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
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.
- 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:
- 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:
- Know your SEO content goals.
- Publish on your site consistently. Make sure your site is awesome.
- Research your audience’s pain points.
- Look for low-competition keywords to target.
- Study the competition in Google to see what you need to do better to edge into the rankings.
- Invest in blog quality – think long-form and comprehensive.
- Add different formats to your blog to make it go the extra mile.
- Set a strategic time to publish the blog.
- Delegate blog creation or write it up yourself.
- 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!