Do you want to learn the secrets of creating well-crafted expert SEO content in 2017?
Struggling to write a quality piece of content that’s perfect for your readers and Google as well? This article explains ten important things to know for on page content and essential tools to have in your SEO arsenal in 2017. But before we dive into detail consider the factors that affect content marketing this year…
This article explains ten important things to know for on page content and essential tools to have in your SEO arsenal in 2017. But before we dive into detail consider the factors that affect content marketing this year…
#1 The top four SEO ranking factors in 2017
- Content relevance
- Backlinks – Backlinks or Inbound links are links back another website to your website and Internal links are links from one website page to another page of the same website.
- Mobile User Experience
- Website Technical Factors – such as whether you have a secure site, structured markup
As you can see content is number one, but hold fire, it has to be good, quality relevant content of a certain length. In SEO land there has been a steady move away from keyword-focused content towards content written in natural language. Why? Because of a number of changes.
#2 The impact of RankBrain on search results
RankBrain is a machine learning system able to improve itself without any human interference (think Artificial Intelligence but not quite Ex Machina (great film on Netflix btw). It helps Google to process search results and provide more relevant search results when you type a query into search.
RankBrain is important as it is able to understand the meaning and intent behind words entered in search engines and raises or demotes them by how relevant they are. So in 2017, you are going to want to think about how relevant your content in answering a web user’s query. If you want to optimise a page for RankBrain here are some great ideas..
- Create compelling page titles and meta descriptions
- Write longer form copy
- Include authoritative resources, links and studies within the text
- Focus on the user’s benefit
- Make your website work on mobiles and tablets (also called ‘responsive’)
#3 The trend towards mobile and voice search
In case you haven’t noticed there is a growing trend towards mobile and voice search. Already, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, and that number is only growing. Think Cortana, Siri and Smart home assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Here are some stats to mull over.
- “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” according to ComScore.
- 80% of internet users own a smartphone (Smart Insights)
- Over 50% of smartphone users grab their smartphone immediately after waking up. (ExpressPigeon, 2014) I’m one of them!
- Think with Google states that “People are five times more likely to leave a mobile site that isn’t mobile-friendly” (test how mobile-friendly your site is here)
The days of people engaging exclusively on a desktop are long gone. In 2017 mobile optimisation is a must have.
#4 Does On-Page content really matter anymore?
Nowadays, Google doesn’t only consider on-page SEO score when ranking content. It also takes into account many other factors like social media signals (shares, likes, tweets, follows, etc.), the number of backlinks, domain authority, and many other off-page metrics. Google has over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm and some are more relevant than others. Brian Dean at Backlinko has listed them all but we’ve pulled out the key on page factors for ease of reference.
#5 The Top five On-Page ranking factors
- Keyword in Title Tag: The title tag is a webpage’s second most important piece of content (besides the content of the page) and therefore sends a strong on-page SEO signal.
- Content-Length: Content with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferred to shorter superficial articles. SERPIQ found that content length correlated with SERP position
- Keep the keyword density around 1.5% percent with a mix of LSI keywords.
- Use your main keyword once in the first paragraph and again in the last paragraph and in the body if its relevant
- Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content (LSI): LSI keywords help search engines extract meaning from words with more than one meaning (Apple the computer company vs. apple the fruit). The presence of LSI probably also acts as a content quality signal
- Including your target keyword in strategic places on your page – like in your URL, in the beginning of your article and in H2 tags – sends a message to Google that your page is about that keyword.
#6 Content writing tips, tools and guidelines
Google now evaluates content according to how fresh and relevant – not by the inclusion of individual keywords (because in the olden days of search people overused spammy keywords in an attempt to rank highly in search – boo!). In short, ultimately Google is looking for comprehensive, relevant, trustworthy, useful content. In short, you gotta earn it!
So…. is there such a thing as SEO content writing and if so how should you craft your copy? In a classic study of online reading behaviour, Jakob Nielsen found that “on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely”. They don’t read they scan. So break up text with a bullet point and create short paragraphs
Writtent have created 20 Killer Web Copywriting Tips for writing for the web. I like their suggestion to tone down the hype and write your web copy like you’re talking with your ideal customer face-to-face or on the phone. Your audience can tell the difference and will be more likely to engage. Keyword research is important but not at the expense of natural language. Try to weave your keyphrases into copy in natural language and use related keywords (synonyms).
If you are looking for more best practice to improve the quality of your web content see Google’s updated their search quality raters guidelines. This epic read contains all you need to know about what Google rates as great content. The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) that a web page/website has is very important! Googles Webmaster Guidelines states the following:-
“Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”
As well as letting us know what quality content is, Google explicitly says to avoid a variety of content-related techniques. In their guidelines, Google make it clear that they will take manual action against your site if it does not comply with its guidelines so make sure you read them.
In terms of SEO content tools there are many on the market. Some of my favourites include the Hemingway editor, the SEO content editing tool and of course the SEMRush SEO content template mentioned below.
