Every marketer is familiar with the idea that great content drives web traffic. With Google serving as the curiosity engine of the internet, the vast majority of shoppers are starting their buying journeys online. Showing up with helpful content optimized for search puts you top of mind when prospective customers are ready to make a purchase. But, if no one refutes the value of excellent SEO content, why aren’t more businesses creating it?
SEO Content Guide
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In two words, it’s hard.
Consistently creating high-quality content that ranks can be a tall order, but it is possible with the right process in place. To stay on top of content production, I have a blog post template that forms the heart of a repeatable process to build excellent blog posts.
Incorporate this blog post template into your content creation process and find a publishing cadence that works for you. Before you know it, you’ll be creating high-quality SEO content every time you write.
Download Our SEO Blog Post Cheatsheet
Click through to the blog post template Google doc and save a copy onto your own drive.
Now, read on for a step-by-step guide about using it.
Who Are You Writing Your Blog Article For?
Before you decide what you’re going to write about, and long before you start writing, you need to determine who you’re writing for. If you’ve already done the work of defining a target audience for your brand, you’re well on your way to understanding what their needs are. Go one step further and decide what stage of your marketing funnel you’re creating a piece of content for.
SEO Blog Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey
Top-of-Funnel Users (TOFU)
These are prospective customers who are just starting their customer journey. They know they have a need, but they don’t know what the solution is yet. So they’re exploring and researching. They’re probably casting a wide net with their search queries to see if there’s an answer to their question somewhere on the internet. That means the best content for TOFU is general, informative, and optimized for informational queries. (Find everything you need to know about search intent here.)
Middle-of-the-Funnel Users (MOFU)
These prospects are further along their customer journey. By this point, they’ve discovered that you might have the solution they’re looking for, and they want to know what differentiates your offering from your competitors.
Bottom-of the Funnel Users (BOFU)
Bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are looking for that last bit of evidence that your solution is the best one for them before they commit to buying. They’re looking for signals of authority, authenticity, trustworthiness, and expertise.
Add your target audience and customer stage to the blog post template to help you keep that specific group in mind as you move through the content creation process.
What Are You Writing Your Post About?
Now that you’re clear on who you’re writing for, you want to hone in on topics of specific interest to that audience. Consider what they already know and what they need to know to take the next step on their customer journey.
For example, suppose I want to write an article that targets the top of the Victorious marketing funnel. That person might be a marketing executive who knows they need to generate more leads, but they don’t know yet that SEO is the solution to their problem. So, building on that understanding, I want to create an article that speaks to their pain around lead generation and offers up SEO as the solution, like, The Surprising Reason You Need SEO For Lead Generation.
How to Create Great SEO Content
1 – Start with Keyword Research
Now that you know who you’re writing for and what you’re writing about, you want to do some expert keyword research to make sure your content contains the language your audience uses in search queries when they’re looking for your solution.
Not sure where to start?
- Read 4 Steps for Better Keyword Research.
- Find some Google Chrome extensions to help.
- Check out our Keyword Research Checklist.
Once you’ve identified a primary keyword and some thematically related secondary keywords, add those to the SEO blog cheatsheet.
2 – Clarify Your Objective
Some people might consider writing an objective to be a pedantic exercise and skip it altogether. I couldn’t disagree more! Taking the time to write out the purpose of your content before you start writing keeps you focused on meeting your reader’s needs.
When someone clicks through to your post from search results, before they commit the time to read what you’ve written, their first question is going to be, “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?”
When you’re clear on what benefits you intend to deliver with your content, you’re ready to answer that WIFFM concern within your first 100 words and keep folks reading.
On the blog post template, list out two or three ways your article will benefit your audience.
3 – Write a Call to Action (CTA)
If you want readers to take the next step on their customer journey, you need to tell them how to do that. Craft a simple statement — I recommend no longer than eight words — that describes the action you want them to take. For example, you might create a linked phrase like, “Sign up for our newsletter,” or “Get in touch for a free estimate.”
4 – Collect Your Sources & Data
Make a list of internal and external resources to form the basis of your research, and collect links (again, internal and external) to add to your article. I’m a big proponent of sharing resources directly with your readers. Giving readers a direct link to materials you find valuable is generous and helpful — an excellent way to build trust with prospective customers.
5 – Make an Outline
Now that you’ve collected the main elements of your article into the blog post template, it’s time to create an outline.
