Organic web traffic is the best means to maximize your blog’s online reach. But, only high-quality content can generate substantial organic traffic. Unfortunately, a small handful of bloggers cannot efficiently create content that can organically rank on Google.
After a lot of effort, we were finally able to get ourselves into the league of those extraordinary bloggers. That’s right! A blog post for one of our clients was able to attract 10K organic hits in just three months with an average session time of more than six minutes. But most importantly, we did this without any promotion at all!
We think it’s time to share our million-dollar secret with you. But, before we do that, let’s learn more about what organic search ranking is and the exclusive benefits it brings.
What Is Organic Search Ranking?
Organic search engine ranking solely relies on your ability to attract free traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In other words, you can’t pay Google to improve your website’s organic ranking. The only way to make this happen is to create high-quality, SEO-friendly content for your website and social media. The web content needs to be optimized for organic keywords without compromising its quality. As a result, getting a higher organic search ranking can be quite difficult.
Benefits of Organic Search Ranking
Trust and Credibility
Credibility and trust are the two most critical components in organic search engine ranking. People often perceive higher organic search rankings as a sign of trust and credibility because Google ranks only relevant and updated sites in the top ten.
Higher Click-Through Rate
The perceived credibility and trust usually translate to higher click-through rates. If you have a longer buying cycle, organic search is the right place to start as it allows you to tap into top funnel search terms that may not show immediate search intent.
Paid search can get you instant publicity. However, the cost of running paid campaigns can add up over the years. Plus, the publicity generated by paid-search is often short-lived compared to organic search. In the long run, organic search remains more effective.
When executed well, organic search can provide you with an unprecedented advantage over your competitors, especially the ones using paid search. The higher your site appears on the search engine results pages (and the longer it stays there), the further it pushes your competitors down the list.
Unlike a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, organic search is evergreen. It takes time to get in the top ten search rankings, but the results are usually long-lasting. Of course, you will need regular maintenance to uphold your search rank.
Challenges in Creating Organically Ranking Content
Content is at the heart of organic search marketing. However, actually creating the content that can rank organically is the toughest part. Digital marketers face several challenges when meeting the demand for original and relevant content. According to a recent survey by ClearVoice, time, content quality, content creation, content scaling, and idea generation were the top five challenges for content marketers.
Lack of time is one of the most common content creation challenges faced by marketers, especially in smaller teams. Creating high-quality content on a regular basis needs efficient time management and adequate resources.
- Content Quality
Creating high-quality content once or twice is easy, but upholding that quality standard forever is tough. You need to create content filled with relevant references, stats, and credible resources. It’s a daunting task, to say the least.
- Content Creation
Consistently creating content that attracts web traffic, engages readers, and represents a unique perspective is extremely difficult. It involves knowing what your target audience cares about and creating content accordingly, which can be very labor intensive.
- Scaling Content
Whether it’s content creation or distribution, scaling up is never easy. Most marketers lack the necessary in-house resources, manpower, and the planning skills to scale up their content.
- Generating Ideas
It is hard to come up with new content ideas every day. Of course, you can repurpose your existing content with a fresh spin. But, there are only so many ways to do it.
Despite facing the same challenges, however, we managed to create a blog post titled “Leather Insights: A Comprehensive Guide for Buying the Best Leather” that earned 10K organic hits in 3 months without any promotion.
Let’s see how we did it.
Choose a Focus Keyword and Narrow in on a Topic Accordingly
You’ve probably heard the term ‘Focus Keyword’ a thousand times. But, how exactly do you narrow in on a topic? It all begins with the right keyword. As your aim is to improve organic search ranking, you will need to find the most suitable organic keyword or focus keyword with high search volume and come up with a topic accordingly.
When it comes to keywords, you don’t always want to reach for the most popular. Avoid picking up a keyword just because it has a high search volume. Instead, use a more specific keyword that is likely to improve your organic ranking.
Check How Many Blog Posts and Web Pages Are Ranking for the Keyword
The first thing you need to do is see how many blog posts or web pages are ranking for your desired keyword. Usually, the number of blog posts shows us the user intent for a particular keyword. A higher number of blog posts means people are more interested in searching for in-depth information based on the keyword – instead of just looking for products or services.
