Every business owner knows that they will encounter challenges whenever it comes to increasing their visibility, traffic from users, conversions, and ultimately their revenue generation.
All of these challenges are in one way or another connected to search engine optimization.
Optimizing content for better performance in the search engines continues to be a major problem for many experienced and newbie business owners.
There are those who have the financial capacity to engage some of the best SEO agencies in the industry, but for most, this is an issue that they have to face on their own.
So how do you go about ensuring that your content optimization is above board and effective in bringing in dedicated visitors to your website or blog?
Well, this article will give you a roundup of advice given by some of the best content optimization practitioners in the industry.
The advice is based on the critical aspects of content optimization, which many people struggle with.
You will have a better understanding of what you need to do to optimize your content by the time you get to the end of this article, so roll up your sleeves and dig in.
In this article, we will give you advice based on some of the major questions that people ask when it comes to content optimization.
Here is a breakdown of the questions that we shall answer:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) How Do You Go about Getting the Right Keywords for Your Content?
2) How Do You Identify and Use Related Keywords in Your Content?
3) How Do You Focus on the Best Topics to Bring in More Traffic?
4) How Do You Get an Upper Hand over Your Competition?
5) How Do You Dig up the User Intent of Your Target Customers?
6) How Does Thinking in Terms of Questions Help Your Content Creation and Ranking?
7) How Do You Create Engaging Titles for Your Content?
8) How Do You Come up with Engaging and Comprehensive Content?
9) How Do You Structure Your Content for Better Readability?
10) How Do You Best Use Images and Videos to Bolster Your Content’s Appeal?
11) How Do You Identify What Works and What Does Not?
12) Our Extra Tip
- How Do You Go about Getting the Right Keywords for Your Content?
The first thing that you should do before you start creating your content is to make sure that you have the right keywords.
Keyword research is always the first and most crucial step that you must take when you want to optimize your content.
Here is some great advice from SEO experts on the topic of keyword research.
Mordy Oberstein – “Think of keywords as topics”
Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Branding at Wix. Mordy is also a writer for Search Engine Land, Speaker, and also host of “The In Search Podcast”.
Mordy says that people should start looking at keywords as topics to write about.
He says that keyword research is dead, and keywords themselves are dead.
The only way to get ahead when it comes to using keywords is to analyze the questions that people are asking with regard to particular products and services; look at the related terms that people are using in order to understand their pain points and needs.
Once you analyze the questions that people are asking, you may abstract outward from that point.
Ask yourself, “What topical themes can you identify from the questions that people are asking on the related search terms showing up on Google?”
Then ask, “What does this say about the topic that you should be writing about?
Then go ahead and create the content.
Keyword research should be about topical research!
Lars Lofgren – “Breakdown psychological barriers to keyword research”
Lars Lofgren is the CEO of Quick Sprout. He had worked as the director of growth at KISSMetrics and I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
Lars says that the biggest obstacle that people have to surmount when it comes to keyword research is psychological.
Now you might be startled by that, but in many cases, it is the truth.
Psychologically, people do not want to be involved in the deep intricacies of keyword research.
They would rather hand out the job to others and not work on it themselves.
Lars says that he went through the same challenge; every time he outsourced keyword research, his content’s performance dropped, and only picked up when he did the research on his own.
The best way to overcome this psychological barrier is to use a keyword research tool, and then create an editorial calendar covering topics that you have not covered in your blog as yet.
If you keep up with this practice, you will find that keyword research will come second nature to you, and you will have developed a knack for finding the best keywords for your content – EVERY TIME!
Jon Morrow – “There are two things that govern keyword research”
Jon Morrow is the founder and CEO of Smart Blogger, a great resource for over 3 million freelancers who want to improve their writing and earn money with their words.
Jon says that keyword research is about two things:
- Understanding the best keywords that are driving traffic in your niche.
- Understanding the keywords that you currently rank for given your website’s authority.
It is quite easy to achieve the first point on the list since you can choose from a wide variety of keyword research tools to get the keywords that drive traffic in your niche.
However, the real “art” of keyword research comes when trying to understand the second point on the list.
When you are starting off a blog or website, it is next to impossible to rank highly for competitive keywords, because your site does not have enough links.
The best thing to do, in this case, is to look for other sites that have the same domain authority and then target the keywords that they are ranking for; but with one little caveat – create better content than theirs, for the same keywords.
As you go on with this strategy, identifying keywords that your high-ranking competitors are using, and creating better content, your site will increase in authority, and start ranking better than theirs.
Jasja ter Horst – “Be keen and watchful”
Jasja ter Horst is the founder of SEO Review Tools, a site that has over 60 free SEO tools that you can use. The site has more than 190,000 users who use these tools to improve the performance of their websites and blogs.
Some of the tools on his site have been lauded by industry experts such as Brian Dean, Author at Search Engine Journal and Cyrus Shepard from Moz.
