How to Create SEO Content. Our process for creating high-quality content that ranks #1 every time.
Hey peeps! So a LOT of our clients have been asking, "what, exactly, is good SEO content? How do I tell if the content a freelance writer creates is good (and rank-worthy), or an awful piece of fluff?"
To answer that question, we created a step-by-step guide to writing SEO content (that ranks #1 on Google).
Here are some of our key takeaways:
For the full article link, check comments!
🖱️ WRITE CLICKABLE TITLES 🖱️
Check out the following headline:
"How to Write a Resume – Complete Guide"
What do you think is wrong with it?
If you ask us, that's pretty much everything.
See, your headline determines your CTR on Google (which, in turn, plays a huge part in determining your rankings).
And this headline we just mentioned is the definition of the word "bland."
When creating headlines for Google, you want to make them as clickable as possible. Here's a couple of super easy ways on how to do it:
(Obviously) include a keyword you want to rank for.
Then, use numbers. If Buzzfeed taught us anything, it's that numbers convert. For example:
– Top 51 Tips on How to do X
– 101+ Productivity Tips to Get Things Done
– How to Make a Resume [99+ Real-Life Examples]
Add a result – The result of the keyword. What's going to happen if they carry out the action correctly? For example:
– How to Write a Cover Letter [to Land the Job]
– How to Write Good Headlines & 10x Conversions
Year – For some specific topics, timeliness matters. So, you can include the year in the headline. For example:
– 39+ SEO Techniques [Updated for 2020]
– 21+ Business Process Management Tools for 2020.
🔗USE LSI KEYWORDS 🔗
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a system search engines use to analyze the other words people use surrounding a given topic. LSI keywords are words and phrases with a high degree of correlation to your target topic.
In layman terms, think of LSI keywords as sub-topics or even synonyms to your main keyword. Mentioning them in your article helps Google understand the context behind your article.
Let's say, for example, you're writing about content marketing. Some of the LSI keywords could be “content marketing examples” and “types of content marketing.”
As a rule of thumb, we'd recommend mentioning LSI keywords 1-3 times in your article, and when relevant, as headers.
To find LSI keywords for your topic, simply Google your keyword, scroll down, and check “Searches related to your keyword.”
Or, if you want a more comprehensive list, you can use
🤔 GET NOVEL CONTENT IDEAS WITH REDDIT AND QUORA 🤔
When writing SEO content, you want to try to make it as comprehensive as reasonably possible.
The first step is usually going through the top 5 ranking articles, seeing what works for them, and creating something that's better than all of them.
Now, if you really want to go that extra mile (and up your chances of ranking), you should also do first-hand research on your topic.
You want to know…
What are the most-searched topics around your keyword?
What are the most common questions people have around your keyword?
What, exactly, do people look for in your keyword? E.g. if your keyword is “cover letter,” you'll see that a lot of people are looking for cover letter templates (which you can add to your future article).
To help you with the research, you can use Reddit or Quora.
If you decide to go with Reddit, here's what you can do:
Search for the following term: “site:reddit.com [Your Keyword]”
This is going to get you the most popular content on Reddit around your keyword, which you can add to your future content piece.
Alternatively, you can find a subreddit around your niche (for example, if you're in marketing, it would be /r/marketing), go to “top posts,” and look up the top posts of all time. You're bound to find a lot of info around the topic you're writing about.
With Quora, you can do pretty much the same thing. Use the following search query:
“Site:quora.com [Your Keyword]”
Or search for the topic on the website.
SEO is easy. The EXACT process we use to scale our clients' SEO from 0 to 200k monthly traffic and beyond
There's a TON of content on SEO out there – guides, articles, courses, videos, scams, people yelling about it on online forums, etc, etc..
Most of it, however, is super impractical. If you want to start doing SEO TODAY and start getting results ASAP, you'll need to do a TON of digging to figure out what's important and what's not.
If you haven't heard of me, my co-founder and I own a digital marketing agency (Apollo Digital), and we've helped grow several companies to 200k+ monthly organic traffic (our best client, right now, is sitting at ~2 million / month).
…And we decided to distill our EXACT, step-by-step process into a quick guide to share with the internet.
This exact guide got 1,000+ upvotes on several subreddits, including /r/seo, /r/startups, /r/marketing, and a bunch of others, so thought you guys would appreciate it too.
