In the last 25 years, search engine optimization has made significant advances. Those days of publishing large volumes of low-quality, thin content and expecting your search engine rankings to rise are long gone. Today, search engine optimization is both an art and a science. To rank well in search engines, content writers and digital marketers (now the same) need to understand search engine ranking factors, prioritize searcher intent, and publish valuable, high-quality content that appeals to users and Google’s algorithm.
This blog post aims to provide nine tips for writing SEO-friendly content to improve your ranking in search engines. Just a PSA for all digital marketers and content writers: When establishing an organic traffic strategy, keep in mind that content writing and SEO go hand in hand. Search engine optimization is not a magic skill that technical individuals can only master. A core component of SEO is writing compelling content that outperforms the competition and utilizing on-page and technical SEO best practices.
Here are nine strategies to ensure you outrank your competitors in search engine results.
Learn what Factors Determine a Search Engine’s Ranking
To rank better than your competition, you need to understand the fundamental signals that search engines consider when evaluating and organizing content. Four main factors determine a site’s ranking: content, links, site structure, and HTML tags.
In the years since Google’s Panda algorithm update in 2011, content has been regarded as the most important ranking factor. Any piece of content you publish – whether a blog post, a web page, or a pillar page – should cover a specific topic in-depth, be well-written, and provide value to the reader.
Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Factors identifies the following seven factors as the most heavily weighted:
- This a well-written and valuable article
- Demonstrates authority through research
- Incorporates appropriate keywords into the text
- The relevance and freshness of the information
- The presence of images, video, or audio enhances the user’s experience
- Provides direct answers to the search query
- Provides in-depth coverage of a topic
Writing competitive content begins with understanding what each of these factors means and how to apply them.
Links, Site Structure, and HTML Tags
Other than content, links, site architecture (how your website is constructed), and HTML tags account for the second, third, and fourth most heavily weighted ranking factors.
During the crawling and indexing process, a search engine also considers factors such as inbound and outbound links, URL structure, page load speed, time on page, and keyword usage in tags to determine what your site is about.
The algorithms used by search engines are designed to deliver the best content from the best websites. Using best practices for linking, site structure, and HTML within your website content will help search engines crawl and index your content more efficiently. You can increase ranking and traffic by crawling and indexing your content more quickly and accurately.
Make Use of the Right Keywords
Despite debates in the digital marketing community regarding whether or not keyword research is dead, keywords are still a vital part of search engine optimization.
Researching keywords will assist you in the following:
- Find out what topics people are discussing
- Know how difficult it may be to rank for a particular topic
- Determine the volume of searches for each topic
It is recommended that you create crawlable content that includes a unique primary keyword target and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords throughout (natural variations of that keyword).
Before you begin writing, prepare a list of topics in which your buyer personas are likely to be interested. The next step is to conduct keyword research to identify the best-ranking opportunity. According to the content you are writing, you will target a particular keyword.
The target keyword for blog posts should be a mid-to-low-volume, low-competition long-tail keyword. In contrast, the target keyword for comprehensive resources, such as pillar pages, should be a shorter-tail seed keyword with high volume and competition. It would help if you kept in mind that longer-tail, lower-competition keywords tend to have higher conversion rates and are easier to rank for when writing blog posts.
Capture and Identify Search Intent
When you have identified a viable primary keyword target, verify and decide how you will write about it by exploring the searcher’s intent. Determine what the searcher is seeking when they enter a query into a search bar, and then address the topic in a manner that directly addresses their needs.
A searcher’s intent can be classified into four categories based on Google’s search evaluation quality guidelines:
Know: The searcher is seeking information on a particular topic to answer a question
Do: The searcher wishes to learn how to perform a particular action
Website: A specific resource is desired by the searcher
Visit in person: The searcher is seeking a place to visit
Before writing, determine which of these four categories your primary keyword target falls under. Verify the category by reviewing the content currently ranking for the keyword. Have your competitors identified the same type of search intent for the query as you have? Observe how their content has been structured to meet the needs of searchers. Put your content together similarly and more effectively.
Tip: Make sure you satisfy searcher intent more effectively than your competitors by utilizing SERP features
What do you do to satisfy searcher intent better than your competitors? Find out what aspects of searcher intent top-ranking articles fail to meet.
Would your readers be interested in knowing about any important nuggets the competition may be leaving out? Look at the “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections of the search engine results page (SERP) for clues as to where these gaps may exist. In your content, provide answers to relevant questions.
Google Featured Snippets Optimization
There is a relatively new feature in Google’s search engine called Featured Snippets. It is intended to provide a quick answer to the user’s query on the SERPs. Optimizing your content can increase your chances of obtaining this feature. Here is how you can do it:
- Find out if a featured snippet exists for your target keyword using SEMrush or another SERP analysis tool. The number of queries with one is only 12.3%
- Determine the structure of the featured snippet. What type of document is it? Is it a paragraph, a list, or a table?
