Let’s do an honest analysis of your content.
I receive at least a dozen emails each month from people frustrated that their article isn’t ranking on the first page of Google for their keyword.
They claim they’re doing “everything right” but nothing seems to be working.
It doesn’t take long to see what their problem is. Apart from lack of strong backlinks, 9 times out of 10, they’re simply not creating content that’s good enough to be ranking.
Want to really get good at producing content that ranks?
Pay attention to these 5 things.
1. Have You Done The Necessary Keyword Research?
As absurd as it sounds, a large number of professional bloggers (not hobbyists) still create content based on ideas they get in the shower or while waiting in a McDonald’s queue.
Creating content without proper keyword research is like shooting arrows in the dark.
If you’re lucky, you’ll rank for a high traffic keyword. But 99% of the time, your content will sit in a lonely corner of the web with no views and no shares.
Keyword research is the foundation of SEO and content creation which is why you have to give it the necessary time.
Every piece of content you create should be a part of your broader content strategy and target a keyword that you’ve chosen after research.
2. Do you have the keyword in your title?
Let’s start off really, really simple. I feel like this is a given and I shouldn’t have to mention this, but a surprising amount of blogs fail to do it.
I don’t care if you’re one of those people who purposely ignore SEO. Having the keyword in your title is far too important to not pay attention to.
You MUST have your primary keyword in the title in some way if you want to rank highly for it.
I’ve seen blogs with monstrous backlink profiles and huge domain authorities miss out on a boatload of free search traffic because they neglected to do this.
Here’s an example: A blog will write an amazing article about a topic like parenting. With a meaty article and a high backlink profile and strong authority, they should be ranking on the first page.
However, they’ll title the page something like: “Some Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon.”
From an SEO’s perspective, that’s crazy! I mean I guess it can make sense to the reader. But even just changing it to something like “Some Thoughts On Parenting” would make a big difference.
I see this kind of thing too often when I’m doing niche research (having the homepage titled as “Home” is probably the most common one).
Even if you hate SEO and have no intention of learning what it is, you’ve at least got to pay attention to your title tag.
3. Are You Using Related Keywords And Topics In Your Content?
One of the easiest ways to strengthen your site’s on-page SEO game and rank it for more keywords is by targeting secondary keywords that are related to your main keyword.
Secondly, you need to answer all the questions your audience is asking about your topic to make it rank faster.
Doing this isn’t very difficult and you don’t need any fancy tools for it either.
Just head over to Google Search, enter your main keyword and scroll down to the related searches section at the bottom of the page.
These are relevant keywords that you should include in your content, sub-headings, and as alt-text of your images to rank for all of them.
Similarly, for every search keyword, Google now has a “People also ask” section which lists the most common questions people are asking about a topic.
These are proven topics and keywords that searchers are looking for on Google.
You can include as many of them in your content as want or create an FAQs section at the end of your article and list all of them there.
This small exercise will help you rank for multiple related keywords very quickly.
4. Are your articles full of unnecessary filler content?
This is by far the biggest reason I have such a hard time finding long-term writers: Unnecessary filler content. Even expensive writers have this problem, and it’s a huge pain in the behind.
Every time I order a longer article of 2000 to 3000 words from a writer I’ve never worked with, I will end up having to cut 30% to 40% of it. It’s full of unnecessary information and add-on sentences.
It may be just because I’m really picky about everything, but they’re writing about useless things just to fill up the word-count and it’s annoying as hell.
How do you prevent this?
If you’re outsourcing articles… the only true way around it is to find a long-term writer who understands what you’re looking for.
Once you do, just trust them and don’t set any strict limits on them.
Give them a lot of room with word count on each article (at least for the bigger, more important articles).
And give them plenty of time to write it. Don’t give them two days to write a 2000 word article.
Give them up to a week, or maybe even two if you’re not in a rush. As professional writers, they have a lot of other clients than just you. If you rush them, you’re the one who will come up on the losing end.
One of the things I started doing is working directly with higher-paying writers and giving them a huge range in word count.
So instead of telling them I want a 2000 word article, I’ll tell them to write between 1000 to 3000 words and that they have full control over how long the article is.
You don’t have to go to this extreme for your shorter articles, but for bigger pages that are targeting important, high-value keywords, this has been working out very nicely.
5. Is Your Content Grammatically Correct?
Typos, spelling mistakes, and incorrect grammar are among the biggest turn-offs for most readers.
Naturally, such content also doesn’t get many links even if it offers good practical advice.
Now, I know it’s hard to create flawless content and there’s always a chance that you don’t catch a typo.
To make life easier for myself, I use Grammarly (free version). It really is a life-saver because it catches all the typos, tells you if there’s something wrong with your sentence structure, and even gives you suggestions about using alternate words if you’re using the same terms again and again.
Overall, it’s a pretty useful product considering that it helps you create error-free content easily.
6. Do you know the goal of each article you’re publishing?
Every single article you publish, you should be able to categorize them according to your goals.
For me, I’m either creating content for promotion (getting shares/backlinks), or for quick rankings. It’s one of the two every time.
If it’s going to be for promotion, I’ll need to create it into a linkable asset and make sure that it’s longer and better than my competitors.
