The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!
There are many different elements that make up a successful authority site, but the content you create is perhaps most pivotal.
The words you publish play a huge part in defining the success of your site (tweet this) in many different areas such as search engine rankings, social media exposure and user engagement. As search algorithms become more advanced and social media becomes even more relevant to everyday Internet users, content will only become more important.
With that in mind, the content strategy for my authority site is something I have spent a great deal of time on. It has evolved drastically over the first 41 posts I have written for the blog, and will no doubt continue to evolve in the future. In this post, I am going to show you my exact step by step process for creating SEO optimized content for the One Hour Authority Site Project.
There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!
Authority Site Update
But before that, as always, let’s see how my site is getting on.
My last update was only a couple of weeks ago, but there has been some curious movement in the rankings since then:
Notice that I said “curious”, rather than “exciting”. Still no first page results, but all of the rankings you see above are for taxonomy pages (i.e. tags and categories). According to Market Samurai, none of my actual posts are currently ranking anywhere in Google. Also, some of the ranking pages are not directly relevant to the keyword ranked for. I have no idea what to make of this and would welcome your theories in the comments section.
Beyond that, traffic is still all but non-existent:
That’s right folks — a grand total of four visitors since my last update. I’ll look back at these figures and chuckle
As I said in my last post (before I went on vacation), my focus for the next few weeks will be getting to the 60 post mark before I move onto stage 2 of my plans. I hope to progress things quickly so I can get started with conservative link building/procurement as soon as possible. Although I am in no rush, I think it’s about time that my rankings and analytics figures looked a little more respectable.
Writing SEO Optimized Content
If you have been following the series so far you will know that I have already covered how I set up my SEO optimized site and how I research and analyze keywords. It’s now a case of picking a keyword to write about and running through my system for writing new posts.
The overriding principle that guides my content creation strategy is quality. Once I have hit Publish on a blog post, it will remain on the web for the months and years to come, and has the potential to attract thousands of visitors in its lifetime. As such, I treat each post with the respect that such potential deserves.
So, keep that in mind as we run through each step of producing an SEO optimized blog post below.
I cannot understate the importance of a post’s headline in defining its success in terms of attracting views. The vast majority of potential visitors will only see a post’s headline, and as such, they only have that to persuade them whether or not they should click.
Therefore, a headline should be clear, direct, informative and intriguing. For the One Hour Authority Site Project my headlines are largely guided by the long tail search keywords that I am targeting, but I often tweak them based upon the above key principles. Ideally, the most relevant keywords should be placed at the beginning of the post.
My headlines are typically no more than 65 characters (I use this plugin to easily keep track) to ensure that they are displayed in full on search engines results pages. When it comes to capitalization, I use title case (as most professional bloggers do).
Above all else, I make sure that my headlines are natural to read. I would never sacrifice readability in the hope of boosting my search engine rankings. As always when it comes to optimizing my content, humans comes first (not search engines).
In case you don’t know, the “slug” is the unique URL for your blog post:
It should be packed with relevant keywords. This helps search engines to better ascertain the relevancy of your post to your targeted keywords. Unlike a headline, a slug does not need to read naturally, although it is useful if it serves as an indication of what the post covers.
Something I like to do is vary keywords between the post title and the slug. Say I was writing a post on throwing a curve ball. My title might be, “How to Throw a Curve Ball”, and my slug might be “how-to-pitch-a-curve-ball”.
Optimizing My Posts for the Search Engine Result Pages
I have SEO by Yoast installed on my site and consider it absolutely indispensable. It adds a meta box to each post page that allows you to specifically optimize each post for the search engine results pages (SERPs):
I define a focus keyword for each post and ensure that it is included in all of the important parts of my post:
- Article heading
- Page title
- Page URL
- Meta description
I may add an SEO title if I want to display a headline that is different to what is displayed on the actual post. Finally, I add a meta description. Although Google says that it has no bearing on a page’s ranking, creating a manual meta description is a great way of boosting the organic click through rate to your posts.
I’m going to preface everything I say in this section with one simple recommendation — purchase a copy of the Yahoo! Style Guide. If you publish content online in any form, I consider it required reading. It is by far the most comprehensive resource I have ever come across on writing for the web.
Taken straight from the guide are the following key pointers I bear in mind when writing content for my authority site:
- Write in an easy-to-read, conversational style
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs
- Use bold to emphasize key statements and italics to emphasize particular words (as you would when speaking them)
- Use plenty of graphical elements: media, lists, blockquotes, tables, graphs, etc.
- Break content up with keyword rich and relevant sub-headers
- Focus on quality above everything else
Most importantly, each post you write should set out to resolve a very specific question posed by the headline (note — the headline does not necessarily need to be phrased a question, but the question should be implicit). I don’t just write the posts for the sake of having content on my site — I want to provide a genuine service for people in search of answers. If I follow that mindset, I should eventually have a valuable asset (rather than a bunch of posts that no one actually wants to read).
When it comes to sourcing free images for my writing, I use these resources only. I include at least one image per article (more is preferable), and always endeavor to make them relevant to the subject matter.
My posts’ featured images are always slightly less than half width and floated to the top right of the content (as recommended by Derek Halpern). Each image has alt and title that seeks to strike a balance between accurately describing the image and including relevant keywords.
Video is not something I have included on the site, but it is something that I may well concentrate on in the future. Including relevant videos within your content is rarely (if ever) a bad thing to do.
As you may already know, there are two “types” of linking: internal and external. I include internal and external links on every post I publish. You should not be fearful of linking to external sites — search engines like to see you do it, and if you link to relevant sites, it provides more context with which they can rank your site appropriately.
I take every opportunity to link to relevant blog posts on my own site, with at least two internal links per page. I also have a rule of linking out to one external site per post.
Categories and Tags
First of all, I only ever link a post to one category. It’s just a little rule of mine — it seems sensible that a post would only be associated with one broad category. When it comes to tagging, I draw selectively from a list of existing tags, and only create new tags if I feel that it will be used relatively regularly.
Never Forget the Importance of Quality
That’s it — my complete strategy for creating SEO optimized content for my One Hour Authority Site Project!
If I could leave you with just one thing, it would be a reminder that once an article is finished, it sits on the web in perpetuity. As such, you should not rush to publish content — make sure that each post is properly optimized and has the best possible chance of success.
I’d love to know what you think about my strategy, so please open fire with questions and comments!
Creative Commons image courtesy of Bright Meadow