When it comes to making SEO-friendly content, a common misconception is that it takes away from creative freedom, and makes the content less user-friendly on the whole. That is not the case. If you look at what works in SEO, you’ll realize that a major portion of it is based on how user-friendly the content is.
Here are 10 tricks that will help you land higher SEO rankings:
1. Create a seamless web design
Your page should naturally take people where you want them to go. Users don’t want to work their way around a distracting and inconsistent webpage. Organize your webpage like you would organize a library. Where should you place the books that are most talked about? How many seconds after entering should the customer see the checkout counter? And most importantly, how to segregate the genres, such that each is visible and easy to find?
Notice the homepage of this coupons and deals website.
This is a great example of a well-organized webpage. The homepage slider catches the attention of GrabOn’s users, and gives them a clear CTA. The navigation menu is concise and sums up everything there is to see on the website. Additionally, each category follows one particular image size, making it easy to differentiate between categories.
2. Publish Original Research
In early 2018, Buzzsumo conducted a survey to find out which kind of content is shared more often than others. They found that people are more likely to share and link back to your content if it has some kind of original research involved.
This is mainly because of two reasons: one, when you conduct research, it provides new data on topics that already exist. So, naturally, people want to cite it. Secondly, it outdates existing content around that topic. So, it helps you stand out.
If you are working on a piece of content, think about how you can tweak it to accommodate research. If you want to create content on ‘Best Mobile Network Operators in 2020’, don’t just go to their Wikipedia pages and reproduce them verbatim. Instead, try gathering data on how these mobile networks work in different parts of the country. Conduct speed tests, note down the results, and compare them.
Of course, this kind of content takes much more effort, but if done right, it can yield equally great rewards.
3. Syndicate your guest posts
A common mistake that people make while writing guest posts is that they forget about it once it’s published. It shouldn’t be such. To make the most of your guest posts, you should start planning it well in advance, and interact with it for months after it’s been published.
Say you’ve created a piece of content on your own website called ‘Travel on Budget: The Complete Guide on Hitchhiking’. This is when you want to start writing guest posts. Remember that these guest posts should be related to your recent post. For example, ‘What are the best places to hitchhike in America’ or ‘How much can you save on travel by hitchhiking’.
This will enable you to link back to that specific page on your website, and provide actual value to the audience you’ve gained from the guest post.
Once the guest post is published, don’t just leave it there. Engage with people in the comments. You can also keep linking back to your content from multiple guest posts over the course of time using guest posting services, and ultimately build your page authority.
4. Secure High-Quality Backlinks
In order to secure a high SEO ranking, you need to get backlinks from high-quality sources. This is because Google does not care about whether your content is interesting. Google cares about whether other people think it is interesting. So, in order to get high-quality backlinks, you can try collaborating with influencers in your niche. Interview them, get a contributor quote, or find other ways of involving them in your content. People almost always share the content that they’re a part of. Once they do, sure you will get a good chunk of their audience, but most importantly, you’ll get a high-quality backlink.
You can also collaborate with other bloggers, webmasters, journalists, researchers, and publications.
5. Respond to Press Request Alerts
One of the easiest ways to get your website featured in a publication is by responding to Press Request alerts. These are alerts that journalists send out, asking for quotes from industry experts, images, or stories. By responding to them, and giving them exactly what they’re looking for, you can secure a place in their content, and most likely, earn a backlink as well.
There are services you can sign up to, in order to get PR alerts. Some free services include HARO, Journo Requests, and Source Bottle. You can also check out #JournoRequest on Twitter.
6. Structure your content in the form of a list
Research shows that list posts get 2 times more shares than infographics. So, if your content can be arranged in a list form, or in the form of a step-by-step guideline, then it most definitely should. The most shared format after list posts is ‘why’ posts, followed by ‘what’ posts, videos, infographics, and finally ‘how-to’ posts.
Remember though, not every topic follows the same trend. There are some topics where you’re likely to rank higher if you post a video. For instance, for most cooking videos, Google pushes videos to the first page. So, it always helps to check what kind of structure the content on the Top Results page has.
7. Employ the Topic-Cluster Model
A Topic-Cluster model is where you organize all the content on your website as separate clusters.
Say, your website mainly talks about three topics- ‘Fitness’, ‘Dietary Supplements’, and ‘Yoga’. You want to start off by creating a pillar page for each, Fitness, Dietary Supplements and Yoga. Now, you link the ‘Fitness’ pillar page to all the content pages related to Fitness, like ‘How to form fitness habits’, ‘10 Best daily practices to stay fit’, etc.
The content pages link back to the pillar page, as well as to each other. This linking action tells Google that the pillar page is an authority on the topic, which ultimately lets the page rank higher.
8. Create engaging and linkable visuals
This is a very important step, and also the most ignored. Creating original visuals, like images, charts, mini-infographics, and tables, can greatly boost your SEO rankings.
This works in two ways: One, it brings traffic to your page. According to Visme, articles containing images are viewed 94% more than those without.
Secondly, if your post does well, your visuals will be discovered and used by other websites and bloggers, earning you some of those sweet backlinks.
9. Increase the length of your content
Longer content and user-generated content is an SEO best practice because:
First, it is more likely to earn a backlink. Studies show that longer content, i.e., content that has more than 1200 words, earns 77% more backlinks than content with merely 350 words.
Second, longer content produces higher search rankings. SERP IQ conducted a study in 2012, where it picked 20,000 keywords and charted the average content length of the top 10 results. It was found that none of the top 10 pages had a content length of less than 2000 words. This itself makes a compelling case for long-form content, by showing that Google prefers content-rich sites.
10. Focus on Topics over Keywords
Long gone are the days when people typed in fragments on search engines. Now, instead of typing ‘Soap helps infection’, you can make very specific searches, like ‘Does soap help in curing skin infection’.
Google’s RankBrain algorithm, launched in 2015, enabled the search engine to understand the ‘intent’ behind searches. Google understands the context of the searches, associates it with past searches, and pulls out the most relevant keywords and phrases to get the best results.
Therefore, it no longer makes sense to spam your content with keywords. Instead, focus on topics and long-tail keywords, and build your SEO strategy around them.