Google’s algorithm is ever-changing, and sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to keep up. But some things never change, including the fact that Google’s aim is to provide answers to search queries that exactly match the user's intent. Writing high-quality content that engages users and answers their search queries is one of the best ways of rising to the top of Google’s search results. Higher rankings generally mean more clicks.
Keep in mind that nobody really understands the algorithm (even most of the people at Google). It’s just too complex. And that means there is little point in trying to outsmart the algorithm or game the system. Give Google what it wants – what it expects – in terms of quality, structure, and subject matter, and the reward is better ranking. We all want that, right? But blindly chasing more visitors is not a smart tactic. We should always think about the profile of visitors we want to visit our website. Visitors who don’t convert to customers or clients are not much use if that’s your main method of monetization. Websites that use an advertising model often care about absolute numbers, but even this can be problematic. Some demographics are not as attractive to advertisers. They’re certainly not as lucrative. E-commerce websites that only attract tire kickers and people looking for free stuff will struggle to be profitable.
Creating Content For The Right People
There is a solution to low traffic numbers and non-converting visitors. It’s called writing for user intent – writing content that satisfies the search query of Google users. And it's the basis of good SEO. When your content perfectly answers the questions your ideal customers ask, the search engines take notice and reward you with more traffic. Your content should be written to target the sweet spot of a high number of visits and targeted user intent.
Here’s an example:
Writing a blog post about Infographics might get you lots of clicks but it’s likely that the majority of these visitors are either looking for interesting infographics or want to know what they are. If you’re trying to sell a product or an graphics service, it might be better to write about tool for creating infographics.
The Best Tools for Content Creation
Luckily for us, in 2020 there are numerous tools that can help with the writing process. Use these excellent content writing tools to improve the content on your website, design briefs for new posts, update your ecommerce pages, and save yourself and your team hours of time.
From what we understand about Google, the algorithm is looking for the following
- Well-written and error-free quality content
- Content that satisfies “user intent”
This list includes tools that help fix spelling errors and improve grammar in your writing. But I’ve focused on content creation tools that help you research, write, and deliver quality blog posts and landing pages.
Frase: AI Content Research
I’ve put Frase first in the list despite the fact that it’s one of the newest apps on the list. However, “new” does not mean that the product is immature. Frase is a powerful content research app that will help you create incredibly detailed briefs for blog posts and landing pages. Frase analyzes and references information on the pages that currently rank on Google based on your chosen keyword. It then creates a sort of mind map, pulling out useful paragraphs, statistics, keywords, and topics.
Frase presents all the data in an easy to digest content brief that makes it simple to either use as a guideline for your writing or send to a content writer.
Here’s a video showing just how easy it is to get a detailed content creation brief.
Surfer SEO: On-Page Optimization
This Polish-based startup exploded onto the marketing scene last year and established itself as the number one on-page ranking tool for marketers. Plans start at $29/month so it’s perfect for the budget-minded content creator, marketer, or business owner.
What does it do?
Surfer’s unique selling point is that it instantly shows you all the metrics you need to know for creating the perfect piece of content. It also helps update current content in order to rank higher in Google.
With just a couple of clicks you can discover the perfect content length and important keyword densities and recommend usage. But that’s not all, Surfer SEO lets you see the number of backlinks per URL, popular questions and common words throughout the top ranking pages in the search engine results.
And then there’s the incredibly useful Content Audit feature. Many marketers consider this the best feature of Surfer SEO. Plug in your blog post or page URL and wait a few seconds. The content audit tool will tell you exactly what you need to change in your document in order to rank higher.
Suggestions might include:
- Adding or reducing word count
- Adding or removing certain keywords and phrases
- Changing the number of headings
- Changing the instances of exact keywords in the text
- Altering the title length
And there’s a lot more information in there besides these important factors.
The Content Editor is another powerful feature that lets you write directly on the tool’s editor and see, in real time, how your content compares to your competitor’s content. As you write or edit the document, Surfer SEO shows you the changes you need to make to the word count, keyword instance, and other factors. Documents can be shared with collaborators or writers without having to buy another plan or creating logins. It’s a very powerful tool for content writers that has literally changed the game for SEO.
While Google Docs doesn’t offer any fancy options for content creation, it is one of the simplest and most efficient word processing tools.
Docs is also one of the cleanest apps in terms of formatting. Copying and pasting from Google Docs to WordPress is easy and will not fill your WordPress page with strange font formatting or hidden CSS and HTML code.
If you want a quick way to write a document and have it saved online, get a word count, do basic spell checking, and collaborate with colleagues, Google Docs is a great tool. It’s also free.
I use Docs as a place to save a copy of any document I work on, run further checks, and integrate with Surfer SEO, before finally pasting the finished product in WordPress for publishing.
