Create Quality SEO Content and Track Your Success
What is High Quality Content?
You’ve invested time and effort into a piece of content that really isn’t living up to expectation. You’re left scratching your head as to why the page simply isn’t converting in the way that you’d hope it would be. So, where’s it all gone wrong? It seems to be the question that’s on everyone’s lips and what everyone wants to know: What is high-quality content and how do create a piece of content that is deemed to be high quality? After all, we know the phrase ‘content is king’, but what is quality content?
How is quality content defined?
Quality, similar to a lot of things in the creative sphere, is subjective, meaning that it can be hard to concretely define precisely what ‘quality content’ is dependent on person to person and subject.
However, in SEO terms, high-quality SEO content is defined as being content that is valuable to the user, satisfies their needs and ultimately makes them convert on your page.
Although it may seem pretty straight forward, there are many different factors that you have to consider which demonstrate that content has ‘quality’.
Why is it important?
You’ve probably heard the term ‘Content is King’ mentioned more than once, if your familiar with search engine optimisation or digital marketing industries, and that’s because it’s true. Quality content is one of the main ranking factors for Google, therefore without it, your SEO strategy will struggle to get off the ground and get you the results that you so desperately want.
Ultimately, the reason that quality SEO content is essential because the results speak for themselves. Any piece of quality content, whether it be audio, visual or text, will do well if it demonstrates: good user intent, provides helpful information and value, boost conversion rates and is written by someone who knows exactly what they’re talking about.
Why is quality important?
Back in the days when search engine optimisation was just still emerging and wasn’t the giant industry that it is now, all you needed to do to reach the was stuff your content with a keyword and the chances were that you’d end up ranking for that keyword.
Nowadays, Google’s algorithm is a lot more sophisticated. In recent years Google has issued algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin in an attempt to reward quality websites and to deal with common quality issues on sites such as spam, cloaking and thin content.
Today, the best way for your content to do well is for you to create great content, and it doesn’t show any signs of changing anytime soon, so if you want to perform well in the search engine result pages, then you need to know how to create great content.
How can I tell if I’ve created a piece of high-quality content?
Unfortunately, Google and other search engines don’t issue an easy to follow checklist of factors which it uses to determine whether your content is of a good standard or not. That’s why SEO specialists carry out research to try and identify the factors which search engines use to rank content which are continually changing and evolving.
In recent months concerned with how search engines and users determine the factors of what makes content great and how you can identify a great piece of SEO content once you’ve created it. We carried out research on pages we’ve monitored over the past few months for us to show you how you too can create great content and track its successes.
Content Strategy & Research
Quality content has to stand out above the rest of the sea of content that is being produced and published each day on the internet. Meticulous research is the foundation upon which all quality content is created, therefore it’s the first place you should start when it comes to creating content. Here’s the first step in the process of what you should do in preparation before your content creation takes place.
Know your audience
The goal when it comes to creating great content and employing a search engine optimisation strategy is to ensure that your site and its content is able to reach as many people who are potential customers for your business as possible, who are known as your target audience. Even if your website isn’t selling anything, you’ll still need to identify who you want to reach with your content.
As without identifying who your target audience are, you won’t be able to understand what content you’ll need to create for your audience and what information is likely to interest them and bring their attention to your website in order for them to convert.
Therefore, the first fundamental step of your research if to know exactly who your target audience is and what their interests are. Regardless of whether you’re already a business with an established customer base or whether you’re completely new to the market and are just figuring things out, it is essential for you to understand who your audience is and here’s how.
Look at Analytics
No matter how long you’ve been up and running for, whether you’ve been practicing for years or only just starting to get off the ground, it’s essential that you monitor your analytics in order for you to get a better understanding of the type of customers who are visiting your website.
This will give you an insight into the demographics and interest of your customers, including things such as age range, location and interests, in order for you to understand how you can create better content specifically for your audience in mind.
Simply sign your website up to Google Analytics, enable demographics and interest reports and once you’ve managed to do that, you’ll be able to view your customers demographics by going to Audience > Demographics > Overview.
This will enable you to get a better understanding of the demographics of your customers, including the age range, gender, location and interests of your audience, in order for you to understand how you can create better content for them.
In addition to helping you to create better content, analytic tools such as Google Analytics are a great way of monitoring which pieces of content performed the best with your target audience and where most of the referrals to your content comes from, which we will speak more talk about later.
Get to know the wants and needs of your audience by looking at social mentions of your brand, your industry, your products and services and your competitors’ brands across the various different social media platforms. Looking at your social mentions is the ideal way to understand what audiences expect from your brand, in what areas you are doing well as well as which areas you are lacking and need improvement.
You can look for social mentions across social media by searching for mentions individually on the site or by using a piece of software that monitors mentions for you such as Hootsuite which allows you to add all of the brand accounts and view all your tweets and mentions in one place. In addition to monitoring what people think of your brand, social mentions are also helpful for resolving disputes and building up a rapport with your customers by liking, sharing and commenting on any tweets about your brand, products or services.
Running an analysis of your competitors and the types of strategies they’re employing is a fantastic way of finding out what works when it comes to targeting your ideal audience.
Keep an eye on the types of keywords they’re targeting, the kinds of content they’re creating for those keywords and which of the types of content that they’re creating is performing the best with users and why that might be. That way, when you’ll be able to emulate that success straight away, by creating content that is precisely what your target audience wants.
Tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush are great tools for carrying out competitor research. These tools allow you to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for, their top performing pages and even run a content gap analysis to see whether there are any keywords you've missed that your competitors are targeting that would be a good fit for your brand.
Analysing the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) is a great way to understand what the intent is behind a keyword, as well as getting a better understanding of what type of content performs the best for your chosen keyword. When it comes to creating a plan for writing a spectacular piece of quality content, it’s good practice to look at the types of content that perform well in the SERPs.
