The world seems to be very confused about search engine optimization. a

You can spend a fortune on programs and services to help you identify keywords, stuff your blog post full of them, define your tags, and create technical mastery.

Which is all pretty irrelevant.

Because it’s content quality that actually matters.

The key to the perfect blog post is to write good content that answers a question well. Google works hard to figure out how to find content that does just that because that ensures people keep using Google and they can sell more ads. The endless tricks are a complete waste of effort because Google will eventually shut them down. So write good content.

I asked a question, and the number one post was a keyword-stuffed, lousy result

The other day, I had a technical problem, so I went to Google to see if I could find an answer.

The first listing that came up showed my question word for word in the title. But when I went to the page, the article had nothing to do with my question. I couldn’t figure out why until I found the keywords I had used written in white, invisible text throughout the article.

So, yeah, tricks still work sometimes. But what is the point?

If this had been a less obscure topic, I am sure these guys would have lost their number-one position long ago. Since I went there and had a terrible experience, I certainly wasn’t going back, and my annoyance tainted any ad interaction.

If you want to establish authority, these tricks only undermine you.

How Evo the ski shop lured me in with excellent content

If you google “how to wax my skis,” the second organic result is this one from Evo:

A few years ago, I looked into how to wax my skis. This result from Evo came up when I searched.

I clicked on it.

The answer was very useful and very informative. I returned to it a few times and eventually bought a ski bag from Evo.

That is the way a blog is supposed to work. That is why Evo has maintained its position in this search for years, and I am sure it is yielding great results for them, leading to lots of wax and ski sales.

But replicating this is not so easy.

When I started writing my blog posts, I created heavily detailed content. It was something along the lines of Encyclopedia Britannica meets Google. That didn’t work so well.

I learned later this was mainly because I didn’t structure the answer correctly, not because length was an issue.

Still, it didn’t work.

Whatever the real reason, I thought the length was the problem, so I tried short posts. 400-600 words. They didn’t work either.

Again, I was focused on length, not quality. The problem was quality.

Well, actually, it is

The problem with most of my online writing has been that I mostly talk about the things I want to talk about rather than what people want to hear.

To get found online, you must first talk about what people want to hear. Later, when you have a million followers, you can talk about what you want to talk about, not at the beginning.

Later, I learned how to create a blog post from these guys at Income School, and my life changed. (If you want to write content that connects with your market, sign up for their program here).

Using this structure, I wrote my Reptilian Brain article, and within days, I was in the top ten search results, ranked among real experts with degrees in the field.

This is how to write a perfect blog post

Step 1: Identify your topic

This isn’t hard. It just takes s bit of research; I’ll write more about this in another post. But the simple method is to go to google.com and start typing in your topic. See what Google suggests as a search. These are searches that other people are making. Use these as your keywords.

Step 2: Write a great headline

Answer the question, and write something catchy. In my experience, it is better to answer the question than be too flowery here… but powerful words are better.

Step 3: Write a short paragraph detailing the question in a bit more depth, then another section answering this question succinctly.

I have this from the Income School guys, and it is such a great insight. You are competing here for the Google snippet, that little summary that sometimes pops up when you search for something sometimes. The snippet can rank differently than the page.

Step 4: Write the content well laid out with subheadings and a few hundred words of text.

Start writing by listing subheads and sub-subheads. These become your H2 and H3 headings, but most importantly, they are the first thing your reader sees, so they should stand out. They should answer the question on their own.

Then under each of these headings, you develop the concept a bit. Write a couple hundred words for each one.

You want to write 1300 or so words in your standard post (longer for pillar posts). So this is one way to break it down into manageable chunks.

To figure out what to write, do some research. Look at what others are writing. The idea is not to copy but rather draw inspiration: how could you say that better? What did they get wrong that you can express correctly?

Step 5 End with a concluding summary

Your last subhead and paragraph should be a helpful summary summarizing the whole thing. I do not know if this helps with SEO, but it makes the reading experience much better, and the reading experience matters. The reading experience will eventually lead to better click-throughs, more time on the page, and higher rankings.

Step 6: Related Topics

Once you have completed your blog post, add a final section with related topics where you answer two or three other questions about the initial inquiry. You can find these topics from your Google search, look at related topics that Google suggests, copy those questions, and write a quick answer.

Or even better, write a long, detailed answer, call it another blog post, and link to that one from here.

One last thing

An image is always good. Honestly, I don’t think the quality matters so much, but when it relates to the content and visually expresses what your writing expresses, that is magic.

And that is it

As I said, it isn’t hard. The key is to write something people want to read that solves a real problem for them. Do this, and you will get a response, and Google will recognize you for it.

I should add that I have no expectations that this post will rank on Google. This is a highly competitive space, and Google doesn’t recognize me as an authority. That is okay; I wrote this for you, not the masses. Sometimes, that is what you do.

Download my one-page guide here.

And let me know how it goes.

Related topics:

How do you structure a good blog post:

The structure is pretty simple:

  1. Title,
  2. Introductory paragraph restating the question,
  3. The second paragraph succinctly answers the question,
  4. Subheadings answering the question in more detail,
  5. Paragraphs under the subheadings, 200-300 words each.
  6. Find a compelling photo and add that as well.

How long should a blog post be:

Statistically, the best results right now are 1300-1500 words long posts. (Hubpost says 2100…) Longer posts are also useful, 3500 to 4000 words. Think of the longer posts as pillars, big pieces of content, and the smaller posts as answers to questions; they should feed into your big pillar posts. (Also, over time, they may become pillar posts).

What makes a good blog post

Very simply: a good blog post answers a question that someone has. The post answers the question well, clearly, and generally in some actionable way. Blog content should be useful, and though I have nothing to support this, I believe that helpful content will beat length, writing style, and keywords every time.

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