This will probably get me into some hot water with the SEO community, but it's time someone said it: stop optimizing for search engines.
What? You heard me. I'm telling you to stop obsessing about keywords, tinkering with copy, scrounging for backlinks… and start creating useful content that answers your searchers' intent. Not only will you have a better outcome in Google, but you'll also save a ton of time.
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It's Straightforward: Answer Your Reader's Intent.
Sounds simple enough. All you have to do is create content that directly and thoroughly answers the very reason the reader is even on your article to begin with -- using your knowledge, experiences, unique research, storytelling, personality, etc.
That's it. So why do we so commonly overthink this and throw common sense out the window? Great question. Maybe it's all the SEO's online throwing around advice. Perhaps it's the anecdotal evidence of more words equaling higher ranks.
Whatever the cause, you should strive to write just what is necessary for helping your reader (and then some tweaking later to help in SEO).
What is search intent?
Searcher's (or reader's) intent is what they expect when they search Google and click the top results. They want answers to their questions, products fitting their needs, services to help them with their problem, etc.
They're not looking for long-winded paragraphs of content that eventually answer their question because some guru somewhere said 2,000-word articles perform better.
If you can give everything the reader needs in 500-800 words, don't write 2,000 words just because you can. You waste your time and the reader's time.
And you even run the risk of causing SEO issues that you thought you were writing all the extra content to improve.
Careful, You Might Harm Your SEO Efforts
When you write very specifically the answer to the searcher's intent, and you don't use any extra words or phrases, you make it easy for Google to understand precisely what your article is about.
And when you do this well, without over-optimizing, your article will likely rank high on Google.
In fact, in a roundabout way, you may be getting penalized for over-optimization because by writing all that extra content for keywords, closely related information, etc. -- you've watered down the focus of your article.
Instead of being a powerful article on a particular search term, it's now a mediocre article for several different terms. Google may see your article as a decent one for several terms, but not the primary term's single best one.
It would be best if you didn't get bogged down with all this. SEO is relatively easy when you use something like Frase to virtually handle it for you.
Obsess on Solving for Their Intent
Obsess on intent. Be the best resource for the reader. Give them everything they need for the term they typed into Google.
Flip it around for a moment. Let's say you search for "how to patch broken tree limbs" -- you'd want the top results to show you how to patch broken tree limbs. Not a ton of extra content about wood grain, molecular makeup, or proper storage of firewood.
Maybe those are things you'd want to know, but not when you searched for "how to patch broken tree limbs."
Stop optimizing for the search engines during your writing. Think about the reason you are writing the content to begin with. If you haven't taken care of your reader first, you're doing something wrong.
SEO Optimize Later, Carefully
After you had written the perfect article that fully considers the intent and efficiently gives the reader precisely what they wanted when they typed their search into Google -- now you can optimize it some.
Don't go so overboard that you accidentally introduce enough additional content during optimization that you water down the article.
Use Frase to Simplify SEO Optimization
Frase is one of those rare tools that does save you a ton of time. Not only does it do topic research for you, but it has an excellent content gap and competition analysis too, which makes it very easy to optimize your content -- after you've already written it for your reader's needs.
And all you do is plug your article into Frase, using the search term you expect your readers to enter into Google to find your article. Frase will then show you all kinds of topic keywords the top 20 sites in Google are using -- and a topic score.
This score is how well your article covers the topical keywords for the search term (the one your reader is typing into Google). Now you just work some of those topical keywords into your copy where it makes sense to do so -- until you reach the highest topic score you can.
Article Components to Improve SEO
Here are a few other things to consider during the creation of your article that will make a significant positive impact and make uncle Google very happy.
- If possible, include a "tl;dr" type paragraph at the beginning of your article succinctly answering the searcher's intent first thing when they land on your article
- Create a video explaining the content and embed it near the top (this improves "time on page" or "linger time")
- Use a table of contents to hint at more content down the page
- Make your content easy to skim
- Use imagery where it makes sense, or other things like tables/lists for data
- Smartly link to other articles on your site that expand upon the topic --, make sure your article links to at least one more article, but maybe 2-3 would be better
- Use citations and link to 3rd-party content expanding further on your article's content
You can find more on these sorts of tips in the perfect article checklist.
In summary, let me say this. If you're trying to work fast and get a lot done -- maybe you're a solo founder, blogger… you don't have a team to handle all these extra tasks for you… this should be music to your ears.
If you focus on writing an excellent article specifically for the reason they are searching Google; you've already won 80% of the battle. You'd be surprised how many writers spend so much time worrying about SEO they obliterate their article in the process.
Spend that last 20% of the time using Frase to touch up SEO in just the right ways, and follow the perfect article checklist to make your article the best one online for the term you're targeting.
That's it. Don't overthink it. Work faster, and achieve better results at the same time.