Creating Quality Content in 2019 (For Search Engines and People)

Posted by jchamp86

Think back to the last question you typed into Google. Did you find
a blog post on the search engine result page that attracted your
attention? Did you find the content on the page helpful? Did the
page offer a relevant next step to continue learning and engaging
with your brand?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then the
author who wrote this piece of content did their job very well:
They created a piece of content that fulfilled your intent. In
2019, that’s what search engines like Google care about —
solving for their searcher’s intent. 

Read on to learn how to solve for searcher intent to create
successful, quality content that makes people (and Google)

Effective content comes with a blueprint

Before we dive in, you may be asking yourself: “How do I solve
for searcher intent?”

You can start by creating an experience for website visitors
that tells a practical story. That story should educate and inspire
them to make a transformation and put their interests and needs
above your bottom line. Yes, you want to inform your visitors, but
doing that alone is not enough. To really help them transform, you
need to make their experience a meaningful one, and that means you
need to help them apply what they’re learning. When done
correctly this builds trust, and if someone trusts you they’re
more likely to do business with you when they’re ready to make a
purchasing decision. This is effective content.

Luckily, all effective content like this has a blueprint. You
may not easily see it, but it’s there, and it’s meant to help
you, the reader, through your journey to making a well-informed,
confident decision— whatever that decision may be.

When getting started with creating blog content
, you want
readers to easily comprehend what it is you’re trying to tell
them. If your content is too complicated and unengaging, then
chances are readers will abandon it and go elsewhere. There are
thousands of blog posts being published every minute, so it’s
safe to say you’re not the only resource out there competing for

Let’s review 10 tips that will help you start drafting a
successful blueprint for your next blog post.

1. Choose a topic to write about

At a high level, write educational content.

I’m not saying you can’t write about your business when it
makes sense, but in order to attract someone to your blog, you need
to answer the questions and problems that they’re searching for
answers to. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience (aka

What will they be searching for?
What do they want to know about?
What will resonate with them?

Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their
interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog

And when it comes to a topic, make sure to write about your
industry, not yourself. Remember, you’re trying to attract
strangers to your blog who have never heard of your company before
— so they’re not going to find you through search engines if
you’re just blogging about yourself. You have the rest of your
website to provide that information.

If you’re looking for a place to start with creating content
that’ll positively impact your audience, then ask your co-workers
from other teams like sales and services for some ideas. Here are a
few questions that you could ask and they could answer:

What are the most frequently asked questions you hear?
What do our prospects and customers need help with?
What do you wish people knew about our industry?
What are industry bloggers, social media, and even our
competitors talking about?

Before you write anything, you need to pick a topic to write
. The topic can be pretty general to start with. For
example, if you provide running shoes, then it might be a good idea
to write about the topic of running. Expand off of this topic —
in other words, iterations or different ways of approaching that
topic to help you focus your writing. For example, you might decide
to narrow your topic to “best running shoes for marathons” or
“lifetime of running shoes.”

2. Do keyword

Keywords are the words and phrases typed into search engines.
They’re the topics that people are trying to learn more about.
Which keywords do your buyer personas use? Which are associated
with your industry?

If you’re looking for a place to get started when doing
keyword research, then check out Moz’s Keyword Explorer. Keyword
Explorer is a time-saving keyword research tool that helps you find
profitable keywords and organize work.

Optimizing your blog posts for keywords is not about
incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible.
Nowadays, this actually hurts your search engine optimization
because search engines consider this keyword stuffing.

Mention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of
your post and in the headers when it makes sense. That means
including your keywords in your copy but only in a natural,
reader-friendly way. Don’t go overboard, though, at the risk of
being penalized for keyword stuffing.

Whenever you create content, your priority should be to educate
and inspire your audience, not how many times you can include a
specific keyword on the page. Instead of writing the same words
over and over, write synonyms of it to keep it fresh and readable.
For example, digital nomad is a
topic I write about often, but instead of repeating that keyword, I
change it up with synonyms like “remote worker.”

3. Form a
long-tail keyword

A good rule of thumb is to focus on one long-tail keyword per
blog post. A long-tail keyword is a very targeted search phrase
that contains three or more words. It often contains a head term,
which is a more generic search term, one or two words in length.
The head terms you choose should align with the topics that you
want your business and website to be known for and build authority
around. For example, if you want your business to be known for SEO
terminology like “featured snippets,” then a blog post on
How to
Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets
” is a great example
of a long-tail keyword in support of this topic.

And why should you focus on long-tail keywords for blog post
titles? These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post
focused on the specific goals of your audience. Website visitors
searching long-tail terms are more likely to read the whole post,
and then seek more information from you. In other words, you’ll
attract the right type of traffic to your website.

