9 Ways to make your SEO content stand out
Considering that more people now are getting their news from social media than they are from daily newspapers or evening news, it is abundantly clear that marketing and targeting people to get more traffic and customers now needs to occur online on social media platforms and search engines such as Google. People use social media platforms as well as Google to find answers and solutions for all of their problems, and because of this, Google is constantly evolving. Therefore, in order to make yourself emerge from the crowd and stand out in Google searches, you need to adjust your content so that Google recognizes it and makes it stand out. So how do you achieve this?
You achieve this with SEO. SEO marketing and writing is NOT the new big thing, but it is here to stay. So let us introduce it to you:
The basics: What is SEO content, and why standing out matters?
SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization” and is referring to the process of optimizing a website so that it shows among the first in search engines like Google; a good SEO content shows on the first pages, allowing people to easily find it, and with that find your brand/company.
SEO content is any content that is created to attract search engine traffic; SEO content is written in a way that helps search engines understand what it is about and to what user queries it is responding to so that when a searcher looks for those queries it can show it to them. The goal of creating SEO friendly content is to drive qualified and targeted traffic to your website. SEO is not new, but a vital marketing strategy that guarantees you an increase of organic traffic – visitors who land or ‘stumble’ upon your website and content as a result of unpaid (organic) search results.
And if you are asking why does that matter to me? Well, the answer is, organic traffic is targeted, which means visitors who are visiting your page from a search engine’s organic results come to you because they are looking for what you are offering, be that a solution, answer, or a product. That makes them already interested in your services or products and they are far more likely to convert or buy from you.
How can you make your SEO content stand out?
From the foundations to the small details that can make gigantic, positive changes, here are all the key components of making your SEO content stand out:
1. Create a strategy team and a strategy process
Driving potentially thousands of people to your website won’t happen without a good strategy and a proper and intentional, well-researched plan. If your budget allows it, you can create a strategy team of professionals who will help you in achieving the following tasks; and if you can’t afford one yet, then you need to take it upon yourself to be:
Manager -> Strategist -> Content writer -> Graphic designer -> Digital marketing expert
- Manager – Oversees the project, delegates the task, and checks if everything is appropriate, ethical, and delivered on time.
- Strategist – Creates a content strategy, is up-to-date on all the trends, changes that occurred in search engine’s policies, researches the competitors and their weaknesses.
- Content Writer – Provides content such as blogs, posts, articles, product descriptions, etc.
- Graphic Designer – Creates custom graphic content such as images, graphics, charts, etc.
- Digital Marketing Expert – Follows the trends on social media platforms, does the promoting and marketing, is familiar with different marketing strategies for different social platforms.
You can hire experts for some of these and take the rest on your own, or you can do it yourself, the important thing is to create a plan that successfully covers the process of creating content. Establishing a content production system may seem intimidating at the beginning, but the sooner you make one, the easier it will be to scale and produce content faster and better.
Here are the steps that your content production process should include:
Define content and keywords
- Research competitors
- Create a strategy and content outline
- Write content
- Add graphics
- Revise and adjust
- Add on the website, optimize and share on social media platforms
A good, content production process is basically what makes your SEO content stand out; you will see that all of its steps included in the content production are actually vital in contributing to SEO optimization.
2. Identify your audience & step into their shoes to discover their intention
Define your target audience by asking yourself:
- Who is my target audience: who will be interested in my services/products?
- What are they looking for and which keywords and keyword phrases they will use to find what they are looking for?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- What solution do they need/want and how can I provide it?
Your job is to identify what your customer will look for and provide it; you need to be customer-oriented, meaning you need to have your client in mind when you are creating your content and think what they will need, want, feel, and be satisfied with so that you can adjust your writing and strategy accordingly. To define your customer’s intention, you need to understand how they search and the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
Your customers’ intention: Do – Know – Go
As Search Engine Journal thoroughly explains, the concept of do-know-go is how people and potential customers search and how Google handles these searches. Basically, all search queries fall into one of the 3 categories: do, know and go; based on these classifications then Google determines how and which results will deliver to their users:
- Do – transactional queries – the user’s intention is to ‘do’ a specific action such as book a service or purchase a specific product. If you are working with e-commerce, then you need to target customers who have this intention.
