Research Tips for Writing Content That Ranks [2021 Updated]

Writers without flair lose impact with their writing, but a writer without substance forever remains away from the masses. After gaining some experience with writing, you begin understanding language and tonality.

The crux of your content, however, depends on solid research – which is one aspect many writers don’t do too well with.

Good Content writing styles or not, what most are worried about today is how to get your content to rank amidst the tough competition. SEO copywriting best practices can help to channel your content in the right direction. Even with the most tried and tested methods of SEO, research based on topics, keywords, and the tone and approach of your writing angle can make a lot of difference. 

Recent experiments have shown that with prompt research for content, many sites have been able to turn the tables and climb up the ranking ladder. Let’s have a look at seven research aspects with tips that can help you rank your content at the top.

7-Step Research Funnel for Writing Content that Ranks

Browse through this 7-step research funnel for a great research strategy for your content and explore some impactful SEO content writing tips along the way. 

1. Google’s December 2020 Algorithm Update

To be able to improve your rank, the first thing you need to research is what you’re up against. That is Google’s Algorithm and how it ranks your content. If you’re not up to date with this information and trying to rank your content, you’re frankly aiming in the dark.

Google Algorithm Update, SEO

This becomes especially important since Google just updated its algorithm in December 2020. So whatever you know, or whatever you thought you knew about tricking the algorithm, went out of the window pretty recently. The Dec 2020 update has been called a core update to the ranking algorithm and has had a relevant impact on many sites. While there have been several such updates over the years, this one has been a significant one.

Here are some key takeaways from this iteration of Google’s algorithm update:

  • Authority Content comes center stage.

Poor-quality content no longer cuts it. Authority Content writing styles own the centre stage with the new algorithm update where the quality of content, information, and value creation is evaluated. Keyword stuffing is totally out of the window. In fact, any possibility of stuffed keywords that are out of context gets your rank pushed back much further. 

  • You can’t backlink blindly.

Even good backlinks can’t save you if your content is of poor quality. If your content falls too short in covering substantial points or, in general, in quality, you’re already out of the game. This doesn’t mean backlinking is not important anymore. Only Google can now evaluate if your content quality is proportional to the quality of backlinks. 

  • The EAT Ranking Factor

This is the most significant one to keep your eyes out for! E.A.T is short for Expertise, Authority, & Trust. 

This novel ranking factor takes precedence with Google’s algorithm now. The basic idea with E.A.T is for the algorithm to determine your quality as compared to your competitors in these three areas. 

Starting with Expertise, your level of knowledge or skills will be evaluated for your content to fall under “expert in that niche.” Your websites and other entities that are contenders for ranking will be judged in the same way. Proper research and fact-checking of all content become essential. 

Factors like – “How helpful has your website been to people in the past months? Is your content outdated? Has your content been acknowledged to be accurate?” will count in determining this. 

Your premium authority in the field and how you operate as a brand become the second factor. The third factor is regarding how trustworthy you are. Is your content accurate and transparent? Is your brand legitimate? These factors come into play with the E.A.T. approach.

2. Solid Keyword Research

The next research factor is for the keyword – What do you want to rank for? How to use keywords in content writing? Google processes over half a million search queries in a second. So getting ahead in the SERP is not that simple. This is why digital marketers have figured out what the algorithm uses to decide this ranking – specific target phrases and keywords. 

Keyword research, SEO audit, Keywords

However, as you read above, the keyword game is also not so simple anymore. Instead of stuffing keywords, focusing on one or two “key” words can be the smarter move. Search tools for keywords like Ahrefs and Google’s Keyword Planner tool can help you gauge which queries are most popular and what you should try ranking for. 

Having said that, it goes without saying, that targeting a great keyword is not enough anymore. If you want to fend off competitors naturally, then you need to ask yourself- How to use keywords in content writing? You have to plan good quality content for it and explore new angles for premium authority to outrank your competitors.

  • Prompt SEO Research

This one is less research and more of a best practices point. Well, you could say general research on prompt SEO best practices is very important. Even great content creators miss out on the use of headings, H1, H2, and H3 tags for subtopics, optimized featured snippet content, and much more.

A good meta description and meta title can go a long way in convincing a viewer to make that first click. Actionable verbs and engaging visuals can also elevate an average content piece to the next level.