If you’re brainstorming ideas to write about, there’s a good
chance you’ll create a long list of ideas for topics you can
cover and posts you can create. This will help create a longer-term
blogging strategy, making a list of topics that support a specific
conversion. For example, if you have an ebook or guide that you
want to create and promote, then consider making a list of blog
ideas that support this guide’s content. This way, if someone
finds your blog post and finds the content helpful, that increases
the chances of them wanting to click a call-to-action,
aka CTA, to access a relevant offer.

If you’re looking for assistance with blog ideas, then check
HubSpot’s blog ideas generator
. This free tool will help
jump-start your creative process.

4. Expand long-tail keyword into a working title

Think about how you read things online. You read the title first
before you commit. It needs to catch your interest, especially
since it’s the first thing that will catch a reader’s

Start by creating a working title for your blog post.

A working title is something to “work” off of as you begin to
write your post. Start here to narrow your topic down and focus on
one angle. A broad term, like “social media,” could breed
multiple blog post ideas. A working title, like “top social media
channels for live video in 2019” is now long-tail and

Once you finish the piece, you’ll come back to this title and
refine it to be more aligned with the direction you ended up taking
in the post.

For almost every piece of content, come up with at least 5–10
different titles. Make it a rule that you spend a minimum of five
minutes of brainstorming titles. And once you make a list, send to
a co-worker to get their opinion.

Also, make the value of the post clear in the title. Your title
should help readers and search engines understand what your post is
about. Set the right expectations — what is the reader going to
get out of your blog post? What information is covered? What format
is the blog post going to take?

In this example, the blog post title explicitly tells you that
you’ll be reading about how to create an infographic. Not only
that, but it sets the expectations that it only takes an hour to
do, and there’s also free templates included. You know exactly
what you’re going to get from this blog post — how it’s
valuable to you and how much information it contains.

When it comes to the art of the perfect blog post title, HubSpot
did some research and looked at how our own titles have performed.
Here are the consistent principles that were found:

The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters.
Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on
Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on

HubSpot also found that headlines ending with a bracketed
clarification — like the earlier example with “15 free
infographic templates” in brackets at the end of the post —
performed 38% better than titles without that clarification.

If you’re having trouble trimming down the length of a title,
run it through Moz’s Title Tag Preview
to see how the title will appear on a search engine
results page. Google typically displays the first 50–60
characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60
characters, you can expect about 90 percent of your titles to
display properly.

Title too long? That’s okay! Make sure to create a title for
your reader first. When you have a lengthy headline, it’s a good
idea to put your primary keyword (aka the head term) at the
beginning of the title since it might get cut off toward the end on
a search engine results page. In this example, the title got caught
off, but the focus keyword, “data visualization,” is at the

5. Shorten your

The URL doesn’t have to match the title of the blog exactly.
Instead, make it a best practice to shorten the URL without losing
context to what the page is about. For example, notice how the URL
of this blog post is shorter than the title. This way, Moz can
update the content over time without updating the URL.

Here’s a pro tip: Don’t include numbers in your URL, like
year or steps. This way, if you update the
content in the future
, you won’t have to update the URL.
Updating the URL creates a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a
permanent redirect from one URL to another. Making updates to URLs
hurts your SEO, and you don’t want that.

6. Optimize image alt-text

Search engines don’t just look for images. Rather, they look for
images with alt-text. Because search engines can’t “see” images the
same way humans can, an image’s alt-text tells them what an image
is about – which ultimately helps those images rank in the image
section of search engine results. Consider optimizing your images
with different descriptive variations of your long-tail

7. Create a
compelling meta description

Your meta
is meant to give search engines and readers
information about your blog post’s content. The maximum suggested
length of a meta description is 150–160 characters. Anything
longer than that will most likely be cut off.

While meta descriptions might not directly impact your SEO, keep
in mind that copy matters a great deal for clickthrough rates
because it satisfies certain readers’ intent. The more engaging,
and the more context you include that backs up your title tag, the
better. In addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and
relevant), your meta description should include a variation of your
long-tail keyword for which you’re optimizing the post around.
But keep in mind that a search engine may not choose to use your
meta description as the descriptive text in search results. Search
engines are funny that way.

8. Insert links
strategically throughout your blog post

As you attract more and more visitors to your blog, that
increased traffic means an increased opportunity to build a
relationship, gain trust, and generate more leads and eventually

Let’s review some best practices when it comes to using links
effectively in your blog posts.

First, link to external content when it’s helpful or supports
a stat or claim you’re making.

It takes a lot of work to attract someone to your site and gain
their trust. The last thing you want to do is send them off your
site unless it’s something that supports your content. I’m not
saying you shouldn’t link to content that’s not your own, but
just do so thoughtfully and make sure it provides value.

Here’s a pro tip: When linking to external websites, consider
having that content open in a new window. This way, you’re being
helpful without redirecting people off of your site.

Next, link to other helpful blog posts on your site.

