How To Write Content That Ranks On Google
Are you struggling to write content that ranks on Google and brings quality traffic to your site?
Perhaps you’ve been reading and learning about search engine optimization - the process of optimizing your content so that search engines can find it, read it, and rank it first on Google.
If this is you, this post is for you!
There is a big misconception that search engine optimization (SEO) is complicated.
Sure, there is a lot of complication in the content marketing world, but SEO at its core is straightforward to understand. Once you understand the goal of the search engines, you will be able to write content more efficiently, and that ranks at the top of the first page on Google.
The first step is to comprehend the ultimate goal of the search engines. Understand this first, and the opportunities will be endless!
I will show you how to rank on Google and other search engines without getting caught up in the vast field of SEO.
Let's start by talking about the key players in the search engine optimization game.
The 3 main players in the SEO world
To understand this concept, let me put it in simple terms:
Imagine you go to a library to find a cookbook on making the best Italian-style pasta.
Once you get to the library, there are over a million recipes for making Italian-style pasta, so you ask the librarian to help you pick the best recipe.
For the librarian to recommend you the best recipe, not only must have they read all the recipes, but they also have to figure out a system to make sure to provide you with the best recipe while trying to avoid any biases.
This scenario depicts Google’s dilemma. According to Search Engine Land, there are 130 trillion pages indexed on Google. That’s a ton of pages, and search engines must make sure to provide you with the best search results for your question or query.
There are a few lessons from this analogy.
First, there are 3 players when it comes to SEO:
The search engine, aka the librarian: They crawl through all the pages on the web, and order all the items to make sure you can find what you’re looking for in the least time possible. Search engines include Google, Yahoo, Bing, and even social search engines like YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and more.
The web or Internet, aka the library: This is where we find all the information. Before search engines, we did not know how to find content and answers to our questions online. Without the librarian, the library would be an absolute mess!
The user/individual looking for answers: That’s you and me every time we wonder about something, we simply “Google it.”
The second lesson from our analogy is that the librarian needs a system in place to make sure they can give you the most relevant, valuable content for your query or question.
For this reason, search engines use an algorithm. The algorithm is its system to rank content. As soon as you understand the algorithm and how it works, you can write content that ranks on search engines like Google and Bing!
Finally, there is one more lesson we can draw from our analogy.
Google can change its algorithm a hundred times a day, or it can change it once a year. The reality is that although it matters to understand what’s happening within their algorithm, what you need to know is that Google’s goal is always going to be the same. Google wants to show you content that is relevant, valuable, popular, and accurately answers your question.
What happens if Google starts ranking content that is not relevant? Or what if we start having to go to the second page of Google for answers? Users will stop using Google as their go-to search engine.
Sorting content is the problem Google’s algorithm is trying to solve. So, no matter what you do, you need to focus on writing content that is valuable, relevant, popular, and answers specific questions.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Now that you understand the three players of SEO and the one problem that search engines are designed to solve, you can learn about what’s involved in search engine optimization and how to write content that ranks.
As we talked about previously, search engines have algorithms that are trying to continuously crawl through every page on the web and rank them for specific queries. What’s important here is that each query will have its own set of search answers.
For example, if you’re typing into Google “best places to eat,” the results will vary if you type “cheap places to eat,” or “most romantic places to eat.”
Having said that, when you’re writing content, the first thing you need to understand is that whatever you’re writing about, it should be targeting a specific question or query.
As a rule of thumb, the more specific, the better. If you can answer people’s specific questions, they will like your content, and it will be valuable to them.
And right there, you have your second SEO rule: Optimization starts with value.
To recap: SEO is about creating content that ranks high on search engines, and the best way to achieve this is by answering specific questions and creating content that will be valuable for the user asking the question.
If you remember these two things, you will always be ahead of everyone who is merely trying to trick the system. Google’s purpose will stay the same, and by following this strategy, you will be better off.
Now, there are many other factors that Google takes into account. We haven’t even talked about how search engines select content, but we will get there.
Many marketers get caught up and confused with so many aspects of the algorithms, but it’s essential always to remember that this is the starting point; be specific and valuable.
How to SEO - Writing Content That Ranks
How do you determine what is a valuable blog post or article?
You already know that you need to write specific content, but a massive part of the SEO game is to make sure that it ranks and that it is valuable.
