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In last month’s blog, I shared some thoughts from SEO and PPC freelancer Jenny Munn about the state of SEO copywriting in 2017. Jenny is one of the sharpest SEO experts I know — if you missed the blog, click here to read it now.

Based on the feedback I got, SEO definitely seems to be top-of-mind for many of you. So I called Jenny again to pick her brain some more. This time, I wanted to get some practical, hands-on tips for improving SEO copywriting and content creation.

“First-page Worthy” Content

Jenny says the first step in creating what she calls “first-page worthy” SEO content is expanding your focus beyond just “writing awesome content” so you’ll rank on page one of Google.

“What we know and what we do are often two different things,” she said. “Also, you might work with a boss or coworkers who have different ideas about what it takes to rank high in the search engines.”

With this in mind, Jenny gave me 7 hands-on tips for creating “first-page worthy” content that Google wants to rank:

1. Be the expert. Most customers want to work with a company or service provider who is an expert in their particular field. This expertise should be clearly communicated via the content that’s produced — whether it’s articles, blogs, whitepapers, case studies or whatever.

“You can’t just write general information,” Jenny told me. “Your content needs to be specifically targeted to your industry and demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Writing two or three paragraphs of obvious, generic information that’s pulled from Wikipedia doesn’t communicate expertise.”

2. Focus on your readers. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask yourself how you can create content they want to see and present it in a way that’s easiest for them to read? Hint: They don’t want to read about how great you, your company and your products and/or services are.

Try to identify your readers’ pain points — the things that keep them up at night — and present solutions to their problems without promoting yourself or your business too heavily. “Also, use infographics, cinemagraphics, bullets and other visuals to appeal to all learning types,” Jenny suggests.

3. Publish fresh new content regularly. Websites today must consistently be refreshed with new, relevant (read numbers 1 and 2 again) content in order to rank high in the search engines. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s — this is non-negotiable.

“A site that was built three years ago and hasn’t been updated since is simply not going to rank today,” Jenny says. “It might rank for the company name, but ranking for high-traffic keywords will go to sites that are updated and refreshed regularly.”

4. Cite other experts as well. While you definitely want to position yourself and your company as the go-to subject matter expert, it’s also helpful to include references and links to quality content published by other experts. “You may be an expert, but you don’t know everything,” Jenny says. “You have an obligation to your readers to present the best information you possibly can.”

This article is a good example. I’m happy to share insights from an expert other than myself in order to provide my readers with the best information possible, while also boosting my website’s SEO results.

5. Make it easy to find your contact information. Spammer websites are notorious for making it hard to find real contact information — because often they aren’t even real businesses. “Don’t give the search engines any reason to suspect that your business isn’t real and your website is just a spammer site,” Jenny warns.

6. Keep your website clean and your site visitors safe. Make sure your website anti-virus software is always kept up-to-date to protect visitors from phishing scams, pharmahacks and the like.

“Google expects you to operate your business professionally, which includes keeping your website visitors safe from viruses and malware,” Jenny stresses. “This is one of the reasons Google is continuing to emphasize why securing your site with https is so critical.”

7. Don’t do shallow, spammy things. As recently as a few years ago, you could still get away with doing shallow things like keyword stuffing and ignoring a website riddled with technical issues. But not anymore. “Now the game is real,” Jenny says. “Spammy tactics like this usually backfire now.”

You also need to go well beyond simple, basic SEO tactics if you want to rank high today. “Don’t think Google is going to love you just because you used your keyword in the title,” says Jenny. “SEO content creation takes a lot more sophistication than this nowadays.”

SEO is Just the Start

Jenny concluded with a reminder that every business owner and online marketer needs to hear: SEO alone won’t make a lackluster business rank well.

“If you’re boring offline and failing to generate any attention for your business, the same thing will happen online,” she told me. “SEO’s true job — and by ‘job’ I mean strategic activities for users and search engines — is to amplify a great website that already exists.”