These are the kinds of articles I’ll spend more time and money on to work with better writers.
If it’s for quick rankings, I won’t really care as much.
What do I mean by quick rankings? These are pages published to take advantage of domain authority.
When I build up enough strong backlinks, I can start ranking for long-tail keywords automatically without needing to build any links directly to that page.
They’ll just index on page two or three and slowly climb into the top 5 in a few weeks. Sometimes, they’ll even index straight to the first page.
As a result, pumping out articles can become very profitable. And I’ll start outsourcing a lot of content around 800 to 1200 words long targeting longer-tailed keywords.
These are the kinds of articles I’ll spend less time and money on. Usually, I’ll work with cheaper writers or just order a batch of content from iWriter or Textbroker.
These aren’t linkable assets. They would perform poorly if I were to use them in an outreach campaign. They’re simply created to increase organic traffic every month.
7. Is Your Content Link-Worthy?
You can’t rank for competitive high traffic keywords without having more backlinks to your content than your competitors.
But no one inks to crap content that doesn’t offer any value.
In order to create link-worthy content, you need to
- Make it better (longer, more in-depth, more useful, and actionable) than the content that’s currently ranking for your target keyword.
- Add relevant images and screenshots
- Use data references to credible studies and stats to back your arguments
- Use case studies and examples to back your arguments.
Creating content costs money so make sure whenever you invest in it, you create something that attracts links naturally and benefits your rankings in the long run.
8. Are all your articles under 1000 words?
Surprisingly, even with all the information on the web about creating long-form content, this is still a common mistake.
I’m not saying that ALL shorter articles are bad.
Shorter, straight-to-the-point blog posts are better for some cases, especially for more specific keywords where the user wants a quick answer.
However, having a blog where EVERY SINGLE article is under 1000 words is usually going to be bad sign.
A study by CanIRank shows that the average length of the top 10 Google Search results is around 1100 words.
It’s clear that in order to outrank your competitors and claim a place in the top 10 search results, you have to aim for at least 1000-1200 articles (the bigger the better)
If you’re not doing this, it likely means you’re slacking off and not paying enough attention to the topics you’re writing about.
Bigger keywords/topics almost always require bigger pieces of content. It’s just not possible to fully cover a larger topic under 1000 words. And it’s not something people share or link to either.
So if you’re wondering why your 500-word article about how to lose weight fast isn’t ranking, it’s likely because it’s thin, generic, and provides no actual value to the reader.
If you need help identifying which articles should be longer, think about the search intent of the keyword/topic you’re targeting.
Which leads us to our next point…
9. Do you think about search intent?
Most people don’t pay enough attention to search intent.
What is the reader looking for when they search for your primary keyword and land on your article?
You need to get deeper than just identifying it on a general level.
What is the reader EXACTLY looking for?
What would make them search this keyword?
What are they struggling with?
What information would make them feel fully satisfied?
How are they feeling when they search this keyword? Happy, sad, angry, panicked?
Are they in a rush?
Are they looking for in-depth information or a quick answer?
The last one is the most important, and the one where most people fail.
For example, for a keyword like “how to tie a tie” people just want a quick answer. They’re likely in a rush, and just want a clear, simple answer.
A giant 1000 word introduction is not going to make for a better article in this case. The entire article should be under 1000 words, probably around 500 to 800 words.
But for a keyword like “how to become a plumber” people want as much information as possible.
The longer the better. A 500 word article here would not work. If you want to create a resource that fully satisfies someone who searches for that kind of keyword, it should be 3000+ words long.
These are the things you need to be able to recognize.
Understanding search intent is a skill that comes with practice. If you get good at it, your content quality on a whole will become 10x better.
You’ll get a better understanding for what the bulk of the article should be about, and what it shouldn’t be about. And as a result, you’ll have lower bounce rates, longer read times, and a more satisfied experience from visitors.
10. Are You Using Videos An Images?
Images and multimedia content not only make your content look better, they also significantly increase your chances of making it to the top 10 search results.
According to a study, adding a video to a page increases its chances of making it to the first page of Google Search by 53 times.
A study by BroghtCove found that adding a single video to their blog article increased search rankings by 157%.
Don’t be surprised.
When you add a video to a page, it not only makes the content more comprehensive, it also makes the users stick longer on your page which increases your site’s average session duration.
This has a direct impact on search rankings
A study by Wistia found that people spend 2.6x more time on a page that has a video on it.
If you have your own unique video content, great. Add it to your articles.
But if you don’t have your own videos, just find any high quality and relevant video from YouTube and embed it to your page.
You’ll love what happens to your ranking after that.
Time To Improve Your Search Rankings
Don’t expect to rank on the first page of Google if your article doesn’t deserve to be there.
Ask yourself if your page answers the reader’s question completely and in the best way. It takes a lot of work to create great content. It’s not just about having the longest article.
If you can clearly understand your page’s goal, and the search intent of the keyword you’re targeting, you’ll be much better at planning out what kind of content will be best suited for it.
You’ll get better on-site engagement metrics, pick up more links and shares, and develop a stronger following of readers who appreciate the resources you’ve published.