I Quit Search Engine Optimization and Never Ranked Higher!

Google analytics screenshot of when I stopped using technical SEO

Start with a Maximum Sixty Character Title

Sixty characters is the most that will show in the Google snippet. More than this will just get truncated and replaced with an ellipsis… Some people feel that longer titles will encourage curiosity, and that may be, but that’s all Google has room to show. If you want to inspire curiosity, that part is up to you.

The Internet rewards real value. Nothing can replace superior content. No amount of back-links, formulas, keywords, SEO scores or gaming the system can overcome really good information, delivered quickly and cleanly, and with style. Provide real value.

In addition, the title must be catchy and clever. It needs to grab the readers’ attention. If you rank only two or three on the front page, what would make you click on your article instead of number one? Another way to ask that is what can you deliver than number one doesn’t?

Write Long Posts

Clearly longer posts are what helps people. And, what helps people is what ranks in Google. There are many ways to game the system, but they ultimately don’t help you. Here’s what’s happening: IF people don’t find what they were looking for on your web page, they will keep looking, and Google knows it.

Google measures over 200 things about your web pages and it knows more about your website than you do. If you want, you can read all 200 items here in the most boring document ever. None of that matters as much as people getting what your web page promises to deliver. The way to do this best, is to over deliver. Be surprisingly helpful.

One study by Backlinko of the top-ranked posts on Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) showed an average of 2000 words. This is significantly longer than most people realized. What this means, is you need to go behind the question. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and ask what they will need next and why are they asking. If you don’t know, ask someone who is genuinely interested in this subject. Then answer those questions.

Content Total Word Count line
Content Total Word Count line

Your First Paragraph Must Deliver on the Title’s Promise

Jump in and answer the question with both feet. You must show you know your subject, you understand them, and they will get the answer they came for. Here is also a good place to promise even more is coming.

Bold Second Paragraph for Snippet

Your second paragraph should contain the most concise form of the answer. I usually bold this to set it apart from the rest of the page. This summary, when done correctly, can become excerpted by Google’s snippet.

Create Subheadings

After you have answered the initial question, you want to answer the question behind the question. What is that? Sometimes you know and sometimes you don’t. If you want some help with this, look at the bottom of the SERPs page. At the end of the Google results, there will be Google suggestions.

Explore these suggestions. Make a list of these suggestions and then Google each one of these. Are these good questions to answer? Make five to ten of them subheadings.

Then Write a Couple of Paragraphs for Each Subhead

Now answer each one of these subheadings. Write 200 to 300 words for each subheading. Now you have 2000 words on a page. And, it was easy.

Use Google Suggested Searches for Subhead Subjects

But what if you don’t have more subheads? What next? Again, put yourself in the shoes of your visitor. Join a group of people interested in your subject. Take a poll. Ask. Make a list of the questions people have. Don’t pretend you’re the expert if you’re not. Ask an expert.

Find an expert, someone who has just written a book is a good place to start. Offer to feature them on your new website if they will help you answer these questions

Help People Out with Real Experience

People see polished video all the time. Authentic and genuine unpolished video has a charm and a believability and trust about it. The unwrapping videos are quite popular. People want to know about your experience.

Take original images and videos. You can take your smartphone with you and ask other people, with their permission, to take video that you can put on your website. Take original photos to illustrate what you are talking about.

Here is a secret. Google knows what photos are on the Internet. Google knows when you ‘borrowed’ a stock photo you found on the Internet. And, when you use other people’s images, Google will wonder why they are on your web page.

Look at Your Competition

Part of the research you do for a new article is to look at the articles that are already written. When there are few pages that answer this question, you find a subject that needs to be answered. Part of research is to read these articles. When you find what has already been written, you will see what you can improve. There is another way to learn what people are asking.

There is always new information all the time. don’t worry about copying. You won’t. You can even link to the competition if you think it is good. It just may be older or shorter or in several parts. That doesn’t matter. The author of that web page made the best they could do at the time. They may not be interested any longer or may have moved on to another subject. Just take it forward.

Most Popular Articles, 1100 Characters, 3 Years Old – Gold!

When a website lists their most popular articles, you know what they think is popular. When these articles are old, or short, or poorly written, you know what you can improve, and now you know how to improve them. Write a longer article, incorporating these as subheads, and add your personal experience, and add new, modern content.

Look at Magazines

If you are still unsure of how to write these articles, look at magazine covers. These cover headlines are written by highly-paid professionals for the sole purpose of grabbing your attention and selling the magazine. This is what you want to do with your article titles and subheadings for web pages.

Add Sparkle

Now sleep on it. Save your article as a draft. Show it to a friend. After you re-read it the next day, you can improve it. Correct it. Make it say what you intended to say, but didn’t in this place or that place. Polish it. Make it sparkle.

When I worked for a small weekly newspaper, I gained insight into proofreading. I started out as the photographer and worked my way up to become Production Manager. At the beginning of the work week, the pages would be laid out – empty. Every day people would add content to the pages. As the sales people sold ads, those would go in first. Then the writers and photographers would deliver their content. That would go around the ads. Toward the end of the week, everyone would have a chance to see how the paper would look. They would read the articles and suggest headlines.

Sometimes those suggestions would be written in the blue (non actinic) ink on the galleys. The headlines were written and final corrections were made. We all had a chance to read the whole paper before publication. Invariably, there would be an error that nobody saw until after publication.

As soon as the paper was published, everybody saw it. So, sleep on it. You have worked hard on your article and you deserve a rest and little celebration. Sleep on it. Come back and pretend it is published. Look again. Then click publish.