on a topic (or keyword), type that sucker into Google and check out at least the top three results. Knowing that these pages are ranking in top spots because Google likes what it sees (remember those 200 factors it considers), think about what your blog could do better. Check your competition for:
- What it does well – Is it well written with unique insight? Is the writer qualified on the topic? Does it include examples and actionable strategies?
- What is it missing? – Is it confusing, boring or offering the same old information?
- What other keywords are they targeting? – Does it rank for other keywords? Are they in the headings?
Once you’ve done your homework, you’re well on the path to making your own kick-ass content that ranks.
Tip 3 – Don’t underestimate your headline
Sure, it tells readers what your blog is about, but is also the first thing they’ll see in a Google search. Studies have shown that up to 80% of readers never make it past the headline at all! Put this beside the average human attention span of a mere 8 seconds (which is less than a goldfish) and you clearly don’t have time to waste on cryptically clever headlines that leave your audience (or search engines) guessing.
Here are a few of our favourite ways to re-frame your headline into something that clicks:
- Include power words – these are persuasive words like “new” “free” “how-to” “proven” and “sure-fire” that drive action, emotion, or a sensory response. Check out a list of power words here.
- Incorporate numbers – numbers attract attention in text, and people love a good list. Numbers are always a winner.
- Make it a teaser – humans are naturally curious creatures. Make sure the content is worthy of their click though or they’ll be left feeling let-down.
You’ll find plenty of other ideas here for crafting traffic-loving headlines.
Starting your writing process by formulating a headline will set the tone and focus for the blog. But remember, it’s not set in stone at this point and we’ll often go back and change things once we re-read and refine the blog.
Tip 4 – Get organised.
It’s time to get to work! Here’s how to beef out the body of your blog:
Suss out your sub-topics – based on your competitor and keyword research, figure out what questions your reader might have. This isn’t about forcing extra keywords into your content, but if you can find natural fits then get them in there by all means.
Flesh it out – get researching and brain dumping. Include links to support any claims you make and give your blog some cred. Google Scholar is a great tool for searching scholarly literature, and don’t underestimate the power of some first-hand information. If you can chat to an industry expert and get a quote, “It’ll give your blog some unique information and beef up your authority,” according to WFB Creative Director Helen Steemson.
Sort your structure – cast your mind back to the basic essay structure from English class in your school days. You should have an opening, supporting paragraphs and a conclusion.
Conclude with ease
While using an outline and carrying out some serious behind the scenes work might feel like a chore at first, it’s the golden ticket to creating content that not only ranks but is cohesive, professional and valuable. By doing your homework and figuring out what topics are truly important to your reader, you can naturally include search terms (or keywords) that they are likely to use. This all leads to a blog that genuinely focuses on helping out your customers and will naturally lead to increased ranking over time.