Content is simply information, and no matter what you want to write about, chances are you won’t be the first. The demand for content is overgrowing. And with information literally at your fingertips, there’s an oversupply, making it harder to get noticed and produce profitable results.
So, to achieve that, you need a system that leads to predictable results so your content can stand out from the rest.
So if you’re a blogger, a freelance writer, or do any kind of Content Writing, keep watching as I’ll walk you step-by-step through a framework that will appeal to your audience, satisfy the search engines, and also a result, drive consistent traffic and hopefully sales.
So let’s get things straight first. Whether you are composing for your own website or for a client, you should have two goals for your content.
1. the content should bring traffic to the site.
2. the content should engage those people.
So that they become customers or are pushed further down the sales funnel. With these goals in mind, let’s go through a simple 4-step process to achieve these two goals.
Step 1: To write about topics people are actually searching for
Many people like to write about topics that excite them. And while that’s all well and also good, these posts often have a brief shelf life. A couple of months back, we published a blog about how to promote your blog on social media.
After publication, we forwarded the post to our social media followers and email list and spent a few hundred dollars on advertisements to amplify the content.
As a result, we had a massive increase in traffic with thousands of visits in the first few days. But soon after that, the traffic quickly dropped off. And today, it gets virtually no traffic compared to our other posts.
And even though this post wasn’t created with search traffic in mind, we knew it would generate a textbook “glimmer of hope” and a “zero line.” And that’s what happens when you create content that no one is searching for.
But when you create content on topics people are searching for, you get the opposite effect: free, passive, and consistent traffic that usually grows over time.
To find topics worth creating content for, you need a keyword research tool to
a) identify the search demand, and
b) understand the traffic potential of the topic,
i.e., the total amount of monthly search traffic you could get if you ranked highly for that search query.
So let’s say we have a website about home improvement tutorials. To find keywords to target, I go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and search for some keywords that are broadly related to the topic, like “home improvement,” “kitchen,” and “living room.” Next, I go to the “Questions” report. And also, as you can see, there is quite a search demand for these topics, as you can see from the search volume.
And this topic, “How to paint kitchen cabinets,” seems to be a promising one for our DIY website. As you can see, the page with the highest-ranking receives over 37,000 visits from Google every month. So this theme meets both criteria.
It’s essential to keep in mind that I’ve skipped a few steps here in the topic selection process, the most important being the ranking difficulty assessment.
But this blog is about Content Writing, so it doesn’t expand on that topic. Alright, so at this point, we have a topic to deal with, but just because you have a topic doesn’t mean you should write whatever you want.
Remember, our objective is to rank at the top of Google so you get consistent traffic.
Step 2: To assess the “type” of content Google wants you to create.
Google’s job is to offer the most relevant results for any given search query. And they do that pretty well.
So, if you want to rank for your target topic, you obviously need to know what kind of content Google will rank for that search query. This is called search intent, which tells us what searchers are looking for when they type in a search query.
The most accessible means to do this is to simply search for the query you intend to rank for and look at the top-ranking outcomes.
And the three things you’re looking for are:
1. Сontent type
The content type can be blog posts, product pages, category pages, or landing pages.
2. Content format
The content format can be how-to guides, step-by-step tutorials, list posts, opinion editorials, reviews, or comparisons.
3. Content angle
The content angle is basically the unique selling point of the top-ranking pages.
So, if you look at the top 10 results for our query “paint kitchen cabinets,” you’ll see that all the pages are blog posts, so that would also be the content type you should use. As for the format, the first two pages are “how-tos,” which are step-by-step instructions. And as for the content, there’s not really a clear point of view.
In our experience, the type and format of matching content are critical to ranking at the top of Google. Still, the angle is usually not as necessary unless there is a clear theme among the pages that rank at the top.
Step 3: To create a data-driven outline
Content is like a puzzle. There are many different pieces, and it is difficult to put them together without a framework.
Outlines are like the edge pieces of the puzzle.
They help form the base, and all you have to do is fill in the missing pieces. They also help ensure that you include all the critical points that are worth communicating. And from an SEO perspective, it can help you keep the algorithm and audience happy.
The way Google determines a page’s placement in search results is algorithmic. That means you can’t pay to be at the top of Google, and your friend who works there can’t get your page to the top.
Their technology is capable of understanding words and the context in which they are placed. And the more context you provide to the search engines, the better your chances of ranking well. The easiest way to find critical topics of conversation is to look at some of the top-ranked pages and see if there are similar subtopics.
