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Step 9 to SEO: Content Creation

Am I creating quality content that solves the searcher’s problems?

Every search for something begins with a problem. It’s the reason you’re reading this blog right now––you have a problem that needs a solution. Maybe your problem is small and you just need a little help on how to create great content. Great––but it’s still a problem because it means a few different things:

Maybe you’re not already creating awesome content and you need to to sell your product.

Maybe your revenue is down and you’re looking for ways to improve sales.

Maybe someone told you your copywriter stinks and it’s time you took matters into your own hands.

Maybe you’re your own copywriter.

Don’t worry, you’ve come to the best place to find out if:

  • You’re already producing awesome content (you might be, in which case you’ll be nodding your head as you read this)
  • Your content is readable but not clickable
  • Your content stinks and how to make it better

Now, if you’re not a writer and you don’t like to write, don’t waste your own time. Get a copywriter. Pay for a good copywriter. And trust us, price usually indicates quality so low ballin’ on the Fiverr side of things may get you a crapload of content for the cost of double-fat chai latte at your local barista, but it won’t be very good.

Several sources claim that quality content is the number one ranking factor. That’s right, NUMBER ONE. That means that content is more important than anything else on your site.

The #1 Most Important Question You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Write Anything

Who are you writing for––the person or the machine?

Well, both actually. And we’ll get there in a minute but it’s super important that you know “the machine” is much, much more like a person these days than ever before.

Back in the days of yesteryear, Google didn’t care so much about content, their algorithm paid attention only to having content with highly searched terms up on a page. Times are different now. Google will actually penalize sites that stuff keywords into content, even if that content reads sensibly enough. Sophisticated algorithms are now able to assess content quality––meaning, relevance, and where and how often you use certain keywords through a script (keyword density and frequency).

So, start with the person––your ideal customer––and write content that she (or he) cares about, that speaks directly to her, that solves her problem. Don’t write a sales pitch (even though selling is your goal).

Remember this:

Writing and Writing for SEO: What’s the Difference?

Straightforward copywriting is the art of using words to sell a product or service. A copywriter knows how to use words strategically to engage a reader and persuade her to purchase whatever you’re selling.

An SEO copywriter employs the same tenants, except she tailors the copy for an online presence, optimizing it for Google The tricky bit about SEO writing is striking a balance between optimizing for a search engine and serving your potential customer. You need to do both.

Write Clickable Headlines

You want to spend more time putting together a smashing headline than you do on your entire copy. Why? Because the title is what engages or repels readers. If your headline makes people snore, they’re not going to care what your page is about and they’ll bounce away.

If you’re walking the plank and doing your own copywriting, here are a few tips for writing a title that converts:

  • Lead with a 6-7 word phrase
  • Make it clear, snappy, and simple
  • Use adjectives, strategically
  • Promise to solve a problem
  • Use numbers wherever possible

Maybe that sounds like a lot to cover in just a few words but it’s easier than you think, especially when you get the hang of it.

For example, you’re writing a blog about dog training for your pet niche site.

Instead of: “Training Your Dog”

Try: “6 Easy Ways to Make your Dog Smarter”

See the difference? You’re speaking to the ultimate goal of the reader. No one wants a dumb dog, right? That’s why we train them, and it makes our lives “easy”.


“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy


If you’re stuck, check out copyblogger’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work for some ideas.

Deliver on Your Headline’s Promise

Beef your content without the bloat. You want to publish content that is meaty, meaning it satisfies the reader with lots of useful information. Google penalizes sites with thin content––only there as a base for keywords, which is why 1000 words is a recommended average for any piece of content. Build your content around a keyword, but ensure your copy reads smoothly and engages the reader.

Make your content compelling by putting the most important information first. In The Copy Cure, Marie Forleo refers to the first words of a sentence or paragraph the corner real-estate spot. Fill it wisely.

Link to Authority Sites

Why would you want to send your reader elsewhere for information? Isn’t the point to keep potential customers on your page?

There are two schools of thought. At Logical Mix, we want to help people solve their problems. If someone can do that better than us, then people should know about it. Keep in mind that selfishly coveting your customer and withholding useful information from them may do harm than good.

Linking to authority sites (like we did back there with copyblogger) also shows social proof, that you’re connected, sociable, value good content and want to share it around. Not only does this put you in Google’s good books, but it helps your customer––and they’ll remember you.

The Tail End…

Remember from Step One, always start with keyword research. It’s how you know what people people’s problems are and therefore, what they’re searching for. Then use free tools like Google Analytics to find out what part of your site is getting the most traffic and why. Use that info to generate new content to improve user experience.

And if you can’t write, don’t enjoy it, or don’t care enough to try, get a copy writer. The cost is worth the result.

Photo credit: Neil Patel

Step 4 to SEO: On-Page SEO

Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?

If you did your homework, you would have made some discoveries about how to rank for keywords.

If you haven’t already checked it out, see Step One to SEO Success: Keyword Research to find out how to get started on this critical stage.

If you’ve done your research, let’s take a look at what you’ve discovered.

Two of your major findings would have been:

  • How people are searching for your product or service offering and,
  • How your offering aligns with their queries.

Using as many tools as possible, you compiled a list of long-tail keywords. You ranked them by relevance and difficulty and then chose the ones that are most relevant and least competitive.

Right?

Great, what were they?