- Know – informational queries – the user’s intention is to get informed and learn more about a particular subject and service; these are neither commercial nor transitional in nature but are equally important because they do provide value to the user. Google recently started preferring this, and that is good news for you too. Why? For example, if you are providing let’s say traveling services, and users are searching for good summer destinations by the sea in Europe, eventually narrowing it down to a few, and you are providing that information via content that they find useful, there is a chance that they will inquire the services from you as well, as you have established some trust with them and provide information. That’s why, even if you are providing services or selling products, it is good that you have informational content on your website as well.
- Go – navigational queries – the user is already familiar with the brand and their intention is to get specific information, service, or product regarding a specific brand.
When you know your target audience and how your users’ intentions can benefit you, you can use it to your advantage. Users’ express their intention and Google recognize them via keywords, which leads us to:
3. Define keywords that satisfy the search intent
Typically, searcher’s intention is to get information about something, compare it to something else and then buy; to achieve this, they use keywords that Google recognizes. Keywords are one of the ways Google recognizes content and connects it to users’ queries. You can use keywords not only to create SEO content but also to define what your audience is looking for. That’s why you need to start your research with the right keyword.
How do you find the right keyword?
Although it may be tempting to use as many as keywords possible and optimize for all of them, actually you need to have one primary keyword that is the focus of the entire article, and 5-10 additional keywords that should be closely related to your primary keyword, which will not take away the attention from the primal keyword but reinforce the focus on it. Start with thinking about the intention and how if you were a user how you will do the search; you can use keyword tools such as KeywordTool, WordStream, WordTracker, Google Ads’ Keyword Planner to check the popularity of keywords and choose the main and additional keywords based on it.
You can also check their other free tools such as Google Trends, Search Console, and Google Analytics to help you in building your SEO strategy. Speaking of which, before you start planning it, you need to know your market and competitors, which leads us to:
4. Know & analyze your competitors
SEO content sounds complex, but the goal is simple: beat your competitors and come on top of them in the searches; to achieve this you need to know what they are creating and create better. You can do so by:
- Define the type of content you will write: Once you have your keywords, search them and see who are your competitors; you will see what type of content comes with those keywords, (whether it is blog posts, product pages, etc.) and that will show you what type of content you should make as well.
- Discover the competitors: which are the first pages that pop-up when you write your keywords? Those are your competitors and who you need to beat and be better than!
- Analyze the competitors’ content: check their content and analyze a few of their key elements:
- Content and word count: What is their style of writing? Unless your target customer is the experts in your field and you are trying to provide/sell to them, your writing should be easy to digest and read, and on the level of understanding of the average internet user; adjust the writing according to your intended audience, in most situations this will mean simpler content, shorter paragraphs, efficient headings and structure which is easy to skim. Check the word count of your competitors, and double it.
- Media: what are they doing? Is there graphics, images (are they stock or custom images), are there any audios, videos, and infographics? Most creators think that if they write a good article, there is no need for video, images, or audio, but the truth is, the more challenging it is, the fewer people will do it, and if you do it, that will make you stand out. Always include various media sources, even if and especially if your competitors aren’t.
- Design / UX: is your design practical and easy to navigate? Having a ton of pop-ups and distracting ads, gigantic, useless margins on the side are just distracting and useless and will hurt you in the long run. Remember that your goal is to provide solutions for your users not to distract them; if you manage to provide solutions for what they are looking for, you don’t have to worry, there will be an opportunity for you to sell them something.
- Optimization: do they use internal/external links? You definitely should.
