In this article, you’ll learn how to write content that ranks on Google.
These tips also work for other search engines like Yahoo and Bing.
We’ll go through a complete step-by-step process for writing content that ranks well no matter what topic you’re covering or the keywords you’re focused on.
As you’ll discover below, search engine optimization doesn’t have to be a difficult task once you know the best practices to write SEO content for digital marketing purposes. And these writing skills can help you succeed in any business industry or niche.
How to Write Content That Ranks On Google
1. Choose a Keyword to Write Content About
The first step for how to write content that ranks on Google is to choose a keyword for the article.
Every piece of content you write for SEO purposes must be focused on at least one main keyword. This is the backbone of a good SEO content marketing strategy. Ideally, the content should contain three to five keywords that are closely related. But not all topics allow that luxury.
You can use a variety of tools that are low cost or free to find good target keywords for the content you want to rank in Google, including:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword Chef
- Longtail Pro
Typically, the best and easiest keywords to rank for are low competition terms with high search volume, which most of the above tools can help you find.
(See this guide on how to low competition keywords if you want to learn more tips on uncovering easy keywords you can target for SEO purposes.)
2. Analyze Search Intent Before Writing
The next step in writing content that ranks is to analyze the search intent in Google for the target keywords.
This is important because if you don’t write content that matches the search intent of the user, the page will most likely not rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In 2013, Google released the Hummingbird algorithm update that helped the search engine understand the true intent behind users’ searches, called semantic search.
Semantic search was a major breakthrough because it attempts to match appropriate web pages in Google’s index to the language of a user’s query beyond just individual keywords. This new semantic search algorithm takes the broader context into account to pair up SERP results that truly match the needs of the user (whether implicit or explicit).
So the best thing you can do before you write your content for SEO is to do a quick search for your keywords in Google. Then analyze the top-ranking pages to find out what type of content is being delivered for that search query.
You’ll often find common patterns among the SERP results such as:
- Informational pages (e.g., how-tos, lists, and guides)
- Transactional pages (e.g., ecommerce product listings, registration forms, and payment gateways)
- Navigational pages (e.g., company homepages, contact pages, and open office hours)
After you discover the pattern in the top-ranking content, you can then plan your web page content around that same format to meet the user search intent.
3. Write Unique Page Titles to Rank Your Content
The page title, also called the meta title, is an important HTML element that tells both Google and its users what the topic is for a specific web page.
This page title is what will be displayed in the SERPs for your URL listing. So it’s important to write unique and enticing titles to attract more attention and clicks for your content.
Some tips you should follow when trying to write content that ranks on Google, Yahoo, and Bing include:
- Creat a unique page title for every page on your site. Never duplicate it.
- Acccurately describe the page content.
- Put your main keyword at the beginning of the page title.
- Include secondary keywords in a natural way without repeating too many of the same words.
- Keep the page title under 60 characters when you can. If it’s any longer, then the title can be truncated in the SERPs.
- Make it clickworthy by adding numbers, using emotion, or creating curiosity for the user.
Note: There are more on-page SEO tips throughout this guide; however, you can get a full list of ways to optimize your website by checking out this other article on how to add keywords to a website for SEO when you’re done here.
4. Create Good Meta Descriptions
The meta description tag is another HTML element that Google can use for your web page listing as a snippet in the SERPs. Meta descriptions give search engines a short summary of what the content is about so the user can do a quick assessment of the page to find out if it will meet their needs or not.
However, Google doesn’t use the text you write in the meta description tag 100% of the time. Google may choose to use a relevant section of your content to display as the visible text to the user in the search engine if that snippet does a better job of matching up with a user’s query.
Regardless, you should always write good meta descriptions that are properly optimized for both SEO and click-through rates to improve the rankings for your content. Because Google may actually use your meta description more often than not.
Here are some tips for how to write better meta descriptions for your content:
- Accurately summarize the page content.
- Write a unique description for every page. Never duplicate it.
- Include your main keyword at the beginning of the meta description tag.
- Include secondary keywords in a natural way without repeating too many of the same words.
- Keep the meta description under 160 characters when you can. If it’s any longer, then the meta description can be truncated in the SERPs.
5. Use Heading Tags to Emphasize Important Content
If your ultimate goal is to write content that ranks on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, then you must pay special attention to the heading tags you use on the page. Headings are the framework for good content because they create a hierarchical structure to the document for both the search engine crawlers to assess and users to navigate through the page.
