Here’s the one thing that most marketers and business owners get wrong about content: they don’t realize that they have to produce amazing, kickass content in order to rank on the first page of Google.

Consider this: there are 2 million blog posts being published, every single day. If you’re just dashing out 500 word blog posts and “me too” content, unfortunately, there’s little to no chance of your content ranking.

Want to drive more traffic/leads/conversions on your website using content? You’re in the right place. Check out our 5-step guide that you can use to create 10x Skyscraper content that will help you rank!

Step 1: Deciding on your topic

Your first step is to decide what topics you want to write about. Now, your instinct will probably be to write about topics that you’re familiar with and/or have expertise in. That’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure you also take into consideration what your audience is interested in, and whether these topics are relevant to them!

To figure out what topics your audience is interested in, you can do various things:

  • Send out a survey to your email list (we like using Typeform to create beautiful, mobile-responsive surveys).
  • Interview your most loyal customers (via the phone, or invite them for coffee).
  • Spend some time on platforms such as Quora and Reddit, and look into what your audience is talking about.
  • Add a pop-up survey on your website.
  • Compile a list of questions that your customers frequently ask you.

On top of that, you can also use Buzzsumo to analyze what content performs the best for a specific topic or keyword. For instance, say I’m running a marketing agency that specializes in content marketing. I’d go ahead and input “content marketing” in Buzzsumo’s search bar, and here’s what I’d see…

BuzzSumo

From here, I can sift through the results (filtering it by country, date range and content type if necessary), and use the results to inspire whatever content I want to create.

Crafting the perfect headline

Alright, once you’ve figured out what topic you want to write about, you’ll then move on to nailing down your headline. Now, don’t just write down the FIRST headline that pops into your head, and stick with it. You’ll want to put some effort into crafting the perfect headline here, because your headline has to be relevant and compelling enough to draw your readers to it.

Quick aside: Statistics show that by tweaking a headline, you can influence website traffic by up to a whopping 500%. In fact, at publications such as Upworthy, editors have to write at least 25 different headlines for each post, so that the team can test out each variation to arrive at the one that elicits the “maximum reaction”.

If you’re wondering what are the best practices when it comes to writing headlines, in general, try and use powerful words that invoke some sort of emotion within your reader. On top of that, studies have found that list-based headlines (eg 10 Ways To Do XYZ) are also particularly popular:

crafting headlines

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So: sit down and come up with a bunch of headlines, ask your family and friends which ones they’re most likely to read, and run the top candidates through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. Once you’re done, move onto the next step!

Step 2: Keyword research

Now that you’ve nailed down your topic and headline, it’s time to figure out what keywords you want to optimize your article for.

Here, you might be thinking: is it really necessary to do all this SEO mumbo jumbo? Can’t I just focus on producing an awesome, high quality article, and let everything else fall into place?

Well, if you have a huge email list, and you can use your list to drive traffic to your article, you MIGHT be able to get away with this. But if you’re starting from scratch, and you don’t have a large database of customers, then… nope. You’ll have to optimize your blog post for SEO in order to maximize your visibility; unfortunately, there’s no way of getting around this.

The good news? SEO isn’t as complicated as you might think, and there are plenty of (free!) online tools that you can use to help you streamline the process.

When it comes to keyword research, for instance, you can use tools such as:

…to help you out. First, Google’s Keyword Planner helps you identify a list of potential keywords to target. To access the planner, you’ll have to sign into your Google Ads account (if you don’t already have one, go ahead and create one – it’s free of charge). From here, click on “Tools” from the top panel, and then “Keyword Planner”.

google keyword planner 3

Next, choose “Find new keywords”, and input a word, phrase or URL related to your business. Say I search for “content marketing agency”, for instance.

google keyword planner 2

Google will come up with a bunch of related keyword ideas, and display the average monthly searches and competition for each keyword. You can sort the keywords according to monthly searches or competition; the ideal keywords will have a decent amount of monthly searches, but have “Low” or “Medium” competition (not “High”).

Google’s Keyword Planner aside, you can also use SEMrush to generate more keyword ideas. This tool is pretty straightforward to use; simply input a domain, keyword or URL, and you’ll be able to access lists of Phrase Match Keywords and related keywords:

semrush

Now that you’ve got a list of potential keywords to work with, it’s time to narrow down that list, and hone in on the primary keyword you want to optimize your blog article for.

Apart from evaluating your keywords based on its average search volume and competitiveness, you may also use Google Trends to identify how “trendy” or “buzzworthy” a topic is. For instance, if I search for GDPR, the graph shows me that interest in this keyword peaked in May to June 2018, but the keyword quickly dropped in popularity after that.

