The world of search engine optimization revolves around keywords. Website operators looking to optimize their project for major search engines must find out how to get their search terms on the coveted top spots in the search engine results pages. To put it another way, on-page optimization can’t take place without first conducting keyword research. In the first part of our series, we introduce...Keyword research – part 1: first steps
How to write SEO content that ranks well on Google
If you are looking to write content that gets top rankings on Google you need to know much more than the cliche phrase ‘Content Is King’. We all know content is crucial, but which content? And what is the best way to write it? In this article, you will learn all about the best tools and techniques for writing SEO content that gets top rankings on Google.
- SEO content and serving the user
- Determining the purpose of your SEO content
- SEO content keyword research
- SEO content length for top Google rankings
- Structuring your SEO content
- Content strategy keyword density
- The final word on writing SEO content that ranks well on Google
SEO content and serving the user
During Martin Splitt from Google’s myth-busting session on SEO 101, he was asked to list the three most important factors for getting top rankings on Google. The Google Webmaster’s answer wasn’t complicated or technical. In fact, it couldn’t have been more simple: ‘Providing content that serves a purpose for the user’. Serving the user is what writing good SEO content is all about. As simple as this sounds, too few content writers focus on serving the user when trying to write great SEO content. They fail to see that the technical side of SEO is merely another way of measuring and improving the user’s experience of a website, not a magic formula for tricking the user.
From your side ranking factors may seem like boxes you are trying to tick, but from Google’s perspective, they are ways of determining if a searcher likes what Google is showing them. Take bounce rates: Google records the amount of time a user spends on a page. If users immediately click off a site, Google assumes that this page’s content isn’t very interesting and ranks it lower.
Your aim as a content writer for SEO is to make sure that this doesn't happen. This doesn’t mean that all pages need to keep users on them for hours, but it does mean that if users spend longer on other similar pages because they find them more interesting or useful, Google will know, and this will mean they almost certainly will rank higher. This is why your primary consideration when researching or writing any content should be creating something that serves the user’s interests in the best way possible.
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SEO Mythbusting is a Youtube series that helps clarify key Google search questions for those doing SEO.
Determining the purpose of your SEO content
The best way to create the SEO content that serves the user depends on the type of search queries you are trying to answer, this in turn, will depend on the role your content is playing in your own digital marketing strategy.
SEO content for product pages
The first SEO content, the vast majority of business owners with a website need to work on, are those pages describing the products and services offered. This kind of content is often the simplest to write, normally covering these basic topics:
- What products and services you offer
- How and where to get them from
- The features of your products and services
This kind of content is often one of the most important for making the right keyword choices, we will come to this soon.
SEO content describing products and industry
After product pages, businesses tend to work on content that explains key industry terms relating to the products and services offered. These pages are usually informative, helping consumers to answer the kinds of questions they may have when deciding what type of service or product to buy.
For instance, someone thinking of learning to play the guitar may wonder if it’s better to start by playing acoustic or electric guitar, so a website for an ecommerce guitar store could write an article answering this question, visitors who find this page through Google, because of this question, would then have it in mind when they have decided which type of guitar to buy.
SEO content for pages with linked interests
After products and key terms and questions, the third content area is much broader and flexible. It consists of SEO content for any topics or interests that potential customers may have, that make them likely to be interested in your products or services. So the website for a hotel in Hawaii’s state capital may have a page for telling tourists about all the best sights to see in Honolulu.
It’s a good idea to decide which of these categories your SEO content is being written for before you start doing your keyword research and deciding a topic. This way helps to clarify the purpose and objectives of your SEO content.
Need help finding which keyword to target for your digital marketing strategy? Check out rankingCoach from IONOS.
SEO content keyword research
Keyword research is a crucial part of any SEO content creation process. What this involves will differ depending on the purpose of your content.
SEO keyword research for product page content
If you are writing content for product pages on an e-commerce site, then your keyword research will largely consist of finding transactional keywords. These are the phrases customers use to find and buy your products and services.
We can use keyword tools to jump into the shoes of our customers and consider the different terms they could use to search for your products and services. These then need to be narrowed down to a set that best matches the user’s intention.
Achieving this is about finding a happy medium between search volume (how many people are searching for the term), and the competitiveness of a term (the number of other websites optimizing their content with that same term). Just because a term has high search volume doesn't necessarily mean that you should choose it as the term for your SEO content. Terms with more competition are harder to optimize. A listing ranking on the first page with a less popular term may attract more site traffic than a listing with a lower ranking, using a term with a greater search volume. Studies show that roughly 92% of traffic from search results on Google goes to the websites listed on the first page.
