When Google says an SEO ranking factor is important, marketers need to sit up straight and listen.
Considering Google controls more than 90% of web searches, it’s safe to say they’re an authority on the subject.
With that kind of monopoly, Google’s ranking factors and page-quality guidelines are what drive SEO best practices, which is important for content marketing.
Before the pandemic, Google search traffic averaged around 3.6 billion searches per day. But since March 2020, that search traffic has grown to more than 6 billion. That’s an extra 2.4 BILLION more daily searches than there used to be!
53.3% of all website traffic originates from organic searches.
So, what’s the connection between content and SEO, and why does Google place such a high value on content?
It’s all in today’s blog.
First, let’s start with the basic question…
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. While it technically includes all search engines, the main focus is Google (for reasons we already covered).
Then why is content important for SEO?
Simply put, content and SEO go hand in hand.
SEO content writing is the practice of writing optimized web content with the primary goal of being ranked in the top results of a search engine results page (SERP).
Great content that isn’t optimized for search engines isn’t going to perform well. Neither will phenomenal SEO methods executed on poor content.
While content and SEO are two different subjects, they must work in tandem in order to form a successful content marketing strategy.Content and SEO go hand in hand. ? Great content that isn’t optimized for search engines won't perform well. Neither will phenomenal SEO methods executed on poor content. Learn to put two and two together via @ExpWriters ➕ Click To Tweet
A Guide on Content and SEO: 5 Steps to Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
Let’s rewind back to Google and why the search engine giant believes content is so important for SEO.
Google’s primary function is to generate the most relevant, helpful articles when someone types a topic or question into the search engine.
So, logically, it makes sense that Google is going to prioritize content that is high-quality and serves to help, educate, or entertain based on what the searcher is looking for.
Marketers put a lot of effort into making educated guesses about which factors Google uses in its ranking algorithm. But the importance of content isn’t even a guess – Google tells us how critical it is in their SEO starter guide:
Google hit the nail on the head when it claimed “users know good content when they see it.”
That’s why two driving forces behind what constitutes as good content can be traced back to acronyms in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
- E.A.T. (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness): 3 factors Google uses to rate content quality
- Y.M.Y.L. (Your Money or Your Life): Content that can potentially impact a reader’s financial, physical, and/or mental health and happiness
Below, we’ll explore how to optimize content for SEO while ensuring high relevancy and quality.
Would you try to build a house without a blueprint?
I certainly hope not!
The same principle applies when you start pumping out content without doing any research or preparation beforehand.
It all starts with a focus keyword within your niche.
You also need to understand your audience’s search intent. If you’re targeting the keyword “birthday cake,” what are your targeted readers actually looking for? A local bakery? A recipe to bake a birthday cake at home? Your content needs to target the correct audience.
Pro tip: Google is a FREE way to easily find synonymous keywords. You can generate a list of suggestions when you type your focus keyword into the search bar.
You can also discover more synonymous keywords at the bottom of the SERP page where Google suggests related searches.
Pro tip: Google is a FREE way to easily find synonymous keywords. You can generate a list of suggestions when you type your focus keyword into the search bar. ?✅ Click To Tweet
Keyword research tools will give you a better idea of how traffic and competition affect your focus keyword.
While there are free keyword research tools available, I don’t recommend them. After researching paid vs. free keyword tools in the SEO content writing course that I teach, I discovered that some of the free tools provided misleading data.
My top 3 keyword research tools I highly recommend:
It’s tempting to target keywords that have high average monthly searches. But, especially if you have a new website, resist the temptation.
Relevancy is much more important than search traffic. Look for easily attainable long-tail keywords that are specific to your audience and don’t have much competition.
Content is your most important ranking factor.
I’ll say it again for those in the back – content is your MOST IMPORTANT ranking factor.
Your content needs to:
- Be high quality
- Provide useful information
- Be relevant to your niche
- Be free of typos and grammatical errors
- Have a smooth flow that readers can follow
- Be at an average-to-low reading level for most viewers
- Cite trustworthy sources with links to credible websites (be sure to link directly to the source, not a link of a link)
Your keyword, of course, is a critical piece of the puzzle. But keyword density is dead, so get it out of your mind.
Instead of worrying about keyword density, you should be more concerned with strategic placement and topical content.
If your writing stays on topic, you’ll naturally be using your keyword frequently enough for search engines to pick up on it.
In addition, make sure you place your focus keyword in your title and URL. Use synonymous keywords throughout the article, especially in subheaders.
As far as other SEO content writing tips go, here are some of Google’s dos and don’ts:
You should always end your content with a call to action (CTA) that prompts the reader to further engage. This can be something like asking to subscribe to your newsletter, offering a service, recommending similar articles, etc.
Your content should be well written, but it also needs to be properly structured and organized, not to mention optimized for mobile.
Most readers on the web are skimmers, which means you need to break up your content into an easily readable format, including:
- Short paragraphs
- Headings and subheadings (H2s and H3s)
- Bulleted or numbered lists
- Media such as images, videos, infographics, etc. to break up text and boost engagement
- Bolded main ideas for readers to easily pick out
When it comes to using images, make sure your focus keyword is in the alt tag. It’s also a good idea to rename your file before you upload it to get that keyword in there one more time.
Proper structuring is part of SEO, which means it needs to work with your content, not against it.
4. Make Your Content Evergreen
You want your content to have a long lifespan. Evergreen content stays relevant long after it’s published.
For example, “10 Best Christmas Presents to Give Your Sweetheart” is not evergreen, because as soon as Christmas is over, that content is irrelevant.
In comparison, “5 Proven Methods to Earn More Money with a Side Hustle” doesn’t have a foreseeable expiration date. People are always going to be interested in earning extra money.
In order to make sure your content is evergreen:
- Avoid using years and dates whenever you can, especially in the title, topic, and URL
- Don’t focus on seasonal or short-term trending topics
- Avoid news (it’ll be yesterday’s news in the blink of an eye)
- Don’t use time-sensitive words and phrases such as “last year” or “a few weeks ago”
I recommend revisiting old content on a regular basis and giving it a refresh to make sure it’s still relevant with up-to-date information.
5. Write a Unique Meta Description
Everything within the article is important for search engine rankings, but don’t forget about the external content potential readers will see on the SERP before they click on your post – your title and meta description.
In less than 160 characters, counting spaces, you need to convince a reader that your article is worth reading.
ALWAYS write a unique meta description rather than leaving the default, which is the first 160 characters of your article.
I recommend using an impactful statistic in the meta description, but this comes with a disclaimer: you’ll need to update your meta descriptions regularly if you rely on dated statistics.5️⃣ steps to optimize content for Google: 1️⃣Research (audience, topic, keywords) 2️⃣Content quality (readable, organized, unique) 3️⃣Structure (headings/formatting, media) 4️⃣Evergreen (relevant always) 5️⃣Metas (unique, helpful) Click To Tweet
Use Content and SEO Together to Maximize Your Content Marketing Strategy
We’ve covered a lot of information, and yet, we barely scratched the surface of SEO and content.
Start with the tips I (and Google) outlined in this guide, and I promise your SEO content marketing strategy will be in a better place than it was before.
While content marketing itself doesn’t cost any money since we’re targeting free keywords in search engines, it is a major time commitment to do it right. Many companies are investing in hiring an expert copywriter, and it’s no surprise that content creation is the top outsourced activity.
Businesses need high-quality content that engages their audience, ranks with Google, and builds real trust.
Are you ready to invest in your SEO content marketing strategy with an expert copywriter? Check out the Content Shop to see our writing services and pricing.