No More Tricks: 5 Ways to Create Content That Google Wants to Rank


You might not want to hear this…

…but the fact is that your content may not deserve to rank #1 in search engines.

Only one piece of content can rank first for each search query—that’s a fact. Google (and other search engines) work hard to make sure that the first result is truly the best content for that keyword.

According to recent Google patents, we know that Google is constantly refining and improving its algorithm that automatically “ranks,” or scores, pages based on content quality.

In addition, they have a large manual search team that grade pages based on Google’s latest quality guidelines.

Not surprisingly, the best content fulfills all those guidelines.

A few years ago, you could create “good, unique content” that wasn’t really good, but it was good enough to fool search engine algorithms. Assuming you had the right off-page optimization, you could still rank for terms. 

But Google in particular has made incredible strides in the last few years. Recently, there was a huge Phantom update that caused huge shifts in rankings. This update was the result of Google changing its core algorithm once again. It’s only going to keep improving from here.

I know that some of you are frustrated and angry because of those changes. It sucks if your traffic declines because your pages now rank lower. I understand that, but in all honesty, does your content deserve to be #1?

It probably doesn’t. Maybe it did before, and maybe it got surpassed. Regardless of why, the good news is that you can get your rankings back.

How? Create the best damn content out there. There are no secrets at this point.

Considering organic search still makes up about 64% of referral traffic, it’s worth it.


But how do you create the best content for your targeted keywords?

I’m going to show you five different ways you can take your content to the next level. If you do just this, you will get a lot more search traffic. If you combine it with solid promotional tactics, you will grow your website rapidly.

1. Bigger is often better

When you’re looking to learn about SEO, email marketing, or any other topic, which would you prefer:

a list of three tips


a list of 20 tips?

There’s no question that the list of 20 tips will be more useful to more people than the shorter list.

Making something bigger (longer) is typically the easiest way to make it better.

According to an in-depth study by SerpIQ, the highest ranking pages are typically longer.


While there are some exceptions (such as an extremely narrow topic), packing in more information is usually better for the user, which is what search engines want.

My personal experience shows that such posts are more shareable as well, which is an indicator of their usefulness. In the past, I’ve shared that my own analysis of Quick Sprout posts found that posts longer than 1,500 words get an extra 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than shorter ones.

You’ll notice that posts on both Quick Sprout and the blog are usually very long (4,000-6,000 words), and they do okay for search engine traffic.

There are actually two ways that you can make a post longer to improve it.

Option #1 – Add more items: The obvious option is to just add more content to a post. The most common situation in which this is the best option is with a list post. Instead of “8 ways to do X,” write “20 ways to do X.”

If you’ve done your keyword research already, you can easily pick out terms in areas where people are looking for more. Typically, the best candidates are phrases that include the words:

  • tips
  • strategies
  • tactics
  • ideas
  • ways

If you’d like to find more of these, use the Google Keyword Planner. Type in your main niche (e.g., health, marketing, decorating, etc.), along with any of the above words.

For example, if I wanted to create a monster list post for the case study site, I could search for “health tips” in the tool:


Without even scrolling down much, you could see that there are quite a few keywords that could be great targets. The fact that they don’t have a huge search volume (but still decent) means that there’s a better chance that no one else has created amazing content around the keyword (would you rather compete against or

Copy down those keywords, and then search them one-by-one. Look at the top few results:


Searching for “weight loss tips” brought up almost exclusively list posts, and that’s what we want to see. In addition, they are all relatively short, which means that you can easily create a longer list.

Option #2 – Add more detail: Many lists simply lack the depth needed to be useful. If your tip is to “weigh out your food carefully,” that assumes that readers know why they should do that and how to do it.

If you were looking for health tips, would you rather have a simple list or a detailed actionable list?

For example, the #1 weight loss tips result from the above search looks like this:


That is extremely plain and not very useful. If I were writing a post like that, I would include a much longer description underneath the tip. I could include:

  • a list of the best foods (maybe pictures as well)
  • a sample meal plan or snacking schedule
  • an actionable shopping plan
  • some examples of how to combine foods most people don’t know

In addition, I could make it more actionable by showing step-by-step personal examples of how I “add” food.

Imagine you’re the reader in this situation and you’re looking for health tips, which one would you rather read? The more detailed and actionable one, of course.