Grammarly – Free Spelling and Grammar Checker
Grammarly is one of those tools that you install and forget about but use every single day. It becomes part of your workflow. It’s one of the best apps for checking the grammar, spelling and punctuation. The paid tool is well worth the asking price if you are serious about improving your writing.
Note: Grammarly’s Premium plan includes a plagiarism checker, readability check, formality level checker, and offers suggestions on word choice, among other things.
The Chrome Plugin (available on other browsers) allows Grammarly to work seamlessly across editors and forms not he web. It now also works with Google Docs (in beta)
ProWritingAid – Powerful Grammar and Style Reporting
I’ve been using ProWritingAid for years now and it’s a solid tool for perfecting your writing style in different genres and mediums. Writing for the web requires a different approach to writing for research papers, creative writing, or technical documents. ProWritingAid helps you create the perfectly optimized piece of content thanks to the many reports available.
Reports include grammar, style, readability, overused, and structure. There are many more reports for people that want to get really deep on writing analysis.
Check out this full review, discount code, and guide to ProWritingAid here.
Hemingway app – Free Writing Style Guidance
I’m not the biggest fan of Hemingway App. It’s a completely free tool that you can use as a guideline. But following Hemingway Apps suggestions to the letter of the law will make your work bland and generic.
However, it’s a great writing app for marketers and content writers on a budget and could be useful for businesses that outsource writers or have a small content team. Let your writers use Hemingway to discover glaring errors and tighten up their sentences.
Headline Analyzer Tools
This section includes a number of different tools as they are simple enough to use and don’t require any long explanation. I encourage you to try out the headline analysis from a couple of these apps at the same time to get a few ideas.
My favourite headline analyzer is Headlines by Sharethrough
It’s simple and you don’t need to sign up to use it. The software is mainly for analysing titles for Google Ads and Facebook Ads but it’s perfect for checking your blog posts headlines. After all, if you can entice people to click on your ads purely based on the headline, you can do the same with your blog post titles.
- CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer is another great option for finding that perfect blog post title.
- You must sign up to use the service however, and the signup process is a little buggy.
- Both tools give me similar results based on a score out of 100 and suggest the same kinds of changes. Choose the tool that you like best.
- Note: CoSchedule offers a premium Chrome Plugin called Headline Studio that you can use to instantly check headlines. But it’s a paid tool. And the paid version does not offer much above and beyond the free tool.
Workflow suggestions & Summary
- I generally start off my content research with Frase. The output from Frase gives me a great overview of the format, the kind of topics people are writing about, the kinds of research and statistics included in the top ranking posts, and many other useful points of data.
- I then take note of the word count.
- Next, I run the keyword through Surfer and check the word count here too. It's worth keeping in mind that Surfer includes comments as part of the overall word count. And this is something you should take into consideration. Google’s John Mueller has stated (more than once) that blog comments are included as part of the overall body text in the algorithm. Frase ignores user comments in its word count calculations.
- I prefer a holistic approach: If a blog post is 1000 words long but the comments turn it into a 10,000-word post, I will discount it (at least in terms of length). But I’ll also search through the actual URL for keywords and read through some of the comments with a view to finding interesting questions and threads. There are always opportunities to find questions that you can answer in an FAQ at the end of your blog post or page.
- Next, I write the blog posts in either Scrivener (my preferred tool for writing) or Google Docs. And I drop every document into ProWritingAid. But everything will end up in Google Docs eventually.
- 👍 Scrivener and ProWritingAid work very well together thanks to a tight integration that gives you the power of both tools.
- Once the post is published, I run it through Surfer’s Audit to see if the post needs any additions or if I’ve overused certain words and phrases.
Note: Surfer SEO offers a Google Docs integration tool for the Content Editor that is very useful.
Note: Surfer's audit includes words in the alt text of images when auditing a page. So it’s worth checking alt text and image file names for over-optimization of certain keywords.
These free and premium desktop and browser apps will help you become a better content writer but offering expert guidance based on artificial intelligence. If you leverage these tools properly, you'll be one step ahead of the competition in no time.
Frequently asked questions
How can I optimize content that is already published?
To optimise a post or page that isn’t ranking well in Google, use Surfer SEO’s audit feature to find out exactly what you need to to do improve the quality of your writing and make sure you are offering great content to the world.
What’s the best way to do research for a blog post?
Without a doubt, Frase will give you the best high-level overview of the topics and direction you need to focus on to create great content.
Are there any free Tools for content writing?
Yes there are. Hemingway App is a decent basic tool to help with grammar and readability. Google Docs is 100% free.
Is Yoast good for content writing?
Simply put, no. Yoast is a tool for improving the on-page SEO of your website pages. The content suggestions are based on Yoast’s own algorithmic predictions. Use a proper content creation tool and don’t pay attention to Yoast’s SEO recommendations. For a better SEO tool that focuses less on gimmicks and more on real SEO tools, try SEO Press.
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.