The purpose of SEO blog content is no longer to stack any kind of articles with keywords and anchor text and focus just on such simple technical SEO hacks.
Now, you have to achieve multiple things all at once: to truly satisfy the searcher’s query with engaging content that is also authoritative and quality to be shown in search results.
But, if you follow the best practices for creating SEO content we’ve outlined below, you’ll grow your organic traffic, and get a sort of compounding interest in your blog content as time goes on.
So let’s start!
Table of Contents
Understand the User Intent
What are the searchers trying to learn, to figure out, to do, when they type a specific phrase in Google search? This is their intent.
When you can pinpoint this intent, you can strategically write content that satisfies it.
As a rule of thumb, the more exhaustively and accurately a content page satisfies the searcher’s intent, the purpose driving the Google search, the more traffic it will receive.
But ranking on top of Google and getting those clicks is just the first step.
People may click on your article, but if the piece doesn’t match their expectations, they’ll soon realize it’s not giving them an answer, and they’ll go to another website. Google will pick up on this trend and demote you in the rankings.
The key point is this: before writing a post, in fact, before even picking your topic, you must first understand the purpose behind the target keywords.
For some queries, finding the intent is straightforward.
For example, “what is marketing automation?” is clearly informational—which is one of the four main types of search intent.
The intent is to learn more about the basics of marketing automation. To get the gist of it.
So, the top results are here to answer the search query:
These top-ranking blog posts cover the definition of the term, its types, features, benefits, and explain how marketing automation works. They go broad because that’s what users need: to learn the basics about the topic.
If, on the other hand, users would like to learn more about what are the common marketing automation mistakes, then it would be a mistake to start the article with the basics such as “What is marketing automation” because that would not provide the answer to the searcher’s query.
In the case you want to cover the “mistakes” article, go straight to listing the top mistakes and therefore, providing the answer to the query as soon as possible. The search engine will reward you for it with good rankings.
The problem for marketers comes when the search intent isn’t so obvious, so they make an incorrect assumption about it, then waste time and money writing the wrong article.
For example, the search query “yoga pose creation” can be ambiguous.
Do searchers want to know when and how yoga poses were created? Or do they simply want to know how to do certain poses on their own?
If you can’t figure out the intent at first, there are some strategies you can use.
First, you can always consult the Google SERPs for the query and analyze the top-ranking posts. Go ahead and check which articles are ranking high in the SERPs for this query.
Now, why does that work?
Because Google gave certain articles the top spot for a reason—they likely answer the user’s query more effectively than other blog posts.
Let’s go through this process with the “yoga pose creation” query:
As you can see, the top-ranking result leads to a page that teaches yoga instructors how to put yoga poses in sequence, i.e., how to plan a yoga class.
So, the intent tells us that this query’s target audience is yoga teachers, not students.
But don’t just look at the blog posts. The top-ranking video is also about how someone created the best yoga pose sequence.
That confirms the intent behind this keyword.
You can also examine the ads on the results page. Read their phrasing and the words they use. This is another clue for the user intent.
After doing this check for “yoga pose creation,” a marketer could safely presume that the searcher wants a blog post or tool that helps them build yoga sequences for their students.
They could then write an article that matches the same intent if their audience is also yoga teachers.
This is the most effective technique for teasing out intent. Of course, there are others.
For other methods of understanding user intent, check out Keyword Cupid’s guide on everything you need to know about search intent.
The bottom line is: if you want your content to rank, make sure your blog post matches the search intent.
Search intent determines the target audience behind the keyword (e.g. yoga students vs teachers), and should guide the format of your content (whether to go broad or deep in the topic).
Just by better matching your content with the user intent, you can outrank other, even stronger websites in search results. That’s what happened to one of our clients.
For the keyword “types of asset management,” they outranked Business Insider because their article is a better match to the user’s query.
It covers only the 6 types of asset management, while Business Insider covers other things that the user didn’t inquire about: benefits and strategies.