Here’s where the real power comes in: What if you not only made your tips more detailed but also made your list longer. Instead of just “10 Easy Weight Loss Tips,” you could create “30 Easy Weight Loss Tips” AND go into more detail for every single tip. That’s how you create a resource that deserves to be #1.

2. Help readers navigate the waters

I know it might’ve been a while, but can you remember what it was like when you were first trying to learn about Internet marketing?

You knew absolutely nothing and had no clue where to start (although if you found Quick Sprout, I think you’re doing something right).

Additionally, the first few guides and e-books you found likely left you with more questions and confusion than you had when you started.

The good news is that when you’re introducing a new topic to a reader (big or small), you have the opportunity to make it easy for them. If your article can successfully educate a reader about a new topic more completely than any other alternative can, you deserve to rank #1.

In general, there are three ways to make it easier for readers to understand your writing.

Option #1- Make it clearer: Start by breaking down things as much as possible. Use words that almost all readers are familiar with, and don’t try to tackle a huge topic all at once.

For example, I’m not going to try to teach you how to succeed as a marketer in a single post. What I do instead is pick a much smaller part of marketing, and go into it with more detail. That allows me to really break things down for you.

Additionally, use metaphors, similes, and analogies wherever possible to describe complicated (abstract) concepts. If you don’t remember those terms from your English classes, they basically describe ways of comparing two different things (in slightly different ways).

“Metaphors allow you to make the complex simple and the controversial palatable. Conversely, metaphors allow you to create extraordinary meaning out of the seemingly mundane.” – Brian Clark

The biggest advantage of comparisons is that they let you present your teachings in multiple ways. Hopefully, at least one will be clear to your readers.

Some are really obvious and can span an entire post like Do Business Like a Prostitute.

Other comparisons can be used sporadically when a complicated subject comes up.

For example, in my guide to growth hacking, I compared the growth hacker funnel (which most people have never heard of) to a car oil funnel. This specific example helped readers understand that traffic is like oil, and it needs to run down a funnel if it’s going to reach the destination, i.e., the engine (or growth for your website).

Besides comparisons, you can also use examples to help clear things up. Often, when you hear a new concept, it makes sense, but it’s not immediately obvious how you can actually apply it.

That’s why I try to include as many examples as possible when I advise you to do something. For example, when I wrote about writing emails to your subscribers to let them know about your new posts, I included an example of an actual email I sent:


Finally, you can also use personal data or results from experimentation. For example, in this  post, I shared with you the results of my personal Quick Sprout analysis of word count impact on share count. I regularly publish the results of my experiments to help you learn.

Option #2 – Fill in any holes: Sometimes, you’ll come across a #1 ranking that is actually good. However, even good content often has holes. It might address the primary topic thoroughly but miss something, or it might not address secondary questions well.

There’s a really easy way to spot most holes. Since the article has probably been ranking for a certain keyword or phrase for a while, it’s had quite a bit of traffic. Typically, that means it will also have quite a few comments.

Many comments will note anything that was missing from the article. It’s not always valid criticism, but often it is.

Even in my posts, I can’t cover everything 100% (I try!). For example, I wrote the post “22 Gmail Plugins That All Content Marketers Need to Know About.” It was a relatively popular article, and I think it was well-received. That being said, if you look through the comments, you’ll find some like this:


I check out the recommended plugin and saw it looks pretty cool—it would have made a great addition to the list. There were others as well that I missed.

So even a piece of content that I think is pretty good (although I might be a little biased) can be improved in a number of ways.

Option #3 – Correct any mistakes: Have you ever heard that you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet? Most likely.

Although the web has a ton of amazing resources that you can access instantly, it also houses a ton of misinformation.

In addition, since pages never go away unless they are deleted or the website goes defunct, a lot of information is out of date.

For example, SEO guidelines saw many changes in the past decade. What used to be good advice is now terrible advice.

If you search for “Google ranking factors”, you’ll still see results from the past few years. Although they were good posts at the time, they now contain mistakes.


Compare that to the #1 result, which is a post on Backlinko. Instead of focusing on the year, Brian Dean keeps it continually updated, which means that it will continue to be the best result for searchers without losing its relevance.

3. iPod or Zune- which would you choose?

