We already know that content marketing is a powerful tool to have in your marketing arsenal: When pitted against paid advertising options, it drives fantastic conversion rates.
But SEO marketing is only effective if people actually see what you create. With millions of mediocre blog posts floating around the internet, competition for eyeballs is at an intimidating high. So how do you get people to see and click on your work and turn blog posts into dollars?
The answer: SEO-optimized content.
In this article, we’ll run through the need-to-know components of creating SEO-friendly content. You can download our free Blog Post SEO Checklist here — which we’ll break down even more in this guide.
What is SEO?
There are numerous articles on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so for the sake of this guide let’s quickly go over why it’s important and what you absolutely need to know.
At its core, SEO is the process of strategically improving and enhancing content in order for search engines to categorize it as relevant and rank content on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The better your content is optimized, the higher it will rank when users search relevant keywords, and the more people will click and see your content. For example, when you search for “coconut oil” on Google you get the following information:
- Sponsored Shopping Ads for product
- Knowledge graph about Coconut oil that includes nutrition facts
- Organic result from healthline.com around the health benefits
- People always ask or “related questions) box for top questions being asked
The top results are sponsored shopping ads letting users know where they can buy coconut oil online. Depending on the term searched, sponsored ads may not appear or may be replaced with links to videos relevant to your search. The top 1-2 organic results will follow, with a “people also ask” or related questions box.
In this example, a knowledge graph containing nutritional facts is included in the search results since coconut oil is edible and used in a lot of cooking. When you scroll further down the page you get additional information such as:
- Google map and local listings letting users know where they may be able to purchase coconut oil nearby.
- Popular products – free listings that are pulled using Google’s merchant center.
- A mix of organic results including informational resources about coconut oil and product from sites like Amazon and Harvard.
- Refined by brand results as well as image results.
- Related searches such as “how to eat coconut oil” or “how to use coconut oil”.
It is important to know the kind of information that shows up on Google for different terms in order to know what to optimize on your site. In the example above, the only site that has product pages ranking on the first page in the organic listings is Amazon. In order to rank for a term like “coconut oil” a site should create content around the benefits of coconut oil and how to use it.
Google processes 1.2 trillion search queries each year, which equates to 3.5 billion searches per day, so the opportunity to generate free traffic to a site is worth leveraging.
Additionally, with organic social media reach continuing to decline, a strong SEO game can help you sustain and grow website traffic while continuously bringing new visitors to your site organically. That traffic can be consistent and reliable, unlike traffic from social media posts (which will result in short-term spikes of traffic, but will decline as soon as social media feeds fill up with newer links).
Why SEO and Content is Needed for eCommerce businesses
Content is an umbrella term for all of the communication and copy you put on your website and online channels, from product descriptions and landing page copy, to blog posts, photos and videos. Because search engines crawl the text you publish to your site, your content is the backbone of your website’s SEO.
In addition to structuring your eCommerce website for SEO and making sure your product descriptions are SEO-optimized, you should be writing regular blog posts. This will ensure your website is consistently being crawled by Google as you continue to grow the amount of content on your site.
The more helpful and specific the content, the better. Take this blog post published by the owner of River Pools and Spas. He wrote a helpful, thorough piece of content answering the most frequently asked questions he receives from customers. That article skyrocketed to the top of Google SERPs for keywords about fiberglass pools, leading to a huge influx of traffic to his site. Since that blog post was published, Sheridan has tracked $1.7 million in sales to that one article.
How to Always Create Seo-Friendly Content
Later on in this article, we’ll go through a checklist to make sure every piece of content you create has all of the elements necessary for good search engine optimization. But even if you tick every box, Google isn’t going to favor your content if the quality is poor. So as you sit down to write, make sure every piece of content you write is:
– Are you adding value by creating the content?
– Does the content serve as a good answer or resource for someone attempting to solve a problem?
– Is the advice easy to understand and follow?
– Are you positioned as a trustworthy and reputable source on the topic you’re writing about?
– Does the content explore all the necessary angles related to the topic?
– Does it provide in-depth help and actionable tips beyond surface-level generalizations?
– Does it fully answer the question(s) at hand?
3.Readable and shareable
– Is the content broken up in a logical and readable way?
– Is it easy to read and are you able to scan it quickly to catch the highlights?
– Does it have a clickable headline that grabs the reader?
– Is the subject matter shareable and something you’d pass on to others?
– Is the spelling, grammar, and punctuation all correct?
– Is the information in the article up-to-date and accurate?
– Are credible sources used, and are they correctly sourced/cited/linked?
2. Better than the competition
– Does the content you’re creating hold up against (or surpass) the content pieces that are currently ranking on page one of the SERPs?
SEO-Optimized Content Checklist
1. Leverage Keyword Research
Before you even type your first word of content, make sure you’ve done the keyword research to determine exactly what people are searching for — and then strategically build your content to rank for those terms. Keyword research can help you better understand what terminology customers use when searching for your products (or information relevant to your brand).