Include your keywords in your meta description wherever possible. Don’t forget to add relevant alt tags to images. These are small but significant practices that can change the content game for you completely in the months to come.

  • Topic Research – What will give you the edge over the competition?

Research for the topic of your content is an interesting one. It is a little surprising how this remains the most ignored research tip. Maybe it’s not even surprising anymore since topic research has somehow always been ignored.

Partial credit for this goes to Google’s old algorithm and ranking process. When the keyword became really important, the content and the actual topic of discussion failed to come into the limelight. 

Now that this is not the case anymore, maybe you’d want to start getting back to researching good topics. If you want to ace the ranking game, spend some time figuring out what exactly you’re going to write.

This includes the questions you are going to answer with your content, how theoretical or tutorial-like your post is going to be, and generally narrowing down to a direction within your decided topic. 

Look out for similar posts and the top-ranking blogs on the SERP for some reference. What are some topics that would stand out amidst such a list? Are there too many topics with the exact same approach that are already listed? A prompt approach to topic research gives your site and content the authority to outrank others.

3. Robust Link-Building 

Let’s talk about link building next. We know crazy backlinking with no cause is a NO now, but link building still remains an essential factor for your rank on the SERP. Backlinks to your page are testaments of credibility for your site for the Google ranking algorithm.

This comes under the “Trust” factor of E.A.T. High-value assets, and more original data within your posts can become an organic source for generating such effective backlinking to your page. Guest posts and content from valuable experts can be another source to lead traffic back to your site.

Then again, bogus linking can have loopholes that will affect your ranking negatively. Basically, Google is trying to tell people; that it’s time to boost up the quality of content now instead of using gimmicks for ranking. 

If they don’t have a way of recognizing a specific kind of traffic on your page now, rest assured, they will pretty soon. Quality link-building is the way to go!

4. Title Research – What to call your Blog? 

To understand “What you want to call your blog,” a prerequisite is “What is your Blog.” Titles of blog posts are another facet of SEO that is thoroughly ignored. For some reason, content creators fail to understand this is what helps people decide if they want to click in or not.

Something compelling that showcases your target keyword is the ideal option for a title. In terms of SEO, this is something to look out for. Moving beyond SEO, blog titles do present something even more relevant.

Have you ever searched for something and come across a SERP with a list of exactly the same title blogs? It’s a common sight these days. Titles that are the same or mirror each other can eventually tend to get lost in the list. Craft a creative yet SEO-friendly title that accurately describes your content and can draw in your audiences.

5. Competition Research – What are your competitors missing?

Last but not least, don’t take your competition for granted. How to do research for content writing? Here’s how- Once you have pinpointed your topic, title, keywords, SEO factors, and all other essentials for ranking your content, you need to have a look at what others are doing.

Competition Analysis

To some, this might not be the most righteous thing to do. But, we’re sure it’s a logical one! Browsing through your competition is not to mimic their strategy or ape their content. Why copy when you can do them one better?

Start by analyzing what your competitors are missing out on collectively. Whether it is a certain angle in the topic that remains unexplored in the top ranking pages, or perhaps too many pages saying the same things, find the missing piece. 

Once you have that, you can build an original strategy that is now more valuable. Because guess what? You’re sharing something that the audience won’t find anywhere else. Competitor research can be the masterstroke for the perfect content strategy. 

Final Words

Who knew research for content could have so many facets? Well, now you do. While some of these research tips, such as SEO practices, are recurring ones, some such as topic research need to be done time and again.

Everyone have different Content writing styles. But what truly counts is the research!

You are surely aware that research can take time, and this is the reason many content creators don’t bother with it. For long-term ranking and a general affinity for quality content, some research is all you need to guide you. All in all, the message from Google is clear – pump your quality to pump your rank up. Like we said, if they can’t track something yet, they will soon enough. There is no excuse. 

What is your favorite research tip? Have any of these worked or backfired for you recently? Follow these robust research tips to come up with your high-ranking content concoction! Do you have questions or comments to make on the tips for writing content that ranks? Kindly make use of the comment box.

And in case you’re looking to check out our Content writing samples, don’t hesitate to contact us. We love a sweet, little chat over a cup of coffee!