how to optimize for search intent

How to Optimize for Search Intent and Make Sure the Right Readers Find You

Did you know there are nearly 6 billion – a whopping 5.8 billion Google searches – every day? That’s 70,000 searches per second, or two trillion per year. (This number doubled over the lockdown, originally at 3.5B at the beginning of 2020.)

We rely on Google for the answers to almost every question we have, whether it’s a word searched out of mere curiosity or in consultation before making a big life decision.

Google gets it. With several core updates occurring each year, plus hundreds of tiny ones, it’s constantly tweaking its algorithms to provide more authoritative, relevant, helpful content to readers.

Over the past several years, Google’s updates have sought to refine the way its algorithms understand what we mean when we type queries into its search box. In 2020, optimizing your content for search intent is the best way to stay relevant and at the top of the SERPs.

Here’s what that means, plus my best pro-tip on how to optimize for search intent. Let’s go!

Did you know? Our content writing team adheres to Google’s search intent algorithm rules, and we even conduct SEO and content strategy research to find the perfect keywords to write your content around. Go Content Shopping.

In 2020, optimizing your content for search intent is the best way to stay relevant and at the top of the SERPs. 🏆 Here’s what that means, plus @JuliaEMcCoy's best pro-tips on how to do it, now on the Write Blog. Click To Tweet

how to optimize for search intent

How to Optimize for User Intent and SEO

Once upon a time, it used to be super easy to figure out what keywords you needed to shove into a webpage to get it to the top of Google. And to nobody’s surprise, that’s exactly what people did.

Remember the era of spam content that flooded every search query, sending you leapfrogging down the results list to find something readable?

Yeah, Google wasn’t impressed, either.

The changes they made to the search algorithms forever redefined the way we write and publish content. To get in Google’s good graces and rank highly, your content must now be expert-level, authoritative, and trustworthy. Google’s evaluator guidelines call this E-A-Ting, and they expect content creators to serve up something good!

However, E-A-Ting is only part of the story. If we look at Google’s mission statement, the first thing mentioned isn’t stunning, well-researched content from high-quality domains, but something else entirely. Google, first and foremost, wants to:

relevant and reliable information

Users want to E-A-T only what’s relevant to them. Source: Google.

Well, that’s interesting. Let’s break down what that means.

What Is Relevance According to Google?

If you’ve ever written and published an amazing article full of high-quality citations and unique, witty tips only to watch it coast along smoothly at position number 6 for the chosen keyword, you know the frustration that Google’s algorithms can inspire.

Seriously, you did everything right. So, what gives? 🤷🏽‍♂️

Here’s where you went wrong. Google wants to make sure that users get served only the most expertly written, authoritative, trustworthy content but the search engine isn’t optimizing its algorithms for quality.

It’s optimizing them for user experience.

That means it only wants what users are actually looking for to rank in the top results for a query. We refer to that as search intent, or “what the user meant when they typed that question into the search bar.”

As it turns out, user intent in SEO is huge. For example, if we search for a guide to eating kimchi, we get results that look like this:

kimchi google results

If we’re looking for a guide to eating kimchi, we probably want to know how to eat it, not necessarily recipes for preparing or cooking with it. Source: Google.

It seems to follow a pattern, doesn’t it? 🕵️

If we scroll through the results, however, we start to see articles on other topics that technically rank for the keyword:

  • How to pair different types of kimchi with various dishes
  • The benefits of eating kimchi at different times of the day
  • A schedule for eating kimchi to cure your digestive problems
  • How to identify kimchi that’s spoiled

These are all ostensibly “guides to eating kimchi” yet they appear on the second, third, even fourth pages of Google. Why?

They don’t contain the information that people are looking for when they query Google with those keywords.

Google can tell via metrics when a page isn’t relevant to a user’s query. Specifically, they pay attention to whether people seem to be clicking on a link, scanning its contents, then hitting the back button and clicking on the next link. Backlinko refers to that as “pogo-sticking” and if Google catches that happening a lot, it’ll drop the page’s SERP.

What can we take away from all of this?

how to optimize for search intent

It’s possible to have expertly written, authoritative, and trustworthy content that’s irrelevant to the person searching the keywords for which you optimized. 🚫 In 2020, that’s almost as bad as junk content. Click To Tweet

4 Types of Search Intent

In general, people search on Google for four different reasons. There’s a lot already written on search intent around the web, so I’ll summarize.

  1. The most basic type of Google search involves queries for more information about a topic. According to research by Penn State, about 80 percent of all Google searches fall under this category.
  2. Informational searches become commercial searches when people have enough information on the solution they’re seeking, and now wish to compare solutions that already exist. It’s the difference between “what is kimchi” and “best kimchi brands.”
  3. Once someone’s ready to buy something, they’ll use transactional searches. That “best kimchi brands” search will become “buy Amazing Kimchi Brand online.”
  4. People do navigational searches when they want to find something on a specific site. So… “Express Writers login” would reflect a navigational search intent, as would “return policy”

A solid content strategy addresses all four types of search intentions in your content and your web pages. We’ll look more closely at how to do that next.

how to optimize for search intent

3 Ways to Optimize for Search Engine With What You Already Have

Ready to roll up those sleeves and flex that relevant expertise in the search engine? 💪🏾

Optimizing for search intent is important because it helps ensure your content – and thus your brand – get in front of readers who are actually looking for what you have to offer.

Remember, Google wants to serve up the best possible user experience. It’s your job to make sure that your content helps Google do that. To get started, I recommend that you:

1. Conduct a Content Performance Audit

Take a good look at the SERPs of what you’ve already got up and check if there’s room for improvement. You may need to revisit the search intent if a piece of content:

  • Is of high quality but seems to exhibit middling performance in the SERPs.
  • Has no obvious search intent that you can identify when you read it.
  • Isn’t ranking well at all.
  • Used to rank really well but suddenly dropped.
  • Bounces a lot in its rank.

2. Apply the Bucket Topic Strategy to Analyze Your Content

In my Practical Content Strategy Course, I talk a lot about the Three Bucket topic strategy. In essence, your content should ideally do one of three things: improve your SERPs, foster sales and connections, or grow your brand. I mention that if the piece of content doesn’t meet one of those three goals, it’s spurious to your content strategy efforts.

If you’re struggling with identifying the search intent of a piece, the Three Bucket topic strategy can help. To use it:

  1. First, identify into which of the three buckets the piece of content should go. What is the overall purpose the content serves?
  2. Then, identify what specific business or reader needs the piece of content addresses. Consider whether the content does something like provide solutions for pain points your readers have, or whether it convinces them why your product is superior to the competition.
  3. Finally, analyze whether the keywords you’re trying to rank for align with the content’s purpose and the needs it addresses. For example, if you have a blog article that’s ranking for “local diet guide for vegetarians during winter” yet your content is all about why readers should buy the vegetarian supplement you sell, your SERPs will suffer due to relevance.

3. Investigate Opportunities for Multimedia

Got a great article? Augment it with a great infographic or a video.

Visuals are one of the biggest traffic drivers in 2020. Some 87 percent of marketers report that video and visuals boost traffic. At least 80 percent of them report seeing a spike in sales, too.

Images and video also give you an opportunity to get more bang for your buck with SEO. They’re known to increase backlinks (by as much as 178 percent according to Venngage). They also give you a chance to get more keywords on the page with alt tags.

Get the SEO content writer skills cheat sheet!

Tips for Creating (or Recreating) Ultra-Relevant Content to Please Search Intent

So, you’ve found content to optimize. Great! Whether you’re revamping current content or you’re creating all new content, make sure you’re working with search intent in mind. Your SERPs will thank you for it. Here are five pro-tips I’ve collected over the years that work.

But before we start, I want to give a BIG shoutout to Britney Muller at Moz, whose amazing search intent guide is absolutely worth reading.

1. Identify Your Search Intent Before You Start

Nail your search intent classification first. Sometimes, your keywords will make it obvious what the search intent will be. For example, “what is a lepatata” is clearly an informational search.

However, sometimes you may have long tail keywords where the search intent isn’t clear, like… “SEO keyword research tools 2020.” Is that informational or commercial? Maybe both?

You should optimize for one intent. But if you find yourself unsure of which direction to go…

2. Study What’s Ranking and Why

Some sites may have had quite a scare with Google BERT last year, a major update that attempted to make certain search results much more relevant to searchers. Sites that had previously benefited from large amounts of relatively irrelevant traffic suddenly found their traffic dropping off … until they fixed things.

While you’re doing your keyword research, pay attention to what type of content is ranking. For example, if “royalty-free stock photo” is your keyword, then results may look like this…

google results royalty free stock photo

Source: Google

… Your article on what a royalty-free stock photo is probably won’t rank very well. The prevailing search intent is to find stock photos, not learn about them.

3. Put the Most Important Information First

Don’t you hate it when you land on a page and the information that you’re looking for is buried some three-fourths through the article? Me too.

When you go to structure your content, make the user experience an easy one by putting the most important information first. This often takes the form of:

  • A direct answer to the reader’s search query or question. (Informational.)
  • The information for the specific action they wanted to perform. (Navigational.)
  • A clear indicator of the next steps in acquiring a solution. (Transactional.)
  • How the solution solves the reader’s problems. (Commercial.)

(PS – you have full permission to throw out all those icky essay writing habits you learned in school. Content writing is a totally different (and way more fun) beast! Break down those stale conventions and craft intoxicating content. My one-week intensive Pro Writing Class shows you how. Get in here.)

4. Make Your Content Scannable

HubSpot once found that 73 percent of all people admitted to skimming a blog’s contents. (But I know you’re reading every word of this. 😁)

People are going to do it, so you might as well make it easy for them. Make your content easy on the eyes by:

  • Using 14 pt font or larger
  • Applying headers and sub-headers generously – using the keywords in them!
  • Deploying bullet lists
  • Leveraging the power of images
  • Breaking up paragraphs

how to optimize content for search intent

5. Always have a CTA

Round out your helpful, informative content by making it easy for readers to take the next step. Whether it’s to download an ebook, to schedule a consultation, or to sign up for a newsletter, capitalize on the attention you’ve captured by calling them to action.

Choose Expert Writers to Craft the Content Your Audience Craves

Over the past decade, Google has steadily refined its ability to deliver helpful, authoritative content that its users are actually looking for – and that’s great news for those of us putting out high-quality content every week!

However, with the search engine increasingly favoring sites that help it deliver an awesome user experience, it’s becoming more important than ever to optimize for search intent. Now you know how to do so – go forth and answer the questions your readers are really asking. Happy ranking!

Content comes in many different types – make sure you’re getting the one that works for your strategy and search intent! Check out our Content Shop now to discover your next piece of killer content.

how to optimize your content for search intent

Understanding Keyword Traffic Volume: 10 Ideal Clients or 10,000 Visitors Who Never Buy?

Most marketers are obsessed with keyword traffic volume (also called keyword search volume).

The higher the better. Or, at least, that’s the common M.O. you’ll encounter.

People think higher traffic volume = more people searching for the keyword = more traffic coming to their pages optimized and ranking for that keyword.

But, what if bigger, higher, and more aren’t what you should be looking for in keyword traffic volume? ❗❓

What if high traffic volume doesn’t mean what you think it does? What if it’s just a vanity metric?!

If at this point you’re thinking “Julia has lost her mind!” – stay with me.

I’m here to make a case for those keywords on the low end of traffic volume. I’ll also dive into what keyword traffic volume means, how to find GREAT keywords for your niche and audience, and recommend some amazing tools that will help get the job done.

Still skeptical about how low traffic volume can be desirable for keywords? Let me explain…

Understanding keyword traffic volume

What Is Keyword Traffic Volume? What Does It Mean?

Keyword traffic volume, or keyword search volume, is a metric that reports the average number of people entering a given keyword into a search engine over a specific period.

For example, if you look up the keyword “SEO content writing” in a tool like SEMrush, you’ll see immediately the keyword traffic volume is 1K.

keyword traffic volume for seo content writing

Note the database is set to the United States – this means, on average, 1,000 people in the U.S. searched this keyword on Google in one month (in this case, February 2020).

Why does this information matter? Because targeting a keyword with X search volume means you have the potential to draw X number of people to a page optimized for that keyword.

Let’s say you optimize and publish a comprehensive blog targeting the keyword “SEO content writing.” If you rank in the top 5 results, there’s a good chance of earning a click from at least a few of those 1K searchers typing that keyword into Google.

Now that you understand what keyword traffic volume means, let’s look at the difference between two keywords, one with high traffic volume and one with low traffic volume.

What if high keyword traffic volume is just a vanity metric?! If you’re currently thinking '@JuliaEMcCoy has lost her mind!' – just one minute. She's here to make a case for those keywords on the low end of traffic volume. 🤯 Click To Tweet

We’ll also discuss why high traffic volume is often just a vanity metric. A lot of the time, targeting high volume keywords will do nothing for your ROI or bottom-line. 🤯

High keyword traffic volume is often a vanity metric

#Truthbomb - high keyword traffic volume is often just a vanity metric. 💣 A lot of the time, targeting high volume keywords will do nothing for your ROI or bottom-line. Learn more here 👉 Click To Tweet

1. High vs. Low Keyword Traffic Volume: How They Map to Search Intent (and Why It Matters)

There’s a reason why keywords with exploding search volume are so popular for SEO.

Example: “SEO”. This keyword has a traffic volume of 135K.

keyword traffic volume for seo

Why? It’s a general, informational type of search. That means the people looking up that keyword have little-to-zero buying intent. Instead, they just need information – and in some cases, the SERP itself has enough information to satisfy that need.

To drive my point home, let’s look at the click data for this keyword on Ahrefs:

Ahrefs click data for seo

Sure, people search this keyword at least 135,000 times in one month. BUT, only 34% of those searches ended in a person clicking on one of the results.

Why might this be true?

Guess #1: People looking up “SEO” just need a simple definition. They might not know what the acronym stands for. Luckily, Google pulled a definition from Wikipedia and featured it on the SERP in a Knowledge Panel.

keyword appears in Google in a knowledge panel

Boom. There’s the answer. No clicking required.

Guess #2: There are multiple guides on “what is SEO” on the SERP for this keyword (see below). When people DO click, they’re clicking on a few results to find the best answer to that question.

SERP for seo

Now, let’s look at a narrower keyword with lower traffic volume: “local SEO for small business”. According to SEMrush, it has a traffic volume of 210.

keyword traffic volume for local seo for small business

This keyword is long-tail, which means it has more than 3 words in a phrase. It’s also narrower in scope because it gets more specific: not just SEO but local SEO – not for everyone, but for a small business.

“Local SEO for small business” is so low-competition, there isn’t enough data to populate the click trends in Ahrefs:

click data for keyword in Ahrefs

However, we can see that the top result for this keyword is getting 23 visitors/month from this SERP.

keyword traffic data

Those 23 visitors have higher buying intent (or commercial intent) behind their search. Generally, the more specific the search term, the higher the buyer intent and interest. Those people could turn into a sale.

In contrast, most of the 135-165K searching “SEO” have very low buying intent, if any at all.

Which keyword makes more sense to target to you – especially if you’re a small brand focused on growth?

2. Why High Search Volume Keywords Aren’t Necessarily Better

High volume keywords aren’t always better for targeting.