All you have to do is simply type a few of your chosen or related topics into Google and see the results that appear in appear in the top positions. Analysing these types of content, for instance, what kind of content is being produced for what keyword or search query and identifying why these pieces of content perform better
One way to get a better understanding of your target audience is to send out questionnaires to people who are either visiting your website or to those customers who have purchased a product or service from your website.
You can either send out a quick survey via email or have a pop up on your website when users visit your site.
Moreover, although users won’t always have the time to fill out your questionnaire, any feedback that you do receive about your content useful is all constructive, which will ultimately help you to improve your content.
Keyword research should be one of the first research steps you carry out before creating any piece of content, whether that be an article, guide or even just a great homepage.
Effective keyword research, (also referred to as keyword analysis) can be a significant determining factor as to whether or not your website will perform well in the search engine results pages against your competitors. As well as this, keyword research also helps you to understand how much organic search traffic is likely will end up on your page from targeting a specific page.
When carrying out your keyword research, a great place to start is by writing down a list of relevant and essential topics are in relation to your website. For instance, if your business is within the gardening industry, your list of related topics will most likely include things such as potting, planting, cutting, pruning, etc.
Your next step is to try and come up with different sub-topics you could create content on which would be related to each of these topics on your list. For instance, if you wanted to write about the subject of garden cutting, you’d write about something along the lines of ‘the best gardening cutting tools’, ‘how to cut your garden hedge properly’, ‘how do you grow a cutting of a plant’.
Once you have established a good list of some substantial ideas, your next step is to run your topics and sub-topics through a keyword research tool. Keyword research tools, such as the ones available on platforms such as Ahrefs and SEMrush are helpful for a number of reasons, as they:
- Help you to come up with new keyword ideas
- Identify the keywords and terms that people search for
- Show the search volume of a chosen keyword
- Establish what the competition/difficulty is for that keyword
Alternatively, if you really want to get the most comprehensive list of keyword ideas to benefit your content, you can use your list of related topics to get keyword suggestions from Google. All you have to do to is enter your related topic into Google, and scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll be able to see what people who are also looking for your related topic are searching for under the section: ‘Searches related to ___’.
Once you’ve completed your keyword research and documented all of your keywords and put them into a spread sheet, you’re ready to move onto the next step of your research.
The intention behind competitor research is to determine and identify what techniques your competitors in the top-ranking positions of the SERPs are using. Competitor research is an essential research technique which can help you to shape and form your own content strategy, by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of those competitors in order for you to outrank them.
When carrying out your competitor research, you should be looking to identify the following:
- The keywords they’re ranking for
- The keywords they’re targeting
- The types of content they’re creating for these keywords
- The types of content that perform the best
- What the appeal of the page is
- The elements of the page you think you could do better
All the information that you gather from your competitors will help you to shape and form your own content, by helping you to establish:
- What keywords you should be targeting
- The type of content you should be creating for the search intent behind the keyword
- How you can create a page which takes advantages of both your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
Make sure keywords fit your brand
Once you’ve got a list or a spreadsheet together of the keywords and terms which you feel would be excellent opportunities for your business or your brand to target, your next step is to determine whether or not your keywords are the right ‘fit’ for your brand.
You’ve already carried out the research and know who your target audience is, however, is the keyword a good ‘fit’ for your brand?
For instance, if you’re trying to project a squeaky clean and reputable image with your brand, then would it be a good fit for your website if you attempted to target a keyword that had spelling or grammatical errors? Alternatively, if you know that your target audience is 18 to 24-year-olds, it may not be an excellent idea to target a keyword that may be aimed at a slightly higher age range as you won’t gain the right organic search traffic.
Look through your spreadsheet of keywords and make ‘ultimate’ list of keywords which are suitable for your target audience and will, therefore, attract your target audience.
One of the secrets to creating great content is to ensure that you fully understand the user intent behind the search and provide the user with the right content and information to help satisfy the user’s needs. Understanding search intent and tailor making content which demonstrates that understanding will help your content to rank better in the search engine results.
Just one great way to ensure that you understand the user intent behind a keyword or a search phrase is to look into the results of your competitors in the SERPs. Look to see what type of content they’re creating, is it a product page or a guide? Is there any SERP features on the page, such as a featured snippet or a bar of shopping results at the top of the page.
Another way you can identify search intent is to think about what information you’d expect to see if you was in a position to be typing that keyword or search query into Google. For instance if you’re looking for ‘Quick Loans’ then you obviously don’t have enough time to read a piece of long-form content and instead are probably looking for a loan itself.
Once you’ve managed to identify the intent behind the search, it will be a lot easier to create content to satisfy the needs of your users.
How to help the user
As well as being able to identify the intent behind the search, it would be good practice if you also focused your attention on the best ways you’ll be able to help your target audience with the content that you create.
For instance, try to identify whether you’ll need to provide an answer, general information or a product/service for your audience. Do they require a piece of long form or short form content? For example, does the search intent behind the keyword suggest that the user is looking for a product or advice quickly or does this type of query need as much information as possible for a careful consideration?
In addition to helping your target audience, you should also pre-empt any other topics related to the subject matter which your audience may want to know and may look for information on afterwards. For instance, if you’re creating a definitive guide to painting, your audience may also be interested in other subjects such as sketching and watercolours. Therefore it can also help to consider some surrounding topics to include in your content if you believe the search intent warrants it.
Call to action
This one is an important one, as ultimately, you’ll want your target audience to convert on your page, whether that be to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter, everybody wants a high conversion rate. What this means is that they want the user to complete their desired action.
