There’s one major rule in blogging which defines quality SEO content; give readers what belongs to readers and Google what belongs to Google.
I just came up with that quote by the way. I wanna thank my parents for raising me and supporting my journey to this moment of greatness.
But seriously, to succeed in blogging you must have those two in mind in that order.
First, when writing, you must put your readers in mind. What answers are they seeking? How can you explain to them in the easiest way possible? How can you provide more value than the rest of the competing articles online?
If you can answer these three questions and implement the solutions very well, you have captured the audience or rather given the readers what belongs to them. You must also learn how to find creative ideas that will engage your audience.
Secondly, you must consider what Google wants too. With 63,000 searches per second, Google is by far the largest and most significant search engine in the world.
It has developed the most sophisticated web crawler packed with Artificial Intelligence and is getting smarter by the second. For sure, it can smell crap form a mile.
The same way God watches your every action is the same Google monitors your content. So besides giving your readers the best quality content, you must optimize your work for Google to notice you and make you more discoverable in the search engine results page (SERPs)
Today, I would like to focus on the latter, giving Google what belongs to Google. In technical terms, it is referred to as SEO (Site Engine Optimization)
What is SEO?
Site Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your site content so that search engines can show it as a top result when net users search for answers within the discussed topics.
SEO involves several tactics which can be grouped into 3 categories
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Content Quality
On-Page SEO involves tactics you can implement on your content to make it more discoverable and appealing to search-bots. This includes adding target keywords on images, titles, meta descriptions etc.
Off-Page SEO is the strategy used outside your website to improve the influence of your content. Most significant is the use of backlinks and guest posts referring to your work.
Now onto the most important SEO category of focus today; content quality.
Content quality involves writing what appeals to readers and search-bots. Essentially, On-Page and Off-Page SEO make your content notable. On the other hand, content quality makes your articles valuable and that’s what keeps readers coming.
There are certain rules you ought to follow to provide the best quality content which guarantees traffic and success in blogging. Of course, these rules aren’t cast on stone, we can barely exhaust the over 200 Google ranking factors in one article.
Writing SEO Content.
Let me take you through my step by step procedure of writing SEO content.
1. Keyword Research
Before I discovered keyword research, my website rarely hit a hundred visitors per day more months. I was writing what I wanted to write, not what people were searching for.
Businesspeople don’t just start a business of their choice whenever and wherever they want. They do some research before finding out what customers want and thus determine the demand before investing on anything.
Similarly, you should find out what keywords people are searching on the internet before you start writing an article. This a very essential skill in blogging. It will make or break you.
There is a good number of free keyword research tools available on the internet. Google has three very instrumental tools; Google Suggestions, Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends.
Google Suggestions are the hints google gives you when you start typing on the search box. As shown below. They are also provided at the bottom of SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
The other two tools are a little advanced and serve a specific need; Keyword Planner gives you all variations of a keyword while Google Trends gives you the search graph for keywords over the past few hours up to 2004.
Also, there exist other tools both freemium and premium such as AnwerThePublic, KWFinder, Ahrefs (best keyword research tool), LongTailPro, Majestic, MozBar etc.
When doing your research, you begin with one keyword. For instance; ‘best fridges’. Insert this phrase on any of these tools and check out the suggestions provided then jot down between 5-10 closely related phrases that can be easily inserted in your article.
These closely related keywords reveal what people are searching for most and guides you into tuning your work to add value to them.
One other powerful tool I haven’t mentioned is the Google People Also Ask Snippet which is commonly found in today’s SERPs.
Getting the top related questions from this section gives you an edge in knowing how to best serve your readers.
2. Structure Your Article.
The second important part of writing great content is structuring your work before you start writing. All writers normally experience Writer’s Block; a temporary state in which you have creativity slowdown.
If you don’t plan your work before diving in, you are more likely to reach a point when all ideas are exhausted. An article structure keeps ideas flowing and enables you to focus on the current concept especially when writing very long articles.
Also, a well-designed article layout helps you fluently express your ideas; without jumping from one idea to another. Content that flows is more interesting and engaging than disorganized content.
Now, to structure content well take a look at the keywords and questions you collected while undertaking the first step. Group related phrases together and find which phrases represent higher topics than the others then structure them from the most general topics to the least.
Having done this, plan your article based on these phrases as headings and subheadings, Remember to ensure the main keywords appear at least two-three times on your various subheadings depending on the length of your article.
3. Start Writing
With everything ready, you should start writing your article. But sometimes knowing how to start an article can seem daunting. I’ve had days when it took me 10 minutes to decide how the first sentence will be. This mostly happens when I was trying to make a grand intro or a perfect start.
Nowadays, I just start writing, whatever pops in my mind first without caring whether it’s the best introduction or not. When the article is through, which is the hardest part, I return to the introduction to make it better and optimize it for google while making it captivating.
If you find it hard to start, there are several things you need to note. First, most visitors will only read 20% of your article. It’s understandable with the infinite amount of content online that keeping the attention of your reader will be hard.
However, with a captivating introduction which clearly states what the article will talk about, you have a better chance to keep their attention.
