Search Engine Optimization

Driving SEO Results Through Content Marketing: Results From Over 6000 Articles

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Content marketers have so many questions and hesitations during their day. Did I include the target keywords in the text and title frequently enough? Did that guest blogger really write that piece? Or did they pull all of the copy from another site and try to pitch it as their own? Is this blog long enough? Too long? Is this too tough for my readers to understand? All of these questions and more are on a content marketing professional’s mind every day.

SEMrush has analyzed more than 6,000 articles using the SEO Writing Assistant tool to determine the preferences of content gurus. This research helps you to take a look at the best practices in the world of content marketing, not from the theoretical side, but in how people are actually creating and optimizing their content.

The SEO Writing Assistant Tool is a Google Docs add-on and a WordPress extension that can quickly analyze any text online. It gives you information about keywords targeted, how well the post is optimized for them, word count, readability score, and plagiarism hits by providing recommendations for content optimization based on best-performing articles in Google’s top-10 for given keywords in a given location.

Using Keywords 

The first thing you want to do before you start writing is to determine the keywords you want your content to be shown for in Google. According to our study, editors use an average of two target keywords in their articles, with at least one of them in the title. Still, a large number of content writers—more than 50% of editors using the SEO Writing Assistant tool—don’t fully understand the importance of having more than one keyword in their text.

Optimizing your article for more than just one keyword gives you an opportunity to appear in searches for more than one query. Avoid creating different texts for each search query—this is an old-school SEO practice.

The optimal number of target keywords recommended for use in articles is 15. It can really help to maximize the visibility of your content. It is worth noting that more than 95% of SEO Writing Assistant’s users followed the tool’s recommendations to increase the number of relevant keywords. This indicates that the world of content marketing has begun to trust online tools.

Targeting Devices and Locations

Another critical decision to make is on which devices and locations you want to promote your content. Depending on whether you need to promote your content on mobile or desktop, your strategy will change. Because for the same keywords on different devices, you can see different articles at the top of the Google search engine results page or SERP. The same goes for locations.

You should always tailor your text to specific devices and cities to win the battle for the top spot in the SERPs. Our study revealed that more than 65% of editors prefer to target their content in specific regions, or even cities, rather than countries. Unfortunately, only 3% of recipients chose a mobile device. This is a lost opportunity. After all, more than half of global traffic comes from mobile devices.

Measuring Text Length

A recent report by SEMRush studying ranking factors found that longer pages tended to rank higher. For reference, the average content length for the top 3 rankings was about 750 words. The average content length for position 20 rankings was about 500 words. This corresponds to the average length of the analyzed articles by the SEO Writing Assistant tool: 810 words.

“I think that while most marketers might be surprised by the average word count of 810 words, it tells me that more brands might be adding variety to their content, which is a good thing. As much as I’m a fan of super in-depth, pillar guides, I don’t think they should be the only public content a company is putting out. For example, for each huge guide you publish, you might want to publish a few shorter posts linking back to it if you’re following the content cluster model. Or, if you’re creating a podcast or video content in addition to written blog content, you’ll want to create blog posts about them that might be on the shorter side while still getting their point across thanks to multimedia,” comments Brittany Berger, content marketing expert.

Improving Text Readability

Readability is one of the most important metrics of your text. It evaluates your text’s difficulty based on the recommended Flesch-Kincaid reading-ease scale. The higher the score, the easier to read. For example, if your score is between 90 and 100 points, it means that the average 11-year-old easily understands the text. If your score is between 0 and 30 points, then your text is very difficult to read, and only university graduates will be able to understand it.

According to the study, the average readability score for articles that have not been optimized is 39. But, 95% of readability suggestions issued by the tool were successfully implemented by the authors.

Checking for Plagiarism

Duplicate content is the greatest enemy of a strong online presence. In some cases, this is a necessity, but more often it is a manipulation of organic search results. To avoid Google’s penalties, you should create unique content and always check your text for plagiarism. In our research, more than 23.8% of the analyzed articles came back as containing plagiarized text.

As our study revealed, content optimization can be a rather time-consuming task. The average time users spent optimizing their articles was 2 hours and 32 minutes. But it is worth the effort for the results.

Driving Results

When it comes to content marketing, you should always fall back on two things if you want results:

  • Give your audience exactly what they want
  • Heed the best practices for content creation and keyword optimization

These two things will help your articles to be both valuable and competitive. This will help you to improve your SERP rankings and get more traffic to your website.

SEMRush Content Marketing Infographic

Were there any surprising findings in our study for you? I’d love to hear about what surprised you in the comments below.