- Use their weaknesses to create better content for yourself: Mark their weaknesses, and make sure that you do not repeat the same. Create content that is enriched and better structured than your competitors, but bear in mind: your experiences and perspective are unique, and as such, they are worth sharing and will contribute to making your content stand out and differentiate. Although you should learn from your competitors, you should not copy their content. Use it as a ‘guide’ and create your own which is more informative, more useful, and better optimized.
5. Enrich your writing to make it engaging & appealing to all your audience
More traffic is impossible without deeper content. Both quality and quantity are important equally when it comes to creating good SEO content. Here is what you need to pay attention to when writing your SEO content to make it stand out:
- Be better = be more valuable – it is as simple as that. You need to bring more value than your competitors. Offer more valuable information, make the content more inclusive, informative, and rich. Add more resources, use better design, adjust your content so it is more user friendly and 100% unique.
- Organize your content so it is skimmer’s friendly – most of us simply go over the article before they decide to read it. Therefore, you need to have a title, headings, paragraphs, and bullet points that easily show your user what they can expect to read and where they can find it.
- Cut to the chase – your users come for a solution so you need to offer them one; simplify the issue, provide the solution as soon as possible so that they do not have to scroll to find it.
- Use shorter paragraphs – Nobody got time for reading essays. Your paragraphs should be 3-5 sentences long. Just the main information summed up and offering few links for other information that is not main but is related, in case they want more in-depth information about that subject.
- Don’t underestimate the power of headlines – headlines can tell the story; they intrigue the writer to read the paragraph beneath them as they skim through the article. A reader should be able to understand what your article is about and what can they get from reading it from your headline.
- Use pattern interruptions: bullet points, bold and italic, and different font – these allow you to distinguish more relevant from not so relevant information and are greatly appreciated by readers.
- Sprinkle your keyword and variations of it throughout your text – in the paragraphs as well as the headings, use your keywords because that is how Google recognizes that your text is connected to that particular search. However, make it tasteful and blend it with the text.
- When using quotes – there is a thin line between quoting and copying someone’s work. When you want to quote something use the main sentence, something that is quite catchy and informational but is just a sentence or two, no more than one short paragraph. Always give appropriate credits to the original writer.
- Write for the average person – as we mentioned before, most users want something easy to read, understand and navigate and don’t want to Google every second word of your article; you are not writing a dissertation, nor an essay, so make sure your content is simplified and easily understandable.
- Check grammar and spelling – You can use programs like Grammarly , PaperRater, or Hemingway Editor that will check the grammar and spelling and inform you about the readability of your text.
6. Unique content = usage of a variety of sources
As we mentioned above your content needs to offer both quality and quantity; one way to deepen your content is to use case studies with quantitative data.
- If you are able to, create your own case studies, polls, data, researches, etc. This will add depth to your content and will make you more reliable. Especially if there are no case studies in your niche, then it will mean that you will be the first one to make them, and that will not only make you more reliable and unique, but it will also be a great opportunity for you to lead in the field.
- If you are not able to create your own case studies, then you can reference existing case studies, polls, data, researches, etc. Make sure that the sources you use are reliable sources: check their accuracy as well as whether they are coming from trustworthy author/institution, how relevant they are, and what is the reason why the information exists (in other words whether it was created for research purposes or for someone to justify/sell something).
- Use internal and external links – in your content use links that lead to other sources that contain information which your reader might be interested in. This content should be something from internal sources (other posts on your page) and external (from other people’s pages). They are quite important as they “boost your search engine rankings in Google’s search algorithm.”
- How to find a relevant source? – Use the following formula: YOUR NICHE (OR KEYWORD) + CASE STUDY / CASE STUDIES. You can also use Google’s Advanced Searches or check some Libraries like the Library City University of Seattle offer different ways to find case studies.
