We’re continuing our marketing journey knowledge with the folks at Cognitive SEO.
CognitiveSEO is a complete digital marketing solution, an all-inclusive tool that covers all the needs an SEO Pro, webmaster, or digital marketer might have on how to increase any website’s traffic. Last year alone, CognitiveSEO has helped over 11.000 SEO professionals & agencies recover and improve the rankings of more than 36.000 sites (among which Bitdefender and Amazon!).
So, you’re in good hands today.
I know that there’s no such thing as perfection nor the perfect content marketing recipe. Yet, you can get close to it and create a piece of content that Google will want to rank on the top of its 1st page. I’m not saying that it’s easy, but it’s surely not impossible, especially when you have at your disposal the right tools that can give you a big help.
The magical number seven comes on the stage. So, here they are, the seven steps that can help you dominate Google SERPs with content:
- Find Out What Type of Content Google Wants You to Write for Your Users
- Write Relevant & Optimized Pieces of Content
- Add the Keywords You Want to Rank for in Your Title
- Design an Internal Linking Structure
- Create Google Friendly URLs
- Keep Updating Your Blog with Fresh Content
- Spread the Word!
Let’s dig deeper within each one to see why it is important and how it can help you out.
Step 1. Find Out What Type of Content Google Wants You to Write for Your Users
First thing first, you need to understand what type of content both your readers and Google want to read. (and yes, Google can read) I assume that you’ve already performed your keyword research, and you know exactly what topics/keywords you want to rank for.
Why did the chicken cross the road? We’ll likely never find out. But if you type this into Google, I’m pretty sure I can predict what the top results might return. Not only because I’ve searched for this myself, but also because of something called search intent, which basically means that search engines are trying to give you what you want by first understanding (or guessing) what it is exactly that you want and – more importantly – why you want it.
If you understand what your users want and what their intent is when they are searching for a specific query, almost half of the job for ranking on that keyword is done. Because knowing the search intent of your possible readers or users means knowing what type of content Google wants you to write and rank high.
User intent to high ranks is like a moth to a flame.
Putting it simply, if you want to rank high in Google, your content marketing needs to best fit the users’ search intent. If you’re not able to do so, the chances are that you’ll not be able to be on Google’s first page of search results.
There are three types of search intents.
- Informational (if someone is searching for “are electric scooters any good”)
- Navigational (if someone is searching for a specific electric scooter brand, for example, “Xiaomi M365”)
- Transactional (if someone is searching for “buy xiaomi m365” or “cheap xiaomi mi365”)
Before actually beginning to write on a specific topic, you need to know what is the search intent and write the content accordingly. If you want to rank high for the keyword “are electric scooters any good”, write a piece of content that is informational, not salesish, because information is what the reader is looking for and informational content is what Google will rank for this keyword.
Google understands users’ search intent, and so should you. And if you find it hard to understand it, you can use content tools, that will let you know the exact search intent of a keyword.
Step 2. Write Relevant & Optimized Pieces of Content
Now that you know what type of content you should write, it’s time to actually start writing.
Studies say longer posts are more often associated with better ranks. Others say that the ideal blog post has around 1600 words. Of course, you shouldn’t cling on exact numbers, as the length of your content depends a lot on the topic, niche, etc. Yet, keep in mind that Google likes long and relevant content.
Below is a correlation between Google ranks and the number of words on a page. It seems that overall a higher number of words are correlated with higher ranks.
I am not saying to write long content for the sake of writing. But when you tackle a subject, try to make the most out of it and go as in-depth as possible (and suitable for your site and business). One useful tip is to also add references to your articles, such as how Wikipedia or how this blog on mythology does it. It increases trust and makes your article a one-stop shop for all visitors.
But what do you write? What do you know what is relevant for both your readers and Google? How many times did it happen to you to write amazing content that didn’t rank the way you’d expect to?
You need to know the exact keywords that boosted a piece of content in top Google results.
When searching for what web pages rank on the top results for your keyword of interest, you also need to investigate why those pages are ranking there.
What are the keywords those pieces of content used? What number of words each ranking page has? When did they publish.?
I know this can be challenging, yet, it’s not impossible, and you can always use tools to help you out, like cognitiveSEO’s Keyword Tool and Content Assistant.