If you find yourself typing a sentence or paragraph that can be
explained in more detail on another blog post, then link to it.
This helps in two ways: It solves for the reader, allowing and
encouraging them to continue bingeing your content; and it solves
for the search engine as it communicates to them that there’s a
cluster of related content on your site. And if search engines deem
your cluster of web content around a specific topic as a credible
source, then that can help boost your visibility on the search

Which brings me to my last point: Link to important content on
your site that supports conversions.

When it comes to deciding on where to insert CTAs on your blog
posts, here are four places to consider. Let’s review each.

First, consider inserting a CTA after the first few paragraphs.
To avoid looking too pushy too soon, try including a passive CTA
through hyperlinked text as opposed to using an image. It’s
important to include these passive CTAs near the top, as you
can’t always count on your visitor reading your entire post to
take the next step. Think about it: Do you read to the end of every
blog post that you click on? Probably not.

HubSpot performs CTA tests all the time. From image and text
CTAs to placement of the CTAs, we’re always looking for ways to
improve clickthrough rate. Interestingly enough, we found that text
CTAs near the top of blogs posts produce the highest clickthrough
rates— something you might want to keep in mind and test on your
blog posts.

I recommend linking to pillar pages with CTAs at the top of the
page as the content is not gated, meaning you’re not forcing
someone to give you their email address just yet in exchange for
something. Instead, you can lead with educational content, which
solves for your reader first. Plus, your educational site pages
should support one, if not multiple, conversions so that you can
help the reader through their journey accordingly while gaining
their trust along the way.

Next, include an image or text CTA near the most relevant
content in the body of the post. The best time to support a
conversion is just after educating someone. For example, Townsend Security, a
full-service data security provider, included an image CTA to a
relevant podcast download in this blog post. Notice how the CTA
content is similar to the content it’s paired with.

Next, include an image CTA at the end of each post. If someone
reads your post to the end, then you want to offer them a helpful
next step. This is a CTA at the end of a post titled “Data
Visualization 101: How to Choose the Right Chart or Graph for Your
Data,” and at the bottom, there’s a CTA for an ebook on how to
present data people can’t ignore. When it comes to image CTAs at
the end of blog posts, I recommend linking these to a relevant
landing page with a form.

Another option, which brings me to the last CTA placement, is a

pop-up form
that the reader sees as they scroll down the page.
This is a great way to have your offer stick around so that the
reader can’t just scroll past it.

If you really want to engage your users and have a helpful
conversation, then consider offering live chat or a chatbot. A
chatbot is a computer program that automates certain tasks,
typically by chatting with a user through a conversational

Most bots follow a set of rules programmed by a human via a
bot-building platform. It’s as simple as ordering a list of if-then
statements and writing canned responses, often without needing to
know a line of code. The benefit? A bot will guide you, the
visitor, through the various options available and help you get
from point A to point B quickly. Behind the curtain, the bot is
leading you through a series of dependent questions to collect the
necessary information to understand your intent, and then deliver
the right content to satisfy your needs.

9. Include
other forms of media to keep your visitors engaged

I always save the best for last. If you want to keep people
engaged, then offer other forms of media like a quiz or video.

Adding a video to your website can increase the chance
of a front-page Google result by 53 times
. This is especially
helpful if you include a video near the top of the page. Why?
Because if people take the time to watch your video, then it’ll
reduce bounce rate. Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of
people who land on one of your website pages, then leave. They
don’t click on anything else. They just get to one of your pages,
then leave quickly. Having a low bounce rate is a strong indicator
to Google that people find value in your content. And if Google
thinks your content provides value, then that can lead to first
page rankings for the topics you want to show up for. For example,
this page ranks #1 on Google for a list of high-volume terms
related to a truck camper.

When you
click through to the page
, you’ll notice there’s a YouTube
video embedded at the top that’s 4 minutes and 13 seconds long.
In most cases, the majority of people who visit your site —
79% to be
— would rather watch a video to learn, than read text
on a page. That’s exactly why I included a video at the top of
this page to engage the visitor with video content first. In case
you’re curious, the average time a visitor spends on this page is
five minutes.

Moz has been optimizing their content with video effectively
since 2007 with their Whiteboard
segment. What I love most about Moz’s Whiteboard
Friday series is how they transcribe the content underneath each
video — very smart and efficient. For example, the below
Whiteboard Friday segment video is eight minutes and two seconds
long, which equates to 1,477 words.

This might be something to keep in mind if your business

creates video content
, and wants to find a way to maximize your
content output.

10. Work with industry thought leaders to create a compelling story

Even if you’re not a subject matter expert on a specific
topic, that doesn’t mean you can’t create something
memorable… And I don’t mean just regurgitating what’s already
being said online. If you did that, then you’d just be creating
noise, and not adding anything new to the conversation.

Instead, when performing research look for people who author
content on a given topic and put your journalist hat on. What do
you find interesting about their content? Is there anything you
think would be helpful to dig into..

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