Almost 10 years ago now, the race for the portable mp3/mp4 player market began.


Apple launched the iPod classic, soon followed by the iPod touch, while Microsoft launched the Zune.

The Zune was a pretty colossal failure, while the iPod went on to help Apple become even more of a leader in technology.

The funny thing is that many argued that the functionality of the Zune was actually better than that of the competing products. The problem was that it was bulky and ugly and not exactly the cool product to be seen with.

In short: looks matter.

And just like a case and logo affect the user experience with an mp3 player, the design of your website affects the user experience of any of your readers.

Even with the exact same content, two different designs can yield drastically different results. Users may love one while not even to bother reading through to the other.

If you want to create a better piece of content for a search, start (or finish) by improving the appearance.

Formatting technique #1 – Include images (bonus for custom): We all have instincts. If someone throws something at you, you automatically flinch. For most online readers, if they see a page of nothing but text, they automatically run.

A wall of text looks exactly like a textbook. If you make reading your content seem like work, very few readers will put in the effort to read it.

The primary way I break up text (besides keeping paragraphs short) is with images. We process images up to 60,000 times faster than text. It’s much easier to look at a picture than it is to read a paragraph.

The research on great content says that you should have at least one picture for every 350 words.

Any image is better than none, but some images are better than others. In my experience, here are the best types of images to use in blog posts:

  • graphs
  • charts
  • stock images
  • custom images
  • cartoons/comics

Graphs and charts are especially useful as they can help support your points and communicate important information. They’re also cheap, since you can typically just link to a source or create them yourself.

Custom images are fantastic but are more resource intensive. They will get you more social shares and backlinks, but take more time to make. You can either pay a designer to create them, or create your own.


Formatting technique #2 – Create a custom layout: If you really want to take a piece of content to the next level, create a custom layout for it. This is not easy or cheap (in time or money), so you can’t always do it.

However, for really important content, like my definitive guides, I find it’s worth it.

So what do I mean by a custom layout?

With a typical blog post, formatting is always the same. This isn’t a bad thing, but it limits you.

With my definitive guides, though, I was able to create custom tables of contents…


…and different background/fonts…


…and tons of custom images in the background to help readability.


It’s up to you how much time and money you want to invest in a particular guide. But the more you do, the more readable and useful it typically becomes, which will help you rank #1.

Formatting technique #3 – Use lists whenever possible: People love to skim on the web. They typically read no more than 28% of content.

There are many reasons to use lists:

  • they are more readable (easier to skim);
  • they break up content; and
  • they are much less awkward than long-winded sentences.

Formatting technique #4 – Structure for maximum readability: People like to read fast; that’s partly why they skim. But they also do it because they have limited time and there is so much content vying for their attention.

You need to make your content as reader-friendly as possible. The easier it is to read, the more likely someone will read enough of it to be drawn in to pay closer attention to it.

The main key is to have a clear structural hierarchy. By that, I mean that your content needs to be logically organized within an article.

That’s where subheadings come in.

I format my main subheadings just like most others, wrapped in an H2 tag. This way they stand out. Readers can skim through an article and easily identify the subheadings. If one catches their interest, they’ll dig into it.


Here’s where my formatting on Quick Sprout and my other blogs is different. Most blog posts are written with H3s, H4s, and even H5s sometimes. Each of these sub-subheadings are on their own lines and stand out from the rest of the text.

The problem with this, from my perspective, is that it is really difficult to tell them apart when skimming. Each type of heading tag is typically of a similar color and size.

So how is a reader supposed to differentiate them from each other? They can’t—not easily at least.

Instead of skimming the article and paying attention to a select few important headings, readers just keep scrolling through. That’s because nothing is likely to catch their attention when there are too many subheadings.

But, of course, sometimes you need to break up a section further. The solution is to strategically use bold and italics to signify these breaks.


Since the bold doesn’t span the entire line, and it’s not any bigger than the rest of the text, it won’t interfere with skimming. However, if someone is actually reading the section, it will be clear that the bold description is the beginning of a sub-section.

That’s a small tweak that can produce significant results in terms of user experience.

4. Give them something they can believe in

Blogs originally were created as sorts of online personal diaries.

Since then, they’ve evolved to be much more informative and entertaining. Because of that, anyone can create a blog overnight and post as an “expert,” even if they aren’t.