In the screenshot below, we searched for information for the keyword “Types of Leather” using Ahrefs Link Explorer. As you can see, the top ranking content mostly consists of blog posts. That means people like to read about different types of leather. In other words, there is a realistic chance of ranking content organically for this keyword, provided you come up with better blog posts than there already are.
Now, let’s see another example where we have searched the keyword, “Web Design”. In this case, the number of blog posts or online guides is low. But, you can see plenty of course and tutorial pages. Naturally, people using this search term are more interested in enrolling in a web designing course rather than finding information about it online.
Alternatively, you can look at SERP Position History in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to check whether or not the existing content for a keyword is ranking steadily. A steady line indicates that people find the SERP content relevant and informative. An unstable line, however, means the SERP content is poor and irrelevant. If your keyword shows a steady SERP line, you can create high-quality content based on that keyword.
Check the Traffic Decline for the Keyword
As the traffic for the keyword “Types of Leather” decreases steadily, it is worth considering because users are reading the low ranking posts as well. So, although your content fails to rank in the top ten, it can still attract considerable traffic over time.
A steep decline in traffic usually means only the top search pages attract web traffic for your focus keyword. That’s a rather tall order, especially for a small marketing team with limited resources and time. As it is almost impossible to break through such intense competition, it is better to a look for an alternate keyword.
Find out How Many High-Authority Websites Rank for the Keyword
Pushing down a high-authority website from the top ten search results is next to impossible, especially if you are trying to promote a relatively low-authority site. If you see a high number of authoritative sites, it is better to change your focus keyword. As there were almost no authoritative sites for our focus keyword, we decided to go ahead with it.
Once you find a suitable focus keyword, the next step is to research the existing content.
Research the Existing Content
A careful analysis of the existing content will lay the foundation of your content creation process. It will provide you with the information about who your target consumers are and what their exact needs are. You will also learn about what your competitors are offering. Thus, research makes it easier to find a user-centered perception that isn’t shared by your competition.
Make sure to research the following –
The title is probably the first thing you need to analyze. Find out the types of titles being used and which ones have attracted more traffic. Usually, list-based posts, “How-to” guides, and titles starting with numbers such as “X ways to” seem to grab reader’s attention instantly. List-based posts are most likely to be shared more than 100 or even 1000 times. Posts with headlines consisting of words such as “You” or “Your” also perform well.
Take a look at the URLs, as the URL structure will also contribute to SEO. Find out how they have placed the focus keyword in the URL and the length of each URL. URLs with the right keywords have a better chance of ranking in top ten search results.
Read each blog post carefully and make a list of the topics covered in them. Find out if they have missed something or lack the trending information or stats. This information will be the basis for your blog post.
Apart from the main focus keyword, the blog posts will also include several other keywords. Find as many ancillary keywords as you can. Make sure to check their frequency and position in the content.
Lastly, you need to find out how many backlinks the top ten blog posts have created. Remember, you are looking for only high-quality backlinks.
Create the Title
After the research was complete, we decided to start creating the content. First, we wanted to create a meaningful, relevant, and attractive title for the blog post that also included our focus keywords. So, we decided to go ahead with the following title.
“Leather Insights: A Comprehensive Guide for Buying the Best Leather”
However, we wanted to include more focus keywords in the Meta title – which shows up in Google search results. Our focus keywords were “Buy Leather” and “Types of Leather”. So, keeping the SEO point of view in mind, we decided to use a slightly different Meta title as below.
“Leather Buying Guide: How to Identify Different Types of Leather & Leather Quality”
The meta description is a brief preview of the post shown on the SERPs. A keyword-optimized and compelling meta description can improve your Click-Through Rate. Although Google has said that there’s no official prescribed length for the meta description, the recommended character limit is between 50 and 300. Anything beyond 300 is less likely to show in a snippet. We decided to go ahead with the following meta description.
“Keen on buying the best leather? Go beyond time-worn discussion on Full Grain, Top Grain, and Bonded Leather with this leather guide.”
As you can see, we tried to include as many ancillary keywords as possible without compromising the quality of the description.
