Writing content for SEO starts with a question. Do you want to:
Once the goal is determined, there are multiple ways of realizing that goal. Several of the methods for writing SEO content may solve one or more of these questions. Overall, they work together to increase your site’s visibility so that searchers can find your content.
Figuring out if a page is underperforming is simple. We know how to track traffic to a page in Google Analytics. We also know how to check if we’re getting a lot of impressions (but minimal clicks) for given terms in Google Search Console, and checking what pages those terms in GSC are linked to isn’t hard. And we know how to look for bounce rate and CTR.
Checking which pages are underperforming is about one of the simplest questions to answer with SEO content. Determining if those pages offer value to the client, have high priority on the site, or are worth the effort of optimizing becomes a little trickier in the writing process. If you do determine the pages have value and warrant the effort, the next step is figuring out how to boost the performance.
We’re not discussing technical issues; obviously, address any issues with functionality or user experience to ensure your website is running smoothly. Currently, we’re looking at optimization on a fully-functioning website. For SEO, yes, improving use of target terms in H1s and in body copy is a given. But we also want to ensure all of the copy offers value that matches the user intent.
To give a client example, one client had a product category landing page for a line of products meant to appeal to people that wanted to support efforts to preserve an animal. Three out of four paragraphs of body copy on the page spoke of the brand’s history and mission, as well as the types of products available through the brand. However, the fourth paragraph diverged from this and just gave a history on the animal itself. While somewhat related to the rest of the copy, this paragraph diverged from the rest of the page’s purpose and served no value—it did not align with the user intent behind searches leading to that page. Now, on category pages, it is unlikely that users are spending time reading all of the body copy, but Google is becoming more savvy at understanding content and matching it to user intent with several recent algorithm updates, such as BERT. So we still have to make sure content matches up to Google’s ability to understand context.
The fourth paragraph was cut and replaced with more copy regarding the brand, therefore making that section better in line with the context of the whole page.
When we optimize, we not only consider the focus of terms on the page, but also the focus of the message to the copy—this should inform our instruction to the content team. This can help boost a page’s performance.
In optimizing a page’s performance be sure to:
It is ok to take it slow; test your changes often to be sure you are working towards stronger content that your users are searching for.
Checking for a term’s ranking is simple. And once you cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s (or if the page already has those basic considerations), you have to look at ways to push the envelope. Check meta tags and H1’s, but then look beyond those simple considerations.
If the term is ranking on the right page but ranking is slipping, then you need to learn why. Research recent Google updates that affect content, look at new competitors that may have entered the space, speak to the client to inquire about any recent pages that may affect that page or term, and look at new content that competitors may have created and react accordingly (see Competitive Gap section in the cases of dealing with competitors, which will be covered in a follow up blog).
If ranking was never there, then it’s likely a matter of writing content from scratch. If we’re just trying to push low-hanging or striking-distance terms from page two to page one, then optimization of existing content is likely in order. Fixing any of these issues call for a similar approach—benchmarking. What competitor pages are ranking for this term?
What are those competitor pages doing? Try to provide the content team with directions on how to do what top-ranking competitor pages are doing regarding a specific term and what we can do to go beyond even that (remember to give something extra). Instruction to the content team should include benchmarking pages, insights and observations you have on what those pages are doing, and additional information on how you think we can do it better. Provide URLs as reference.
Increase your page’s search engine ranking by:
In terms of brand awareness, while researching terms that are high volume, you’ll also want to transition to a much more query based approach with topic selection—of the high-volume searches you identify, what has the potential to be phrased as a question and addressed as an answer in the form of long-form copy? Also, in verifying if a content task is worth the effort, think what does the client have to offer in terms of resources and value behind content designed to boost brand awareness? Is this a topic they can always build upon and are already in a position to offer sufficient backlinking and authority for?
Atop these, think about what is shareable. Brand awareness is about spreading the word, encouraging people to become brand advocates for you by backlinking and social shares. So what type of articles would your client want to post to their social media accounts and what type of content would the client’s audience want to share? Also think reoccurring—what types of content can a client create a schedule around? Part of success with social media content (as with any media outlet), is the ability to generate and fulfill audience expectancy. Having a schedule gives loyal users something to look forward to and the ability to know when to look forward to it. A regular schedule also makes internal measuring of KPI’s easier.
In addition to your usual keyword search for high-volume terms and determining what has potential to be a query search, do what research you can in the client’s social profiles. Look for yourself to see what performs well and have a conversation with the client on what performs well. Consider the best practices for the types of content that boost engagement. Do a cross-check to see which of the more popular categories are applicable for a client and try to come up with content that might match.
It’s also simple enough to research what existing social posts drive traffic from social media profiles to the site in GA if the proper campaigns are in place.
In writing SEO content, you want to increase your site’s visibility and provide relevant answers to searcher’s queries. All channels of content, from pages across your website to social media, are part of your content strategy to bring searchers to your business.