That leads to a lot of wrong advice even if it’s not written like that on purpose.

So when someone makes a claim or statement in a blog post, most readers are left with a thought: “Is that really true?”

While this is one of the toughest parts of the puzzle for Google to put together, having credible content is important. The #1 result needs to be content that users can trust.

My best guess is that Google uses user interaction metrics to determine the credibility of the content. If you use either of the two methods I’m about to show you, readers will trust your content more and stop searching for alternatives, which should help your rankings.

Option #1 – Interview or cite experts: If I’m writing a blog post, I have to convince you that I’m an expert that should be trusted.

This is where I ran into problems with the nutrition blog. Since I’m not a licensed nutritionist, it’s hard for me to offer any opinions and expect them to be taken seriously.

However, interviewing nutritionists and including quotes throughout the article would add a huge amount of credibility to my points.

Think about what podcasts typically are. For example, Entrepreneur on Fire is one of the most popular marketing podcasts. At first, John Lee Dumas was a “nobody,” so no one would listen to a show that was just about his entrepreneurial experience.

So what did he do? He invited a guest to join the podcast every episode. They were automatically credible because they had already achieved success and established themselves as experts. People wanted to hear their opinions, and that’s why the show got so popular.

Now, after years of hard work, John is also considered an entrepreneurial expert, and people would tune into his shows even if it’s just him talking.

But until you become an expert, use the credibility that other experts have already developed.

Option #2 – Support every claim with data: Expert opinions are one way to support a point. Another way, that is equally as good in most situations (better or worse in some), is to cite credible data.

Many people have told me that I include a ridiculous amount of links in my posts, and they’re right. I try to back up every single claim if possible. The more data and references you can include, the more trusted your content will (and should) be.


There’re many ways to find statistics, but the simplest way to start is to just search for “[your niche] + statistics.”


If you’re in a niche like marketing, there are a ton of great resources that have up to hundreds of useful statistics.

Often, you can also get even more specific. For example, I could look for “content marketing statistics” if I was writing an article on that specific subject.

5. Give readers control in complex situations

Your audience is composed of many different types of people even if they all have a common interest in what you’re writing about.

They have different time available to learn, different amounts of experience, different preferences for learning, and so on.

On top of creating great content, you can also give readers control over how they consume the content, which will lead to better user satisfaction—the key criteria for rankings.

Tactic #1 – Offer content in multiple formats: Some people are visual learners, while others like to learn by reading or by listening. I’m a big fan of giving people what they want.

That’s why I produce both long text-based articles and high-quality infographics on a regular basis.

I post them separately, but you can also combine an infographic with an article to give readers more options:


If you know that your readers might appreciate being able to save a copy of your article or print it out, you can offer a PDF version of the content.

Since these extra formats take extra resources to put together, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for a social share or email address before giving them out (it’s up to you):


Not all articles lend themselves to multiple formats, but keep it in mind.

Tactic #2 – Include a table of contents: Remember we talked about that people skim? They scan the content for headlines. Why not just give it to them? That way, they can’t accidently miss what they’re looking for because they’re scrolling too fast.

You can do this with a table of contents.

What’s that site that ranks decently for most terms? Oh yeah, Wikipedia, which actually ranks #1 for about 56% of searches. If you want to see great content, look at Wikipedia.

One thing Wikipedia does really well is it includes a table of contents on every single page.


It’s very simple, but it does exactly what it needs to. There are many WordPress plugins that you can use to create a similar table of contents in seconds.

Additionally, you can take it a step further on occasion. You can combine this tactic along with improving the formatting of your content by making an image-based table of contents.


It will draw even more attention, and it makes a great first impression on readers.

Tactic #3 – Let users filter out options: Some posts, especially list posts, can get out of hand once you start competing with other posts.

For example, Point Blank SEO has the biggest list of SEO tactics that I’ve seen by far. I’m not going to count individually, but from a quick estimate, I think it has over 150 tactics on the page.

The average reader doesn’t want 150 options even if it is impressive.

That prompted the author, Jon Cooper, to create a filtering mechanism.


You can check or uncheck the amount of time you have to implement a tactic as well as what it requires (dependencies) and the link value. This way, readers can take the massive list down to a few highly relevant and useful results, leaving them completely satisfied.