Jasja says that you should be keen and watchful, making sure that you are on top of the performance of your site at all times.
Some of the things that you should be aware of when conducting keyword research are:
Know the strength of the forces that are working against you, when it comes to getting the best keywords. This means knowing about Google, Video, Maps, Advertising, your competitors, etc.
Know your own strength by using statistics from Google Search Console. This way, you will know which keywords will be able to help you make an impact in your niche.
Ignore search volumes since they are poor estimates of the performance of keywords.
Be confident when you are making choices that are based on your knowledge of the subject and your own insights.
Always evaluate since that is the best way to know what is working and what is not, and make the requisite changes to improve your performance even more.
John Rampton – “Use SEO keyword research tools to find the best keywords”
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, startup enthusiast, and investor. He is also the founder of a productivity tool known as Calendar.
John says that the most effective way that he has used to get the best keywords is to use keyword tools such as SEMrush.
He finds the tool to be cost-effective and delivers the best returns by giving him useful insights into what the competition is doing with respect to certain keywords. He is also able to see how these keywords are working for them.
He says that there are many ways in which you can perform keyword research outside of the efforts of your competition, to optimize SEO.
He also uses the suggested list of keywords across sub-categories in order to craft his content management strategy to engage his target readers better.
Maros Kortis – “Do keyword research the same way you do business”
Maros Kortis is the head of the marketing team at Mangools, a company that develops user-friendly SEO tools.
He is also an outdoor nature enthusiast and plays music with his band.
Maros says that you should perform keyword research in the same way that you perform your core business duties.
Keyword research is not just an art of SEO, but it is a factor that will determine the future of your business in the search engines, including other smaller ones apart from Google.
You must know your niche inside and outside, and not just what people are searching for.
This means that you have to know about the search intent of your target readers; this means that you must also analyze the SERP results for every keyword that you are targeting to understand the search intent of your target users.
Search intent will also help you evaluate the keyword difficulty by analyzing the website authority of your competition. This will help you determine whether the results are relevant to the content that you are aiming to create.
Reading keyword research articles whenever you can, also boosts your skills when it comes to identifying the best keywords to use in your content.
- How Do You Identify and Use Related Keywords in Your Content?
Although we have already talked about keyword research in the section above, we cannot move away from the topic of keyword research without mentioning the “related keywords” part of it.
Whenever you type in a search on Google, you will also get a list of topics and keywords related to what you just typed in.
This is the section known as the related keywords section.
It shows you topics that you may have not thought about when you entered the keywords.
It also shows you some of the queries that users are typing in on Google, related to the keywords that you are targeting.
Now, many experts have underscored the importance of paying attention to related keywords, when you are performing keyword research.
Craig Murphy – “Learn how to use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords”
Craig Murphy is the founder of the ALT Agency in the UK. This is a full-fledged web design and optimization agency, which can design your website and manage it for better performance on the search engines.
Craig says that one of the best things that work when you are writing for humans and SEO is to use the LSI keywords.
You first start by typing in the keywords that you want to target, and then look below the search results and see about 8 to 10 similar keywords suggested by Google.
Now, take the first keyword that you were looking for and start writing content surrounding it, and then make sure that you sprinkle the LSI or related keywords throughout the content.
This way, Google will not only rank your site for the first keyword but also for all the other 8 to 20 related keywords.
Sumit Bansal – “Add synonyms”
Sumit Bansal from Trump Excel, a company that teaches people how to use Microsoft Excel, adds more to this by saying, “if the article is about the Keto Diet, then you can add synonyms (related keywords) such as low-carb diet, or weight loss diet, and other related keywords like keto meal plans and keto recipes.”
Bansal continues and says that he continually improved the performance of his articles by adding more related topics ad keywords, resulting in a 25 – 30% increase in traffic within a period of 6 months.
So where do you find these LSI keywords?
According to Cody Slingerland of CloudZero and Logan Shinholser from Contractor Growth Network, LSI keywords can be in the “Searches Related To” section of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Yan Gilbert from Sterling Sky Inc, also suggests that you look for LSI keywords in the upper section of the SERPs, labeled “People Also Ask”.
Another great resource that you can use to find related keywords is LSIgraph
- How Do You Focus on the Best Topics to Bring in More Traffic?
In the first section, we had mentioned about undertaking keyword research as if it were topical research.
Another main problem that people face is how to get topics that will appeal to their target audience.
There are many ways to go about this and some of them are really straightforward as you will see from the advice given below:
Matt Press – “Concentrate less on keywords and more on topics”
Matt Press from Splash Copywriters, says that the best way to improve the performance of your content is to think more about the topic you are writing and not the keywords.
Now, this may sound confusing to some of you, because you know that keywords play a huge role in the performance of your content.
The takeaway here is that you should think of the topic of the content that you want to write, think of the message you want to send, and then find the keywords that people will use to find your content.
