How to write SEO content that ranks

How to Write SEO Content That Ranks in Google (5-Step Guide)

Many bloggers don’t know how to write SEO content that ranks in Google.

They often focus on the aspect of optimizing content for the target SEO keyword, not realizing that it’s actually the last thing to do in a process that involves 5 steps. If you don’t follow all 5 steps, your Google ranking will likely remain an illusion.

The 5 steps on how to write SEO content that ranks in Google:

  • determine your ultimate goal
  • evaluate your planned content marketing strategy and budget
  • evaluate the performance of other content vis-à-vis user intent
  • create the content with a unique twist
  • format and optimize for SEO

Let’s evaluate each step individually since they involve much more than what you may assume.

Determine Your Ultimate Goal

When you get top ranking on Google, what do you want to do with the resulting traffic to your site?

The answer will influence the exact keywords you target.

If your goal is to sell an affiliate product, you will likely have to write your content based on buyer intent keywords.

What are buyer intent keywords?

These are keywords people search for when they have the intention of buying something. It’s often easy to identify such keywords which typically have terms like “best shoes,” “toys for 5-year-olds,” “cheapest massage chair” and similar keywords.

If your goal is to make money from adverts on your site, you’ll likely do well with high volume informational keywords.

Without the high volumes from Google traffic, you won’t make enough money from adverts, which typically have a much lower unit value compared to affiliate products. It’s a good thing that informational keywords often have large volumes. They are keywords like “how to write an essay,” “what to do when your boyfriend cheats,” and such like.

Maybe your goal is to bring business to your brick and mortar store.

That means you must identify local search keywords or keywords that are most searched by people in your region. You can find out the search volumes based on location using Google Keyword Planner.

Without this part, you’ll be creating content blindly that won’t help your business.

But wait, it’s not time to start writing yet.

Evaluate Your Planned Content Marketing Strategy and Budget

One of the biggest mistakes many bloggers do is write content that doesn’t match their planned content marketing strategy and budget.


If you plan to write on a keyword that will require thousands of backlinks for you to rank in Google, you better have the budget to get those many keywords. Otherwise, your content will flop.

That’s why you must never start writing without first determining the kind of marketing strategy and budget you’ll use.

If you plan on getting backlinks from high authority websites, then you must undoubtedly produce extremely valuable content worth linking back to.

Maybe you plan on using massive social media shares that will give your content powerful social signals that can influence ranking. That will mean the content should be on a topic that people will find extremely interesting and shareable.

This is a crucial consideration, especially when hiring writers to produce the content for you.

If you have a low budget, you might not get the quality of content you need. In such a case, you must not try to write on a topic that will require intensive research, primarily targeted at audiences well versed on the issue.

Evaluate the Performance of Other Content Vis-à-vis User Intent

By now, you have likely narrowed down to a select few topics.

But you still need to whittle down your options even more.

It’s time to get rid of your pet topics.

Never settle on a topic just because you feel it’s a great topic, without first evaluating other content based on the same subject.

There are many other people who have had the same idea you have. How well did they succeed? It’s far better to learn from their successes and mistakes than to repeat the same errors.

Here’s how you can do that.

Check the Google SERP Position History Graph

The Google SERP position history graph shows the historical changes to the top ranking pages on Google, for the keyword you’re targeting.

Any decent keyword tool like SpyFu should show this.

When looking at this graph, you should check on the types of pages that retain top ranking longer than others. This will give you a clear indication of the kind of content that best serves user intent.

Also, take note of pages that jump in and out of the top rank.

If a page’s ranking is volatile, it’s likely not serving user intent best. It might also be that the types of people searching for that content do so irregularly. Hence, you might consider incorporating the content from such pages into your article, to complement the content from pages that consistently retain top ranking.

Use Google Trends to Figure Out User Intent

Beyond looking at the SERP results page, Google Trends will give you a sneak peek into the insights that Google uses to create those Search rankings.

When you go to Google Trends and search for your target keyword, scroll down to the bottom right corner. You’ll find the top and rising queries related to your target keyword. This is a critical aspect that Google uses to determine which pages to rank high on its SERP.

Those related queries are the search terms that people search for most, alongside your target keyword. Hence, they give far greater insights on exactly what the person searching wants.

For instance, when someone searches for the term “best cars,” then goes on to search for the term “best cheap cars,” you can tell that the first search didn’t give the best results, so that person refined the search to something more specific. When Google sees many people doing that, they start showing results with best cheap cars whenever you search for the term “best cars.”

