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Boost SEO in 2023: What Your Content Needs to Rank on Google

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I know exactly why you’re here. You want to boost SEO in 2023, increase traffic, and ultimately rank on Google’s first page. But it hasn’t happened.

So what’s the problem?

You’re writing articles and blog posts consistently, but every time you look at the SERPs, nothing!

You’re spelling and grammar is spot on. You cross every “T” and dot every “I,” and still, your work is lost in the Google abyss.

How do you climb the ladder and get out of the hole?

I’ll show you how to boost SEO in 2023 and tell you what your content needs to rank on Google’s first page.

Ready to start ranking?

Let’s get to it!

1. Getting Started: Your Content’s Foundation

Let’s face it; whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, marketer, or business owner, no one will know you exist on the web if your content isn’t ranking.

Following simple rules and guidelines guarantees your content gets a trip to the winners’ circle.

What’s Your Focus?

The first step to boosting SEO is identifying your content’s topic. Determining what the reader is looking for (search intent) is crucial for ensuring your article aligns with your target audience.

Keep your content tightly focused and not too broad. For example, writing a post about “investing” is a wide-ranging and comprehensive topic if you’re in the personal finance niche. However, an article about “best investment apps for beginners” is more focused and targets a specific “tribe” within your niche.

 Keyword Research

hand holding a magnifying glass over keywords
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Put on your detective hat, use your favorite note-taking app, or grab a pencil and jot down a list of keywords related to your content topic.

There are many free and paid keyword research tools to assist you. You can find all the info you need to help you choose here.

Look for long-tailed keywords and variations to improve your content and increase traffic.

Who’s the Top Dogs?

Knowing your competitors is a crucial component of SEO. 

Type your target keyword (article topic) into the Google search bar and review the articles listed on page one to identify the competition.

Create a Content Brief

Place all your gathered information in a Google sheet or spreadsheet. Include the following:

  • The target keyword
  • Related keywords
  • The searcher intent
  • Overview of the content (what the article is about)
  • Main takeaways of the article
  • Added notes

2. Diving Deeper: Research It!

Many writers either don’t research enough or skip most of it altogether. A huge mistake! 

You may believe you’re an authority on your topic, but Google may think otherwise. Researching your topic beforehand is necessary to boost SEO and produce content good enough to rank.

Competitive Analysis Research

Let’s expand on the previous example of typing your topic into the Google search bar. Review the top ten articles from the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). 

Create a spreadsheet like this one; JohnPCreed.com Competitive Analysis Worksheet, and add the following subjects:

  • Top ten headlines
  • Top ten competitors
  • Average word count
  • List of subheadings for each post
  • Shared subheadings
  • Recurring topics (in common)
  • Important topics (in common)
  • Visuals or Infographics
  • Opportunities (Quora, Reddit)

Search social media sites for questions and conversations about your keywords. Knowing what people are asking and talking about provides opportunities to include added value to your content and boost SEO to rank higher on Google.

After completing your research, you should see some patterns from the competing posts. Most will have shared versions of similar subheadings and important topics. A majority will have roughly identical word counts as well.

Identify the type of post or article. Is it a ‘listicle?” (top 10 or 5 best) or a “How-to?.” Combine the research gathered from the content brief and competitive analysis to form the basis of your article.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Picture this scenario; you go out to dinner one evening and pull into a parking lot shared by two restaurants. The restaurant on the right is packed with customers. It’s so busy there’s a line waiting to get in. The restaurant on the left is empty. Maybe one or two customers are dining inside. 

Which restaurant would you choose to dine in? The busy one, of course. Why? They must be doing something right based on the full house and the line to get in.

The same goes for Google. The competing posts in your list must be doing something right because Google has rewarded them with first-page rankings. Some competitors may be “mega sites” or big trustworthy names, giving them an advantage over smaller sites. But I guarantee not all are mega sites.

The bottom line is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  

If the top ten articles are listicles and you write a “how-to” post, chances are it will fail. Remember, Google is a “reader,” too. It likes the competitors’ posts for a reason, so yours should emulate it without plagiarizing it.

3. Content Creation: Storytelling 101

an open book with a pirate and ship on top for storytelling to boost SEO
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Everyone loves a good story. The better the story, the more engaged the reader becomes.

What makes for a great story? They all have the same elements. The hero is introduced in the beginning, and their dilemma is revealed. We’re then taken on a journey to resolve the dilemma. There may be plot twists and turns along the way with unforeseen dangers and perils. But, in the end, the hero triumphs, and all is well.

To produce high-ranking content and boost SEO, tell a story that solves a problem.

Who Are You Talking To? Targeting Your Audience

To define your target audience, you must first identify the problem. Your article will solve a problem for the reader, making the audience clearer once you know what they’re struggling with.

For example, if you’re in the “personal finance”  niche, you might write an article entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Invest Online (For Beginners).” The target audience for such an article would be beginner investors, and the problem would be learning to invest online.

Keep it Simple

Reading on and writing for the web differs entirely from what you learn in school. Most people read between a fifth and an eighth-grade level. Your content should be written in the same manner.

Your articles should be easy to understand without insulting the audience or “ talking down” to them. Avoid too much industry jargon and techy terms. Keep the piece conversational and easy to follow.

Also, avoid making yourself the focus of the content. You may be an authority in your niche but make the post about the audience and their problem. Empathy is crucial here.