Here is the reason, according to Matt Press:
He says that the technology that Google uses, which are the algorithms, embraces latent semantic indexing.
In a layman’s language, Google’s algorithms are now better at understanding the wider context of the articles that you write.
The algorithms no longer look at one or two keywords in your content when they are ranking it.
You must think of satisfying the intent of the searcher, and in this way, you may end up ranking high for a hundred different keywords.
He goes on to say that there is another added benefit to thinking of the topic before the keywords.
For business owners, this is great news and of particular importance, because it means that you can use a handful of articles to propel your business to the top of the SERPs; you do not have to keep coming up with new content all the time.
Dylan Brooks – “answer user questions with the topics you write about”
Dylan Brooks from Insurance Technologies Corporation adds more weight to this issue of “topics before keywords” when he says that search engines are today focusing more on topics rather than keywords.
The search engines do this in order to understand the way consumers use their services.
The best way to get ahead with this trend is to write better in a language that is targeted at consumers, by looking for the questions that they want to be answered and then answering them through the content and features that you put on your website or blog.
Brooks says that there are four strategies and best practices for SEO, that you should employ in order to find topics that will be appealing to your target audience:
- Start by typing in the keywords you are targeting and then taking note of the questions related to those keywords that are displayed on the SERPs; simply type in the keyword, without hitting “Enter” and see the suggested questions and topics.
- After taking note of the suggestions, proceed and hit the “Enter” button, and then browse down to the “Related Questions” section, and see what other questions arise.
- Look at the types of questions that will be displayed in the “Google Trends” section when you type in your keywords.
- Use “Answer The Public” in order to find the questions that are related to the keywords that you are targeting.
Armed with these questions, you will be able to come up with a topic, or range of topics that you can write about, to answer these questions and improve the performance of your website on the search engines.
- How Do You Get an Upper Hand over Your Competition?
In the sections covered above, we have discussed the importance of researching your competition based on the keywords and topics that they are writing about.
How do you go about getting the upper hand over your competition?
How exactly do you go about conducting competitor research?
Here is what the experts have to say:
Marcus Miller – “Research your competitors’ best-performing topics”
Marcus Miller from Bowler Hat says that you should understand what your prospects are looking for, in terms of topics, by researching the topics that your competition is writing about.
Competitor research is not only tied to keyword research, but also the research of the topics.
You must know the topics that your competition is writing about.
You need to understand the language that they use when they are writing their content, and the volume of searches that their content elicits.
This will give you a list of keywords and topics that you can write about, only that you should write it in a better way, as we had discussed earlier.
He says that you should research the keywords and topics for yourself, review the content that is already at the top of the search engine results pages, and identify opportunities where you can create content that is unique, better, or adds more value.
This is one way of using SEO intelligence when researching topics that you can write for. It is also a great way of panning the content that you should be writing in order to perform better than your competition.
To summarize what these experts are saying, you should always think about the topic as you are thinking about the keywords to use in your content; perhaps even giving more importance to the topics.
With the way Google has turned to give better ranking to content that satisfies the intent of users, it is best that you look at the questions that users raise o the search engines, and then come up with topics and keywords that you can use to write content that answers these questions.
Donna Duncan – “Review the search results”
Donna Duncan is an SEO consultant at B-SeenOnTop, an SEO agency that helps its clients in getting to the top ranks within the SERPs.
Donna says that you should keep an eye out for the top-performing search results for each keyword that you are targeting.
You need to look for patterns.
According to Donna, if you want to rank better for “Seattle SEO company”, you should look at the blue titles within the SERPs, and identify the patterns that you see within the top 10 results.
These titles will typically reflect what is contained in the content that they have written or what you will learn should you click through to the website or blog.
So, when you look at the titles, do they suggest that you are going to find a list of SEO companies in Seattle? Do they imply a directory listing? Will they show you ratings and reviews of SEO companies in Seattle? Will they show you individual SEO companies in Seattle?
When you look at the top 10 results, you will better understand what Google thinks people are looking for when they use the keywords that you typed in.
This is an indication of what Google thinks are the best results based on the “User Intent” for those keywords.
Therefore, if you see a trail of lists, then this means that you should create content in the form of a list.
If you see a number of SEO companies in Seattle, then this means that you should create content for your home page, so it can be listed in the top ranks for the search keyword that you typed in; create content using the keyword and place it in your home page or services page.
In the case of the home page scenario, you need to make sure that your content is 10 times better than the content that you find when you click through to those websites.
Several other SEO experts share the same view about looking at the search results for particular keywords and analyzing them.
Chris Hornak from Blog Hands, a blog content agency, says that if he was asked to give a single SEO tip to new writers looking at becoming ranked well in the SERPs, then it would be to review the search results of the topic that they want to write about.
When writers do this, they will be able to see what the content of the search terms is, and then find gaps that they can fill with their content.
The best places to start analyzing search results are in the “People also ask” section, and in the “Searches related to” section, too.