This is such a powerful aspect that, in some cases, you might not get top ranking if you disregard it (based on a study that reviewed 1,000+ pages on Google’s’ SERP).

Check What the Top Ranking Pages Have

Once you evaluate the general aspects of ranking and search intent, it’s time to dig deep into the actual content in the top-ranking pages.

You now need to evaluate every little aspect that makes the top pages rank so well in Google:

  • How long is the content? Obviously, the longer your content, the more opportunities to feature keywords that produce a higher ranking.
  • Which other keywords are they targeting? You need to find out what other keywords contribute to the overall success of the content.
  • How many backlinks do they have? Find out the number as well as the quality of backlinks, so you know how tough it is to rank.
  • How many social media shares do they have? Social media signals can contribute to ranking too.
  • How in-depth is the content? Are all the key aspects covered in the article? What content gaps can you identify?
  • Is the content outdated? Maybe you just need to write an updated version of the existing content.
  • Does the content serve all audiences? Who are interested in the content and do they all get the information they need?

Analyze everything and anything, and don’t leave any aspect out.

Something as simple as poor formatting can make a huge difference.

Also, check the meta descriptions and SEO titles to figure out if you can take advantage of any deficiencies in your competitors’ content.

With that, you’re ready to start writing.

So, let’s see how to write SEO content that ranks in Google.

Create the Content with a Unique Twist

Remember, you are likely writing on a topic that millions of others have written on, so you need a unique angle to stand out. Otherwise, your content will end up like the millions of pages online that hardly ever appear on Google’s SERP.

Giving your content a unique twist will make it unique enough for someone to click and read. That simple act of someone clicking on your content from Google’s SERP can increase your ranking since Google would consider your content valuable to the people searching.

So, how do you create a unique twist?

Here are some ideas.

Make it personal

If all the search results are just mere informational guides, you can stand out by focusing on someone with an exciting story.

Instead of telling people how to succeed on YouTube, why not give the story of a specific YouTuber who went from zero to a million in a year.

Localize a global story

People are attracted to stories they can easily relate to.

For instance, few people in Africa will be interested in an incident happening far away in Europe. You can make it relevant by showing how it affects them or maybe mention an African who was involved in that incident.

Get user-generated content

Why not get the content straight from your target audience themselves.

You can run a poll and compile the responses you get into an article. Those who provided the content will certainly want to read your article.

Go in-depth

If you find the top-ranking pages have lists of 10 or 20 items, why not produce 100 or 200 items. Anyone else who would want to outrank you will think twice before putting in any more effort to create such an extensive list.

Relate to a major topic

Few people might be interested to know the tedious technical aspects of making a Smartphone. But you can make it interesting by merely mentioning popular Smartphone brands.

After all, who wouldn’t want to know how the iPhone is made, and what makes it different from an Android phone.

Be controversial

Just about any controversial topic is sure to pull in curious crowds.

However, you must be careful not to put off your audience, in case they don’t support your opinions.

Add elements that other articles don’t have

Maybe the only thing making other tutorials boring is the lack of images and videos. Include such in your tutorial and more people will be clicking to read your article.

You can include many other elements to make your content valuable including graphs, tables, pdf downloads and many more.

Produce an original research piece

If you produce something original that others want to read, you can even get backlinks from high authority sites. This will undoubtedly boost your ranking.

There are many other ways to produce unique twists, which you’re sure to discover as you research on your chosen topic.

Format and Optimize for SEO

Once you produce the content, you must format and optimize it for SEO.

Content format is vital to creating a great user experience. That means including multiple subtitles and lists in your content, as well as short sentences and paragraphs.

Above all, your content must never look like a large block of text.

Moreover, most online content should be written in a conversational tone. Don’t write formally or use complicated jargon. Use only simple words.

Ensure your content produces a fulfilling reading experience, so people enjoy reading. This will help reduce the bounce rate on your page since people will spend more time on your site. That will contribute to a higher ranking on Google.

In fact, you can further enhance time on your site by making the content so engaging that it spurs readers to comment. Such comments will also get indexed on Google and further contribute to your ranking potential.

Remember to always start with a captivating introduction, then lead on to a genuinely insightful body, and finish off with a conclusion that will remain in the minds of readers long after they leave your site.

And don’t forget to place your target keyword in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your content.


As you can see from this guide, creating articles that will rank in Google depends on the prior research you do. If you do a shoddy research job, your chances of ranking high on Google are meager, regardless of how well you write.

That’s how to write SEO content that ranks in Google.


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