The Relationship Between Content and SEO
Something you’ll hear a lot in the world of SEO is “content is king.” The phrase was first coined by Bill Gates in 1996 in an essay describing the World Wide Web. The expression hasn’t lost its meaning over the years, however, it has certainly evolved. Now, a more accurate phrase to describe the internet – and in particular, search engine results – is, “quality content is king.”
Content is the number 1 ranking factor for search engines. According to Gary Illyes, the lead analyst on Google’s Search team, “Without content it literally is not possible to rank. If you don’t have words on [a] page you’re not going to rank for it.”
This is where many organizations struggle. They’ll often create a beautiful new website, add all of their products and services, and then close the book and say “Done.” But this is actually the worst thing a company can do.
What Determines Quality Content?
What determines quality content? Luckily, Google has a 176-page document called Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that outlines what quality means. Let’s review this entire document, starting with page 1:
Just kidding. If you had time for that, you wouldn’t be here! But here are some direct quotes from the Guidelines that pertain to quality content:
- “A high level of E-E-A-T” (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). Here is a bit more explanation about what E-E-A-T means.
- “Created with a high level of effort, originality, talent, or skill such that the page achieves its purpose well”
- “Accuracy, depth, and clarity”
- “Original photos or video footage produced by the website or content creator”
- “Content on the page is unique to the content creators, such as a personal perspective based on first-hand life experience”
- “Allows the page to achieve its purpose well because the content creator has talent or skill, e.g. a how-to article on plumbing by a skilled plumber”
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into just this one, super-critical ranking signal.
Not all quality content requires a blog post. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and one of its best uses can be applied to creating great content for your website. Depending on the website, other forms of quality content could include:
- Images or photos
- Interactive software tools
- Products that are screened and vetted
Still, blog posts can be the right form of content if you have enough to write about and it is of interest to the reader.
How Blog Posts Can Help
Blog posts are one of the best ways to add better content to your website if some of the other forms above are not within your budget or your creative realm. Blogs contain words, which are one of the easiest ways for search engines to learn what your pages are about. In addition, schema markup, image SEO, and other methods are helping search engines better understand content and create relationships between things. Still, blogs are at the top of the list when it comes to providing words for search engines to determine the keywords for which a page should rank.
What Makes a Good Blog Post?
1. E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
For blogs, E-E-A-T means many things. The first is to include the author (or reviewer) of the post and link to their bio. The bio should indicate their experience and expertise in the blog’s topic. Always include the date, and update it if you update the post. Use some of the suggestions below about choosing a topic, focusing on providing valued information, and linking to other sites to gain authority. These all add to E-E-A-T for blog posts.
2. Unique Content & A Unique Perspective
Writing unique content – or content with a unique perspective – can seem challenging. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Answer a customer question with a more complicated answer in the form of a blog post
- Write about professional experiences, the good and bad, how you’ve overcome challenges, and the results
- Research trending topics in your industry and provide information or answers to a question that hasn’t been written by others yet
- Conduct idea-generation sessions with your team or sales force to discover interesting topics.
- Document customer service questions, issues, and their resolutions, and for potential posts.
- Interview clients for detailed accounts from their perspective or share first-hand stories with their permission.
- Write about a new product or service launch and the journey of its creation.
- Look at competitor blog posts–not to copy them, but rather to generate new ideas.
3. Focus On Providing Information, Not Getting Results
An adage says, “If you want to find what you’re looking for – stop looking.” We find this to be true in the case of blog posts. Far too often, marketers see blog posts purely as another means to advertise products and services. But this is just about the worst thing you can do! Focus on providing valuable information, and the results will follow naturally.
This leads right into the next point: Choose a topic and make it relevant to your target audience.
4. A Topic That Your Customers Care About
One of our clients was interested in adding more information to their news blog. This company manufactures storage options for healthcare, including carts, cabinets, and casework. They also offer high-tech solutions for their storage systems such as drying cabinets for endoscopes, tracking software to determine when a scope needs reprocessing, and cloud-controlled locking features.