Lindsay Andrews at Law Office of Lindsey W. Andrews Law says the same thing.
It is best to read other articles related to the same subject.
Whenever she stumbles across blogs that are similar to an article she wants to write about, she thinks about writing the content for an average layman and not a lawyer, which makes her job much easier, and helps her rank better.
She says that the key to success is to research, research, and research more. Continue doing this research until you find out how to write in a language that is simple and easy to understand.
Alex Deckard – “Pay attention to content formats”
Alex Deckard from Rollins, Inc. says that this is one of the most ignored aspects of competitor research.
Before you decide on the format you want to use, whether written, film, images, or any other, you should go back to Google, and then enter the keywords that you are targeting.
Now, check the results that Google will give you.
You will be able to see whether Google prefers the content to be an infographic, eBook, video, long-form content, or any other, based on the content that will rank higher for the keyword you enter.
Looking at the format not only gives you an idea of the format that is ranking, but also gives you an insight into how great your content should be in order to perform better.
Rob Powell – “Write something better than what you find”
Rob Powell, a business blogger, says that when he wants to write a new blog post, he checks the top five articles that are listed on the SERPs for the keywords that he is targeting.
He then makes sure that the article he writes covers more sub-topics than the articles that he finds in those top 5 positions.
He uses a very simple technique to go about this.
He creates a mind map to show all the headings and subheadings that are covered in these top 5 articles, then he goes ahead and combines them and reorganizes them into a hierarchy of topics, sub-topics, and sub-sub-topics.
This makes sure that the articles he writes have a higher topical authority than those 5 articles since he covers everything that they talk about, and that the cone has better structure, which is favored by Google’s algorithms.
- How Do You Dig up the User Intent of Your Target Customers?
In order to understand what your target customer wants you must understand the user intent with regards to the keywords or search phrases that they use.
Tyler Brooks – “Understand user intent”
Tyler Brooks from Analytive, says that the best tip he can give to newbie writers is to understand user intent.
He says that there are times when it is easy to understand user intent and others when it is not.
For example, when a user types in the phrase “Plumbers in Phenix”, then one can strongly assess the user’s intent as the desire to find a plumber right away in Phoenix.
But at other times, this is not so straightforward.
For example, when a user enters the search term ‘Apple”, one would wonder if they are looking for “Apple” the brand, or “Apple” the fruit.
So, if you are running a website for an apple orchard, do you want to optimize your content using the keyword “apple”?
You should optimize for keywords such as “apple orchard” and other search terms related to the fruit.
This way, Google will be able to rank you higher for people who are looking for apple fruit products.
Richard O’Conner from First Mats, adds emphasis and says that Google’s Hummingbird update was created so that it can deliver search results based on the intent of the user.
He continues to say that if you want to perform better on the search engines, you must look beyond the keywords and think more about what your target website user wants; what is the user intent?
Do they want to buy something, or are they looking for more information or tutorials about a particular topic?
When you understand the user intent, then you can use that information to write content that will appeal to the users and will be ranked better by Google for those user searches.
He says that he has used this technique to grow the traffic to First Mats by more than 700% in the course of one year.
Scott Benson, the founder of Benson SEO, adds his insights to this matter.
He says that when you lack enough keyword data from Google Analytics, you can use Webmaster Tools Search Query data in order to find out what the user intent is when potential customers use specific keywords and keyword phrases on Google.
Once you understand the user intent, you can create better user personas, and then use these profiles to build your digital marketing campaigns. This way you get your content in front of the people who are looking for what you have to offer.
Their intent will align perfectly with your content, and Google will reward you by ranking your content better.
- How Does Thinking in Terms of Questions Help Your Content Creation and Ranking?
We have talked about how the questions that people ask on the search engines are a window to understanding their intent.
So how do you think in terms of questions, and how does this help in improving the performance of your content?
Holly Shaheen – “Find thorough answers to questions that people are asking”
Holly Shaheen, a Senior SEO Manager at Budget Dumpster, says that the easiest way to provide SEO value within content marketing is to identify a question that people are asking and then answer it thoroughly.
This is a basic necessity of best SEO practices, but many people and marketing teams completely miss it.
Search engine queries may not always be formatted in the form of a question, but everyone who types a query in the search engines is looking for an answer.
Whether they are looking for a particular website or a particular type of information, the keywords used are an indicator of the question the user wants to be answered.
Here is a strategy that Shaheen uses:
Whenever possible, you should start off by speaking directly to your target audience or customers. Ask them what information they are looking for and find out what their curiosity is all about.
You might not have access to information that shows you exactly how many people are asking the same question, but there are chances that there are many other people who are asking the same question out there.
There are other people who stand to benefit from the answer you may provide to these questions.
After you have information from customers on the questions they need to be answered, go ahead and search for answers on Google.
Take a look at how your competition has answered the same questions. Are they lists? Are they long-form articles? Are they images or videos? Are they news articles?
