6 Steps to Creating Valuable Content
If your website is the sales machine, well-written and search engine optimized content are its tentacles. Content formats are very diverse and can range from ebooks, infographics, webinars, user-generated content, and how-to articles. To create well-shared and valuable content that ranks high in the search engines, consider these 6 steps:
1. Know your audience
Relevant content is always about the readers. Write for a specific audience using targeted keywords. Give your content some substance that truly helps the readers. To do this, you must first understand these:
- Who is your audience? What problems do they have that you can help solve?
- What questions are they asking? What information are they after? What compels them to go online and type in that search query?
- Why are they searching for that information? What could be their current situation?
- Which keyword is your target audience using? What do they hope to find or accomplish using those keywords?
Try filling out this persona of your ideal client:
- Income Level:
- Education Level:
- Marital Status:
- Favorite Social Media Network:
- Pain Points:
As you get more data from your client list and ad campaigns you can refine this persona and hone your content accordingly.
2. Research your topics for popularity & rankability
Once you have an idea of who your ideal audience is you can use that information to come up with topics that are within your field of expertise and relevant to your readers.
A good target keyword relies on three basic elements:
- Relevancy – Is this keyword/topic at least tangentially related to your business?
- Search Volume – Is this term being searched enough every month to drive steady traffic?
- Competition – Is the competition low enough for you to realistically rank?
So how do you find this data to know if you have a good keyword target? Here at CruiseControl.co we use a mix APIs and proprietary tools to gather this data, but you can use something like Ahrefs or SEMRush to do your keyword research.
In the above example from Ahrefs, you can see that “personal injury attorney los angeles” gets an average of 700 monthly searches and has a relatively low level of competition at 11/100 difficulty.
Side Note: The cost-per-click on this term, were you to advertise on Google is around $75 a click!
If you happen to be a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, this would be a good term to rank for because it would bring in consistent, relevant traffic to your site.
It’s also important to note that ranking for a term like “personal injury attorney los angeles” means search engines consider you an authority on that subject and you’ll be able to more easily rank for similar terms.
For example, legaldefenders.com currently ranks 9th for “personal injury attorney los angeles”. But this page also rank for 216 other terms related to their business. Traffic that would have cost an estimated $115,000 had they purchased it through a PPC campaign.
Not spending that incredible sum on traffic every month is where SEO and content marketing’s true value lie.
3. Create content for every stage in the buying cycle
When you have listed all possible topics, it’s wise to identify where the searcher is in the buying cycle and create content that matches that. Your audience’s reception of your content is contingent on how well it matched whatever stage they are in the buying cycle. The buying cycle consists of these stages:
- Awareness Stage. At this stage, your audience is just trying to gain more information. They will use general queries to find the information they’re looking for. People who are in this stage usually use broad keywords like DUI, divorce lawyer, and criminal law.
- Evaluation Stage. Your audience already knows that they have a need and they’re considering different services to know which one suits them best. People who are in this stage use more specific keywords like DUI attorneys near me, divorce lawyer Los Angeles, and criminal lawyer near me.
- Decision Stage. At this stage, your audience has done due diligence, considered all her options, and ready to make a decision. People who are ready to make a decision usually use long keywords like best DUI lawyer Houston Texas, cheap divorce lawyer Los Angeles, and domestic violence defense attorney Fairfax. These keywords usually have a low number of monthly searches but very high competition because this is where readers can easily turn into leads.
Aside from creating content that matches your audience’ buying cycle stage, your content must also aim to lead the audience to the next stage until they’re ready to hire you.
4. Craft your article for people & search engines
To craft content that ranks and deliver valuable information to your reader, first check out what ranks in Google’s first page for a specific keyword.
These are the sites that you want to topple using superior content. In the world of organic searches, pages that make it to the first page, win. And winners take all since 71% – 92% of people never scroll past Google’s first-page display.
To give you an idea of how this looks like, let’s take a look at the term, “DUI Los Angeles” in Google.
People search this term an average of 150 times every month. Considering that people who are typing this search term are midway through the buying cycle, this is a good keyword to target if you are a Los Angeles law firm that specializes in DUI cases.
5. Create content that better answers your audience’s question
Go for depth as this will make you credible. Just be generous with your information and outdo the pages that are already ranking. Long and high-quality articles are excellent for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes and you’re also addressing a valid need.
A study involving 100 million articles shows that long-form content gets more shares than short ones. Additionally, an analysis of one million Google search results shows that content that’s on the first page consists of an average of 1,890 words.
For example, take a look at SHouse California Law Group’s page, which ranked 2nd in the example above.
What they did right: It has all the elements of an excellent sales machine: lead form, contact information, responsive, fast page load, and social proof in the form of 5-star client reviews as well as logos of popular brands.
They also answered answered the top questions a searcher might have in a clear and concise manner. Whether it’s someone’s 1st or 2nd DUI in Los Angeles county, this page tells you what to expect with regards to sentencing, fees, and penalties.
How you can improve it: You need to ask yourself these questions:
- What questions are running through the mind of those who search for DUI Los Angeles?
- How can you answer those questions better than this page?
- What additional questions are they missing?
In this instance, a person using the search term may not just be looking for possible DUI penalties. More importantly, he or she could be asking what they should do during this confusing time. You can offer some semblance of calmness by giving them helpful information on what they can expect during and after a DUI arrest and what they should do in response.
6. Focus on readability
Writing a post using simple and understandable language makes it easier for your readers to digest the information. And it turns out, readability is a ranking factor too. Here are tips to make your content readable:
- Try to write using shorter sentences. Or at least alternate between long and short sentences.
- Limit using difficult words. No technical jargon; or at least, explain technical terms.
- Use the active voice.
- Use subheadings to break down a long post.
If you type the term in Google, the first 5 pages that rank for this keyword are:
What Happens When You Get a DUI in Los Angeles
DUI Penalties in Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles DUI August 2019 – How to Get Out of a DUI in Los Angeles
Los Angeles DUI August 2019 – How to Get Out of a DUI in Los Angeles
1st Offense DUI | Los Angeles DUI Attorneys: Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP
You can easily find the grade level and word count of a given page by copying their content into the HemingwayApp.
For our search term “DUI Los Angeles,” the content that made it to the first page of Google have around 1,000 words and an average readability grade-level of 6.
So when crafting your page, aim for a similar length and readability since that is the current standard. But remember that this is just a guideline to help you know where to start, it’s more important to be comprehensive and answer the questions your ideal audience wants answered.
Knowing common elements of top ranking pages is important, but creating content that fully answers searchers intent is the goal.j