Keyword research for your product pages will largely consist of finding the words customers use to find your products, and your store, if you are a bricks-and-mortar business.
If you want to know how to optimise your local SEO, check out our article on the topic.
To find the best keywords for your products you need to look at the terms customers may use to find for your products. For instance ‘flower shop’, ‘flower store’, ‘ flowers delivery service’ will all have different numbers of searchers and competitors using this keyword. You can also add adjectives to your keywords to create long-tail keywords, so you can extend the keyword ‘handbag’ to ‘brown leather designer handbag’ or ‘cheap handbag with shoulder strap’ depending on your audience. This can be done to reduce your competition and can help better target your audience.
For help picking the best keywords for your business and tracking your rankings on Google check out rankingCoach from IONOS.
Keyword research for non-product pages
If you are doing keyword research for informative terms, your research is likely to be focused on finding the best terms that best match the intention of the users, by matching the questions or phrases they are entering in Google.
Here’s an example based on a keyword research carried out using rankingCoach. An SEO content writer working on an article about learning to play the acoustic vs electric guitar, would be more likely to generate traffic in the US using the terms “electric or acoustic guitar for beginners”, rather than “is acoustic or electric easier to learn”. According to the rankingCoach keyword research tool,the first term has a greater search volume.To help you pinpoint the best keywords, ask yourself the following:
1. Does the term have a reasonable search volume?
2. Does the term match the user’s intent?
3. Can I use this term to create original and interesting content?
4. Can it be linked to the services and products I am offering?
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SEO content length for top Google rankings
When it comes to SEO content, one of the most popular questions is always — how long should it be? This depends on two factors: The purpose of your content and its competition. On your product pages, you can include the keywords in the title and description text of your products, listing all their features and USPs. Especially if these pages are selling directly, make sure that this content is always appealing and doesn’t detract from the sales objective of the page. Using an appealing CTA will help increase the chance of a conversion.
If your SEO copy can’t be any longer than a few hundreds words, don’t panic. Focus on creating a page that is appealing and that serves the users’ interests by including the top keywords in the product name and description so they can be found.
On the other hand,SEO content answering questions or explaining concepts is almost always longer. This kind of content tends to be at least a thousand words long but you often find word counts of 3000+ words on these pages. If you are going for one of these terms, use competitor monitoring tools to check the search engine results page for the country or region you are targeting.
If you find that all the articles on the first pages are 3000 words long, this doesn’t mean you need to write an article that is 3001 words to rank well. However, to beat it, you should aim to produce content that is more interesting and in-depth, so that you can win the users over.
Structuring your SEO content
A key part of writing good SEO content is getting your headings right. The main headline for your piece (known as the H1) is a crucial location for keywords. Your main keywords should be featured in the H1. Your title should be used as a hook to entice your users to read on. H1s play an important role in drawing clicks to the article. It is often the first thing the user reads from the article when it is linked to other pages and shared on social media.
For more information on how to optimize your SEO content, check out our article on the topic!
For the other sections of your article, you should have smaller headings (H2), which can also feature the keywords. Generally speaking, your content should be structured as an inverted pyramid, featuring the most important keywords and information at the top, and less important background details at the bottom.
Content strategy keyword density
If you have picked the right content idea to start with and written your content based around a logical H1 and H2 plan, you will find that you have touched on some keywords a few times already in the text but you may want to add more keywords to the mix.
When adding additional references to the keywords, ensure that they don't impact the text's overall readability. Read it aloud and if it starts to sound clumsy or even nonsensical, you are probably inserting a few too many, this is also known as keyword stuffing. Mentioning a keyword more than once in your text will help its ranking but only to a certain point; if the use of keywords negatively affects the overall readability of a text, it is also likely that it will not rank very well.
Google Webmaster Matt Cutts says that SEO content is about working keywords into your content in a natural way. In his talk on keywords, he made it very clear that Google will afford bad ranking to content that feels clumsy or artificial, so all that time spent writing interesting content for potential visitors is well spent, not just for them but for Google too! Don't forget to put keywords in your meta title and meta description along with your image description. If you are not doing this already you are missing a trick.
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Google Webmaster Matt Cutts.
The final word on writing SEO content that ranks well on Google
To write SEO content that ranks well on Google, you need to pay close attention to your competitors. Take the time to find the best keywords and topics related to your products and services. Make sure these keywords feature in your content but only in a logical and interesting way. To find these keywords you should consider using keywords tools to help you. Doing this and checking out your competition on search engines will also help you to find out what searchers are really looking for, and the best way to give them what they want. Doing this is the best way to write SEO content that ranks well and leads to more conversions.