A few years back I was holding an SEO mastermind session and one of my students compared SEO and content marketing to baking chocolate chip cookies. Boy was Lorraine right!
Content marketing is a lot like cooking. Both are extremely rewarding and both require skill, patience, and passion. I’ve long said SEO was a strong combination of art and science, which totally aligns with cooking.
Many people believe that blogging differs from copywriting the same way your home-cooked meal differs from a French chef’s signature dish. But they are wrong. The blogger and the professional copywriter can both create exceptional content just as the master chef and stay at home mom can both create amazing meals.
Anyone can be excellent at content marketing and SEO. I’ve been teaching SEO for years and I’ve recently launched a new project that blends my beloved SEO with content marketing and email marketing.
In this post, I’d like to offer an easy recipe anyone can follow to create a tasty blog post or article.
Start With the Right Ingredients
What do you need to create awesome content? A lot less than you probably think.
Here’s is a fun list with a cooking swing to get you started:
- Knowledge of your ideal diner. The very first starting place for creating strong content is to know who you serve, what they struggle with, and how you can help them. When you start with this in mind, writing becomes easy.
- A pinch of loyalty. A forced write session that is accompanied by a lack of interest in your brand and offering is like forcing a vegetarian to cook the perfect steak. To persuade your prospects into converting, you need to have a strong belief in what you are writing about. I fully believe in the power of SEO, content marketing, and all things online, so it becomes effortless for me to write about these topics. I’m passionate about them and I 100% believe they can make a measurable impact for bloggers and businesses.
- A strong topic or idea. Your subject matter or topic should be fresh and relevant. Your topic and subtopics should naturally form an outline that can be used to create a high-value piece of content that is educational and helpful.
- A cup of keywords. If you plan on using this content to drive search, you need to think about keywords. They should be vetted before you start writing and baking up your casserole. Long-tail keywords offer great options for creating blog posts and articles. If you are struggling to come up with ideas, head on over to Google and search up some ideas. The People Also Asked section Google provides in the search engine results page will help you brainstorm ideas that you can vet with keyword tools.
Have a Strong Recipe
My recipe box includes very old index cards that my Grandma gave me 30 years ago and it also includes recipes I’ve printed online that are perfect for modern-day lazy mommy dinners. Each Christmas I make the same fruit salad that my mom made when I was small and it’s from a very old Betty Crocker cookbook I’ve saved for decades. Why do I save all this old stuff? Because it works.
Just like cooking, writing requires a strong recipe that hasn’t changed much over the years. Yes, there are nuances that have been tweaked, but for the most part, it’s the same process a reporting used fifty years ago.
Here is my recipe for creating strong blog posts:
- Select a clear and concise headline. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had no idea what the menu said? That was me all over Italy, Poland, and France last year. If I didn’t have trusted friends in each country I would not have had a clue what I was eating. I could not read or understand the names of dishes on the menu. Blog post titles can be the same, but it’s much easier to avoid. The best titles are ones that make sense to readers, so don’t make your website visitors think. Clearly set the stage for what is to come in the content by providing titles that set expectations.
- Make a detailed plan. A good outline is two-thirds of the work. Start with the most important ingredient, create a list of secondary ingredients, and make sure everything flows until you reach the conclusion and wrap up. This plan will quickly morph over to your headers.
- Add keywords to each section header. You can’t season a lasagna after it’s baked and on the table. The same is true with keywords. Your content outline should flow with your keywords. Having clearly defined H2 headers to start each section is a great way to structure the post to support both the reader and SEO.
- Create a draft and set it aside. I will write the first draft and then walk away for a day. When I come back the second day I see errors, missed thoughts, or places where I’ve rambled on for no reason. The fresh set of eyes will help you take bland and make it fabulous. I did this with this post and have already found and fixed at least ten typos.
- Call an expeditor. By expeditor, I mean an editor, a proofreader, or a trusted friend. If you don’t keep a couple of these in your pantry to read important content, you’ll regret it. My friends Carrie and Cory have always been great for doublechecking my most important content before I hit publish.
Use the Right Appliances
In my home kitchen, I have two ovens, a microwave, and a stovetop. I don’t use the second oven very often, but when Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving arrive it is a must-have appliance. It’s the only way I can make sure I can serve a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and green bean casserole all at the same time and all piping hot! My mother in law will always comment on how I can whip out a holiday meal all at once and all hot. I’d like to take credit, but it is the second oven that keeps me sane.
The same is true for my business and writing. Here is a great list of tools to help you in your efforts:
- Ideaflip – When you work alone there’s no problem with organizing your ideas, but when it comes to teamwork you’ll need a mind mapping app to squeeze the most of group brainstorms. So if you are not the post’s only contributor you can use Ideaflip to work out worthy topics.
- Topic Research – Finding a topic can be difficult and turning it into a headline that will make you rank like a champion is even harder. With the help of this tool, you’ll not only see the most popular queries and related topics for your target keywords, but you’ll get ready headline ideas based on the competitive analysis.
- Keyword Magic Tool – When it comes to keywords you can’t do without an SEO tool. With this one you’ll be able to sort them by search volume and difficulty and even set the desired volume range, include and exclude keywords from your search, choose the length of a keyword, group your keywords to find the best combinations, and even spot the opportunities to get into the featured snippet.
- KW Finder – This is an alternate tool to the Keyword Magic Tool. It pulls keyword ideas and search volumes from the Google API and does so in a very nice interface.
- Weava – This app really comes in handy at the research stage. It’s a simple Chrome extension highlighter that helps you organize the boatloads of information and quotes you find on PDFs and websites across the web.
- SWA – SEO Writing Assistant is a great addon that lets you keep an eye on your text’s key metrics like readability score, number of words, and target and recommended keywords and still stay concentrated on writing.
- Power Thesaurus – Power Thesaurus is a popular tool that helps you find antonyms and synonyms to use in your writing.
- Grammarly – This addon is literally an online proofreader that checks grammar and spelling as you type. It has already corrected me on about 20+ typos in this blog post.
In the above software tools, I mention SEMrush a few times. If you’d like to try out their service for free, you can use my personal invite for an extended 14-day trial. It’s my goto tool for SEO and I’m pretty sure many of you will fall in love with it too.
Wrap it Up with Proper Plating and Serving
Sometimes even the best chef (and SEO consultant) needs a little help to get to the top of search results. I’ve been doing SEO for over 15 years and I still rely on tools to keep my on task and to make sure I didn’t forget anything critical.
Here are two tools to help keep you on track:
- SEMrush’s SEO Content Template – This tool will let you enter keywords that you want to target with your content and it will then analyze the content already ranking in Google’s search. You’ll then receive recommendations on how to create SEO-friendly content.
- Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress – Yoast has long been my goto SEO plugin for WordPress websites. It helps keep me on track and it helps me make sure I didn’t miss anything. Again, even old cooks like me can forget a few ingredients once in a while.
Want to Join Me in My Digital Kitchen?
If you are still feeling stuck or find digital marketing overwhelming, consider joining me and my friend Cory Miller over at the Digital Marketing Kitchen. This is an online course and membership website that will help you learn the processes we’ve used for over 10 years of business success. Cory and I have both launched and run successful online businesses for over a decade. With this new offering, we’re teaching you what we did, why we did it, and how you can use it in your digital marketing efforts.
In addition to the base 8 course meal (43 digital marketing lessons), you’ll also receive access to Cory’s Transform Lives With Content & Community course (11 lessons) and my Quick Bite mini-courses (12 additional pieces of training). We also hold live Office Hours and training webinars monthly.
We’d love to have you join us, so head on over and check out the new courses.