How to Outline a Successful Blog Post
I was writing content for years before I got over my resistance to outlines. The thought of outlining my ideas before I started writing would send me headlong into memories of high school English — where outlines felt like suffocating busy work, designed to stifle my creativity.
It wasn’t until I got serious about writing in service to others that I understood that organizing my thoughts before I started writing (in an outline) is key to honoring an unspoken contract with my readers.
I’ll deliver what you need in a clear, organized, easy-to-skim package in exchange for the time you spend on this page.
If you haven’t been outlining your blog posts, now’s the time to start.
1 – Write a Headline
Not to be confused with your page title, the headline is the name of the article you’re writing. The only place your headline appears is on the article itself and is sometimes referred to as your h1. (Learn more about how to optimize h1s for SEO on our blog.)
When you’re writing a headline for SEO content, there’s a delicate balance between art and science.
Here’s a short list of Do’s & Don’ts to keep in mind:
- Keyword stuff your headline.
- Sacrifice clarity for catchiness.
- Mislead readers with a headline that doesn’t accurately reflect your content.
- Include your primary keyword.
- Aim for 20-70 characters and 10-13 words.
- Be descriptive.
- Lead with WIIFM (what’s in it for them).
- Write several versions before picking one. (I have a hard and fast rule that I write ten headlines before choosing the best one.)
- Run your headlines through an optimizer to evaluate their impact on humans and search engines.
- My recommendations:
2 – Create a Page Title
Your page title appears as a clickable link in search results and often different from your headline.
Title tags tell search engines and searchers what your page is about. A well-crafted page title includes a primary or secondary keyword, is no longer than 60 characters (otherwise, Google will cut it off in SERPs), and will entice searchers to click through to read your content.
3 – Make a Meta Description
The meta description appears under your page title in search results. Much like the page title, the meta description serves a dual purpose. A good meta description tells both the reader and Google what your page is about and offers a compelling reason for searchers to click through to learn more. Use secondary keywords in your meta description and make sure it’s 110 – 140 characters long.
4 – Introduce Your Topic
Your intro should be about 100 words long and include your primary keyword. Use your introduction to state the problem your audience is experiencing. (What prompted the search that led them to you?) Next, include the benefits you listed in your objective, clearly stating what the reader will learn if they read on. Tell them how learning these things will help them solve the problem you identified at the beginning of your introduction, and encourage them to keep reading for solutions.
5 – Outline the Body of Your Article
Start with at least three ideas that support your main topic. The beauty of creating a bulleted list of your main points is that you’ll start to see patterns develop in these supporting ideas that you can further templatize for specific types of content.
Here’s what I mean.
When I outlined “A Guide to Google Search Console,” the main points were:
- What is Google Search Console?
- Why Do You Need Google Search Console?
- Who Should Use Search Console?
- How to Set Up Google Search Console
- The Basic Features of the Google Search Console
- 10 Ways to Use Google Search Console
You can easily apply this type of outline to other how-to guides:
- What is the thing?
- Why do you need to use the thing?
- Who should use the thing?
- How do you use the thing?
- Ten ways to start using the thing right now.
Or, my favorite:
- Ten FAQs people ask about the thing.
These main points become the primary subheadings in your post. They make it easy for readers to skim down the page and see what you’re going to teach them.
Some blog writers even transpose the bulleted list of their subheadings into a table of contents at the top of the page, so readers can easily skip to the section they’re most interested in.
When you’re filling in your outline, remember to format your writing into short paragraphs with a simple sentence structure. (There are specific guidelines for sentence and paragraph length in the blog template.)
“How-to” guides like the one outlined above are a great example of evergreen content. This type of content is constantly in demand and stays fresh while it works its way up Google’s search results.
6 – Wrap It All Up With a Conclusion
Summarize your post in about 60 words by reiterating your main points, and finish with your CTA.
Get Started Writing Great SEO Content
As a self-ordained content evangelist, I’ve witnessed the power of a repeatable process to consistently publish high-quality content that ranks. I hope I’ve convinced you to give it a try. Make a copy of the blog post cheat sheet template and start making it your own! Iterate on the process and customize it to meet your needs. Then, start writing, and keep writing!
Want to Learn More?
Looking for support building a robust SEO content strategy? Among our many SEO services are keyword research, content creation, and content optimization. Reach out for a free SEO consultation and learn how Victorious can help your business get the attention it deserves.
- My recommendations: