The Power Of Researching Before Writing Content For SEO
Published on August 02, 2019
by Samer Awada
It’s 2019 and if your content marketing game is weak, you’re letting countless potential conversions senselessly slip away. You can also bet your competitors are pulling way ahead of you in the race for SEO. Just a few years ago, having any content at all seemed like just an added plus, done only by companies who had the extra time and resources to create it.
But in a short period of time, both B2B and B2C companies of all sizes became hip to its power. Now, pretty much anyone who cares about online presence knows the phrase ‘content is king’ and knows content boosts SEO and captures inbound traffic.
The name of the game switched from simply having content, (once stuffed with keywords and search terms in a very obvious, unnatural way) to now having quality content.
Quality Content vs. Quantity
If you were, hypothetically speaking, forced to choose between either quantity or quality content, the better choice would be quality. One high quality article could end up having much more value and conversions for you over time than a handful of low quality articles. Even if you’re getting the link to that blog distributed on other sites, if the article isn’t living up to the hype of its eye-catching title, you could end up doing damage by increasing the bounce rate on your website.
But having to choose is a worst case scenario because an ideal strategy wouldn’t rely on just one or the other - it would have both. The challenge? As many business owners know, generating quality content isn’t a simple task. This is why it’s so important to figure out a system built on the ability to produce high quality content.
Whether you hire someone internally who is dedicated to creating content or whether you choose to outsource to experts, take your time to figure out how to do it right. Once your content is solid, it can serve as the foundation for all your other marketing programs.
Get your content creation system down pat, then move on to making sure that the system continues to produce at the rate at which you need it. While quality should come first, quantity is still a factor. Frequency in posting and staying up to date with your articles is paramount to staying on top of the SEO leaderboard.
Keeping content fresh, up to date and relevant is the only way to defend your content from being buried by competitors who pump out new content every day, week or month.
Why It's Important to Research Before You Write
The internet has been a wild wild west of random information for a while now. A figure published by Forbes stated that only 52.8% of internet users believe that most or all of the information online is “reliable and accurate.” Another study by UCLA says 58%.
Clickbait headlines worked for a while, but they cried wolf too many times. Audiences know what’s up - and they know how to navigate the cheap sensationalism of shocking article titles that lead to useless content. Something else audiences have learned: How to detect the BS.
For the most part, audiences can read between the lines and know when they’re being sold to or misled. They can also figure out when they are reading unfounded claims or opinion based content. It’s too easy to edit a Wiki page or press “publish” on your site, on a blog or social media pages. There are too many self proclaimed ‘experts’ out there. This is where doing your research comes in.
Quality content is built on a foundation of well-researched information that comes from credible sources. You can set yourself apart from the masses by establishing yourself as a trustworthy source of information. Readers might not trust you anymore if they find that you’re publishing inaccurate or out of date information that is no longer relevant.
Aside from researching your topics, researching your audience and your competitors is just as important. Before you begin producing content, you should research the demographics of your target audience and ask yourself - what kind of information is valuable to them? What could help them achieve their goals or do things more efficiently? Then, once you see what information is already out there for them from your competitors, you can begin to carve out opportunities for yourself.
This is the space in which you create your content strategy. Deliver the information they’re not already getting - or - deliver some of the same topics, but better. Include rich content like photos, infographics, videos, and links. If you provide your readers with valuable enough information, you can position yourself as a resource for them that not only keeps them coming back for more but inspires them to share it, thus growing your audience continuously.
How to do Content Research
Good content research starts with deciphering between questionable authors and quality sources. Your initial search might take you to other articles similar to what you’re going to write. Don’t just take the information from those for face value; if they mention any studies, government entities with published information, statistics, or charts, follow the links or the source names until you find the origin of the information. This is how you avoid the ‘telephone’ game effect of diluting information as it gets passed on and on.
In addition to finding trusted sources for your information, your keyword research is also ‘key’ (pun intended.) Build your content around search terms people are actually using so search engines can crawl your content as the answer to their question. For example, someone could be searching “best crossfit sneakers” but if your blog article is entitled “Fitness Attire,” with the aim to get your product, the sneaker, in front of this reader, he or she will most likely not see your article as a result.
Read more about content research here. We also show you which tools we recommend using.
How to Strategically Place SEO Keywords in Your Article with HTML Tags
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Once you have your keyword research completed, it’s time to write your article in a way that includes those keywords. For some writers, it might be better to first write the content naturally, then go back and plug in the keywords where they most make sense within the content. This ensures that your content is found when people search those specific keywords.
Keyword density is a factor - this means the number of times it’s found in the content.
If you are using Wordpress with the Yoast plugin, you’ll see in the list of recommendations that say including the focus keyword in the first paragraph is important. Then, use it throughout the content in a natural way, not overdoing it.
Choosing the right focus keywords might not be as easy as it sounds. You should consider your audience and competition when choosing your target keyphrase. Here is a quick video explaining how to do this using the Yoast Wordpress plugin.
Lastly, be sure to add your HTML tags around your keywords. The HTML tags are how you are able to communicate with the search engines and tell them what the level of importance is within your content. The most important tag is the title tag or <title> keyword </title>. This tells search engines what your content is about.
Following the title tag is the Meta description tag. This is basically the summary of what your blog article or page is about and it appears underneath your title and URL in search results. It needs to correlate to your title tag or else Google will not be able to understand what the topic is supposed to be about and will suppress it in rankings.
Other relevant tags:
- Following the title tag is the Meta description tag. This is basically the summary of what your blog article or page is about and it appears underneath your title and URL in search results. It needs to correlate to your title tag or else Google will not be able to understand what the topic is supposed to be about and will suppress it in ranking.
- Header Tags or h1, h2, h3, h4 or h5. These get smaller as you go and constitute the hierarchy of their importance. Ever come across well organized answers to your questions when you type them into Google? It’s pulled from articles who utilize these header tags in the best, most organized way possible.
- Image Alt Tags - these tell Google what your image is about since it can’t read images. The right alt tags will land your image in the “images” tab when people are searching.
The Value of Quality Content
Likening this whole concept to how a tree grows, Quality Content is the tree’s trunk. All your other marketing efforts are the distribution channels for the content which makes them the branches. Your company’s branches might consist of newsletters, social media pages, other websites and blogs, RSS feeds or Mobile Apps.
If paid ads are part of your strategy, you must be sure that the content those paid ads are leading back to is the best it can be to get the maximum ROI. Essentially, the quality of your content can make or break the performance of your marketing efforts including your paid ads. Some companies, Kraft Foods, for example, have recognized the value of a strong content strategy so much that they claim a higher ROI through the use of content marketing than through traditional paid advertising.
TED - a global conference company is a content marketing behemoth, a poster child for just how powerful stellar content can be. At the end of the day, again, it’s not about choosing quality over quantity, or content over paid advertising; it’s about getting your priorities straight.
Taking care of the foundation of your marketing campaigns first by building excellent content that can’t be replicated by your competition is your cornerstone. The rest is built on that.