Content is either written to impress the hell out of your readers or to rank.
Quality content does both.
So, how do you create content that people can’t stop reading and still ranks?
It’s simple. Know all the things that please both the reader and Google.
Before we look into what those are, let’s see what quality content is.
What is quality content?
What makes content good? Or great?
Well, it depends on who’s asking.
According to this digital marketing survey, good content is relevant, intellectual, sensorial and emotional.
But, content quality to a blog reader is not measured the same way a content marketer or even Google would, even though all angles are important.
Ashley has a question for you.
Me? I’d rather have both.
Let’s see how to write content that ranks.
What Google classifies as quality content
Google doesn’t grade content based on the fancy themes and colors your readers see. To get a chance to rank on Google SERPs, you have to first fix your E-E-A-T.
Fix my what?
E-E-A-T. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, and it determines how credible your website and content is.
Five quick ways to improve E-E-A-T for your site
1. Niche down geographically
You’re somewhere in good ol’ Buckingham and decide to pick a copy of the local newspaper.
You flip the first page, and it’s in Mandarin. Same with the second, and the next.
See how confusing that might be?
That’s how Google sees an Australian fashion website with a post about the ‘10 Sundresses Canadians are Loving This Summer’.
Except you’re serving a wide global audience, pick a niche in your physical proximity and stick to it.
2. Don’t publish false information
Your E-E-A-T rating will drop if your content doesn’t match the well-established expert consensus.
Fact-check your content for accuracy and link to credible sources to build a good reputation with Google and your audience.
3. Internal linking
Internal linking signals your site’s expertise on a subject or niche. To improve E-E-A-T, consider creating content in topic clusters you can link together internally.
4. Use trust signals
Trust signals include original content, site security, social proof like testimonials and even certifications.
Establishing trust is still important even if you don’t write YMYL content.
Use user-generated content or reviews from real people sharing their honest experiences to boost E-E-A-T.
5. Have an author bio
Author bios show your readers (and Google) that they can trust you as an expert in your industry.
Your author bio should contain:
- What you do
- How long you’ve done what you do for
- Where you’ve applied what you do (a company or a niche)
If you’re feeling adventurous (I hope), create an about page on your website and add pictures of yourself or your team, with all your contact details.
What quality content is to a reader
People can tell when information has been consolidated from many places and regurgitated over and over again.
To engage your readers, find a unique angle and write from a fresh perspective.
Misinformation not only frustrates your readers; it may also hurt your ranking.
Source for information from reliable places or have a subject matter expert review your content before it is published.
Write mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive content. Readers don’t want to wade through unnecessary filler.
If you can’t cover it all in one article, deploy topic clusters and link to them.
A clear structure helps comprehension. Make your content easy to digest by creating a logical flow of ideas, using clear headings.
Aesthetics matter. A clean blog layout, great fonts and colors, and original images can make your reader’s experience 100x better.
Readers can quickly recognize fluff or content that doesn’t provide much value. It’s called thin content and it is not SEO-friendly.
Content that anticipates pain points and recommends actionable solutions leaves little room for doubt.
Readers also love seeing examples of others who have benefited from the proposed action, so add some trust signals.
How to create quality content that drives business goals
So, you’ve gotten that A+ from Google. Your cornerstone content is ranking on the first page. Your impressions and clicks are hitting the ceiling.
This is where many writers boast on their socials about bagging first-page articles and even featured snippets.
I’m guilty too.
But, quality content should not only rank. It should also drive business goals.
Your SERP position is meaningless if people are exiting your site without entering your marketing funnel.
Here’s how to create content that satisfies your readers and drives goals.
1. Know your audience
If you’ve ever had to guess what your friend would want for their birthday, it’s because you didn’t know them well.
Writing content without knowing your audience is like guessing a birthday present.
Before you write to any audience, you must know what they’re expecting to see when they type in a search query.
This is called search intent and there are four types: navigational. Informational, commercial and transactional.
To prioritize the needs and interests of your target audience and prime them to take action after reading your content, create helpful content rooted in audience research.
Some questions to ask during audience research:
- Who am I writing for?
- Where can I find them?
- What are their pain points or challenges?
- What is the search intent for this content?
- What related questions do they need answers to?
- What options might they have already checked out?
- What exact words do they describe their problems with?
- What unique solution do I have that no competitor has covered?
- How will my content/product/service/expertise provide that solution?
2. Map your keywords
Keyword mapping is assigning specific, unique and relevant keywords to individual pages on a website to avoid content overlap.
Once you’ve conducted audience research, use the insights to make a list of possible keywords that match search intent. Then, filter those keywords with an SEO tool, to form clusters.
A cluster is a group of related keywords that establish topical authority by optimizing content around a core or pillar topic.
Think of a pillar topic as a hub with cluster topics as the surrounding spokes. The topics (or articles) are interconnected by hyperlinks.
