When you search something on Google, look at the first page where it lists around 10 links with descriptions. After that people need to click or tap on the next page.
But the SEO track record of the second page is not very good. Search results appearing on the Google’s second page get less than 1% CTR. A major chunk of clicks are consumed by the links appearing on the first page.
In fact, appearing among the top results is so important that the first link that appears in the search results gets 25% clicks (source).
Consequently, whoever wants to improve his or her search engine rankings, wants to appear on the first page because not many people go to the second page.
Nonetheless, Google has discovered that when people are searching on the mobile phone, the check out up to 4 pages.
Besides, it doesn’t make any sense to make people click the next page when they can simply scroll through all the listings. Let them scroll as much as they want, I would say, even on the desktop. There is no UI logic of dividing the search results among different pages.
There may have been a psychological reason a few years ago when people were mostly using the search engine on their desktops, but on mobile phones, people don’t mind scrolling.
The continuous scrolling feature will definitely improve the CTR of many web pages and blog posts.
If people are abandoning the current search because they wouldn’t go to the second page, even on desktop, they may keep on scrolling until they find something click-worthy.
Google is implementing a new machine learning technology in search called “multitask unified model”, in short, MUM.
MUM is touted as 1000x more powerful than BERT (bidirectional encoder representations). For years we have been talking about how right now machines cannot read through images for search purposes, but MUM will be able to do so. It is multimodal in the sense that it can understand information across text and images and in near future, it will also be able to understand information in video and audio.
The new algorithm can also process 75 languages for the purpose of search results. For example, if you post a query in English on Google and if the algorithm thinks that a better answer exists on a Japanese website, it will bring up the Japanese website after translating it into English.
Yes, now, you won’t just be competing for space in your own language, but also with 75 other languages.
Up till now, within search, Google’s main revenue model has been PPC ads. More revenue opportunities can be created by finding contextual results when people search, and then, offering commercial products and services for further exploration. Google wants to provide “context-rich” answers.
Ultimately, the company hopes, the company aims to achieve a “richer and deeper search experience”.
What does it mean for content writing? All my clients want me to write content that helps them improve their search engine rankings. How can technologies for algorithmic logics like MUM can be incorporated into the process of content writing?
Good content is based on targeted queries. If you’re looking for a content writing service for your logistics company, you are more likely to search for something like “content writer for my logistics company website” or “content writing services for a logistics website”, and other variations.
When the MUM-powered search algorithm goes mainstream, two main things are going to happen that concern your search engine rankings:
Google may find content related to “content writing for logistics company website” even on websites in different languages and show them in your language if it thinks they have a better answer for what you’re looking for.
It may also showcase information on why your logistics company needs a quality content writing service that can help you improve your search engine rankings, educate your visitors and lower your bounce rate.
Frankly, most of the blog posts and articles trying to explain what exactly MUM is are simply regurgitating what Google has published on its own blog. Everybody is using the hiking example used by Google – they haven’t been able to come up even with your own example. Hence, the understanding of the technology is still unfolding.
But the main takeaway is that the search algorithm is not just going to focus on the query that is submitted to Google for bringing up search results. It will also use its own logic to decide what more information could be useful to you and then present that information to you. It may combine multiple links into a single search result to give you a comprehensive, context-based result for your query.
Is MUM all about writing and publishing pillar pages and topic clusters?
Right now, it seems like it. How do you create a complete context? By packing everything into what you are writing. But you cannot write very long web pages and blog posts because then people won’t read them. What do you do? You create a pillar page with the main topic and then you create a series of topic cluster pages or the contextual pages that present all the needed information that is related to the main topic or the pillar page content.
In the end, what matters is the relevance and quality of the information that you publish on your website or blog. Write relevant content. Maintain a close relationship between your topic and the body text. High-quality, relevant content always stands the test of time.
Combining pay-per-click advertising and organic content writing.
