How to write content that meets users' needs and intent
Did you know that there are about 1.8 billion websites on the Web?
Well, this number should be put into perspective because we consider that only 200 million websites are really active (NetCraft). Anyway, that's a lot of content to crawl for the search engines such as Google, Bing, and others. And what about the users? They won't even bother scrolling through the SERPs to find the site that will meet their needs. Writing quality SEO content that can be indexed is a competition, a very tough one!
To succeed on search engines - and with Internet users, it is no longer enough that your SEO content contains the right keyword(s), but it is necessary to develop a real SEO strategy in which you must analyze the needs of your targets, their desires, their expectations and provide answers and/or concrete solutions.
To shed some light on what is considered to be one of the three pillars of organic referencing and SEO writing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zohra Belmahdi, Head of the French SEO writing platform Text Broker.
1. Should a page be positioned on only one keyword?
2. The points of vigilance during an SEO writing
3.Should I opt for something new when writing SEO, or should I rely on what already exists?
4. How to identify the SEO queries on which I can get ranked?
5. How to ensure that SEO content meets the needs of users?
6. What are topic clusters and what are they used for?
7. What are the best practices in SEO writing to create "mobile-first" content?
One page = one keyword?
As we already know, experts always seem to have a different opinion on everything.
SEO copywriting is obviously no exception to this rule. More specifically, the idea that a page should only be raked on a keyword (with its possible variations), no longer seems to be unanimous.
According to Zohra Belmahdi, "it used to be easier to adapt a page to a keyword and focus on that to get it ranked, even if the content was of poor quality. Today, search engines have changed and algorithms have evolved. It is more interesting to make combinations and associations of keywords, which will strengthen the meaning of the text. A trend that is also followed by the clients of the SEO Text Broker copywriting platform, who "ask to use plurals, inflections, synonyms, medium and long-tail terms [...] on keywords. By treating all the variations of the keyword, Google will consider that the subject has been treated in-depth and that it gives quality information to Internet users".
How to write good SEO content?
SEO copywriting sounds easy when you put it that way! Without counting on the recurrent updates of search engines, especially those of Google, which is getting increasingly sophisticated in its understanding of the users' search intentions:
"With Rank Brain, Google is able to better understand the search intent of Internet users [...]. This is the main point of vigilance. When writing content, you have to keep your targets in mind, try to understand what they are looking for [...] and at what stage they are. We often talk about navigational requests, transactional requests, informational requests and, if we have taken the time to study our target, to know what their persona is, and to study the requests that are made, we will identify the stage of the request", describes Zohra.
Once this preparatory work has been properly done, the SEO copywriting should, logically, be able to respond to the users' search intentions. "Then, the fundamentals of SEO do not change [...], the same SEO criteria remain to be integrated on a page: the title tag, the meta description [...], the structuring of the text, heading tags where the information will be seen quickly and with which we will be able to find our way around [...]. The volume and size of the text, internal and external links, etc., everything that makes SEO".
Cocolyze Writing Assistant allows you to create optimized content and benefit from our technical and editorial recommendations:
- target a keyword
- create an SEO copy from a blank page or import your content
- follow our recommendations (content length, structuring, no overoptimization, etc)
- optimize the title and description
- check your score
Choosing the right SEO keywords
Get ranked on reasonable SEO queries.
As you can see, it is not enough to take your pen (for the old ones) or your keyboard (for the young ones) and write good SEO content.
But having followed the advice of our expert on SEO writing to the letter, can we be sure that content will be properly ranked?
As we said in the introduction, the web is full of millions of websites and at least ten times more content! It is therefore very difficult to rank high in search engines, especially when you are a beginner in SEO writing and/or when you are on an ultra-competitive market.
It is therefore essential to have real strategic thinking, before launching into SEO writing and producing content.
As Zohra Belmahdi says, by performing the SEO audit, "we have better chances of getting ranked. But it is not a guarantee. [...] If we have well identified the user's search intentions, we will have chances to better answer his request and to make him stay on the page. [...] But, if you have optimized your pages, correctly identified users' search intentions and it keeps not working, it is possible that you have also targeted too high. You have tackled a very competitive query and perhaps you should have focused on a query that was easier to reach.
That's the whole strategic dimension of SEO ranking: "The strategic choices that are made will be important for the ranking", adds our expert.
Give users the information as early as possible
Should we push the vice to the point of integrating a maximum of keywords at the beginning of its SEO writing?
"In SEO practices, it is recommended to place keywords at the top of the page," our guest replies. "Some people have done tests [...]. And some people say that the keywords that stand out the most are the ones at the top of the page, and the further down you go, the fewer you find. My answer would be to ask what's most beneficial to the user. I think it's more important for the user to have the information they are looking for. And if we want to give him this information quickly, it is likely that the important keywords will be located at the top of the page, or at the top of the paragraph [...]".
Should we update content or create new ones?
This is one of the little dilemmas that sometimes arise in SEO.
Should you opt for creating new content, or rather opt for updating existing content, to boost your SEO?
Both my captain! It all depends on the type of content, the industry, etc. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
To illustrate my point, I show our SEO copywriting expert the example of a website about finance. There are pages that mention certain laws. When these laws change and I want to update these pages, is it more relevant to create a new page or to update the existing text?
According to Zohra Belmahdi, it would be "more interesting to update this type of content. Because if you have an existing page, it already has a record, a positioning, backlinks, ... and it would be a shame to lose all of this [...] Moreover, we know that Google likes updates. When the bot is going to pass, it will be even more beneficial for the positioning of the page in question. Besides, we are talking about a finance site. And I think lawyers like to have the history, the old laws, etc [...]. So I think it's better to keep the chronology of updates."
