authority building blogs

How to Write & Publish Authority-Building SEO Blogs in 2019 (SEMrush Webinar Recap)

A few weeks ago, on February 11, I gave a talk for SEMrush on one of my favorite topics – writing and publishing authority building blogs and SEO content.

We had hundreds of viewers live, and lots of great questions!

To help out those of you who couldn’t attend, and for those who were just too busy for the almost-two-hour talk I gave (!!), we’re recapping the entire webinar here on the Write Blog. 📺📝

I cover everything you need to know, including why inbound content ROCKS, and how to create strong content that gets results, step-by-step.

Ready to learn? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, including why ads are dying and why inbound marketing/blogging is the way forward in 2019.

Read the recap of the live talk @JuliaEMcCoy gave for @semrush in February, on #authority building #SEO content 🔥 Click To Tweet

authority building SEO blogs

The Talk: Secrets to Writing Authority-Building SEO Blogs in 2019

Like video content better? Watch a replay of the 1.49 hour session on YouTube:

The Recap: Secrets to Writing Authority-Building SEO Blogs in 2019

As promised, here’s our written recap of the top takeaways from my talk!

Why Blog? The State of Advertising is Dismal

The state of advertising is pretty bad when you look at the conversion numbers.

Compared to 3 years ago, conversion rates on advertising have dipped ridiculously low. In 2016, the average return on ad spend (ROAS) was 11.88x. Today, that number has dropped to 0.66x.

(Read all about the dreary state of advertising in this recap of The Ad Strategist’s report.)

By comparison, blogging and content marketing look awesome.

Seriously: Inbound is THE future of marketing.

For instance, did you know Google is the most-visited website in the world? YouTube and Facebook hold the next two top spots, but they still aren’t anywhere close to Google’s traffic numbers (nearly 3.5 billion searches per day!).

When you build authority SEO content on your website, you build your Google authority simultaneously. That’s because Google will crawl your blogs and rank them, giving them a position in the search engine results. Since Google grabs so much traffic, that could be beyond powerful for growing your web presence.


To build authority, your content has to be amazing, strategic, researched, and well-crafted. Your content platform (your website) must be user-friendly and well-designed.

You have to do it all (or, if you’re a smart delegator, make sure it all gets done).

Don’t worry, though – where there’s a way, there’s a will. And there IS a way. Follow me!

To build authority, your content has to be amazing, strategic, researched, and well-crafted. Your content platform, your site, must be user-friendly and well-designed. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

How to Write and Publish Authoritative, GOOD Content: 6 Strategic Steps

It’s time to dive into authority-building content creation. Get ready for greatness!

1. Make Sure Your Website is Right

A useful, user-friendly website needs to be the bottom layer of your online presence cake. Without this crucial piece in place, you won’t see any real results from your content.

A strong website is what makes your content eligible to rank in the first place. Our site at Express Writers gets nearly 4,000 organic visitors daily from our blog and content rankings (we currently rank for over 16,000 keywords). Those numbers wouldn’t be possible without a strong website serving as the foundation.

What does a strong website look like? Using our site as an example, the top 5 elements are illustrated below.

  • Strong sites are built on trusted platforms, like WordPress, which is one of the most robust SEO blogging tools out there.
  • They load quickly – under 2 seconds is ideal. According to Google, as page load time increases from one second to 10 seconds, a site visitor is 123% more likely to bounce.
  • The page copy is simple, clear, and easy to read. CTAs are also clear, strategically placed, and stand out.
  • Sites should have cohesive branding and design that don’t mess with site speed and page load times (no heavy images or videos!).
  • Communication apps, pop-ups, and chatbots are minimized so they don’t annoy your visitors.

2. Map Your Blog Topic to Your Goals

Before you even start writing or outlining, your goals should mark your content trajectory.

