Table of contents
- Keyword density & word count are not ranking factors anymore
- SERP elements (title/meta-description) for highly competitive keywords feature must include primary keywords + relevant terms
- Answers to questions posed in titles or headings are optimized to maximize featured snippet placements
- “How to” answers in titles or headings are optimized for featured snippet placements
- “Compare,” “Types,” or “vs.” queries include tables and formatted comparisons
- When targeting high-value keyword sets, 10x content is worth the investment
- Content must be optimized to ensure scannability
- Retain your readers through rich contextual internal links
- Final Thoughts
In today’s search engine optimization (SEO) world, the top-performing content strategies and best practices are constantly shifting due to the latest Google algorithm updates. These algorithmic updates have a specific approach that rewards people-first content and penalizes any content written to trick the search engines.
On its official search rankings update page, Google suggested several ways to figure out if your content qualifies as “people-first.”
In this post, we will attempt to add some more context to Google’s advice to make it even more helpful, simplified, and actionable.
Here are seven things you must know to make sure you’re creating people-first content based on the latest guidance provided by Google.
Keyword density & word count are not ranking factors anymore
Per John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, according to the latest search algorithm, word count is not considered a ranking factor.
He explicitly stated that “just blindly adding text to a page won’t make it better.”
This is true because Google’s algorithms constantly look for relevant, genuine, and high-quality content today, not for the number of words you write in your content.
Also, he said that Keyword Density is still not a ranking factor.
However, the question is not whether keyword density is a ranking factor or not; it is more about whether keyword density is a penalty factor.
Though keywords are still essential in SEO content, SEO professionals and content writers must understand their purpose.
Therefore, the standard benchmark for keyword density in a content piece should be between 0.5-1%. This helps in discouraging unnatural keyword stuffing.
- Write content for people instead of search engines
- Focus more on the context of your content piece and not how long your content piece is
- Literal keywords and the number of times you use them in your content (keyword density) are insignificant in ranking. Therefore, it is essential to focus on the topical relevance of the query instead of literal keywords.
- Don’t overuse the keywords artificially, this may penalize your post
SERP elements (title/meta-description) for highly competitive keywords feature must include primary keywords + relevant terms
As a web content writer, you need to understand how users respond to metadata. Because, based on this user behavior, Google designs its SERPs elements.
Also, Google changes the appearance and design of the SERPs multiple times depending on the query searched to figure out the best possible way to best display information to its users.
Per best practices, the meta descriptions must be written including keyword-relevant terms to briefly explain what the reader will find on the page and entices searchers to click.
Also, it is recommended to include high search volume keywords in titles to ensure Google algorithms discover what the page is all about and rank your page higher organically.
- Use concise titles, including primary (high volume) keywords
- Meta-description in SERP is rich with not only primary keywords but keyword-relevant terms
Answers to questions posed in titles or headings are optimized to maximize featured snippet placements
Today, to maximize organic performance you need to organize your content so that you can get your position on the SERP feature snippets. Featured snippets are short content excerpts at the top of an organic Google SERP. It provides quick resources to the users and comes up before the first result for a user’s query. Also, it is good to know that featured snippets are incomplete without including question keywords in the heading and the answers in the body.
How to target the SERP snippets
Now let’s see how you can create your content to target featured snippets. You can find out relevant question keywords with high search volume, include them in your headings, and immediately answer the questions in your content.
- Phrase titles with questions like what/who/where, ensure to give immediate and concise answers to earn a position in the featured snippets
“How to” answers in titles or headings are optimized for featured snippet placements
As we already know featured snippets are content pieces that directly answer the user’s search query from the top-ranking web pages and it appears in the form of a paragraph, bulleted/numbered list, table, or video.
Once you have included the “How to” questions in your titles or headings (mentioned above), you must answer all these queries progressively in the form of sub-headings, numbered lists, or bullets to complete the answer.
- All answers to the “How to” queries must includeprogressive steps to complete the answer, either as sub-headings, numbered lists, or bullets.
“Compare,” “Types,” or “vs.” queries include tables and formatted comparisons
Humans love competition. Everyone wants to see a comparative view on comparable metrics. As people love to compare things, it can be a good opportunity for your website and play a role in the rest of your SEO strategy.
Why? Because “comparison,” “types,” or “vs.” phrases have low competition, and they allow your target audience to analyze products or services in an interesting format.
Due to this, Google ranks your content in the featured snippets so that your content can be found by the people looking for these comparison keywords and driving users down the marketing funnel.
- Responses to “compare,” “types of,” or “vs.” queries must include comparison tables or boldfaced comparison categories within the copy. This will allow readers to compare qualities, features, or benefits easily and will allow the readers to make equal comparisons across groups: driving users down the marketing funnel
When targeting high-value keyword sets, 10x content is worth the investment
The idea of 10x content is critical in today’s SEO world because it enables creators to concentrate more on quality and reader experience than just on search algorithms in SEO.
Google’s algorithms have grown over the years to concentrate more on the page’s value than keywords and backlinking strategies.
Therefore, investing on a great 10X content helps you improve user experience, earn backlinks, etc., which in turn helps you in boosting your rank and traffic for high-value keywords.
- Investing in 10X content(template/module/component updates, data viz, video, etc.) helps gain better ROI opportunities for highly competitive keywords
- Make sure to update page modules/templates to drive better scannability, reduce bounce rates/increase retention rates, connect content to conversions
- Use proprietary data to provide personalized insights for readers.
- Ensure to include explainer videos (for your “How to” queries) and stories that promote shares
Content must be optimized to ensure scannability
Optimizing your content is crucial because it makes sure both search engines and users understand your content easily.
Optimizing your content ensures high-quality content output, reader and search engine-friendly content creation that is easy to use and find.
But if you don’t optimize your content, irrespective of how good it is, there will always be a conflict between what you actually intended and what search engines deliver to the user.
- Use H2s/H3s/H4s and bullets to improve the scannability of a page
- Any structured content must include bullets, and sub-headings (H2s, H3s, H4s), with emphasis on key terms to promote scannability for readers
- Heading 2s (H2s) outline the page’s topical sections, which helps in easy navigation and prevents bounce
- H2s enables readers to scan to find the section most relevant to their search intent. This is where sticky navigation or in-page TOCs become more prevalent
- High-ranking pages often include H3s/H4s to break down topics into manageable bits
Retain your readers through rich contextual internal links
To crawl a website, search engine bots follow internal and external links. By following internal links, the crawl bots can understand the relationships between various web pages within a website.
Additionally, to understand the relationship between various web pages, search engines divide the link value between all the links on a web page.
As Google considers web pages with more links as more significant than others, you’ll also improve the number of pages ranked with a sound internal linking strategy.
- Sticky navigation improves engagement and conversion opportunities
- Internal links are embedded in contextual hypertext to support domain authority
These actionable SEO insights that any professional SEO content writer should follow to write optimized content for SERPs. Implement these SEO content strategies on your content and stay ahead of your competitors. However, as SEO evolves, you will need to keep adding new practices in your repertoire. While it may look like these changes are out of your control, you’re in control for most of it — mostly based on how you react to them. You can start by looking at the key trends and following the best practices in this post to help you navigate the changing landscape and drive significant improvements to your website this year and years beyond.