Content creation is a key avenue for revenue generation for all online businesses. Knowing how to write an article that will rank on the first page is critical when looking to drive (free) traffic to your site. If your content does not appear among the first couple results, then it is pretty much a waste of time on your end to create such content in the first place.
When I started blogging, I had a really hard time writing articles that will SEO well. In fact for almost a year I had no real organic traffic because my strategy was flawed. Then I got serious and started blogging more and more and eventually created a blueprint that I follow every time to get my blog posts ranked.
Here are the proven steps to create content that will be loved by search engines:
Step 1 – Select the right keywords and use variations
A big part of whether or not your content will rank are the keywords that you select. If you are looking to compete for high difficulty keywords with an unaged domain with a poor backlink profile you’re wasting your time. You need to start with easier keywords and build up from there.
To select the best keywords you can write a list of keywords that you are looking to target and then go on Google Keyword Planner or using the keyword search on Ahrefs. From there you can sort keywords whose difficulty is low-medium and that at least get a 100 searches a month.
For a list of SEO tools to use, follow this guide.
Use keyword variations
Take a look at this article, notice how I’m using variations of the keywords that I’m looking to rank for throughout my post (which in this case is “how to write the perfect seo article”). Keyword variations are also known as LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords which are essentially just words that are related to your target keywords. When you use keyword variations you not only make your article more likely to rank for more keywords but also help Google understand what your content is all about.
The actual keyword density target should be around 2-3%. You should try to achieve this with a mix of exact match and partial match keywords. Use Yoast SEO to check that your post is good to go.
Step 2 – The ideal length of your post should be between 2000 – 2500 words
I can’t stress this enough. Writing content in long-form will outperform short content, and there’s plenty of research about that.
Having people spend more time on your site will lead to better rankings as time on site is regarded as a powerful metric when it comes to SEO.
I know that writing shorter is easier and quicker but creating lengthy posts will pay off (trust me).
If you haven’t tried writing long posts, then I suggest you start now. It’s a good exercise that will require you to explore a topic in much more depth, which most of the times will lead you to learning something new.
A solid way to write long posts is to search for the topic that you want to write about and condense all the information that the top 5-10 results present, that way you will provide the most information out all of your competitors allowing you to outrank them.
Step 3 – Use compelling meta titles and meta descriptions to increase your CTR
CTR (or click-through rate) is one of the main factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking sites. The site that ranks #1 for a particular keyword will arguably get the most clicks. So a good practice to follow is to create compelling titles that will get you clicks even if you’re result #2 or #3.
Some very good modifiers for titles are
- Numbers (which incite curiosity) i.e. “6 facts about weight loss”, “ No. 5 will scare you”
- Words like “ultimate guide”, “essential”, etc
- “Best Tilapia Recipes”, “Top 10 business books” (people love compilations)
- Year – “How to do Online Marketing in 2017”
On the meta description, try to be as succinct as possible and try to convey the general idea of your post leaving some cliff hanger at the end so that people are inclined to know more. Remember you only have 160 characters to do so. Make those count.
Step 4 – Link to high authority sites and also link to previous content you’ve written
Cross-linking your content will not only lead to lower bounce-rates but also can help you forge a stronger relationship with your readers.
The sites that you link to should be relevant to the content and ideally should not compete with you on your own keywords.
A powerful method that I follow on the 8 sites that I own is to cross-reference each of them so that if someone lands on one blog post on site A then visit site B and later end up in site C purchasing some (valuable) product or service that I offer.
Step 5 – Structure your SEO article using H tags, bold font and an intro and conclusion, alt text on images
Here’s a quick SEO checklist:
- Make sure to only use 1 H1 tag (for the blog post title).
- Divide your content into H2, H3, H4 sections.
- Bold your keywords through the text to increase their relevance
- Include an intro and a conclusion
- Include images to make your content more engaging
- Use alt text on all your images
Here are other On-Page SEO caveats you should be aware of.
Step 6 – Post Permalink
Make your post url as short as possible while keeping the main idea of your post. Notice that the permalink on this post and how it includes the main keyword that I’m looking to rank for.
In some cases, stop words should be removed but it’s fine if you leave them there. (Stop words are words like “a”, “the”, “is”).
If you’re using WordPress then make sure that your permalinks are using “post name” at its suffix. You can change your permalinks by going to Settings -> Permalinks and selecting “Post Name” as your permalink.
Step 7 – Create backlinks to your optimized article (this is the real ranking factor)
A lot of guides about writing the perfect seo post always seem to omit the fact that you need to create backlinks for that specific page/post. If you analyze the top results for any given keyword you will notice that the top results will generally have a strong backlink profile for that particular blog post.
You can build backlinks by reaching out to bloggers and have them link your article, guest posting on good sites, and more. I wrote more about my ranking tips and backlinking techniques on my SEO guide.
Wrapping it all up
So those all steps to produce an SEO optimized post that Google will love. To summarize it a short recap, you need to
- Select the right keywords
- Write longer posts of around 2000 words
- Use compelling meta copy to increase CTR
- Link to high authority domains and link to other posts when appropriate
- Structure your post with H-tags, bold keywords, alt text, intro and conclusion
- Clean up your permalink
- Create backlinks to your fresh article
Again, if writing is not your forte or if you would like to focus on other areas of your business, you should seriously consider outsourcing that task, either to me (high quality) or someone on Fiverr (cheap, low quality). Content generation is more important than ever and if you’re not regularly producing content then you will lose valuable traffic to a competitor.
If you end up writing a perfect article, drop your link in the comments!