I think you'll agree with me when I say that top-notch content is critical for ranking in Google. But no matter how effective the content is, it won't rank high without proper search engine optimization.
And that's where legit SEO writing comes into play.
In this post, you'll find nine strategies to help rank your content higher in Google's SERPs.
But first things first:
SEO writing, aka "writing for SEO," is the process of creating content that ranks high in search engines and is more visible online.
It includes planning, writing, and optimizing content to drive more traffic, engaging the target audience, and ultimately convincing them to take the desired action.
We know that the higher a page ranks in search engines, the more people will see and visit it (according to the most recent CTR study, more than half of all clicks in a SERP are made on one of the top three results). For a website, it means more readers, subscribers, and, in the long term, more sales.
For Google, quality content is good, but on its own, it's not enough, and you need good content with a focus on SEO to rank. Legit search engine optimization matters, and that's exactly what SEO writers arrange.
Writing for SEO is about the strategic use of keywords and search terms. It provides social validation through satisfying a user's search intent and motivating them to share.
High-quality SEO writing furnishes backlinks, which number and quality influence a website's positions in SERPs by far.
Plus, writing for SEO gives content a purpose, contributing to the Searcher Task Accomplishment factor. Content won't rank in search engines without proper optimization. Simple as that!
That said, let's continue with nine strategies to consider for stellar content creation.
Google has hundreds of ranking factors, and no SEO expert can give a secret formula to get perfect results for your keywords. However, there is clear guidance from Google about what is considered quality content.
E-A-T is Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. They are three elements to consider when optimizing content to meet Google's Quality Rater Guidelines.
Please note that E-A-T is not what you think of as a traditional ranking factor, but a guide on content optimization for us to influence the overall page quality rating a bit.
Search engines want to award high rankings to content that comes from expert sources, is valuable for users, and optimized for semantic search. Google's algorithm RankBrain examines how much users interact with your website page and, based on that, learns if your content matches their search intent.
In plain English, search intent is the reason behind a user's search. If a user clicks to your page and spends a few minutes there, Google's algorithms see it as a signal the result matches a user's search intent, so it's valuable and worth ranking higher.
Four main types of search intent exist: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. All you need to do is optimize your content for these searches, so users find what they need and help you rank higher.
Here's how to find search intent:
SEO wouldn't be possible without keywords. Indeed, how would search engines understand your content and rank it accordingly if keywords were not important?
In 2023, search engines will go far beyond product-defining and short-term keywords. For your SEO writing to rank high in Google, include the following keywords in your content:
Plus, remember to analyze the backlinks of competitors, as it may help to find relevant keywords you might otherwise miss in your content optimization.
Use a SEO competitor analysis tool to take a quick look at your competition and find their top keywords.
Why should you care about the introduction to the page?
While a headline is what makes users click, the first paragraph makes them stay on your page and keep reading, influencing dwell time and bounce rate.
The opening of your SEO copy lets users decide if they want to stay with you, and if your content meets their search intent. Write short, eye-grabbing, and relevant introductions. Use hooks, transitional words, and previews so the audience wouldn't leave your page once they opened it.
Compare this intro:
To this one:
The second intro belongs to Brian Dean of Backlinko. His guides are full of expert advice and can serve as examples of stellar SEO writing in 2023.
Brian is the author of two introduction formulas we can use when writing our content:
1) APP — agree, promise, preview.
2) PPB — preview, proof, bridge.
Both allow you to keep introductions short and to the point, inviting visitors to read. At the same time, please remember about on-page SEO and make sure to mention your target keyword in the first paragraph of your content.
SEO writing is not about keywords and meta tags only. Content formatting plays a critical role, too, as it influences a user's behavior and interaction with your content.
How do you format your content for better usability?
Since their introduction in 2014, featured snippets are still exciting for most SEOs to win.
Oh, come on, don't tell me that you didn't think of how to make your content appear at the top of the search results!