Plan what your intended call to action is for this piece of content that you want to create and make sure you tailor make the content to ensure that users will carry out that call to action. For instance, if you want users to purchase a product or service that you are providing on your page, then ensure that you create a beautiful product page, with extensive information and copy which will entice your audience to purchase that product.
Alternatively, if you want your target audience to sign up to your newsletter, then you can include images, articles and copy which sells your newsletter and will compel users to sign up. It’s as simple as that.
Once you’ve completed your thorough research of the topic, and have a better understanding of your keywords, competitors and the search intent, your next step is to get on with the creation of the content. If you want to ensure that you’re creating high-quality content, you’ll need to ensure that you adhere to the following set of guidelines when it comes to creating content.
Hook your readers
Mountains of content are created and published on the internet every day, that’s the reason why you have to ensure that your content has something that makes it stand out above the rest. Whether it’s the subject matter or niche, or whether it’s the title of the page or content you’ve managed to create, ensure that your content is able to attract and intrigue your audience to click onto your site.
Essentially this is important as; generally, users looking at the SERP and on social media platforms will have an abundance of content at their very fingertips; therefore you’ve only got around 3 seconds to capture the interest of your audience before they move onto the next result.
Anticipates intention, hopes and fears
Whatever your subject matter, you should be able to predict not only the intention of what the user expects to find on the page, but you should also be able to anticipate the hopes and fears of the users as well and acknowledge that fact and put them to bed as much as you can.
For instance, if you’re creating a website about getting car finance, you may anticipate a user’s fear about what will happen to the finance if the car is written off in an accident. In addition to the anticipating the hopes of the user that their circumstances may change where they don’t require car finance and what they can do if they wish to pay off their car loan in full before their loan duration is up.
Try to ensure you have all the information on each eventuality covered.
Better than your competitors
You’re bound to be aware of your competitors’ content, mainly if you carried out your research correctly and completed some competitor research.
When creating content, you want to ensure that your content is a lot better than your competitors, for instance, if there is any information that you feel may be necessary but is missing from their page, make sure you include it on yours. Or perhaps you think that their content is very text heavy and long-winded, therefore make sure that you break your content up with available images, custom graphics or videos in addition to making sure that your content is straightforward, simple in terms and straight to the point it is intended to make.
Checked for facts
There’s nothing worse than creating a page of content which hasn’t been thoroughly checked beforehand.
What you need to understand off the bat is that all of the users who visit your page will have different levels of understanding and comprehension of your subject. While some users will have very little knowledge of your subject, those who do have prior knowledge will severely doubt your credibility as a trustworthy source and an authoritative source of information.
And ultimately if your content isn’t fact checked and you are offering help or advice, your audience isn’t going to see the best results or get the correct information which will impact your credibility. That’s why it’s essential that even if you feel that you know the subject like the back of your hand that you check your facts beforehand, just in case you’ve got it wrong or there’s been any new research or revelations within the industry.
To be a reputable source of information in the eyes of both users and search engines, always ensure that you meticulously check your facts beforehand.
Readability is essential in more than one use of the word.
Not only is it essential that your content can be read and understood by people who are reading your content, which may have different varying levels of industry knowledge and jargon on the subject. But it is also crucial that the font, size and format of the text is easy to read for a better understanding and experience of your page. As there’s no point in spending hours creating great content for no one to be able to read it.
Readability of the content itself is easily checked by using apps such as Grammarly or ReadabilityScore.com, which both uses the Flesch reading ease test. Ideally, what you should be aiming for is content which can be understood by users who have had at least 8 years of education.
Links to good sources
Links to other good and reputable sources on the internet are essential and can give your pages that needed an authority that it craves. That’s why it’s vital that you link out to sources that could help your users; however, it must be mentioned that you should avoid linking out directly to your own competitors.
Although if you do find that they have a valuable resource that you believe users would benefit from, then why not invest in putting some time and effort into creating your own separate resource page that users would find helpful, which leads onto the next point.
Links to your individual relevant pages
You don’t have to always go through the basics when it comes to mentioning a subject if you’ve already gone into depth on the subject on another page.
Instead of repeating yourself, link out to your own pages within your content if you feel that it may enlighten users on the subject. Not only will this save you from going over the same topics again and again, but will also provide users with lots of helpful resources on matters related to the topic they’re interested in. As well as sharing page authority and creating an internal linking structure which it helps to establish the relation between the content and ultimately makes crawling and indexing pages easier for search engine crawlers.
Word count is extremely important, you’re not going to be able to create quality content which is going to rank if its thin, thin content is not quality content by any means.
Instead, written content which is over the 1,000-word mark generally performs better than any other material that’s on the web, so that’s a great place to start aiming for around 1,000 words minimum.
However, asides from setting a word count minimum, there really is no maximum; however that doesn’t mean that you should just go off and create a 20,000-word guide on your chosen keyword only on the off chance that you’ll rank for that keyword.
Instead, when it comes to writing content, ensure the following factors:
- You have covered the topic in as much detail as you can
- You have anticipated any of your users’ questions or concerns and answered them
- You have included any relevant or valuable topics to your content or links to resources or pages in which you go into further details on subjects.
- You have structured your content correctly and coherently with headings and subheadings
Once you have successfully managed to cover the previous factors in your content, you needn’t worry about packing out your material with more words needlessly, as long as you’ve covered everything you need to cover.
Stands out above the rest – different
Do you have a ‘unique selling point’ of your content? Does anything of your content stand out above the rest and against your competitors? If you don’t have anything that makes your content stand out above the rest, then you may want to go back to the drawing board and make sure that you have something which makes your content stand out.
This may be a very straightforward point for some, but it needless to say it is an important one, make sure all of the text on your website is unique and isn’t on the web anywhere else.
