Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the rankings of a website in search engines, by enhancing the quality of the content and technicalities of the site. This is done through on-page, off-page, and technical optimization techniques that share the common goal of making a website visible to and on search engines.
A common misconception of SEO is that you can just place a target keyword throughout your website and watch your visibility skyrocket. Oh, how we wish it was that simple. Yes, keyword research is a large part of laying the foundation for effective SEO, but that's just a drop in the bucket of the process as a whole. In reality, one of the most important yet most overlooked ways to increase your search rankings is to actually just write quality content - and write a lot of it.
If you're interested in learning how to write SEO content that ranks and increases the quality and quantity of your search traffic, you're in the right place. We've broken down the process into a top-level step-by-step guide, and we're ready to share some keys to SEO success. Keep in mind, SEO is ever-changing, and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to winning in search rankings.
That being said, here are some safe bets to implement in your SEO content strategy that are sure to move you in the right direction by improving both your website visibility and site quality as a whole.
Setting SMART Goals
The first and most important step in writing SEO content that ranks is setting SMART goals. SMART meaning: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals before you set out on your content-creating journey is essential to SEO success because it allows you to measure your progress made, and adjust your strategy accordingly. To give you some insight on what a SMART goal for a content strategy may look like, here's an example.
Example Goal: To increase our blog SERP ranking for the keyword phrase "things to do in Vermont" to position 3 in search by January 1st.
My goal is specific because it states exactly what I want to achieve with no wiggle room.
My goal is measurable because we can track it by using SEMRUSH's position tracking tool.
My goal is achievable because we're currently ranking in position 5, and know that we can outrank the pages ahead of us in organic search with effective on-page and technical optimization efforts.
My goal is relevant to our brand's overall goals because we have proven that increasing traffic to our blogs results in a steady increase in conversions on our site overall.
My goal is time-bound because our deadline to measure progress is set for January 1st.
@eternityweb Fill in the blanks for your next business goal and watch the success follow 🚀 Follow for more tips like this! #marketingtips #digitalmarketing ♬ A-O-K - Tai Verdes
Setting SMART goals is the first step to a successful SEO content strategy for your website. While this is an example of a small SMART goal for a specific blog, SMART goals can also be larger and more geared toward your SEO content strategy overall. Get creative with it, but most importantly, do not begin to write SEO content without setting SMART goals from the start.
After you've got your SMART goals set, the next step in the SEO content creation process is to run a site audit. Here at Eternity, we like to use SEMRUSH for our site audits, to gain a specific and clear insight into where our clients are starting. When you run a site audit with SEMRUSH, you're able to see an overall health score of your website, as well as view specific errors, warnings, and notices. Running a site audit is essential to do before creating new SEO content for your website because you'll have a clear view of where your starting point, which is helpful for all SEO and content goals. It should also be noted that SEMRUSH not only lists errors, warnings, and notices in the audit, but also provides details on what each individual issue means and what you'll need to do to fix them.
The site audit is also extremely helpful if you're doing work with clients. Giving clients an initial site audit is powerful, because it will allow them to see exactly where they're starting, and know just how much progress they've made toward their goals since working with you.
Overall, we can't recommend site audits enough when beginning your SEO content process. And once you've completed the initial audit, you can start working toward the fun part: your actual SEO content creation strategy and crushing your SMART goals!
Keyword & Competitor Research
Keyword and competitor research is key to any effective SEO content strategy. This means knowing how to find relevant keywords that are popular, and successfully implementing them when writing SEO content for your site. And unless you're randomly gifted with naturally high-ranking keyword choices, you're going to need an effective keyword research method with reputable tools.
While there are many keyword research tools available out there, if we had to pick one that does it all to recommend to you, we're picking SpyFu. SpyFu is excellent for both keyword planning as well as competitor insights. SpyFu helps you find keywords you and your competitors are currently ranking well for, and shows you where you're falling behind in search results.
Remember, don't be discouraged when you see drops in traffic on target keywords- there are hundreds of factors that play into the day-to-day change of traffic for various phrases. What you should be mindful of though when looking at drops in traffic - is where your competitors are falling behind. When you use SpyFu's Competitor Insights Tool, you can keep a close watch on how they are ranking for phrases that you may want to implement in your content strategy.
For example, if you notice a competitor is losing traffic on a specific keyword or phrase that is relevant to your own website, think of this as 'low-hanging fruit’ or an opportunity to implement these keywords into your own content strategy where appropriate to gain traffic. Easy win. You'll notice with keyword research tools that there is a seemingly infinite number of insights you can gain on your own site and your competitors - the key to SEO success is getting creative with how you use these insights to your advantage in your own SEO content strategy. Trial and error is your best friend.