- Subhead your blog post with the question the snippet answers
- The question should be answered immediately after the subheading. Provide a concise explanation that is better than the one currently displayed in the featured snippet. It is crucial to maintain the same structure as the current snippet.
Obtaining the Featured Snippet: Additional Tips
Additionally, you can use the following strategies to increase your chances of obtaining the featured snippet:
- Include a featured snippet answer in the content you are already ranking highly for; 99.58% of these snippets appear on pages on page one of a search engine result page.
- Answer the question using facts and figures.
- Provide answers to multiple “People also ask” questions within your content. The majority of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords like those found in this section of the SERP, according to Ahrefs.
Make Necessary Updates to Older Content
Google prioritizes fresh content in its search results. We have previously mentioned that freshness is the fourth most heavily weighted factor in ranking content. Updating old blog posts with better, more helpful, and authoritative information can dramatically boost rankings and traffic.
It found that HubSpot’s organic search views increased by 106 percent per post when it prioritized updating old content on its editorial calendar (optimizing multiple posts per week).
Here are the steps you can take to implement this strategy:
- Find blog posts that have the potential to rank higher for keywords that have substantial search volume.
- Improve the accuracy and thoroughness of the post by updating or rewriting it.
- Utilize on-page SEO best practices and optimize for conversion by including relevant call-to-actions inline and at the end of the post.
- Publish the optimized article and change the publish date so that search engines can crawl the content and index it again.
Utilize the Skyscraper Method
Using the Skyscraper method, you identify content you wish to outrank and create something that will surpass it. This is both a content-writing strategy and a link-building strategy, but in this post, we will concentrate on how to execute it in terms of writing.
As soon as you have identified the piece of content you wish to outrank, you should:
- Please take a moment to consider why Google prioritizes this page in its search results. Most likely, the ranking piece of content is comprehensive, in-depth, and provides high value to the reader. Learn why the content is performing well so you can improve it.
- Create an article that is superior to the ranking article. By adding length, depth, and freshness, you will be able to improve the user experience.
Make improvements strategically and intentionally. It would help if you always strived to add value to anything you create. According to Ahrefs, adding 25 mediocre tips to an existing list of 25 excellent tips is not an improvement. You might have added a few more words to your new version but are not adding any real value.”
As long as the Skyscraper method is executed correctly, results are generated. Using this method, Brian Dean of Backlinko doubled organic traffic in 14 days.
Make High-Quality Inbound and Outbound Links a Priority
A link indicates a great deal about your content’s value, reputation, and quality to search engines and users. Whenever you link to outbound sources in your blog posts and pillar pages, ensure that they are to reputable, high-quality websites. Backlinks should be obtained from websites that are recognized authorities on the topic of your article.
Backlinks to your content are one of the most heavily weighted ranking factors by Google, accounting for 20.94 percent of the difference between what ranks and what does not. It is equally important to have high-quality links in order to rank well as it is to have low-quality and spammy links in order to rank poorly.
Enhance User Signals with On-Page Best Practices
In recent years, Google has begun to incorporate User Experience Signals into its search algorithms. You may be able to influence these types of signals indirectly by the way you use HTML tags in your content.
In the title, meta description, headings, and first 100 words of a piece of content, content writers need to understand how important it is to use the target keyword as well as LSI keywords, since HTML tags are one of the first things search engines crawl to determine what your content is about. Using keywords in these HTML tags can improve the user experience, bounce rate, dwell time, and click-through rate of a website. It has been demonstrated that high performance in these areas correlates with higher search engine rankings.
Consider Site Structure and Technical Seo Best Practices
A content writer’s job does not necessarily include optimizing a site’s structure and improving technical SEO, but these factors can significantly impact your content rankings.
A search engine’s ability to index and rank your content depends directly on how your site is built, how fast your pages load, how secure your site is, and how crawlable it is. In recent years, search engines have begun prioritizing areas that use a topic cluster-driven site structure, which links blog posts that target longer-tail keywords to comprehensive resources or pillar pages that target shorter-tail, high-volume seed keywords.
Getting your content to rank is next to impossible if your site structure is poor and technical SEO errors are present. A developer or technical SEO expert can help you monitor your site’s health and resolve errors that could negatively affect crawlability if you have difficulties seeing organic traffic results from your well-written content.
Get Started with an SEO-friendly Content Strategy Today
We are interested in learning how to develop a content strategy that is SEO-friendly. Our experts at Synapse will be delighted to provide you with excellent content that can dramatically boost your website and other digital assets. Leave your details below, and we’ll contact you ASAP!