This includes any articles you’ve guest written, website copy, meta titles, meta descriptions, page titles, etc. do not appear on your website or anywhere else on the internet.
Search engine crawlers like to see that all of the content on your site is unique and doesn’t appear anywhere else on the web, on another website or on your own. Exclusive content speaks volumes to search engines and shows that your content is valuable and reputable as it hasn’t just been copied from somewhere else.
If you neglect to ensure that all your content on your site is unique, can be harmful to your website, although it is worth mentioning that there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty as previously thought.
Nevertheless, duplicate content is harmful in the sense that it can be confusing to search engines such as Google, as sometimes it may not be clear who the originator of content is, therefore they may favour one piece of content over the other, as Google may see this as a ploy to manipulate the search engine result pages. Consequently, it may affect the way in which search engines index pages and may also be detrimental to the link profile of your pages as the value of the page will be shared between the two pages which have duplicate content.
A great way to create eye-catching, valuable and engaging content is to carry out research and case studies related to your products, topics or industry in which your website resides. However, it does take a fair amount of time, effort and money invested in order for a case study to be successful, case studies are a valuable resource that lots of people in your industry will be both interested in reading, sharing and linking out to.
If you’re website or blog isn’t concerned with selling products and services, then another great option for you is to write about your own personal experiences and write reviews or advice on existing products and services. This is one sure way to create interesting and innovative content for audiences as it can offer a new perspective.
Use facts and statistics
Nobody likes to be caught out when they haven’t checked their facts properly, so make sure you thoroughly research your topic beforehand, whether your feel as if you’re an industry expert or not.
This is because nothing will hurt your trustworthiness and creditability more than if the advice your providing your target audience isn’t fact checked and sound advice, as this will impact the E-A-T of your page (Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness) of your page which can help you to rank better in the SERPs.
As well as this, it also helps to provide links to facts and statistics, as they boost and support both your arguments and your credibility, whether they be from other sources or your own research.
Use different types of content
You’d be wrong in thinking that content creation is all about written copy, because that’s far from the truth. Content extends to the realms of audio, video and visuals besides just written text and you can enrich your pages with as many different types of content as you feel fit.
Whether you feel that you’d rather produce a podcast than write a 10,000 word guide on a topic or whether you feel that a video would be more beneficial to help you elucidate some complicated subjects, the choice really is yours and you should be open to all methods of experimentation when it comes to content creation.
By creating different types of content, not only will you find that your content creation process will be a lot more interesting, but you’ll also appeal to wider variety of users who may not be interested or have the time to read what you’ve got to say, but would be happy to listen to it in podcast form while they go about their daily business.
The more different types of content you produce on your page, the better user experience you will provide your audience.
Provide lots of visuals with your text
Sometimes when you may not have enough time to create a stunning infographic or film and edit a video, your only option may be to create a blog post or article for the sake of convenience or quickness. While there’s no problem with just creating written copy for your website, it’s still important to make your writing visually appealing with the use of visuals and images.
There’s nothing more daunting or unappealing than a piece of long form content which is predominately text heavy, so try to break up your content with images and visuals, whether they be your own personal photographs, stock images or your own custom graphics, they can all help you to improve the appeal of your page.
Longer sentences and paragraphs, especially when you’re trying to explain something, can make the subject more difficult to digest. Therefore, if you want your content to be understandable, it helps to make your sentences and paragraphs shorter and get straight to the point your making. This will not only help your users to understand your content, but it will also help them to get the information they require without reading any unnecessary deviating from the subject.
One dimensional content is not quality content, so be prepared to go in-depth about your subject. Anyone can read existing articles on the internet and create their own version, but for you to create content that has depth, you’ll have to ensure that you provide the following elements in your content:
- An in-depth explanation of the subject
- Touch upon related subjects
- Address concerns and answers the query
- Your own unique take/perspective
- Be an authority/expert
Search engines such as Google will reward content and information that has been put forth by those individuals who Google sees to be authorities on that subject.
Back in the day before quality content became a thing, content written by content creators was able to reach the top positions on search engine result pages, nowadays that has changed. Google now likes to see that you know the subject your talking about, and here’s how you can become an expert/authority on your topic.
- Pick one subject or industry to specialise in
- Approach websites and blogs that accept guest post submissions
- Pitch your idea which will showcase your industry knowledge
- Write and publish guest posts across multiple sites
- Create lots of content across the internet on your subject
Likely to be shared
Some types of content are more likely to be shared across social media platforms than others, and high-quality content is definitely one of them.
The types of content that people like to share across social media is usually:
- Research-based – containing unique perspectives on a given subject,
- Visually driven – including a variety of infographics, images and video.
- Interactive – engage with the audience and gets them involved.
- Valuable information – contains information that people want to know or are curious about.
- Appeals to emotion – is emotive and will get people talking about it.
- Take your time
If you rush a piece of content, then your target audience will know because it shows. Spelling errors, unresearched facts, empty statistics and content that lacks depth will all go to show that you neglected to spend the proper time and effort on the material you created.
Instead, make sure that you spend enough time and effort on your content to ensure that it is something that you feel proud of. Unfortunately, and this may be a difficult point to swallow, you’ll never feel entirely happy with your content, so try to strike a balance between feeling comfortable and creating a good piece of content.
If you find that you are spending too much time on your content and are neglecting to create enough content you may want to employ a content plan or work on a project simultaneously to keep producing a stream of regular content, which leads onto my next point.
Have a content plan
Planning your content in advanced is a significant part of creating quality content. Ensuring that you can give yourself the planning and time it takes to execute a piece of excellent content that you can be proud of.
While creating quality content is time-consuming, if projects are worked on to a close schedule, then this can mean a continuous stream of content is worked on simultaneously and posts are published on a regular and strict schedule.