#7 What does an SEO Optimised Web Page look like?
Ideally your web page should be structured to meet Google best practice. See Backlinko’s useful infographic On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2016 Update) or my favourite example from Moz featuring chocolate donuts and Homer Simpson…
#8 How Long Should a Web Page or Blog Post Be?
The general rule of thumb is that content of 300 words or more is less likely to put you at risk for publishing “thin” content that could result in a Google penalty. There is great debate about the ‘best blog post length’ but quality over quantity is always the best way to go. Content length is just one factor that Google takes into account when ranking web pages. If you are hung up on size over quality however here are some intriguing stats..
- Buffer research suggests that the ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, or around 1,600 words.
- Moz researched top content on its website. After studying over 3,800 blog posts, it concluded that the best performing posts had a length of over 1,500 words.
- NeilPatel.com articles tend to be 4000+ words and consistently rank high in Google search results
- After executing “The Skyscraper Technique“ which focuses on long form quality content, Brian Deans (Backlinko) found organic search traffic to his entire site doubled in just 14 days
For a more in depth, well-researched look at Buffer’s findings, make your way over to the Buffer blog. This does not mean that short form content is dead, far from it. There is a school of thought that ‘less is more’ when it comes to content strategy.
#9 What Types of Content Work Best?
According to Moz here are several types of content that Google favours when returning pages in search engine results. These are :
- Blog posts – especially How-to guides. Regular updates or those republished regularly
- Short-form evergreen content and articles. Evergreen content is content that remains valid over time, it is timeless and always attracts new readers. Think case studies, statistics and data, product reviews, the history of something, how to guides, beginner’s guides, curated content, lists, best practices, checklists, reference books in your target market, definitions, glossaries, acronyms etc.
- Long-form articles
- Photo and visual galleries
- Detailed and information-rich lists of information
- Interactive tools and content
- Comprehensive category landing pages
- Multi-page guides like Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Data or complex information that is easily visualised
- Video, YouTube or embedded video
Use Smart Insights Content Marketing Matrix to plan out which content to use for different business goals and stages of the buyer cycle.
#10 The Magic SEMrush SEO Content Template
Want to check your content against the most important ranking factors? Help is at hand through the SEMRush Content template! SEMrush (the SEO and content marketers essential tool of choice) has recently introduced a magic seo content tool that analyses your web content and gives you ideas to write a winning optimised content.
The magic SEMrush SEO Content Template tool can help you create SEO friendly content fit for the 2017 search landscape as it covers the essential on page and off page seo factors that really matter. The template gives you semantically related search terms together with backlink sources to generate high authority backlinks to your landing page, readability scores and much more.
All you need to do is add your target key phrases into the tool. SEMrush will then analyse the content on Google’s top 10-ranking pages for your target keywords. That’s it, Et voila you’ll get recommendations on how to create SEO-friendly content to rival the competition all wrapped in a downloadable word template! The SEO content tool then researches the top rankings pages for your keyword to generate recommendations about factors that have an impact on SEO, including…
- Recommended content length
- How often to place keywords in your content so you don’t overdo things
- Semantically related words to include in the main body text
- Suggested metadata length (usually 156 characters)
- Whether to add video
- Competitors backlink sources for building backlinks
The SEO Content Template guides you through your first steps in creating new content. If you are looking to make your landing page or blog post keyword-targeted, SEO-optimised, and ready to drive more traffic give the SEO Content Template tool a whirl. At the end of the day in today’s content overloaded, mobile first world the real task in hand is how to write better for search and mobile but ultimately for your audience.
Bonus Tip: Looking for magical semantic related key phrases for your website content? Try out the beta version of SeMRush SEO Keyword Magic tool. Free access to the tool will expire at the end of the beta testing period so get in fast!
SEO Copywriting in 2017
Today’s SEO copywriting is all about crafting content so irresistible that people want to link to and share it, which then increases your trust and authority which Google likes. Follow the guidance above for successful content writing and happy scribing!
Find out more about how our content marketing services can help build awareness of your business here.
SEMRush SEO Content Template – SEMrush
Become an SEO Wizard: Using the SEO Keyword Magic Tool – SEMrush
On-Page SEO Techniques To Rank On The First Page–2017 Edition – ShoutmeLoud
2017’s Four Most Important Ranking Factors, According to SEO Industry Studies – Search Engine Journal
The 10 Types of Content That Work Best for SEO – Moz Whiteboard Friday
Semantic SEO Strategy: How to Do SEO in 2017 – Webceo
7 types of blog post you need utilise to succeed with content marketing – Smart Insights
The ‘Less Is More’ Content Strategy – Buzzsumo
10 useful tools for writing compelling content for SEO – Search Engine Watch
SEO Copywriting made simple – CopyBlogger
29 Free Writing Tools and Resources- Brandwatch
10 tips for an awesome and SEO friendly blog post – Yoast
Searchmetrics Ranking Factors – Rebooting for Relevance