Here is a nice Forbes article that describes in detail 13 smart ways you can integrate paid search results with organic content to improve your SEO.
As a content writer I primarily focus on providing organic content to my clients. Most of my clients don’t want to spend a ton of money on Google AdWords and other PPC campaigns because they understand that once they are able to organically improve their search engine rankings through optimized content, they won’t need to pay for every click they get from Google. Though, I do provide Google AdWords copywriting services.
What are organic search engine rankings?
Your content appears naturally in search results. You don’t need to pay for it. You’re not paying for every click. You appear in search results due to the quality and relevance of your content and not because you are paying Google.
But the benefit of using PPC advertising is that – provided you can afford – you can immediately start getting traffic to your relevant landing pages, for the conversion-friendly keywords. The key is, you need to know what you’re doing. Since you are paying for every click, you need to make the maximum number of sales or optimally tweak your conversion prospects.
This can be tricky. You may need to spend a lot of money before you can figure out how to optimize your campaigns and bring your costs down.
Organically improving your search engine rankings on the other hand is a safer bet. Although you may feel that you are randomly publishing content and hoping that your search engine rankings may improve for your desired keywords, if you use the right tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush to find the right target keywords and topics for you to focus on, you can get tangible results with optimized content writing within a foreseeable future.
Should you use a mix of PPC advertising and organic content writing?
If you can, yes. Through PPC advertising, as I have written above, you can instantly start getting targeted traffic, and with better conversion rate, you can also start generating some good business.
There is a side benefit though, that I noticed a few years ago. When you start advertising on Google for certain keywords, your organic rankings for some keywords begin to improve on their own. This was quite surprising. I don’t even know whether it was a fluke or it really happened.
For example, I created a couple of AdWords campaigns for a range of around 10 keywords and I selected 2 Indian cities to be targeted because I didn’t want to spend lots of money. I was just experimenting.
To my great surprise, the organic rankings of those keywords that I hadn’t bid for, suddenly improved manifold. The links that were appearing on the fourth or the fifth page, began to appear on the first page. Again, I’m not claiming that it was related. Maybe it was coincidental. Maybe the ranking of those links was bound to improve and then they jumped to the first page just as I was advertising using Google AdWords. Who knows?
It may also be because when Google crawls your website for the paid links, it also ends up crawling and indexing the other links it finds, and then ends up ranking them around the paid links.
So, if you have some money, you can try that out. Use a combination of PPC advertising and organic content writing, and for a while, observe what happens.
Other than this, you can use PPC advertising to increase your visibility. Your website gets indexed faster. It becomes easier for people to find your content. This in turn has a positive effect on your organic search engine rankings.
Titles are important. They can have a big impact on your search engine rankings.
Although many renowned SEO experts claim that it is debatable whether creating “optimized” titles can improve your search engine rankings, there are different reasons why the quality of your titles is directly and indirectly related to your overall search engine rankings.
What is a blog post or a web page title? It is not the headline. It is the text that appears between the HTML tags <title> and </title>. This is the text that is picked by search engines and social media websites when you simply insert your link on your timeline.
I have personally observed that your title does matter. Your title is an indicator of what your web page holds. Hence, it naturally gives the needed information to the search engine crawlers. Again, that’s debatable. But there are certainly logical reasons why your titles matter.
Studies have shown that when people see a search term that they have just used appearing in the hyperlink of the search results, they are more likely to click it. Isn’t it natural?
For example, if you search for “content writer for web design service”, and there is a hyperlink that actually contains the phrase “content writer for web design service”, what reason do you have to not to click it? You have a big reason to click it.
Then, there is a direct relationship between the number of people clicking your link in the search results, and your search engine rankings. When more people click your link, Google takes it as a good sign.
It can be a double-edged sword, though.
If lots of people click your link and then immediately come back to Google, it means your bounce rate is higher. It means although you’re able to get the clicks, you are not providing valuable content for the search term for which your link is appearing higher. Your search rankings for that search term begin to go down.