Once you've done your keyword research with the tools that work best for you, it's time to develop your keyword strategy (how you plan on implementing these keywords into your content). At this phase, it is extremely important to keep in mind and prioritize user experience. In SEO, it's easy to get caught up in the data and hyper-fix on what words might get you up another ranking in organic search results. It is crucial to take a step back throughout your SEO content strategy process and make sure you are putting the user's needs first. Keyword stuffing will mean nothing if the content is not high quality and easy to read. When you prioritize the user, you lay a solid foundation for effectively and naturally implementing keywords into your content that is sure to boost site traffic over time.
Perhaps the most overlooked yet most critical part of effective SEO keyword research, is being mindful of search intent. Yes, keyword data and SERP insights can show you what phrases and words are performing well, but none of that really matters for your content strategy if you are missing the user's search intent.
Think of it like this: If the keyword 'guitar' is ranking well, it's important to look into what context those results are doing the best. Are articles coming up on how to play guitar? Or are the top results guitars for sale? How about a video going viral of a kid playing guitar in Walmart? This is a silly example, but the bottom line is this: Search intent really impacts the types of content that users are seeking. If you're putting too much effort into ranking for a keyword simply because it has high traffic, you might be out of luck if the context of the word doing well does not match the content on your site.
Search intent can be trickier to research, but sometimes your best bet is googling the terms yourself, and paying close attention to which types of content are coming up first. From there, you can adjust your focus accordingly and move forward with your SEO content strategy in a direction that will serve your brand best.
Once you've examined your keywords, your competitor's keywords, and adjusted your list accordingly to match search intent - you're ready to move on to the keyword groups phase. Part of the art of writing quality SEO content is learning how to make the keywords you've landed on come together naturally to form quality content. And lots of it. Using keyword groups is one way to do this, and it works like this.
Take your list of keywords and pick the top 10 or so that are ranking the highest, and most relevant to the content you're aiming to create. From there, you can use a number of tools (again, we love Spyfu for this) to expand each primary keyword into similar keywords, forming groups. This process is known as using the top ranking keywords as 'keyword seeds' that are then grown into keyword groups, with multiple additional keywords in each new group.
Once you've grown your top keyword seeds into these new groups, you have an incredibly solid foundation formed for high-ranking high-quality content. You're ready to begin the best part of the process, actually writing the content!
When it comes to actually writing the SEO content, the most important thing, again, is keeping the user's needs first. Producing high quantities of high-quality content is what will give you the most growth in SERPs long-term. Our advice is to write the content as you normally would, while keeping in mind the main keywords and groups you're trying to rank for- without sounding forced. After you've written the copy in a human-friendly way, then you can go through and optimize by placing the keywords from your research where appropriate.
You can do this one of two ways. The first: using your own intuition on where certain keywords and keyword phrases would work well within your content. The second, and more technical: Using a high-quality SEO tool (we like Surfer SEO) to guide you on keyword implementation throughout your copywriting. Tools like Surfer SEO are excellent because they provide a live gauge of how your content ranks compared to similar copy on the internet. Providing insight on where you can improve and where you're doing well, SEO tools like Surfer are a solid way to ensure your content is set up for success.
Content Upkeep & Calendars
SEO Content marketing and quality copy throughout your site is a great way to get the ball rolling for your website in search engines, but how do you maintain that momentum? In order to keep building traffic and upping your conversion rate over time, you'll need a content calendar. Content calendars are a great way to keep you organized and focused on creating new, high-ranking content to grow your traffic in the right direction.
One of the best ways to continue producing high-quality SEO content on your site is through blogs. We'd recommend taking a peek at what keywords and phrases your site is ranking well for over time, and building out potential blog post topics based on those terms. Once you've got your list, create a consistent content calendar that aligns well with your business and you're golden. Consistency is key, and with that, all of your SEO efforts will be rewarded over time. We believe in you!
Benchmark & Improve
Just when you thought we were done with the SMART goals of SEO content, welcome back. You'll never know how successful your content marketing efforts are unless you follow through with tracking the results. Lucky for you, at the start of this process you set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals to keep you in check. Once you've completed your SEO content and have launched it live to the internet, it's important to set a benchmark so that you're aware of where your starting point is.
In whatever way works best for you, make note of all necessary metrics at your start, so that you can circle back to this data down the line when your SMART goal check-in point arrives. Keeping a close tab on how well each piece of content performs will help you determine how your strategy should be updated to improve its success rate over time. It's always worth the time invested to evaluate how well your SEO efforts are doing so that you can keep what's working, and cut out what's not.
This was a lot of information, so we completely get it if you've got questions. If you do, you're in the right place. At Eternity, we offer professional site audits that can give you an in-depth idea of where you're at currently, and offer professional solutions for all digital marketing needs. If you're ready to get started, have additional SEO questions, or simply want to say hello - get in touch today. We can't wait to work together!