Spelling & Grammar
Establishing yourself a credible and trustworthy source of information and creating pieces of quality content all can take a lot of time and effort to be perfected. All of which can be discredited if your spelling and grammar simply aren’t up to scratch. Although it may seem a little trivial, it’s true, so here are a few ways you can protect your content from spelling and grammatical errors.
No spelling mistakes
In all areas of SEO in general, spelling mistakes are highly frowned upon, whether they be in copy, outreach emails, social media posts, titles on videos or even in an alt text description, they make for bad news.
Now, while search engines aren’t going to penalise you or anybody for the matter who has a few spelling mistakes in their content, it just doesn’t account for your reliability and trustworthiness of your content and your website or business as a whole, that’s why it’s important always to check your spelling before you publish anything.
We all know that it can be hard to spot your spelling mistakes when you’ve been working on a piece of content non-stop for a period of time, however, there are a vast variety of spelling checkers and tools available across the internet which can help make these mistakes evident to you. Grammarly, for instance, is one of the most efficient spelling and grammatical checkers available which leads onto the next point.
No grammatical errors
You don’t have to know absolutely everything about grammar to know that just one simple mistake can change how a sentence or paragraph is interpreted. As well as this, both spelling and grammar mistakes have the potential to disrupt the natural flow of text, besides making your content look slapdash and therefore untrustworthy.
As mentioned in the previous section, spelling and grammar checkers are extremely useful to help you correct those spelling and grammar errors which you may have overlooked. Grammarly offers a web browser application which can check your content on your browser, or alternatively, you can check your spelling and grammar with the add on for Microsoft Word or the Grammarly website.
The most common grammatical errors
That being said, you shouldn’t become too reliant on spellcheckers as their algorithm can still miss errors. That’s why we’ve comprised some of the most common grammatical errors people make, for you to know how to spot them.
Your vs. You’re
Your – meaning belonging to you, yours.
You’re – meaning you are, you’re.
Its vs. It’s
Its – meaning possession, as in its belongings.
It’s – meaning it is.
There, They’re and Their
There – referring a place, over there.
They’re – meaning they are, they are doing something.
Their – being associated with someone, their belongings.
Two, To and Too
Two – meaning the number 2.
To – meaning to do something.
Too – meaning a lot of or an excess of something, too much.
Dependent on who your target audience is, you should ensure that if you are writing for an audience in the UK that you do not write with Americanisms, or vice-versa if you are writing content for an audience in the US.
Apostrophes can be difficult things to place if you don’t know how, so here’s a brief run down on how to use them:
- At the end of someone’s name – e.g. Emma’s – shows possession, for instance Emma’s shoes.
- At the end of a group of people e.g. children’s shows possession of a group, for example the children’s clothes.
- And if the word already has an s at the end e.g. girls, you put the apostrophe at the end – girls’ aprons, which is also correct.
Optimising for Keywords
Once you’ve got your list of definitive keywords together, your next step is to work out the best methods to implement them into your content in order to rank for them. Optimising your content for keywords can be tricky, as you’ll have to ensure that your content flows seamlessly and naturally. In this section, you’ll find out the best ways to optimise your content for keywords.
Optimised titles and headings
Titles and headings are just one of the ways that help both search engines and users understand what your content is about. For the most part, your users will scroll through your page before reading and glance over the titles, headings and subheadings of your content to see whether your page has the information that they’re looking for.
By optimising your titles for the keywords and queries, not only will you be able to prove that your content is the most relevant to search engines such as Google, but you’ll also satisfy the needs of your target audience by answering the questions they require answering.
For best practice when it comes to putting your keywords in page titles, headings and subheadings, try to opt to put the keyword as much to the front of the heading as possible. Therefore, showing search engines that the keyword is most important.
In addition to this CoSchedule have a Headline Analyser tool which can help you to create optimised and qualty titles that both search engines and users will engage with.
Optimised Meta Descriptions
While meta descriptions may not be a ranking factor for search engines, they are still crucial for several reasons.
Firstly, although they aren’t a direct ranking factor for search engines, they are an indirect one and here’s how. When your site appears in a result on the SERP, your page title, URL and meta description will be featured to persuade users to click on your result over your competition. If your meta description is optimal and persuasive enough, then users will click on your result, therefore boosting your Click Through Rate (CTR) which is a ranking factor for search engines.
Secondly, meta descriptions provide a description of the page for search engines as well, therefore including keywords in your meta description is also another great way to prove that your content is relevant and should be ranking for your chosen keywords.
So, try to include keywords and variations of your keywords in your meta description.
Not keyword stuffed
Back before Search Engine Optimisation took off, you used to be able to rank for a keyword by stuffing or spamming the keyword into the titles, headings, alt text and body of the text. Nowadays, Google’s algorithm is a lot more sophisticated and can identify when websites are trying to manipulate the algorithm.
Keyword stuffing is now able to get penalised by Google which you’ll want to avoid as it will be extremely detrimental to your site. As a general rule, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t use your keyword anymore than necessary; your content should flow naturally and not regularly repeat itself.
Your next question may be, ‘Well, how many times should I be putting my keywords in my content?’ and the answer is that nobody really knows the optimal amount to use your keywords in your content; however, there are ways of establishing an optimal amount for your content and here are just a few of the best ways.
One way is to visit your competitors’ content and hold down Ctrl + F and search for your targeted keyword to see how many times they’ve used it in their content. Try to look across a few and not just one of your competitors who are ranking well and work out a good average amount of times you should mention your keywords you should be aiming for.
In addition to this, you can also download the SEOquake browser extension which provides you with a page analysis of any web page that you visit. Asides from including things such as a list of all the internal and external links on the page, you can also look at the keyword density of the keywords on the page. Keyword density is measured by the length of the content and how many times the keyword is used in comparison to the content length. Compare your ’competitor’s keyword density and create an average for yourself to stick to.