Nonetheless, it is your title that brings people to your website, whether your title appears in Google search results, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media website that creates a thumbnail out of the link and uses the title to highlight the main point of your link.
The point is, no matter what the search engine experts say, as a content writer, I know that your title has a big impact on your search engine rankings.
How to create web page and blog post titles that improve your search engine rankings?
For this, I always suggest my clients to get written highly focused web pages and blog posts. This way, your web page title directly represents the body text.
For example, if I publish a blog post titled “Top 12 tips for writing content to improve your SEO”, Google and search engine users know what to expect from this blog post. All those people who want to read about how to write content that can improve their SEO, are going to find this link worthy of clicking.
If you stick to the core topic, that is, explaining how to use content writing to improve your SEO, people are going to stick around. They’re going to spend a few minutes reading the blog post as much as it appeals to them. They may also check other links on my website or blog.
This tells Google that the title for which my this particular link is ranking high, appropriately represents what my blog post contains. It takes it as an indicator of quality content and consequently, it raises the ranking of this particular link further.
Hence, when writing titles to improve your SEO, keep the following in mind:
Let the title exactly represent what the main body content contains.
Include the main phrases in the title for which you want to optimize your web page.
Don’t needlessly or randomly stuff keywords into your title. This decreases the quality of your SEO. You only have limited number of characters – 60-70 – and within those characters, you must represent a complete phrase, a sentence that can stand by itself.
Taking the above example – Top 12 tips for writing content to improve your SEO – it wouldn’t make sense if you simply use the keywords as your title, “content writing, SEO, top tips, writing content”. People are not going to click it.
Hence, try to represent the complete phrase, a long tail keyword that people actually use to look for your content.
SEO content writing is all about choosing the right keywords and then creating your content around them. Being a veteran of your business, you may feel that certain keywords must be more popular than other keywords. The reality might be different.
A few weeks back I was writing a blog post on copywriting and while doing some research, I noticed that many writers use “copy writing” instead of “copywriting”. Although Google may not differentiate much between copy writing and copywriting, I wanted to use a word that most people use. On a whim, I went to Google Trends, searched for both the terms, and then compared them. This is what came up:
As you can see, worldwide, people are using “copywriting” more than three times over “copy writing”.
This is one way of finding out what words to focus on when writing content. There are many similar sounding words but there are some words that people don’t use often, and some words people use a lot. When writing content, you want to focus on words used by maximum number of people.
This Entrepreneur blog post suggests many uses of Google Trends, including
Search volume: It tells you if there is more demand or less demand for the key phrase or the keyword you are trying to write SEO content for.
Search trend: Since Google Trends presents the data graphically, you can see whether the use of a particular keyword is on the downswing or upswing. It may be that a few months ago the keyword was quite popular, but it is no longer popular, or vice versa.
Related searches: These are for long tail keywords. What different keyword combinations are people using to search for information?
Search filters: You can check Google Trends for your chosen regions. In the above screenshot, I checked worldwide stats. You can check stats for specifically USA or India.
Forecast: Google Trends may not show forecasts for all the keywords you search for, but sometimes it tells you what the trend is going to be in the coming days.
Comparison: Just what I have done in the above screenshot. You want to compare 2-3, or even more words and see which word you should be focusing on.
Aside from the fact that you can use Google Trends to find the right keywords for content writing, you can also use search segmentation for geographical targeting.
There may be certain keywords that are used more in China than in USA. This is just hypothetical: if I want to target China for my copywriting services and if in China people use more “copy writing” and less “copywriting”, I should be using the former phrase with greater frequency when I’m writing about my copywriting services for China.
The forecasting feature can help you plan your content publishing. If you know that the time for a certain keyword is going to rise or fall, you can decide whether to publish more content or less content on that keyword.
Similarly, you can use various features of Google Trends to streamline and target your content writing efforts.