There aren’t any easy ways to implement this, so you’ll need to hire a web developer. But on a rare occasion when you end up with content that could be improved with a filter, it’s probably worth it.


Creating great content isn’t easy, but that’s the only way you will be able to achieve and sustain #1 rankings.

Think of each article as an investment. The more time and resources you spend making it the best resource on that particular topic, the more you will get out of it down the line.

But keep in mind that it will take time. It takes months of consistent publishing of top-notch content to see any results, and you won’t get 100,000 visitors per month over night.

The last major point I’d like to leave you with is don’t just use a single strategy or tactic from this article—combine them.

Think of a typical Quick Sprout article:

  • Is it long and in-depth? – yes
  • It is clear, simple, and actionable?yes
  • Is it user-friendly and readable? – yes
  • Is it backed up with expert opinions and statistics? – yes
  • Does it give readers multiple options? – sometimes (this could be improved)

My average article ticks 4 out of the 5 points for creating great content. That is how you create content that truly deserves to rank #1.

I’d love to hear how you’ve tried to make your content as great as possible in the past, and what you’re going to try now. Leave me a comment below!


  1. Deepak Rana :

    WoW!Just loved you article.Everything you mentioned in this article is essential.
    using Long-Tail keywords is nowadays very Important.I learned few things today.Would like to follow then so that I can rank on google, Well, Wouldn’t like to :p

    would like to add SEO & user-optimized articles on my blog . To get better results 😛

    Thanx, Neil Patel!

    • Deepak, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the great insights — I am sure your article will be helpful for all.

    • Christopher Pontine :


      Darn right Long Tail Keywords go it going on.

      Those words just scream to the searchers (this is more of what were looking for)

      Another Huge Plus:

      Search Engine Journal states that SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.

      So driving more SEO leads can help with your overall close rate.


      Christopher Pontine
      Owner & Publisher Of

  2. Awesome post Neil. And if you nee a nice Template for your Blog, you can check out this one:

  3. manish Kumar :

    Two word : Great post 🙂

  4. Yasir Salman :

    I dont have words for this awesome post super Thanks for this piece of content.
    Yasir salman

  5. Great ways to get Content! This helps a lot for content generation.

  6. Good article 😀

  7. Kes Butters :

    Great post Neil. I find that I constantly have to advise clients against what they ask for – which is generally a 500 word blog that offers little in the way of actionable, useful advice/tips to the reader. Of course, there’s research out there now that helps to overcome this (such as the stuff you’ve quoted here).

    I’ve also found myself on the wrong end of critical comments for suggesting that bloggers should make their work more readable using formatting, short sentences and paragraphs and readability scoring. I was accused of attempting to ‘dumb down’ the internet. My response was that you write for the audience, not yourself, and often poor formatting and long convoluted words and sentences are very off-putting. I work to the theory that if your reader has to stop in order to make sense of a word or phrase, you’ve effectively lost them.

    The only thing I don’t currently do is change the style of posts and blog layout, which perhaps demands a little experimentation on my part.

    Thanks Neil 🙂

    • Kes, sounds like you are giving them sound advice. In-depth content that is actionable and provides context is always preferred. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing much more from you.

  8. Hi Neil,

    This is what I call a truly classic blog post tutorial; excellent, helpful and highly resourceful. From personal experience, I discovered that long post contents ( from 2000 words) does rank better.
    Since I discovered this secret, before publishing any post, I simply check Google first page and check out blogs or sites that are ranking high, then I go back and create a powerful, more resourceful contents with longer word content than theirs…and you know what, I rank higher.

    Thanks for sharing, you are the boss at the top!!

    • Kunleola, It definitely does rank much better. Thanks for sharing your experience and keep up the great work.

  9. Robinsh Kumar :

    I think you are the only Internet Marketer who reveals all, almost everything about SEO and don’t care for the consultation fee you charge from your clients.

    Thanks for being helpful and giving in depth information about these updates to help us grow faster and rank better than our competitors.

    • Robinsh, I don’t believe in holding anything back — I want to help as many people as possible 😉

    • Yes, I agree with this. Neil is very thorough. I print his articles, 3-hole punch them and put them in a binder for reference. I’m pleasantly surprised he gives all this info away. Thanks, Neil.

