Search engine optimization (SEO) is like a cat-and-mouse game between Google and content creators. Writers are always trying to meet Google’s search algorithm to make it on the first page and Google is always changing its algorithms to ensure that only the best content ranks.
So, how do you win with Google? First, you must change your perspective on SEO writing. You are not writing a shell of a piece to merely meet Google’s requirements and include a keyword X amount of times. You need to create valuable, comprehensive content for people (not for Google). Yes, your meta description, site speed, and keyword frequency matter, but those are the more technical aspects of SEO. You could have the fastest website and include your keyword 200 times in a post, but if the content isn’t helpful, you won’t rank on Google.
The reason we all do a Google search is to get answers and Google’s rankings are a reflection of that behavior. It crawls all websites and shows the most comprehensive content that has the best chance of answering our question. Google wants us to find what we’re looking for and as a result, it will display high-quality content over keyword frequency or backlinks.
Here are three steps to writing an SEO post that is optimized for Google and valuable for your readers:
Identify a strong keyword
Even though content is king when writing for SEO, you still need to have a keyword for which to optimize the post. Go to Google’s free keyword planner tool (in Google AdWords) and click Find new keywords. Enter your industry or another keyword that describes your product or service. Then, you’ll see a bunch of keywords related to your product or service. Look at the average monthly searches and the competition in each ad group. You want to look for a keyword that has a good amount of search traffic, but has a low or medium competition. In the example below, marketing plan has a lot of search traffic but a medium competition. This means we have a chance to get on the first page.
Look at What Your Competition Is Doing
In order to write the most helpful, comprehensive post, you need to see what other people are doing. Take the keyword you identified in step 1 and search for it in Google. Then, read every post that ranks for that keyword on the first page. As you’re reading, jot down what these articles cover. For example, when I search for marketing plan, I find articles that talk about the benefits of a marketing plan, who should see the plan, how it relates to a business plan, what to include in a marketing plan template, and more. When I write my article about a marketing plan, I need to make sure it includes all these things.
Make Your Article the Best
The research you did in step 2 will tell you what to include in your article, but you can’t just steal existing content and add it to your post. The goal is to compile all the information that already ranks in one article, and make your post even better. For example, if you need to include a template in your post, make 3 templates for people to download. If you need to talk about the benefits of a marketing plan, interview 5 marketing influencers and ask them what they think the benefits are. If you need to include images, make a video instead!
Once you have created the content, there are a number of on-page SEO things you can do. You can make sure the keyword is in the main article title and every header in the body of the post, optimize your meta description, and more. It’s also important to leverage social media shares. Social sharing contributes to your page authority in the same way that external links do. Likes, shares, favorites, replies, comments, and retweets all count toward this increased authority, so make sure to develop a social media strategy around this SEO post.
You could spend hours reading about all the must-do SEO techniques to rank on the first page of Google. A lot of them are really effective, but they still don’t trump quality content. Google is getting smarter every day and knows when a post is truly a valuable piece of content, versus a keyword-stuffed article.