The full article is down in the comments, but here's a tl;dr:
STEP #1 – START WITH TECHNICAL SEO
Whenever we start working with a client, the first thing we deal with is technical SEO. Here's what this involves:
Ensure they have a GSC account
Create a sitemap.xml file and submit to GSC
Create a robots.txt file
Optimizing site architecture – ensure that the crawl depth for every page on the website is less than 4
Ensure that all pages are optimized according to on-page SEO best practices (proper URL-slugs, meta descriptions, title, etc…)
STEP #2 – IMPROVE WEBSITE LOAD SPEED
Make sure that all images on the website are losslessly compressed.
Resize images before uploading them instead of using JS or CSS to resize them.
Enable lazy loading for images.
If you are using WordPress, use a caching and optimization plugin (WpRocket is our favorite, however, you can go for Autoptimize if you are looking for a free solution).
Use a CDN (Cloudflare or BunnyCDN are both good options).
Use Google Pagespeed Insight to optimize the site for the 3 Core Web Metrics, namely First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift, and Largest Contentful Paint.
STEP #3 – KEYWORD RESEARCH (THE EASY WAY)
Then, we do keyword research and content strategy. Here's our process:
First, create a Google Sheet and include the following columns:
Priority – High, medium, or low. We prioritize keywords that are low competition, high-volume, likely to convert or all of the above.
Status – What's the current status of the article? Concept-phase? Writing? Editing? Etc.
CPC – While the cost per click isn't that relevant to SEO, it helps you figure out which keywords are advertisers more inclined to bid on. E.g. if someone's willing to bid 30 bucks for a keyword, chances are, it's converting pretty well.
Competitiveness – We extract the # of backlinks for the top 3 ranking pages, as well as the # of ranking articles that rank on page 1 w/ less than 5 backlinks. This allows us to figure out which keywords are going to be easier to rank
Then, find 3 of your SEO competitors, and steal all their keywords with SEMrush.
If you have competitors that are dominating SEO in your niche, just by stealing their keywords, your keyword sheet should be 80% ready.
Finally, to make the keyword sheet as comprehensive as possible, input the keywords you found above as seed keywords into UberSuggest and generate even more keyword ideas.
STEP #4 – CREATE SEO LANDING PAGES
We usually focus on creating SEO landing pages for direct-intent keywords in the first 1-2 months into starting work with a client.
These pages tend to take a long time to rank, so try to get them out ASAP.
Usually, we follow one of these 2 methodologies for creating SEO landing pages:
Create a general template landing page. Pretty much copy-paste your homepage, alter the sub-headings, paraphrase it a bit, and add relevant images to the use-case. You'd go with this option if the keywords you're targeting are very similar to your main use-case (e.g. “project management software” “project management system”).
Create a unique landing page for each use-case. You should do this if each use-case is unique. For example, if your software doubles as project management software and workflow management software. In this case, you'll need two completely new landing pages for each keyword.
STEP #5 – CREATE QUALITY SEO CONTENT
This one's easier said than done. If you're hiring random writers on the web, giving them a keyword, and telling them to “knock yourself out,” you're probably doing it wrong.
See, most content writers don't know shit about SEO (other than that you have to optimize your article with Yoast), and whatever they write won't rank.
Instead, here's what you should do:
For each keyword you're tackling, do a basic Google search, and extract the structure of the top-ranking articles.
E.g. if you Google “sales funnel,” you'll see that most top-ranking articles use the following structure:
What is a Sales Funnel [h2]
Understanding the Sales Funnel Stages [h2]
#2. Interest [h3]
#3. Decision [h3]
#4. Action [h3]
Meaning, this is what the Googler is looking for when searching for the keyword, and it's also how YOU should structure your article.
Once you copy the structure, you need to one-up it. See, if you want to do well with SEO content, you shouldn't just copy other people – you need to do 2x – 10x better than them.
So, to add additional value to your structure, look up what kind of information people look for around the topic (in this case, sales funnels).
Here are several ways you can do this:
Find relevant Reddit threats on the topic
See what kind of questions people ask about the topic on Quora
Check the “People Also Ask” section for FAQ ideas
Use information from these sources to upgrade your structure.
Other than that, here are several other ways to add even more value to the article:
Add more in-depth information on the topic. E.g. you could include what type of marketing initiatives can help drive a sales prospect from one stage to another.
