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When it comes to getting eyes on your content, your place in a search engine’s results can make all the difference in the world. Studies suggest that 95 percent of web traffic goes to sites that show up on the first page of Google’s results. Moreover, sites at the top of the page get more traffic than those at the bottom. The moral of the story is that ranking highly is incredibly important. Today, we’re going to look at some ways to make sure your content rises to the top.

What factors into rankings?

Samira Holma offers some tips for making your content as relevant as possible. She says you should be mindful of three types of SEO:

  • On-page SEO. This refers to the actual content on your site. You should ensure people can easily find the information they need, and break up walls of text into smaller sections. Also, be sure to include high-quality images to add visual interest. 
  • Off-page SEO. Ideally, you’ll want to have as many backlinks as possible. Not only will this drive more content to your site, but it will also help show search engines that your content is trustworthy. Of course, not all backlinks are created equal. Links from quality sites count for more than links from spam sites.
  • Technical SEO. You should make sure your content is easily readable by search engines, and it’s optimized for a variety of platforms (remember, people consume content across many different platforms, including phones, desktops, or tablets). 

How can you find your competitors? 

Conducting competitor analysis should be your first step. This allows you to see the kind of topics they cover and how they cover them. Ideally, you can then create content that improves upon your competitors’ work in some way. If you’re stumped as to who your competitors are, SimilarWeb can come in handy. You can also plug some of your top keywords into Google and see which sites come up. Once you’ve identified some sites, a tool like SEMRush can identify the keywords that bring traffic to those sites.

How can you find your competitors’ top content?

Once you’ve identified your competitors, you need to find their best-performing content. Moz has some tips for this. For example, you can use LinkExplorer to find out which pages have the most links. Simply enter a domain and then click on the ‘Top Pages’ tab. Change the status code to ‘200 OK’ from the dropdown menu, and you’ll see the most-linked pages. This in turn can help you find ways to improve upon your competitors’ content.

How can producing authoritative content help you rank higher?

Now that you’ve identified some suitable topics to write about, it’s important to think about the importance of authoritative content. This will help improve your search engine rankings, as authoritativeness is one of the prongs that Google wants their search raters to use when evaluating content.

According to Chris Giarratana of SEMRush’s blog, every piece of content you create should be created with a specific purpose in mind and should be tailored to your audience. This in turn can decrease your bounce rate. It can also boost social shares and increase the amount of time people spend on your site. 

Giarratana also stresses the importance of user intent. According to Yoast, there are four types:

  • Informational intent is when a person is searching for, well, information.
  • Navigational intent is when someone is looking for a specific site.
  • Transactional intent is when an individual seeks a specific item with a view to buying it.
  • Commercial investigation is when someone is seeking information on products or services to inform a purchase. 

User intent is important because Google and other search engines want to make sure they’re giving people results that align most closely with their needs. In other words, they want to provide their users with content that's relevant.

Before you sit down at the keyboard, ask yourself:

  • Why am I creating this?
  • Who am I writing for?

When you’ve answered these questions, make sure you choose topics that align with your answers. Don’t forget to use the keywords you’ve identified through your analysis of your competitors. It’s also a good idea to take time to craft unique headlines (for more information on headlines, check out this post).  

Why is relevant content important for better rankings?

While authoritativeness can be thought of as the trustworthiness of your site, relevance has a bigger influence on how highly you rank in the results. According to SEMRush’s Chris Giarratana, you can improve your relevance by including specific questions in your content. So, for example, if you’re writing a piece about the duties of the Lord Privy Seal, you might include a question such as “What does the Lord Privy Seal do?” in your post since there’s a good chance that your potential readers will be plugging that very question into their search bars. Like chocolate and peanut butter, relevance and authority combined can come together to improve your rankings.

For more information on the importance of relevant content, check out Edge’s article “Why relevant content matters.” 

Putting it all together

If you want to grow your audience, you need to be mindful of where your content appears in search engine rankings. Do your homework. Identify your competitors and analyze their strengths, then figure out how you can improve upon them. Producing content that’s both authoritative and relevant will help, as it will ensure you’re giving your audience trustworthy content that meets their needs. 

As mentioned above, context is key. Here’s a post about the art of contextualizing complex topics