High-quality content is an important ranking factor

Creating good content is the key to improving your website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). However, winning the SEO game isn’t a stroll in the park.

Besides Google’s latest algorithms, you also need to understand consumer expectations as well as recent trends and technologies in content marketing.

Marketers consider SEO an important marketing tactic.

What should you focus on and how can you create “10x content” – content that’s 10 times better than the highest-ranking result for a given keyword(s) – that will drive high-quality traffic to your website, build brand awareness, increase your credibility, foster customer relationships and drive sales?

What’s High-Quality Content?

High-quality content is user-friendly, engaging and valuable:

  • It delivers a great user experience (UX) on any device.
  • It’s accurate, trustworthy, original and relevant to your audience.
  • It elicits an emotional response in the audience, whether awe, surprise, joy, anticipation or another emotion.
  • It provides useful information that answers a question or solves a problem for the readers.
  • It surprises and delights the audience. Delivering the content in a unique and unexpected style exemplifies this.
  • It adheres to Google’s quality guidelines, including avoiding sneaky redirects, hidden text or links and irrelevant keywords.

Posting 10x content not only helps you rank high on SERPs and drives organic traffic to your website but also engages your visitors so they spend more time on your site. The increased dwell time and reduced bounce rate signal to search engines that your website is offering relevant information on the keywords that you rank for, which is the key to improving your SERP ranking for 2020 and beyond.

When high-quality traffic engages with your content, your ranking increases and this will drive more traffic to your site. The increased traffic in turn signals to Google that your site is offering relevant and high-quality content so the algorithm will rank you higher, thereby attracting more visitors to your site. This creates a virtuous cycle – a chain of events that creates a favorable feedback loop – that’ll keep improving your SERP ranking to drive even more traffic.

How To Create Quality Content that Ranks High on SERPs

High-quality content is more than just words on a webpage. You need to consider the entire user experience, from the moment a user types a search phrase on Google and clicks the link to when that person interacts with the information on your website.

Here’s how to create SEO-friendly content:

Know Your Audience 

When your content is relevant to searchers, they spend more time on your page and interact with your content. This will signal to Google that your content is high quality – it’ll rank your content higher on SERPs and that’ll drive more organic traffic to your website.

Here’s how to create good content for a website:

  • Gain deep insights about your readers by considering why they’re interested in the subject matter, what problems they’re trying to solve and what their desired outcomes are.
  • Find out what your audience already knows and uncover how you can present a unique angle that’ll be intriguing to your readers, add value to the conversation or both.
  • Once you have identified the audience’s needs and challenges, figure out how you can provide an answer.  Interview experts, conduct a survey or perform extensive research, for example.
  • Consider how you can present the content in a clear, engaging and powerful way that meets your audience’s needs. The medium, whether text, audio or video, should also suit the platform on which you plan to distribute the content.

SEO strategist should always take into consideration searcher intent.

Research Keywords and Competitors

If you want to create content that’s better than what’s already out there, you need to know what your competitors have already published so you can rank for the right keywords and cut through the clutter.

Here’s how to find out what’s working:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify the keywords or phrases that you want to rank for most. Don’t overlook longtail keywords that may have a lower search volume but are used by searchers with high purchase intent.
  • Consider how the keywords are interpreted by your audience and reflect user intents. You can simply enter your keywords into search engines and see if the results are in line with your expectations.
  • Analyze the content that ranks high for your target keyword phrases. See how those pieces offer unique values and meet the searchers’ needs.
  • Understand how high-ranking content pieces engage the audience.
    • Do they use infographics or videos?
    • Are they long and in-depth or short and sweet?
    • What are their unique angles?

Design an Outstanding User Experience (UX)

UX is an important SEO ranking factor. Good user experience also increases the time users spend on your site, which signals to Google that your website is quality.

Here’s how you can improve the user experience of your website and content:

  • Improve the site’s load speed to no more than 2 to 3 seconds (an ideal speed is around 1 second). This will help lower bounce rate and signal to search engines that people who click through to your site are engaging with your content.
  • Increase the legibility of the content by using white space strategically as well as fonts that are easy to read and numbered or bulleted lists to improve clarity.
  • Use header tags (e.g., H2, H3) to make the content more digestible while helping search engines index your website more accurately.
  • Make sure images and videos load quickly and work on any device. Add alt tags to all images and include transcripts with videos to help search engines understand the content.
  • Use a mobile-first approach when building your website, as Google will be making mobile-first indexing the default behavior of its search engine by September 2020.
  • Use chatbots on your website to engage with readers who are spending time with your content. You can ask questions and offer content or product recommendations based on their behaviors to boost engagement, increase dwell time and reduce bounce rates.
  • Limit the number of ads on the page and make sure they don’t cover the content. Having too many ads can create a frustrating user experience and cause visitors to leave your site.

