Bill Gates once famously wrote, “content is king”. This was in January of 1996, and almost three decades later, it still holds true.
It’s a quote that gets thrown around a lot in the world of digital marketing, but it’s for a good reason. Many SEO professionals regard content as one of the most important factors in determining how well a website ranks and, thus, attracts organic traffic.
However, many newcomers to the industry don’t often know why this is. Therefore, this article will explain exactly what SEO content means and why it’s so important.
We’ll also take a look at the different types of SEO content out there and how to determine what content is best suited for your business. Let’s dive in.
SEO content improves your website’s visibility and authority by ranking highly on search engine results pages. It is on-page SEO; whilst off-page SEO and technical SEO are also important, you could argue that on-page SEO is the most important.
Therefore, it’s a vital part of any SEO strategy, especially since a major ranking factor for Google and other search engines is whether a website has content that users will find useful. This makes creating high-quality content an essential part of any SEO strategy and can be the difference maker between you ranking above or below your competitors.
Content for SEO comes in various formats, but the most effective are as follows:
- Blog posts
- ‘How to’ guides
- Landing pages
This is far from an exhaustive list. In reality, you can create endless types of content, and it’s everchanging. We’ll explain how to determine what type of content to produce later in the article, but first, let’s explore these types of content in more detail.
Blog posts are perhaps the most popular type of SEO content you can create due to their versatility and effectiveness. They are often a key part of any SEO content strategy.
Back in the early 2000s, blog posts were predominantly personal journals of your thoughts and perspectives on certain topics. Whilst they still exist, now you see many big brands and businesses using blog posts to attract traffic which they then hope to convert into customers.
Blog posts allow you to create authoritative pages related to your industry, building your reputation and increasing brand exposure. For instance, suppose you are an e-commerce store that sells fitness gear and accessories. You can create a blog that answers your customer’s questions on all things fitness related. Which foods have the highest protein content? Why is exercise beneficial for the body and mind?
By showing your expertise in your field and attracting viewers to your website, they are more likely to buy products from your store. This is just one example of how creating a blog can help your brand.
Blog posts and articles are often used synonymously. However, articles tend to be more formal. They are usually reserved for breaking news, interviews, and feature pieces. As such, many online newspapers and magazines create articles. It’s important to note that some of the content produced in blog posts and articles can overlap – it just depends on who’s creating it.
Listicles present information in a list format to relay information clearly and concisely to the reader. They fall under the articles and blog posts umbrella and have a reputation as the most clickable type of content on search results.
This is largely due to the fact that they’re easy to digest. A listicle format makes the content easy to read and skim over for most audiences, thus increasing engagement.
Examples of listicle articles include “10 best tools to build a website” and “10 most underrated movies of 2022”.
‘How to’ guides
‘How to’ guides, as the name suggests, describe how to do something. They are an excellent way to show your expertise on a subject as you inform the viewer on how to solve a problem.
Like listicles, ‘how to’ guides fall under the blog posts or article umbrella and are one of the more clickable types of content on search engine results. As such, they should be a staple in your content creation strategy.
Infographics blend written with visual content to create an image that informs the reader of a topic in a visually pleasing and engaging way. Typically, infographics are used when creators want to explain data-heavy information. This is so that they can explain it without large blocks of text, which can be hard to read, instead using graphs and charts to relay the message. However, they’re also a great tool to include in a ‘how to’ guide.
Although infographics can be incredibly useful, they are slightly less popular compared to other types of SEO content creation due to them being harder to crawl by search engines. This is because most of the information is in an image as opposed to readable text. Therefore, if you want to utilise infographics, it’s important to make sure that the rest of your web pages are optimised correctly.
A landing page is a web page where users who click on an ad or email ‘land’ to. This is often used in e-commerce, where the landing page shows a product or service the customer can purchase.
Research shows that 92.7% of internet users watch videos, making it the most common type of media consumed in the world. Google understands this – after all, they own YouTube – and has begun introducing video snippets in their search results.
To capitalise on this, videos have become a tool through which businesses try to improve their search engine rankings. It’s more common with ‘how to’ searches since visual demonstrations work better with those searches, i.e., a video on how to use your product.
