A lot of people think of blog posts as something ultimately transient.
After all, part of the point of a blog is that it creates a continuing flow of fresh, new content.
But a great blog post isn’t a one-off that can only get attention for a week or two.
Your best posts can continue to perform for weeks or even years to come, bringing in fresh traffic on the regular from targeted Google searches.
But somewhat ironically, the more closely you focus on small SEO factors, the less likely this can be to happen.
Focusing too much on optimizing for Google can actually work to your detriment, leading to content that’s dull, repetitive, drawn-out, or that otherwise isn’t something your audience really wants to read.
The days of super-specific keyword densities and exact word counts are long behind us.
While there all still things you can do to improve your chances of ranking for the right searches, Google’s algorithms are now sophisticated enough that, for the most part, you’re better off just writing naturally and focusing on answering the right questions.
In a recent blog post, Nichehacks offers three important things you can do to create better, more interesting content that ranks well.
Develop a Content Strategy Around the Pain Points of Your Audience
I’ve already said this a dozen times in this post, but I’ll say it again.
Google’s objective is to serve high quality, accurate, and reliable search results to its users.
If your content targets the pain points of your audience, better than any of your competitors, Google will do everything to rank you higher because this serves its objective.
In simple words, stop worrying about ranking and start creating problem-solving content.
Here’s how your thought process should work while creating content.
- Identify the problems of your audience (audience research)
- Find out the questions of your audience that no one’s answering (competitor analysis)
- Create the most comprehensive answers to their questions, better than any other site (skyscraper technique)
- Use the right language (terminologies/keywords) while creating your content (least important).
See, the focus here is on the user, not Google.
So, how do you find the questions of your audience?
Research of course.
But in a nutshell, you can get a pretty good idea about the actual problems of your audience by
- Defining your ideal audience first
- Using Google suggested searches
- Using Google related searches
- Using Google Trends
- Analyzing competitors with Facebook Audience Insights
- Exploring Quora, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups and other niche specific forums
- Analyzing the most popular content of your closest competitors
- Surveying your audience
You can also find great ideas on content research by just reading our niche research reports
Be detailed, ask yourself as many questions as possible and even create personas to target.
Once you’ve identified the right questions, list them down and turn each question (or a group of closely related questions) into a comprehensive blog post.
For example, we identified that finding the right content writers was one of the biggest problems of our audience.
Forget Keywords, Focus on Your Topic
“Should I use my target keyword in the headline?”
“What should be the keyword density in my content?”
“Is it ok to use the same keyword in H1 and H2?”
“How should I spread keywords across my content?”
STOP! STOP! STOP!
You’re asking the WRONG questions.
It’s not 2008 anymore so stuffing your content with high traffic keywords isn’t going to work. In fact, it can get you penalized by Google.
Keywords are still important but not the way you think.
Search engines, Google in particular, are now more intelligent and don’t rely on the exact keywords to understand the topic of your content.
Since Google’s Hummingbird update, the top search results for most keywords don’t even have that exact keyword in the title.
But Google still understands what the content is about.
Before the Hummingbird update, the search results for these two terms had only 2 common sites because Google saw them as separate keywords.
After the update, however, 7 of the 10 results were the same for both the keywords because Google started ranking content based on their topical relevance instead of keywords alone.
What’s the message here for you?
Stop worrying about keywords and think of your topic as a whole. Focus on writing comprehensive content that naturally features different keywords and terminologies related to your topic.
Let your writing flow and talk to your readers naturally.
If you do that, you’ll start ranking for terms that are not even present in your content.
Answer Questions Instead of Counting Words
I know, I know!
You’ll tell me that the average word count of the top ranked pages in Google Search is around 2000 words
I’ve quoted that study a million times myself.
But newer studies reveal that the average word count of the top results is not as high as previously believed.
However, that’s not the point.
Even if longer posts rank higher, does it mean word count was the only reason for their ranking?
They rank well because they created detailed, comprehensive and well-researched content to answer the questions of their target audience.
Word count is not the driving factor here, the usefulness of the content is.
Word count is only a by-product of quality content.
You can’t write in-depth and well-researched content in just 300 words, can you?
So while I’m a huge fan of writing really long posts, I ask you not to obsess over word count.
Instead, use as many words as you need to cover the topic of your post.
In short, write naturally.
You can find more tips for using SEO to craft evergreen blog posts that bring in new readers for years to come, in the full article from NicheHacks.