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September 17, 2018

Writing for Rankings: How to Create SEO Content that Ranks High

I know, it’s hard to keep up with all the changes in the SEO world. Especially if you keep reading articles by gurus who claim that ‘this small trick will help you rank instantly.’

Let me save you your money and your privacy: it won’t. Don’t give them your email address to download something with this title. And, more importantly, don’t pay for quick fixes.

The harsh truth is that SEO doesn’t happen instantly. You have to keep at it for a while and you have to earn your rankings.

And yes, it all starts with writing the right kind of content.

Your content should answer questions people really ask.

The above phrase is the summary of what’s below. You know, just in case you don’t have time for the full scoop. If you do, let’s dig in.

Who decides what works in SEO and what doesn’t (anymore)?

Briefly put: the people.

Your readers and your potential readers are those who decide which piece of content from which website ranks high and which gets buried on the 20th page of results.

But people follow trends, too.

And there are two trends that are currently shaping the way SEO evolves.

1. Voice-assisted search

I remember the not-so-good ol’ days when the SEO agency I worked for as a freelancer asked me to churn out articles with keywords like ‘best pizza Nashville’, ‘pet store LA’ or ‘best cheap wedding dress’. 

As a rookie, I always wrote the keywords ‘correctly’ – ‘best pizza IN Nashville’. It was explained to me that I shouldn’t: ‘that’s how people search’.

Luckily, this isn’t the case anymore. Today’s SEO writers can write naturally. And this is largely due to the rise of voice-assisted search.

Devices like Alexa have re-taught us that the internet shouldn’t sound robotic. We don’t need to cut prepositions from our keywords or arrange the words in an unnatural way. We no longer search for ‘pet store LA’. Instead, we say: ‘Alexa, what’s the closest pet store to me?’. 

Which brings us to the second trend:

2. Mobile devices

Mobile has already taken the lead. It happened even faster than experts expected. It is now clear that people spend more time browsing the internet from a mobile device than from desktop. 

What does this mean for your SEO content?

First and foremost, it means that you should make your content easily digestible for mobile users. You need:

  • Bullet points
  • Short paragraphs (even a single phrase is enough)
  • Graphics (break the text with visual assets like photos, infographics and videos)
  • Subtitles (to make the text easy to scan)
  • Italic or bold fonts to emphasize the important points

Now that your content is ready for the new internet users, let’s see what else it needs.

How to create SEO content that ranks high

Start with the basics:

1. Whom are you writing for?

Joe Pulizzi said it best:

‘If your content marketing is for everybody, it’s for nobody.’

It’s still common among marketers to think that casting a wider net will catch more fish. But it’s SO wrong.

No one wants to be just like everybody. And this is not just about the wish to be a ‘special’. It’s about the fact that one size does not fit all. 

Let’s say your company does interior design for offices. Of course you cater to lawyers and hip tech startups. But do you really want to put them in the same boat? In the same SEO content piece?

They will surely hate each other’s style and you for trying to push a canned offer.

What to do instead?

Start building your own buyer persona(s). You can find a great generator here. 

Beware, though. You shouldn’t answer the questions based on what you want your ideal customer to sound like. Be realistic. 

To get closer to your buyer persona, you can interview some of your existing clients – preferably those who are your ideal ones.

If your persona is built correctly, you will learn two important things:

  • How to speak to them
  • What to tell them

This research will tell you what type of keywords to use. And, more importantly, what is the type of content that they resonate with. What are their needs? Their shortcomings? What do they need info on?

2. Find your content niche

Comprehensive guides are awesome. But you can only publish a handful of those. And they only appeal to a handful of people – those who want to cover everything from basics to advanced tricks.

The bulk of your content needs to be more specific.

For example, I could write a comprehensive guide on SEO writing – it would probably be a full-blown book, not an article. 

Whatever the format, it can only be done once (and updated when needed).

The majority of SEO content pieces on this topic will have to be narrower. They have to fit a more specialized audience.

So how can you find these topics?

Well, you have a few options:

  • You type in your topic in BuzzSumo and take a close look at what has been published so far
  • You use HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator. You will get five titles that include your topic
  • You simply Google your topic to find various takes on it
  • You check hashtags on Twitter to see which take on the topic generates more conversations

All these are great places to start.

But you should always cross-reference them with what your buyer persona wants to read. Don’t be fooled by what people in general love. You’re not writing for everyone, remember?

So, make sure that your content idea answers a real need, a real question.

Then focus on keywords.

3. Choose your keywords wisely

Forget about volume. Really, feel free to ignore that column in your research.

It doesn’t matter a million people searched for a certain term if it’s impossible to rank for or if it doesn’t bring you actual business. The right kind of SEO is about business goals, not meaningless traffic.

Let me give you an example: for Idunn, the agency I run, ‘SEO content’ might sound like a good idea. But it’s incredibly hard to rank for it.

Plus, people who search for this term aren’t ready to hire us to write their content.

On the other hand, ‘hire SEO content writers’ is a long-tail variation of ‘SEO content’ that’s not just MUCH easier to rank for, but also a MUCH better fit for my agency.

Again, don’t be afraid of long-tail keywords. They make everything sound more conversational (ideal for voice searches), they have low competition and they are a great wait to pre-qualify your traffic.

Final recommendations

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of tools that can help you with SEO. From choosing keywords or titles to finding the right information to add to any piece.

And they can be life savers sometimes.

But remember to be human, too.

After every result one of these tools spits out, go back to your buyer persona. Your human buyer persona. And try to determine whether they would resonate with your content.

If you need help with SEO content, my team of amazing writers and I are just a click away. We’d be happy to help you implement all of the above and more.


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the CEO of Idunn, a digital marketing agency that helps clients all over the world with copywriting, social media marketing and marketing strategy. Follow her blog here: http://idunn.pro/blog.

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