Good content is the cornerstone of SEO. You can try all kinds of on-page and off-page SEO to boost your rankings, including keyword optimization and backlink building, but if you don’t have great content, you lack a foundation on which to build.
Fortunately, creating good content is easier than you think, but it is essential to understand the core concepts of what makes up good content. With these skills, you will be able to write better content. If you are outsourcing your content, instruct your freelancers to keep these tips in mind. Let us get into it.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
The first thing to understand about great content is that content is only great if it solves the reader’s problem. It doesn’t matter if the content is exceptionally well-written. If it doesn’t address the reader’s needs and help them find the solution they are looking for, it isn’t great content.
In fact, it might be great content to other people – people who are not your target audience. However, if it doesn’t help your target audience, it won’t do you much good.
Your reader might have several types of problems. Perhaps they want more information about how something works, or maybe they are struggling to understand how to use a specific software tool or device. Maybe they are looking for alternative opinions on a topic, or perhaps they are looking for a product review. The main thing is that you help them find what they are looking for.
To understand your target audience, you should create a persona, sometimes referred to as a “reader profile.” Try to take all the characteristics your average readers have and put them in one person.
The next step is understanding what the persona needs or wants. Ask yourself questions like:
- What information are they looking for?
- What information do they already know? (This is important for understanding whether to write a simple article covering the basics or a more complex report).
- What types of products or services do they use?
- What do those services tend to lack?
- What kinds of problems do they typically face?
Putting yourself in the shoes of your reader might help. Once you understand who you are writing to and what you need to write about, you can start creating great content.
2. Have a Clear Purpose
Before you start writing, you need to have a clear purpose set out. This means you need to know what kind of content you are writing, so you can focus on optimizing your content for conversions. Generally, you’ll want to write three types of content:
- Content that provides information
- Content that sells something
- Content that is a combination of both
Some content should be information-only, without any promotions. Content that provides excellent information tends to do well in the search engines, and you can still monetize readers who land on that type of content in the long run by getting them to sign up to your email list or follow you on social media. Some readers will even bookmark your blog so they can come back and read your new blog posts later.
Some content should be selling something only, without much informational content. Otherwise, you won’t be able to maximize your conversions. It doesn’t matter if these “selling” pages don’t rank well. You’ll be able to link to them, naturally, in your informational blog posts. Also, you can put them in your featured posts in the sidebar or the main menu.
Some content should be a combination of both. You should provide valuable information but also promote your product throughout the article. This type of content can bring in conversions and still rank pretty well.
However, make sure you know what kind of content you will be writing before starting so you can stay on the right track.
3. Optimize Your Content For Search Engines
Although writing high-quality content with valuable information is the first step, you also need to do basic SEO. Otherwise, you won’t maximize your ranking potential, and you may not get all of the traffic you could get.
SEO starts with good keyword research. There are two main things you should look for in a keyword: It should have enough monthly searches, and it should have low competition or an easy ranking difficulty score.
Using SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Keywordtool.io can help you figure this all out. Each keyword tool will have a different mechanism for determining a keyword’s competition or ranking difficulty, but the final score will usually be similar.
Once you have found the right keywords to target, use them throughout your article. You should use them in the title, in at least one heading or subheading, and a few times throughout your essay. You should also use them in the meta title, meta tags, and meta description of your article, as well as the alt tags of your images.
A well-written meta title and description are essential because they will help you rank and get more clicks when you show up in the search engines.
Here are some other on-page SEO tactics that can help you rank:
- Use natural keywords throughout your article, even if they don’t have the exact wording as your target keyword. Google uses latent semantic indexing to rank pages, and they know that words like “car” and “automobile” mean the same thing.
- Minimize your images with Smush to save space and speed up your page loading time.
- Add relevant outbound and internal links to high-quality websites and pages.
4. Create a Structure Before Writing
It is crucial to create a structure before writing. This will help your article flow better and make it more skimmable. Most people skim through articles online, so it is vital to break up your content into multiple subheadings so they can skim through it and find the parts that interest them the most.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want readers to be able to understand the gist of your article from the headings and subheadings alone. Some readers will only pay attention to headings and only sometimes look at the text in between.
It is wise to use both H2 and H3 subheadings. H2 subheadings should break up your main ideas, but you can break each section into additional sections using H3 subheadings to make the flow a little easier.
I would suggest creating your H2 and H3 subheading structure before you start writing your article. This way, you’ll have the flow set up, and you can then work on fitting your ideas into the structure you built. Otherwise, it is too easy to get distracted and go off on a tangent, confusing readers.
It is also essential to have a balance between text and images. While breaking up your text with photos can help make the content more interesting and skimmable, you don’t want to insert too many pictures. Doing that can not only make the text harder to read and make it more difficult for people to focus on the article, but it can slow down the loading time of your page.
I’d say that 2-5 images for every 1,000 words are ideal. It will depend on the content. For example, an instructional guide might require more photos and screenshots. It also depends on the audience. A highly technical legal guide, for example, might be geared towards readers who are used to long blocks of text, so images might not be as important.
5. Review Your Content Before Posting
Always review your content before publishing it. It doesn’t matter how good a writer you are – typos and mistakes can always creep in. There are two things to focus on when reviewing your content.
The first is whether it has factual errors and typos. Read through your content and fix any spelling and grammar mistakes. Although Microsoft Word and Google Docs have built-in spell checkers, they don’t help with grammar as much. Also, they won’t help if you are typing in the WordPress editor.
Instead, I’d recommend installing a Chrome extension like Grammarly or LangaugeTool.org to check for spelling and grammar mistakes on everything you write in your browser. Both are free. You also need to check for factual errors. If you are not an expert in the subject matter, send the article to an expert for review before publishing.
Also, review the flow of thought. Pretend you are a reader skimming through the article, trying to find information without a lot of time to sit down and read through the whole article.
Can you understand the gist of the article by skimming through it? Are the sections in the correct order, and do the headlines make it easier to understand the flow of the article? Again, put yourself in the reader’s shoes.
Let’s summarize. Here is how to write great content:
- Know who you’re writing for and what kind of problems they are facing.
- Have a purpose and decide on a style of writing. It could be promotional, informative, or both.
- Optimize for SEO by using the right keywords.
- Create a structure, use subheadings, and break up your content with images.
- Before publishing, proofread your work and check for factual errors. Look at it from the reader’s perspective and see if the flow of thought makes sense.
Keep these five tips in mind, and you will already be far ahead of most other writers and bloggers on the internet.