Even if you could rank for a broad keyword with high volume like “SEO”, and even if a majority of that traffic filtered to your page, that would still mean 100,000 useless visitors with no real interest in your brand or intent to buy. They would come and go with nary a profitable action in sight.

Now, consider this: Wouldn’t it make MORE sense to target a narrower keyword with far less traffic volume, but with real buying intent behind it? It’s the difference between 100,000 uninterested visitors vs. 10 clients ready to whip out their wallets.

Target narrower keywords with less keyword traffic volume

And, yes, I’m saying you should target keywords with a traffic volume of 10. If those keywords are specific enough, only people with a distinct interest in what you offer with intent to buy will be searching for them.

Yes, she went there - @JuliaEMcCoy says you SHOULD go after keywords with a traffic volume of 10. ‼ If those keywords are specific enough, only people with big interest in what you offer (with intent to BUY) will be searching them. Click To Tweet

the buying cycle and keyword search intent

Source: SlideShare

Advice for New Websites on Keywords and Traffic Volume

For new sites especially, this goes double. New sites have NO authority to compete with the big guns. They have no backlinks and no blogging history. To rank AT ALL, a new site must, MUST go after low competition keywords with low traffic volume.

[email protected] says: To rank AT ALL, a new site must, MUST go after low competition keywords with low traffic volume. ⬇ Click To Tweet

However, once you start building authority, the story changes slightly. Generally, I recommend not going after keywords with heavier competition and higher traffic volume until month 12 or later. You need at least one year under your belt of publishing consistent, high-quality content. Then, once you have higher trust flow and better domain authority (DA), you can start competing.

Want to nail those big keywords? You need the gravitas, first. Time to start building up your content! ⌚

How to Find Keywords That Work for Your Content (How We Do It at EW)

Before you head straight to a keyword search volume checker to find good keywords, stop. You’re getting ahead of yourself.

First, you need to look a bit broader to find relevant terms that speak to both your brand and your audience. Then you can vet them in terms of traffic volume and difficulty.

Here’s how to find keywords with the method I use for my content.

1. Start with Topic Circles

Finding good keywords starts with finding good topics for your content. When your topics are relevant to your niche and your audience, your keywords will be, too.

For our content strategy at Express Writers, I use a concept called Topic Circles to make this easy to understand. It looks like a Venn Diagram – one circle represents what your audience is looking for, content-wise, and one circle represents your business niche. Where they overlap is the sweet spot for content, topics, and keywords. I teach how to find yours (or your client’s), and build an entire content strategy around it, in The Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

topic circles define topic areas

The collision of your business niche and your audience's search/content needs is your sweet spot for topics, keywords, and content. 🎯 Click To Tweet

Great example: Buzzsprout is a company with tools for hosting, promoting, and tracking podcasts. At the same time, one of their audience pain points is figuring out how to start a podcast.

As such, one of their content topics/keywords is “How to Start a Podcast”:

buzzsprout how to start a podcast blog

This keyword and topic fits in their niche but also appeals to their target audience. Check and check! ✅

2. Look for Niche Keywords Everywhere (Long-tail, Low Volume, Low Competition)

Once you choose relevant topics, you need to look for those niche keywords everywhere. That means:

  • Long-tail (three-word phrases or longer)
  • Low volume (under 1,000 searches/month is a great benchmark)
  • Low competition (as measured with the Keyword Difficulty metric, or KD, in various tools – usually, we look for keywords rated at 40 and below)

Where these three things overlap is yet another sweet spot to hone in on.

keyword sweet spot

For us at EW, focusing on niche keywords has been KEY. It’s even worked well enough to build up 5 brands from scratch and earn 100,000 visitors/month.

Not bad, right?

3 Recommended Keyword Tools for Analyzing Search/Traffic Volume

Now that you know what niche keywords look like in theory, it’s time to examine them in practice.

Let’s look at the long-tail keyword we talked about earlier, “local SEO for small business”, in three of my favorite keyword research tools: SEMrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs.

1. SEMrush

SEMrush is a comprehensive tool for not only keyword research, but also rank tracking, topic research, competitive analysis, and more.

Here’s what our keyword looks like when we plug it into the search bar in SEMrush. The metrics we care about are highlighted below, with one caveat:

keyword overview - local seo for small business

…What’s that “Competition” metric about? That’s not the same as Keyword Difficulty… Right?


Competition” actually refers to “Competitive Density”, NOT Keyword Difficulty.

Competitive Density is a metric that measures paid competition in the SERP for that keyword (think PPC – SEMrush explains in detail in this guide). In other words, how much will you have to spend to rank in the paid search results? The closer to 1.00 you get, the harder it will be.

Keyword Difficulty, on the other hand, is a metric that refers to your chances of organically ranking with SEO alone. For this metric, keywords are rated on a scale of 1-100. The closer to 100 you get, the harder it is to rank organically for that keyword.

To find this metric in SEMrush, we need to do some extra clicking. Go to the left menu and click the arrow next to Keyword Analytics, then go down to Keyword Difficulty:

keyword difficulty in semrush

Ah, there’s the metric we’re looking for.

keyword difficulty metric in semrush

As you can see, our long-tail keyword “local SEO for small business” has a KD of 58.66, according to SEMrush data.

keyword difficulty

This is a little higher than what we’ll see in other tools. Keep reading to see what I mean.

2. KWFinder

Perhaps the most user-friendly keyword tool EVER, KWFinder is great if you’re new to this type of research. The data pops and is easy to read and analyze.

Here’s our keyword in KWFinder with the data we need highlighted:

keyword traffic volume in KWFinder

The above screenshot additionally makes it clear why we need to consult more than one keyword tool when digging into a keyword. The data is slightly different.

That’s expected, though. No one keyword tool should be your holy grail, because no tool is 100% accurate.

Instead, you should spread out your research and weigh the numbers you see in each tool. Notice trends, see how close the numbers are, and THEN decide if the keyword is worth going after.

3. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs is seamless and easy to use, making it a popular keyword tool choice. It also offers valuable data on clicks in the SERPs you won’t find elsewhere.

Here’s our keyword after we search it in Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer. Once again, I’ve highlighted the data we care about most.

keyword traffic volume and difficulty in Ahrefs

Right off the bat, the information I’m looking for is front-and-center. Immediately, I can see this is a keyword opportunity for any business in the niche (super-low difficulty, and a low traffic volume that will STILL bring a good amount of extremely qualified leads your way).

When I weigh this information against the data we found in SEMrush and KWFinder, this keyword still looks good-to-go. The traffic volume ranges from 150-220 searches/month, and the KD ranges from 12 on the low end to 58-59 on the high end. Averaged out, the KD is 32. Still possible!

I also teach every step in SEO writing in a one-week course. Check it out here: The Expert SEO Content Writer. Get a free sneak peek at the lesson content in the ebook below!

seo cheat sheet awesome cta

Extra Credit: Why Not Use Google Keyword Planner/Google Ads?

You may have noticed, in ALL the blogs I have ever written about keywords, I never recommend Google Keyword Planner as a tool.

There’s a good reason for that.

Google Keyword Planner data is WILDLY inaccurate. This is not the best free keyword research tool – it’s the worst.

The *worst* keyword research tool? Google Keyword Planner. Its data is WILDLY inaccurate due to the focus on averages and ranges. 🚫 Click To Tweet

1. The numbers are heavily rounded. What you see reported in GKP are not exact numbers, but rather ranges.

For example, when I search for keyword data, I’m not given a precise number for search volume. Instead, GKP tells me the “Avg. monthly searches” fall between 100 – 1,000.

average monthly keyword traffic volume GKP

This isn’t helpful at all. There’s a HUGE difference between 100 and 1,000 monthly searches (10x!!) for a keyword, especially when you’re a small business. Not helpful, Google. 🤷‍♀️

2. The information isn’t precise at all. GKP does the same thing for their “Competition” metric as for search volume. We don’t get a precise rating or percentage – instead, we get a range.

According to Google, the keyword I searched has “low” competition. Low compared to what??

There are plenty of other reasons not to use this tool – see this Moz article, Google Keyword Planner’s Dirty Secrets, to see what I mean. (It was published in 2015, but it’s still relevant!)

just no.

Now That You Understand Keyword Traffic Volume, Do Something About It

Keyword traffic volume is a tricky metric. High volume isn’t necessarily better, and low volume isn’t necessarily bad.

In actuality, some long-tail keywords with low volume could be AMAZING for bringing qualified leads to your content and website.

After all, what’s better: 100,000 visitors who don’t care and never buy…

Or 10 visitors who immediately become clients??!

You do the math. 💡

Create epic content today that pulls in your audience. It’s never too late!

Don’t have the time (and really, should the business owner be writing the content)? Hire my team to produce this for you. This is our day job for nine years… over 19,500 projects completed to date successfully. We even do the SEO content strategy for our clients, too. Talk to us today about finding SEO keywords and creating content that pulls in your ideal audience.

Get great content targeting the right keywords


what to do if your content doesnt rank in Google

What to Do if My Content Doesn’t Rank: 13 Reasons Your Site Is Dead in the Rankings, and How to Fix It 

Today on the Write Blog, we’re answering this question:

Why isn’t my content ranking?

For today’s topic, I’ve featured the original insights and stories of three experts in SEO, marketing, and web development.

Currently, the ROA on ads is as bad as .6x (average!), and ad accounts are being closed down or locked up. Organic SEO content rankings are of massive value to the smart marketer of today.

Featured in today’s blog is Jessica Campos, J.D., a local influencer here in Austin that I’ve mentored. She shared her tremendous success story with website content.

I also interviewed Jeremy Knauff​ of Spartan Media,​ and Jill Caren of 2DogsMedia​ on what they see that stops content from ranking.

This blog is full of PRACTICAL advice you won’t find really anywhere online. There’s even a FREE downloadable checklist.

We put so much time into this topic because I see this question in our sales chat and email more times than I can count:

…What to do if my content doesn’t rank? 😵

You’ve already spent hours typing away at your keyboard. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your words. Or maybe you’ve even hired the perfect content team.

What’s more, you’ve recently updated your editorial calendar. You’ve done topic research. You know you’ve done everything right.

So, why isn’t your content ranking?

Why are you seeing your piece on page five of Google, with a 0% success rate?

If this is you, make sure to first give yourself a pat on the back. That’s it: congratulate yourself!

Because you’re already halfway to your goal: content that drives a ton of traffic and converts like crazy. You’ve done things right so far. And you’ve come to this blog, where I’ll show you what you’re still doing wrong.

Ready to turn things around for your own content?

Let’s begin!

Get the free checklist-style version of today’s blog here.

In this post:

What to Do if My Content Doesn’t Rank? 13 Issues that Prevent Content from Ranking (And How to Fix Them)

A Story of Google Ranking Success: A Content Agency Built on Awesome Content

1. Google’s Web Crawlers Are Confused about Duplicate Content

2. You’re Trying to Rank for the Wrong Keywords

3. You Don’t Give Visitors a Clear Site Map

4. You Don’t Use Links in Your Content

5. Your Content Doesn’t Have any Backlinks

6. Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

7. You’re Competing against Huge Brands

8. You Skipped Registering on Google My Business

9. You’re not Promoting Your Content

10. Your Site Is Too Slow

11. Your Site Is Too New

12. You’re Not Beating the Crap Out of Your Competitors

13. You Didn’t Submit a Site Map AND Add Schema Markup

Why Isn’t My Website Ranking? Bonus Tips from Real-Life Web Developer & SEOs

Why Am I Not Ranking in Google? A 3x Case Study: How Jessica Campos at Marketing for Greatness Turned Her Rankings Around

How to Turn Things Around if Your Content Doesn’t Rank on Google

guide what to do if your content doesnt rank table of contents

You’re halfway to your goal: You've created great content primed to drive traffic and convert. So why aren't you ranking yet?! Let @JuliaEMcCoy show you what you’re still doing wrong in this ultra-helpful guide. 🔥 Click To Tweet

A Story of Google Ranking Success: A Content Agency Built on Awesome Content

In 2011, I started my content agency Express Writers.

I didn’t have a ton of capital, years of business experience, and I had little to ZERO knowledge on how to rank on Google.

In fact, my situation back then was desperate.

I was failing nursing school, and dropping out of college.

On top of that, I had no parental support. I grew up inside of a cult (yes — think Handmaid’s Tale-style).

I had no safety net, nowhere to go, no support system.

All I did have:

  • $75 in my pocket
  • A passion for writing
  • A determination to learn and grow

(If these are all you have right now, too, be inspired—that’s all you need to start.)

I started Express Writers from scratch. No thousand-dollar courses. No big names. No expensive tools.

Did we make it? You bet! J Fast forward nine years later, and we’ve earned over $4 million in sales.

In fact, Express Writers is growing every single year.

Exciting stat: traffic to our site literally doubled this year!

According to Google Analytics, we have over 106,000 unique site visitors per month.

Express Writers analytics

Our domain authority score is at 54. We’ve worked hard to earn this benchmark. Sites with a score of 50 and above are considered high authority.

EW domain authority score

On Alexa, our site ranks 25,724 in global engagements. This is amazing, considering there are now 1,744,517,326 websites online today!

EW Alexa rank

If we paid for the kind of traffic we get, we’d spend over $200,000 per month.

EW traffic cost

But the thing is, we don’t pay a single cent for the traffic we’re getting.

We don’t have a backlink campaign.

We’ve never participated in the trendy growth hacking strategies that explode and disappear every year.

So, how did we do it? How did we go from a tiny $75 startup to a successful agency worth over $4 million? How did we get from nothing to ranking for 18,600 keywords on Google?

The secret behind it all boils down to three words: consistent quality content.

  • Consistent content. This is a rule we stuck to from the very beginning. We committed to posting at least one piece of content every single week. If you want your site to take off, you’ll have to do the same.
  • Quality content. At the start, there were times when we clicked “publish” just to get a blog out there. But once we started incorporating quality (around 2016), our agency REALLY took off. Read the story of my content strategy framework.
  • A commitment at all times to value first, over selling. We don’t just “sell” to our customers. In fact, we don’t hire a single commission salesperson! Instead, we treat our inbound leads with respect, and have a simple core commitment inside of our team of No Client Left Behind. Internally, we match amazing customer service and high-quality deliverables to our exterior powerful presence of content marketing. This is critical. You cannot have great content, great marketing, without great client support and services.
[email protected] says: You cannot have great content, great marketing, without great client support and services. 🤝♥ Click To Tweet

So, that’s it, folks. Content works to build a strong brand.

With AMAZING content published CONSISTENTLY over time, your success can be similar to ours.

Want great content, but find yourself too busy to produce it consistently? Our expert team at Express Writers can help you.

…But what if your AWESOME, consistent content isn’t ranking as well as it should?

Unfortunately, ranking well on Google isn’t only about top-notch content optimized with the right keywords.

If you’re producing the BEST content on the regular but still seeing no traction, something else might be off.

Here are 13 things that could be unintentionally keeping your Google rankings low. Want this as a guide to read for later? Download here.

1. Google’s Web Crawlers Are Confused about Duplicate Content

Scary fact: A whopping 29% of the web is duplicate content!

Let’s get this straight. Having duplicate content on the web doesn’t mean you intentionally copied content to manipulate your Google ranking.