This is a technique that will help you understand just how Google wants you to answer these questions. It shows you what Google considers to be the best types of answer formats for these questions.
Normally, you should not tie yourself to answering the question in the same format, but you can look for clues and gaps showing you how you can create content that will perform better at answering these questions and curiosities.
Shaheen points out two huge mistakes that you should always avoid:
- Creating content that poses a question, and then provides an incomplete or confusing answer.
- Creating content that answers a question that nobody is posing.
Keri Lindenmuth – “write content in a question-and-answer format”
Keri Lindenmuth, from Kyle David Group (KDG), says
A great way to go about this is to create content in a question-and-answer format.
This is because many users use mobile search apps such as Alexa and Siri, which are designed to respond better to questions.
This means that instead of typing the keywords “dental implant price” in Google, they prefer to ask their mobile search assistants the question, “What is the price of dental implants?”
The results shown will rank content better if it has the keyword phrase, “What is the price of dental implants?”
So, it would be better if you write your content as a question, and then create content to answer that question.
For new content writers, it means getting to know how you can get into the heads of your prospective readers.
What kind of questions do you think they are bound to ask? How can you create brief but concise answers to those questions?
If you are great at creating question and answer content, Google will reward you by displaying your content in the “Direct Answer” box that is shown at the top of the SERPs. This is also known as position zero or featured snippet.
When you are using a question-and-answer format, make sure that you use bullet points, which are easy to skim, both for humans and Google’s search algorithms.
Victor Bilandzic of Motava shares some strategies and best practices for question-and-answer type content.
He says that he loves using a question, which contains his top keyword and then adding answers in the form of bullet points. They are best designed for placement in the “Featured Snippet” section of the SERPs or position zero.
He gives an example and says, “If you want to rank better for ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you should start off by posing a question like this:”
How do I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
- Toast some slices of bread
- Using a knife, spread the peanut butter on one side of a single piece of toast
- Take another piece of toast and spread some jelly on it.
- Slap the slices together and dig into your delicious snack.
After you have done this, you can go ahead and add more information to the article, talking about the best kind of bread to use when making peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the best types of peanut butter to use, the type of jelly that are delicious, and any additional toppings that might ae the snack better.
Then add a call to action to buy these products from your store.
Shervin Mohseni – Use Google to find questions that people are asking
Shervin Mohseni from TheeDigital, says that Google is a great source of questions that people may be asking about your products and services.
For example, if he was to deal in CBD oil, then what he would look for in Google is “CBD Questions”.
Then Google would give him a list of the questions people ask about CBD oil. He would then write a blog post on the most burning question and answer the question in detail.
The title of the blog should also be related to the questions that people are asking.
Using the same example, Shervin says that if a question was posed as “How long does it take for CBD oil to be effective?”
Then he would create an article with the title, “CBD Oil, benefits & how long it takes to be effective”.
- How Do You Create Engaging Titles for Your Content?
A great title will determine whether your content gets clicked on or not when it is listed in the SERPs.
You may have great content that appears in the top 5 positions of the SERPs, but if you have a bad title, chances are high that people will not click on the link that leads to your content.
Your great content will not be discovered.
That is how important having a great title is.
So how can you create great titles for your content?
Listen to what the experts say:
Lorrie Thomas Ross – “Use a strong clear title”
Lorrie Thomas Ross, the CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, says that whether she is training new marketers or advising clients through her agency, she always suggests that they should write a strong and clear title so their content will perform well.
She poses an example:
If you are writing an article about technology that will make online meetings better, having a title that goes, “Get More Out of Your Meetings” will not get you the results you want, since it is too vague.
You should get to the point and show more about the helpful advice that you will be presenting.
The title could be:
5 Tech Tools to Help You Get More Out of Your Online Meetings” or “Top 10 Technology Hacks to Hold Better Online Meetings”.
Veronica Raducan – Write about information that people don’t know they want and information that they know they want.
Extend Studio’s Veronica Raducan offers two crucial tips about writing powerful titles:
The headlines that mainly appear on the search engines are very clear about the information that people know that they want to know.
These headlines are very clear about what the article is all about, and why it will be a fantastic read.
This is why titles such as “Step-by-step guide to (keyword phrase” or “The Ultimate List of (keyword phrase) are ranked high.
She then goes ahead and gives an example of a time when she wrote an article concerning website monetization, which was targeted at making money from the traffic they get.
The title read, “How 40+ Big and Small Websites Make Good Money”.
The reasons they used the title were:
The use of “40+” in the title was an indication that the article contained quite a lot of monetization tips.
The use of “Big and Small” in the title was an indication that they looked at real websites across the board. Theirs was not just an abstract article.
The use of “Make Good Money” was social proof that these methods actually worked, so the tips were viable.
She says that such a title is actionable, rich in information, and solves a lot of the deep monetization challenges that many web owners struggle with.
