Knowing where to start when it comes to writing an article that performs well on Google can be difficult... We love writing long-form content and we want to share our tips for writing articles that are optimised for Google’s search engine.
The world of content creation is very saturated and in order for your content to stand out from the competition you need to be knowledgable about the best SEO practices to implement.
In this article we explore the main things you should consider when researching, planning and writing SEO content to make sure it ranks well in Google’s search engine results.
Choosing an article topic that's geared to rank on Google
First thing’s first, what to write about?
This will depend on your content niche and your business, and what’s happening around you at that moment in time.
Perhaps there is a current affairs topic that you want to share your thoughts on. For example, recently there has been a lot of talk surrounding artificial intelligence and it’s role in the creative industry. This could be an interesting topic to write about no matter what your industry.
Or, is it close to Black Friday and you have some thoughts to share on this? The possibilities for topic choices are endless and it can be difficult to choose but if you look into current trends this might help you come up with some ideas.
Other places to find content topic inspiration are websites such as marketingweek.com, copyblogger.com, and marketingexamples.com. It is a good idea to make a list of topics that are broader and do some research around those, then narrow down your topic area.
Once you have a rough idea of what you want to write about, you can research more into your topic using many different tools - you might want to use a tool like Buzzsumo to do this. It’s also important to learn what content is already out there and how you can write something that's both relevant and will outperform competition.
A simple search on Google can give you an idea of what is already out there for your topic. A handy section of Google is the area at the bottom of the search results page which shows other topics people have searched for. These can help guide your content process because you will have an understanding of related search terms and subtopics.
Make sure that the topic you choose has a purpose, what are you trying to achieve by writing this article? How is it going to help other people?
Top tools for topic and keyword research
Topic and keyword research are vital parts of any article creation process and every SEO marketer knows that they need to prioritise this when planning any article.
There are tonnes of SEO tools that can help you with topic and keyword research - paid and free - and it’s important to leverage a mixture of both. When it comes to topic research, it’s important to understand the bigger picture and then get more specific with your keyword research.
Google processes over 70,000 search queries a second. So, in order to beat the rest and feature at the top of the SERP, you need to prioritise these important aspects before putting pen to paper.
Here are some of our favourite tools to get you started...
Google Trends is great for, you guessed it, trending topics.
This can be helpful if you want to create a piece of content which is relevant to current affairs and trends. This tool is also incredibly insightful to gauge what topics people are showing more interest in now compared with previous years.
For example, the search term ‘ai’ has gained significant interest in the last year, showing that we are generally more interested in this topic now than we were 2-5 years ago. This presents an opportunity to create content in this area, given you find a gap in this seemingly saturated topic - more on this later.
Answer the Public
A useful tool is Answer the Public. Input a broad search term and this tool will show you related phrases and topics that are being searched on Google. It presents them in different formats such as questions and prepositional starters.
Use this tool to give you ideas for subheadings to use in your article so you're covering all of the frequently searched related queries on Google.
It's a good idea to them use a tool like Semrush to check the search volumes and competition of those keywords - more on that below.
Semrush gives valuable insights into keywords and topics. In Semrush, use the keyword magic tool to search keywords related to your topic. You can see intent data, competition and related search terms, helping you filter down the focus of your article. It provides access to as much data as possible on any keyword or domain you input into their system.
Some of the features of Semrush that are important to this stage are: keyword magic tool, keyword gap analysis and keyword overview. The keyword magic tool offers an incredible insight into many different niches and the keyword gap tool is great when you’re researching your competitors (more on this later).
There is also a content template tool which can help you gather useful links and sources of information that can be relevant to your article.
Ahrefs is another tool widely used for keyword research and it provides a broad range of keyword data. Through Ahrefs, you can access tools such as: keyword explorer, content explorer and rank tracker. It offers similar insights to Semrush but in not as user-friendly a way.
Another popular tool is UberSuggest which has similar functionalities to Semrush - in fact, we've compared the two. You can access similar data points to that of Semrush, unlocking SEO content ideas.
Wordstream also have a free keyword tool which is simple but worth checking out. It does however only provide content for the United States and the options once you have typed in your keyword are quite limited. There isn’t nearly as many features or data on this platform as there is on the previous three mentioned above.
Tackling competitor analysis for an SEO advantage
Competitor analysis is important so that you can create content with a high possibility of outranking your competitors in the search results and also to be aware of what your competitors are doing.
Many tools offer the option to type in the URL of your competitor’s website and they will provide you with information about their keywords and how they rank in Google’s search results.
The example below was taken from Semrush where we searched 'creative ai'. This brought up the top 10 URLs with organic rankings and allowed us to get under the hood of each one, seeing the related keywords they also rank for. This gives us an opportunity to explore the content on their site and consider how to outrank it - is it too short? Not informative enough?