How to identify the best keywords/queries to be ranked?
This is perhaps the most tedious part of creating SEO content: managing to identify the keywords, and/or queries, on which you want to position your page! With user queries getting longer and longer and more conversational, it is not easy to do this work, especially if you don't have a tool.
For Zohra, "everything starts with knowing your users well, knowing your target and even their browsing habits. We will then move on to the research and analysis of keywords. There are plenty of tools available, but you can already start working with your brain. You have to try to imagine and list as many ideas as possible about potential queries, and why not involve your team? There are many ideas that can come from other departments in the company to make the first list. Then, we can go into tools to analyze the competition, see what is happening on Google by typing in queries to see the results. You can look at the associated queries [...]. These are easy things [...]".
Cocolyze's keyword tool allows you to find and define the most interesting SEO keywords according to your business sector:
- Choose your seed keyword
- Check the statistics
- Search for high potential keywords
- Check the competing keywords
- Search for long-tail keywords
How to write optimized content?
Answer user needs.
But let's be more concrete. Let's take the example of a cooking blog in which I write many articles. I publish savory recipes, sweet recipes, articles on gastronomic customs in different countries, interviews with gastronomic experts who talk about the benefits of this or that food, etc.
What elements should I take into account to ensure that my content is relevant and meets the needs of users?
Here again, Zohra Belmahdi insists on the need to have carried out the preliminary research work, which we explained earlier, adding the need to "take care of the content aimed at these search intentions, trying to cover the subject as much as possible, answering the questions that people are asking. Usually, it's who, when, what, where, and how. By doing this, there is already a good chance that the user's needs will be met. After that, you have to analyze the content: is it well ranked? do people interact? do they share? If there's not much going on, you have to dig deeper. Maybe I haven't targeted the right queries, or I'm not on the right search intent...SEO is not an exact science, so you have to experiment and test on a few topics, see the impact and readjust. [...] For example, on a food site, I may have done a topic on "how to make a good custard?". But maybe I can see that this is not what people are looking for when they search for "What to serve custard with?". Which means I haven't answered their question."
Creating topic clusters can improve SEO
Only, the articles of my famous blog are not classified and appear in no specific order on my pages.
But since I know a little bit about it, I heard that organizing my site in topic clusters, i.e. organizing groups of contents dealing with the same subject, could help me to be better referenced, and even facilitate my SEO writing.
As our guest describes it, "a topic cluster allows me to organize my content in a logical way and to go deeper into each of the subjects I have identified as being important, around my main subject. The information is therefore hierarchical. [...] And this will facilitate navigation for the user, who will find his way more easily. [...] But you have to think twice about the strategy, the objectives, what you are looking for and identify the best topic to work on in the form of a topic cluster".
How to write content to create topics clusters?
Of course, organizing content to create topic clusters requires adapting web writing. The organization of a topic cluster can be explained as follows:
For Zohra, it requires "staying focused on the subject we are developing, and not spreading ourselves too thin, and always digging deep into the subject. [The pillar page is going to be a little more generic and will list all the points that can be addressed. There will then be links to these particular points that are addressed and developed in writing on other pages. We will dig into the subject in these points. The difficulty is to stay on topic in each of these points [...]".
Evergreen SEO content: a simple solution for creating topic clusters?
As you can see, creating topics clusters is a great solution to :
- treat a subject in depth
- easily structure your content
- promote organic referencing
- answer users' needs
But beware, this exercise can be tricky, especially if your content can quickly become obsolete. The easiest way to make your topic cluster sustainable over time is to create "evergreen" content, that is, content that is timeless and reusable over time.
"This is content that doesn't need to be updated," our expert continues. "It saves time, but it's not a requirement. [...] It's true that when there is a lot of content, it will be easier if you have timeless content."
Create a blog to give even more information
Let's continue with the example of my gastronomic blog. This time, it is a support for my e-commerce site dedicated to kitchen tools. I decide to continue creating content only for my blog and to focus less on the pages of my site.
Is it a mistake?
For Zohra Belmahdi, "it depends!". "You have to work on your site first. I worked all my product pages, my categories, I paid attention to SEO [...]. Why not have a blog, without abandoning the website, on which I would have more freedom. I will produce a lot of content that will support my site, that's the goal [...]".
How to create web content for mobile?
This is the future of SEO and content production: mobile. When it comes to SEO copywriting, you need to think mobile-first, whether it's for the technical or editorial aspect of a website. This means that SEO copywriting has to adapt to this trend.
What are the best practices for writing mobile-optimized content?
Zohra insists on this point, "you have to put yourself in the shoes of the users. [...] The way of writing will perhaps be more rigorous. We were saying earlier that it was good to give the main information as early as possible on a page, and this is even more important on a cell phone. No flourish, we'll get straight to the heart of the matter. The titles will have to be shorter and more punchy, like on desktop pages. The hierarchy and structure of the information will be even more important. You can't get lost on a cell phone. [...] Paragraphs will necessarily be shorter. A Format that is pleasant. We will also think about voice search in the queries we will work on. So we may have more interrogative queries and we put them in the titles to answer users' questions [...]".
In summary, if you want to start writing SEO, first of all, get to know your targets, their needs, their questions. Put yourself in their shoes to understand what they want from your site and provide them with quality answers to their questions and/or needs.