Alex Wright – “Write titles for humans and not the search engines”
Alex Wright runs his own web design and SEO company and has this to say about writing titles; you must write your titles to be appealing to human beings and not the search engines.
Alex says that you have to avoid using jargon, euphemisms, and other “overly clever” words when you are writing your titles.
Instead, you should write a title that shows a simple what, where, when, why, or who setup statement which clearly indicates what is in the content of the article.
He goes on to give an example of an article that describes a bike race.
If you write a title that goes, “Only the Best Can Make it to The Top”, then you are not showing the who, what, when, why, or where.
Instead, use a concise headline, such as “Portland’s Toughest 12 Hour Uphill Bike Race” which is very clear about what the content is all about. The content should also restrict itself to the premise stated in the title, and not start talking about the Tour De France.
Alex Dewey – “Spend as much time writing the title as you do the body of your content”
Alex Dewey, a Senior Technical SEO Specialist at Liberty Marketing Ltd, says that when he started writing, he was always reminded to take as much time writing a title as he did when writing the body of the article.
Alex talks about a trick that he loves to use, where he writes a search-friendly title, and if it is aimed at a social campaign, then he writes a social-friendly title using Open Graph.
Using Open Graph will change the content that appears when it is shared on social media platforms.
He goes ahead and says that a great example of such a title would be, “Homemade Sausage Rolls – Learn to Make Great Puff Pastry at Home.”
This is a great title for a blog post or article that shows how to make your own sausage rolls at home, using puff pastry that you also make at home.
He says that the use of emotive keywords like Cute, Best, or Perfect has the effect of drawing people to the title.
Stacy Caprio – “Add your target keyword in the title and the H1 or H2 tag at the start of your article”
Stacy Caprio from Her.CEO says that you should use your keyword in the title of your article, and add h1 and h2 tags at the start of the post. This helps the search engine algorithms to determine what your content is all about.
This is a tactic that is also upheld by Dave Hermansen of Store Coach, but with a simple twist:
He says that you should use the suggested search function that appears at the tops of the SERPs as well as the “People also ask” section to find out the right keywords that Google is looking for.
Then put together as many of these keywords and keyword phrases and any variations that you can come up with in the title and content of the article you are writing.
Tweak the content and contextually use these terms and phrases and you will rank better for them.
- How Do You Come up with Engaging and Comprehensive Content?
Comprehensive articles are appealing to readers because they contain all the answers on one single page. The reader does not have to read bits and pieces of information from several websites.
So how do you go about creating comprehensive content that fully meets the needs of your readers?
See what the experts say:
Samantha Russel – “embrace long-form content”
Samantha Russel of Chief Evangelist at FMG Suite & Twenty Over Ten quotes research that shows that content with a minimum of 2,500 words is favored more by Google than shorter content.
Apart from being appealing to the Google search spiders, long-form content also has additional SEO benefits in that you can add variations of keyword phrases contextually to improve your rankings.
She says that with more words in your content, you are more likely to add more keywords and help your search engine ranking, without appearing to stuff the keywords.
Additionally, long-form content has a higher rate of conversion, which is a great thing for you.
Adam Gingery from Music Studio Marketing adds more to this notion about long-form content.
He says that when you explore every aspect of a particular topic and write a deep and comprehensive article about it, then it will be easier for you to naturally add semantic keywords which are related to the target keyword.
The other benefits, according to Adam, are that long-form content will encourage users to stay longer on your website and give you the chance to create more backlinks on the post (other sites will consider your article to be a great resource and will link to it).
This will ultimately improve your ranking on the search engines.
In parting, Adam says that there is so much shallow and cursory content on the internet that you will set yourself apart when you write substantial content.
Dmitriy Shelepin – “focus on quality”
Dmitriy Shelepin from Miromind, says that you should not just write long-form content for the sake of writing long-form content.
He is famously quoted as saying that you should “Talk less and say more, rather than talk a lot and say nothing.”
At times, writers tend to add fluff to their articles for various reasons, such as:
- they need to hit a certain amount of words
- they are not familiar with the topic so they start repeating themselves
- they rewrite paragraphs of content that they don’t understand
- they think people will enjoy reading long introductions, that have overused cliches which seem catchy to them.
However, such writers need to know that people enjoy reading content that delivers value and is on-point.
Shelepin advises writers to consider a few points before they start writing long-form content:
- What would you, as a writer, be interested in finding out if you decided to read the article?
- What do you know about your target audience? Who are they? What is their expertise level?
- What information are your target readers looking for?
For example, if you wrote an article, about “Multithreading in Java”, would your target readers be interested in an in-depth definition of Java? NO! Would they be looking for information about the founders of Java? NO!
They would most definitely be looking for information about multithreading in Java, actionable code examples, and tips. So that is what you should write about and forget about the definition of Java and who founded Java.