Before you even start writing or outlining, your goals should mark your content trajectory. @JuliaEMcCoy #blogging Click To Tweet

How will your blog help you advance to your goals? Will it increase your brand awareness? Build trust and loyalty with readers? Capture leads and grow your following?

Whatever you hope to achieve, make sure each blog you put out aligns with either an overarching goal or a smaller goal that paves the way to bigger successes.

Answering the following questions can help further nail down your goals for each blog you write:

  • Who are you writing this blog to? What questions can you answer for them on this topic?
  • What format will this content take? Is it suited for a long-form, in-depth blog post, or does it lend itself better to a visually stunning infographic? Remember, blogs aren’t your only option for content creation.
  • When will you publish the blog? Can you strategically tie it to a season or holiday?
  • Where will you publish? To build authority, you should focus on publishing most blogs to your website. However, posting to guest blogs from time to time can give your brand more exposure.

3. Do Strategic Research

After mapping your blog content to goals, the next step is to dive into strategic research.

First up, that means keyword research.

Don’t start with any random industry keyword, though – begin with your audience’s pain points and research keywords that hit on their problems. You want to find keywords that tie to the questions they’re asking in Google so you can position your content as a solution they’ll find in search results.

Using a tool like SEMrush during keyword research is immensely helpful. It will give you vital data about your keyword including keyword difficulty (KD) and related keywords you can use in your blog.

Some tips:

  • For the KD metric, you want to make sure you’re avoiding a number that’s too competitive. Keywords rated at 50 and above are generally super-hard to rank for unless you already have mountains of domain authority built up.
  • When we initially went after the “blogging statistics” keyword, the KD was right around 30-40, or still “possible” to rank for. Now, the KD has shot up to around 65!
  • With that in mind, don’t do keyword research once and call it done. Metrics like KD and search volume are constantly changing. Do continual, ongoing research and keep yourself up-to-date.

Next, after you find the right keyword, it’s time to do some competitive analysis. This just means typing your potential keyword into Google and studying the top search results.

For example, at EW, we wanted to rank for the keyword “blogging statistics”. When we looked at the competition in Google, we saw some opportunities:

  • Every single blog was comprehensive, with word counts averaging 2,000. One blog even had 5,200 words. That meant our blog needed to be long-form and in-depth, too. Creating a blog that sat right around 2,500 words was a good idea.
  • None of the blogs were current, or were messily formatted. These represented chances to create something better.

Don’t start with any random industry keyword when researching your #keywords – begin with your audience’s pain points and research keywords that hit on their problems. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Invest in Blog Quality

To create a better blog than the competition, you need to invest in quality during the content creation phase.

To create a better blog than the competition, you need to invest in quality during the content creation phase. @JuliaEMcCoy on #powerful #blogging Click To Tweet

For our piece targeting the keyword “blogging statistics”, we particularly focused on a couple major keys to ensure we ended up with a killer blog, one that would outrank the top 5 position-holders on Google:

  • Well-written
  • Well-formatted
  • 2,500 words, comprehensive
  • A minimum of 50 statistics, pulled from research, so marketing readers would have an incredible list to use to get buy-in from their bosses or clients
  • Custom images to break up the text, including shareable quote cards
  • The quote cards gathered together into a free, downloadable PowerPoint presentation so we could build our list from the traffic coming in from a desirable Google search position

Once we planned on these must-haves for quality, all that was left to do was invest in the creation itself:

  • Enlisting the help of one of my writers at Express Writers
  • Having my designer do the quote cards
  • Getting the piece proofread by my editors
  • Doing my own read-throughs and edits

All told, the timeline for a high-quality blog like this is approximately 2 weeks from start to finish.

Why is blog quality such a big deal?

Besides the fact that you’re trying to outrank the competition, quality is one of the major ways Google evaluates your website. It’s not just about great design – it’s about depth and breadth of content.

As Eric Enge said recently in an SEO trends roundup on Search Engine Journal,

“The sites that provided exceptional depth in quality content coverage literally soared in rankings throughout the year. Sites that were weaker in their content depth suffered in comparison.”