It doesn’t mean that you need to take all the keywords your competitors used and throw them within your content, and wonders will happen. But it means that you need to analyze your competitors and write a better, more comprehensive piece of content that includes the topics they’ve tackled. Identify the keywords, topics, chapters your content is missing to rank higher. This is what writing well-optimized content is about.
Step 3. Add the Keywords You Want to Rank for in Your Title
I might be Captain Obvious here, but it often happens for people to overlook this step. Besides content, the title also matters. Add the keyword you want to rank for not only within the content but in the title as well.
Google still puts more weight on the keywords that are closer to the beginning of the title. Also, this can help you increase your click-through rate, as the user would like to click on titles that contain what they are looking for online.
And yes, Google is smart enough to understand what your page is about, but it is important you give it some hints.
If you offer good hints, then it will figure it out easier and reward your webpage with better SEO rankings. As I like facts that are backed up by studies, in this research, you can see that adding the keyword in the title influences rankings.
Step 4. Design an Internal Linking Structure
Internal links are just like backlinks but within your own website. They are links that go from one page on a web domain to another page on the same domain. They are most commonly observed in navigation menus, sidebars, and footers, but also within the article’s body.
And Nobody says it better than Google: Link architecture—the method of internal linking on your site—is a crucial step in site design if you want your site indexed by search engines. It plays a critical role in Googlebot’s ability to find your site’s pages and ensures that your visitors can navigate and enjoy your site.
Any good website should have a well-designed internal linking structure. If you want your website to rank higher, your content creation process should include an internal linking strategy. Google looks not only at your backlinks but also at your internal links when deciding what pages should rank, amongst lots of other factors.
The best internal linking strategy is to do internal linking.
Step 5. Create Google Friendly URLs
The more concise the URLs, the greater the chance to get higher rankings.
Having a concise URL length carries more benefits than having a long and not so easy to read or remember URL. If the URL and title contain the focus keyword, that is surely an advantage.
As long as the title length is between 50-60 characters and the URL length is between 90-105, you’re safe. Don’t write the whole title of your page/article within the URL, but only the main keyword.
Of course, having a concise URL is helpful in all sorts of ways beyond the search results hierarchy. For instance, even if most casual users don’t bother remembering full URLs nowadays, it can still count as an advantage if you make it easy on the brain. Think about exact match domains, for instance: instinctively, you are more likely to go with the URL that most resembles your thought process (“I need to find an electric bicycle…. oh, looks: a site named just like that”).
The extra effort you can put into it is making sure that not only the homepage but pretty much any page on your website has its URL fit in a neat number of characters.
Step 6. Keep Updating Your Blog with Fresh Content
Amongst everything mentioned above, freshness is highly important for Google as it has improved its ranking algorithm to offer up-to-date, relevant results. At the time the algorithm was updated, Google promised that its focus was to provide the user with “fresher, more recent search results“, which makes freshness a factor that can define your overall content strategy.
Freshness isn’t the same thing as frequency. The “freshness” in the fresh content lays in the information. Writing fresh content can be visible through its value at the moment we speak, and the meaning of the data behind it. Fresh content is dynamic in meaning.
Changing the date isn’t updating a piece of content, but rather faking it. There are some industries where freshness has higher importance on rankings:
- Recent events or hot topics such as news.
- Recurring events such as conferences.
- Frequent updates, such as product reviews.
And here’s what John Mueller, Google representative says about this:
As a user, recognizing that old content is just being relabeled as new completely kills any authority that I thought the author/site had. Good content is not lazy content. SEO hacks don’t make a site great. Give your content and users the respect they deserve.
Step 7. Amplify Your Content & Spread the Word
The journey shouldn’t stop when the article goes live. On the contrary, you should carry on with the process of boosting your content online. You need to understand that content amplification isn’t a single technique or a one-time thing. It incorporates an umbrella of multiple unique techniques you need to follow to amplify content and get better results.
Here are some techniques you can try to make sure your piece of content reaches as many readers as possible.
- Reach new audiences through native advertising;
- Use storytelling to receive a social boost;
- Build a solid community around your brand;
- Use content syndication on Medium or similar websites to build your blog audience;
- Collaborate with influencers to earn links;
- Post on StumbleUpon and absorb targeted traffic;
- Integrate promotion messages or buttons on your webpage.
Writing for both readers and search engine optimization purposes can be difficult and can become a hard-handed job. Yet, you can save any limping piece of content you might have with the steps explained above. Every well-invested action will surely bring you results now or later. So, start writing, and may the high ranks be with you always!