Search engine optimization is a vast improvement over the last 25 years. It is long past the time when you could publish a lot of low-quality content and expect your search engine rankings will increase. SEO is now a science as well as an art. SEO requires both content writers and digital marketers to be able to understand search engine ranking factors and prioritize searcher intent.
This blog post will discuss nine SEO-friendly tips for content writing to increase rankings. Before we start, I want to make a PSA to all digital marketers and content writers: Content writing and SEO are closely linked when creating a strategy for driving organic traffic to your website. SEO isn’t something only technical people can do well. SEO is about creating content that is better than the competition, and yes, using technical SEO best practices.
Here are nine strategies to help you outrank your competition in search engine results.
- Search Engine Ranking Factors
- Use the Correct Keywords
- Identify Search Intent
- Optimize Content for Google Featured Snippets
- Update Old Material
- Use the Skyscraper Method
- High-Quality Outbound and Inbound Links
- Increase User Signals by Using On-Page Best Practices
- Site Structure and Best Practices in Technical SEO
1. Learn Search Engine Ranking Factors
Understanding the fundamental signals search engines use to rank content is essential before you can surpass your competitors. The most important ranking factors for content, links, and site structure are HTML tags.
Since the 2011 Panda algorithm updates, Google has placed content at the top of its ranking factors. Any piece of content, whether it is a blog, website, or pillar page, should cover a topic in-depth, be well-written and provide value for the reader.
Search Engine Land’s Periodic Tab of SEO Factors reveals that the following seven ranking factors are the most important.
- Quality: A well-written, valuable document.
- Research: Demonstrates authority
- Keywords: Use search terms in a way that is appropriate
- Freshness: It is timely and relevant
- Multimedia: Images, video, and audio are used to enhance the user experience.
- Answers: Provides direct answers to the search query
- Depth: This covers a topic in depth
The first step to writing competitive content is understanding what each factor means and how you can apply them.
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Links, Site Architecture, and HTML Tags
Other than content, links, site architecture (how your website is built) and HTML tags are the most important ranking factors.
Search engines crawl and index your site. They also look at non-content factors such as URL structure, page load speeds, page speed, page load time, page loading times, page load time, page size, and keyword usage to help understand the content of your site and rank your pages.
Search engine algorithms are created to provide users with the best content available from the most popular websites. Search engines will be able to index and crawl your website content if you implement linking, site structure and HTML best practices. You can improve your rankings and traffic by indexing and crawling your content faster and more accurately than a search engine.
2. Use the right keywords
While there has been some debate within the digital marketing community about keyword research being dead keywords, they are still an important part of SEO.
Keyword research is a great way to find the right keywords:
- Find out what people are discussing.
- Find search volumes for specific topics.
- It can be difficult to rank for a particular topic.
You should create crawlable content with a unique keyword target. Also, you should use Latent Semantic Indexing keywords throughout.
Before you begin writing, think about topics that your buyer personas are interested in. Next, do keyword research to find the best-ranking opportunity. The type of content that you create will determine the type of keyword you choose.
Blog posts should target low-volume, low-competition long-tail keywords. However, comprehensive resources such as pillar pages can target shorter-tail seed keywords with high volume and high competition. Remember that keywords with a longer tail and lower competition have higher conversion rates and are easier to rank for.
3. Capture and Identify Search Intent
Once you have identified a primary keyword target that is viable, you can validate it and decide how to write about it. You must identify what searchers are looking for by entering the query in a search box. Then, you need to write about the topic.
The search evaluation guidelines by Google indicate that there are four types of searcher intent.
- Know: A searcher is looking for information about a topic that will answer a question.
- Do: The searcher is looking for a way to perform a particular action.
- Website: A searcher is trying to locate a specific resource.
- Visit in person: A searcher is looking for a place to visit.
Before you begin writing, determine which of the four categories your primary keyword target falls within. Next, verify the category by looking at what content is currently ranking for the keyword. Is your competition targeting the exact same search intent as you have identified call of duty modern warfare 2 review? Take a look at their content structure to meet searcher needs. Your content should be structured in the same or better way.
Tip: Use the SERP features to satisfy searcher intent better than your competition
How can you satisfy searcher intent more effectively than your competitors? Find the searcher intent aspects that top-ranking articles fail to meet.