Content Structure

a man creating a house with building blocks. The foundation of good content
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Proper content structure goes a long way to keeping readers engaged and on the page.

Random thoughts and rambling sentences are a surefire way to lose your audience. Let’s look at the structural elements your content should have.

  1. Eye-Catching Headlines. The Headline of your article should attract the reader and inspire curiosity that makes the promise of solving their problem. Headlines should grab attention without giving away too much. Provide the answer too soon, and the reader has no reason to stay.
  1. Logical Hierarchy (Flow). Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each section of your story should flow into the next. You wouldn’t write a post that solves the answer in the first paragraph. 
  2. Heading and Subheadings. Headings and subheadings are crucial for content creation. They give the reader a hint of what each section is about. Copywriting techniques can supercharge your headings and keep readers engaged. Avoid complicated or cryptic subheadings that confuse the audience.
  3. Rich Text and Formatting. The use of bold and italics is one method to keep readers interested. It breaks up sentences and helps the audience identify important and relevant points. Proper spacing and short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read and less confusing.
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  4. Grammatical Editing. Use a tool like Grammarly to edit your content for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. If you’re uncomfortable editing, you can hire one on Fiverr or Upwork for a small fee.

4. Visuals: Making Your Content Pop

Adding eye-catching visuals to content breaks up the story and makes it more interesting. Visuals keep readers on a page longer. The longer the dwell time, the more Google takes notice and could reward you with improved rankings.

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Clicks: Images

Adding images every 150-200 words helps break up long-form content and makes your articles visually appealing.

Types of visuals that boost SEO:

Remember to “source” the images and quotes to avoid copywriting infringement.

Chart Your Success: Infographics

charts, pie charts, and infographicS to boost SEO
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Charts, diagrams, and infographics are fantastic elements you should add to your articles whenever possible.

Infographics are easier to follow than written words and offer authority and legitimacy to your content. Google rewards infographics with SEO boosts resulting in higher rankings.

Videos

Video content is another excellent way to rank higher on Google.

Short tutorials and related videos are a fantastic resource to make your content more professional and engaging.

5. Real-World Connections: Bridging the Gap

Providing proof of how the audience’s problems are solved will separate you from your competitors and enhance your authority in your niche.

Real-World Examples

Show examples of how others have solved their problems, and your audience will grow. By listing real-world examples, you become a trusted resource that readers can turn to when they have issues to resolve.

Personal Narratives

Nothing shows authority more than your personal stories of solving an audience problem.

Personal examples are more in-depth and informational because you are the source of information and can provide more detail. 

In a world of AI-generated content, personal narratives separate you from generic written content creators and will boost your SEO in 2023 to rank higher on Google. 

You can read more information on how to rank higher on Google correctly with AI below.

Case Studies

Citing case studies and personal interviews of how influencers, groups, or individuals have solved an audience problem promotes added value to your content. Again, the main takeaway from these real-world connections is proof, authority, and trustworthiness within your niche.

By providing these solutions, your target audience will be more likely to return to your site for answers to their queries.

6. Above and Beyond: Give More, Get More

We’ve covered a lot of information to this point. 

We know about keyword research and what to add to content to boost SEO. But if your articles mimic the competition (without plagiarising), how do you expect to rank higher than them?

Simple. 

Provide more value.

During the research process, identify opportunities not listed in competitors’ posts. Give your audience above and beyond what the rest offer and you will rank higher on Google. Search social media sites for any information about your keywords and target audience questions where you can find a bounty of ideas.

7. Keep it Fresh: Update and Maintain

Keep your content fresh and up-to-date. Don’t abandon your stories over time; keep them relevant.

It’s good practice to audit older stories to improve visibility and relevance. Targeted keywords can change or be added to content to offer more value to the reader. Also, keyword strategies can change over time and become outdated. Another scenario could be a newer solution to an older problem, or it could be as simple as updating an article’s opening and time stamp.

A critical component of maintaining content and boosting SEO is checking for broken and outdated links. Broken backlinks can hurt your rankings on Google. Be sure to check on them regularly. Alternatively, added links can improve the quality of your articles so long as they are relevant and fit organically into your content.

8. The Bottom Line: Opening Doors With Improved Rankings

a sign post saying opportunity ahead because of boosted seo and improved content
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Can you feel it? Now that you know how to boost SEO in 2023 and what your content needs to rank on Google, you’re well on your way to new opportunities.

The ultimate goal of boosting SEO and having content rank higher is to increase traffic. When your audience grows, your opportunities grow with it. 

Whether you’re a freelancer, blogger, digital marketer, or content creator, your brand is lost if no one can find you. By learning not just what to write but how to write and what to add to your content, you’ve gained the power to rank on Google and grow your online presence.

Well done!

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put your inner SEO Ninja to work.

You’ve got this!

FAQs:

How can I check if my rankings have improved?

Use a tool like Google Rank Checker to see how your ranking efforts pay off.

What type of content does Google prefer?

Google loves lists. Listicles are one of the most common types of content on the web. They’re a great way to sell products, rank items, or teach processes.

Does Google like short or longer content?

Google’s overall mission is to provide the most information and best experience for the searcher, all in one place. Longer content contains more information and tends to be more valuable.

What’s the optimal content length for better SEO?

Between 2250-2500 words. Longer content tends to get more links, boosting SEO and improving rankings.

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