Finally, you can use a tool such as Website Auditor to help you with the number of times you should use your keyword, what keywords you should also supplement your content with, as well as things such as word count, and title optimisation. What Website Auditor does is it compares the content from your competitors and analyses the content. From this analysis, it can make suggestions on how you optimise your content by adhering to the trends that your competitors are following.
Although Website Auditor is not a sure way to find yourself ranking in the top positions for your chosen keyword, it can help you to optimise your content for better results and prevent against penalties for keyword stuffing.
Include LSI keywords
Using LSI keywords can help to make your content a bit more in-depth and three dimensional. This is because as well as readers, search engines like to look at your content and know that you fully understand the subject and the surrounding subject matter that you’re writing about and LSI keywords can help you to do that.
Latent Semantic Keywords (LSI Keywords) are words that are semantically related to your chosen keywords or seed keyword. LSI keywords are helpful to supplement your content with as they can help Google to prove your content’s relevancy to for your chosen keyword.
You can find your LSI keywords by looking at Google related searches, using a keyword research tool to look for related keywords or just from looking at what types of results come up within the search bar when you type in a query. Alternatively, you can also use a tool specifically designed for finding LSI keywords such as LSI Graph.
It is, however, worth mentioning that you should input your LSI keywords into your content the same way you would your keywords, which leads us onto our next point.
Use keywords naturally in all elements – alt text, metadata, titles, headings, URL, etc.
Nothing breaks the flow of content and impacts the readability more than a keyword which doesn’t belong there or sounds incorrect, that’s why you need to avoid inputting your keywords into your content haphazardly. Instead of trying to put your keywords into the text after you’ve already written your content, try to input your keywords into the text as you go along to ensure that it doesn’t sound forced.
However, a problem which does sometimes occur is those keywords which aren’t grammatically correct, meaning that they can be challenging to have in your content without throwing the reader off. Nevertheless, there is a solution. Search engines don’t interpret punctuation; therefore, you can use this to your advantage; for instance, if your keyword is ‘red gloves fur’ you can work this into your content by writing the following:
>Gorgeous hand-crafted Italian red gloves. Fur cuffs and perfectly handstitched.
One tip for ensuring that your keywords read naturally is to get someone to read over your content or to read your content out loud to yourself before you go ahead and publish anything.
Target keyword in both the first and last 100 words
As a good general rule, it’s good practice to include your keyword in both the first and last 100 words of your content if possible.
Now, this stems from an old search engine optimisation technique in which search crawlers would look at the first 100 words of your content to see what the most important keywords are that were relevant to your content. Nowadays, search engine crawlers do a lot more on your page; however, it doesn’t hurt to implement this practice into your keyword optimisation process.
Website Design & Page Layout
When it comes to creating a great piece of content, you may focus all of your attention on the creation of content and optimisation of keywords. However, the design of your website and the layout of your page can play a massive part in influencing the user experience of the page and therefore, impacting the overall quality of the page. If you want to ensure that your page and its content provides your target audience with an enjoyable experience of your page, then here’s how.
Clear and straightforward
The layout of both your content and the page should be clear and direct for your target audience to be able to access all of the information on your pages as efficiently as possible.
The layout and design of the page should display all of the information in a clear, straightforward and easy to read manner. Including the navigation, body of text, call to action, social sharing buttons and images for greater user experience.
In addition to this, you should also ensure that your content can be viewed easily on mobile and tablet devices, as more than half of Google searches now take place on mobile devices. Unfortunately, if the layout of your page makes the content inaccessible, then it will negatively impact the UX and will, therefore, increase your bounce and exit ranks, which will adversely affect ratings.
It’s no surprise that visually appealing sites convert and are shared more across social media platforms than sites that simply aren’t. Websites that contain quality pieces of content can provide visually appealing images, icons, videos and infographics which appeal to your target audience.
Custom graphics, animations, photographs and videos that you’ve created are all excellent ways of making your content more visually appealing for your users.
However, if you don’t have the team or personal know-how yourself to be able to create these images, videos and graphics yourself, then you can always try using freelancing websites such as Dribbble and Fiverr to help you find designers and content creators who are willing to help you to make your site better.
Text format is easy to read itself
We spoke about how vital readability of the text is in a previous section, however, when we talk about readability in this section, we’re speaking more on the typography side of things rather than the written side of things.
We rarely think about the size and font of our text, only really when it comes down to H1 to H6 tags. However, that doesn’t mean to say that both the font and size of the text isn’t essential, as if you’ve spent hours creating a page with perfect quality content, then you’ll want your target audience to be able to read it.
That’s why for best practices and to ensure that your audience can read the copy on your website you should ensure that the size of the font should be around 14px-16px. The font, however, should be in a font style which is easy to read and suitable for text body, such as Open Sans, Lato or Ubuntu which are all easy to read fonts appropriate for website copy and are featured on Google Font Library.
Easy to navigate
Ideally, you want to keep users on your website for as long as possible to ensure a better dwell time as well as being able to persuade your audience to convert, whether that be buying a product or service from you or simply subscribing to your newsletter. However, if your website isn’t easily navigable, allowing users to visit all the pages on your site with ease, then they’re likely to click away from your content thoroughly.
Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the following when it comes to making sure that your website is easily navigable:
- Buttons can be clicked on, on both mobile and desktop
- You have a navigation menu at the top of your page
- Your navigation menu is also optimised for mobile devices
- You include links to your own relevant pages in your content
Don’t let the page itself be a distraction from content – no pop-ups or distracting adverts
Content is one of the most critical parts of your website, as we’ve mentioned before, your content is unlikely to rank at all without it. That’s why you should let it be the main focus of your website as ultimately, that’s the reason why your target audience will be visiting your page in the first place, to get information.