Google on duplicate content


It can happen because your site is available in both HTTPS and HTTP. Or maybe you’re confusing search engines with dynamic URL parameters.

Either way, duplicate content is bad for you.

Here’s why:

Imagine Google’s spiders setting out to crawl the web. When they do, they find four pages with the same or similar content.

Of course, Google won’t rank all four pages. It’ll rank only one version. And if you don’t inform Google which is the best option, it can rank the wrong one.

Your content might not rank with duplicate content


When this happens, the visibility of each of your pages is affected.

How to fix it: First, find out if your site has duplicate content by using the Duplicate Content Checker. Then, do one of the following:

  • Redirect Google’s robots to your original content page by setting up a 301 redirect.
  • Use a good WordPress plugin like Canonical SEO Content Syndication.
  • Add the “rel=canonical” element to the content you want Google to rank. When you set a web page as canonical, Google knows it’s the one you want to have ranked.

2. You’re Trying to Rank for the Wrong Keywords

Keywords help Google match content with questions asked on its search engine.

This means if you’re not clear on what questions your keywords are answering, you’ll never get close to page one of Google’s SERPs.

How to fix it: Do careful keyword research to find relevant long-tail, low-competition keywords with which to optimize your content.

3. You Don’t Give Visitors a Clear Site Map

You only have a few seconds to impress visitors who land on your website.

In these few seconds, a ton of things can happen. Your visitors might want to view your products but are unable to find the menu. Or they might come across confusing jargon and end up frustrated.

When this happens, they won’t stick around to try to figure out your site. They’ll quickly leave, making your bounce rate rise. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your chances of ranking well on Google.

How to fix it: Tell visitors what to do with a clear navigation menu. Also, show your brand’s USP (unique selling point) above the fold (the part of your website people see before scrolling down). Tell visitors who you are the instant they land on your site.

Like this.

Content not ranking? Tell visitors who you are immediately


4. You Don’t Use Links in Your Content

Links tell Google what your content is all about.

Let’s say you specialize in DIY gardens. To promote your brand, you create a website and write awesome blog content.

In your content, you link to an expert’s site on DIY gardens. When you do this, Google makes the connection between your site and theirs.

The result? Google now has a clearer idea of what your site is about.

On the other hand, if your content has no links, Google will have a hard time finding it on the web.

How to come up with great links:

  • Link to a high-authority website in your niche. Make sure the site ranks less than 100,000 on Alexa’s Website Traffic and Analysis
  • Create internal links to other pages on your own site. This shows Google which pages are important and helps it understand the structure of your site.
You need to include links in your content to rank in Google. 🔗 How? 2 ways: 1) Link to high-authority sites. 2) Create internal links to other pages on your site to help Google determine structure/hierarchy. ✅ Click To Tweet

5. Your Content Doesn’t Have Any Backlinks

No matter how amazing your content is, not having backlinks can seriously hurt your Google rankings.

This is due to how backlinks work:

  • Backlinks lead visitors to your site from other sources, increasing traffic.
  • Backlinks show Google an influencer liked your content enough to link to it.

That said, backlinks are harder to get than internal and external links.

How to get backlinks: You could say getting a backlink boils down to luck, but there are two things you can do to increase your chances of getting one or more.

  • Contact influencers in your niche. Send out a friendly email or tweet, asking an influencer to look at (and possible link to) your content.
  • Guest blog on an influencer’s site. When you write a guest post, you get a profile where you can include a link back to your site.

6. Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

3.5 billion people across the world now own a smartphone.

smartphone users in billions


In fact, mobile usage has gone up by 222% in the last seven years.

This means when your audience views your website, there’s a huge chance they’ll be using a mobile device instead of a desktop computer.

And if your site isn’t optimized for mobile usage, your visitors will be confused, frustrated, and even annoyed. They’ll bounce, and Google will notice.

Also, Google will rank your site lower specifically because it isn’t mobile-friendly.

How to fix it: First, find out if your website is mobile friendly by using the Mobile-Friendly Test. If your site is not mobile-friendly, fixing this is as simple as picking a WordPress theme that supports website usability on mobile.

7. You’re Competing against Huge Brands

This is where things get hard.

Imagine you’re selling shoes, and you’re up against brands like Nike, Adidas, and Vans.

When you search for keywords like “shoes” or “shoes for sale,” you get the high-authority websites of big brands, plus eCommerce stores like Amazon.

Does it mean you should change your business, or quit trying to succeed with content marketing?

Of course not.

How to fix it: For starters, you should start working 10x harder on your content strategy.

Make sure your content stands out from your competitors’ in a unique, compelling way.

Also, try to rank for long-tail keywords. So, instead of “shoes” you can use “where to find the best black leather shoes for men.”

Competing against huge brands in the SERPs? Time to start targeting long-tail keywords. Think 'where to find the best black leather shoes' vs. 'shoes' 👍 Click To Tweet

8. You Skipped Registering on Google My Business

When you create an account on Google My Business, you show Google:

  • Your website information is updated.
  • You care about Google’s rankings.
  • You want to cooperate with Google’s system.

Registering on Google My Business is great because there are millions of searches done on Google My Business per month.

get on Google My Business to help your content rank


Remember, Google’s main goal is to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. And if your competitor’s business is registered on Google My Business and yours isn’t, you’re missing the chance to beat them in the SERPs.

How to fix it: The good news is it’s easy to register on Google My Business. All you need to do is provide your business address, fill in information about your business, verify your account, and you’re ready!

9. You’re Not Promoting Your Content

Content marketing isn’t only about creation. It’s about promotion, too.

In fact, content marketing should be 20% creation and 80% promotion.

Here are two ways that work excellently in content promotion.

1. Content Promotion through Social Media

Today, there are 3.8 billion people on social media. When you share your blogs on Facebook or LinkedIn, you get increased traffic which alerts Google.

Also, Google uses special signals to determine whether your business is active and updated on social media. If it is, Google prioritizes it in its SERPs.

2. Content Promotion through Email

You don’t have to sell anything when you send emails to your subscribers.

All you have to do is give them a teaser so they’ll click on a link to your content. This will get you increased traffic and higher conversions (since people in your email list are already interested in your brand).

Here’s an example of a teaser email crafted to bring in tons of traffic.

Bring in traffic with email

Source: Email from

10. Your Site Is Too Slow

How long can you expect a user to stay on your site before leaving?

Five minutes? Three minutes? One minute?

The answer is surprising: less than 15 seconds.

In 15 seconds, your visitor quickly judges your site to determine whether to stay or leave.

So, what happens when your site takes half a minute to load? That’s right. Your visitor vanishes without a second thought.

When a ton of people bounce from your site, Google notices and ranks sites with higher engagement above yours.

How to fix it: First, take a site speed test. If your site is too slow, consider using a WordPress plugin like WP Rocket.

Get content to rank by improving site speed


11. Your Site is Too New

Don’t expect to reach page one on Google’s SERPs if you’ve published your site one month ago.

As a rule of thumb, a site needs to gain “weight” and authority before Google ranks it.

How long should you wait?

Depending on how often you publish (and the quality of what you publish), you can expect to start ranking in 6-12 months.

Is your content not ranking? Consider the newness of your site. Depending on how often you publish (and the quality of your content), expect to start ranking in 6-12 months. 📆 Click To Tweet

12. You’re Not Beating the Crap Out of Your Competitors

I get it. Your content is amazing.

You’re using all the right keywords.

You have an editorial calendar planned for the next year.

But there’s a problem.

Your audience isn’t impressed.

There’s a ton of reasons you’re not impressing them:

  • You’re too salesy.
  • You’re not solving their problems.
  • You’re targeting the wrong search intent.

OR it’s simply because your content is inferior to your competitors’.

How to fix it: Type your focus keyword on Google. Then, study the top 10 results. What makes them good? Bad? What’s missing? Then, create content to beat the crap out of all the 10.

#factsfam - If your content isn't beating the crap out of Google's top 10 for your keyword, you won't rank. ❌ Time to level-up that inferior content. Check what else is bringing you down via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

13. You Didn’t Submit a Site Map and Add Schema Markup

Did you forget about this? UH OH! This has been known to completely stop sites from ranking at all. Anytime I launch a new site, this is what we do to boost immediate rankings from all the mega-content I put on my sites. 😉

Good news—it’s an easy fix. Schema markup (or structured data) is the language search engines speak. It’s the code that allows Google to understand what your content is about.

When you use schema markups, rich snippets are also displayed under your website’s link.

The great news is you don’t need to be a tech expert to submit a site map and add schema markup to your website. There are excellent WordPress plugins that do it for you.

  • The Yoast plugin creates site maps for sections of your site. All you have to do is submit the index link of your sitemap.
  • For schema markup, Schema Pro and WP Review are excellent choices.

Too busy to write your own outstanding content to beat your competition? Get expert help here.

Why Isn’t My Website Ranking? Bonus Tips from Real-Life Web Developers & SEOs

To give our readers a truly epic guide (such is the Write Blog standard!) we decided to field for a few web design experts and ask them to write original quotes for us. Here’s what several web design and development practitioners with years of expertise at building sites that rank had to say. Thank you to all of our awesome participants!

Jeremy Knauff, CEO at Spartan Media, says:

“A lot of issues come from search engines simply not understanding what your content is about.

This could be due to how it’s structured, which is often a relatively easy fix, or it could be due to bigger underlying problems in how a web page is coded, making it difficult or even impossible for search engines to properly render the page.

Content structure can be fixed by paying attention to details like your title tags, bread crumbs, subheads (h1-h6), alt attributes, and other factors that serve as hints to help search engines to better understand a page in context.

It’s important to point out that none of these things will be a silver bullet that skyrockets you to the number one position in the SERPs. Instead, they will each play a cumulative role in improving your performance.

The bigger, underlying problems in how a web page is coded can be more difficult to identify and fix. I see this a lot in cases with amateur developers, page builder tools, and outdated plugins.

Fixing issues here can be difficult because it often requires substantial changes to the underlying codebase, which is time-consuming and costly.

Here are my recommended top five ways to identify if this may be your issue:

  1. Check Google Search Console for errors.
  2. Test rendering for key pages in Google Search Console.
  3. Validate the HTML of key pages.
  4. Test pages in various browsers and on various devices.
  5. Check the load speed of key pages.

If you find yourself in a position where your ranking is negatively impacted by your website’s coding, it’s important to invest the time in finding a developer who really knows what they’re doing instead of someone who is only going to put a band-aid on the problem that you’ll still have to deal with later.”

@jeremyknauff says, 'A lot of issues come from search engines not understanding what your content's about. How it's structured or coded can make it impossible for search engines to even render your page.' 🤯 More #SEO blunders here 👉 Click To Tweet

Jill Caren, CEO at 2 Dogs Media says:

“There could be so many reasons for your website not to rank, and most often we find it is a simple technical issue with your website.

Below are some of the most common issues we find when doing technical audits for clients to try and find why ranking is such an issue.

  1. If you are on WordPress make sure your Search Engine Visibility box in your reading settings area is unchecked! We are amazed how many times we have seen this left checked after a site launch.
  2. If you have migrated your website from one platform or another – or did a redevelopment of your website – make sure you are doing a 301 redirect if your page URL structure has changed.
  3. Make sure your robots.txt file is not causing issues! A simple wildcard being used incorrectly could block items from being indexed that you do not want to block.
  4. Make sure your website is integrated with Google Search Console so you can check for errors, suggestions and keep an eye on issues with your sitemap.
  5. If specific pages are not getting any traffic or not visible in search, double check you have not marked that page as “noindex” which is essentially telling the search engines to not index the page.

If all of the above are in good shape, then it is time to visit your content and keyword strategy!”

@2dogsmedia says, 'Make sure your robots.txt file isn't causing issues! You could be unknowingly blocking content right now if there is a small error inside.' More on #SEO blunders that stop rankings from happening 🛑 Click To Tweet

Why Am I Not Ranking in Google? 3x ROI Case Study: How Jessica Campos at Marketing for Greatness Turned Her Rankings Around

Jessica Campos is a local networking and social media influencer here in Austin, Texas, an attorney-turned-marketer, and the mastermind behind her own firm, Marketing for Greatness.

I had the honor of meeting her at one of her networking happy hours when I happened to come across her group of almost 5,000 entrepreneurs that she started from nothing — Austin Networking for Professionals and Entrepreneurs — late one Wednesday evening in December of 2018. I was searching for a way to make my word for the upcoming 2019 year, “EPIC,” feel more real. I’d decided to put myself out there, and was looking for a local entrepreneurial group to join that would both challenge me and help me grow.

I joined Jessica’s group five minutes after discovering it, and found myself at her networking event the very next night.

Jessica’s group turned out to be just what I needed. Jessica was the first person who got me to speak on the mic (!), and invited me to speak at two more events that she hosted shortly after we met. She saw something in me, and being the timid, self-doubting introvert I was back then, I was honored and blown away that she showed me so much kindness. (She is featured in my book, Woman Rising, and has been a huge catalyst in my personal journey of shattering my shells. I have also met some amazing mentees, friends, and mentors through her!)

In return, I was able to show Jessica some of my ‘ropes’ in content creation and content marketing, and she immediately put them into practice and 3x’ed her online presence and website results, going from 20-24 organic users total to over 700/day. Talk about epic rankings in Google! Jessica is a walking case study of the results of content in search, because she’s that rare breed known as a “doer.” That’s why I asked her to tell her story on our Write Blog today. You’ll enjoy hearing from her. Ready?

what to do if your content doesnt rank in Google free checklist jessica campos


Let me start with my “before.”

I still remember when Julia and I met back on April 26, 2019 to discuss our very first, one-day collaborative conference on social media marketing. She spoke on content marketing and I revealed the trends on social media.

As she was practicing her talk, I became aware of what content marketing meant, for all practical purposes. Until that day, I was convinced that a website was just a feature a business needs, just to place a name, and that was IT.

My digital marketing strategies that I used, prior to understanding content marketing and SEO (the real way) —

  • I focused on having a strong social media presence, thinking that it was THE way to build a brand. Especially for entrepreneurs building a personal brand.
  • I built a Facebook Group for local business owners.
  • I used events marketing to build my brand.
  • I hosted weekly shows, challenges on Facebook, and countless Facebook lives and videos.
  • I chased tactics to “gain more followers.”
  • I blogged consistently. Even had SEO plugins. But I had NO content marketing strategy or content marketing PLAN.
  • I ran Facebook Ads.
  • I had a pretty website with a very fancy template and I didn’t realize that those fancy objects had broken codes because nobody told me that we needed to update codes from purchased templates. I didn’t have a full-time developer.
  • … I worked SO hard to stay in touch with my audience.

And … when Julia and I met… this is what we saw:

On April 16 we ran a 12-month report to see the results of all my digital marketing activities. The results were shocking. 24 users? WHAT? WHY? What was happening to all my amazing blogs? Julia’s team had been writing our blogs, so those 24 users were because of them.

I cried (even when she didn’t see my tears), but then I started questioning. I was so frustrated. Then I went from frustration to anxiety, because the entire content marketing system that she explained felt like an eternity for me.

That’s when the famous GIF text thread came in our inboxes. I told her, “I will be dead before my website gets me leads.”