Shane Barker – “the foundation of great content lies in the commitment to provide massive value to the readers”
Shane Barker, a marketing consultant, says that he has invested very much in creating well-researched, high-value, in-depth content over the years, and he has seen the impact that it has. It does not matter which topic or niche, when you give value to your content, your target audience responds better to it.
Barker shares some SEO best practices and tips:
- Create long-form content that goes deep and offers a lot of information about a topic.
- Create content that will be appealing to people.
- Make sure that your content is easy to read and understand.
- Makes sure that you update your content regularly.
- Make sure you add important statistics, case studies, and other proof that shows that the information you are giving is authentic.
- Make sure that your content is optimized for other ranking factors such as meta tags, search-friendly URLs, and much more.
- How Do You Structure Your Content for Better Readability?
In the section above, we have seen that writing long-form content will improve your chances of ranking better on the search engines.
However, this will not be the case if you do not structure your content in the right way.
Readers and the search engine algorithms favor content that has been structured properly, in a manner that makes it easy to read and understand.
So how do you go about ensuring that your content has an appealing structure?
Follow this advice from the experts.
Craig Streaman – “Create an outline”
Craig Streaman, a digital marketer and founder of Streaman Marketing, humorously says that you should write an outline just like the one that your teacher taught you to make in school.
He advises writers to collect and organize other content that has a bearing to the topic, create titles and headlines, target keywords and keyword phrases, supporting terms, CTAs, where to link to and from, and much more.
Once you have created an outline of these items, the article is almost ready to write itself.
Swapnil Chaurasia – “introduction, body, and conclusion”
Swapnil Chaurasia of EduPristine, says that you should start off by writing a clear structure of the content that you want to write, It should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
You should write down what you want to add in all of these sections and have a summary of your content.
A great structure comes from having a heading, and paragraphs, which help Google and your target readers to understand the main topics that you have in your long-form content. This, in turn, will improve your ranking on the search engines and appeal to your readers.
Marina Dolcic – “Read through your article”
Marina Dolcic of Morningscore says that you should read through your article once you have finished writing it, and hit the “Enter” button. Once you have finished with a point or idea in your content.
She says that it is better to have short paragraphs and sentences.
If you want your content to perform better in the search engines, then you should limit your paragraphs to about 150 words, but if you can make the shorter then this is better.
Once you have finished breaking up your content based on ideas, you should go further and break it up more by using titles, subtitles, images, quotes, bulleted lists, and text emphasis using bold, italic, and underlined text.
These are elements that will make it easy to skim through the content and offer more points that will catch the eye of the reader. This also has the added benefit of ensuring that people read through your entire post, no matter how long it is.
When you are creating your titles and subtitles, you should make sure that you use the required styling.
This is crucial.
You must use the proper style for your titles and subtitles, especially headings 1 to 6.
Marina sets out 2 rules that you should follow when creating titles and subtitles:
- Use a single heading 1 in your content and this should be for the main title.
- Never skip a heading since they are crucial for marking the hierarchy of your content. This means that you should never skip a heading 2 and use a heading 3 instead, simply because of the aesthetics of how the headings look.
Izaak Crook from AppInstitute adds to this by saying that once you have created the headings, you should add a table of contents so readers can navigate through the hierarchy easily.
Jonas Sickler – “Optimize your subheadings”
Jonas Sickler from Terakeet also supports breaking down content into subheadings, since they are great instruments that help readers to skip through the content.
However, he adds that you should take time to add long-tail keywords and synonyms to the subheadings.
He also cautions against the use of subheadings to stuff keywords into your content. You should look at them as separate, related topics that come together to bring out the full concept of the article.
Sickler says that he slowly updated his older articles using this method, and he experienced a noticeable improvement in his rankings on the SERPs and an increase in visitor traffic throughout the site.
Jonathan Jeffery – “headings aid in prioritizing content and positioning it to respond directly to search phrases”
Jonathan Jeffery from Nordimark adds more weight to this by saying that you should ensure that the title and the h2 subtitles and any other secondary headings that you use should have keywords that you want to rank for.
Michael Alexis – “create literal descriptions”
Michael Alexis from Life Lessons Advocate says that you should add literal descriptions of what each section talks about.
He poses an example and says that if you were to write about a recent trip that you made to Paris, you should add subtitles such as:
- “Where to eat free in Paris”
- “The best time to visit the Eiffel Tower”
- “How to Dress for Winter in Paris”
When you additionally mark your subtitles as h2 or h3, then this tells all search engines that the content is of great importance.
- How Do You Best Use Images and Videos to Bolster Your Content’s Appeal?
The way your content appeals to your readers serves to keep them longer on your site, and this can help put your site on the first page of the SERPs.
Read about what some experts have to say about how you can use images and video to improve the performance of your content.
Evan Roberts – “Use videos and images to lower your bounce rate”
Evan Roberts from Dependable Homebuyers says that a low bounce rate is sufficient to push your website to the top rankings on the SERPs.