To ensure that the page itself doesn’t become a distraction or too busy for the user to read the content, you should ensure that your website adheres to the following guidelines.
Pop-ups can be annoying as they both distract from the content that the user has visited the page for in the first place as well as appearing spammy. Instead of creating pop-ups to entice your audience to convert, there are other less distracting ways to do so, such as subscription widgets in sidebars, which leads me onto my next point.
It’s very easy to get carried away with widgets, especially on platforms such as Wix and Wordpress, in which there are just so many helpful widgets to choose from. Instead of having lots of widgets on your website, try to opt for only a few which will make the user’s experience of the page a positive one, instead of distracting and overwhelming.
As well as this, the more widgets and plugins that you have on your site will significantly harm the overall site speed of your page, which can affect site speed.
It can be challenging when you’re first starting out and pumping lots of money, effort and resources, to end up getting very little back in return in the beginning. Many sites starting out opt to put adverts on their websites to incur a little bit of revenue from those advertisements. Now while there’s nothing wrong with having one or two ads on your site, it can start to become a problem when these advertisements start distracting from the content.
Any advertisements that cover or restrict the users from viewing or navigating to the content on your site should be removed from your website as it promotes terrible user experience of the page. Instead try to opt for advertisements which are still visible but don’t deflect from the content, especially if your page has something great to say.
Technical errors on your page can mean that the user experience of your page spoils the great content that you’ve created, that’s why it’s essential for you to ensure that the technical side of your website and your pages are also up to scratch. Here are just a few of the most common technical faults that can affect the user experience of your page and it’s content and how you can correct them.
Make sure your content loads within 3 seconds
In a world where everything has become so quick and accessible from just the click of a button, your page needs to be able to meet the demands of your target audience. In fact, back in 2016, Google undertook research, which showed that 53% of mobile users left websites which failed to load in 3 seconds. Now, although 53% of mobile users don’t account for all users on the internet, nevertheless, it is still essential to ensure that your content loads within 3 seconds of your audience landing on your page.
Asides from just improving your audience’s experience of your page, improving the page and site speed of your website will help you to rank better in the search engine results, as Google has indicated that both site and page speed are ranking factors.
There are many ways in which you can measure and test the speed of your website and web pages to determine whether or not your website has room for improvement when it comes to site speed. Tools such as GTMetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which both use Lighthouse, are great ways of determining whether your page speed is slow, average or fast. Generally, you want to be aiming for a score of as close to 100 as you can get.
If you do, however, find that your webpage is slow, here are just a few examples on what you can do to ensure that your page speed is up to scratch.
- Don’t have too many large or high-quality images
- Don’t have too many plugins or widgets
- Upgrade your hosting plan or use a Content Distribution Network (CDN)
- Reduce the amount of 301 redirects
Make sure your content can be viewed on mobile and tablet
Leading on from our previous point, in addition to page speed, if mobile and tablet users can view your content, then they’re also likely to click away from your website, which will increase your bounce rate.
Bounce rate is an essential factor as it is ultimately a ranking signal for Google, therefore if your bounce rate increases it signals that maybe your content isn’t as relevant to users as Google had once intended. Therefore your rankings will drop, as to ensure that your website and it’s content can be viewed on mobile.
You can check as to whether your website and the content is mobile friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, however, if you find that you need to make changes to your site to improve the mobile optimisation of your website you should do the following:
- Buttons are big enough to click on
- Give the option to switch to desktop view
- Try not to use Flash as it doesn’t
- Use larger fonts which are easier to view without having to zoom in
- Ensure that your site and page speed is up to scratch
Make sure you have an XML sitemap on your site
For the most part, you’ll want all of the pages that you create to be indexed by search engine crawlers and to be indexed, correct? Well, then it makes sense for you to have an XML sitemap on your site. The idea behind sitemaps is that it is a list of all your most essential pages on your site that you wish to be indexed and ranked in Google.
XML sitemaps are essential as although search engine crawlers are quite sophisticated and can crawl websites quite efficiently, it can sometimes miss out pages when following internal links. Instead, an XML sitemap will help your pages to be more discoverable by these crawlers and will help them to understand the overall structure of your website; therefore, sitemaps are extremely important to have.
Once you have created your XML sitemap, don't forget to add it to Google Search Console and ensure that is it reguarly updated everytime you upload another important page or piece of content.
Make sure your URLs are optimised
URLs similar to page titles and headings are another way for search engines and users to understand what your page is about and determine the site’s hierarchy structure, meaning which pages are related to and more important than others.
However, if your URLs aren’t optimised and user-friendly, then this can also affect the performance of your pages. Therefore, when it comes to writing and creating your own URLs, you should consider whether it adheres to or has the following:
- No uppercase letters
- No underscores or special characters except hyphens
- Not cluttered
- Defines site hierarchy
- No stop words such as ‘and’ or ‘to’, etc.
- Provides a clear indication of what the page is about
- Includes the keyword but isn’t keyword stuffed
- Is within 115 characters in length
- Can be read by users
- Looks trustworthy
Before You Publish
So you’ve done your research, you’ve created your content, you’ve optimised your content for your keywords, and you’ve ensured that both the design, layout and the technical elements of your page is up to standard, so what’s left? You may think that the next big thing you need to do is publish your content, but there are just a few essential steps you should follow to ensure that your content is perfect before you go ahead and publish. We like to think of this step as ‘Quality control’, so here’s what you should do before you post your content.
Get someone to proofread or critique your content
If you’ve spent hours upon hours writing, perfecting or even just editing a piece of content, then you tend to be a little less perceptive in picking up spelling mistakes and other errors in your content. And while this is nothing to be ashamed of, as it can and does happen to the best of us, it’s best to spot these mistakes before your content goes live, as it can affect your credibility as a business (as we discussed in previous sections).
