When you mention the term “search-relevant content,” a strange thing often happens. Some marketers immediately start compiling a giant list of keywords they intend to conquer, followed by a churning out of content that contains this keyword and that keyword and every single keyword on the list.
Yet their content still falls flat. Their next step may be to research even more keywords to create even more content, hoping to conquer the search engines with their sheer volume of keyword-rich content alone.
The truth is, it doesn’t work that way. While keywords are an important part of SEO, it certainly takes more than keywords to create search-relevant content. And compiling a list of keywords is not the right place to start when it comes to creating compelling content that both humans and search engines adore.
Creating such content starts well before keywords. It follows a five-step plan:
- Start with a focus on quality.
- Continue with an understanding of your audience and their search intent.
- Conquer the keywords in the third phase of development.
- Top it off with additional optimization tips.
- Analyze and adjust.
This post will walk you through each phase, giving you the ingredients you need to make your content marketing soar.
Make Quality Content Your Top Priority
Before you start diving into buyer personas, delving into intent, and swimming through the ocean of keywords, you need to put one priority above all else. That priority is quality. It doesn’t matter how spot-on all the rest of the aspects of your content are if you’re churning out low-quality content that no one wants to read.
What Is Quality Content?
“Quality content” can be a subjective term that gives you a dozen different definitions from a dozen different content marketers. It’s been said that quality content is content that:
- Meets your goals.
- Delights your audience.
- Contains snap, crackle and pop.
- Solves a problem, answers a question or otherwise meets audience needs.
- Shares exclusive data or expertise.
- Is original and/or creative.
- Your readers can’t get anywhere else.
Yes, we could spend several hours analyzing the definition of quality content, and then another several hours trying to create something that meets all those parameters. Or we can make it easy for you.
Think of the absolute best meal you’ve ever consumed, one that left you feeling deeply pleased and satisfied. That’s the kind of satisfaction that quality content is all about.
Search Engines and Quality Content
If you can’t really figure out how to create content akin to a Detroit-style deep-dish pizza, then you can always take your definition of quality content from Google. Here you can again spend hours — or even days — sifting through the 172-page Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to grasp every nuance the search engine uses to determine quality content.
Or you can cut to the chase by paying attention to one of the most important things Google says every high-quality page needs:
- Expertise: Ability to find out what your audience is looking for, then exceeding their needs.
- Authority: Being cited as the go-to source in your field.
- Trustworthiness: Having a history of delighting your clients, customers and audience, and dealing with any complaints immediately.
Moz goes into much more detail on the E.A.T. criteria if you want to take a closer look at how to beef up your E.A.T. across the board.
Know Your Audience
Pleasing your audience is a must for creating search-relevant content. But you can’t please them unless you know who they are and what they want.
Who They Are: Buyer Personas
Also called customer personas, buyer personas are profiles of your ideal customers. Many businesses have one main persona that captures the majority of their audience, along with one or two other personas that round out the mix.
A well-developed buyer persona gives you a solid rundown on who your ideal customer is and what makes them tick. WriterAccess has a Buyer Persona Builder built right into the platform, and it covers information, such as:
- Education, workplace
- Family, location
- Hobbies, interests
- Personality traits
- Situation that brought them to you looking for a solution
As marketer Neil Patel mentions in his blog post about making your website content more relevant:
“A persona should capture the basic essence of who is buying your product, and why they’re buying it.”
The only way you can capture your customer’s essence and solve their problem is by truly understanding who they are.
What They Want: Search Intent
Once you have an understanding of who your customer is, you can then move on to determine their intent. The search intent is the goal the user hopes to achieve by conducting their online search.
You’ll find a variety of different types of search intent. Four of the most common are:
Informational intent: The user wants information, such as:
- Chicken curry recipe
- Substitute for white vinegar
- How to create search-relevant content to boost marketing performance
Navigational intent: The user wants to visit a specific website, such as:
- Certain social media platform
- Their favorite grocery store
- That cool crystal shop on Main Street
Transactional intent: The user wants to buy, now. They frequently search for things like:
- Specific product name, model number
- Item, product or service in specific location
- Sales, discounts or coupons for specific stores or items
Investigational intent: The user is doing research for a future purchase, looking for things like:
- Online reviews
- Ratings of different products or types of products
Being aware of the different types of intents can help you create relevant content based on what they’re searching for, and why. This allows you to tailor the level of information and CTAs of the content to match what the user is hoping to achieve.
When you’re addressing the user intent, or delivering on the goal of the search, you’re doing what all great content essentially does. You’re solving a problem. So make sure the content you create covers everything it needs to cover to give the reader that feeling of deep satisfaction.
Use Strategic Keywords
Remember those keywords you wanted to dive right into at the beginning of your SEO journey? You can finally get to them now, only after you’ve established your buyer personas and search intent.
Select your keywords before you begin the writing, as the keywords can help determine the information you need to cover. Conducting keyword research doesn’t have to be an arduous task. In fact, it starts with common sense.
What word do you want a specific page or blog post to be found for? Make that the starting point of your keyword research. Also, keep in mind there are two types of keywords:
- Broad keywords.
- Long-tail keywords.
Broad keywords: General keywords that have high search volume and high competition. They’re mainly used for informational intent and generally don’t result in leads.
Examples: Marketing, shoes, chips
Long-tail keywords: Specific keywords with lower search volume and lower competition. They’re much easier to rank for and can result in solid leads.