Add more practical examples. Everyone likes a practical article they can instantly turn into something useful (vs reading about boring theory).
Make the article more comprehensive. Add additional information that others haven't covered.
Make the article more visually appealing and readable. You can do this by adding more images, visuals, etc.
Finally, give this outline to the writer and ask them to fill it in (or write it yourself).
STEP #6 – LINK-BUILDING, INTERLINKING, AND MORE
We just hit 1k words, which we thought was a bit of an overkill for a Facebook post. If you want to read about our complete SEO process (which includes exact templates we use, writer outline examples, and more), check out the link in the comments.
Case Study: How we grew a SaaS company from 0 to 200,000 monthly organic traffic
Hey guys! So we just published an SEO case study on how we grew Tallyfy (a SaaS company) from 0 to 200k+ organic traffic with zero link-building (purely organic links). We thought you guys would enjoy it. Here are our top 3 lessons from the experience (and a link to the full case study in the comments).
📄 LESSON #1 – USE CONTENT OUTLINES 📄
Most writers are good at creating content. They are, however, not that good at creating SEO content.
See, there's a couple of factors that go into creating good SEO content…
Matching your content to the search intent. Are you writing about whatever the Googler is looking for?
Does the content have all the RIGHT information? Meaning, do you cover all the essentials? Do you skip all the irrelevant stuff?
Is it well-written and engaging?
So, to make sure that your writer gets the job done, you should ALWAYS use content outlines.
An outline is basically a plug-and-play for SEO content. You write down EVERYTHING you want your writer to cover:
What are the H2 headers?
What are the H3 headers?
What kind of examples are they supposed to mention?
Which LSI keywords should the writer mention?
To see what a well-written outline looks like, check the Docs link in the comments.
⛓️ LESSON #2 – INTERLINK. LIKE. HELL. ⛓️
Proper interlinking can have a very significant impact on your rankings.
How significant, you might ask? Well, for NinjaOutreach, interlinking upped their traffic by over 40%.
Pretty impressive for a simple, on-site fix, right?
Here's how we did interlinking for Tallyfy:
Pick an article you want to interlink around your blog
Google its main keyword on your website. E.g. site:tallyfy.com "business process management"
Go through all the articles and CTRL+F your keyword. Add the link.
Do the same for synonyms of your keyword. E.g. site:tallyfy.com "bpm" or site:tallyfy.com "manage processes".
• LESSON #3 – OPTIMIZE ARTICLE CTRS •
Article headlines play a huge role in whether the content is going to rank or not. Here's how that works…
Let's say your article is ranked #4 with an average CTR of 20%.
Google benchmarks YOUR average CTR to that of your competition in the same ranking. I.e. your article ranked #4 has a 20% CTR, while your competitors (on the same ranking) would have 12%. This means that your content is more relevant, and hence, should rank higher (as long as other SEO metrics say the same).
So, we kept track of article CTRs through Google Search Console and made adjustments when needed.
Whenever the CTR for any given article was lower than the position-CTR average, we changed the headline, tracked it for 2-4 weeks, and saw whether it had an impact or not.
🔎 FINALLY, ONGOING MONITORING & IMPROVEMENT 🔎
You're never really "done" with SEO. You should always strive to improve your content, get more backlinks, and so on.
Here's part of the checklist we used to make sure that all our top content ranked…
Is the content as comprehensive as it could be? Is there anything we could add?
Is the content matching the keyword it's supposed to rank on?
Is the content interlinked across the website?
Is the article headline “clickable?"
Does it have the right amount/quality of backlinks? If the competition has 500+ on a page, and we have 2, we're probably not going to rank.
LIKED OUR RUN-DOWN? CHECK OUT THE LINK IN THE COMMENTS TO READ THE FULL CASE STUDY.
How We Ranked on the Keyword "SEO Case Study" in <6 Months [Case Study]
Hey guys! So chances are, most of you have seen our case study. We posted it in this group a whiiiile back, got a ton of love, likes, and comments, and so on. If you missed the post, you can check the link in the comments.
Well, we're super glad to tell you guys that the case study is now ranking #4-5 on the keyword 'SEO case study.' 🥳 And #1-2 on the keyword 'SEO case study 2020'
You can find all the relevant GSC screenshots in the pics below.