That’s the power of the search intent.
Create Well-Researched Content
It’s a shame, but many blog content creators today go about research all wrong, copying blog structures and sentences from other high-ranking blog posts and then slightly tweaking both to make “their own” posts.
Often, the only thing that changes from one blog to another is the product promoted in the content. This is not a definition of well-researched content.
It won’t help them outrank the competition, especially if they’re just parroting what the other articles said.
Google can tell when content is rehashed, adding nothing new to the conversation.
Although top articles can be used as guides for structure, definitions, and more, you should provide more value if you ever want to surpass them in the rankings. So, how do you do that?
Research can help you create better content than your competitors.
Here’s a two-step approach to take.
The first step is to study the top-ranking articles for your search query. Look over the articles that are performing the best. Read through them to gain context on the topic.
Also, analyze them. Find what they are doing well. Perhaps you like their outline of H2s. That’s fine to use as a foundation for your own blog post.
But the real question you should be asking is—what are they missing?
Or, in other words, what can I include that will make my article better serve the searcher’s intent than theirs?
For example, let’s look at the search query “how to create a marketing budget for a small business”.
The top-ranking articles are from Forbes and Salesforce:
They both give step-by-step instructions on creating the budget. However, they don’t give pictures or examples of real marketing budgets.
Also, they lack scientific evidence about what makes a good or a bad budget, nor do they walk you through an analysis of either.
So, if you’d like to compete with these websites on this topic and keyword, providing that additional information could be the way to make your article a better candidate for Google’s top rankings.
Now you know what to find during your research to beat them. You have an aim.
The second step you can take is to find that information through deep, first-hand research.
Find screenshots, quotes, scientific data, and statistics, and then comment on or summarize them to inform or support your article’s arguments and main points.
Here are some research methods you can use to really stand out:
|Interview small business owners and ask them to share how they created their marketing budgets. Or find public interviews and use that information.
|Run Facebook or social media polls to determine how much small business owners allocate to their marketing budgets.
|Read First-Hand Research
|Read academic literature and data-driven white papers about marketing budgets for small businesses.
|Find Relevant Images
|Search online for images of example marketing budgets that you can dissect.
|Source Original Quotes
|Source quotes from experts by submitting queries to HARO or your network. Or find out what small business owners say about this topic on their social media channels.
|Consult Your Memory
|Tap into your own expertise. You or those close to you might have some personal experiences you can share. Google and people love this.
If you take the extra time to do a few of these things, you’ll have collected a bunch of additional value that will enrich your content, help your readers, and set your article apart.
And your article can potentially overshadow even the most authoritative brand’s article in the SERPs.
Sometimes you’ll outrank the others simply because you better matched the user intent, but providing more value in the article based on quality research will also often get you in that position.
So even if you’re an expert on the topic, don’t neglect good old-fashioned research. It can supplement your own knowledge with new data and examples, help you enrich your content, and move up the SERPs.
Focus On Creating Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is the kind of content that stays relevant for a long time and therefore performs better in search engines. In other words, it’s content that is not seasonal or trendy.
So if you’re creating blog content with the desire that it actually ranks in search results, and not just to share company updates, then evergreen content is the way to go.
What does that mean?
It means you should prioritize topics that are not relevant just for that one month or one year.
For example, a blog post related to a recent economic situation is bound to lose its relevance after the situation changes, but a blog post titled “how to choose the best accounting software” will stand the test of time.
Until the unlikely event that something replaces the need for accounting software entirely.
One of the top-ranking blog posts on this particular topic is already three years old—still alive and kicking.
In B2B content, people will read an article titled “project management tips”, because the topic is evergreen, even if the article was written in 2019.
If there’s no other content that is not just newer, but also of higher value, Google will rank that older content.
In fact, content aging can help the pages rank better, should they accumulate backlinks and authority over time.