- How to verify a source? – The University of Washington suggests several methods to test the validity of information: SMART CHECK, CRAAP Test, 5 W questions, which in essence answer:
- “Who is the author? (Authority)
- What is the purpose of the content? (Accuracy)
- Where is the content from? (Publisher)
- Why does the source exist? (Purpose and Objectivity)
- How does this source compare to others? (Determining What’s What)”
- Alongside the cases add relevant stories – only a few things hold as much power as a good story and everyone in the marketing business is aware of that. Relevant stories are a powerful tool that helps you engage, relate, and persuade people. Some even recommend that you create a story database, by considering your previous experience in your industry and writing about it, or if you are new using other coworkers, friends, families even competitors’ stories to give more “soul” to your content and make it more impactful and relatable.
7. Don’t forget the details: have a mobile-friendly, fast loading page
I don’t think we need much explanation for this. Make sure that your page loads faster because even if you have the most useful, interesting, catchy content in the entire world and you appear very first in the searches, if your page loads slow, users will get repulsed and leave your page.
Moreover, your page should be mobile-friendly because most people access websites via phones, and if your website is mobile-friendly, users will more likely return to it. Additionally, mobile-friendly websites are proven to reach a wider audience. Since 2016, mobile traffic surpasses the desktop traffic, and that lead to Google’s algorithm implementing few changes, and in 2018 they even announced the beginning of mobile-first indexing rollout, which as they put it “Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your WordPress site for indexing and ranking.” Mobile-friendly pages are and will continue to rank higher on searches, simply because more users now use phones to search, and therefore it is only logical that pages that are mobile-friendly rank higher.
8. Don’t limit yourself to just writing, instead leverage various media types
Yes, writing is useful but here is the thing, people are different and their attention is drawn to different things; people prefer different styles for learning, and for entertainment. Some people are more auditory so they remember more of what they hear, others are visual – which means they remember more of what they see, and you need to cater to all of these preferences and adjust your content in a way that is easily digestible and informative for different types of people. Create images, charts, diagrams, videos, audio, etc.
Also, albeit social media does not have a direct impact on search rankings, they affect engine optimization through increasing your online visibility, traffic, they make your brand more recognizable and increase your authority. Additionally, social media profiles are visible in branded search results and as such, they will contribute to your search engine visibility and drive more traffic to your page. Besides, they on their own search engines. That’s why we would definitely recommend that you use the bigger social media platforms to promote and get better ratings.
9. Other on-page optimization elements
Make sure that your on-page optimization is checked. Throughout the article, we discussed most of the on-page optimizations regarding the content. But here are some other elements you should pay attention to:
- IP addresses and source code – alongside the speed we mentioned before it is also important to have an efficient source code for your page. Have a unique IP address for each web project and make sure that parts of the source code are not stopping the google algorithm from finding you.
- Use Meta Descriptions and meta titles – meta descriptions are indirect ranking factors as they are the first thing a user sees about your page alongside your page’s title and target URL; a well-written, provoking, and interesting meta description will make you stand out and catch your user’s attention. A good meta description is less than 120 words, short, catchy, and understandable, covers the topic of the landing page, and contains the main keyword, calls to action, and contains special characters.
Additional useful tips:
- Are you even on Google? You need to determine if your site is in Google Index and shows in google searches. To check if your site is in the Google index you should “Do a site: search for your site’s home URL. If you see results, you’re in the index.” If not, you should read the Google Guidelines and sign up for Search Console.
- When choosing keywords and writing titles and headlines, pay attention to the cue words that might express and catch the user’s intent, for example, words such as “what”, “how-to”,
“guide”, “tutorial”, “instructions” express informational intent; others such as “best”, “cheapest”, “top” and “expensive” express commercial intent.
- Want to learn more about which mistakes you should avoid? Raventools have compiled a list of On-Page SEO study whose analysis was based on 4 billion issues, that contains the most common on-page SEO mistakes people made and how to avoid them
- Don’t use too large images and videos/graphics as they can take time to load and increase the load time of the page.