When you hit the publish button on your latest blog post, you have an extraordinary opportunity to engage your customers and influence their behaviors. But how exactly do you write high-quality content for SEO that ranks well in search engines and persuades your customers to action?
In this post, we’re going to put aside the mechanics of SEO for a moment, and focus on something equally important to search engines: great writing that connects with readers. Sure, there are still algorithms running in the background, but with the wonders of modern-day SEO, the content your customer wants to read often meets many of the requirements for ranking well.
Read on as we explore how to produce high-quality content that performs better in search engines and helps you meet your business goals — by putting people first.
Importance of Quality Content for SEO
As a marketer, you have a chance to engage your audience each time they type a relevant query into the search box. They’re usually turning to Google at distinct stages of the buyer journey: when researching a problem, learning about products and solutions, learning about your specific brand, and making a purchasing decision.
When you create the kind of engaging, comprehensive and reliable content they’re looking for, you improve your chances of appearing higher in search engine rankings. You also fulfill your business objectives — by satisfying your target audience’s informational needs, you can drive traffic to your site and bring customers into your sales funnel.
What Is Quality Content for SEO?
Keywords play a role in helping customers find your content, but algorithms have evolved to the point where they can also analyze the language on the page to determine overall context and meaning. Search engines are capable of identifying rich, purposeful content that makes for a great user experience.
High-quality SEO content:
- Appeals to your customer. Offer content that’s interesting, compelling and effortless to read.
- Answers user queries. Deliver content at the right touchpoints to address your customer’s needs and concerns by knowing what keywords they use when trying to solve a problem.
- Is reliable and trustworthy. Show that your content and site are credible and authoritative, and that you’re an expert in the topic you’re writing about.
- Is easily understood by search engines. Employ SEO best practices to optimize your content and website for search bots.
10 Tips for Creating High-Quality SEO Content
Now that we know what great content looks like, let’s explore steps to achieve it. Here are tips for producing high-quality SEO content that’s useful for customers and effective for search engines.
1. Know Your Customer
High-quality SEO content is customer-centric, so spend some time getting to know your audience through market research. Understand the pain points that they’re looking to solve and how they search for information. The more data you have about their needs and behaviors, the better you can target your content. Remember, the goal is to serve the right information when they turn to Google for knowledge.
2. Consider Search Intent
Think about the reason your customer searches for these keywords, and write with their purpose in mind. Where in the buyer journey are they? Are they gathering information or looking for the best deal?
Your content should be relevant for the keyword you’re trying to rank for. As Ahrefs explains, a landing page designed to convert visitors to sign up for a credit card probably won’t rank for the term “best credit card.” Google looks for informational blog posts and comparison charts that help searchers decide what the best credit card is.
A quick way to determine search intent is to plug the keyword into Google and look at the type of content that’s currently ranking.
3. Use Topic Clusters to Organize Content
Approach your content creation strategically and use topic clusters to organize your pages. A topic cluster is a hub of content anchored by a pillar page. The pillar page sets up a broad overview of the topic, using links to direct readers to more specific but related content.
Topic clusters are useful for SEO as they can establish expertise in a topic. For example, a pet food store can create a topic cluster about feline nutrition. The pillar page might discuss the overall importance of feeding cats healthy food, linking to more specific pages based on a reader’s interest. These pages could include in-depth nutrition guides for cats at different life stages, such as kittens, seniors and adults.
This type of structure is more useful than a random assortment of pages as you can match keywords to the buyer’s journey. Broad keywords are used in pillar pages to draw in readers researching a topic. As your content gets more in-depth, the keywords become more precise. Our fictional pet food store may eventually guide readers to an article comparing foods for overweight cats. This comparison piece may then drive readers to a product page for low-calorie cat food.
4. Leverage Semantic SEO
Keywords are a starting point for creating your content, but focusing on a single keyword can make your writing stiff and robotic. That’s why semantic SEO is so great for customer experience. Search engines scan the words on a page and use semantic analysis to determine if content is relevant, which means you can weave related keywords and ideas into your copy.
With semantic SEO, you can focus on a topic rather than a keyword, adding depth and nuance to your piece. What are people who search for your primary keyword interested in? How can you add value to keep them on the page?