Examples: Content marketing platform, black Converse high-tops, Doritos
Make a list of both broad and long-tail keywords relevant to your brand, products and services. Pay attention to things like:
- Search volume
- Ranking difficulty
- Competition, or the pages that rank highest for the specific keywords you choose
It’s also a good idea to:
- Review the content that currently ranks for your selected keywords.
- Deliver something better than the content that currently ranks.
- Select one or two long-tail keywords per post or page.
- Create a list of keywords that describe your services or products.
- Create another list of keywords that describe your customer problems and solutions.
In addition to using your chosen keywords in the body of your content, you want to include them in strategic places. These include:
URL: Go for a short, to-the-point URL for your posts and pages, making sure it gives readers and search engines a clear idea of what they’re going to find.
- Good: yourwebsite.com/shoes
- Not good: yourwebsite.com/45234343cc-footwear-everyone-wants-04556-8290-or-most-want
Meta title: This is the title the reader can see in the search engine results before they click on the page or post. Keep it under 60 characters and try to include your main keyword.
- Good: Leather dog collars
- Not good: Your dog will love these collars and so will you. Here are 10 reasons why.
Meta description: This is the snippet the reader sees in the search engine results before they click on the page or post. Keep it under 155 characters, and include your main keyword and alluring CTA.
- Good: Leather dog collars are durable, long-lasting and stylish. Find one that perfectly matches your pooch’s personality at John R Dog Collars.
- Not good: John R sells really good dog collars quality guaranteed. Dog collars your dog will love. Leather dog collars. Nylon dog collars. Free shipping on all dog collars. In business since 2011.
Headers: Posts and pages have different levels of headers. Try to include your main keyword in your main header, or H1. Your other headers should be relevant to and support the header above it.
- H1: Main header, or title
- H2: Secondary headers, subheadings of H1
- H3: Tertiary headers, subheadings of H2
Alt tags: Include your keyword and a description of your images in the image captions and alt tags. Adding images to your content makes it more appealing to humans, and it may also signal quality to search engines.
Adding descriptive alt tags lets search engines know what the image depicts. Search engines do not view images; they rely on alt tags to determine relevancy.
Follow Other Optimization Tips
Whew. You’re almost done. A few more optimization tips can make your content easier to find and digest for humans and search engines alike.
Organized Topic Tags
Some content management systems (CMS) allow you to include topic tags to help organize your blog content. But be wary of using too many, or those that are too similar. When you use too many similar topic tags, you may actually get penalized for duplicate content.
- Good topic tags: Blogs, web content, emails
- Not so good topic tags: Blogs, blogging, blog posts
Go through your tags and pare down those that are too much alike. Shoot for about 15 to 20 tags that are important, based on keywords, and distinctly different from one another. Use the specific tags on posts that feature the keyword.
Killer Meta Descriptions
You already know to use your main keyword in your meta description to help the search engine. The rest of the text should help the reader. The goal of the meta description is to be enticing enough to make readers click on your link. So spend an extra few minutes creating meta descriptions that hit a home run.
Such meta descriptions will do three things for the reader. They will:
- Solve their problem.
- Match their intent.
- Grab their interest.
Internal and external links are another big plus for showing content relevance and validity. Creating a strong linking strategy can make your content more trustworthy for readers and easier to classify for search engines. Strike a good balance using the three different types of links:
- Internal links, which link to relevant content on your own site
- External links, which link to relevant content or reference material on another site
- Inbound links, which link an outside site or source back to your content
You can easily add internal and external links on your own. Building up inbound links can take more time, but the effort is typically worth it.
Several additional factors also play a role in your ranking, particularly in the eyes of search engines.
- Content length: Longer content of at least 1,500 words has been ranking better than short-form content.
- Page loading speed: Google and Bing both look at page loading speed as a ranking factor.
- Content updates: Refreshing old content with a notable amount of new information can boost the content’s ranking.
- Keyword prominence: Best practice dictates placing your main keyword within the first 100 words of text.
- Mobile friendliness: Pages that are properly optimized for mobile tend to perform better than those that aren’t.
Don’t Forget to Analyze
Now you’re up to the final step for creating well-performing content. The same way you cannot create content relevant to your audience unless you know who your audience is, you can’t create well-performing content unless you actually check in on its performance.
Regularly reviewing your metrics is essential for boosting your marketing performance. When you see what’s working, you can do more of it. When you see what’s not working, you can adjust it to try something else.
Metrics to regularly review can include:
- Bounce rate: High bounce rates can mean your content is not engaging enough, or your search terms that got readers to the page aren’t delivering what they’re looking for.
- Conversion rates: Low conversion rates mean people aren’t taking the next step you want them to. Review and update your CTAs to make them more enticing. Remove any friction that may be standing in the way of your desired outcome.
- Source and keywords: Where your audience is coming from, and what keywords are driving them to your site.
Summing It Up
Now that you have a solid understanding of the various factors that contribute to search-relevant content, you should be primed to start creating it. And no, you won’t start by whipping up a random keyword list. You’ll start by ensuring you’re poised to create quality content that:
- Solves your audience’s problem
- Matches their intent
- Is optimized for search engines
- Can’t be found anywhere else
If you’re the DIY type, go ahead and start the process. If you’d prefer to hire freelance writers to handle the creation, you’ll find thousands of them ready for action on the WriterAccess platform. Tap into the pool with a free trial today.