Oh, in case you’re wondering about keywords… let’s not even talk about that. I had NONE for obvious reasons. I had no keyword tracking system.

So…. that is my PAINFUL before.

Luckily, after the tsunami, comes a rainbow!

12 months later… We have seen up to 723 users in ONE DAY! 

jessica campos amazing results from content ranking

How did I go from dead zone to profit zone? Well, I simply followed Julia’s recipe!

  1. Signed up on SEMrush to track my keywords.
  2. Created my first list of keywords.
  3. Hired a web developer that found the errors in my template. We didn’t go with a full website development, as my goal was to boost my content marketing. Julia suggested this approach, since I needed to focus on building my content first. This was about $1,300.
  4. Implemented the content writing engine suggested by Julia so I could generate content faster and efficiently. For this, I hired writers and editors from Express Writers to craft amazing pieces of content and took the expert content and authority content in-house.

Who thought that the woman who said “English is my second language, I will never be able to write those pretty words” is now a content educator for Social Media Examiner?

My digital marketing strategies today:

  • Content strategy goes first. Nothing happens if we don’t check in with our content strategy.
  • Since I found the way to attract users, I then became obsessed with conversions. Conversions, in 2020, is all about omnichannel and UX. So, I got certified in UX for marketers and I use these principles in our content marketing.
  • We shifted from social media marketing to Google marketing and use as many Google products as we can!
  • We built an in-house SEO team that works on the invisible and boring components of SEO optimization. Mostly on-page SEO. But this only goes once we are sure that our content is nothing but THE BEST.

Julia taught me the value of producing amazing content and the practical meaning of it.

My rules for content writing:

  • I write for my users, and then for Google.
  • I dig deep for opportunities to educate, not to rank.
  • Google has featured my articles — I have a few crowns, yay! When this happens, I know it’s an opportunity I need to leverage and that’s when more content writing is needed!
  • Having Express Writers as a partner is a crucial component, since they GET me! I know they won’t write just anything.

Not every content writer is a content marketer.

Not every content marketer is a content strategist.

And for sure, not every content strategist is a Google hacker!

Well done, Jessica. 👏 

@jessicamcampos says: 'Not every content writer is a content marketer. Not every content marketer is a content strategist. And not every content strategist is a Google hacker!' We agree 👏 More on #SEO no-nos via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet @jessicamcampos says: '@JuliaEMcCoy taught me the value of producing amazing content and the practical meaning of it. We went from 24 users to 700/day — MASSIVE improvement — from her strategies.' More on the power of good #SEO: Click To Tweet

what to do if your content doesnt rank in Google free guide

How to Turn Things Around if Your Content Doesn’t Rank on Google

It’s super discouraging to spend hours writing amazing content just to find it on the 5th or even 10th page of Google’s SERPs.

It’s even more frustrating when you have no idea why this is happening.

But don’t worry. You can turn things around.

And you don’t need either luck or magic to start improving your ranking.

All you need is a simple checklist that’ll get you started working on your site immediately.

Want to improve your content’s ranking today? Download this checklist and get to work right away.

January 2020 core update guide

January 2020 Core Update: All You Need to Know (Plus Tips on How to Survive It)

On January 13, Google announced a core algorithm update called the January 2020 Core Update.

Immediately, site owners took to social media to express their dismay on (yet another) major change that could affect the years of hard work they’d put into reaching a top spot on Google’s SERPs.

Some posted despairing memes. Others begged Google “not to be cruel.” Yet others worried how their keyword rankings would be affected as the new update rolled in.

So, what is the January 2020 Core Update?

Should you be worried about it? Most importantly, what changes should you make to your site so you don’t lose your Google rankings?

Let’s explore this massive update in today’s brand new blog. 👇

Should you be worried about @Google's January Core Update? 🤔 What should you do to maintain your rankings? 📈 Find out in this new guide by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

January 2020 Core Update: All You Need to Know (Plus Tips on How to Survive It) – Table of Contents

January 2020 Core Update, Explained

Experts and Content Creators Speak Up about the January 2020 Core Update

The Top Sites Impacted by the January 2020 Core Update

How to Optimize Your Site to Survive the January 2020 Core Update

5 Aspects of Content That Ranks Well on Google

1. Originality
2. Comprehensiveness
3. Expertise
4. User-Friendly and Trustworthy Presentation
5. User Value

5 Tips to Update Your Content and Continue Ranking Well Despite Major Google Updates

1. Write Content You Can’t Find Elsewhere
2. Improve Content Found on High-Ranking Sites for Your Keyword
3. Proofread to Perfection
4. Step into Your Audience’s Shoes
5. Forget Keywords

Moving Forward after the January 2020 Core Update

January 2020 core update

January 2020 Core Update, Explained

Google’s number one goal is to provide value to users. Because of this, it has made thousands of changes per year in recent years.

However, not all of these changes are noticeable. Most of them are tiny tweaks.

The January 2020 Core Update is different. According to Google, this update will have more noticeable and actionable effects for content producers and webmasters.

Google Webmaster Central blog

source: Google Webmaster Central Blog

The January 2020 Core Update is different. 🤯 According to Google, this update will have more noticeable and actionable effects for content producers and webmasters. Click To Tweet

What it boils down to is Google making a brand-new list of the top sites with the most value in 2020.

If your site takes a hit and falls in the SERPs, it’s not because it’s a bad site. It’s simply because users are changing. There are a ton of new sites online. And there are sites which have been online for some time, but whose value was never fully discovered.

SEJ - core update advice

Source: Search Engine Journal

Overall, the January 2020 Core Update is going to shake up the SEO world. Let’s look at what webmasters and content creators have to say about it.

Experts and Content Creators Speak Up about the January 2020 Core Update

Users reacted differently when the news of the January 2020 Core Update was released. Some were dismayed.

Others were confused.

Still others decided to laugh it off.

Of course, top marketers and SEO experts had their own opinions.

Rand Fishkin’s interest was on the bolded ads, favicons, and brand icons featured in the update.

SEMrush listed three prominent changes the update included.

A few days after the release of the update, Glenn Gabe tweeted his findings on the “volatile” splash it had made.

Will this update affect you? According to Danny Sullivan, it will, no matter where you live.

The Top Sites Impacted by the January 2020 Core Update

In the few days since the January 2020 Core Update rolled in, various sites in different sectors showed significant change in SERP rankings. Let’s look at the winners and losers (so far).

1. Sites with Improved Rankings Since the January 2020 Core Update

According to data from Sistrix, sites in the health sector enjoyed gains since the update rolled in. and saw a 37.7% and 34.72% change, respectively.

January 2020 Core Update winners


Other sites with improved ranking include a football site, a movie tickets site, and two news sites. Could this have to do with trending news (the British Royal Family and the Holocaust) and entertainment content?

2. Sites with Lower Rankings Since the January 2020 Core Update

The sites which took the biggest hits since the update are and

January 2020 Core Update losers


The data shows car buyer and finance sites also taking hits since the update rolled in. Could this be because of the pricing information within the sites? It’s interesting to note that (a movie site just like also shows information related to money.

How to Optimize Your Site to Survive the January 2020 Core Update

Like tons of content creators and webmasters, you’re likely scratching your head over all this information. Luckily, Google has some advice on how to optimize your site for the update.

Google 2020 update - focus on content


Clear as mud?

Let’s go deeper into what it takes to create the kind of content Google always ranks well, no matter what changes it makes to its algorithms.

5 Aspects of Content That Ranks Well on Google

When you add these killer components to your site, you don’t have to spend hours analyzing why one movie site enjoyed gains since the January 2020 Core Update, while another movie site took a serious hit.

5 aspects of content that ranks well on google

1. Originality

Take a look at this piece on cats purring by WebMD.

WebMD cats purring

The article is informative, plus it comes from a trusted domain. On the other hand, look at this one from WHISKAS.

Whiskas why cats purr

A piece like this isn’t counted as plagiarism, as nothing is copied word-for-word from WebMD. However, almost everything is the same. There’s no originality and nothing new added to it.

The result? Although WebMD ranks 422 on Google global engagements, Whiskas ranks 1,752, 296.

2. Comprehensiveness

Comprehensive content dives deep into a topic rather than merely scratching the surface. It provides statistics, charts and graphs, guidelines, and relevant images. After readers go through the article, they feel they’ve gained an insider view into the topic.

Length is an important factor to consider when it comes to content comprehensiveness. It’s almost impossible to dive deep into a topic with a 500-word blog. According to various sources of data, the best length is between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

Average engagement by content length

3. Expertise

When searching for medical advice online, what would you prefer to read? A blog written by a well-known doctor or one by an anonymous person who simply rewrites information they find online?

Expertise is important to Google rankings. Sites owned by people who’ve established authority in their industry do much better than random sites without clear credentials.

4. User-Friendly and Trustworthy Presentation

Imagine reading through a site teaching you how to use English grammar and noticing typos and the misuse of adverbs. Even if this site were owned by an authority in language, you’d still click the back button to look for something else. This shows how important it is for content to be free of sloppiness and errors.

Presentation also affects user experience. For instance, think of how annoying it is to read a blog and have a ton of distracting ads crop up. Or imagine opening a site on your mobile device just to find it’s not optimized for mobile users.

5. User Value

Google’s number one goal, as mentioned, is to give real value to real people. This is what all the updates boil down to.

So, ranking well on Google isn’t about keywords. It’s not even about meta data, rich snippets, and title tags (although they help). What ranking well on Google IS about is making people’s lives a little better each time they visit your site.

Content that continually ranks well on Google has these 5 killer components: 1) Originality 🦄 2) Comprehensiveness ☑ 3) Expertise 👩‍🏫 4) User-friendly, trustworthy presentation 👍 5) User value ❤ Click To Tweet

5 Tips to Update Your Content and Continue Ranking Well

So how do you take the five aspects of good content mentioned above and add them to everything you write? Use these smart tips.

5 tips for updating your content

1. Write Content You Can’t Find Elsewhere

Choose a blog on your topic that ranks highly on Google. Read it thoroughly. Then, ask yourself this question: “What can I add to my blog that isn’t dealt with here?”

For instance, look at this piece from Wired titled Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?

Wired - Why do cats love boxes so much

To add unique information to your blog on this topic, you could dive a little deeper and do some research on how cats in the wild “withdraw and hide.” Provide information and details beyond what everyone else has already written about.

2. Improve Content Found on High-Ranking Sites for Your Keyword

Type your keyword into Google. Then, go through the sites that rank highest on the SERPs. Are they good? In-depth? As a reader, what satisfies (and dissatisfies) you about each article or blog? Your next step is to find ways to make your content an improved version of the highest-ranking content on Google.

3. Proofread to Perfection

Follow this five-step guide to ensure your content sparkles every single time.

  • Go over your content quickly to get a first impression.
  • Scrutinize each paragraph to see if it supports your big idea.
  • Attack your blog’s organization – ruthlessly pull sentences and paragraphs apart until they flow well.
  • Read it out loud to nail your tone of voice.
  • Read it again, this time from bottom to top.

4. Step into Your Audience’s Shoes

Why did users look up your topic? What do they fear, dream, desire? When you know your audience, you’ll know what they’re looking for in your content.

5. Forget Keywords

Write naturally. Use keywords because you’re dealing with the topic they surround, not because you need to reach a 3% keyword density.

Want to survive @Google updates? 1) Write content you can't find elsewhere. 🔥 2) Improve on high-ranking content. 🥇 3) Proofread to perfection. 💯 4) Step into your audience's shoes. 👟 5) Forget keywords. 💃 ✅ Click To Tweet

Moving Forward after the January 2020 Core Update

The bad news is the January 2020 Core Update is huge.

The good news is it doesn’t matter.

Yes, your site can take hits and lose rankings. But in the long run, if you focus on becoming your users and knowing what they need, your site will always do well in Google search. You’ll rise above the January 2020 Core Update, or whatever updates rock the SEO world in the future.

Looking for expert blogs, articles, and more that are original, trustworthy, and comprehensive? We write content that ranks well in Google, no matter the updates. Check out our pricing.

Get Google and reader-friendly content



how to update old content

How to Create Massive Content ROI: Your 4-Step Guide on How to Update Old Content

You’ve done it! You have a great site, and you’ve had a ton of traffic.

… But lately, your viewership has begun to slip. 😬

The anxiety starts to sink in as you rack your brain for that funky-fresh new content. And you wonder, “What do I do now?”

No need to panic! It turns out, you’re in luck.

If you need time to get those creative juices flowing before you start on that awesome new piece, there is a solution you probably should be doing already.

(No, it’s not another clickbait-y technique.)

It’s something far better. Your own, already-published content.

That’s right! There’s a gold mine right beneath your feet — you could be sitting on content that is just waiting for you to help it shine like new again.

You might ask, “But how do I update old blog posts?” Fear not. It’s easier than it sounds.

In today’s blog I’ll show you, step by step, the best ways to republish your old content to create massive ROI. Ready? Let’s get into it.

Your 4-Step Guide on How to Update Old Content

How to Create Massive ROI: Your Guide on How to Update Old Content

1. Why Should I Update My Old Content?

2. Digging for Gold: How to Audit Your Content

3. So You’ve Found Your Gold, How Do You Make It Shiny Again? 4 Steps to Updating Old Content

1. Check for Broken Links & Outdated Research

2. Craft a New Headline

3. Update Images and Copy in Your Post

4. Finesse Meta Content & CTA

4. Republishing: How to Show Off Your New Bling

Extra Ways to Make Your Post Sparkle

It pays to focus on planning how to create irresistible new content. 😍 But never forget -- your old content deserves some extra loving too! @JuliaEMcCoy lays out her 4 steps to a flawless old content makeover - 10x better than ever. 💅✨ Click To Tweet

1. Why Should I Update My Old Content?

You might be thinking here — “But, my content is already perfect and I’ve had a ton of views. Why should I change it?”

The truth is, if you’re not updating your old blogs, you are missing out on potential new readers, heightened traffic, and reducing the chance that your old ones will return.

Returning to those killer posts you’ve already spent time and money on is an essential part of improving the ROI and the quality of your site.

According to Hubspot, blogs are now the 5th most trusted source for online information. By staying up to date on the latest information and revamping your old content, readers know they can count on you to keep them in the loop.

And, by keeping your readers up to date and engaged, it lets Google’s crawlers know that you’re still super hip and worthy of a high ranking. Win-Win!

But what about your old readers? Trust me, they will thank you for being a reliable resource for the latest and greatest content.

Besides, you’ve already invested the time and effort to create them, why not make them all that they can be?

Source: Andrea La-Rosa

Think of it this way…

You know that super sweet hairstyle you’ve rocked for years, the incredible bangs or maybe those stylish bleach blonde tips? They were super fly once.

But today? They may not be quite on trend anymore.

Blog posts are a similar situation. You can still love them, but times have changed and so has the information online.

It’s likely that, no matter the topic, there exists new and potentially better information about that subject you so diligently researched.

So, stay on trend! Schedule in the time for researching and updating, and see what else has surfaced since you posted.

Blogs are now the 5th most trusted source, according to @HubSpot. 🙇 One way to keep your old posts alive and kicking 🔥 today and in the future is to simply clean and update them. 🧹 Here's how you can do this. Click To Tweet

2. Digging for Gold: How to Audit Your Content

Okay, I’ve convinced you. You’ve decided to refresh your old blog posts.