What we are going to attempt to discover in this section is how to make sure your content is valuable not only for your users but also for the search engines.
You may have the most valuable piece of content out there, but if no one can find it, how do you make sure it ranks? Or that Google understands what it is about?
Let’s start by stating the obvious: each search engine works differently. They have different algorithms. Thus the results will always be different from one search engine to another, and a basic understanding of what each algorithm is looking for is essential.
In this article, we will be sticking to trying to understand Google’s algorithm.
Many factors will help you rank, but here is what I’ve discovered are the main three things that make your content valuable on Google:
Complete and specific content
If you have all three, you win!
Let’s explore each one.
Algorithms LOVE engagement.
Think about it. When you’re engaging with a piece of content, it means you like that type of content!
Engagement is every single action a reader takes on your blog post. Such as:
Spending lots of time on your blog post.
Clicking and discovering other pieces of content that you may have.
Sharing it with their friends and family.
Reading the whole article aka scrolling through the entire page.
Leaving messages in the comments section.
Visitors linking your website as a source on their website.
If your readers are doing all of this, then you got yourself an engaging piece of content! Your goal is to make sure visitors are engaging more with your content than they are with your competitor’s content.
Having said that, there are a few things to make it easy for your users to engage with your content:
Write in simple terms. Write to make sure a 6th grader will understand - make it an easy read.
Get to the point. Don’t beat around the bush, or they will leave the page - people want answers fast.
Make sure to have buttons to share the blog post and to comment at the bottom of the article.
Make sure your page loads fast, people don’t want to wait.
Have interactive and eye-catching images and graphics.
Stats - include some! People love to share numbers.
Include clear call-to-actions (CTAs).
If you want more ideas, you can read our post on the 11 most common blog marketing mistakes.
Google needs to give you the most accurate answer to your question, and one of the best ways to make sure that your content is valuable is to make sure it’s popular.
Search engines LOVE to show you popular content as other people have liked it, increasing the chances that you will also appreciate the content.
The best example is social media. Most recommendations you will see on YouTube are videos that are related to what you’re watching, but also that have been liked by people like you - videos that have a ton of views.
What does it mean to have a popular blog post?
People are sharing your content.
People are linking back to your content.
People are commenting on your content.
Popular content is all about the number of people who have liked, shared, commented and linked to your content.
If you were to focus on one of these metrics above, linkbacks are one of the top factors Google uses to rank your content.
Sidenote on linkbacks: When people link your piece of content on their website, this is amazing for your SEO! However, make sure they are legitimate and are as organic as possible! Google can de-rank you for engaging in erroneous practices.
It is essential that linkbacks are legitimate and of quality. A linkback from Entrepreneur.com will be more effective than a backlink from your local shoe cleaner.
Complete and specific content
Answer specific questions. I can’t stress this enough.
If you’re answering specific questions, you have a much bigger chance to rank higher.
On top of that, the amount of content you have, matters. The more words you have on your blog post, the better! Just make sure you’re not repeating yourself and you’re staying on topic. Also, copying and pasting content from other websites is a big no!
Think about it, if a single page could educate you on all things about Stranger Things, they have a much bigger chance of providing more value than a competitor who just focuses on Season 1 of the TV show.
Here is how to make sure that your content is specific and complete:
Answer a specific question, but also answer related questions or follow-up questions.
Make sure your content is longer and gives more accurate and valuable information than your competitor.
Break your content into sections so that people can read what’s essential for them.
Write complete information that is clear, concise, organized, user-friendly and easily accessible.
These are just a few tips on how you can make sure your blog post is both complete and informative.
As you’ll notice, the three points on making a blog post valuable are very related. A great blog post is not one of those things, but the 3 things simultaneously.
Oftentimes, engaging content becomes popular, meaning it was already complete and specific.
How to optimize your content for search engines - Actionable tips
Before you move forward to my quick summary of tips, you need to understand that there is no easy way to rank 1st on Google.
If your blog post does not bring the kind of value that I was talking about earlier, forget about getting ranked 1st on Google.
Remember, your competition is all the other pages trying to rank for the same question and search query!
Here is a summary of tips that you can use right now to help your blog post be more valuable and achieve more popularity:
The longer, the better - the longer your post just might mean, the more complete your answer is!