5. Leverage Authority Content in Multiple Ways

When you finish up a high-quality, high-authority, investment-worthy blog, you will probably have a lot of different “items” that go with the text itself.

For example, for our “blogging statistics” piece, we ended up with:

  • The 2,500-word blog
  • Supporting images to break up the text and share on social media
  • The free downloadable (all the quote cards gathered together in a PowerPoint)
  • The landing page we created for it to capture leads

Each of these items is valuable on their own AND when put together in the finished blog. Once the initial creation is over, we can repurpose these pieces to maximize our ROI.

That said, don’t be fooled. It takes TONS of work to produce a blog that’s accurately researched, expertly written, and designed with extras. For busy marketers and entrepreneurs, delegating tasks is essential to getting it all done in a timely manner. (To do it all alone, you would need about 8 sets of hands. Nobody is an octopus, we’re human and we all need help. 🐙)

To reiterate, here are all the steps broken down for your review. This is truly what it takes to create a high-ranking SEO blog in 2019:

  1. Know your SEO content goals.
  2. Publish on your site consistently. Make sure your site is awesome.
  3. Research your audience’s pain points.
  4. Look for low-competition keywords to target.
  5. Study the competition in Google to see what you need to do better to edge into the rankings.
  6. Invest in blog quality – think long-form and comprehensive.
  7. Add different formats to your blog to make it go the extra mile.
  8. Set a strategic time to publish the blog.
  9. Delegate blog creation or write it up yourself.
  10. Round up the finished pieces and schedule to publish inside your WordPress site.

Want to Build Your Blogging Authority? Put in the Work!

Yes, to really and truly build your online authority, you need to put in the planning, strategizing, research, and work to get it done.

Here’s the thing: It’s all worth it in the end.

Once you have those authority-building steps down, you can repeat them for every blog you create. They will become your second nature, and it will get easier to get that work done. You’ll learn as you go, getting better and better at putting out incredible, ROI-building, authoritative blogs.

Pretty soon, the expert will be you!

We now do slide presentation and design at Express Writers. See our rates!

slide content express writers

how to choose the right keywords

How to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize Your Content With

You know that keyword research is important, but it can be so hard when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of how to choose the right keywords.

In addition to finding the right keyword research tool, you need to learn to integrate your keywords naturally, and locate your best, highest-opportunity keywords in the first place.

Targeting keywords are some of the most critical aspects of on-page SEO, and they can go a long way toward helping your content rank where it’s supposed to. Great content that also ranks well brings about serious ROI.

Fortunately, choosing the right keywords seems harder than it actually is. Let’s dive in.

choosing the right keywords

Knowing How to Choose the Right Keywords: Why the Right Keywords Matter So Much

Think of keywords as the bones of your content.

They structure your headline and meta title, give your content a direction, and help people connect with your material.

In many ways, keywords and keyword research set the stage for the rest of the content creation process. The research you put into finding the correct keywords can easily influence the level of research you’ll put into the rest of the article or blog.

Finally, learning which keyword phrases work and which don’t is an art form, and mastering it will help make you a better content creator. Without the right “bones” your content can’t stand on its own, so it’s critical to ensure you have the right keywords for all of your content.

Because of this, it’s critical to do as much as you can to locate the right keyword phrases and learn to integrate them into your content.

5 Guidelines on How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Content

Whether you’re writing a blog post or a web page, these five steps will help you choose the right keywords for your written online content.

1. Focus on long-tail keywords first

Long-tail keywords are magic. This is your most important step in knowing how to choose the right keywords.

In addition to the fact that they’re much more targeted than short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords are a great way to locate highly qualified leads who are ready to purchase your product, good, or service.

While it’s true that long-tail keywords often lack the search volume of their short-tail competitors, they’re a great way to weed out disinterested or accidental searchers, and leave yourself and your company with a selection of highly qualified, genuinely interested customers.