In this post, we're specifically going to cover 2 things you guys might find interesting:
Ranking timeline. How long did it take us to achieve these results?
Links from content promotion. How we got organic links by promoting our content.
#1. RANKING TIMELINE
We published the post on our blog on December 25th, 2019. It first started getting SEO visibility on the 5th of February, with an average position of 34 and barely any clicks.
At the time, our website was completely fresh – DA 0 with not a single backlink.
From our experience with publishing over 500 posts in the past year, being picked up by Google this fast is very unlikely. Most of our clients' posts take a few months to even start appearing on SERP.
W/ this article, though, we did a ton of content promotion, which netted us a ton of links. This, in turn, helped the post to start ranking way faster than usual.
The post, however, didn't get good rankings until much later. We started getting ranked on page #1 sometime in mid-October 2020.
From mid-October, we had a pretty good spike in rankings, putting us on avg. around position #4.
So, overall, it took us around 1 month to get the post indexed on Google (ranking 30-ish), and 10 months to get it to rank in the top 5.bu
Throughout this time, we didn't do any link-building on this post, solely relying on the links we got from promoting the article (more on this in a bit).
What we did do, though, is:
Create a ton of new content for our blog
Promote the new content on social media and other sources to get links for them (even if no-follow)
Interlink the SEO case study throughout the new blog posts
#2. LINKS FROM CONTENT PROMOTION
Getting such results with a single post on a fresh blog with zero backlinks would've been much, much harder.
Luckily, we managed to boost our domain DA from 0 to 30 within a few months all through the power of content promotion.
As you guys already know, the standard link-building tactics are doing mass outreach, guest blogging, buying links, etc.
These methods usually take a ton time and manpower, cost a ton of money, or both.
In our humble opinion, what we do with our content is significantly more effective. Promoting the SEO case study, for example, got us around 60+ links. If we were paying for those links, that would cost like what, 6k bucks?
And no, we didn't just get lucky with this one specific post.
We create and promote a ton of content on a regular basis, and around 50% of them get good results.
Another article we create and promoted (SaaS marketing guide) got around 50+ links too.
So, here's our exact content promotion strategy.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Step #1 – not all content should be promoted. If the post is generic, such as:
Top 11 Benefits of SEO
Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Hire Me
You won't be able to promote it. There's a ton of noise on the internet, so you need to try to cut through it by creating unique and engaging content.
So, instead, focus on creating content like:
First-hand experiences. Something unique you did and got you results (e.g. what we did w/ the case study)
Long-form, mega-value content. Brian Dean said it best. Google your keyword, find an article, and do something 10x better.
Use superior content UX and visuals. Use graphics and text boxes to make your article mega-ultra-super easy to read.
PROMOTING THE HELL OUT OF IT
Once you've created something awesome, it's time to promote it. Here's our regular content promo checklist:
Promote on Facebook groups
Promote on Reddit
Submit to Hacker News
Submit on marketer communities (Growth Hackers, Indie Hackers)
Run Quora / Facebook / Reddit / Twitter Ads
Submit to QuuuPromote
Promote on public Slack channels
Reach out to influencers and ask for a share
NOT BEING A SCUMMY SPAMMER
Since we're talking about content promotion, it's hard not to mention this very, very important lesson:
DON'T BE A SCUMMY SPAMMER.
Don't just drive through a Facebook group, drop some shitty link, and fly away.
Always provide value to the group/community/whatever, and then, in the end, offer a link to your content in case anyone wants to check it out.
Even if this wasn't a shitty thing to do, no one would really click your link. You need to win the reader over with your amazing super awesome post, so they actually bother to visit your website and spend their time on it.
TAILOR & REPURPOSE YOUR CONTENT TO THE CHANNEL
At the same time, though, make sure to tailor your content to the channel you're posting it in. For e.g: if you're posting in a Facebook group, you should make it shorter and more to-the-point. Reading a 1k word article as a Facebook post ain't fun.
On Reddit, though, you can go all out with word count. However, Reddit doesn't let you post images, so you might want to remove all bits with "as seen on the image below" from the original article.
THANKS FOR THE READ
Hope you enjoyed reading this case study as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂 Let me know if you have any thoughts, comments, questions, or opinions in the comments. I'd be happy to reply!