Competitor analysis is an important stage in the article writing process because it allows you to gain a strong insight into the keywords used by top ranking domains and as a result, tweak your writing to include keywords that will outrank them in the search results.
Keyword gap analysis is an important step in the competitor analysis stage because it allows you to see what your competitor is ranking for that you are not. Once you have an understanding of this and what’s going on on their end, you can take a look at what type of content they are creating and consider how to alter yours.
How to select the best keywords
Once you’ve chosen your tool, you need to start the research process. Type in any keywords and you will be presented with lots of data points; search volume, trends over time, competition, difficulty, cost per click, the list goes on.
When choosing the keywords to include in your article, you should consider the difficulty level. If you choose keywords which have a high level of difficulty, it will be more difficult to outrank your competitors - not only will you need to ensure your content was longer, more relevant and higher in quality but also that your webpage experience is better, your DA is higher and that you source backlinks to your article. As you can see, many factors affect rankings, and they’re taken even further into consideration for the most popular and competitive keywords.
However, if you rephrase keywords or extend them to make a long tail keyword, you could have a higher chance of outranking your competitors. In the industry, we refer to high volume, low competition keywords as low-hanging fruit - those you can more easily pick and see results for.
Planning your article that’s geared to rank on Google
Creating a plan for your articles is a vital part of the process.
With the data from above, you can start to outline your article, focusing on your H1 (article title) H2s (subheadings) and then H3s-H6 depending on the level of depth your article goes in to. Use the most appropriate keywords to guide the structure of your article.
Brainstorm headings that include keywords with not too high level of difficulty, and subheadings to explain each section. This is also particularly helpful if you are drafting a plan but are passing it onto a colleague to complete, that way your thoughts and writing process are clearly explained.
Pull together any important screenshots and links from your keyword site of choice and get them into a document. Also, add in any other useful content and links that you’ve used in your research process. It’s always good to have them on hand for inspiration when it comes to writing.
Writing your SEO-friendly article!
So, you’ve done your due diligence:
- Topic research
- Keyword research
- Competitor research
- Planned your article outline using headings and subheadings
- Collated useful links and information
Now, it’s time to write...
This part can be straightforward if you’ve planned well. When it comes to writing, it’s important to consider that Google also prioritises content that is well-written, flows and doesn’t have any grammatical errors. So always spell-check and proofread everything.
Formatting your document correctly is also important because Google will be able to read the content which has been correctly formatted more successfully. Make sure headings and subheadings are selected as H1, H2, etc. in your content uploader.
Also, it’s vital to understand that you should be writing content that is useful and valuauble for other people. If your content doesn’t have a specific purpose, Google will not see the value of your content, pushing it lower down in the search results.
Another tip for your article overall is to not ‘keyword stuff’, this is when you add your keyword so many times that the article becomes overwhelming and makes the reading experience difficult. You must incorporate keywords naturally into your article and bear in mind that Google is becoming more and more human every day, so it’s not all about repeating your targeted keyword 165849347 times but to also use semantically related keywords that show your expertise and awareness of a topic as a whole.
When it comes to the word count, usually it’s the longer the better for SEO, but only if the content is relevant, purposeful and useful - there’s no point in waffling aimlessly for 5,000 words! It is said that around the 2,000 word mark works generally, but this varies by industry and content type.
The importance of SEO fields in article writing
After writing your article, it’s important to check that not only have you produced engaging long-form copy, but you’ve also prepared the copy for various SEO fields; adding a page title, meta description and alt tags are important so that Google can more clearly understand your content when crawling your website.
The page title is the first thing that a human sees when they are searching for something in Google - it's the blue clickable link that displays on Google SERP. It's also the first thing that Google reads.
The more relevant to what people search for, the better. We all visit Google in search of answers, so make your titles answer the questions and you will be rewarded with higher rankings on the search engine results page.
It's also worth noting that your page title is different to the H1 heading of your article. The page title is limited to 60 characters so as not to be truncated on Google, so a shorter, snappier version of your H1 should be used here.
The meta description is a short summary of, or introduction to, your article. It helps Google see, at a glance, what your content is about - it's limited to 160 characters so get practising your summarising skills!
A meta description is important because it helps Google understand what your article is about at surface level.
Adding alt tags to your images will ensure that any readers who are visually impaired can understand what is in each picture, and Google will be able to digest the images more successfully too.
It's also a great way of getting your articles to appear in Google Image search results.
Ready to rank on Google?
So, we’ve seen that a lot needs to go into the process of writing an article; choosing a good topic and carrying out in-depth topic research, then understanding your competitors through competitor analysis and keyword research and finally writing a good piece of content which will be of value to your audience.
With the right amount of work, good quality research and access to top tools, you can write content that ranks highly in the Google search results page.
But, if all this sounds like a lot of hassle, let us do the hard work for you! Our results speak for themselves!