writing content that ranks

New Year Resolutions: 6 Steps for Writing Content That Actually Ranks

The New Year is almost here and while you might be writing down some personal resolutions, how much effort have you put into some website resolutions? Let’s face it; Google has practically demanded all website owners to beef up their quality and stop fooling around, so your #1 resolution this year should be to take your website’s content seriously. Well, if you want to rank high that is.
 

Content Strategies that Rank Websites

We’ve drilled this concept into your head time and time again: content is crucial. But for the sake of being consistent we’re going to do it again. If you don’t have high-quality content, Google won’t rank you period.

So if you’re ready to boost up your rank and (hopefully) increase your website’s earning potential, it’s time to take New Years to a whole new level with these critical steps for writing rankable (and bankable) content for 2014.

 

1. Create a Content Strategy…We’re Serious

How many times have you seen the words “content strategy” from us? Well it’s clear: you need one. Everyone needs one. Even if you’re the best writer there is and you have the juiciest topics and greatest content, you still need a strategy.

Think of it like you’re going to war. The search engine is the enemy, the competition is teaming up with the enemy, and now it’s time to find a way to take them both down. In a battle, would you just run full speed ahead and hope for the best (hopefully you don’t lose a leg…kind of like losing your search engine rank) or would you strategize so you keep your limbs (and your rank)?

We’re thinking a strategy might be a good idea. We personally like our limbs…and our ranking.

 

All right, so what’s a good strategy? A good content strategy is well thought out and it’s certainly not something you can write up in a day (if you did, you might want to review that one more time). Your website is unique, so we cannot give you the golden formula that tells you exactly what your strategy should say, but we can tell you what it should at least entail:

  • You need goals. If you don’t have purpose when you write your content, you’re not really going to get results. Think of what you want before you write.
  • Your unique selling point. Think about it. What makes your products sell? Why are you awesome? Only you know the answer to this and you had better use it to your advantage in your content.
  • A defined target audience. If you don’t know whom you’re writing to, you’re not really going to reach them on a personal level now are you? We know you, that’s why you’re still reading this.

 

These are the three critical things every content strategy needs. Audience Bloom has an article about how to write a
Kickass Content Strategy” and we highly suggest you breeze through it.

 

2. Show Your Audience You Actually Care

Today’s audience is selfish and that’s OK. You should write to the audience and show them you actually care about your content. Be unique, fresh and actually give them something. When you dribble on and regurgitate the same old content out there already, you’re just telling your readers you’re too busy to show them you give a darn. It’s true.

Sit down and take some time to write out your content. Give your readers some valuable insight that no one else has. You’re the industry and business expert, right? You know your products and you know stuff that the Average Joe or Jane doesn’t. Share it! Internet users want to learn and walk away from their computer screen feeling savvy.

So, again, how do you show your audience you care?

  • By writing high-quality, unique content
  • By giving them something other than what they’ve already read 500 times
  • By offering some real insight and value

 

Think of the websites you follow. Do they teach you something? Do they give you something to walk away with and implement right away? You want your site to be just like that, so create content that gives to the reader and you will do just that.

 

3. Long-Winded is OK, If You Do It Right

By long-winded we aren’t talking going on and on about nothing. That’s not good. However, the length of your on-page content needs to get a little fatter. Not just in quality, but in length too.

Google wants more words on the page. While they’re not advertising how many words (keeping to their notorious reputation for being vague), the length seems to correlate with how Google ranks authority.

Now, before you go off and write a 2,000-word blog about nothing, stop.

Google feels a longer article or blog post showcases authority only if it has quality writing, value, and research. Filling a page with a wall of useless text is not authoritative and will not get you a high ranking with Google. According to WebDesignLedger.com, content with more than 1,000 words has a better chance for ranking higher.

We think this is because Google looks at time and effort. When you take the time to do in-depth research, analysis and write up something that offers a multitude of value to the reader, it shows Google you’ve gone the extra mile. Since Google is all about quality, quality, quality, that extra mile means a higher rank.

So, in 2014 try to sprinkle in a few longer posts — we’re thinking over 1,000 words will certainly do the trick. But, make sure each post is well researched, thorough and gives readers in-depth knowledge.

 

4. Stop Using Vanilla Headlines

You obviously cannot smell through the computer screen, so we’re not talking about vanilla extract. What we’re talking about is boring, usual headlines.

Headlines are in bold, but if the text isn’t as equally eye-catching, it won’t do your site much justice.

Now, you’re probably asking what a headline has to do with your rank. Headlines influence traffic. In fact, according to SocialMediaToday.com, only 20 percent of the people who see your headlines will actually read much further than that — that means 80 percent of Internet users glance and move on.