Make sure your website is user-friendly, mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
Use images - graphics helps the reader get a better sense of your post and makes it easier to read. Can’t imagine a 2,000 word-post without a single image.
Make sure your post loads fast - users are impatient, and one way to do this is to make sure you don’t use massive images (you can compress them using online tools such as TinyJPG).
Make sure your title is specific and pertinent to the question you're answering.
Organize your content and help the user to stay on track - make sure to use headings, subheadings, bullet-points, highlight important information, and break your paragraphs.
Make sure it answers a specific search query and make sure it is clear what you are answering (example: me writing a blog post about SEO, and my title says “How to SEO”).
Write for topics where you see a window - not much competition or you believe the blog posts for this query aren’t valuable enough.
Use short on-topic URL’s (example: example.com/how-to-tie-a-tie).
Make it easy to share your post (include social media sharing buttons).
Make your website mobile-friendly.
Optimize your website so that users explore other sections and pages of your website.
Include a META description. This is the overall description or "preview" of your post and make sure it is on topic and adequately describes what you are answering.
Research your topic and make sure that what you are saying is 100% accurate.
Google the question you are answering and write a better post than the page ranked #1.
These are just the start to help you rank better in Google.
However, always remember:
Write content that is user-friendly, valuable, and answer a specific question targeted to a specific segment.
Next steps on how to learn more about SEO
I want to insist on what I said earlier. Learn to write valuable content first. No matter what you do, your content will not rank first if it is not beneficial, user-friendly nor answers a specific question.
Once you’ve mastered this, it is time to learn more. You can start by learning more about how users use search engines and how they interact with it.
Then, learn more about keywords, Google’s algorithm, link-building, tools you can use, and much more.
The SEO world is big, and your learning may never end as Google is always making changes to their algorithm based on popular trends of content and how users interact with the search engines.
But always remember, search engines will still be trying to solve that same problem our librarian had - they need to organize content in a way to provide you with the best answer to your question.
Now that I have explained more about what SEO encompasses let me show you some resources that may be helpful to you.
Resources to help you build valuable search engine optimized posts
Use these tools to help you create valuable content, track content and see if your content is working.
This tool will tell you if your page loads fast enough. If you are waiting for more than 5-6 seconds in today’s society, you will go right to the next page. Ideally, you want your website to load in under 3 seconds. However, under 5-6 seconds is fine.
Most of the time, when your website is loading slowly, it is because you have pictures that are too heavy. This tool right here will compress your photo while keeping your image quality high.
Talking about pictures, remember you need some on your post. This website provides thousands of free to use stock images.
I didn’t explain anything about keywords. However, I can’t write a resource section without mentioning this. Google Keyword Planner shows you trends and analytics about specific keywords and queries. The overall goal is to find search queries you know you can write valuable posts about and that they do not have much competition (not many people write content about). This tool is free.
This tool gives you a look at how your website ranks in terms of SEO authority and backlinks. It is free to use.
It helps you count and track how many shares your posts get. As mentioned before, a post that gets shared a lot can only mean it is valuable - unless it gets shared for the wrong reasons!
A post with grammar/spelling mistakes is a sign your post is low-quality. This free tool will help you make sure your post is written without errors.
Boost your article and share it on all your personal or business social media channels. This will help you spread the word as well as boost your SEO. This free tool will help you manage your social media and makes it easier to share your post everywhere.
This tool will help you find search trends, from Google! It can come very handy when thinking about topics to write about.
Increase the value of your post by adding infographics, illustrations, charts, etc. Canva is a free tool to help you create all of these and is as easy to use as PowerPoint.
There are many, many more tools out there that are free that can help you, but I think this is a good start (if there are any that you would like to mention, please do so in the comments!).
Don’t let SEO overwhelm you.
There are probably thousands of posts about SEO and everything around it. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all this information.
I want you to remember that there is no easy way to do SEO. There is no shortcut. You cannot avoid it. The one thing that matters above all is the quality and popularity of your posts.
As long as you remember the problem search engines are trying to solve, you can rest assured that writing valuable, user-friendly and high-quality posts will always be the best strategy.
This strategy not only works for blog posts, but videos, images, and anything that can be sorted by a search engine.
What will you write about next?
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