If you used a Venn diagram to display the results of a simple keyword investigation in the health supplements niche, it might have looked like this:

Now, what do we do with this? Let’s get to the nitty gritty…

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is essentially structuring individual web pages around target keywords with the goal of creating more traffic and achieving a higher rank.

It’s also about responding to the people who come to your page looking for answers.

One of the most obvious ways to hit on all these points is through content so let’s start there.

You could start structuring content around the keyword “gluten-free supplements for weight loss” because it is both relevant and low competition. This is a perfect jumping off point for a review of competitors’ brands (if there are any), or an article about how gluten-free supplements are hard to come by (until they stumbled across your brand of course), etc., etc.

Let’s hope you don’t just plop this juicy keyword into existing content about the benefits of supplements.

Of course you wouldn’t because you know as well as we do that it is better to start at the beginning.

Like a plant has a seed, a keyword is the crux of great content, which is still one of the top ranking factors. It’s easy to sniff out in the opening paragraph when keywords have been stuffed or simply dropped into existing content. Readers will quickly realize that your page is not going to deliver what they came looking for.

Irrelevancy makes you unreliable, and when you’re unreliable, people aren’t going to ask you for help and Google will note that and respond accordingly.

Don’t be that guy.

Make yourself trustworthy and deliver fresh new content that answers your users’ questions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why content is king in SEO success and how to masterfully craft content around the keywords you want to rank for.

Enter RankBrain.

RankBrain is a machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm that measures dwell time (how long users are spending on your page) and click through rate (CTR), which is the total clicks divided by total impressions (read more about Google Analytics here). RankBrain then moves your page up or down the SERP depending on those two factors.

3 Techniques for Improving Rank

There are three key ways to win at RankBrain. First, optimize your titles and meta descriptions for better CTR. Second, rank for highly relevant keywords. Third, write quality content.

Sounds easy, right? They are, and they’re also dangerously easy to overlook. Each point carries some pretty heavy weight when it comes to on-page SEO so ensure you are focusing your efforts on all three.

1. Optimize titles.

The first point is so important. Time and effort are wasted on creating great content out of awesome keyword research if there is nothing to attract users to your page. A gripping title and simple, to-the-point meta descriptions are necessary. Like the department store Macy’s revolutionized the storefront window, the title and meta description can lead users right to your page, wanting more of what your virtual window promises.

2. Target relevant keywords and the people using them.

Let’s highlight the second point. You can write as much content as you want but if it’s not relevant to your offering, people are going to bounce.

The word people is strategic here. We talk a lot about the user, which makes me picture a hand on a mouse, or the reader, which makes me picture a book. But when I read the word people, I imagine a face, which directs my efforts to a person with a brain and the ability to subjectively decide what he or she is going to read and why. It makes my work more personal.

Okay, maybe not that face exactly. This one is a little closer to human (and looks a little like my grandma):

This point is, I’m not directing my efforts to the Google Machine, I’m addressing the needs of the people who ultimately determine what Google does with me. Right? This is a critical mind shift with which to lead.

3. Create quality content.

High-quality content is one of the top ranking factors. But quality is a bit of an ambiguous, static term, isn’t it? Let’s go with engaging instead; it’s a bit more active.

Content that engages draws the reader in right away with a hook phrase that is both relevant and interesting. It keeps the reader wanting more by providing useful bits of information that are easy to absorb and answer the readers’ questions directly. It often tells a story to which the reader can relate. It also leads the reader to helpful resources that explore their query further.

Now, great content needs a bit of decoration. Something that yells out READ ME. Because let’s be honest, no one has time to fart around looking for the juiciest tidbit of meat.

When I land on a page, the first thing I do is cut the fat. I quickly scroll through the content to see if anything jumps out. What do I notice?

Three things, mainly: Images/videos, length, and headers.

We love images. They’re the eye candy that break up the text.

Length is often a good sign that a chunky chunk of content is going to feed me what I’m looking for.

Headers offer a place to start if I’m looking to pinpoint specific information. If the headers aren’t relevant to what I’m looking for (i.e., they don’t match my keyword query) then bouncy-bounce I go back to SERP and right into RankBrain’s time-out chair.

Rand Fishkin outlines seven elements of an optimized webpage. They are less quantitative than the SEO methods of yesteryear that called for specific keyword placement so they may seem a little loosey-goosey. But they’re not.

Qualitative strategies take center stage as the algorithms that assess relevance increase in complexity.

So, what makes a page brilliantly optimized according to Fishkin and Logical Mix?

  1. Offers uniquely valuable content and images
  2. Provides excellent user experience
  3. Targets specific keywords
  4. Easily shared through social networks
  5. Optimized for every device
  6. Accessible to crawlers
  7. Includes authorship, rich snippets, metadata, and schema

Fishkin created this genius, though mythical, perfectly optimized page, highlighting his seven factors, mentioned earlier:

Pretty cool, right? I’d love to land on more web pages like this: perfectly structured to answer my question and oh so pretty.

So there you have it. On-page SEO is actually a bit fun. Maybe not as fun as the keyword research it took to get here, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

What is the main takeaway?

Remember, you’re doing this for a living, breathing human being (or several thousand if you’re doing it right). Not a doll, not an ape (though possibly some monkey brains). Google is a machine, and although we want to please the machine, we’re still the ones ultimately in control… for now.

Appeal to your customer and find out how you can deliver what they want through super-duper on-page SEO.

When you’re structuring your pages, always keep this in mind:

People have questions. Be that place where the answers are.

Logging Out,

Logical Mix

Feature photo credit: The Freedom Chase