Ensuring that your content works for SEO and for people is super important. In fact, with the right strategy, your blog could become the primary source of traffic and leads for your blog or business.
But “writing for SEO” often seems easier said than done. We do keyword research, write the post, follow SEO “best practices”, and hit publish – and then wonder, why isn’t the traffic pouring in?
That’s because what works for one site may not work for another. There are a few key things to factor in when it comes to finding the right keywords for your site and writing content for your particular audience.
To write website content that generates organic traffic, you’ll have to start with the user.
Create SEO Content Putting the User First
The #1 mistake bloggers and business owners make when it comes to writing SEO content is putting their primary focus on pleasing the Google gods.
While it is true that Google will ultimately be the source of your traffic – and you want to write content that meets its guidelines – Google’s algorithm actually puts a ton of weight on whether the content provides value to the user.
This is because search engines make most of their money through ad revenue. Therefore, Google and others have a huge incentive to attract more users to its search engine. They do this by keeping users happy.
Therefore, Google rewards websites that publish content that best fits what users are looking for. It’s not about “gaming” the algorithm. It’s about using it to your advantage by publishing content that’s better than what’s already ranking.
SEO-Friendly Content is About More Than Keywords
While conducting keyword research and using those keywords in your content IS important, your primary goal should be to publish content that’s better than what’s already ranking.
To be frank: Why would Google rank your content if there’s already better content out there?
Using more keywords or just making it longer isn’t going to cut it. You’re not going to “trick” Google into thinking your content is better when it doesn’t provide any added value to the user.
So, instead of focusing on keywords, word count, title tags, and SEO “hacks”, follow this process to write content that’s certain to generate and increase organic traffic the right way:
Match Your Keywords to User Intent
Just because a keyword has search volume doesn’t mean it’s worth targeting on your site.
You should only create content around a keyword that’s truly relevant to your audience. Otherwise, you’ll never entice those readers to subscribe, buy your products, or hire you.
Instead, find keywords and map them to what you think users are looking for when they Google that term.
Understand what the Users are looking for
For example, the keyword “thailand travel guide” could mean they are looking to hire a guide, or read how-to guide about traveling in Thailand.
Similarly, the keyword “best leather boots for women” could indicate that they are looking to buy boots online, or they are looking for an article that compares the best leather boot brands.
How do you know that the user’s intent is? Do a Google search for that keyword and see what comes up.
If the results for “Thailand travel guide” are mostly how-to guides, then it’s probably fair to say that you should write a how-to guide, not publish a page about travel guide services.
If the results for “best leather boots for women” are product pages, and you don’t sell boots, then it may be a waste of time to publish that “10 Best Leather Boots for Women” article.
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Avoid Creating Content Users Don’t Want to Read
By mapping user intent to your keywords, you can save yourself a ton of time because you won’t be creating content users aren’t actually searching for.
At the same time, you can determine what type of content you *should* create if you know you want to target that particular keyword.
2. Run a Competitor Comparison
Say you’ve identified the keyword you want to target and now know what type of content you need to create. Instead of hopping into writing, you should run a competitor analysis of what’s already ranking to determine whether you can, in fact, bring more value to the table.
You may discover that what’s ranking for your chosen keyword is already top-notch content. If you can’t find a way to one-up this content, it will be a struggle to outrank them (sorry).
But if after looking at this content you can see gaps in the information, note that the content isn’t very thorough, or even think you have some awesome photos to bring to the table, then you have a real opportunity to create content that outranks your competitors.
Provide 2X More Value
As a general rule, you want to provide content that’s 2x better than what’s already ranking. This doesn’t always mean making it longer.
Create a list of ways that you can make your content better than what’s already in the search results, like:
- Adding high-quality photos
- Adding a video to your post
- Filling in gaps in information
- Adding an FAQ section at the end
- Organizing your content with numbered lists or bullet points
- Including a helpful infographic
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Additionally, you may notice that the existing content isn’t particularly SEO-friendly (despite the fact that it’s already ranking).
In which case, you can potentially rise above these articles by adding more H2 headings to your post, adding your focus keyword in the meta description, including relevant internal and external links, and optimizing your image sizes and alt text.
Again, the goal here is to make your content wayyy better than what’s already ranking. Not just in terms of SEO, but in what will provide the best value to your readers.
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3. Track, Tweak, and Improve Over Time
Believe it or not, SEO content isn’t just a game of “publish and pray”. It’s actually an ongoing marketing strategy that requires tracking progress, fixing what isn’t working, and leveling up over time.
Make sure you have Google Analytics set up and verify that it’s effectively tracking your website traffic.
Familiarize yourself with this tool until you’re able to see how much traffic you are getting, where it’s coming from, and where users are going on your site. This will be your new BFF when it comes to optimizing your content.
Identify Top-Performing Content
After your content is published, it will be a bit of a waiting game to see when and how much traffic will roll in. Check your analytics weekly to assess progress.
Over time, you’ll be able to identify which pages and posts are performing best. Then, you can compare these pieces of content to each other to find commonalities.
For example, you may find that all of your top posts have at least 5 high-quality images, while your other posts do not. The verdict? You should probably make sure to include more images in future posts.
You can also use the Content Drilldown report in Google Analytics to see where users are dropping off. With this info, you can decide to up the value to users to stay on your site for longer or include more internal links to additional articles.
Always Test, Always Improve
It will take time to discover what works for your site. Your SEO content strategy, then, will be a mix of 1) creating content that’s better than what’s already ranking and 2) creating content that’s better than the content you have created in the past.
Many website owners see a slow period where it takes time for their site to gain momentum. Then, when Google catches on, they see their traffic skyrocket. At this point, it’s even more important to focus on Quality over Quantity.
Basically, you want to earn your website a reputation as being a great source of high-quality content – not just a lot of keyword-stuffed content. Then, Google will be even more inclined to rank your site because it comes to “trust” (algorithmically) that your site publishes *gold* every single time.
Think outside the box
Beyond “Best Practices”: Kick Your SEO Content Up a Notch
SEO content “best practices” and beginner guides will only get you so far. That’s because most of these guides focus on gaming the Google algorithm.
The real way to get lots of targeted traffic is to focus on what matters most: your readers.
It’s not Google who is going to be reading your content, subscribing to your email list, or buying your products. Google is just one part of the equation here. And, really, Google is happy when their users are happy.
You can kick your content (and traffic) up a notch by thinking outside the box. Focus less on how many keywords you use and more on how you can produce content that puts your competitors to shame.
Not only will Google be more inclined to rank your content, but users will be more inclined to click on it, engage with it, share it on social media, and so much more.
That’s how you create a site that’s a traffic-generating machine and positions your brand as a force to be reckoned with.