But should you start now and if not, when?

Everyone asks me this question! The answer is if you have 2 or more years of content, and you haven’t updated them, you are missing out on valuable leads that could become conversions.

Make it a priority to schedule time to update your blogs every quarter. I recommend updating at least 5-10 of them for optimal results.

This can result in some serious ROI if you make the commitment to updating the content you’ve published.

Alright, you’ve decided the time is now. Have you got your editing pickaxe in hand? ⛏️ Let’s take a look at your previous masterpieces.

A great place to begin is Google Analytics.

There you can find metrics like bounce rate, social shares, and time-on-page. These will help you determine which previous posts are the best performing.

Think of Google Analytics as a stick of dynamite instead of a pickaxe. 🧨

To start, open your Google Analytics account. On the left-hand side, go to Behavior.

Then, click the Overview button. Next, navigate to the bottom right of the page and click view full report in the bottom right-hand corner.

On the next screen, there will only be 10 posts by default. You can change this by going to the bottom of the page and editing the Show rows option to any number you like: 100, or even 5,000.

Then, return to the top of the page and click Export.

Boom! You now have a perfectly organized list of your posts.

From here, look closely to determine which posts have the highest conversion rates, the largest amount of traffic, and the lowest bounce rate.

These are your golden nuggets that keep visitors engaged.

But what if you don’t use Google Analytics or what if your posts have similar stats?  Not a problem, there are other ways to determine which posts you should focus on.

One way is deciding which content is evergreen.

Evergreen content is content that will provide unique value for your visitors, generate traffic, and result in conversions for the foreseeable future.

If you’re unsure what falls into that category, think about the pieces that took you some time to craft. Examples include how-to guides, frequently asked question posts, and resource lists. While you may love that super in-depth post about Blu-ray collecting, it may not be the best choice.

Learn more in our guide on creating evergreen posts that build your business here.

Ready to go deeper? Let’s keep digging.

How do you know which old content needs some makeover? 🖌️ Here's a quick and easy tip to get right into it with the help of Google Analytics. 👨‍💻 Click To Tweet

3. So You’ve Found Your Gold, Now What?

After the sifting and searching, you now have a handful of great posts ready to be updated.

And, wow! What a treasure trove you’ve discovered.

Although the hard work may seem like it’s over, don’t stop there. It’s time to refine your posts into something even better.

To begin, choose the first blog to update and read it carefully.

Do you still love it? Are any of the facts outdated?

Did you cringe at any of your wording?

Are there any typos?

If so, start the process by fixing those small imperfections. These minor changes can mean the difference between conversions and a high bounce rate.

Also, keep in mind that your writing style may have changed over time. Try to edit the piece so that it reflects your current style.

And as you read, don’t forget to take formatting into consideration.

If your blog was a bit clunky or if there were a few too many large blocks of text that don’t exactly scream “Read me!”, think about breaking those sections up.

By creating easier-to-digest sections, it will pull your reader through your piece and encourage them to keep reading.

If you’re unsure about how to do that, head on over to our 6 simple tips for writing clear sentences article for more ways to get the most out of your blog’s structure.

Once you’ve accomplished the basics, it’s time to dig even deeper.

What else should you check in your old blog post before hitting update? 🤓 Make sure to look for typos, format errors, outdated stats, broken links, and see to it that the piece reflects your current writing style. ✔✔✔ Click To Tweet

The 4-Step Checklist for Updating Older Content (Correctly)

4 step checklist on how to update old content

1. Check for Broken Links & Outdated Research

A few issues that can happen with older blog posts: You might be linking to content that no longer exists, or the topic and discussion may not be as relevant as when you originally posted. This can increase your bounce rate and citing outdated research can significantly hurt your position as an “expert” in the field.

To see if this is the case for your piece, try checking for broken links by using tools like this free broken link checker.

If you find any links that lead you to a 404 page or to outdated posts, update them with the relevant content or simply remove them.

This lets Google know you’re on top of it and makes it more likely that your content will rank higher.

If your links are still as bright and shiny as when you first posted, consider adding new external ones.

  • Can you find new research that wasn’t available before? If so, linking to those articles can boost your credibility and increase your viewership.
  • Better than adding external links is adding internal links to your content. You likely wrote another article that relates and can help provide additional resources. Add that link in! It just might be the information your readers were looking for.

I know when I’m reading a piece that has already grabbed my attention I almost always click on their links to check out what other gems they have waiting for me. By adding internal links, you not only encourage your readers to remain on your site but it also increases the likelihood that they will share your work.

First thing to check on that old blog post? All those links! 🔗🔗🔗 You'll want your post to be clear of links leading to 404s and outdated pages. 🌟 Read more tips here on how you can update old content. 👌 Click To Tweet

2. Craft a New Headline

According to a recent study by Microsoft, the average attention span has fallen to a mere 8 seconds. 8 seconds is all you have to captivate your audience and convince them to stay.

For this reason, it’s imperative to examine your title to ensure it’s the best it can be — it’s your first and sometimes only opportunity to engage your reader.

If your post was titled, “6 Ways to Wow Your Audience,” why not add a seventh or even an eighth? Once you think you’ve got something eye-catching, don’t simply trust your gut, give it a test run.

To do so, try the AMI Institute’s Headline Analyzer. It’s a useful tool for any writer that ranks your headline according to how well it resonates with your audience based on three key types of appeal: intellectual, emotional or spiritual.

It also gives you a percentile score which indicates how powerful your title is. Most professional copywriters’ headlines will fall between 30%-40% range, while the most talented will have a 50%-75% score. Test yours to see where you land. If it’s not quite right, keep trying.

Here’s an example of a Write Blog headline hitting a 40% score:

headline analyzer

If you’re stuck and need more help, check out my video on writing killer headlines for more tips.

How you write today can be wayyy different than how it was years ago. To make sure that all your copies reflect your latest awesome writing style, power up those headlines. 🔋 🆙 There's even a tool to help you craft the best one! 🔧 Click To Tweet

3. Update Images & Copy in Your Post

If your blog is mostly text and there are little to no images, you may want to consider adding a few more. Images help the reader stay actively engaged by breaking up content.

In fact, they’re so important that one study found that when asked after three days, participants could only recall 10-20% of written information provided to them during the test but were able to recall a whopping 65% of the visual information.

This is why images are a huge component of any successful blog’s goal to maintain viewership.

Infographic from Ethos3

And, what’s better than an image? An infographic.

Infographics can help you show off incredible statistics, like the one above, in a simple format that will impress your readers and make them more likely to share your content.

If your blog is fun and lighthearted, you might try adding GIFs. They make a perfect pair to content that makes readers laugh out loud.

Just keep in mind that page load time is also a factor. If your post already takes a moment to pop up, you may want to reconsider using them.

Very few readers will wait a full 10 seconds to begin reading.

Think about the copy itself, too. If you have typos, content and quality issues, now is the time to address all of those. Quality in writing goes a long way in convincing and converting a reader.

Enhance your old content's readability 👁️‍🗨️ by adding attractive yet informative images. 🦋 Besides keeping those long posts easier to read, they help readers recall information better. 🧠 Click To Tweet

4. Finesse Your Meta Content & CTA

There are two final components of any successful content update. These are your meta content and your call to action or CTA.

Make Sure to Add or Update the Meta Title and Description

Your meta content is a combination of two items — your meta title and meta description.

The meta title is the headline that appears on search pages when users search for you or any content related to your site.

Your meta description is the small blurb beneath your site’s title on Google’s search page which tells readers what they are about to click on.

The critical meta title and description are a ‘must’ for optimal SEO and can also be the deciding factor between a user clicking on your site or choosing one of the thousands of others available to them.

While there are many strategies regarding how to optimize, the main goal is to be specific.

In the example above, our meta title is Why Blog? 52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire YouThis is highly specific to our topic and interesting to the reader. Bonus: It has numbers! Numbers are great to draw readers’ eyes.

If your post is about options for gardening services in Southern California, the meta title should not be something generic. For example, “Gardeners for Your Home” is an extremely weak meta title. A better option is one that is not only location-specific, (e.g. Southern California) but one that also includes keywords. “How to Find the Best Gardener in Southern California: 5 Steps to a Great Partnership” is not only specific but contains all of the keywords associated with your content.

This lets both the reader and search engines know precisely what your site contains. By using targeted language, it increases the chance that you will rank higher and viewers will choose your site.

Your meta description should also be similarly crafted. It is an extension of your title and should contain a small snapshot of carefully selected keywords and phrases that relate to your page’s topic.

If this is all new to you and you want to learn how to write powerful meta descriptions, check out our guide on how to write meta content.

Never leave your snippets unedited 🖋️. Be sure to add or update that old meta title and description and feel free to rewrite them until you're sure that they have the right length that perfectly tells what your content is about. 💯 Click To Tweet

Add CTAs Too When Updating Old Content

The last and arguably one of the most important factors to creating conversions is your call to action or CTA.

These can be placed within a sentence, like the one above, a button on your site or a pop-up window within your blog that encourages the reader to take action in some way.

Businesses spend countless dollars each year researching how to effectively leverage the color, position, and wording of their CTAs so they can get their customers to the next section of their funnel.

Here’s an example:

Each of these two buttons is a CTA, but they both have one goal: Transform a visitor into a consumer. The only difference is the wording. One focuses on stoking enthusiasm and curiosity, “Everyone loves us.” The other acts as a mirror encouraging you to try the thing everyone loves and to do it now.

While tactics like using scarcity to induce a feeling of FOMO like “Buy now before we run out,” are effective, what’s more effective is knowing your audience. While some companies would cringe at a CTA that says, “Get yo goods,” for another, it’s the perfect CTA for their clients.

Why? Because it fits their brand and their product. By knowing who your readers are and what they want, you can craft CTAs that are lightyears ahead of the average “Buy now,” button. Then, sit back and watch the conversions roll in.

By creating an enticing CTA within rather than just hoping a reader will take action, the chances increase exponentially that they will like, subscribe, or purchase that ebook you worked so hard on.

While we could spend pages talking about how to write a CTA — and we have — if you need some inspirational tips on how to write a CTA that’s guaranteed to generate conversions, head over to our piece about how to write a sensational CTA after you finish here.

See what we did there?

🏁Never miss adding call-to-action aka CTAs 🏁. CTAs invite readers to go to your next desired step such as subscribing to your newsletter 📰, purchasing an item 🛒, or just reading another post to keep them hooked on your site! 🪑 Click To Tweet

4. Republishing: How to Show Off Your New Bling

Congratulations, you’ve done it!

You braved the journey into your content gold mine and came out with some incredible pieces. After a bit of hard work, they are now gleaming.

Now comes the fun, reposting.

When you repost, I recommend including a small note at the top stating when the piece was updated. This lets readers know that it’s hot off your fingertips and worthy of reading. Here’s an example of how we’ve done that:

If you’re worried your audience won’t respond because they have already seen the post, it’s important to remember that it’s not the same content you had before. You’ve transformed it into something trendy and relevant.

It’s also good to keep in mind that the value of your blog is not in the immediate viewership achieved but in the potential thousands who will visit in the future.

By following our simple steps above to keep your blog updated, you’ll boost your visitor count and earn consistently higher traffic numbers to your content.

Before you hit that Update button, leave a small note at the top that tells when the post was originally written and when it was updated. 🧽✨This lets the readers know your old post is refreshed and has new details not to be missed. 🐣 Click To Tweet

Extra Ways to Make Your Post Sparkle

If you’re still looking for new ways to update your old content after doing all of the tips above, consider a few of the extra options below.

Do you have a podcast or will you be featured in one soon? Think about how you can integrate your piece into the recording.

Try rewriting it as a script or mentioning a small snippet to encourage listeners to give it a read.

If you have an active email campaign that keeps your readers engaged with your site, use it to show off work they may not have seen yet.

Take an excerpt from the posts you’re revamping and include it in your next email campaign. Then, create a CTA that encourages readers to “Check out the whole article” and provide a link.

If you’ve read all of this and think, “gee this is just too much,” that’s okay too! Our goal is to make creating content easy. If you need more inspiration, check out my Write Blog for kicka$$ ideas that can help you get the most from your content.

how to update old content CTA

5 steps to get Google BERT ready

Worried About Google BERT? How to Make Sure You’re Ready in 5 Steps

Google’s done it again. On October 25, 2019, Google BERT hit the scene. Boy, it has been a rollercoaster.

Within the first few days of its release, many people saw sizable fluctuations in their keyword performance, page ranks, and site traffic. Others saw almost no change at all. Still others questioned whether Google BERT was actually that big of a deal.

Yet, this rather innocent-sounding update is described by Google as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.” It’s expected to affect one in 10 organic searches (yikes!).

Google releases almost nine algorithm updates each day. So, what makes BERT so important? And what do marketers (and site owners) need to do to prepare or recover from the effects of this update on their site?

Those are great questions! Let’s explore.

5 steps to get Google BERT ready

Google BERT Explained, Plus 5 Ways to Make the Most of Google’s Latest Search Innovations

What Is Google BERT and Why Is Everyone Freaking Out?

Why You Saw Site Traffic and Keyword Fluctuations

How to Make Sure Your Site Is Ready for Google BERT in 5 Steps

1. Optimize for Humans, not BERT

2. Keep Calm and Continue E-A-T-ing!

3. Revisit How Your Site Captures Informational Searches

4. Avoid the Keyword Superstitions That Are Currently Everywhere

5. Get Ready with Those Featured Snippets

Saw something weird happened in your current site rankings? 📉 😨 Maybe it's the latest Google BERT doing its job. @JuliaEMcCoy explains what happened and some easy tips to keep your site afloat. 🚣🏿‍♀️ Click To Tweet

What Is Google BERT and Why Was Everyone Freaking Out?

There’s been a lot already written on what BERT is and what it is not, but it’s worth revisiting exactly how Google BERT works.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. This mouthful of neurolinguistic terminology basically means that it’s now easier for the search engine to understand the context of words in a search string.

Google BERT meaning

Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), BERT helps the search engine understand the significance of words like “to” or “for” (transformer words) in the context of a search. These would have been previously ignored by the search engine, leading to frustrating goose chases while someone tried to find the right combination of words or phrases.

For example, before BERT, Google results for “math practice books for adults” would have included hits that – while technically keyword matches – were irrelevant:

Source: Google

By emphasizing transformer words, the search engine can now understand that “for” is an important part of the sentence grammatically. Previously, it would have ignored the word, returning results involving math books for any demographic with adult in the term – such as young adults.

Google BERT doesn’t change any rules for keywords and the update didn’t change any of the metrics the search engine uses for determining page rank. Nonetheless, it’s still going to have a pretty big impact on site traffic and page ranks.

In fact, it already has.

What is Google BERT? BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. 😅 To simplify: BERT helps the search engine understand the significance of transformer words like 'to' and 'for' in the keywords used. 🌞 Click To Tweet

So, You Saw Something Spooky With Your Site Traffic? Here’s What Happened.

Within 24 hours of Google BERT going live in English, people started reporting chaos in their analytics as the changes took place. Some people reported significant drops in their site traffic and page ranks, while others witnessed surges to the top.