Feedback from their sales team was that they needed information written by someone in the healthcare industry, specifically a nurse with credentials. They felt a nurse could explain topics and issues in a way that their target audience would understand while offering credibility for his or her expertise. Topics like security, sanitation, and efficiency should be explored by a nurse who understands the challenges and can provide unique information about them.
Unfortunately, we did not have any nurse writers on staff at Top Of The List, so we set about to find a good writer who was also a nurse. We were successful, and that nurse is writing posts for them to this day. The company’s sales team is extremely pleased with the results, and often shares the posts with potential customers. As a result, we can do our SEO magic and direct the right online traffic to those posts.
Write blog posts about topics your customers care about. They will please your customers and market your products in a low-key way. You will gain the E-E-A-T desired, promote your brand, and keep your target market audience coming to your website for more. Then watch your ROI go through the roof!
5. Links to other websites
Don’t be shy to link to other sites besides your own. When the blog post contains statistics, link to an authoritative site where they are verified. If another site has additional information about the topic that your site does not, link to it within your copy so readers can learn more. Obviously, you should avoid linking to competitors. But there are so many other sites that can enrich your blog post. Google also counts external links and where they go, so that means something too!
6. Optimized for SEO
You want to be sure that searchers who would benefit from reading your blog post are finding it! We have an entire blog post that is a step-by-step guide to optimizing blog posts. Several AI-powered tools can assist you in optimizing your blog post for SEO, as long as you use them with discretion.
Here are some of the top tools for optimizing blog posts for SEO;
- Surfer SEO – Once you know what keyword phrases you’ll be focused on in your blog post, you can create a keyword cluster. Then, you write your post within the Surfer SEO platform. Surfer’s keyword clusters are based on semantic search – basically, it includes keywords related to your primary focus allowing search engines to more easily connect the ideas within your post and present them to the right people. There is a monthly cost to use this tool and a learning curve to get it right. But we love the results!
- Chat GPT – This is best to use when you’re first starting your blog post. Once you have a topic, you can ask Chat GPT to recommend keyword phrases your post would be relevant for, and help you refine your blog outline to reflect those keywords. Chat GPT-3.5 is free to use while Chat GPT-4 requires a paid subscription.
- Yoast SEO–a plugin for WordPress or Shopify – The free version adds an area to blog page drafts where you can add a title and meta description. You can also add a keyword phrase and it will grade the article on its usage. Finally, Yoast provides a dynamic score of your writing so you can update the grammar or verbiage and get better each time. Premium users have access to Yoast’s AI title and meta description generator, which analyzes your blog post and creates meta tags based on the content and keywords.
- MaxAI.me – This free Chrome extension adds a widget that appears in the browser and offers the ability to improve writing, change tone, and make other content changes. It doesn’t offer SEO-specific optimization but makes blog posts easier for readers to understand, which increases user engagement.
How Often Should You Post a Blog?
It depends, but our clients who are posting 3 to 4 blog posts a week are doing the best on their organic search engine rankings. Posting this many blogs allows the creation of “content clusters.” The clusters are blog posts that all contribute to the same main topic. Writing blogs this way allows optimal internal linking from one post to another in a natural way. These internal links are very important for SEO.
Posting 1 to 2 blog posts a month or less will still improve SEO. When a particularly interesting topic is chosen, the post can attract thousands of visitors alone. It is not as easy to add internal links when posting less often. But we all have limits on our time and budget.
So yes, blog posts seem to be necessary if you desire more organic traffic. There’s no better time to get those blogs started and optimized! Your efforts will not only help the readers by providing quality information but will help bring in more leads as your website gains visibility. And if you need help, contact Top Of The List! We have a blogging program that can move your site to the top on even more organic keywords.
About the Author
Nicole has been working in online marketing since 2007 when she joined Top Of The List. She loves creative endeavors and spending time with her daughter.
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