Image Alt Tags
We avoided stuffing Image Alt Tags with keywords. Instead, we used more descriptive language so Google can understand what the images are.
Create the Content
After going through the existing content, we noticed that all of them lacked something. For example, some of the blog posts had lots of visuals but didn’t provide an in-depth view of specific topics. In other cases, the stats and supporting research were outdated. So, we decided to create a post that would provide all the relevant and latest information while including visuals. After all, that is the best way to attract more organic traffic.
Using the Latest Stats and Research Data
Using relevant stats and data is a great way to boost the credibility of your content. Figures and numbers help readers understand the scope and scale of a topic. They can also have a dramatic impact on the target audience.
But most importantly, adding the links to relevant stats and data is a way to let search engines know that your content comprises the latest information and is, therefore, fresh. In the end, all these factors helped improve our search ranking.
As the post was published in December 2017, we used the data from early 2017 and 2016. Usually, it is better to avoid citing anything older than two years from the date of publishing.
Keep It Unique and Informative
Without unique and informative content, Google will not consider your blog post for its top results pages, especially if there is already plenty of high-quality content. Irrespective of how well-documented the topic is, you can always find new information. Usually, there are two ways to create unique and informative content.
Share Information Used in Lower-Ranking Content but Not Covered in Top-Ranking Posts
When examining the existing content, comb through each post to notice all the covered information. If you see any relevant points or topics that weren’t included in the top ranking content, list them down in a Word file or an Excel sheet. You can add these points in your content along with the ones already mentioned in the top ranking content.
Provide a More Detailed View of an Already Covered Topic
Alternatively, you can provide more details of the same points that your competitors have included in the existing content. You may have to dig a little deeper and use different keywords to search the topic. But, you will eventually come across new information.
In this case, we saw that two topics including “Polyurethane Leather” and “Polyvinylchloride Leather” didn’t get enough coverage in some of the contents that were ranking currently. Most of them just skimmed through these two topics. So, we went ahead and dug a little deeper to provide a more detailed view of these two.
However, we didn’t go into too much detail. Most readers like to scan or glance at a blog post first. Too much detail is more likely to put them off.
Use Informative Visuals
Using images and other visual elements relevant to the context of your blog post not only makes it look visually appealing, but also increases the chances of higher organic ranking. Besides, it is easier to remember visual information. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember just 10% of it three days later.
However, add a relevant image to the same information, and people can retain nearly 65% of it three days later.
You can use visuals in two different ways: (a). for explaining a topic or process and (b). for presenting data or figures. We used a pyramid graph to illustrate the worldwide hide supply while using a short infographic to display the scope of global leather market.
Using visuals also helped to explain some of the complicated steps involved in leather processing, such as grain splitting.
Thorough Keyword Research
You can use the focus keywords in your content naturally as many times as you can. However, plenty of relevant keywords, other than the focus keywords, can be used to improve your search page ranking. All you need to do is find these ancillary keywords and use them naturally throughout your content.
This is why you can’t rely on Google Keyword Research Planner alone. Although it’s a great keyword research tool, it has several limitations. This is why we also used Ahrefs and SEMRush to find the most relevant and fertile ancillary keywords for this topic.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
We used the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find more suggestions for related keywords. The “Keyword Difficulty” section proved to be the most useful feature as it can provide an estimate of how many backlinks you need to build for a given keyword to rank your content in the top ten.
While this may not be the exact count, it does provide a general idea of the quality of content you might need for that keyword to rank higher. You will also see relevant keywords in the “Keywords Ideas” section. You can pick up the ones that you think are highly relevant to the topic and use them in your blog post judiciously.
SEMRush Keyword Explorer
Similarly, the “Phrase Match” and “Related Keywords” options in SEMRush can help you find the most relevant and long-tail keywords. You can use a combination of keywords found in both these tools to improve your chances of securing a spot in the top ten.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are the ones that are usually found together in a single topic and are semantically related to the focus keyword and to each other. You can use LSI keywords to boost your content further.
Google uses latent semantic indexing to sort the sheep from the goats. It allows Google to understand a search query and the relevant web pages thoroughly. Thus, it can connect users with the most suitable and informative links.