Start by using keywords that are important to your business, and add related, or semantic, keywords. Let’s go back to our pet food store example. According to Google, people searching for kitten nutrition ask a range of related questions. Should you feed your kitten wet or dry food? How much weight should a healthy kitten be gaining? When can you switch to adult food?
When you incorporate some of these questions into your piece, you address your initial topic and deliver value by covering it comprehensively. This anticipates your customers’ need for related information and takes advantage of opportunities to rank for other keywords.
5. Satisfy Google’s E-A-T Standards
Readers want content they can trust. To help deliver this kind of content, Google looks for signs that the person writing the content and the platform publishing it are credible. The more Google can trust your content as a reliable source, the more likely it is to rank highly.
As you’re writing content, make sure that you meet Google’s E-A-T requirements, which stands for:
We’ve already talked about how to establish expertise by using pillar pages and semantic SEO to create comprehensive content. You can also demonstrate trustworthiness by:
- Building links from respected sites to your site. Links from professional organizations, publications, influential bloggers and other authoritative websites can show that your site is also considered reputable.
- Using respected sources in your content
- Ensuring content is accurate and up to date
- Adding author bios
- Including a detailed “about us” page to demonstrate your expertise
- Adding ratings and testimonials
- Keeping your site’s security certificates up to date
Check our Google E-A-T SEO checklist for more tips on achieving authority across your entire website.
6. Add Internal Links
As you build out your content inventory, add internal links to guide readers through your site. Internal links help improve user experience, directing readers to important pages such as products or services and additional resources that may be of interest. These links help to keep customers on your site as they gather information to inform their purchasing decisions. They’re also helpful for highlighting older, but still informative, pages readers might otherwise miss from your archives.
In addition to making the site more useful for your customers, internal links give search engines context by showing how pages are related, especially if you use clear anchor text to describe where a link takes the reader.
Links are especially helpful for sharing authority between pages, which can help with ranking. This is known as link equity. A strong-performing page that Google already considers authoritative can pass on some of its authority to another page through links.
7. Make the Headline and Introduction Count
Even if your content contains the right kind of information users are seeking, you need to present it in a compelling way so that your audience wants to consume it. Pique your reader’s interest with a snappy headline and introduction. Try appealing to emotions, outlining what’s at stake, or using humor to grab their attention and entice them to read further. Accurately explain what readers will learn if they invest time in your piece, and deliver on your promises clearly and concisely in your copy.
8. Write Content That’s Easy to Read
Dense, hard-to-read content is likely to push readers back to the search results to find a competing site. Make your copy easy to scan and understand so users don’t have to struggle to find the answer to their query.
- Avoid jargon and write in an appealing style
- Use short paragraphs
- Add variety to your writing with sentences of different lengths
- Bring ideas to life with examples
- Organize ideas using headers and subheaders
- Use bullet points and numbered lists
- Choose an easy-to-read font
- Format the page with plenty of white space
You can still cover a topic in-depth and make it easy to read. Try summarizing complex information with illustrations and charts, and add alt-text so search engines can understand the content of an image. You can also provide an outline at the beginning of your article with links to key sections so readers can jump to applicable sections quickly.
9. Create Content That’s Better Than Competing Sites
SEO is competitive — at the same time you’re trying to land at the top of search results and convert customers, so are your competitors. The best way to beat competing sites is by offering something unique.
Remember, SEO is not just about keywords, so you need to deliver informative, original content that’s different from what everyone else is creating. Make your content valuable.
- Back up your information with statistics, studies and surveys
- Make sure research is current
- Present ideas in new ways, such as a shareable infographic
- Make use of videos and images
- Offer complimentary resources such as downloadable templates or checklists
- Let your brand voice and personality shine
10. Implement SEO Best Practices
Once you’ve hit the mark with your outstanding content, make sure search engines find it. Write a strong meta title and description, create descriptive URLs, check that your site loads quickly and is mobile-friendly, and ensure you’re following industry best practices on how to optimize content for SEO.
Don’t forget to create links from external sites back to your site to establish authority — through guest blogging, for example.
Elevate Your SEO Content Game
Successful SEO isn’t simply about plugging in keywords to reach the top of search results. An effective content strategy is based on an understanding of your customers and what they want to read. Drive your business towards its goals with optimized content that puts people first. Learn how Crowd Content’s SEO content writing services can supply you with publish-ready blog posts, landing pages and web content.