Nutrition and supplement review site Examine, for example, saw a return to normal traffic from the July update:

Source: Twitter

Other sites saw a significant drop in their traffic and page ranking, with some claiming they’d been de-ranked or had pages de-indexed altogether. Given the way BERT affects searches, a few reasons exist as to why this might have happened:

  • You were getting a lot of traffic from keywords, but your information was irrelevant. For example, if you had a site selling young adult math textbooks, you would have previously gotten traffic from “math practice books for adults” because your keywords matched. That’s not happening anymore.
  • You’ve been pushed down by a competitor with a stronger keyword game. This is proving to be especially true for local SEO, where searches rely more heavily on transformer words like “at” or “in.”
  • You don’t have a lot of content that would turn up in informational searches. Informational searches – the type of Google query where a user is seeking specific information about something – are the most common type of Google search out there. They’re also what BERT primarily affected because they’re the types of searches most likely to use transformer words or include conversational wording.
  • Your site is optimized for search engines, not people. Google has been pushing content quality for years now, but some sites have stubbornly clung to SEO oriented to the search engine rather than human readers. If you’re using outdated SEO techniques, you might have seen a plunge in traffic.

There are three types of Google Searches. Google BERT primarily affects informational searches.

If anything, BERT reveals just how important it is to stay up to date with Google’s major algorithm updates. Google can – and does – merrily overhaul the way search engines rank pages. (Remember Panda and its 2015 update? I sure do. Sheesh.)

With the release of Google BERT, we’re going to see another one of those overhauls, albeit a less traumatic one. Those who have been lagging behind the times with their SEO strategy are the ones feeling the most negative effects.

Fortunately, I know a few tricks to help correct any downturn you might have experienced and get the most from the release of BERT.

After the Google BERT update, there were significant drops in site traffic and page ranks. 😱 But don't worry. If you have a content strategy in place, you're more likely to be unaffected. You might even see better results! 📈 Click To Tweet

How to Make Sure Your Site Is Ready for Google BERT in 5 Steps

Wondering how to optimize your SEO for Google BERT? Don’t. Google has already told us it can’t be done.

Source: Unearthed Comics

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do in the light of BERT to boost your SEO game. These include:

1. Optimize for Humans, Not BERT

Great content is all about focusing on your human reader. With the release of BERT, Google is driving that home.

BERT empowers the search engine to understand searches conducted using “natural language” (i.e., they’re conversational sounding) rather than “keyword-ese” – the use of strings which don’t resemble human speech but are designed to get Google to spit out the info what you want.

If you’re writing for humans, you’re already covered here. If you’re still keyword stuffing like it’s 2009, it’s now time to make sure your content makes sense to people, not machines.

2. Keep Calm and Continue E-A-T-ing!

EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – three elements of Google’s quality metrics for determining page rank.

Most of Google’s biggest algorithm updates have centered around addressing the SEO gaming which occurred in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It’s no longer possible to churn out hundreds or thousands of poorly written but perfectly SEO-optimized articles (thank heavens). Google will simply push them down, if not de-list the site altogether.

The rules of the SEO game haven’t changed with BERT. Now, it’s simply more likely that the helpful, quality content you’ve produced already will be even more effective in the search engine because the algorithm uses NLP.

So, keep calm and keep focusing on what you EAT. 🌮

3. Revisit How Your Site Captures Informational Searches

One of the biggest negative effects seen with BERT is a drop in organic search traffic. This suggests that your pages were ranking in searches that weren’t applicable to your niche.

BERT is designed to return more relevant searches to its users. What you need to do now is:

  1. Identify what keywords or pages have stopped performing as well.
  2. Search those keywords and see what sort of other content appears alongside (or instead of) yours. You may find it has changed.
  3. Tweak your content to match the content that ranks or add more content which reflects these changes.

It may be worth it to connect with a content strategist to discover the best options for content adjustment.

4. Avoid the Keyword Superstitions Currently Everywhere

Almost as soon as BERT was announced, SEO gurus sprang into action to dispense advice on how BERT is changing the landscape of SEO. Some of the advice included:

  • Keyword density will become less important.
  • Stop words are now vital.
  • Long-tail keywords will become more important than short-tail keywords.
  • BERT makes the “conversational level” of content a quality metric.

Don’t listen to anyone who claims to have the “ultimate BERT SEO optimization strategy.” BERT doesn’t change any rules around SEO.

Do I sound like a broken record yet?

5. Get Ready for Those Featured Snippets

One neat thing about BERT is that it will make Featured Snippets much more valuable. Rolled out way back in 2014, they provide a way to quickly browse a site’s content. Now, even if you’re not the top-ranked page in results, there’s a chance you might get featured in the coveted “position zero” if nobody above you is optimized. The same is true if you’re more relevant than other results based on the use of transformer words.

You can’t create your own featured snippets, but you can do a few things to increase the likelihood that your site will appear as one (and thus at the top of the page):

  • Organize your content in lists. Google can create an outline.
  • Sum up your answer to a question in 40 to 50 words. Google will create a paragraph.
  • Use tables to display data.
  • Make more video content.

There's nothing much to fix after the Google BERT update. ⚙️ Just be sure to create for humans, continue E-A-T-ing, revisit your content strategy, avoid keyword superstitions, and consider optimizing content for featured snippets. 🛠️ Click To Tweet

SEO in 2020: Writing for People, Not Search Engines

Although Google BERT caused quite a splash, it’s not the game-changing event that we’ve come to expect when Google claims something is the “biggest update in years.”

Google BERT is just the latest search innovation put into place to make Google more useful for everybody. By being able to understand contextual words such as “for” or “to,” we can now all get our fingers on information faster and easier.

Make Google notice you with in-depth, expert content and masterful SEO. See our pricing for expert, search optimized blogs.



seo and content trends

5 SEO and Content Trends That Will Be Worth Your Time & Focus in 2020

2020 is coming at us, whether we like it or not.

To stay ahead of the curve as knowledgeable marketers and website owners, what are the most important factors you need to know about content and SEO trends?

As it turns out, a LOT.  😮

As fast as technology changes, content marketing changes, too. What was relevant, best practice, or trendy last year may not hold water in 2020.

Read my blog today on what I consider next year’s major SEO and content trends headed our way. 🔮 Don’t let your content and SEO fall behind.

top seo and content trends

5 SEO and Content Trends That Will Be Worth Your Time & Focus in 2020

1. Amazing, Niche, Expert Content Which Meets or Exceeds Google’s E-A-T Standards

2. Content Optimized for Voice Search

3. More Long-Tail Keyword Searches and More Content Targeting Them

4. Richer, SEO-Ready Imagery in Content

5. Interactive Content

As content marketing continues to evolve, we find ways to keep our content relevant and ranking. 🌱 So for 2020, why not go further and create better, unbeatable content? 🏇 @JuliaEMcCoy reveals 5 upcoming SEO and content trends. Click To Tweet 5 SEO content trends for 2020: 🔮 1. Niche Expert Content 2. Content Optimized for Voice Search 3. More Long-Tail Keyword Searches 4. Richer Imagery See all 5 from @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

1. Amazing, Niche, Expert Content Which Meets or Exceeds Google’s E-A-T Standards

Content continues to amaze and astound us on the regular. It can do SO much for small and large brands alike.

  • It taps into the major traffic potential stemming from Google search (70.6% of ALL web traffic originates there, according to Backlinko/Sparktoro).
  • Publishing strategic content generates 67% more leads than NOT publishing strategic content, says a HubSpot study.
  • Meanwhile, 71% of B2B buyers read blog content during their buying journeys (3-5 blogs is the norm).

If you’re on the receiving end of those stats, ready and waiting with amazing content, the rewards are huge. More people are getting wise to how well it works, and so we’ll see more content from more brands in 2020.

The word to focus on, however, is “amazing.” Without that qualifier, you don’t have a chance.

In 2020, it’s not just bad content that won’t cut it. Even mediocre pieces will fail to land, including “not bad” and “good enough” content that makes you shrug halfheartedly after reading the first paragraph.

To rank with Google and readers, your content has to go far beyond “not bad” and inch into “exceptional,” “amazing,” and “wow” territory.

The only caveat? The bar for amazing content keeps rising. Marketers who have been doing content forever know this beyond a doubt, so they’ll up their game in response.

The result: Content in 2020 will be better than ever – especially from major players!

How can you keep up to rank in 2020? The shortlist:

  • Hit Google’s definition of quality. Over and over, in their Webmaster Guidelines, the search engine references helping the user, being useful, and including the words for which users are searching in your content.

From Steps to a Google-friendly site

From Webmaster Guidelines

  • Prove you’re an expert in your industry/topic area. Google highlights the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Google itself called these guidelines a good indicator of how they define high-quality (and low-quality) content. That hint is from an article published in August 2019 on the Webmaster Central Blog.

  • Create & publish amazing-quality content consistently. Inconsistency in content is a recipe for catastrophe. Failing to update your content regularly (whether that means tweaking older articles or pages or posting new ones), as well as failing to maintain your quality standards, will ultimately hurt your search visibility.
    • At Express Writers, we consistently rank at the top of Google because of our commitment to consistency and quality in content.
    • Case in point: For 8 years (yes, years), without missing a beat, we published one blog/week. We stuck to this rigorously, and it has paid off. Today we rank for over 23,000 keywords in Google, and 99% of our prospects come to us through organic search.

Summing up, content isn’t going out of style. (Never.) Plenty of great content is going to come out of heightened knowledge and a better understanding of what it takes to rank in 2020.

Need help learning how to write SEO content that meets the tried-and-true fundamentals of ranking in Google and earning your reader’s attention? Grab my free SEO cheat sheet below. ⬇️  

seo cheat sheet

If you've been following Google's E-A-T standards, good work focusing on useful content for online readers. If you're not sure you're updated with the latest guidelines, check out @JuliaEMcCoy's quick 3-item checklist. 📑 Click To Tweet

2. Content Optimized for Voice Search

Is anyone surprised this is a 2020 trend? Me neither.

Voice search is continuing to grow, both in usage and popularity. According to the Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, 16% of Americans owned a smart speaker as of January 2018.

One year later, that number shot up by 78%.

Naturally, with more people owning and using smart speakers, it follows that more will be using voice search to ask their devices to find information.

The data backs this up: eMarketer predicts by 2021, over one-third – 36.6% – of the entire U.S. population will use voice assistants.

What this means for SEO and content is pretty big.

Content optimized for voice search must be (and will be) on the agenda for most content marketers.

What does this look like? Short answer:

  • A bigger focus on long-tail, question-and-answer, and phrase keywords with natural language (that means weird, unnatural-sounding keywords are out)
  • Careful formatting of these keywords within the content (bullets, short paragraphs, bolded text, and other signifiers that tell Google, “Hey, this is important”)
  • More marketers optimizing their content for SERP features like Featured Snippets and People Also Ask – because voice search pulls from these spots! (Specifically, SEMrush found that 70% of answers returned from voice search came from SERP features, and 80% came from the top three results.)

In 2018, there are 118.5 million smart speakers in US households -- a good reason to start optimizing your content for voice search. How do you do this? @JuliaEMcCoy has a few key tips for you. 🥇 Click To Tweet

3. More Long-Tail Keyword Searches and More Content Targeting Them

So, more long-tail keyword searches are coming from voice search in 2020. Along with that, we’ll also see more people generally using long-tails in an attempt to cut through the noise and get closer to specific results in Google.

If you target long-tail keywords in your content and nail the user intent behind them, you’ll appeal to people looking for better, more relevant search results.

That will be big in the year ahead – those who focus on the long-tail will bring in more conversion-ready prospects and will pull ahead of marketers still putting all their eggs in the broad, “head” term keyword basket.

4. Richer, SEO-Ready Imagery in Content

Gone are the days when you could slap a semi-relevant stock photo in the header of your blog post and call it done.

In 2020, relevance and usefulness will be key – not putting images in content just to have them, but putting images in content to deepen meaning and facilitate understanding of the content’s topic.

That means the relevance of the images to the textual content will matter greatly as well as the engagement factor. (If you took away the images, would your readers be more, less, or equally engaged with the content?)

Useless stock photos of random people typing on computers aren’t good enough anymore. Content in 2020 will call for richer imagery that adds to a piece’s usefulness and interest for readers.

In addition, this imagery will be SEO-ready, meaning:

  • Smart marketers will make use of alt tags to describe their images with relevant keywords.
  • They’ll name their files logically, including focus keywords.
  • They’ll choose the best file format for the type of image (i.e. JPEG for large photos, PNG for images with transparent backgrounds, etc.)
  • They’ll reduce their images’ file sizes for faster loading.

5. Interactive Content

A focus on better images in content brings me to interactive content – specifically, interactive imagery and infographics.

According to a 2017 study from Ion Interactive and Content Marketing Institute, 87% of marketers either “strongly agree” or “agree” that interactive content grabs readers’ attention better than static content.

Plus, interactive infographics were the top type of interactive content that year, with contests and calculators following close behind.

For example, look at this infographic from Goldman Sachs. Parts of it are animated, and as you move down the image, you get various opportunities to click on buttons and text to reveal deeper data about Millennials.

In 2020, more marketers will be getting creative and innovative with imagery like this. Additionally, they’ll be looking for fresh ways to engage audiences with short attention spans without resorting to video content, which involves a slightly higher investment in time, equipment, and money.

A key question for next year: How do we engage readers better in our text-based, written content? Interactive content represents just one solution.

📌SEO and content trends to follow in 2020: niche and expert content that meets Google's E-A-T standards, voice search optimization, more long-tail keywords, more SEO-ready images, and interactive content. 📌 Click To Tweet 5 SEO content trends for 2020: 🔮 1. Niche Expert Content 2. Content Optimized for Voice Search 3. More Long-Tail Keyword Searches 4. Richer Imagery See all 5 from @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

top five seo and content trends

Content & SEO Trends in 2020 Are All About the User

Did you notice another trend within the trends we discussed? (#inception)

Every single one of them focuses on our users and readers.

We might as well go ahead and dub 2020 “the year of the user” – that’s how much they matter now and in the future of content marketing.

If you want to grow online with content, you have to forget about your brand in that equation. Instead, you have to focus on how users can benefit from your expertise. Give away your knowledge, treat it like the renewable resource it is, and, in the process, give your readers the value they crave.

The side effects of that approach, as all of us in content marketing know deeply, are incredible for growing a business.

So, with 2020 in our sights, if you haven’t yet, it’s time to pull up a chair to the table and grab a slice of that content pie. It’s best served warm, so get it while it’s hot.

keyword cannibalization

Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is & How to Avoid It Completely (Video)

Does creating SEO content to build your brand online and grow your inbound traffic sometimes feel like a vortex of same old, same old?

If you find yourself wondering, “Did I just create too much content on the same topic…?,” you’ll want to stick around for today’s video.

In today’s new YouTube video, I explain keyword cannibalization: what it is (the good, bad AND ugly), how to avoid it, and three measures you can take to prevent it completely.

