SEO content is all about the audience.
If you’re looking to improve your content marketing and see real ROI, you have to use practices that will really benefit them.
Content that’s highly ranked, that drives traffic and leads is always user-focused, first and foremost.
That’s why today’s tips for SEO content all point back to your reader, A.K.A. the V.I.P. and M.V.P. you need to know and understand to get it right.
Because, when you write to the right people in the right way, your writing and content will climb higher.
9 Keys for Creating Your Best SEO Content
Here are my nine top tips for helping you create your best (most-read, most-shared, and most valuable) content this year and beyond.
1. Write to the Right People with Targeted Keywords
Your SEO content won’t reach the right people if you fail to optimize it with targeted keywords.
What do I mean by “targeted keywords”?
These are key terms and phrases for which your audience niche is actively searching.
To find these terms, you must first understand:
- Who your audience segments are.
- What kind of information they need.
- Why they need that information.
- Which keywords they’re using to find it.
This may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t if you break it down into a few activities:
- Audience research: Identify the type of audience you think wants/needs what you offer. Then, go find where they congregate online. Talk to them. Survey them. Figure out their personal habits, preferences, demographics, and stats. (Marketing Land has a good guide on this process.)
- Keyword research: Find relevant, profitable keywords that relate to your expertise, your products/services, and your audience’s search intent.
- Topic research: Come up with content topics based on the targeted keywords you discovered and what your audience wants to learn/know.
2. Focus on Readability
SEO content that shoots to the top of SERPs has a few things going for it, including this major feature:
It’s incredibly readable.
When your audience clicks your link, every single element on the page makes them want to stay and read it.
And, when they stay and read, that makes your page look great to Google.
It signals, “Hey, this page is relevant to the search query! The user has found the information they were looking for!”
That signal is called dwell time – or, the amount of time that passes between the point when you click on a search result and the point when you return to the results page.
Readability contributes to longer dwell times with a few qualities that are baked in:
To be readable, your content needs to convey all types of information in an understandable way.
And, when your content is understandable to more people, more people will stay longer, which will help your Google rankings.
3. Go Deeper in Your Content
A big SEO trend is creating content that goes deeper and farther into a topic.
This works for higher rankings because, according to digital marketer Eric Enge, Google is “intensifying its focus” on content quality.
This is what Enge said in a recent trends post from Danny Goodwin on SEJ:
“We tracked the SEO performance of a number of different sites. The sites that provided exceptional depth in quality content coverage literally soared in rankings throughout the year. Sites that were weaker in their content depth suffered in comparison.”
Furthermore, according to Enge, this trend is going to continue.
So, how should you go about creating deeper content?
- Write long-form blog posts – think 2,000 words or more.
- Explore topics that have many different facets and angles.
- Write ultimate guides.
- Go further than surface-level research. Instead of a cursory Google search, try Google Scholar, JSTOR, or industry publications to find new data and studies.
4. Improve Your Page Speed
A simple way to improve your SEO content:
Improve your page speed.
Help your pages and content fully load and display faster.
The slower your page speed, the more frustrated you’ll make your users.
Who wants to sit around waiting for a website to load?
According to a BBC News report, half of shoppers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a retail page to load.
And research from the Nielsen Norman Group revealed that most users will leave pages within 10-20 seconds.
To improve your page speed, check out How to Improve Page Speed for More Traffic & Conversions
from Jeremy Knauff.
5. Invest in Visuals
According to research from Skyword, articles containing relevant images enjoy 94 percent more views than articles without images.
That’s because we’re literally wired to notice images and respond to them.
However, the impact of inserting well-designed, high-quality images in your content is much greater than throwing in a couple of random, overused stock photos.
Your content will look more cohesive, professional, and authoritative with the right images, so it’s a good idea to invest in them for better SEO.
6. Provide the Facts (and Properly Cite Them)
These days, the internet makes it easy for just about any “expert” to make outlandish claims without any supporting data. (Check out the Snopes Junk News Archive to see what I mean.)
That means those who do provide supporting facts, sources, and data in their content will easily differentiate themselves for the better.
The key for trustworthy SEO content: Research!
7. Format Content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are getting tons of attention in the SERPs recently, and that will only continue.
These little blocks of information may show up on a results page when a user asks a question, according to Google.
As you can see, featured snippets get the first spot at the tip top of the page – a hugely desirable place to be!
That’s because the featured snippets actually steal traffic away from the #1 spot, according to an Ahrefs study.
To increase the likelihood of your content getting “snipped” for a featured snippet, there are a few tactics you can try:
- Answer questions definitively in your content.
- Make your content the highest quality possible.
- Use numbered and bulleted lists.
- Include stats and data.
- Structure your content logically. This guide from Moz shows how to do it.
8. Be the Expert
These days, Google is valuing authority/expert authorship in content more than ever before.
According to Google’s recently updated search quality evaluator guidelines, the creator of the content and that person’s history both contribute to a page’s quality.
Reputation evidence can include the following:
- First-person experience (i.e., you’ve been crafting for 10 years and published a craft book, or you are an experienced horseback rider and took lessons, etc.)
- What the wider web says about you (think reviews, forum discussions, author bios, news, and Wikipedia articles, etc.)
To this end, including an About page on your website, as well as author bio pages for your blog, are essential for reputation-building.
Don’t forget to create bios for all of your guest-blogging opportunities, as well.
9. Do Original Research
Original research is a giant link magnet for SEO content.
If you can include fresh statistics, studies, information, and research in your pieces, you’ll be throwing out tons of opportunities for other websites to link to you and cite your findings, not to mention incredible value for your industry and audience.
According to the 2018 State of Original Research for Marketing report by Mantis Research and BuzzSumo, 56 percent of marketers who use original research in their content say it exceeded or met expectations.
On top of that:
- 74 percent report that they have seen more website traffic because of original research.
- 63 percent said they see more social shares.
Needless to say, research is an awesome way to boost your SEO content.
Some OG research ideas:
- Do a case study based on your brand success or failure – both are valuable teaching tools.
- Survey your industry and compile the results.
- Analyze your own data/metrics and post your findings.
Ready to Rock SEO Content?
Audience-focused SEO content will be hot stuff this year.
When you hone in on what your audience needs and wants from your content, the benefits will be gigantic.
Use the tips in this article to get started!
- How to Create Perfectly Optimized Content: 16 Essential Elements
- 17 Tactics to Create Engaging & SEO-Friendly Content
- Content Marketing KPIs: Your Guide to Picking the Right KPIs for Content
All screenshots taken by author, January 2019