Proper heading tags are often skipped by inexperienced writers or under-optimized for SEO, which can impact the rankings of your content in the search engines.
To get the most value out of your headings, follow these tips:
- Only include one H1 tag on the page.
- Duplicate your meta page title in the H1 tag. This will reduce the chances of Google rewriting your page titles in the SERPs and ensure your main keywords are in both HTML locations for SEO.
- Break up the main sections of the page with H2 tags.
- Include each of your target keywords in one H2 tag when you can.
- Use H3 tags to divide up sub-sections of content under an H2 tag.
- Only use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it difficult for users to determine where one topic ends and another begins.
6. Include Every Keyword Variation
During the keyword research process, you hopefully found multiple versions of the target keyword you’re trying to write and rank content for on Google. Typically, there are several different ways a keyword string can be typed into the search engine, which a good keyword research tool can help you uncover.
When writing your content, you should try to include every keyword variation through the text so you can fully capture the SEO value of these iterations. And don’t worry about keyword density because it’s an outdated SEO tactic that doesn’t matter anymore. Just write naturally and you’ll be fine.
An example will help this process make more sense.
Take this web page on the SEO Chatter site: On-Page vs Off-Page SEO Difference. Instead of just focusing on a single keyword phrase like “on-page vs off-page SEO”, I optimized the content to rank higher on Google, Yahoo, and Bing by including all of the keyword variations throughout the content, including:
- on-page SEO and off-page SEO
- on-page and off-page SEO
- on-page vs off-page SEO
- difference between on-page and off-page SEO
As you’re doing keyword research, take note of the various ways a phrase can be used, and then make sure to put them inside your content.
7. Include Related Entities
In SEO, an entity is defined as anything that’s specifically definable, such as a person, place, or thing. And as of this writing, entity-based SEO is a relatively unexplored approach to search engine optimization, yet can have a dramatic impact on your rankings.
And while the concept of SEO and entities is complex, there’s a simple way for you to understand how to get the most value out of it for your website. Basically, all entities have a connection with other entities that form a relationship. And when your content includes these linked entities throughout the text, then you’re making it easier for Google to understand the topic of the page and rank it accordingly for the proper search queries.
If your content is not ranking well on Google, yet you have written a good article that’s properly optimized for SEO, then it’s likely missing key entities on the page.
Here’s an example to help you understand what this content writing method for SEO looks like in practice:
Imagine you wanted to write content to rank for the question, “what is keyword research?”. To improve your chances of ranking high in Google, Yahoo, and Bing, you would need to include related entities on the page that have a close relationship with the term “keyword research”.
Those terms include:
- Google Ads Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Google Search
- search engine optimization
- search engines
- web traffic
- keyword stuffing
How did I know that these terms were needed in the content? And how did I find them?
I looked up the subject “keyword research” on Wikipedia and those terms were hyperlinked on the dedicated Wiki page. The linked words throughout a Wikipedia page are closely related entities, and therefore, you should make sure your content includes those same terms throughout your content to help it rank better in the search engines.
8. Write In a Way That Displays Trust
This step for how to write content that ranks on Google is often missed by many website owners and bloggers, yet can do a lot to improve the rankings for the site as a whole.
As search engines evolve, the need for writing in a way that displays trust is becoming more important. Websites that seem trustworthy provide a better user experience which is a factor search engines take into consideration when ranking content in the SERPs.
Displaying trust will depend on the type of content you’re creating, but here are some general tips you can use:
- Have a well-written and in-depth About Us page.
- Provide information about who publishes content on your site.
- Include a Contact Us page with an email address; and name, address, and phone number, if you’re a local business.
- Include the key takeaways and goals for each piece of content within the introduction so the user knows what to expect.
- If you have a shopping cart or financial transactions, make sure you have clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues.
- Make sure your website has a secure connection with HTTPS.
- Do not include obtrusive pop-ups or interstitial ads that obstruct users’ view of the content for promotional purposes.
9. Make Your Expertise and Authoritativeness Clear
Have you ever noticed that professional journalists and major news publications are experts at writing content that ranks?
Well, one of the tricks they use is making their expertise and authoritativeness clear to the search engine crawlers and website users. Authors on those sites typically have detailed bios with a list of qualifications that prove their expertise in a particular field. And include links to their social media accounts, email, and other content they’ve published on the Internet.
In other words, these major websites have writers and editors who have clearly demonstrated expertise and authoritativeness on the topics.
