If you produce a fantastic piece of content for your website or company blog, you’ll pull in more visitors and boost your search ranking, right? Sadly, that’s not necessarily true. Great content is a start, but to maximize an article’s SEO benefits, you need to do more than write. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to optimize your website’s articles and get more views.
Step 1: Identify the Keywords You Want to Rank For
Although search engines have gotten a lot more intelligent at determining a user’s intent, they still rely heavily on keywords. The first step to crafting SEO-friendly content is to figure out what phrases your target audience is typing into Google. It’s a safe bet that they aren’t punching in technical jargon, buzzwords, or even your company name.
That’s why keyword research is incredibly important. You should do it before you start writing your content. Follow these steps:
- Conduct topic research to see what people are searching for and how they’re phrasing it. Answer the Public is an excellent tool for this. You can even use Google; search for your topic and check out the “Related Searches” section for key phrase ideas. There are many tools built specifically for SEO that will help you master keyword research like SEMrush and AdWords Keyword Planner.
- Based on these suggestions, make a shortlist of 5-10 focus keywords. These aren’t just words for you to stuff into the content willy-nilly — that’s a black-hat technique that can lead to Google penalizing you. Use your focus keywords to guide your content. It’s always a good idea to turn them into headings, for example.
- Write your content with the keywords in mind. Put your main focus keyword or keyphrase in the first 100 words. Incorporate natural-language search phrases (aka longtail queries) into your content. The key is to sound organic and authentic, so don’t insert keywords in awkward places just to boost SEO. (It won’t work!). After all, you are writing for your visitors, and search engines know how a real person consumes content.
Throughout this process, keep your audience’s intent in mind. Craft your keywords based on what they’re searching for, not what you’re offering.
Step 2: Make Your Content Skimmable
People won’t read an article the same way they read a book. Don’t expect them to read lengthy paragraphs — or even all the words on the page! They’re skimming your content looking for answers to their questions. That’s why you should keep each paragraph short and sweet.
It’s a good idea to use lots of headings, but strategically. Not only are these opportunities to highlight your focus keywords, but you can also give readers the gist of your article without requiring them to read it all. Search engine crawlers will also parse headings to figure out an article’s topic and show it to relevant users. So, be sure that you use the proper heading structure. Read this article to learn more about using headings in your articles.
Another great way to organize your content within an article is to use lists, either bulleted or numbered, to help visitors review the info easily and quickly. This creates a better content experience which search engines like Google prefer.
Step 3: Write the Right Amount of Words
It’s a myth that all web content should be super-short. While it’s true that people don’t like to see big blocks of text, at this time long-form content tends to perform better in search results. After all, the more “meat” you can add to an article, the more Google can find tidbits to share with its users.
Longer articles also invite readers to spend more time on your site, which boosts your SEO. The more you can engage your visitors, the more you can drive them toward other parts of your site (more on that in a minute). So, don’t be afraid to dig into a topic. Juicy details and in-depth explorations are the difference between quality content and generic fluff!
For a good example of long-form blogs that are also highly skimmable, check out Neil Patel’s content or the HubSpot blog. Their articles revolve around cornerstone content — long “pillar posts” that demonstrate their expertise and link to related blogs. (Tip: Read our guide to creating cornerstone content that boosts your SEO!)
Step 4. Link to Your Other Content
When a website has a logical structure with plenty of natural internal links, Google considers it a higher-authority site. This means it will rank it higher in search results. If your blog is full of separate articles with no connections among them, Google is less likely to understand what your site is all about — and therefore won’t prioritize its content.
That’s why every single post you publish should link to some of your other articles and web pages. If you’re using cornerstone content to guide your blog strategy, this is incredibly simple. You already have a logical structure in which to link your articles. Otherwise, look for natural ways to tie in your other content.
Be sure to link to the other content within your article, not in a random list of “related blogs” at the end. Google knows the difference! It’s also a good idea to make the linked text keyword-rich. (See our example in Step 3.)
Step 5: Check Your Readability, Grammar, and Facts
At this point, you probably have an amazing post that you’re eager to share with the world. But wait! Before you hit “publish,” make sure that your content is reader-friendly, free of typos, and well-written.
Google’s latest algorithm prioritizes authoritative, trustworthy content. It partly determines that by how long people stay on your site and how many users share your content. The more professional and readable your content, the more likely it to get backlinks and shares. With that in mind, you need to make sure your content provides a good experience for your readers.
Before publishing, follow this checklist.
- Your content has correct grammar and spelling. Typos may be forgivable, but if your article has so many errors that’s difficult to read, visitors will leave — and Google will notice. Also, misspelled target keywords won’t rank!
- Your content has good readability. Aim for an 8th-grade reading level with a readability score of at least 60. This accommodates most readers and tends to be easier for bots to parse. You can use a tool such as Grammarly, Yoast, or even Microsoft Word to determine your content’s readability.
- Your content is factually accurate. Most users have “informational intent,” i.e. they want to get correct answers to their questions. Search engines are smart enough to determine the most credible sources about a topic. So, check your facts before you publish!
Start Creating SEO Friendly Content
Creating SEO-friendly content is both an art and a science. You need to match your target audience’s interests yet also appeal to search engines. The key is to prioritize your content’s structure and readability. Always craft content with the user in mind. Then, make sure that it’s clean, properly coded, and easily skimmed. By following this process, you can attract more readers and boost your site’s overall ranking.
We’re here to help and ready to assist you in any way. Reach out and let us know what we can do to better serve you!