Chapter 6: Turning Keywords Into SEO Content
So you’ve worked hard on the keyword research process and put together a list of lucrative, low-competition keywords
Well, it’s time to take that lifeless group of phrases and turn them into living, breathing pieces of content.
But not just any content: content designed to rank highly in search engines.
Here are some simple – yet powerful – guidelines to keep in mind as you develop SEO content for your site.
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Squeeze More From Your Title Tags
Most people’s approach title tag optimization is this:
Find a keyword for that page
Add that keyword to the title tag
Hope for the best
Considering that your page’s title tag is (by far) the most important on-page SEO ranking factor, it makes sense to get the most value you can out of it.
The best way to do that is to tap into The Title Tag Double Dip.
The “Title Tag Double Dip” is simply optimizing your title tag for a short AND long tail version of your keyword.
When you do that, you’ll rank for the long tail quickly (because it’s less competitive). And over time, you’ll also rank for the short tail keyword.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you wanted to rank for the keyword “SEO Tips” because you saw that it had solid search volume and buyer intent:
As you may expect, in a competitive industry like SEO, it’s going to be a while before you rank for that keyword.
So instead of simply using the keyword “SEO tips” in your title tag, use a long tail version of that keyword:
Here’s what a Title Tag Double Dip might look like in practice:
That way, you’ll quickly rank for the less-competitive “SEO tips and tricks”. And as you build links to that page, you’ll also crack the top 10 for “SEO tips”.
Publish Loooong Content
In depth 1500+ word articles blow run-of-the-mill 400-word blog posts out of the water.
The only downside is that long pieces of content take more time and effort.
But that’s actually a competitive advantage for you.
Your competition is probably too lazy to write in-depth pieces. Which means that you’ll instantly separate yourself from the pack when you start publishing insanely-thorough stuff (like this guide you’re reading right now).
Why is long content so important?
First off, long content is strongly tied to higher rankings in Google.
Our ranking study found that the top 10 results for most keywords tended to boast approximately 2000 words:
Why does long content rank better?
There are a few reasons:
- Longer content helps give Google more information about the topic of that page (spider food). This makes them more confident that your page is a relevant result for that keyword.
- A piece of long content is usually more in-depth than a 300-word blog post on the same topic. That means long articles are going to answer the searcher’s query better than short pieces of content.
- Long content tends to attract more links and social shares than shallow content.
This makes sense if you think about it:
What are you more likely to link to?
A 350-word post titled, “5 tips for interval training”…
…or a 3000-word guide called “The Ultimate Guide to Interval Training?”
I thought so.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to necessarily include your target keyword more often in longer content. In other words, don’t sweat keyword density.
Just make sure that you sprinkle your keyword in the content a few times…especially in the beginning.
Which leads me to my next tip…
Keyword Prominence is where your keyword appears on the page.
The higher up on the page a keyword first appears, the more Google considers that page about that keyword.
For example, in my post 17 Untapped Backlink Sources, I don’t waste any time mentioning my target keyword, “backlinks”:
This makes sense from Google’s point of view. If you’re writing an article about a particular topic, why wouldn’t you mention a word related to that topic (in other words, a keyword) right off the bat?
Bottom line: use your target keyword in the first 100-words of a page.
Tap Into User Experience Signals
Great user experience has VERY powerful direct and indirect SEO benefits.
The direct benefit comes from the fact that Google measures things like “short clicks vs. long clicks” (in other words, how much time someone spends on a page in Google’s search results before hitting the “back” button).
As you might imagine, the longer people stay on your page, the better.
On the other hand, people that pogo stick from your site back to the search results send a strong message to Google that says: “This result doesn’t seem to be helpful, better push them further down the page”.
The indirect benefit is simply that people that enjoy their time on your site are more likely to link to it.
So what can you do to make people stick on your site like super glue?
Here are a few actionable strategies that can help you maximize user experience for SEO and conversions:
Make the first few sentences REALLY short:
Research shows that people prefer to read short sentences online. People also don’t like wide blocks of text that spread from one end of the screen to the other.
That’s why you want to make the first few sentences of every article and landing page on your site super, super short.
Also, crunch those first 5-10 sentences between huge margins so that people’s eyes don’t have to dart back and forth as far.
I do this for every post on my site:
The easiest way to generate this effect for your site is to add an image to the top of every page that’s aligned to the right of the first paragraph.
Create multimedia experiences:
Text-only content is soooo 2005.
Today, you need to step your content game up to include video, audio, diagrams, charts, interactive media, quizzes, games and infographics.
When you have quality multimedia on your site, you satisfy a larger chunk of the people that are visiting your site from Google. People that like video sit back and watch your YouTube clip.
Users that like to read enjoy skimming blog posts. And audio junkies love to listen to your
In fact, Moz discovered that content with 3 types of media tended to attract more backlinks:
And a Google Quality Guidelines document told human reviewers to consider pages with “supplementary content” (in the form of calculators, downloads and diagrams) higher quality search results than text-only pages.
In short, using multimedia on high priority pages is worth the extra effort.
Use H Tag Subheadings:
If you’re publishing long content (and if you’re not, you should be), you want to use lots and lots of subheaders to break up your content.
Nothing hurts user experience metrics worse than a mile-long, subheader-free page.
Also sprinkle in related words and phrases into your subheaders as H2 and H3 tags. This will give you a small-yet-significant on-page SEO boost.
A good rule of thumb is to include at least one subheader for every 200-words of content.
Optimizing Pages for Google Hummingbird
Google Hummingbird is a game-changer.
Thanks to this algorithm, Google can now better understand topics…not just keywords.
In other words, creating pages that target topics and keywords is a smart move for both user experience and SEO.
In other words, Google Hummingbird impacted how we optimize pages around keywords…not how we find and evaluate them.
The same process you use to find long tail keywords, determine commercial intent, and evaluate a keyword’s competition is exactly the same as it was pre-Hummingbird.
The only thing that’s changed is how you optimize your site’s pages based on the keywords that you want to target.
When you optimize pages with proven on-page SEO principles in mind – and add a few wrinkles to feed Google Hummingbird — you can get even more traffic from every page on your site.
Distill long conversational keywords (like “where in Paris is The Louvre located?”) into shorter, to-the-point-keywords (“The Louvre Location and Address”).
Stop creating 10 pages for 10 different long tail keywords. Just look at this search result:
Google is able to identify that the words “display resolution”, “screen resolution” and “1024 x 768” are synonyms for the keyword “desktop resolution”.
In fact, there’s no result in the top 10 that has the keyword “desktop resolution” in their title tag.
So instead of creating one article optimized around “display resolution”, another around “browser displays” etc., create ONE awesome article optimized around the keyword in that group. That way you’ll rank for that keyword and for all of the synonyms that Google Hummingbird connects to it.
MIX UP YOUR ANCHOR TEXT
You already know that over-optimizing anchor text is a risk factor for a Google Penguin slap. But it can also hurt you when it comes to Google Hummingbird. If 25% of your anchor text includes the keyword “best water bottle”, you won’t rank as well for similar searches like “best reusable water bottle” or “best new water bottle”.
USE INTELLIGENT CO-CITATIONS
In many ways, co-citations are the new anchor text. Google now uses the text around a link to determine the topic of that page.
For example, you can see that the words “link building” appear next to this link:
The more often Google sees people using the words “link building” around a link to my site, the more that association grows in Google’s eyes.
Just like anchor text, mix up your co-citations to include your target keyword AND synonyms. That way, Hummingbird will rank you for multiple keywords.