Any digital marketer already knows that being No. 1 on Google Search’s results reaps exponential rewards when it comes to organic traffic, brand awareness and authority. But the bigger question is, how do we get to the top position?
As the digital landscape matures, so does the competition. The battle for top keyword rankings is about providing what’s referred to as E-A-T(expertise, authority and trustworthiness) and Y-M-Y-L (“your money or your life”) content.
Essentially, it boils down to this: When a visitor lands on your page, does it — the page and website experience — provide detailed, credible and useful information that you’re willing to bet your life on? Is it 10 times more resourceful than anyone else’s content? Does it provide everything the visitor needs to know and answer questions the visitor didn’t even think about?
Guides Are The New Blog
Five to 10 years ago, a 500-word blog post may have easily ranked No. 1 on Google Search. It’s still possible for niche keywords and topics — there are plenty of blue oceans. But in 2019 and beyond, when it comes to competitive keywords with monthly search volume in the thousands to tens of thousands, those 500 and even 1,000-word blog posts are going extinct.
Based on my experience, if you’re going to rank No. 1 for a competitive search term, it needs to be an end-all-be-all approach. It needs to be a guide. And not just any guide, but a guide exhaustive of E-A-T and Y-M-Y-L that signals to your visitors and to Google that you are the thought leader in your industry.
Those weekly, biweekly and monthly blog posts that are doing well for you now will eventually need to be rethought, reincorporated or transformed into guides.
Every jab (blog) must be a knockout (guide).
Our Approach To Content
At my company, Wilson Amplifiers, our blog posts account for 54% of our website traffic and 20% of our online revenue. That’s millions of dollars of free traffic and revenue just for ranking high on Google and other search engines. But the competition is knocking on our door.
We’ve already started the process of taking our top blog posts and combining them, expanding them and redirecting them — taking hundreds of high-traffic and high-revenue blog posts and distilling them into 31 definitive guides. Guides that will fortify our position as the leaders in our space.
Our first and second guides are more than 12,500 and 16,500 words. Based on what I have seen, that’s significantly more copy than the average No. 1 position on Google. Is it overkill? I’ll answer that question with another question. Can a library have too many books?
If you do searches on your favorite topics, you may find more guides climbing in the rankings, especially for e-commerce terms and informational product searches. With Amazon owning 54% of product searches, according to Jumpshot’s 2018 report, “The Competitive State of E-commerce Marketplaces,” as reported by Retail Dive, there’s still another 46% of searches where the curious can be potential customers because of definitive content.
How To Create A Definitive Guide
The process of creating a definitive guide for your company includes six key steps:
1. Keyword Research
2. Competitor Research
3. Inverted Pyramid Journalism
4. Answers To The Five Ws And An H
5. A Call To Action
6. The Right Team
Keyword research is the most important step when it comes to understanding search volume and intent. What’s the most important term in your industry? Put that into Google or your favorite keyword tool and look for related keywords, their volume and rankings. This generates hundreds and thousands of ideas and topics to pursue.
This leads to competitive research. Who’s No. 1 for that keyword? In fact, who’s No. 2, 3, 4, etc. We usually take a look at all the pages on the first page of Google’s search results. What’s in their content that you haven’t thought of? How can you make it better?
Once you’re armed with keywords, data and ideas, it’s time to structure the guide. We generally do an outline of the most important topics and follow the journalistic style of the inverted pyramid: The information most newsworthy (or important to the reader) needs to go on top. Miscellaneous information goes towards the bottom. The structure can make or break any content.
Informational searches often bring in the most traffic, so tailoring your guide to feature the five Ws and an H (who, what, when, where, why and how) is low-effort, high-impact work. Here’s a tip: At the end of your guide or blog, feature an FAQ with questions and answers focused on your keywords to capture additional rankings and higher search visibility.
You want the reader to do something. If it’s an e-commerce business, it’s to purchase. If it’s a law practice, it’s to call in. Whatever the business, a strong call to action tells the reader to follow the next step. The higher the ratio of people taking action on your guide versus reading and leaving informs Google and other search engines of the value of your content.
Finally, build the right team. At a minimum, you’ll need a copywriter, a designer and a developer — words to inspire, design to keep structure organized and a well-oiled website experience for speed and usability.
The digital game has changed and will continue to change. Despite our industry’s current focus on short attention spans and fast information — and despite the rise of voice searches, augmented reality, virtual reality, 5G and new technology — people still want reliable, relatable and definitive information. It’s in guides we trust.