Here’s an illustration of a cluster of articles around the pillar topic of Strength Training, for clarity.
Best practices for topic clusters
- Link to the pillar content from cluster articles, and only link between clusters when relevant. Cluster 1 might only link to Cluster 2 or revert to the pillar content. Avoid unnecessary or forced linking.
- As you add pages, ensure you link to related clusters and back to the main pillar.
- Focus each cluster on specific long-tail keywords tied to the pillar topic. This maximizes your chances of ranking for a variety of search queries related to your core topic.
- Monitor clusters for performance, content gaps, relevance, and new ranking opportunities, and update as needed.
The article? Not yet.
Before the article comes the content brief.
Content briefs help you stay on track while writing and give you a clear picture of the end goal.
- SEO title
- Meta description
- URL slug
- Content goal
- Audience profile
- Pain points and solutions
- Word count
- Main keyword and semantic entities
- Search intent
- Unique angle/POV
- Tone and style guide
- Heading structure or scope
- Subject-matter expert insights
- Internal links
- Image suggestions
- Distribution plan
You can then write the article after you’ve filled in the brief.
I’d say promote your content across your other channels once it goes live, but that’s just cliché.
Where, how and when you promote content matters, and it all depends on your content distribution strategy.
If you have that in check, work on a content repurposing plan.
Repurposing extends the life of your content by converting it into different formats that stand alone on other channels or drive traffic back to your website.
For instance, this blog post can be repurposed into multiple infographics, Twitter (X) threads, LinkedIn and Instagram Carousels, or short videos for TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
What to fix for better SERP ranking
If you’ve written quality content and you’re getting great impressions but not enough corresponding clicks, it’s a telltale sign that you need better SEO to bump your page up the SERPs.
Here are six areas to improve SEO for Google SERP ranking.
Your title tag
Moz describes the title tag as the single most important on-page SEO element. They are right. Your title tag is your first chance to give the reader an idea of what to expect from your content.
Google only displays the first 65 characters of your title tag on SERPs. Make sure yours is unique, catchy and invites the reader to click.
Your meta description
While your meta description is not a direct ranking factor, it is the second most compelling way to get clicks on your page after the title tag.
When I use search, I don’t always select the first result Google presents. Instead, I scan the meta descriptions to identify the one that best addresses my concern. I click only when I’m confident it’ll provide the answers I’m searching for.
Make your meta as descriptive as possible in under 160 characters. Try not to stuff it with keywords in an attempt to rank That only confuses the reader and spoofs the chance to make a good first impression.
Need help with on-page SEO? Get my 3-in-1 SEO checklist for better, more optimised content.
Did you know that Googlebot can’t see your images?
Yes, the Google crawler only visualizes your file names, format, captions and alt text for context and indexing.
What Google sees (or feels) is the effect of unoptimised images which could lead to poor page experiences.
To optimize an image, make sure:
- alt text, caption and file names are not generic and properly describe the attached image
- file size is compressed and does not contribute to slow page load speeds
- the image is served in the right file format
Backlinks, internal links, you name it.
Backlinks from reputable sites act as endorsements to help your content rank better. Your distribution strategy, if done correctly, will help you garner organic backlinks. The more high-quality backlinks your site has, the more authoritative it is considered.
Guest posting is also a way to establish credibility and earn high-quality backlinks.
Internal links, on the other hand, give context to the content within your website. (That’s a tongue twister for sure)
Internal links also:
- guide readers and search engines to important pages
- distribute link equity across your pages
- connect related content
Your website structure
A clear website structure provides a hierarchy for search engines to crawl and index your site and helps readers navigate your content easily.
Nest short headings from <h1> and break into subheadings (<h2>,…,<h6>) as you delve into subtopics.
Page and User Experience
Is your website optimised for mobile? Is it fast enough? Does your schema match the content? Do you have too many ads or pop-ups on your website? These factors limit organic search performance.
If visitors leave right after coming to your site, it signals to Google that the page is irrelevant to the search query, and you will gradually lose ranking.
You can improve page and user experience by:
- Only writing content that matches the search intent of the target query or keyword
- Using clear CTAs across the site to prompt action from the reader
- Cleaning up broken links and adding redirects where necessary
- Making sure your website is responsive on mobile devices
- Improving page load time by caching or optimising images
- Using appropriate schema or structured data
- Making sure your site is safe and secure
- Using readable font, font size and colors
- Writing alt text for accessibility
Struggling with pre-publish content optimisation? Get my 3-in-1 SEO checklist to optimize and clean up your content.
Final thoughts: Quality content for Google and humans
The foundation of SEO is quality content and without it, you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall with your content marketing strategy.
Want to work with an SEO content writer who knows exactly what makes Google and your target reader tick? Shoot me a message today.