Finally, which tool to use to see if you actually do have keyword cannibalization happening. Let’s get into it!

keyword cannibalization blog

Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is & How to Avoid It Completely (Video)

My Fall Update

This fall, I’m head-down working on the developmental edit stages for my third book, a narrative nonfiction memoir. Every single day, I’m going in my content hermit hole and writing! I’m super excited about this book, and cannot wait to share more updates with you. It’s the story of how I left my dad’s cult in the middle of the night at 21 years old and built a life I love — including several businesses! Bonus: We’re full blast at Express Writers, keeping our writers and team busy with tons of great content creation projects for our clients. We have several work-from-home positions open — a part-time editor and a part-time support specialist. Get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] if you want to hear more about our opportunities.

Thirdly, even though I said I’d take on less, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of an amazing invitation I received to co-write Ryan Stewart’s new book on SEO, this fall. Ryan Stewart is a friggin’ amazing expert I’ve been a fan of for years. He’s built and sold multiple businesses from scratched and consulted for leading businesses. He and I share the same growth-focused marketing mindset. Look for our updates on that new book coming soon! This made wonder if you’re wondering how I get all my writing done. 😆 Maybe that should be another video!

Okay, let’s get into today’s topic.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is when a site has more than one page with the exact same focus keyword — typically unintentionally.

When this happens, you’re diluting your page authority and potentially eating your own ranking potential (oops). Thus the name for this issue: “keyword cannibalization.”

Instead of you telling Google, “Hey, this is my single awesome killer page for this focus keyword,” you’re throwing a bunch of pages at Google hoping one of them sticks. And that doesn’t work.

Keyword cannibalization is when a site has more than one page on the exact same keyword. Watch @JuliaEMcCoy explain keyword cannibalization and measures you can take to prevent this from happening to you. 💀 #SEO Click To Tweet

Why Keyword Cannibalization Is Not Good for SEO

Eric Enge, one of the lead writers of “The Art of SEO”, says that keyword cannibalization is like writing a really good book, but each chapter is on the exact same thing. That wouldn’t be a page-turner, would it?

He has this illustration to show how keyword cannibalization kills site SEO, and what should be done instead:

The only thing I would clarify on this concept is that when you create a bunch of pages on the same keyword — subconsciously or by accident — you’re not confusing Google. Google is pretty smart with how they rank content, so Google will make their best choice from your content based on the searcher’s intent.

But what happens…

When you create too many content pieces on the same topic you can cause an ICKY page to rank above an AWESOME page (i.e., the one you really want to rank).

Take a look at this example from Ahrefs, in this blog by Joshua Hardwick on the topic of keyword cannibalization.

If you Google the phrase “competitor backlink analysis, you’ll see two different blogs of theirs ranking in positions #6 and #7:

keyword cannibalization example ahrefs

The result in position #6 was published 4+ years ago, contains a ton of screenshots showing a very old Ahrefs UI, and is a short post compared to the mega-guides they publish nowadays.

The post they wanted to rank highly, #7, is a better blog. It’s more up-to-date and offers better advice. But, because they’ve already written on this topic, they’re cannibalizing their position.

When Keyword Cannibalization Isn’t An Issue

There are a few instances when you don’t have to worry about keyword cannibalization.

For example: if you rank in positions #1 and #2 for a very valuable keyword pulling in ideal traffic, and the content in those rankings are valuable, long-term positions for you, then you don’t need to worry about keyword cannibalization.

Example: currently holds the #1 and #2 spot for “back and bicep workout.”

keyword cannibalization example

Look at the two content pieces. Each features a different workout, by a different expert. So if you’re an ideal audience for this site, and let’s say you’re seeking a back and biceps workout and you’re interested in one of these experts (you already know them by name and are excited they’ve put together a workout online), you’re going to click on the one you like the most. So, is not cannibalizing their own rankings because both of these rankings serve a purpose. Different workouts by different experts.

The other example of keyword cannibalization not being an issue is when you have many pages around a central two-word phrase, but your rankings and focus keywords are long-tail versions of that two-word phrase.

As long as you create a unique content piece to compete for a different long-tail phrase each time, the long-tail phrase itself can have the same word or couple of words repeated.

Example: blogging statistics, best blogging service, blogging packages for law firms

Three different keywords, three different content pieces, three different search originations… all containing the same core term, blogging. Not keyword cannibalization.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

So, let’s say keyword cannibalization is happening to you. What do you do? Here are three measures you can take.

1. Merge & Update Old Content

Updating old content is one of the best ways to tell Google, hey, look! I just made this old, icky piece of content better! Now it’s worthy of search user’s eyeballs.

So if you have two pieces of content on identical keywords and topics, pick the better one, merge any content that’s worth merging from the other duplicate content, and finally, it’s best to go over the whole piece, refresh, update, write a new meta title and description for optimal results.

After you update an old piece of content, 301 redirect the URL of the old post you updated to the new one, then delete the old post.

2. Delete the Worst Version

If you have one content piece that is amazing and one that is horrible, just throw the horrible one in the trash.

Don’t even try to save it, if it’s not worth showing to your ideal audience. Don’t try to merge and update and use it, if it’s straight up cruddy. Don’t forget to 301 redirect the URL to another relevant blog before you trash it, so you don’t lose any clicks from possible anchor texts that could be linking to it.

3. No-Index

This is a situation that would work if you have a product page, for example, that a user or shopper absolutely must have, but isn’t going to help you in search because you might have two of them.

Simply no-index the page when you publish it, and avoid search crawlers completely. Not recommended if your goal is inbound traffic – I would recommend one of the other two instead – but absolutely an option if you don’t care as much about SEO and you already have great sources of traffic.

Tool Recommendation

If you have tons of content and you’re not sure what’s duplicate and what’s not, use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your site and export it. If you paste the Screaming Frog export into Excel, for example, you can use filtering to see how many pages talk about a given topic and get going on content cleanup. Think about how to organize main pages that link to sub-pages, if you have a lot of similar topics.

More Recommended Resources on Keyword Cannibalization

I also recommend these resources for learning more on this topic. Very useful!

Rand Fishkin: Keyword Targeting, Density, and Cannibalization – Whiteboard Friday (2014, but still extremely relevant)

How to Find and Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues by Joshua Hardwick (Ahrefs)

That’s a Wrap for Today’s Video!

Thanks so much for joining me on today’s video. Don’t forget to subscribe for my new videos, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions on this topic!

how to rank in the top of Google

How to Rank in the Top of Google, Win Traffic, Prospects & Buyers (Bonus: Free Checklist)

Ranking in the top of Google is the dream of every brand with a blog and every SEO expert.

Why do we care so much?

Because reaching the top of Google is like winning a gold medal in the Content Olympics. 🥇

With a few perks thrown in. More traffic? Yours. More clicks in the SERP? Yours. More qualified leads coming in? Yep, that too.

How do we know this will happen? Well, 70.6% of all traffic on the web originates from a Google search (Backlinko and Sparktoro). What’s more, 71% of B2B buyers are reading blogs during their buying journeys — at least 3-5.

Positions #1, 2, or 3 on a given search engine results page (SERP), on average, get over 54% of the clicks from that page’s overall traffic.

Considering the average click-through rate for paid search is 1.91% across all industries… well…

(Tell me again why you’re bothering with paid search?)

Knowing how to get to the top of Google (for free, without paying a cent for ads) doesn’t qualify as information that’s simply “nice to have.”

Instead, in this dog-eat-dog world of content shock and bro marketing and dying ads

In an internet era where more than 70% of all human traffic online now originates from a search engine…

It’s essential.

Ready to learn how to improve your Google search results, AND repeat that success over and over?

This is what it takes. ⬇️ Bonus: Download your free ebook checklist we created on today’s topic.

how to rank in the top of Google blog guide

How to Increase Your Google Rankings: Table of Contents

How to Rank in the Top of Google: Content is Key

1. Quality Over Quantity in Content Really Matters

2. Content Consistency Wins the Day

3. Content Doesn’t Rank in the Top of Google Without Relevancy and Usefulness

How to Rank in the Top of Google: 3 More Important Factors

1. Quick Site Speed and Page Load Times (Under 3 Seconds)

2. Good Internal Linking Practices

3. Excellent Usability

Wrapping Up: How to Rank in the Top of Google Every Time

We dream of ranking top 1 in Google -- but how is that possible? @JuliaEMcCoy shares how you can get your content to the top of Google with real case studies + a bonus FREEBIE checklist 🔥 Click To Tweet

How to Rank in the Top of Google: Content is Key

Content is one of the key factors that drive search rankings. In a nutshell, it’s about quality, consistency, and relevancy.

1. Quality Over Quantity Really Matters

Want to know how to rank higher on Google? Prioritize content of the highest caliber.

From the direction Google itself has given about what quality content looks like, we know:

  • Quality content is relevant to what the target reader is searching. It’s the answer they’re looking for when they type in a question or keyword phrase.
  • Quality content is easy to read and easy to understand for the target audience. (That doesn’t mean the content is simple. It means it’s well-written, well-formatted, and well-researched. It means the content is written to the level of whatever audience it’s meant for.)
  • Quality content serves a purpose. It teaches, informs, entertains, or guides the reader.

So, if you have a ton of blogs that don’t quite hit the mark for this level of quality, you’re not going to rank as well as a competitor with fewer blogs who absolutely NAILS this definition of quality with every single post.

Need great content? We can help. See our pricing.

To further demonstrate how & why quality matters, let’s dive into a case study.

Case Study: Content Hacker

Content Hacker is my new site, launched on June 28, 2019 – less than two months from writing this ebook/blog post.

The site is basically a newborn baby, but… we already have a top 10 spot in the rankings.

content hacker case study rankings

Three months later, right before I published this piece of content, I checked again. As of early September, we’re ranking for a total of 2,500 keywords, bringing in 345+ organic visitors. This amount goes up weekly. Just four weeks ago, we were at 85 keywords present!

content hacker rankings

How did we do it?

By focusing on content quality > quantity.

We only have 11 blogs and 14 pages total published on the site. However, the average word count for all of our blogs is 4,500. Our longest blog clocks in at 5,000 words.

[email protected] grew @content_hackers from nothing to more than 2,500+ keyword rankings in Google in less than three months. 🔥 How? She focused on content quality, not quantity, with just 11 5,000w mega-blog guides. Click To Tweet

Before creation, I spent days on ideation. I picked out focus keywords like ergonomic home office, remote freelance writing jobs, and wrote mega-blog outline complete with synonymous keywords.

Guess what we’re starting to rank for in Google, with this brand new site?

Each one of our mega-blogs are starting to rank for their focus keywords in Google.

Content works, guys.

But you have to do it right.

Each of our mega, 5,000-word blog guides are deeply researched, thoroughly outlined, takes days (or even weeks!) to write, and includes plenty of supporting images, facts, graphs, GIFs – you name it.

It’s no coincidence that the keywords we’re winning are within those ultra-long-form guides. Our steady growth on Content Hacker is mainly thanks to quality content.

Just look at that solid, upward-trending line from our SEMrush trackings for proof:

content hacker semrush

2. Consistency Wins the Day

Here’s the thing:

You can’t just depend on one factor to buoy your content to the top of Google because the search engine doesn’t look at one factor – it looks at many.

awesome cta free ebook rank in google

That’s why consistency, along with quality, is so important when it comes to content.

You can’t publish an exceptional blog once and let the rest slide. Let me say it louder, for the people in the back: Every. Single. Content. Piece. Must. Be. Exceptional.

Think of it this way: Each content piece is like a building block. They stack on top of each other, one by one, to create a wall. That wall represents your reputation and authority.

Do you want a strong, towering, solid wall that will stand up to storms? Then you can’t add even ONE weak brick to the structure because it will undermine the strength of the whole.

Every single brick needs to be strong on its own. Every single content piece needs to be consistently good for better results in the rankings. Let’s look at another case study to demonstrate what I mean.

Case Study: Express Writers

At Express Writers, our growth over time is due to the one-two punch of quality + consistency.

Check out how our growth shot up and kept a steady pace after I implemented a commitment to those two factors as part of our content strategy:


  • 99% of our prospects come to our agency through Google search.
  • We rank for over 23,000
  • We get 90K organic visitors coming in per month.
  • We have earned over $4.5 million in sales from over 5,000

It’s all thanks in part to one fact:

We have NEVER missed our goal of publishing one blog post per week for eight years.

That’s right. For eight years, we have managed to publish at least once every week. That’s 416 straight weeks where we had a post researched, outlined, written, designed, edited, and ready to go.

The consistency part of the equation has always been there for us. When I finally added a commitment to quality around 2016-2017, we took off. More than that, we keep growing. Take a look at our keyword positions from December 2018:

  • 504 keywords ranking in the top 3 positions in the SERPs.
  • 1,024 keywords ranking in spots #4-10.

Now look at the data from August 2019:

  • In just eight months, 30 keywords climbed into the top 3 of Google.
  • Another 193 keywords made their way into positions 4-10 (which is nothing to sneeze at – ALL of these are on the first page!)
  • Another 355 are still gradually climbing and have moved into the second-page territory in positions 11-20.
  • Last but not least, an astonishing 2,749 keywords started ranking. They’re not in the top of Google yet, but given time, we’ll probably see plenty of them move upward, too.

We see a similar trend when we examine our backlink data and referring domains using Ahrefs. The middle graph, in particular, shows that slow-yet-steady incline I’ve been talking about this whole time:

Steady, constant, upward-trending growth.

That’s what consistency helps you achieve. It’s a major part of how to rank in the top of Google.

Don’t get me wrong, though – it requires a major, CRAZY amount of investment of not necessarily dollars, but time and effort. For the Write Blog content alone, I lead a team of < 5 content creators and a designer to produce what you see here every week. Each blog has a lead time of about two weeks.

But – the investment pays off in dividends. It amounts to daily, qualified leads coming in on autopilot.

It’s worth every penny, every drop of sweat, and every tear shed.

3. Content Doesn’t Rank in the Top of Google Without Relevancy and Usefulness

The final major content factors you need to rank higher on Google?

Content that’s topically relevant to your target audience and useful for their needs.

Even if you post amazing, wow-worthy blogs consistently, they won’t rank well unless they relate to the target reader and are topically on-point.

What do I mean by that?

Your blog topics should cover information that’s important to your target audience.

Depending on the length you want the end result to be, you need to either drill-down into your subject or provide a broader overview.

For an example of a blog that’s topically off the mark, look at this post from CNET:

It’s about 700-800 words, but it’s all over the place. Within a few paragraphs, the author covers composting, lawn care, smart technology for gardeners, and gardening for the apartment-bound.

Huh? Who is the author actually writing to, here? Each of these topics could make a great 800-word post taken by themselves. Plus, they could all be targeted to different people: apartment-dwellers, the eco-conscious, tech junkies, and busy homeowners.

Instead, they’re all included in a post that seems disjointed and, ultimately, unhelpful for a specific user coming to this blog with a specific gardening question.

Pop quiz:

Where do you think this blog is currently ranking in Google? (Hint: It’s a well-written, optimized post on a well-known website. It’s accurate and well-formatted. The only issues: It’s scattered, provides a broad array of information vs. diving deep into one topic, and doesn’t quite jive with the user intent of a person searching for “gardening tips.”)

I’ll give you a few seconds to come up with a guess.

Give up? 🤔

It’s on page 3.

The takeaway: Relevancy and usefulness matter if you want to rank in the top of Google.