You can easily captivate readers by making it personal. For instance, use ‘you’ or ask a direct question, identify with their emotions, note their problem, play off with their dreams and promise them what they want. All these approaches focus on the reader and that’s what they love.
Check out these examples
Do you find it hard to study consistently when preparing for exams? You are not alone.
Isn’t it sad how hard it is to get a job nowadays?
We all want to be financially stable, happy and free when we grow up.
Ever wondered what you’ll do if you won a mega jackpot.
I’m gonna give you the secret to my wild success in the blogging industry
Also, an introduction which includes the focus keywords of the article contributes to SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin which is an essential plugin to have in your blog reminds you about this. Search engines too ‘read’ content so including your focus keyphrase earlier on gives them a clue on what your article is about.
Once your intro is great, consider having a table of contents section especially if your article is very long. This section allows your visitors scroll to the exact part they need most, making their user experience better, another metric Google uses to rank your website.
But this table of content will only come after you have finished writing your work following the structure. A plugin like Gutentor provides a table of contents feature that uses your titles and subtitles and creates navigational links.
The hardest and most time-consuming part is finishing up your article. I can’t teach you that. You signed up for writing so write. Make sure your thoughts flow well, use transition words, mix long and short sentences, use short paragraphs, and avoid passive voice.
4. Include Links, Images and other elements.
You are not writing a novel. This is an attention-seeking piece which must be engaging. Thus ironically, you must include some relevant distractions. These distractors come in the form of links, images, quotes, tables, graphs etc. They don’t necessarily deviate the reader but make your work more interesting and full.
Links for instance are meant to direct readers to related work within or outside your website, that the reader would want to check out. For instance, this article is about writing great content. However, for you to reach to the point of writing any content, you must have known how to start a blog.
Did you see what I did there? When a visitor reads through to the end of that paragraph, they ask themselves whether they have a blog or not. If yes, they proceed, if no, they click the link to find out how to start a blog.
Links can either be internal or external. Internal links direct readers to content that exists within your website. They not only increase time spent by readers in your article but also show google related content, a proof you are an authority in that area.
External links on the other hand direct readers to articles existing in another website which have reliable information on a topic you might not have covered. Linking to highly rated websites tells google you have done your research well and your work reflects what experts say.
Striking a balance between inbound and outbound links is necessary to prove your authority as a writer in a particular topic
We are visual beings; we love seeing colours and this applies most in blog content. Images are soul-soothing. That’s why image sharing social media sites such as Instagram are very popular today. Remember we are not writing a history book or novel.
Including image periodically within your content subdivides your work into sections, gives a better illustration of the ideas you are talking about and generally gives a reader a much more enjoyable time reading through.
Besides serving readers, images also serve search engines thus contributing to your rankings. Long posts with images rank high on google. They provide a perfect way to populate your content with focus keywords through the alt, caption, and description properties.
Images also make it easier for visitors to understand complex information. For instance, infographics can condense a 10,000-word article into one long image which provides just enough information. Graphs and tables also make it easier to relate trends and items giving a better illustration of your ideas.
5. Proofread, Optimize and Publish
The final process in publishing highly optimized content that ranks involves several important steps which if not taken care of might negate all other efforts.
Proofreading involves going through your work to ensure there are no grammatical errors and your sentences make sense. A very essential tool that helps in proofreading is Grammarly.
I can promise you no matter how perfect your English is and how meticulous you can be in finding errors, if you do it manually, you will always miss something. This tool helps you find these errors. The free version is good enough to point out misspellings and other basic errors but if you can pay for the premium version, you’re better off.
Yoast Plugin also includes a feature that rates the readability of your article. Before publishing an article scroll to the bottom, check the ideas it lists and try to edit the sections that can be improved. Don’t obsess to get a perfect score from the plugin but try improving the article based on its tips.
Optimizing generally involves ensuring everything is perfect and ready for Google and the reader. To do this have a checklist of all items to be done before publishing an article. You can have a hardcopy version or a plugin such as Publish Press Checklist to remind yourself all the things you must do before clicking the publish button
Here is my checklist
- Ensure title length is within Yoast Limits
- Add focus keyphrase
- Add meta description with focus keyphrase and adequate length
- Ensure readability is Good or Great
- Use a short Permalink (first, save the post as a draft then edit permalink)
- Add relevant Categories and Tags
- Add Featured Image and other images within the content (optimized through img alt, caption and description items)
- Copy meta description and post as the excerpt.
All these items optimize my content for both Google and readers giving it a better chance to rank highly and be of help to readers. Since I follow through every time, they are at my fingertips and I can recall them easily. However, sometimes I forget one or two items only to realize later. So, I would advocate for a personal checklist on a paper, checklist plugin or sticky note on your computer.
Writing content that engages readers and entices Google is not a walk in the pack. It requires practice and time to perfect. Yet the significance of this skill to the success of your blogging career cannot be emphasized enough.
The sooner you start putting all these tips into practice, the sooner you’ll see traffic coming your way. More traffic translates to growth in turn leading to more money. Isn’t that what we all want?