If writing content that can get to the top of Google is your top priority, then you need to follow the same best practices. Don’t try to hide who you are, who writes your content, or what qualifications make you and your team qualified to write on such topics.
10. Provide Comprehensive Information
There are two aspects of writing content for SEO that can destroy your chances of ranking high in Google:
- Not writing enough content to satisfy the search intent.
- Writing too much content that covers too many topics outside of the main search intent.
When it comes to ranking articles on the SERPs, there’s a strong line between being too vague in your content and too wordy. Writing a basic piece of content on a topic that requires a much longer explanation doesn’t usually rank well. However, including more words for the sake of increasing content length is also not a good SEO practice.
Writing high-quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following:
- Time: To analyze the SERPs to find out what your competitors are writing so you can figure out what you also need to include and uncover the gaps in content.
- Effort: To include all of the necessary information that fulfills the search intent. A piece of content may require extra information like tables, charts, graphs, images, or videos.
- Expertise: To provide accurate information on a the subject matter without being too broad or overly complex for the user’s needs.
A good rule of thumb is to be as concise, yet comprehensive, as possible when writing your content. Let the subject matter bet your guide on the word count, not necessarily the top-ranking pages in the SERPs.
For example, this article you’re reading right now ended up being 2,800 words long because it needed to flesh out each step of the process for writing content that ranks well on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. An 800-word blog post just wouldn’t cut it based on the topic at hand.
11. Include Internal and External Links
Internal links are great for the user experience and this can help your content do better by keeping visitors on your website longer and helping the page rank higher in the SERPs.
As explained in this related guide on how to write SEO friendly content, external links are also good for SEO because they can help search engines determine the usefulness, expertise, and quality of your web pages. A good example of this is linking to other websites as references and sources that back up the data and claims you make in your content. By linking out to these other sites, you’re indicating that your content can be trusted because you’re showing your users and Google’s algorithm that other websites on the Internet agree (or disagree) with what you’re writing.
Note: Be careful about what sites you link to. Always make sure they are trusted authorities in your niche. A website is often judged by the sites it links out to and if you link out to too many low-quality sites, then you’re site will have a bad reputation and potentially suffer in rankings.
12. Optimize Your Images
Always provide a descriptive filename and ALT text attribute for every image you include within your content. Try to include your target keywords in these fields whenever possible. With only one image filename and ALT text attribute optimized per keyword.
The ALT text attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if it cannot be displayed by the web browser and is an HTML field search engines crawl for indexing purposes. A properly optimized ALT text field will help your images rank in Google Image Search.
13. Add Structured Data Markup
Structured Data, also known as Schema Markup, is a special code that you can add to your web pages to describe individual elements of your content to search engines so they can better understand what content is on your pages.
Search engines can then use this information to display your content in more useful ways in search results, commonly referred to as “Rich Snippets” or “Rich Results”.
Examples of Structured Data in action include:
- Review rating stars
- Recipe information
- Event dates and locations
- Hours and phone numbers
- Organization details
- Top news stories
- Video information
You can learn more about the best types of schema in SEO here.
14. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Google is a mobile-first indexing search engine. That means your content must be optimized to be mobile-friendly, otherwise, it won’t rank as well in the SERPs.
To make your site mobile-friendly, ensure that you’re using a responsive website theme, fast-loading pages, and design elements that fit within a mobile screen.
You can quickly test your mobile pages with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to see if the content works well on mobile devices.
15. Analyze Your Content Performance
The final step of the process for writing better content that actually ranks in the search engines is to analyze your performance.
Just publishing a piece of content and accepting the keyword ranking positions is not a good practice to follow. Instead, you want to track, monitor, and improve your content over time so you can maximize your ranking potential.
Two simple ways to analyze content performance include:
- Google Search Console: This tool allows you to check keyword positions, impressions, and click-through rates for every web page.
- Google Analytics: This tool allows you to measure pageviews, sessions, bounce rates, time-on-page, and user flow throughout the site.
By using these two SEO tools, you can make assessments of your content and adjust on the on-page SEO elements, structure, details, expertise signals, and more, to improve the search engine rankings.
Writing Content That Ranks Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to write content that ranks on Google.
As you discovered, there are certain steps you can take for writing content that ranks higher in the search engines. And when you follow these tips, you’re giving your web pages the best chances of getting found for the keywords you’re targeting in the SERPs.