Write, Format and Publish Website Content That Will Rank (And Convert!)

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When it comes to writing successful content, the fight to reach the top of the rankings is (to put it mildly) intense. However, for those marketers that do achieve high organic positions, the advent of SERP features such as Featured Snippets has presented a seriously good opportunity to grab even more organic traffic. The net result for companies who trade online is that they can see how well optimised content is now much more lucrative than it was before the introduction of SERP features.

What kind of queries rank in position zero?

The short answer is lots, self evident to anyone who uses Google on a regular basis (so everyone then). From my experience of ranking a commercial business (that isn’t already an established big brand), the queries most likely to rank in a FS position are ones where informational and transactional intent transcend each other.

It’s worth at this point revisiting how search queries are commonly categorised by intent. These are…

  1. Informational – “Best way to clean an LED TV”
  2. Navigational – “Richer Sounds”
  3. Transactional – “Buy Samsung MU6400 49-Inch SMART Ultra HD TV”

Clearly these three search phrases have very different intent from the perspective of the user. In theory, all three could trigger a P0 but the likelihood in my experience is that informational queries are most likely to do this (unless you are working with a big brand or well known entity). As mentioned, I have found revenue driving P0 opportunities (for commercial businesses) in areas where the search query crosses over the intent of the user wanting information but also being in a position to convert. Below are some P0 examples we have experienced in the wild.

1. Single Justice Procedure

Single Justice Procedure Notices are a relatively new mechanism for minor offences to be dealt without the need to attend a court hearing. Before Single Justice Procedure Notices were introduced, every offence (however small), had to be processed through the courts. The legislation which allowed individuals to avoid a court appearance was only introduced in 2015, so SJPN’s are quite new. The query itself produces a Featured Snippet and also a People Also Ask feature – indicating that this is a query where users are looking for more detailed information. That said, many of the users who are searching will also be looking for legal assistance as this is not the kind of service you can hang around waiting for – the clock is ticking and without action you will without exception end up in court. This gives it a transactional emphasis and thus makes it a highly lucrative phrase to rank for.

Another point worth noting is the increase in the number of users searching for a SJPN (which you can see from Google trends data below). Compare it with “loans” (which are as old as the hills) and you can see there isn’t much difference in the volume of searches over time. This would help to explain why Google is providing informative results for this query. (it’s fairly new).

Over a 12 month period you can see the page resulted in generating nearly 40 conversions with a healthy conversion rate of 1.28% (excluding calls).

2. Cool white vs Daylight

This was just one example of a number of queries relating to choosing lighting. The query is ostensibly an informational based phrase as the user is looking for a comparison between two different types of light bulbs. However a number of these users are in fact ready to buy – see table below. Of course the conversion rate from this type of content will in almost all cases be lower compared with an inherently transactional query such as “cheap light bulbs”. However, the cost and resources required to appear for this query (paid or organic) are infinitely highly than less competitive, more informational based queries. Moreover the table below is using last visit attribution, so does not include all the visitors who didn’t buy first time who we then retargeted to. So although users who land on this page were in the main at the “research” stage, a proportion will be ready to buy further down the line (hence the remarketing tactic).

So how do I find queries for my clients that will rank (but also convert)?

Keyword Research

The first task is to undertake keyword research. You can find what keywords your site is already triggering a Featured Snippet for using both SEMrush and Ahrefs.


Ahrefs Content Explorer

You can then repeat this process using your competitors and see what phrases they are getting a P0 from. 

In addition to looking at your own site and competitors, you can also (using Ahrefs Keyword Explorer) search for FS opportunities by querying individual keywords.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Checking the format

Once you have you target phrases or topics it’s important to check what the format of the content is in e.g video, article, image etc in order that you replicate the same format. Phrases that are prefixed with inquisitive words (what, why, are, does, will) are a good place to start as they tend to return a featured snippet more often than more head phrases. Moreover a recent SEMrush study analysing over 80 million keywords found that queries that are prefixed with questions (such as why, are, does, will, etc) in the majority of cases return featured snippets results as a paragraph – perfect for earning some hefty first page real estate. What this also means is that in order to compete you should compose your content in a similar fashion.

Define the search intent

Once the format of your content is confirmed, it’s time to begin to consider where your visitor is within the purchase cycle. If its an informative query, then the user is less likely to be ready to purchase compared someone searching an end of funnel query. However more refined informative queries such as “samsung qled vs.oled” can prove highly lucrative as the user has honed in on two competing types of TV so is in theory closer to a purchase. 

Contrast this with a much broader query such as “best led TV’s” which would no doubt generate much more traffic but would likely have a lower conversion rate.

Writing the content

Assuming you are creating an orthodox piece of written content you should look at…

  1. The authority of the site with the FS
  2. The word count of the top 5 ranking sites
  3. Imagery, video or anything interactive on the page that could be pertinent to its ranking position
  4. Common keywords and topics within the top ranking pages
  5. The main questions being answered and other subtopics

This is one of our key stages when planning content as it will offer us a much clearer idea of what Google is looking for and how we should tailor our content accordingly. One thing to be aware of is the authority level of the site with the FS. For example if the site with a FS is a DA 94 and your site a DA 30, it’s going to be very hard to shift. But what you can do is test derivative queries that are less competitive, often you will uncover FS from sites with a much lower DA then more granular you go.

Once you are ready to begin writing, start by directly addressing the main query first. This will often come in the form of a definition or answer to a question. Consider the content format which has been successful with other high ranking pages and adapt your content to suit this.  Answers to questions you wish to cover should then be answered in accordance of their importance. Answers to less important or less relevant questions (related to the original query) should appear further down the page . We experimented with putting less important questions (that could be answered more concisely) in accordion containers. A good way to explore what other topics or questions should be included in your content can be found through your initial competitor analysis as well as through the People Also Ask (PAA) SERP feature.

Don’t feel you must copy and paste these PAA related questions verbatim, but instead always write as naturally as possible. In fact, only include the PAA’s you feel are relevant. Moreover, if the related questions are deserving of an additional piece of content, do that rather than including so much content into one page that it’s overall relevance is veering away from the original search query. This is where it’s important to note that too many words can almost be as damaging as too few.

Make your content easy to navigate

Because we know that users of the web skim read pages and scan for sub headings, bolded text, etc, your copy should avoid overly long paragraphs and instead remain sharp, concise and focussed on answering the query. If you create a longer piece of content, create site links at the top, so users can quickly find the information they are looking for.Where appropriate content should be broken down into subsections. Within that content you should also internally link to other relevant parts of your site (as well as any useful external resources you’ve referenced).

Pro Tip: Retarget non-converters

Of course, the nature of an informative query means that a user might not be ready to buy there and then. We often combine our organic efforts with paid search and social to retarget non-converters, using Facebook and Google to drive users back to a relevant commercial page.

By optimising this page for conversion, it gives a business the greatest chance of converting the person browsing into a paying customer.

Should this step be taken, it’s worth adding that an attribution model to ensure you understand exactly where the content written sits within the conversion funnel.

Sounds good right?

It’s a process we continue to succeed with at Marketing Signals, boosting revenue streams through high-quality blog content that is targeted towards the optimum stage of a user’s search intent. 

Has this got you sold? Start implementing these processes today or get in touch at Marketingsignals.com!

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