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The Secret To Writing Content That Gets Ranked

Posted by Murray Sye

on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

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Here's one of the take-aways from last year's HubSpot Inbound 2013: In Dharmesh's keynote he said "let's just try to be human for a second.

Focus on the need to humanize inbound marketing and the entire inbound experience." Fast forward to 2014 and apply that concept to your content and not to worry so much about the SEO.

Here are 10 tips for writing content that gets ranked – afterall Google prefers natural content to obvious SEO stuff. 

1) Don't worry so much about stuffing your content with keywords
Keyword density may have been a ranking factor ages ago. But there is nothing to indicate that Google favors a certain density over another. It's important to use relevant keywords in your copy, but use them naturally. Stuffing keywords in where they don't fit will most likely do more harm than good. So focus on keeping your copy natural instead of going for a specific predefined ratio.


2) Use related keywords, and variations of those keywords

Google and other search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to match search results to the intentions of the person performing the search. Using synonyms, related keywords, and grammatical variations is an easy way to make your content more relevant – without stuffing the actual keyword into the copy. This is also an effective way to target different search queries.


3) Short copy doesn't work as well as long copy

The average web page ranking on the first page of Google has over 2,000 words. Yikes! Moreover, evidence points to the fact that in-depth articles get more shares and links than short, superficial ones. Aim for content that delves deep into the subject matter and provides real insight. But don't write lengthy content just to please search engines – do it because you have knowledge and insight to share with your audience.


4) Leverage long tail keywords

The problem with "big", "fat" keywords is that they usually are super competitive and ranking for them demands a huge effort. In many cases there are lots of related searches that are much easier to rank for e.g.: "landing page" vs. "how long should a landing page be?" Long tail phrases have a smaller search volume, however the traffic quality will be higher as the visitors are more motivated and likely to convert.


5) Provide the answers to the questions your prospects are searching for

If your prospects have questions about your product or service, they'll probably type those same questions into Google. Provide your prospects with content that delivers credible answers, and they'll visit your website. Provide them with better answers than your competitors, and they'll likely buy from you. Additionally, answering questions is a great way of taking advantage of the long tail.


6) Get your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible by sharing

Sharing gets you links and traffic, and the more "shares" your content gets, the more relevant and popular it will seem to Google. Do your part to get your content out there and shared via relevant forums, blogs, influencers, newsletters, and the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.


7) Google+ should be your best friend

Google+ is going to play a bigger and bigger role in SEO, and with the introduction of Author Rank means that Google will start connecting ranking factors to individual authors not just the website hosting the author's content. Setup your Google+ profile, add your authorship markup, claim ownership of your content, build Author Rank, and play an active role on Google+. By doing so, you can boost the authority of every piece of content you produce, regardless of where it gets posted.


8) Forget about keyword stuffing – those days are gone

Recent algorithm updates have revolved around weeding out content intended to manipulate rankings. One of the main warning signs that Google looks for is keyword stuffing (i.e.: content where the author obviously has gone overboard in stuffing as many keywords into the copy as possible). So try to use keywords only where they naturally fit in.


9) Don't over optimize your link text

Optimizing link text to match keywords and phrases perfectly, used to be an effective technique for improving your rankings. Unfortunately, those days are behind us. Google has become increasingly aware of "link schemes" and today you will – in all likelihood – get a penalty if all you only use is perfect link text, in Google's eyes this is a sign of intent to manipulate rankings.


10) Don't ignore the alt text in your images

Images seem to be playing a bigger and bigger role in Google's ranking factors. Remember to use relevant, original images and make sure to include keywords in your alt text. A good idea is to use the copy from the title tag as the alt text. The title of this blog will be the alt text I use on the main image. Remember it's a good idea to use one of your keywords in the image if possible.


Other related articles you might find helpful: 
Why Visual Content Is So Important to Your Marketing
A Proven Path To Creating Good Content For Your Business
6 Reasons Companies Must Consider Outsourcing Content Development
How Context Marketing Is Going To Help You Grow Your Business

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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
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