July 12, 2017
The secret to great content does not lie in a magic formula.
In fact, there really is no secret at all.
Keyword usage helps you refrain from Google’s wrath – it will mercilessly penalize you for keyword stuffing, for instance – but there are no writing tricks or shortcuts for producing great content and equally great rankings.
In other words, you have to do the work to get the results.
But what, exactly, does doing the work mean?
Doing the Work: Why Good Writing Equals Great Content
According to Orbit Media, good writing is detailed and thorough. This means it’s longer, includes more explanation and offers lots of answers for visitors.
And, guess what? Google just so happens to love detailed content. More importantly, Google loves detailed content exactly like the above – detailed, exhaustive, informative, and high-quality. In fact, Neil Patel says that quality is Google’s No. 1 ranking factor.
Write like that, and you’ve got some good writing on your hands, the type that Google notices. And, when Google notices your writing, you’ve got content that ranks. You know the rest – content that ranks well jumps that final hurdle.
It’s not just good, it’s great.
Of course, there’s a catch.
Detailed, exhaustive, informative, thorough content doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It takes work. It takes research. It takes skill.
It takes time and resources. Which leads us into…
Why Great Content Is Worth Your Time and Effort
For a good example of why taking the time and energy needed for producing great content is totally worth it, take a look at this Express Writers case study: Case Study: How I Increased My Company’s Rankings by Pouring Resources into Content Creation
This case study shows exactly what great content can do for your bottom line.
Personally, I never saw results when I skipped a week of blogging – and I never saw results when I skimped and did a “rush” job to save money or time in publishing my blogs.
On the flip side, we saw serious organic traffic increases when we invested in more serious content marketing and higher-level experts to help me manage a committed schedule of four blogs per week.
Each blog was long-form and comprehensive, at 2,000 to 3,000 words each. No blog we published was below that word count.
This is what happened for Express Writers when I doubled my own content budget in order to get better results with my content.
We saw a 125 percent increase in our organic search rankings.
Check out the GIF as I move from May to June in our ranking data in SEMrush:
As you can see, in May 2017, we had 8,200 keywords ranking in Google and $17,700 worth of organic traffic from keyword rankings/monthly.
By June 2017, just one month after I doubled-down on content budget, we had 11,300 keywords ranking in Google, and $38,400 worth of organic traffic from keyword rankings.
All of those gains, thanks to great content.
As you can see, the investment more than paid for itself. When I let the content sing, we soared.
And, if you know our story, that has been our refrain from the very beginning. Over and over again, great content wins – whether that means keyword rankings, outperforming competitors, or bringing in revenue.
We are a content agency that falls back on exactly what we sell – great content.
Now that you’ve seen the proof, the real question remains: how do you get results for yourself? How do you turn good writing into great content, which equals great rankings?
How to Turn Good Writing into Great Content That Ranks (No Magic Necessary)
There are keys to great content, which in turn are keys to great rankings.
They all have one thing in common: each and every one is achieved with good, solid writing.
Orbit Media lists lots of ways to use your writing like a honed weapon – a sharp pencil, if you will, one that turns out strong, attention-grabbing headlines, makes visitors linger over an article, and encourages them to share, share, share.
Kissmetrics recommends many of these same strategies in order to craft killer content. Let’s dive into a couple of them. You’ve probably heard them all before, but they definitely bear repeating.
1. Be Original. Be Unique. Be Creative.
This one speaks for itself. Use your own ideas in your content, and say something new. Don’t just rehash and summarize others’ ideas. What do you have to contribute to the conversation?
Neil Patel sums up this point with this advice:
2. Nail the Headline
A good headline gets you noticed. A great headline gets you clicks.
How do you craft a great headline? Use strong words – verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Use numbers. Focus on benefits for the reader – they’ll take the bait.
3. Break Up the Content
Breaking up your content into bite-sized, easily digestible chunks makes it smoother to read and/or scan. Visitors aren’t faced with the infamous “wall of text” that not only looks daunting, but also makes your eyeballs turn to liquid when you attempt to read it on your digital screen.
Too graphic? Avoid these types of analogies and break up your content into manageable pieces. Your imagination will thank you.
Bottom Line: To Get Ranked, Hone Your Content
Your content is your way to the top of the SERPs. If your content is great, your rankings can climb higher than you ever imagined.
To hone your content for great rankings, you have to have good writing as your number one tool.
Remember, however, that good writing on the web comes with lots of caveats. You need catchy headlines, digestible organization, thorough and detailed research, and lots more, including adding backlinks and SEO keywords. This is all in addition to writing good sentences.
The main point? Good writing has to support your content, otherwise, you’ll never get anywhere.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.