And while you might have heard that it's impossible to get there (Google displays the result programmatically) a few years ago, nothing is impossible for SEOs in 2023.
Some content optimization tricks can help Google determine your page is an excellent answer to a user's query — and place it in a snippet.
But there's a catch:
For that, your page has to be in the top 10 of SERPs already.
So, here's what you can do:
That's exactly what I did to my post about the essay outline:
Not only can it help you build brand trust and readers loyalty (they'll see you stay up-to-date and think of them, sharing helpful guides and providing value with your content) but it can get more backlinks too:
It stands to reason that no website wants to link to a site with outdated content, but they are ready to share relevant assets that are full of the latest information on the topic.
To get the most benefits from your old SEO content, update the assets that still generate some organic traffic, and are relevant for your content strategy. Go to Google Analytics to find your top-performing content (go to Behavior > Content > Landing Pages, segment your organic traffic and select the past year as your date range), and consider updating the following page types:
Next, here’s how to update your old content for SEO:
Don't overplay! There's no need to make too many drastic changes at once, as it may hurt your SEO endeavors. Sometimes a few tweaks will be enough. Don't update for the sake of updating; update to provide extra value.
When updating the content, don't change the URL of your page. (The older content can benefit your website's authority.) Consider a 301 redirect if you have to change URLs. Also, a good SEO practice would be to avoid using dates in URLs.
By organizing SEO writing in topic clusters, you get more opportunity to win traffic and conversions from Google's organic search.
A topic cluster is a group of interlinked pages on your website. One page is a pillar content piece targeting a high-search-volume keyword, and all others are related content pieces, each targeting a more specific keyword of smaller search volume.
Links in topic clusters go from pillar content to all the related pieces and vice versa.
Why topic clusters for SEO?
That's what I did to the persuasive essay blog post at Bid4Papers. The result: organic traffic growth by 30%, a stronger backlink profile, and better content conversion (higher dwell time, natural backlinks growth, more shares on social media).
Today, a year since publishing, its referring domains keep growing.
How to create topic clusters?
You know that any content copied from external online sources decreases a site's ranking. And that's why most SEOs use duplicate content checkers to check texts for uniqueness (to avoid text matches) before publishing at websites.
But "unique" in this formula is not about avoiding duplicates only. "Unique" is about creating something that hasn't been published yet, bringing something new to your niche’s online community.
Think of a new strategy, share a new case study, craft a list of resources, streamline a step-by-step process, etc. Unique content gets HUGE chances to rank high because... well, it's one of a kind.
But it's not enough.
For Google and users to notice your content, it should be super valuable. So make sure to add value and not just keywords to your content:
We've seen dozens of studies trying to figure out the correlation between content length and its rankings on Google.
Backlinko analyzed 11 million searches and found the average first-page search result was 1,447 words. However, despite the fact that long-form does better with link building, the study found no direct relationship between word count and rankings.
Tim Brown from Hook Agency went further: Declaring 1,760 words as "the absolute ideal blog length for SEO in 2023," he specified nine must-have elements other than word count for a content asset to rank high.
Long story short, the ideal content length depends on your situation, and a shorter blog post of high quality will still outperform a longer one of low quality. The lengthier content will rank better if it covers the topic inside out, and if it’s every part brings value to readers.
A key SEO benefit of lengthier content is that it naturally contains more relevant keywords to rank for and helps you avoid penalties for keyword stuffing that may occur with shorter content.
SEO writing goes far beyond keywords in meta tags and headings. For our content to rank high in Google, we need to consider many factors and focus on its overall quality.
Here goes your checklist for writing and organizing content assets for better SEO results in 2023:
And now, over to you:
Do you create content assets with SEO writing strategies in mind? What tricks do you consider the most effective ones for better ranks in Google? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Oh, and don't forget to try Advanced Web Ranking's rank tracker to check and measure the results of your SEO writing campaigns.