LSI is the exact opposite of keyword stuffing. If you use a single focus keyword too many times in your content, Google will most likely consider it keyword stuffing, resulting in a lower ranking. On the other hand, using different LSI keywords will only increase content relevancy and credibility.
You can use Google Suggestions to find the right set of LSI keywords.
Though not always 100% accurate, this strategy can help to a great extent in finding the best LSI keywords for a specific topic.
However, we also use Keywords Everywhere, a free keyword tool that provides the search volume and keyword value for all Google Suggestions.
Most search queries begin with questions like “What is” or “How to”. To put it into perspective, using these questions in your content can improve your chances of ranking in the top ten, especially for question-based search queries. However, these questions must appear naturally in the post.
One of the easiest ways to find the most relevant questions is to look in the “People also ask” section on SERPs. For example, searching for “Types of Leather” reveals the following common questions:
A general perception on these questions was that people were keen on knowing whether a type of leather is genuine or not, and how to identify a genuine leather.
Based on this and some other research, we decided to add some questions in our own content.
Make It More Actionable
As a marketer, you are probably aware that actionability is the most crucial aspect of content. Creating content that resonates with a target audience is difficult, but unfortunately, creating actionable content is more so.
You need to keep in mind that actionable content not only answers the “What is [something]?” part of the content but also the “How to do [something]?” aspect.
So, when it came to this blog post, we decided to add a small section at the end which provided actionable tips on how to identify genuine leather. As the other blog posts in the top ten didn’t have this section, it provided ours with more leverage. That’s one of the reasons why our content enjoyed so much traffic in a relatively less time.
Maintain the Content Flow
After putting in immense hard work, you need to make sure your blog post maintains the content flow. You should not only weave together the most relevant topics, but also position them so that readers can effortlessly glide through the text.
The entire process of writing a blog post requires planning. So, long before we sat down to write this post, we had to make sure that there was a clear-cut outline or mind map. As this post was going to be a comprehensive guide for buying leather, we decided to cover everything from the global leather industry to quick leather buying tips.
We wanted to open with the latest data related to the global and the U.S. leather industry. It’s the best possible way to familiarize readers with the topic.
Next, we covered the topic “Types of Leather” to provide in-depth information on the said topic. The topic covers different types of leather based on both the quality of animal hide and the end use.
The next chapter is “Leather Processing”, which covers the complete process of making leather from raw animal hide to adding finishing touches. However, we avoided going into too much detail as we didn’t want readers to get bored with an overload of technical jargon.
Our client, Octane Seating, is a furniture maker. So, we also wanted to cover information related to leather furniture. Again, we wanted to provide readers with just the right amount of details to keep them engaged, not overwhelmed.
Concluding your blog post with actionable tips is, perhaps, the best way to keep your readers happy. It leaves them with the feeling that they have learned something useful. So, our post ends with actionable tips on how to identify genuine leather.
A well-crafted URL makes it easier for both humans and search engines to understand what the page is about. So, we had to keep in mind the best URL practices, which include:
- Keep it short, preferably 3-5 words.
- Include the focus keyword in the most natural way possible.
- The URL structure should make sense.
- It should be readable and easy to understand for humans.
- Avoid the use of URL parameters, as they often lead to tracking and duplicate content issues.
Owing to these best practices, we crafted a simple, relevant, yet compelling URL as below.
Any case study is incomplete without showing the proven results.
Here is the traffic this post received from its date of publish December 17th 2017 to July 2018.
The guide also went on to appear in the Google Featured Snippets for some of the top keywords.
Even after more than 6 months of being published and no promotion at all, it still ranks in top 10 for most of the top keywords relevant to this topic.
Creating content that has the potential to rank well organically requires planning and research. Search engines do not reward a blog post with a higher search rank for simply having an organic keyword appear multiple times in the content. Your content needs to be relevant, informative, engaging, and readable to make a lasting impression. Hopefully, this extensive analysis of our blog post will prove helpful in crafting organically ranking content. We would love to hear about the measures that helped improve your organic web traffic. Let us know in your comments.
Are you looking to grow organic search traffic for your website? Let’s talk! Contact us now and we can take it further from there.