Pro Tip: Once you’ve picked keywords, do a Google search with those keywords to see what pages are currently ranking for those terms. Make sure they are relevant to your business and worth going after. Your job is to outrank the content that shows up, so you need to create content that is more relevant, better written, better designed, and in general, just better.
By strategically using keyword research, you can get your pages to rank for the keywords most relevant to your brand, increasing your organic traffic and the potential for sales!
To begin performing keyword research, check out our resource on how to use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner. Keyword.io or Ubersuggest are also good options. After you type in a topic or keyword relevant to you, the tool will suggest related keywords and show you how many people are searching for those terms each month. We recommend selecting 2-3 keywords to go after. For less competition, go after niche long-tail keywords (3+ words) with a search volume low enough for limited competition (around 1,000 monthly searches or less), but still make sure the search volume is high enough to warrant the effort (100+ monthly searches or more).
2. Optimize Page Titles
Your page title is the first thing people read when scanning SERPs, so make sure it is catchy, clickable, and under 55 characters so the headline doesn’t get cut off. You’ll also want to make sure the title includes the keyword(s) you want to rank for.
3. Use Keywords in the URL
Google also looks at the URL for each of your pages, so make sure they include the keyword you’re looking to capture. URLs should be short and sweet (fewer than 150 characters whenever possible) and similar to your headline when posting a blog.
4. Create an Optimized Content Structure
We already went over how crucial it is for your content to be helpful, thorough, readable, shareable, and correct. Without those critical elements, Google won’t prioritize your content even if it is chock-full of the keywords you want to rank for.
Once you’ve created some amazing content, make sure the keywords you’re targeting appear naturally(not forced in where they don’t belong) at least 3-5 times, depending on how long the content is. Do not get hung up on things like keyword density. Just make sure to include your terms on the pages at least a few times along with variations of the keyword as seen in the image below.
5. Optimize Heading and Subheading Tags
Subheadings (H2 and H3 tags) break up your text so it’s more organized, readable and scannable. Use subheadings to prevent your content from appearing as a “wall of text,” and also to keep your content well-structured and organized from start to finish.
6. Internal and External Links
Google will also look to see if you are linking to other pages on your site, as well as to pages on external sites. Linking internally helps build out your site structure, and linking externally shows Google that you are building a thorough resource by referencing other sources. Try to have a minimum of 2-4 links to other pages on your site, and hyperlink over relevant text (never hyperlink over non-descriptive terms like “click here”).
7. Meta Description
A meta-description is a snippet Google uses to determine the subject matter and content of your blog post. The snippet (typically up to 155 characters) summarizes your content, and it’s really important that it’s optimized for SEO in order for your page to secure a good ranking.
Make sure every meta description is snappy and engaging, containing the keywords you’re going after.
8. Optimize Your Images with Alt Text
When you upload an image to your site, Google can’t crawl the image itself. It can, however, crawl the information you provide about each image — so never leave those fields blank! Include the keyword in your image title, alt text, and description or caption.
Because site speed also affects SEO, make sure you compress images to reduce file size before you upload them.
9. Keep Your Content Up-to-Date and Remove Outdated Content
It can be easy to assume that in order to improve your SEO, you need to create new content. However, repurposing and freshening up old content is a fantastic way to publish effective content while also removing information that is outdated or irrelevant.
It can take some time for a new post to gain traction and authority on search engine result pages, so revising and updating old content is a great way to take advantage of the position that your old content currently holds while improving your site’s SEO content. Consider which pieces have been most beneficial for you, and make a plan for how you can update the information.
10. Create Supporting Content
Content by itself isn’t good enough anymore. You need to create supporting content or supplemental resources that strengthen the core piece of content. For example, If you look at the bottom of the Healthline post you will notice they also have content on other relevant topics pertaining to coconut oil.
You may have noticed these additional resources are also forms of questions that appear in the “Related Searches” section of Google:
How this Works In the Baby Industry
By following these simple guidelines and taking on the less-simple, but totally-doable task of creating helpful, engaging content, you’ll be well on your way to building a wealth of SEO-friendly content that drives consistent organic traffic for years to come.
Here is an example from my personal site, Orchid Baby Wear. I launched the site in December 2019. After putting money into starting the business, products, getting some good photos of the products and other expenses, I had little left to put money toward paid ads. In order to start generating revenue for the business, I knew SEO and content were good options after looking at the competition.
I built out a list of topics in a Google doc, did SERP analysis to understand how in-depth the content needed to be and then started writing. The topics needed to be in line with how new or expecting moms research, find and ultimately purchase products while pregnant or after they deliver.
I started with looking at what my product is used for and the benefits for parents and babies. It’s a nightgown, so I knew I needed to have blog post topics about babies sleeping. From experiences with friends and family, I had some ideas on what pain points parents experience with sleeping. Once I started doing those searches, Google has “People Also Ask” feature that gives additional questions and helped me build an outline of relevant topics to include in the blog post.
The outline made it really fast and easy to write the content that I needed on my blog posts. I used the questions as the heading tags and then answered the questions.
By following the process outlined above, Orchid has seen continued growth month over month in terms of keyword rankings and organic traffic to the site.