In the case of our “Painting Kitchen Cabinets” topic, the first two pages talk about choosing the right paint, preparation, priming the cabinets, painting the cabinets, and so on. So add these commonalities as subheadings in your outline.
You can also use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool to find standard keyword rankings between top-ranking pages. This can help you find additional subtopics and jargon that may be relevant to the context of your post.
Just type in the top 2 or 3 relevant ranking results at the top and run the search. As you can see, people are looking for the best color for cabinets. They want to know how to refinish them; some are specifically looking for white cabinets, and so on.
Don’t worry about stuffing these keywords into your post, but if you see something that could serve as a subheading, it might be worth adding it to your outline.
Just focus on writing something concise and actionable. This will humanize the post and allow you to focus on what matters most: helping readers.
Step 4: To create a click-worthy headline
A headline is crucial because it is what stands between you and a visitor.
Its primary task is to encourage people to really click on your outcome. Then, it’s your content’s task to keep them reading.
Take a screenshot before I start filling out the spaces for our home decor site. If you struggle with writing good headlines, here are a couple of simple formulas you can use. “How to Professionally Paint Kitchen Cabinets in Under an Hour,” “7 Proven Ways to Decorate Your Home on a Tiny Budget” “10 Easy Ways to Renovate Your Home on a Small Budget” “10 Reasons You’re Unhappy with Your Home Decor”.
It’s important to note that clickbait headlines may generate more clicks, but if your content can’t deliver on the headline’s promise, it will do more harm than good.
Step 5: To write a killer intro using the AIDA formula
The introduction is probably the most essential part of your content. Your job is to hook the reader, tell them they’re in the right place, and convince them to keep reading.
Fortunately, there’s a tried-and-true formula you can use: AIDA, which stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. Let’s write a sample intro for our article on painting kitchen cabinets.
1. Grab your audience’s attention.
So something like, “You don’t have to be a professional to paint beautiful kitchen cabinets.” This breaks with a common opinion the reader might have and so grabs their attention.
2. Pique their interest
You can do this with stories, interesting facts, or anything else that might help make a personal connection with your audience.
So let’s add to our intro.
“But the surprising thing is that 99% of homeowners still choose contractors, which can be up to 20 times more expensive than a DIY solution.” This line adds an interesting fact that also communicates that a) they will be unique if they do it themselves, and b) they will save a lot of money.
This is to show the reader how your content can solve their problem. And one of the best ways to do that is to show them proof. So we add.
“In fact, we only spent $100 on materials, and now we have our dream kitchen.”
This can be in the form of a “Here we go” line, or you can enhance the user’s experience with something like a table of contents.
So if I were to add to our intro, I could say, “Let’s walk through the simple 5-step process to make your kitchen look like a million bucks.
Step 6: To make your content actionable and easy to digest.
Your outline should serve as an excellent skeleton for your post. And to add meat to that bone, you need to do two things.
1. you want to make it as helpful as possible. That is, if someone searches for “how to paint kitchen cabinets,” they should be able to do so successfully with the help of your content. It all depends on your knowledge and expertise on the subject.
2.You want to make it easy to digest and read. And that comes down to your communication and writing skills.
The best tip for making your content digestible is to keep your thoughts as short as possible. For example, if you’re writing a step on choosing the right color for your cabinets, you might say something like… “The color you choose is up to you. However, there are 5 things you need to consider depending on the type of cabinets you have.” Then add a list of 5 bullet points.
Compare that to something like. “Color is a powerful thing.
It can influence your emotions, so choosing the right color is a crucial step. According to a 2018 study, red is a very vibrant color. Think fire and blood. Intense…” This doesn’t really help the user solve their problem.
It just sounds like you’re trying to convince him to paint his cabinets red.
As for readability, you can do things like… Use headings and subheadings, avoid walls of text by writing in short sentences and short paragraphs, add images when it helps clarify or visualize a point, and use transitional phrases like “as you know,” “however,” and “also” that can improve flow.
After you’ve written your content, I recommend asking someone to give you unfiltered feedback. This is something we do at Ahrefs for every single piece of content we publish, whether it’s a blog post, landing page, or video.
It helps us always do our best to deliver content that we hope will help our readers and viewers. Now, the content aspect is a very important part when it comes to SEO.
Meaning, if you can’t get your content right, then you probably aren’t going to rank high for any meaningful keywords. Also, there are times when you’ll nail your content, but you still can’t rank. This often comes down to the level of competition, which usually boils down to quality backlinks.