9 Steps for Creating High-Quality Content

Below we’ve curated five steps for creating high-quality content directly from SEO and content marketing pros.

Let’s dive in:

1) Don’t shy away from hard work

While many marketers are going for the quick hack, going the extra mile will pay off big time.

Black hat and gray hat SEO (e.g., PBNs, keyword stuffing, paid linking) might give a short-term boost, but may harm you in the long run or even ruin your business entirely.

Write content that is both SEO optimized and consumable by humans.

Write in-depth and actionable content with an ambitious, and ideally predictable, posting cadence. Focus on creating new posts, but don’t forget to update old ones for new information and to capture new keywords.

SEO is a game of small process improvements.

2) Stick to your plan

The most successful blogs build a trusted and recognized brand by creating long-form, actionable content tailored to their target audience (e.g., intermediate and advanced marketers, if you’re a marketing blog).

Although you will not always see the immediate benefits of this approach, it’s important to trust the process and have a long enough timeframe to see the rewards.

3) Updating content still has a massive ROI, but many marketers still put this task last on their lists

It’s easy to always focus on creating new content, but updating your old content and focusing on the entire library is often a high-ROI activity.

For example, you may be ranking for keywords you didn’t even target. If you’re ranking at #9 for one of the unexpected queries, can you target it more directly and improve it?

SEO is largely a winner-take-all game from the vantage point of individual SERP results. Getting into the top-3 or getting a Featured Snippet is huge.

If you’re in the 6-10 range, you’re unlikely to get even 4% of the traffic for that keyword. Once you get out of the top-10 it’s very hard to get any traffic from it.

Small changes make a huge difference.

The smart move here is understanding which posts will benefit the most from an update, and prioritize them.

4) Don’t create bland me-too fluff

Rearranging content from the top blog posts in the SERP is a common strategy.

People look at what has worked and try to copy it or improve on it.

Brian Dean of Backlinko calls it the Skyscraper Technique.

But just copying won’t cut it. Sites that rank at the top for high-demand keywords have strong authority.

They also tend to have lots of good, natural links pointing to those pages that are very difficult to replicate. It’s not easy to knock something like that off its perch.

5) Know when to compete and not compete for keywords

If you’re in the trading, investing, and the financial niche, it’s going to be hard to compete with Investopedia for many queries.

Beating the quality of their article for “monetary policy” (over 30,000 searches monthly) isn’t going to enable you to rank over them or Wikipedia or the Federal Reserve’s or the IMF’s website.

You can, however, compete better with queries that have lower search competition or with long-tail keywords, such as “monetary policy vs fiscal policy pros and cons” which brings us to…

6) Target more long-tail keywords

You still aren’t very likely to beat out Investopedia, but you’ll have a shot at ranking in the top-10 if the article is done well and your site at least has some built-up authority.

Long-tail keywords also have higher intent.

Who is more likely to buy?

“Sneakers” or “black nike hi top sneakers”?

The first is generic. The second has much clearer buying intent.

They know exactly what they’re looking for. That means they’re further down the funnel and more likely to convert.

7) Reach out to experts if you’re not a subject matter expert

Faking it doesn’t really work when it comes to content. Credibility is hard to obtain but easy to ruin. 

If you don’t know much about the subject you’re writing about, reach out to experts, and ask them to share their knowledge.

When you can’t create, curate.

It’s much better than writing superficial, highly derivative content with factual mistakes and so-called fake news.

Credibility is key in anything and develops trust.

As Warren Buffett has said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

8) Avoid the most common SEO mistakes

If you have a content writer or team of content writers, make sure they’re doing their job well.

9) Make time to learn and recharge

There’s a limit to how much creativity we have.

You can still publish high-quality work at a high cadence, it will be very difficult to remain at your best without taking a step back from time to time.

A lot of our best ideas come when not thinking about them.

Ever feel dull and unenergized at your computer when you’re supposed to be working, but have tons of great ideas flow to you when you’re not forcing it (e.g., when taking a hot shower, walking outside)?

That’s your subconscious mind at work.

Learning new things beyond your work responsibilities will strengthen your creativity muscle.

It will also grow your ability to create new, great content or improve existing content.

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