For the rest of 2021 and into 2022, you may be preparing your marketing and content goals, creating calendars and generally preparing for what’s on the horizon.
Algorithms change, new information comes out regarding SEO best practices, and it’s a constantly evolving environment.
The frequent changes make it essential that you keep up with what’s going on.
First and foremost, you need to make sure you’re consistently delivering quality content.
If you aren’t maximizing SEO best practices yet, it’s also essential to start. Around 89% of businesses in a 2021 study said they rely on organic search as their most powerful distribution channel.
If you want to convert leads into clients, you have to be effectively using SEO.
Being a great SEO writer, no matter your area of specialty, isn’t just about using keywords. Best practices have gone so far beyond that. If you’ve made it your goal to create compelling content consistently for the rest of the year and into the new year, the following are things to keep in mind.
Understand Google Ranking Factors
First, before you can create great content, you need to know what the ranking factors are, but you also need to accept that there’s a very real possibility these can change at seemingly any moment.
Something to pay attention to right now is called YMYL. YMYL stands for “your money or your life.” These pages are relevant if you provide professional services, such as legal advice. YMYL also applies to any content that could impact a person’s health, life, well-being, or finances.
For pages that fall into the YMYL category, Google emphasizes something else—EAT. EAT stands for expertise, authority and trust.
You want your content to be backed up by specialized expertise, recognized as a source of authority, and trusted as a source, as evidenced by consistently positive user signals.
Expertise means that you’re creating content that Google can see is geared toward the searcher’s intent. It’s not just about the keyword. Instead, Google is crawling for content that will answer why someone might be looking for that keyword in a more in-depth way.
Authority means that others recognize your expertise when you create content. Links from high-quality sites are one signal of authority. Social shares are another.
Trustworthiness is about reducing negative feedback from users. Negative feedback can include a bad mobile user experience, high bounce rates, or negative feedback.
Research Your Keywords
We may sound a little crazy here, but there are two things you need to remember when it comes to ranking content.
First, do your research. Find keywords that are in that sweet spot between volume and competitiveness. Ideally, you want your keywords to be as high-volume and low competition as possible, so you stand a chance of ranking.
When you’re researching keywords, look not just at your primary term. Think about you can also include additional keywords that are closely related to support your primary keyword.
You want those keywords to provide a general basis to guide your content, but the reason we say you should forget about them as soon as you start writing is that your goal is to write for people. Of course, you’ll naturally integrate your keywords occasionally throughout your content, but don’t let yourself get so focused on them that the quality of your writing suffers.
Your number one priority is the topic, and you want to provide the best possible experience to your reader.
Quality is more important to Google’s current algorithm than keywords.
As part of the goal of creating high-quality, contextually relevant content, you want to go as in-depth as you can on your topics. This is a win-win from the perspective of the Google algorithm and your readers.
As you’re organizing deep-dive content, try to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Why do they need your content? Why is the information relevant to them and how can you help them most?
To create deep dives, try to think about search intent.
Base Your Format On User Intent
There are a lot of ways you can organize an article for SEO purposes, but the approach you ultimately choose needs to be driven by user intent.
If your keyword is based on informational intent, you might want to create a guide or tutorial. Using headline words like “what” and “how” is in line with informational intent.
Navigational intent might include the name of a brand or product in a title, while transactional intent can include words like buy or price.
As well as considering intent when you create headlines and generally structure your article, think about it as you’re writing a call-to-action.
SERP features can vary depending on intent. For example, if your audience has an informational intent, your goal might be to capture the “featured snippet” or the “people may ask section.”
Again, intent plays a role with your meta title. Your article’s headline isn’t necessarily going to be the title that shows up in search results. There’s the H1 tag displayed on your page that’s one heading, but then there’s the meta title tag that shows up in the search results snippet. They can be similar or related, but they don’t have to be precisely the same. They both should have your targeted keyword, however.
Your H1 tag shows the structure of your content, but your meta title can be more valuable from an SEO standpoint.
You should use your meta title to introduce your audience to what they can expect with your content, and this is ultimately what will compel them to click on your article or not.
Use your meta title to highlight what benefit your reader will get from your content or what problem you’re going to help them solve.
Finally, every page on your site also needs to have a meta description. Your meta description should include keywords and be brief but should give a very topical overview of the critical information you will include on your page.