Why SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing.

Google has stated that ‘content’ is among its top three ranking factors, but what makes content ‘good’ from an SEO perspective? What makes high-quality SEO content?

Just as wheels without an engine leaves you pedaling, content without an SEO strategy can’t keep up in a digital marketplace. And just like an engine with no wheels, SEO without content is a shiny machine that goes nowhere. Content needs SEO to stand out in the din of mediocre blog posts clogging up the internet these days, and Google has said that one of the top three ranking factors for organic search is “content.”

But what does that mean? Not any content, surely. Unfortunately, search engines are not handing out checklists for “high-quality content,” and they probably never will. That means it’s up to those of us who geek out on this kind of thing to study search results, mine Google Analytics and create massive spreadsheets that we pretend to be bored by but secretly love — all to bring you (and ourselves, who are we kidding?) a comprehensive guide to creating “high-quality” SEO content.

SEO your content strategy

Too many marketers are still waiting until the end of content creation to bring in SEO as a promotional tool. They try to figure out what they’ve just created, so they can plug in a few keywords and links.

But an effective content marketing strategy should start with keyword and user intent research. Once you know what queries your audience is using, and what kind of content they are looking for, you can design a content strategy that answers their specific questions and helps move them through the funnel.

High-quality content:

  •  is based on an understanding of your audience, as well as keyword and user intent research. Use your audience’s language, and provide the information they’re actually looking for.
  • helps the reader complete one specific task. Long content (1,000+ words) tends to rank better in organic results, in part because it is thorough. That said, stay on task and don’t let the content lose focus.
  • features an enticing call to action or a clear next step. When you know your readers and their buyer journeys, your content can point them to more of what they want.

content creation

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Design good content

Good UX is good SEO. When users are engaged, they consume more content, interact with it and share it. From the overarching structure to the details of the layout, make sure you are designing good content.

There are plenty of philosophies about which characteristics make content “good” — or “sticky” or “thought leadership.” They are all worthy considerations, and every piece of content should cover at least a few:

  • Simple/Clear/Coherent
  • Emotional
  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Relevant
  • Trustworthy

And as you continue to design content, keep your audience in mind: you are writing for people, so search engines can also understand — not vice versa.

High-quality content:

  • is written to its audience, not your peers. Make sure the language is neither too simple nor full of industry jargon.
  • is shareable. Take a step back and ask yourself if you would share it — and, if so, couldyou? (i.e., are social sharing buttons readily available?)
  • features ideal results, common objections and/or time frames in subheaders. Anticipate the audience’s hopes, fears and concerns.
  • is better than current SERP winners. Spy out the competition. Review the pages that are currently ranking well for target keywords and ask yourself if your content is better. Make sure it’s better.

Check your keyword usage

You started with keywords and user intent research, of course, so this is not about figuring out which keywords apply to the piece of content in question. This is about examining how that keyword is being used in said content. It’s true that keyword stuffing is very, very out. It was never cool in the first place, but now — thanks to Google — it’s also ineffective (if not dangerous). It’s also true that Google is very savvy about keywords. None of that, however, means that keywords are “dead.” It just means SEO needs to use them better.

High-quality content:

  • is not stuffed full of the primary keyword. There’s no real math for this. A good way to visualize is to use the “Find” feature in your document and search the keyword. If it looks oversaturated, start plugging in some synonyms.
  • organizes thematic subsections by primary related keywords. Google is getting better and better at understanding related terms. Don’t be afraid of it.
  • makes natural use of keywords and variants in content. Don’t overthink it. Use synonyms, abbreviations, plurals and so on like a normal human being.
  • makes natural use of keywords in image text. Image titles, alt text and captions are strategic places for descriptive language. Don’t force keywords, but do use them as applicable.

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