As you narrow down your long-tail keywords, keep specificity in mind. Long-tails work best when they’re as targeted and specific as possible, and the more granular you can get with them, the better.

2. Don’t be romanced by massive search numbers

Marketers who are new to the world of keyword research often make the mistake of getting lured in by high monthly search volume. While it may seem smart to opt for the keywords with the highest search volume, this can actually backfire.

Here’s why: while an inexperienced marketer may get excited about the prospect of millions of monthly searches, it’s virtually impossible for a new, little-known company to rank on the first page of Google for the keyword “shoes,” which, according to KWFinder, has 1,220,000 monthly searches.

shoes screenshot

Because “shoes” is much too broad a keyword, the small company would be smarter to target a long-tail option with a lower monthly search volume. A better option might be “boat shoes for men.”

While this term only has 14,800 monthly searches, it will be much easier to rank for than the high-volume, short term. It will also be easier to make sales to these searchers, since they know exactly what they want to purchase as they begin their search.

boat shoes screenshot

3. Use a solid keyword research tool

A high quality keyword research tool (like KWFinder or SEMrush, our favorites) is critical when it comes to locating your best keywords. In addition to the fact that a tool like this will give you several metrics – ranging from keyword difficult to PPC and SEO competition – these powerful tools will also allow you to save keywords to lists and compare them later.

For the best results, consider using several tools and compiling the results in a spreadsheet. You can even make multiple tabs to group your keywords together.

This allows you to compare and contrast the results of different keyword databases, and understand the unique results of each platform. It also allows you to choose more effective keywords based on various approaches and information.

4. Fit your keyword phrase into your headline

Real talk: don’t fit your headline around your keyword phrase. Fit your keyword into your headline.

Readability comes first. But if you want to rank well for a given keyword, it needs to feature in your headline.

With this in mind, try writing a few sample headlines around your chosen target phrase. Write more than one till you come up with one that you really like.

Example: for this post, our keyword was “how to choose the right keywords.” Here’s what we could have done:

  • How to Choose the Right Keywords (a keyword as long-tail as this could stand alone, but that’s not good enough – albeit close)
  • Your Guide on How to Choose the Right Keywords (eh, heard it before)
  • How to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize Your Content With

The last one is a winner. Double-checking it in the AMI headline scorer, we see it ranks above 50%, which is an excellent score:

ami emv headline

So, have a goal of creating a headline that utilizes your keyword, but is first and foremost optimized for the reader.

If you have a difficult time finding something that doesn’t sound awkward, you may need to reconsider your approach. Keep in mind that you can include stop words in awkward keyword phrases to make them flow more naturally. This is a much better approach than just forcing grammatically incorrect keyword phrases into content, and can help make your material more readable for your audiences.

5. Make sure the overall topic of your content is an actual match for your keyword

In some cases, you can get so desperate to use a really promising keyword that you forget that your content needs to read well and be relevant to your audience. Instead of trying to cram a keyword into your content, be sure that it fits naturally, and that the keyword and the topic are actually meant for one another.

If you can’t find a way to make this work, consider altering your keyword slightly, or looking for a different topic to accommodate the keyword you’ve chosen. To be readable and relevant, your content needs to flow together with your keyword. If both feel like they’re working in opposition, you’re in for a difficult writing experience.

Want more in-depth content on how to select the right keywords? One entire chapter in my new book, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing, is dedicated to this subject! 

How to Find Keywords that Win: The Bones of Great Content

For your content to truly excel and stand out in Google, your keywords need to be on point. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for many marketers. Luckily, you can turn the trend around if you know how to find keywords that will work for your content.

By understanding what makes a good keyword phrase, and knowing how to research and approach great keywords, you can easily include quality keywords in your content and ensure that everything you write has the strong, sturdy bones it needs to succeed.

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