Many businesses think “doing SEO” means just doing some basic on-page optimization to their article—like inserting the target keyword into their title tag & subheadings, or using a search engine optimization tool like Surfer SEO to add in relevant keywords throughout the post.
This is not enough. This might yield some results for obscure, non-commercial keywords. But it won’t reliably land you on the first page of results—especially for valuable business keywords competitors are also targeting.
So what else are you supposed to do? In my experience, the #1 most essential step to SEO content creation is to do a SERP analysis to understand all the different layers of search intent.
Specifically, you need to understand:
1. What types of content are ranking already? Is it mostly long “how to” pieces? Lists of things? Landing pages?
2. Which subtopics are being discussed in those pieces?
You then use this information to decide on the type of article you’ll create, what you need to include in your article, and how you’ll differentiate it from existing top results. The goal is to create something that’s better and more useful than what you see ranking on the first page.
This is essential because if you nail search intent—that is, your piece is exactly what the searcher is looking for—readers will (a) spend more time on your post, click into things, and thus display “on page behavior signals” that tell Google’s algorithm your piece is fulfilling their users search intent, so Google is likely to rank you higher and (b) the searcher is more likely to feel your brand “gets” them, and thus is more likely to give your product a chance and convert.
Review the topics discussed inside those posts or pages, and identify themes or topics that come up repeatedly: You should scan or read each of the results on the first page and pay attention to topics that are discussed (especially those listed in subheadings) throughout the page. As you go through the results, take note of topics that come up frequently. This indicates that they likely need to be covered in your post in order for it to rank.
Identify what individual pages or articles do well and what they do poorly: Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of existing top results allows you to incorporate elements that you think work well, and gives you insight into the ways in which you can differentiate your post to create a better piece of content.
Determine the intent(s) of searchers typing in this term: Once you’ve gone through the results, summarize the core intent(s) of the users searching this keyword.
If you follow this process, many of your articles will rank on page 1 of google without requiring backlinks.