Google trends

In other words: interest in this topic is waning, and this wouldn’t be an ideal keyword to target.

Step 3: Writing your content

Cool beans – now that you’ve figured out your primary keyword, here comes the fun part… writing your content!

Structuring your content

While many marketers and business owners simply dive in and start writing immediately, the right way to approach this would be to come out with an article outline first. This way, you can make sure that your article is structured and formatted properly.

Remember: the goal is to make your article accessible and easy to read, so break your text down into shorter, more manageable paragraphs, and use heading and sub-headings as appropriate. In addition, use bullet points, and insert pictures to break up the monotony.

structuring blog content

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Style and tone

Generally speaking, we find that a conversational style/tone works the best. You don’t need to go overboard and use slang/colloquial terms (unless you want to!), but as a rule of thumb, you’d want to write using first and second person pronouns, and use contractions. If you don’t do this, your writing might come off stuffy and/or “corporate”.

Here’s a couple of examples to better illustrate our point…

Positive example: Remember: the goal is to make your article accessible and easy to read, so break your text down into shorter, more manageable paragraphs, and use heading and sub-headings as appropriate.


Negative example: It is essential to make the article accessible and easy to read. The text should be broken down into paragraphs that are shorter and more manageable. If it is appropriate, use headings and sub-headings as well.

Positive example: Now that you’ve got a list of potential keywords to work with, it’s time to narrow down that list, and hone in on the primary keyword you want to optimize your blog article for.

Negative example: The writer now has a list of potential keywords that they may consider. The next step is to narrow down that list, and hone in on the primary keyword that the writer wishes to optimize their blog article for.

You get the picture!

Step 4: Optimizing your content for SEO

While you’re writing, be sure to optimize your content for SEO as well. Essentially, what you’re doing here is to incorporate your keyword into the different elements of your blog post (including your title, your H2 headers, your body copy, your image alt text, etc).

how to optimize blog content

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Important to note: in the context of keywords, some marketers assume that more is more, but that’s NOT the case. Instead of overstuffing your content with keywords, you’ll want to use your keywords in a natural manner (ie: only when it makes sense).

Positive example: Looking for a content marketing agency to help you with your content needs? In this article, we walk you through how to find an agency that’s the best fit for you.

Negative example: If you’re looking for a content marketing agency, scroll down and check out our blog post about how to find the best content marketing agency in your state. Here, we walk you through how to find the best content marketing agency that fits your needs.

If you’re wondering what your keyword density should be, Yoast generally recommends a keyword density of 0.5% to 2.5%. If you write a 1500 word blog post, for instance, that means you should insert your keyword roughly seven to 37 times within that post.

To learn more about how to optimize your blog posts for SEO, read Yoast’s SEO Guide.

Step 5: Publishing and distributing your content

Alright, moving onto the last piece of the puzzle… publishing and distributing your content!

Once you’ve hit “Publish”, go ahead and distribute your blog post via as many channels as possible. For instance:

  • Post it on your company’s social media channels
  • Share it on your personal social media channels
  • Get your colleagues, friends and family to share it on their social media channels
  • Re-post the same content on social media (check out how CoSchedule increased their reach by 3,150% by resharing their content multiple times.)
  • Send the link to your newsletter subscribers
  • Re-send the link to subscribers who didn’t open the first time round (using a different headline).
  • Update your email signature and link to your post
  • Submit the post to relevant aggregate sites and social bookmarking sites
  • BONUS: Include social sharing buttons on your post/site
  • BONUS: Add a Call To Action on your social media posts (ask your followers to share the post with whoever might find it useful.)

Personally, we’d say that when you create and publish a blog post, that’s just HALF the job done. In other words: promoting and distributing your post isn’t an afterthought, or something that you do and quickly get out of the way. It’s a key part of the process, and it influences the success of your blog post to a huge degree.

A final word on creating 10x Skyscraper content

If there’s one key takeaway that you get from this article, let this be it: you can’t afford to be lazy when it comes to content. The more time and effort you invest into your content marketing strategy, the higher the chances of your content ranking and driving traffic to your site.

In other words: if you spend just five minutes on keyword research, and cobble together a badly-written article that has typos and grammar errors, then your content isn’t going to drive much results for you.

But if you take the process seriously, and you make it a priority to create compelling, high quality, SEO-optimized content, you’ll soon build up an arsenal of kickass content that generates traffic for you months or even YEARS down the road. Case in point? Backlinko’s blog article, Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List, has brought them a mind-boggling 1.2M+ visitors to date.

We know which camp we’d rather be on. How about you? 😉