So, apart from choosing to cover evergreen blog topics, what you should also avoid doing is making them obsolete by putting a year number in the URL and title.
While blog titles can be easily updated, URLs call for redirects, so they are better off when set up right from the beginning and not messed with later.
So, we advise keeping your URLs evergreen and not putting a number in them.
If you regularly update your blog posts, this might be ok. But I just want to save you the trouble.
As for what type of content is most likely to be evergreen, Backlinko’s study of 3.6 billion articles found that “list-posts and how-to posts are the two ‘most evergreen’ content formats.”
And as for which topics are evergreen. Well, that’s up to your unique position.
You can start by thinking about the evergreen problems your audience/product users have and are trying to solve, and go from there.
Investing in evergreen vs. seasonal is the difference between buying a house and a car. The worth of a house increases over time, while a car loses its value quickly.
You want your content to grow in power, instead of declining because it stopped being trendy.
Make Your Content Engaging
Unfortunately for content marketers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to grab and hold people’s attention. According to Optinmonster, the average person looks at a website for 8 seconds before deciding it’s not for them.
That means you must quickly show people that your content is worth checking out in more detail.
More precisely, it means ensuring your blog content is serving their intent, but also showing them that it will be fun and enjoyable to read.
One of the main reasons someone bounces from a blog post is that it looks too daunting to take on, with its long paragraphs, very few headers, etc.
So, avoid having your blog look like the one on the left image:
The readability of a blog post is inextricably linked to its ability to engage a reader. And reader’s engagement is tied to your SEO results and rankings.
So, your aim should be to ensure your blog is educational AND entertaining.
👉 EDUCATION + ENTERTAINMENT = EDUTAINMENT 👈
Because that’s what people want.
Yes, they want to learn new stuff, but if they could, they would just download the information to their brain without the effort of reading.
So, at least you could make the reading part easy.
So, how does one create this easy readability? Let’s go over some of the most effective tactics.
First, your articles should have a table of contents up near the top of the article, especially if your article pushes 2500 words. A table of contents is basically a list of jump links.
They allow users to skip around to the parts they want to read first without scrolling. Starting where they like increases the chances they’ll read the whole piece.
Also, you should use small paragraphs, at most four lines, filled with short, simple sentences.
Here’s a blog post about writing a business proposal that follows these principles:
Another tactic to increase readability is using images, graphics, tables, and quotes to break up the text. Not only do these elements give the reader a break, but they also aid in reading comprehension.
Images, for example, can enhance readers’ understanding of the text by fastening the main point to their memory.
But that’s not the sole benefit of these elements. When used correctly, they simply add more value to the content, making it more engaging at the same time.
At Fortis, we know the importance of engaging content for SEO results, so we teach all our writers how to create it.
Our SEO blog content aims to be both high in educational value and fun to read. And we devised our own framework for achieving that, called QRIES.
QRIES stands for all the things a blog post needs to have in order to be engaging:
|Quotes from relevant experts.
|Images for information visualization.
|Examples from real companies and stakeholders.
|Statistics to back up the claims.
So, if you want better SEO results, prevent your blog content from being hard to read.
No matter how good the information in the blog post is, it is all in vain if you don’t get users to stick around and give your article even a chance.
But, if you enrich your blog posts with QRIES elements, the time visitors spend on your blog pages will increase.
Google will know about it because it tracks user signals, and will take notice. And consequently, your reward will be: better positions in search results pages.
Build Your Topical Authority
Topical authority is a website’s perceived expertise on a specific topic.
And how is this perceived expertise determined?
By the amount of content a website has on that topic.
So, the more content you publish on a narrow topic, the greater authority Google ascribes to you in that space, and the higher your posts on that topic will rank.
Writing in topic clusters is one of the best ways to create topical authority.
This is the practice of writing as many unique articles as possible on the same main topic, and strategically interlinking them.