Is there anything the competition is missing that you think your reader might be interested in? Look at the “People also asked” and “Related search” sections on the search engine results page (SERP). This will help you to identify any gaps. Answer the relevant queries with your content.
4. Optimize Content to Get Google Featured Snippets
Google Featured Snippet is a relatively new feature in search engines. This SERP feature is designed to instantly answer users’ questions. Optimizing your content can increase your chances of getting this feature. Here are the steps:
- SEMrush and other SERP analysis tools can help you determine if there is a featured-snippet for the keyword that you are targeting. Only 12.3% queries have one.
- Identify the structure of the featured snippet. Are you looking for paragraphs, lists, or tables?
- Ask the question that the snippet answers in one your blog post subheadings.
- Answer the question right after the subheading. Write a concise answer that is better than the one in the featured short. Use the same structure for the current snippet.
Additional Tips to Obtain the Featured Snippet
You can also use other strategies to increase your chances at obtaining the featured excerpt.
- Optimize content that you are already ranking highly for using a featured snippet solution 99.58%. These snippets are from pages that appear on page one of a SERP.
- In your answers, use facts and figures.
- Multiple “People also ask” questions in your content. Ahrefs discovered that featured snippets are most often triggered by long-tail keywords such as those found in this section.
5. Update old content
Search engines value fresh content. Freshness is the fourth most important ranking factor for content. Changing old blog posts with more useful, authoritative, and relevant information can dramatically improve rankings and traffic.
HubSpot saw an average increase of 106 percent in organic search views per post when it made updating old content a priority for its editorial calendar (optimizing multiple blogs per week).
This is how you can execute it yourself.
- Look for blog posts that are more likely to rank higher in search terms with high search volumes.
- To improve accuracy and completeness, update or rewrite the article.
- Use on-page SEO best practice and optimize for conversion using relevant end-of-post and in-line CTAs.
- Publish the optimized article — make sure to change the publish day so search engines can re-crawl the content and reindex it.
6. Use the Skyscraper Method
The Skyscraper Method is a process that identifies content you want to outrank, and creates something better. This is both a content-writing and link-building strategy. However, this blog post will focus on writing.
You should find the content that you wish to outrank and you should:
- Consider why Google prioritized this page among its search results. This is because the content provides high value and is thorough. You can understand why your content is performing so that you can improve it.
- Make your ranking article better. This can be done by increasing the length, depth, and user experience.
Make sure you are strategic and deliberate about what improvements you make. Any improvement you make should be of value. Ahrefs warns writers that adding 25 mediocre tips on top of 25 great tips is not an improvement. Your new version may be longer, but it doesn’t add any real value.
The Skyscraper method produces results when it is done correctly. Brian Dean from Backlinko was able to double his organic traffic using this method in just 14 days .
7. Prioritize high-quality Outbound and Inbound Links
Search engines and users can learn a lot from links about the quality, value, and reputation of your content. Linking to outbound resources in blog posts or pillar pages should only be done to quality, trusted websites. Target websites that are experts in the topic you are writing about when looking for backlinks.
Backlinks to your content are a major Google ranking factor. They determine 20.94% what ranks and what doesn’t. Rankings and traffic can be boosted by high-quality links, while spammy links can hamper your rank.
8. Enhance User Signals by Using On-Page Best Practices
Google began to include User Experience signals in its search algorithms over the last few years. These signals can be affected indirectly by the way that HTML tags are used in your content.
HTML tags are the first thing search engines crawl when trying to find out what your content is about. Content writers must understand the importance and use the target keyword and LSI keywords within the title, meta description and headings. These HTML tags can increase user experience, bounce rate and dwell time as well as click-through rates. These areas have been shown to correlate well with higher search engine ranking.
9. Take note of site structure and technical SEO best practices
While optimizing site structure or improving technical SEO is not necessarily part of the job of a content writer, it is important to understand how these factors can affect your content’s ability rank.
The quality of your site’s construction, page load speed, security, and crawlability have a direct impact on a search engine’s ability to quickly index and rank your content. Search engines have been prioritizing sites with a topic-driven site structure over the years. This structure links blog posts that target longer-tail keywords to more comprehensive resources or pillar pages that target shorter-tail, high-volume seed words.
Poor site structure and technical SEO mistakes can make it difficult for your content to rank, no matter how well-written. To ensure your site is healthy and to fix any errors that could be hindering crawl ability, you should consult a developer or technical SEO expert.
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