Has Google’s latest algorithm update impacted your website traffic? It’s always frustrating when it feels like your organic reach is affected by factors that are seemingly out of your control, and big algorithm shakeups on the search engine results pages (SERPs) are many SEO specialists’ idea of a nightmare.
But it doesn’t have to be. There are a few simple tricks and tips you can implement to create high-quality content that addresses your target audience’s needs and ranks well in spite of any updates. This article highlights our top 7 techniques that you can start using today to write content that ranks well now and will continue to do so in the future.
The key points include:
- Focus on helping readers overcome specific problems
- Spend more time on your headline
- Anchor your main topic to semantic keywords
- See what’s working for your competitors
- Offer practical and actionable advice
- Include relevant internal links
- Nail your basic on-page SEO
Let’s dive right in!
Focus on helping readers overcome specific problems
Remember, updates only happen because search engines like Google want to give their users the best results possible. And while there are a lot of factors that determine where your content will rank, the key thing to bear in mind is that users are looking for the most relevant search result to answer their query.
This is why it’s important to produce content that helps your target audience to overcome specific problems. Why? Because Google will check how well your content matches to perceived search intent. If you can show that your page is useful to your audience, then it’s a win-win for your audience, Google, and yourself.
So while keyword research and choosing the right terms to use in your content is all well and good, your content also needs to be practically helpful. So if you’re writing instructions on something like how to change a lightbulb, don’t waffle; keep it short and to the point, because that’s what your audience is after.
Spend more time on your headline
If you’re writing a new piece of content for your site, where do you spend the most time? Is it the actual content, or maybe your keyword research?
It’s very easy to leave your headline as an afterthought, but ideally, you need to be spending a good chunk of your time thinking about how it can be as effective as possible. Eight out of ten people will read a headline while only two out of ten will click through to read the rest. The bottom line? A good headline will get more clickthroughs.
After all, just like email headlines, it’s the first thing your audience will see. If it doesn’t grab their attention so that they click on it, your content isn’t going to be seen and the time you spent creating it goes to waste.
As a general rule, use questions to evoke curiosity, or add an additional piece of information (e.g. ‘point 4 will shock you!’) to motivate your audience to read on. However, it’s important to ensure that the information in your headline is truthful, not clickbait.
If you’re still not sure what’s going to work, try typing in your target keywords into Google and see what kind of headlines the top 10 results are using, and use those techniques as inspiration for when you write your own headline.
Anchor your main topic to semantic keywords
When you optimise a piece of content with the aim of getting it to rank, it’s a basic requirement that you need to include a focus keyword phrase that your audience is likely to type into Google. This keyword will appear throughout your content several times – but it’s not the only keyword you should be thinking about.
It’s good practice to anchor your focus keyword phrase with other keywords that are semantically related to it. For example, in this particular article, the keyword enabling our organic search traffic to land here is ‘how to write content that ranks’. However, by anchoring with other keywords such as ‘effective SEO, ‘blog post’ and ‘content marketing’, we can create context that’s understood by the search engine crawlers that index our pages.
So whatever keyword you’re focusing on, make sure you use other keywords that compliment it. Then, Google’s crawlers get a sense of intent and, in turn, rank it higher up on the SERPs.
See what’s working for your competitors
You’ve written your content plan, you’ve prepared the relevant keywords that you want to include, but what should you do next? If it’s diving straight into the writing stage, think again.
One of the most worthwhile steps that often gets overlooked is competitor research. By taking a few minutes to see what content on page one of Google for your target keyword includes vs. what elements content on pages three or four are missing, you can begin to figure out what kind of outline you need to be following.
However, this doesn’t mean you should follow exactly what your top competitors are doing, as there’s nothing to indicate to Google that you should be ranking above them. Instead, take inspiration from their structure, but also think about what information the top results are missing.
Then, ask yourself, how could you be going above and beyond to produce even better content that has a shot of ranking in the top spots? For example, maybe your content could provide more up to date information or go into more (relevant) detail.
Offer practical and actionable advice
Whatever types of content you’re creating, it needs to provide your audience with value. If they finish the article and come away with no useful information or actionable advice, it’s a waste of their (and your) time, and they’re much less likely to continue their customer journey with you.
So when you’re writing new content, aim to get your audience fired up and motivated to implement your advice. It helps to include a compelling call to action (CTA) in the last line of your article as a psychological trigger to get your readers to take action then and there.
You can find out more about how to write an effective article here.
Include relevant internal links
Internal linking is super important for any content that’s going to rank well. These are the links (usually attached to anchor keywords in your articles) that link to other web pages on your site. The idea is that they enhance the user experience by helping your audience to navigate to other relevant resources that will contribute to their understanding.
However, any internal links you include need to be relevant – there’s no point adding in random links that don’t make sense as they’re not adding value to your audience.
It’s also a good idea to link to content new and old. However, if you are including internal links to old content, check whether anything about the content needs changing before you add it in so that you can be sure that you’re directing your audience to the most high-quality, up to date information possible.
Nail your basic on-page SEO
The final thing that will help you on how to write content that ranks is getting your on-page SEO spot on. If you do it well, your content will be algorithm-friendly and much more likely to hit the top ranking spots on the SERPs.
Some of the on-page aspects you need to take care of include meta descriptions, image titles and alt text, title tags (including your H1 and H2 tags), URL slugs, and more.
If you’re new to the world of SEO, this may all seem a little alien – but it’s not as complicated as it sounds, and yes, practice does make perfect. If you’re not familiar with on-page SEO techniques, try using the Yoast WordPress plugin. This will give you a rundown of what things you’re doing well, what you can improve on, and how to write content that ranks time and again.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a WordPress site, check out the site audit features on UberSuggest or SEMrush. Both are incredibly useful SEO tools and will help you figure out what on-page elements you can improve to climb the rankings. However, you will need to pay a subscription fee for more in-depth analysis.
I hope this article has given you a good idea of how to create content that ranks.
If you implement each of these seven actions, you’ll be well on your way to improving your rankings on the SERPs. If you’re new to SEO, remember that good results take time, and it’s as much about keeping these actions consistent as it is about learning new optimisation tips and tricks.
So why not try dedicating a few hours each month to creating, optimising and improving your content? Keep on top of it, and you’ll begin to see your rankings gaining traction after the first six months or so.
If you’d like to learn more about how to write content that ranks or need help to do so, get in touch.