He advises that you use a wide variety of media formats to satisfy the variety of visitors that your website is bound to attract.
When you use videos, interactive graphs, infographics, and other images, you increase the ability of your content to hold the attention of a wide variety of visitors.
This will, in turn, keep people on your website for long, and reduce the bounce rate.
A low bounce rate will be favored by the search engine algorithms and your content will be ranked better.
Jeff Miller – “Don’t forget about chats”
Jeff Miller from AE Home Group, also says that you should add chat features to your website in order to captivate your visitors.
You should also use media to link to other related internal content on your site, which will encourage people to explore other pages on your website, which lower the bounce rate even further.
Jenna Garvin – “Add image tags”
Jenna Garvin from Virtual Freelance Guide says that the best thing you can do for your images to work properly is to give each of them a unique name. These unique names should have keywords that you are targeting.
To make naming unique, you should use the keywords in the title of the image, the metadescription, and the alt text.
Jenna is honest enough to say that she used to ignore this aspect of creating tags for her images, until recently when she tried it and saw the traffic on her website increase slowly but surely.
If you simply use the main title of your post and a single keyword to name your images, then you make the process redundant and add no SEO value.
You need to show the search engines that your articles are well-rounded. Humans too want to read an article that has several unique images and other media, having unique names.
Eliana Ransford – “Never forget alt text”
Eliana Ransford Head of Strategic Content at NewtonX emphasizes the need to write alt text for your images and include the keywords that you want to rank for.
There is always a way to add alt text, no matter which platform you use to publish your content.
For example, WordPress has a handy little box in which you can add the alt text for your images and videos, within the uploader, so make great use of it.
- How Do You Identify What Works and What Does Not?
So, you have gone through the full process of optimizing your content for better performance in the search engines, but the question still remains; How do you know which techniques are working and which ones are not?
One great SEO tip that you will continue to hear is that you should aim to update and polish older content on your site.
As Sumit Bansal said in the content above, he experienced a 25-30% increase in traffic over a period of 6 months by simply updating older posts and adding relevant keywords and more related topics.
How will you do this?
Well, here is some advice from the experts that you can follow:
Kathleen Booth – “It is not over simply because you have published your content”
Kathleen Booth, the Senior Vice President Marketing of Tradeswell emphatically says that “Once you publish, the job isn’t over”.
Kathleen heads a team that published 14 to 21 blog articles in a week. She always keenly monitors the performance of the new posts and the older ones too.
If she identifies an opportunity to increase traffic or get more leads, then she will have the post recrafted for that purpose.
She says that every writer should have a performance dashboard, and make use of it regularly.
She says that you should keep an eye on the following:
- The number of posts written in the current month compared to the previous one.
- The number of views the content gets in the current month compared to the previous one
- The change in subscribers per month
- The best performing content by page views
- The best performing content by CTR
She says that this is necessary because sometimes, the content that attracts the most views is not necessarily the one that has the best CTR.
She confesses that at times, some of the most popular blogs they have written have performed poorly when it came to click-throughs. In this case, she has always recreated offers specifically for these posts, to try and capitalize on the high traffic volume.
Joseph Jerome from Brand Builder Solutions holds the same opinion as Kathleen Booth.
He says that you should continually assess the performance of your content, but in his case, he prefers using Google Analytics data.
He recommends that writers create a dashboard, on WordPress or HubSpot, and identify which content is performing well, and which one has fallen by the wayside.
He says that there is a trend in which companies concentrate more on churning out new content in trying to get better engagement from their target audience, whereas a simple update of old content could have the same effect.
He says that a company should have two dashboards:
- A blog quality metrics dashboard to check on the performance of existing content, both old and new
- A new blog post dashboard to check on the performance of new content, by publish date, title, and author.
Checking on the performance of your content will help you understand whether you should create new content or update older content. Sometimes, it will also show you content that you should completely abandon, since it may have become completely obsolete.
- Our Extra Tip
In parting, our extra tip is resounding.
Learn from the best!
The reason why we have put this expert roundup about how to optimize your content is that we believe that learning from the best is a great way to get ahead in this field.
According to Fahid Hasan from Sewport, each and every article on Backlinko performs very well on the search engines.
The content structure of the site is excellent and many people spend a lot of time on the site.
He praises Brian Dean as one of the best writers in the industry, and we tend to think the same too.
You can use this knowledge to get ahead in this field.
Although Fahid singles out Backlinko. There are many others who have succeeded exceedingly in content optimization and you should seek them out so you can see what they are doing right, especially now that you have an idea of the best practices as laid out above.
Hopefully, you have identified a few tips and tricks that you can use to improve the performance of your content. These are experts in the field and have used these tactics to improve the performance of their respective websites so you will too if you pay attention to what they have said.
Try out some of the tips and tricks included here and share you’re your results in the comments section of this article at any time in the near future.