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Here are the 7 main parts to optimize to RANK.

1. Pick the right keyword

Every piece of content begins with picking the right keyword.

You could create the best content on the planet. But if the #1 article on the topic is by Healthline with 1,000+ backlinks – good luck ranking.

So, how do you pick the right keyword?

A lot of this has to do with the keyword search volume, difficulty, and authority of what’s ranking.

Then, you’ll need to Google that keyword, analyze what’s ranking, and ask yourself:

How can I create better content on that topic?

For example, if it’s an informational article, you could go into more detail, and provide more value, visuals, and examples.

If it’s a transactional listicle covering 7 best marketing automation tools, you could create a more thorough list with NEW info. E.g. if the initial article only covers the tools + features, you also cover real use cases, pricing, who it’s for, etc.

2. Create an outline

A good outline is the difference between ranking #1 and #20.

Here’s the thing:

You could be working with the best writer in the world…

But if they don’t have the right SEO knowledge, you’ll end up with content that “reads well” but does NOT rank.

When creating outlines, I analyze what’s currently ranking and look at:
– How fresh the current articles are (Google likes new content)
– If they’re long-form or a simple 500-word, surface-level article
– If they have images or visuals
– If they can be more SEO-optimized
– If they provide enough value
– And so on

Most writers just review the top #1-#4 articles and regurgitate what’s already been said.

Without adding anything new.

If you want to add REAL value, consider:

– Interviewing topic experts
– Going through industry reports
– Collaborating with experts
– And so on

If I’m going to pass an outline to writer, I also include an SEO checklist, which might look something like this:

3. Good headline

Compelling headlines can skyrocket your CTR.

So, you need to be SUPER specific in terms of who your article is for.

Guide to Productivity


– Target audience
– Numbers/data
– Relevance
– What the article will actually content
– Who it’s NOT for

Let’s take another example.

– Your article ranking #4 has a 15% CTR
– Google benchmarks that as average CTR for the position
– If more people are clicking on your article than article #2 which has a lower CTR…
– Google assumes your article is better and boosts your rankings

So, when creating quality content, we’d use this as a CTR benchmark by ranking positions.

If our CTR for a given article was lower than the position average, we’d tweak it and wait 2-4 week.

If it didn’t improve, we’d test new headlines until we found something that worked.

Finally, as a rule of thumb, use a SERP preview tool to test your headline length.

4. Nailing the introduction

Your introduction should always do 2 things:

1. Make it dead obvious who the article is for
2. Let the reader know why they should continue reading

By now, I can crank out quality introductions for ANY niche in under 7 minutes.

It’s simple.

Use PAS or AIDA.

Because this is SO templatized here, you can use ChatGPT to get a head start.

Edit it down so it’s more readable, add a table of content, and voila.

5. External links to authority sources

By linking to reputable sources, you demonstrate to search engines that your content is a reliable source of information.

This doesn’t mean you should start linking to Wikipedia though.


– Link to high-quality, reputable sources such as “state reports”, infographics, primary data, and so on.
– Use anchor text wisely
– Don’t overdo external links

There is no rule of thumb on how many external links you should include.

But if it feels unnatural or overdone – it probably is.

6. Include 3-10+ internal links

Internal links help users stay on your website longer and signal to Google the page you’re linking to is trust-worthy and relevant.

Your internal links should be relevant, contextual, and spaced out.

Again, if you have too many links, it’ll be obvious.

Instead, focus on linking to quality posts first.

To find relevant internal linking opportunities, use the following search query:

site: (site)com “keyword”

7. Improve content UX

Last but not least, you should ALWAYS aim to make your content skimmable.

When someone lands on your article, they want to be able to find whatever information they’re looking for in under 5 seconds.

So, be sure to optimize for that by including:

– White space
– Clear headings
– Bullet points and bold text
– 1-2 sentence per paragraph
– Simple, direct language

SEO is a lot of work.

But if you’re a 6-7 figure business and want someone to take care of the entire process for you…

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