In many cases, a video is made in addition to a written ‘how to’ guide to ensure both types of content are covered.
Creating content largely depends on the keywords you’re looking to rank for, who your target audience is and their search intent, and what’s ranking highly in search results. Let’s explore this in more detail.
1. Perform keyword research
Before you begin creating content, you first need to know what keywords you want to rank in search engines for, which can be done by performing keyword research.
Keyword research involves figuring out what search terms customers in your industry search for most. This allows you to find out which keywords attract the most traffic, which keywords you should or should not target, and which ones you should be ranking for most. It’s important to note that a target keyword can be one word or a phrase. For example, ‘jewellery’ and ‘gold jewellery’ are both considered to be a keyword.
With this list of keywords, you now know what type of content to include on your web pages, which will serve as a roadmap. Still, there should be one or two keywords that you should focus on most.
As you’ll see during your keyword research, not all are ranked equally. For instance, the keyword ‘jewellery’ is a common search term and, therefore, much more competitive. So whilst it can be good to try and target this main keyword, you also want to target long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific and, thus, easier to rank for. For example, ‘gold jewellery made in the UK’ is a long-tail keyword since it’s more specific and is a longer search term. Therefore, targeting long-tail keywords in addition to your main keyword is a good strategy.
Main keywords should then be sprinkled on your website, particularly in a URL, title tag, heading, and metadata. Long-tail keywords should be used in your content and sub-headings.
Semrush has a great keyword research tool, as does Ahrefs. You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner.
Now that you have an overview of what keywords are most popular in your industry and field, you should have a general guideline of what type of content to make. The next step is to understand your target audience and their search intent.
2. Understand your target audience and search intent
Search intent is why a user searches for a particular term. For instance, if someone searches the keyword’ shoes’, it’s likely that they are looking for a new pair of shoes to buy, hence why Google and other search engines will show e-commerce stores first. There are four main types of search intent:
- Transactional – The user is looking to buy something
- Informational – The user is looking for further information on a question or topic
- Navigational – The user is looking for a specific website
- Commercial – The user is doing research on a product or service before they decide to buy
Suppose most of your target audience searches for keywords with transactional search intent. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to create informational content. The search engine will deem it unrelated and won’t rank it highly. Therefore, your task should be to create SEO content that is aligned with your audience’s search intent to improve your ranking and, thus, traffic.
The knowledge obtained from your keyword research and the knowledge obtained from analysing search intent should paint a picture of what type of content to create.
3. Evaluate search result pages
You now have a clear idea of what your target audience is searching for and why. The next step involves evaluating the search result pages.
The job of a search engine is to show the most relevant results to its users in the shortest amount of time. Therefore, as you did with keyword research, it’s also important to research the type of content in the search results.
Are users expecting long-form articles that delve deep into a topic, or are they expecting short-form articles that give an instant answer? Is the featured snippet in video or image format, or is it in written format? Are the results mostly ads for landing pages, or are they blog posts?
A full analysis of the first page of search results should help you answer these questions. Combining your evaluation of keyword research, search intent, and search results should inform you of what type of content to produce. All that remains is to get started on the SEO content writing process.
4. Create 'people-first' content
Any time you're creating content, it's crucial that you have a people-first approach. What we mean by this is that your content should be tailored towards helping your readers as much as possible instead of trying to manipulate or please the search engine.
When your content is people-focused, you will be able to retain readers and increase organic traffic, all while pleasing the search engine simultaneously. This is because Google's ranking algorithm prioritises content that is most helpful to its users as opposed to content that is generated to 'game the system'.
Therefore, your primary goal should be to provide the most value to your reader. From there, SEO principles can be implemented to make your content easier to find, not vice versa.
SEO content can be anything from a blog post, article, infographic, or video that improves your website's overall visibility and ability to rank highly on search engine results. Determining what content to produce is important since you need to bridge the gap between what the user is searching for and the content you're publishing.
There are a few ways to do this, such as by performing keyword research and evaluating the search result pages. However, the most important way is to take a people-first approach and understand your target audience so that your content provides the most value.