An outstanding user experience is an important ranking factor.

Publish Accurate, Relevant and Engaging Content

Of course, you need to produce top-notch content that attracts the right audience and makes them stay on your site. Low-quality content causes visitors to click away, leading to a high bounce rate that will negatively impact your SEO ranking.

Here’s how to create good content:

  • Proofread your content (or hire an editor to do so) to avoid spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Increase the trustworthiness of the content by linking out to authoritative sources, especially when citing statistics, facts, numbers, quotes, etc.
  • Publish content that’s interesting, relevant and useful to your audience. Most people want to be entertained, learn something or solve a problem so make sure you’re addressing the readers’ intent.
  • Explore different formats, such as interactive content, explainer videos and infographics, to see what generates the highest engagement with your audience.
  • Create original content because Google penalizes plagiarism. Use tools such as Copyscape to check for duplicated content before hitting the publish button.
  • Develop a unique perspective or share uncommon facts to distinguish your content from others. You can do this by conducting your own study or performing in-depth research on a topic.

Earn Your Backlinks

While backlinking has been a key SEO strategy since the beginning of Google, search engines have become a lot more sophisticated and can now distinguish between earned links (good) and spam links (bad).

Here’s how to build backlinks the right way:

  • Don’t guest post for the sole purpose of getting backlinks, but do publish high-quality content on authority sites with a link or two back to your website (the link can be in your author’s bio).
  • Guest post on websites that share your target audience so you can attract visitors who will spend time on your site and interact with the content. The longer dwell time can also help improve your SEO ranking.
  • Conduct a backlink analysis of your competitors (e.g., use tools such as Link Explorer) to see where they’re getting backlinks from. You can pitch guest posts to these backlink sites.
  • Create high-quality and relevant content that attracts backlinks from other sites. When you build your reputation as a trusted expert, you’ll earn backlinks.
  • Connect with influencers who have a large following that overlaps with your target audience. Ask them to share your content so you can build backlinks from high-authority domains while expanding your reach.

Promote and Share Your Content

Promoting your content will not only get it into the hand of your ideal audience but also improve your SEO. Why? Readers will engage with the content and spend more time on your site, signaling to Google that your information is relevant and of high quality.

Here are some content marketing strategies you can implement:

  • Post links to your content on your social media profiles. Sharing posts, videos, photos and infographics with your followers can drive traffic to your website and increase social shares.
  • Use native paid ads on social media platforms to jumpstart your efforts and drive initial traffic. You can leverage the audience data from these social media sites and target your ads granularly to optimize ROI.
  • Add a call to action at the end of your posts to ask readers to share the content. Make it easy for them to do so by adding social share buttons to your website.
  • Include a link back to your content in your email signature to drive more traffic.
  • Use email marketing tactics to build your subscriber list and share your content via email campaigns.

Improve Your Content with Analytics

Creating content that appeals to your readers is often a process of trial and error. To find out what really works for your target audience, you need to analyze how the content performs so you can do more of what works.

Here’s how to measure content marketing success:

  • Find out if your content is driving traffic by evaluating metrics, including users, page views and unique page views. You can also delve into the traffic source to identify the most effective promotional channel.
  • Measure the conversion rates to see if the readers respond to your call to action after reading the content. This could be joining your email list, using the social share buttons or clicking through to a sales page.
  • See how well visitors are engaging with your content by tracking how long they spend on your site and how many pages they visit in each session.
  • Track how many times a piece of content is shared on social media. Social share is a good indicator that your readers find the content valuable.
  • Measure your SEO performance by tracking SERP ranking for a particular keyword or keyword phrase over time. As you gain the audience’s trust and build authority, your ranking should remain static or improve.

Use analytics to guide your SEO strategy.

Audience-Centricity Is the Key to Top SERP Ranking

To get to the top of SERPs, create content for your audience (not search engines). Focus on delivering value and staying current with consumer preferences and customer expectations because these are often reflected in search engine algorithms.

No doubt, it takes time and effort to understand your audience, do your research, create engaging content, build backlinks, promote your pieces and analyze performance. However, this will pay off tremendously as you publish high-quality content that earns you a place at the top of relevant SERPs.

Top SERP ranking helps you build brand awareness, increase your domain authority and attract high-quality traffic to your website. Not to mention, a high-ranking piece of content can drive organic traffic for years to come, creating a virtuous cycle that keeps on giving with almost no added cost.

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