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If you ask any SEO worth their salt to describe quality content in two words, chances are their response will be ‘relevant content’ or ‘authoritative content’. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Google exists to provide users with the most relevant content from the most authoritative sources. I’ll come back to authority later on, as this is in many ways the by-product of an effective content strategy. For now, I’ll focus on how to write relevant content.

A common but wildly outdated perception of search engine optimisation is that it simply involves stuffing as many keywords onto each page as possible. While this might have worked several years ago, the search engines are becoming increasingly intolerant of sneaky tactics like this, and are continually updating their algorithms in order to penalise the culprits who implement them.

According to Google’s About page, their mission ‘is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ But how do they suggest that you, as content writer, should be accepted as a provider of this accessible and useful information?

“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

So writing relevant content is all about providing ‘the user’ (i.e. the kind of person you want reading your piece) with the information they are searching for. Again, pretty intuitive stuff. But there’s a problem. Google and the other search engines are utterly saturated with relevant information from authoritative sources. Because of this, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with unique content that is more relevant to its intended audience than anything else that has already been written. In SEO terms, it’s becoming harder and harder to rank for a given search term.

How to write the most relevant content in your field

The key is to success in content marketing is to ensure that all your articles and blog posts are highly specific and tailored to a niche audience. In order to do this, you need to make sure they are unique, both in terms of the content itself and the ways in which this is optimised for the search engines.

  1. Focus. Pick a single, clear topic to form the backbone of each piece that you write, and keep the content relevant to this topic throughout. If your chosen topic pulls up several major subtopics, don’t try to cram them all into one article: write a post for each of them, with a final one to link everything together.
  1. Inform. Your content should be written with the primary intention of providing the user with interesting, fresh and valuable information. Do your research, and rather than paraphrasing what others have said before you, try to come up with something new or take a new angle on a topic that has been covered previously. This is probably the most difficult part, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to get one up on the competition and get your post found.
  1. Optimise. Research the phrases that people might type into Google if they wanted to find your content. Pick a ‘focus keyword’ – a phrase that is relevant and specific to your topic, and which has a fair number of searches with low competition. Include the focus keyword in your meta data, headers and body content, but only where it is relevant and natural to do so.
  1. Enhance. Look for multiple, related keywords and use them throughout your content. Again, do this in a manner that is natural and does not impact the fluency of the piece.
  1. Infer. Carefully consider the tone of your article or blog post in relation to the audience you want to reach – not only in terms of demographics, but also in terms of their possible aspirations, concerns and level of knowledge. Don’t assume that your audience knows as much as you do, but don’t insult their intelligence, either.

Never underestimate the importance of this final point. Few things are more irritating than finding what you think is relevant content, only to be fed a load of indecipherable jargon – or far worse, patronised. Read back through your article and if you can imagine your target audience saying ‘WTF?’ or ‘thank you, captain obvious’ (or similar, depending on your usual clientele), either change it or bin it altogether. Otherwise they’ll simply hit the back button and look for the information they need elsewhere – and Google is unlikely to turn a blind eye to this.

Relevancy and authority

So how does this all tie in with authority? Well, relevant content is authoritative content. By producing a useful, unique and interesting blog post or article, you are sending out the message that you are an authority on your chosen topic. With a carefully thought out content strategy, you can then go on to produce relevant, authoritative content on a consistent basis. Tie this with other search marketing techniques such as social media and paid search, and you’ll eventually become a trusted authority on your entire subject area. For your whole sector, even.

The beauty of this is that the more your work gets noticed, the greater your authority becomes. People begin to link to your content from their articles, websites and social media pages, which in turn brings more traffic and, potentially, more conversions.

Producing relevant content is by far the cheapest way to expand your online business, and with an effective content strategy in place, it’s also the most secure in the long term. If you want some perspective on this, be sure to check out this article by Neil Patel, cofounder of KISSmetrics.

So here’s the bottom line. Learning how to write relevant content for the web is a slow, arduous and, at times, stressful process. But when you get it right, the results are astonishing. So do your website a massive favour and give it a go or, failing that, find someone else to do the hard work for you. It will pay off in the long term – I promise.