However, if you can grasp the attention of a reader with that single one-liner, you’re in.

When your website shows up on a search engine result page, the headline, and your brief description is what a reader sees. Therefore, it’s rather important. Whether a headline influences your rank or not (it does, but we’ll deal with that in a minute), it’s important that the reader actually wants to click on your page when it shows up on their results page.

The research is clear on what attracts readers to click and what doesn’t. For your 2014 content strategy, don’t forget that the headlines do matter and include some of these ideas:

  • Lists and Numbers – You’re reading this blog, aren’t you? Lists tell readers exactly what they’re getting. For example, “10 of the Best Vacation Spots” tells you you’re about to find out the ten spots you’ll have the best time at.
  • Defining Headlines – You need to explicitly tell the reader what he or she is getting. Instead of saying “Writing Compelling Content” you should say “10 Ways to Write Compelling Content” — see the difference?
  • Add a “You” In There – When you call out to the audience, you instantly spike a little interest. For example, instead of saying “10 Ways to Earn More Money” you could say “10 Ways You Can Earn More Money Now”
  • Optimized Headlines – A headline still needs to be optimized. Adding a keyword, naturally, will help with that. For example, your keyword or target phrase is “Increasing Rank” so a good, catchy title might be “10 Ways For Increasing Your Rank”

 

5. Don’t Be a Keyword Diva

Yes, keywords still have their place, but they’re not as important as they once were. It’s time to quit being a keyword diva and drop the act. Having perfectly optimized content that targets every keywords interferes with your ability to meet Google’s other expectations — quality, natural flow, etc. So, you need to go about your keywords right.

Utilize page titles.
Page titles are a great place to drop a targeted keyword. The closer you get it to the start of the page title the better.

Use it in your headline.
If you can naturally put a keyword into your headline, then do it. Don’t force it! Now, if you’re going to use a keyword in your headline, make sure the content under that headline is relevant. There is no bigger error you can commit than using keywords and irrelevant content on the same page.

Use it in your content.
Primary, secondary, and other keywords can be used in your content a lot more naturally than they can in headlines and page titles. There’s no real density recommendation that we can give you, but we can tell you what not to do: cram every keyword in there. If it doesn’t read naturally or sound right, take it out. Keywords should be used in a natural-flowing manner. If it doesn’t flow, it goes.

Add it to your images.
Using keywords with images is a good idea. While you’ll not see a significant spike in traffic from image search, it’s still good to use keywords on the image’s title, surrounding text and in the attribute if you can.

Put it in the Meta description.

Before you gasp and say that’s wrong, listen.

Your page’s Meta description doesn’t influence your rank, but it can influence whether or a user clicks on your link. When a user enters a search term, they’re looking for something. They read the descriptions and headlines on a results page to see if a website is giving them what they’re looking for. Therefore, by adding in the keyword you might increase your visibility with the user.

 

6. Remember Changes Are Coming…

In HBO’s Game of Thrones all you hear every season and every episode is “winter is coming.” The same goes for search engine updates. Changes are coming and will continue to come. When they rear their ugly head, you must be prepared to adapt and stay up-to-date.

2014 is going to be the year of SEO for mobile. It has been said that Hummingbird was just the tip of the iceberg (the small snow flurries of winter that mean bigger storms to come). Google plans on adapting to the rapidly growing trend of mobile use.

Your site’s performance in the mobile sector could greatly impact your SEO rank. Therefore, start preparing your site’s content for mobile just as much as you prepare it for PC.

 

So What Have We Learned?

2014 is certainly going to spark some changes for everyone and it’s better to be prepared than be that guy (or gal) stuck in the past.

To recap what we’ve gone over, for 2014, your content needs to include these six steps:

  1. Create a Content Strategy – Without a strategy you’ll be that website that looks cool, but really doesn’t have any direction.
  2. Write for the People – No, not politically. We just mean write with the intention of helping your readers. Go the extra mile, do some research and really write like you give a darn about it. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone.
  3. Write Longer, Researched Posts – You don’t have to make every post a 10,000-word book, but you need to add some real in-depth value to your site for your followers.
  4. Write Compelling Headlines – Not just for the search engines, but also for the benefit of the people you need to click on your site.
  5. Use Keywords Naturally – If it doesn’t flow, it goes. Enough said.
  6. Be On the Lookout for Changes – Stay up to date on the latest algorithm changes and make sure you’re always adapting.

 

Ranking high with search engines should actually be easier these days. Google is no longer rewarding the people who know how to trick their algorithms. Instead, they’re rewarding the people who take time, put in a little effort, and really work to create awesome content. By just doing that, you’re a step ahead and on your way to better rankings.

 

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