To visualize this, here’s a picture of a similar approach, Hubspot’s Hub&Spoke content model:
While the Hub&Spoke model makes you have one central piece of content, that splinters into many others, to write in topic clusters, you don’t have to have it.
You don’t need one pillar page in order to write 20 articles on one topic, interlink all the relevant pages within one cluster or make those pages rank in the top 10 results on Google. You just have to produce lots of content around one main keyword.
That’s because it’s not enough anymore to create just one ultimate guide and rank for the desired keyword.
You should put in a good effort in creating a whole group of pages targeting that main keyword.
Beside the obvious, writing content in topic clusters is beneficial to B2B companies’ blogs for several reasons.
First, B2B websites are usually small compared to eCommerce websites. Let’s say you have a homepage and a few product pages, and that’s it.
But Google loves big websites. Big websites win the SEO game.
So how to make a B2B website bigger? Well, blog content is a great way to do it. It scales easily so your website can grow in content.
Second, writing in topic clusters lets you rank for many different keywords because you cover more ground.
Every blog post ranks for more than just one keyword, but the trick is this: they all need each other’s support to build out topical authority.
- No topic clusters – no topical authority.
- No topical authority – no top rankings.
So how do you go about it?
For example, imagine a sales tech company knew cold calling was an important topic to become an authority in, as it is something a large chunk of its target audience is interested in.
They, therefore, should create a content strategy where they write about this keyword, become an authority on the subject, and rank on top of SERPs.
Well, for this to work, they need to create as many blog pages as possible around cold calling.
I’m talking about 20-40 posts about cold calling.
Here are their fictitious blog posts to cover:
- How to Become Good at Cold Calling
- 12 Cold Calling Tips from Sales Pros
- 20 Cold Calling Script Templates
- Cold Calling Mistakes That Will Cost You Sales Opportunities
- Cold Calling Challenges Pro SDRs Successfully Pass
- The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Cold Calling
- How to Make Cold Calling Less Intimidating
- The Art of Successful Cold Calling: Techniques and Strategies
- Why Cold Calling is Still Relevant in the Digital Age
- How to Overcome Rejection When Cold Calling
- Cold Calling vs. Warm Calling: Which is Better?
- The Psychology Behind Effective Cold Calling
- How to Write a Cold Calling Script That Works
- Cold Calling: The Ultimate Guide for Salespeople
- How to Use Cold Calling to Generate Leads for Your Business
- The Top Cold Calling Tools and Technologies to Streamline Your Process
- Cold Calling Best Practices for Small Business Owners
- The Pros and Cons of Cold Calling in Sales
- How to Measure the Success of Your Cold Calling Campaign
- How to Build a Cold Calling Strategy That Works for Your Business
- How to Warm Up Your Cold Calls for Better Results
- The Future of Cold Calling: Trends and Predictions for the Coming Years
- Cold Calling Statistics You Need to Know
Each of these imaginary blog posts will not just support the website’s efforts to rank for “cold calling”, but will also make it rank for many other related keywords.
A “mistakes” article will rank for the keyword “cold calling mistakes”.
A “tools” article will rank for the keyword “cold calling tools”.
The trick is to make each blog post unique in information and structure. Basically, every article should have its own unique angle.
So here you go.
If you want to rank for the keyword cold calling, try to cover the topic from all angles, deep and wide, and you’ll build your topical authority.
Rinse and repeat for any other keyword you want to rank for.
You’ll also show Google’s algorithm you are truly an expert on it and should be rewarded with great positions in SERPs.
The above-mentioned best practices are fundamental principles that marketers can follow to create content that drives traffic to their website and leads to their business.
These best practices will help you satisfy both the platform you want to conquer (Google), by becoming a topical authority and the people using this platform, by matching user intent and providing interesting, engaging content.
No amount of backlinks to your content or promotion on social media can compensate for a failure to adhere to the above principles.
Only in tandem with amazing, user-focused content can these other tactics yield results.
So, make sure you cover the basics before you try to power up your SEO content game.