Although spell checkers and apps are great for helping you pick up when you’ve used the ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’, the best way to check for any mistakes in any content you create, is to run it by someone first. Whether you’ve created a podcast or a product page, ask someone to go through everything thoroughly and point out any mistakes which you might have missed.
Don’t neglect to show your manager or a colleague your work because you feel embarrassed about any silly mistakes which you may have missed but are in plain sight for everyone else. Proofreading as such and constructive criticism all helps you to create quality content and can even help you be aware of the types of mistakes you’re making to ensure that you don’t make any in the future.
Take your time with your content until you’re happy with it
Rushing your content is a huge no-no when it comes to creating quality SEO content, after all, it does show when you have spent time, effort and resources on a piece of content in comparison to when you see that something online that has clearly been rushed.
Unfortunately, we all have deadlines, (some of them extremely tight deadlines) which we have to meet, which means that we can sometimes end up rushing pieces of content for the sake of meeting deadlines and getting things live. Instead of finding yourself in that predicament where you sacrifice quality for the purpose of fulfilling your deadline, always ensure that you give yourself more than enough time to complete whatever you’re working on.
That means you should always:
- Over-estimate the time it will take you to do something – that way you’ll have plenty of time to complete your task, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you complete within the time you allocated for that task.
- Plan content well in advance – to ensure that you have a stream of ideas to work on and don’t waste time you should be working on trying to come up with a good idea.
- Never start working on something unless you’ve carried out research and have a plan – this is asking for disaster as content can suffer if it doesn’t have a clear idea behind it or a point to make.
- Give yourself time to do ‘quality control’ – always give yourself enough time before you need to the content to go live to take a look over what you’ve created and seen whether any changes need to be made.
- Work on content simultaneously – or meticulously plan your content to ensure that you are posting content regularly and that there are no long gaps between your posts/
- Does it achieve what you set out to do?
Is it better than your competitors?
Remember all the competitor research that you did before you created your content? Right, well think back to your competitor’s pages that they’ve created and consider whether or not your content is comparatively better or worse than their page.
From your competitor research at the beginning of this whole process, you should have been able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors to create a successful high-quality page. That meaning that you should have been able to emulate the things about the page that you liked and that made their page successful, and you should have been using their weaknesses against them to ensure that your page included everything that they may have needed or lacked.
Be sure that your content takes advantage of the pros and cons of your competitor’s pages.
Track Your Progress
You may think that once you’ve posted your content online and promoted it across your social media platforms you’ve done all you need to do, but there’s more. For you to continue to create fantastic quality content, it helps to monitor your content’s performance to develop your content based on what your target audience enjoys and what demonstrates a good piece of quality SEO content for search engines.
Look at your social signals
Your social signals are things such as your likes, shares, follows, pins, etc. These can be significant indicators of who likes your content, who shares your content, as well as monitoring what people say about your brand or the material that you’ve created.
As we mentioned previously, you can use tools such as Hootsuite, to monitor your social mentions across your many social media platforms. However, many social media platforms make it easy for you to follow your social signals on your post by providing you with notifications every time your posts are liked or shared.
Alternatively, you can also use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush and SEOquake, which can show you how many times your content has been shared across social media. It’s good practice to check how your content has performed every week or so and compile a report.
Use a content/page audit
Once your page or content has been created, another great way to check the performance is by running a content and/or a page audit. That way if your content hasn’t performed as well as you would have hoped, a review can help provide you with answers and suggestions as to why this may be.
Moreover, this doesn’t mean that your content has to be scrapped entirely if it didn’t perform well on social media or in the SERPs. Instead, try implementing the changes that a content or page audit has suggested and see if the page performs better once you’ve taken the time to make these adjustments.
Measure how well the content performs
Asides from measuring your content on social media, there are other ways to measure how well your content performs by using such tools as Google Analytics.
GA helps you to see how many users have visited your site and where they have come from, as well as other helpful insights. For instance what device they’re using, how much time they spent on the page, your bounce rate, unique users and returning users, among many other things which can also help you to monitor the success of your site and its content.
These are all excellent indicators of how well your content is performing, give your content some time to pick up a little bit of traction and monitor its performance every week or so.
Look and reply to any comments
If you’ve created a quality blog post, then you can expect that you’ll find yourself with a few comments. Whether these be comments, questions or compliments it puts you in a good light if you frequently respond to comments as soon as you can.
Not only will this help you build credibility and a rapport with your audience, but it will also help you find out whether or not they found it helpful or not. Remember to take all comments as constructive criticism which will help you to create better pieces blog posts in the future.
Identify the reasons why your content might have done well or not so well
If your content doesn’t perform well, then it’s back to the drawing board for you but don’t be downhearted, try to look at this all as a learning curve. Instead, ask yourself the following questions about your content to determine why the content may not have performed as well as other pieces of content you have created.
- Did it show a clear understanding of user intent?
- Does it satisfy the users need for information?
- Did I promote the content enough on social media?
- Did I post the content at the right time on social media?
- Is the content over optimised for keywords?
- Is the content under optimised for keywords?
- Is it in-depth enough?
- Does it provide a perspective on a subject?
- Was it too niche?
- Was it too broad and already been covered before?
- Was the page better than my competitors?
Remember what worked well and what didn’t when you create your next piece of content
If your page did perform well, or whether it didn’t remember to take all the information and advice that you’ve learnt onboard with you when it comes down to planning, creating and executing your next piece of content. That way, you’ll be able to create the best high-quality SEO pages by not failing to learn from your mistakes and building on your successes, happy content creating!