To show you a successful example, let’s look at FreshCap Mushrooms, an EW client. *cue case study*

Case Study: FreshCap Mushrooms (EW Client)

FreshCap Mushrooms is a brand on a mission to change people’s lives with the power of mushrooms. They specialize in educating people on how mushrooms are grown, and how functional mushrooms can be used to improve health and wellness, and sell an array of mushroom extracts and powders in their shop.

Positioning themselves through fact-based educational content serves as a great way for FreshCap to differentiate from the other mushroom extract producers, and helps them build authority in the niche.

Needless to say, their blog is a huge part of their online presence. This is where they do the brunt of their teaching on the subject of mushrooms plus related health + wellness topics.

Once this brand committed to consistency and quality in their blog posts on topics relevant to their target audience, they have seen a lot of success that continues to grow. They now have 14K organic keyword positions on Google.

See that noticeable upward curve at the end of the graph? That’s when their content strategy really started making an impact.

That’s the power of relevant, useful, high-quality content. Remember, this is content with the following attributes:

  • It addresses the user’s needs. When they’re typing the target keyword into a Google search, the user most likely has a question or problem to solve, or a pain point they want to alleviate. The content helps them do it.
  • It’s in-depth. Each piece of content focuses on ONE topic (or topic facet) and explores that subject fully.
  • It serves a purpose. The purpose can be to entertain, inform, or teach your readers – it’s up to you to determine the goal. Whatever you do, make sure it serves a purpose for the audience.
[email protected] says it's worth remembering that CONTENT is the key to rank in the top of Google. Prioritize your content's quality over quantity, consistency, and relevancy and usefulness. 🎩 Click To Tweet

awesome cta free ebook rank in google

How to Rank in the Top of Google: 3 More Important Factors

The “how to rank in the top of Google” question isn’t solely answered with content. Along with exceptional blogs, articles, and the like, you also need some supporting website factors in place.

Don’t neglect any of these – they’re all equally important to build the reputation of your site (and thus your content).

1. Quick Site Speed and Page Load Times

Want to rank? A laggy site may kill your chances.

If your pages take eons to load, well, nobody has time for that. ⏳

As you know, waiting for a slow page to load is like watching paint dry. We’re nearing 2020 – we expect speed!

According to Think with Google, as page load time slows down, bounce rate increases.

If your page takes over 5 seconds to load, the likelihood your visitor will immediately bounce increases by over 100%.

Yikes. That person will never become a lead. And, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Google isn’t into that, either.

Faster website = better user experience = better rankings.

To speed up your website, check out this guide from Moz with best-practices.

2. Good Internal Linking Practices

Along with consistently good content and a speedy site, the structure of your pages matters for getting your website to the top of Google.

Think of this factor as the overall organization of your site pages. Are they cluttered, haphazard, and difficult to navigate? Or do they seamlessly link to each other?

When your site structure is on-point, Google search bots can:

  • Crawl and index your domain and content more easily
  • Understand the relationships between pages, including:
    • Which pages are more important/less important in the grand scheme of things
    • Which pages are topically related

Here’s a good example of a clean, organized site structure (also called site architecture) from Single Grain:

The concept of good site structure applies to internal links in your blog content, too. When you link to your other, relevant content pieces inside a blog post, you:

  • Help Google make connections between them
  • Help your readers get additional, related information on whatever topic they’re perusing

Helpful is good. Aim to be helpful as you structure your site links between pages, and your rankings will improve, too. Think of this as a foundational aspect of how to rank in the top of Google.

3. Excellent Usability

If you’ve been reading the Write Blog for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me mention the concept of usability before.

It means your website shouldn’t be merely beautiful to look at – it should ALSO be beautiful to use for better Google rankings.

What do I mean by that?

Think of some tool or object in your life you love using. Maybe it’s your fancy coffee maker, or your iPad, or the new tech gadget you just bought. It can be as simple as your favorite pen or a specific website.

If you love using something, that object is probably extremely usable. The same goes for websites. The ones you love using will more than likely check the boxes for the principles of good usability, which contribute to a beautiful user experience.

The Daily Egg sums them up like this:

  • Availability and accessibility – This just means the website works and you can access it. (For people with disabilities like hearing or vision impairment, not every site is usable on this basic level unless the brand, company, or designer addresses their needs.)
  • Clarity – The “how” and “why” of the website are clear – you know what it’s “for” just by looking at it. It’s not confusing to use.
  • Learnability – You don’t need instructions to use the website. It uses familiar concepts like different colors for links, larger text for headings, and a highly visible area containing the main navigation, for instance.
  • Credibility – The website is trustworthy. It includes markers of authenticity like an about page, correct spelling and grammar, a logo, contact information, reviews, testimonials, or credentials.
  • Relevancy – The site owners know their target users and cater their content so it’s relevant to this group. The website addresses the needs and problems of those users.

A great example of an exceptionally usable website is Airbnb.

It’s fast, responsive, and effortless to use because Airbnb knows exactly why you visit them: You want to find a rental for your next trip to a specific city.

Once you enter some broad details, you’re taken to pages that narrow down your search successively:

It’s all easy and intuitive. You don’t have to think too hard about how to find the rental that suits your needs – you just do.

THAT is the essence of a usable website: When its expected function performs as expected, and you’re able to complete your desired task without any effort.

To learn more about usability and how to make your site as user-friendly as possible, check out this overview from the Interaction Design Foundation and this usability testing guide from Hotjar.

Don't forget these 3 other important factors to rank at the top of Google: quick site speed and page load times, good internal links, and excellent usability. @JuliaEMcCoy explains how to achieve all three (+ free checklist!). 📈 Click To Tweet

Wrapping Up: How to Rank in the Top of Google Every Time

If you want to know how to improve your Google search ranking, go back to basics.

Look hard and deep at three things:

  • Your content
  • Your reader
  • Your website

Learn what your ideal reader wants, needs, or craves from your content. In your content, provide those answers exceptionally and consistently. On your website, help your reader do what they came to do with as few roadblocks as possible.

Finally, make the process you implemented to rank in the top of Google repeatable. Build a workflow. Build a team. Make it happen.

You can do this. I believe in you. 🌈

google core update

Google Core June Update: How It Rocked Search Visibility & What You Can Do to Rebound

From June 3 – 8, Google rolled out a broad core algorithm update that is now called the 2019 Google Core June Update.

This update shook the SEO world because a few big-time sites took big-time hits (The Daily Mail, anyone? 😱).

One site that looked pretty darn reputable even had to shut its doors because the loss in search visibility cut their revenue by as much as 90%. (That’s not a typo. More on that later.)

So, what the heck happened? What did this Google Core June Update do, and who did it affect?

More importantly, how can you rebound from this Google update if your site tanked in the SERPs?

We’re exploring all of that today.

Google Core June Update: Table of Contents

What Did the Google Core June Update Do?

  1. The Google Core June Update is Broad and Not Specific to One Area
  2. It May Have Affected Site Relevance to User Searches

What Sites Did the Google Core June Update Impact?

  1. Cryptocurrency News Sites
  2. Health, Travel, and General News Media Sites
  3. Retail and Image Sites

How Can Site Owners Recover from the Google June Core Update?

  1. Double-Down on Quality…
  2. …But Understand What Quality Actually Means to Google
  3. Think of Your Users First, and Strive to BE Useful

Takeaways from the Google Core June Update: What Can We Learn from This?

what google core update is

Big-time sites dropping their search visibility big-time this 2019?! Oh no! 😨 @JuliaEMcCoy explains more about what happened in the 2019 Google Core June Update and how site owners can recover. Click To Tweet

What Did the Google Core June Update Do?

We can only speculate as to what aspects of ranking the Google Core June Update actually affected. That said, there have been rumors and guesses aplenty circulating the web.

1. The Google Core June Update is Broad and Not Specific to One Area

The Google June 2019 Core Update was largely broad and not specific to one area of SEO or search, according to statements from John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, and Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison.

That means rushing to add more biographical information to your content or cutting out intrusive ads to improve your site’s E-A-T isn’t the answer for regaining rankings.

2. It May Have Affected Site Relevance to User Searches

More specifically, Mueller said there was “nothing to fix” for site owners or SEOs – instead, the Google Core update had more to do with a broad range of factors outside of what webmasters can control, including their content’s relevancy to user searches.

As Mueller said in a Google Webmaster Hangout summarized by Search Engine Journal, user expectations for searches change all the time. Google is trying to make sure they meet those expectations:

“Sometimes what users expect evolves and similarly, sometimes our algorithms are, the way that we try to determine relevance, they evolve as well.”

Danny Sullivan also plainly stated on Twitter that the Core June Update was broad, and that people should think more broadly about how their site could improve:

What does a “broad” update mean in this context? SEOs like Roger Montii have posited it means your site and content aren’t to blame for any rankings you lost. Instead, perhaps user search intent has changed for the specific queries you’re targeting, and your content is no longer relevant or useful for the questions people are asking.

SEJ article explaining on how some Google ranking issues are external to the website, but just a change on user interest and habits

“…it’s not a problem with your site, but rather a change in user habits that may be reflected in the kinds of pages that Google shows in the search results.”

What did the Google Core June Update do? Rumors say that 1) the update is broad and not specific to one area of SEO and 2) it may have affected site relevance to user searches. 🤔 It's not your content or website, it's just Google. Click To Tweet

What Sites Did the Google Core June Update Impact?

This update affected several BIG sites in a major way. What happened, and which sites were hit hardest? Here’s what we know and what SEOs are speculating.

1. Cryptocurrency News Sites

According to CCN, major sites that saw the brunt of hits from the Google June Core Update were news media sites centered on cryptocurrency. In fact, CCN itself has been forced to close its doors because of the steep, dramatic decline in search visibility they saw after the update rolled through. Their mobile traffic from Google searches dropped by over 71% within 12 hours.'s Visibility Index shows mobile traffic from Google searches dropped by over 71% within 12 hours.

Other cryptocurrency news sites affected include Cointelegraph,, and CryptoPotato, according to CCN and Forbes.

The 2019 Google Core June Update affected cryptocurrency sites such as CCN, which dropped its mobile traffic for over 71%! 😐 Check out @JuliaEMcCoy's post about Google's latest shocking update. #SEO Click To Tweet

Here’s a chart showing other domains with major drops in search visibility from the data Sistrix gathered:

a chart showing other domains with major drops in search visibility from the data Sistrix gathered

2. Health, Travel, and General News Media Sites

Other websites that saw a major impact from the Google Core June Update include those publishing news media for industries like health, travel, and general topics.

As you can see in the chart above, the second website in the column of names is The Daily Mail, which saw up to 50% decline in search visibility.

Other major publishers affected include, Conde Nast Traveller, Mercola, Dr. Axe, Mind Body Green, and Prevention.

According to Sistrix,’s search visibility dropped by 24%.

According to Sistrix,’s search visibility dropped by 24%.

Travel news media sites like dropped by 18%.

Travel news media sites like dropped by 18%.

Health news sites like Prevention and Mind Body Green dropped by 29% and 30%, respectively.

Health news sites like Prevention and Mind Body Green dropped by 29% and 30%, respectively.

Popular sites like The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller, and Mind Body Green dropped their search visibility too after the 2019 Google Core June Update! 😵 Read what @JuliaEMcCoy thinks about this update and how to recover from it. Click To Tweet

3. Retail and Image Sites

Retail and image sites were also among the domains with reported drops in search visibility. Just a few examples include Vimeo, Humble Bundle, Find Me a Gift, and Mountain Warehouse.

Retail and image sites were also affected by Google's latest 2019 update. Know what happened and learn what you can do to recover from the Google Core June Update with @JuliaEMcCoy's easy tips. Click To Tweet

How Can Site Owners Recover from the Google June Core Update?

The Google June Core Update rocked lots of sites and created a major rankings shake-up for many. How can you recover? Here are some tips:

1. Double-Down on Quality….

I can’t say it enough: quality, quality, quality. If your site is high-quality, from the UX to the design to the content and links, you’ll never get penalized when Google rolls out a huge broad core update.

However, you can’t just fall back on what quality means to you. Instead, you must understand and implement what quality means to Google.

2. …But Understand What Quality Actually Means to Google

What does “quality” mean to Google when defining a high-quality site?

During the Google June Core Update, we got lots of hints from Google’s minions.

For one, John Mueller advised site owners to look at an old Google Webmaster Central blog by Amit Singhal called “More guidance on building high-quality sites.”

In particular, this line stands out from the blog:

“Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals.”

“Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals.”

This point is so important, it’s mentioned twice in the same paragraph:

“Search is a complicated and evolving art and science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic tweaks, we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users.”

“Search is a complicated and evolving art and science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic tweaks, we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users.”

In other words, don’t focus on what you think Google is doing with the algorithm – focus on providing a stellar user experience for your audience. THAT is the kind of quality Google is prioritizing.

For more on how Google thinks with “quality” of content, see my blog on Google’s E-A-T and Y-M-Y-L standards.

Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines guide

3. Think of Your Users First, and Strive to BE Useful

What makes up stellar user experience (UX)? Well, you have to think of your users first when building your site and creating content.

It’s not “will this page rank if I do x, y, and z?” – it’s “how can I make this page as amazing as possible for the user coming to it with questions?” It’s “how can I answer their questions entirely, satisfactorily, and clearly?”

Further down in the Google Webmaster Central blog, Google tells us what else makes up great user experience, including questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re on the right track. A few key questions from this list:

  • “Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?” – Content should be original, unique, and targeted for user search intent.
  • “Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?” – In other words, would you trust this site with your most confidential information?
  • “Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?” – Are the content topics user-driven or rankings-driven?
  • “Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?” – If you want to be the best page there is on a particular topic, you need to outdo your competitors and make your page better and more relevant to the user search query.

Bottom line: Thinking of your content in terms of UX is a very, very smart idea.

To learn more about the intersection of UX and content (and why it matters a LOT), check out these great posts:

• The Role of Content in User Experience by Sarah Saker for Uxmatters

Finally, this infographic by G.1140 is another good reference for why the user experience is essential to content:

UX infographic by G.1140

How can site owners recover from the 2019 Google Core Update? Three things: 1) Double-down on quality BUT 2) Understand what 'quality' is for Google, which is *drumroll* better UX! and 3) think of your users first 🍮 Click To Tweet

Takeaways from the Google Core June Update: What Can We Learn from This?

The Google June Core Update resulted in massive changes in search visibility to a number of high-profile sites. From this big rankings shuffle, we saw sites with content that looked pretty darn good lose traction in the SERPs.

This begged the question from many SEOs and site owners: What went wrong? (Or, more accurately, huh?)

Google, of course, wasn’t exactly forthcoming with explanations (surprise, surprise), but from what they gave us, we can safely assume:

  1. The update was a broad update, so attempting to change or improve aspects of your site or content won’t do anything. You can’t fix what isn’t broken.
  2. You need to reframe your thinking about ranking and algorithm-obsessing. Your goal shouldn’t be to rank; it should be to provide users with the information and UX they need to fulfill their Google searches with the least amount of effort. Period.

That may require a BIG shift in thinking for lots of people, but as we’ve seen with our own content at Express Writers, when you focus on the user, magical things can and do start happening. ✨

Were you affected by the Google Core June Update? Got any insights? Let us know in the comments. 👇

google core update writing services