  10. Every time I finish one of your posts, I feel like I should have paid for it…but please keep posting for free! Thanks for another amazing read with tons of helpful info!

  11. Chris Randle :

    Great article! We sometimes struggle coming up with content ideas for our site but now I’ve got somewhere to start from!


  12. Another excellent post which highlights things very well

  13. Bruno B @ Geeky Explorer :

    Once again, thorough and super informative post.
    Learning everyday!!

  14. Deane Alban :

    Great stuff, as always! My blog is in a health-related topic and I usually link to anywhere between 25-50 citations. Many are to scientific studies, others to authorities in the field. I link using parenthesis and a number — (1) — at the end of the sentence for each citation. But this post got me thinking. Would there be any benefit for me to link to my sources using anchor text instead?

    • Deanne, I think the more common practice is to use anchor text. However, if you find that traditional citation works better for you — continue doing so.

  15. Great post Neil. I deffinitly agree with the first 2 points. I see why my longer and more detailed posts get much more love from google now. Gonna try and make em even longer in the future and push down some of the current #1’s

  16. Excelent article!

    Every tip you cited here is is essential for best ranking on Google!

    Thanks for sharing,

  17. Hey Neil,

    Thanks for another great posts.
    How to avoid spam traffic ? i am seeing spam traffic in Google analytic..


  18. Greg Strandberg :

    There’s not a lot of difference between this article and other articles you’ve been putting up lately. You’re stretching.

  19. Rohit Singh :

    Thanks Neil good detailed post one of the biggest problems which most beginner bloggers face in fact even probloggers is to come up with new blog post ideas to blog about but by reading different blogs in your niche you can tackle this problem ! As always great post

  20. Naman Nepal :

    I don’t know what’s wrong with Google sometimes. Here’s one question that always keeps bugging me Neil.

    I’ve one blog on particular ‘X’ niche and I post around 2-3 contents, 1000 words+ daily. (The niche is large).

    There’s one competitor who started right a day or two after I started that blog. What he does is, writes 300 word content, posts 10 articles a day.

    My posts get more comments, but when it comes to organic searches, he’s overtaken me by miles. He ranks higher than me on every keyword.

    I know bad contents eventually get penalized. But why is it that Google considered more frequent post (no matter the quality) for the first few months or so?

    • Maybe people like his content better? So his time on site and click through rates are better? Or maybe he has more incoming links…

  21. Ashwin Reddy :

    I will definitely rank an article on the 1st page of Google Now.Thanks for the great article Neil Sir.

  22. Shubham Kumar :

    I think you have covered almost each and every topic. I just love it.

    I’m currently following all your article and yes I’m gaining traffic. Currently my blog ( ) is getting 60% of its traffic from search engines.

    Thank you for all of your articles and please keep sharing it.

    Thanks again,

  23. Hi Neil,
    I know I have fooled myself many times claiming to “deserve” to be in the top slot.

    But like you say, realising that good sometimes isn’t enough is the first step to creating stuff that DOES deserve to be on top.

    I’m tweaking a long post I’m currently writing with your suggestions to improve the readibility. Thanks!

  24. Randy Kauffman :

    Very nice! I do appreciate your blogs. A lot of good information to stick in my library from you.

    Thanks Neil!

  25. Hey Neil,

    Really great post!

    Getting to the number #1 spot is not an easy thing.

    Thanks for sharing.


  26. Sergey Lucktinov :

    Great post Neil,

    I just wanted to add to “Table of Contents” section that if you’ll have one, Google will show sitelinks to subsections in SERPs. It looks cool and improves CTR.

    Keep up great work man!


    • Sergey, thanks for the added tip and the support.

      • Sergey Lucktinov :

        Thank you for a link to a plugin that will do Table of Content for me. I’ve been doing those myself and it is annoying task :). Thanks for creating such a great resource. I used your techniques to promote a blog and this month it will pass 300,000 visitors from organic sources. And in next few months I’m sure I’ll surpass 500,000.

  27. Very useful and comprehensive tips Neil. Just grown my blog and it’s viral as per your tips. I like every explanation, it makes it easy to understand and it’s very graphical. Thanks Neil

  28. Neil I’m following your post and I’m getting traffic to my blog (
    Thanx alot

  29. Great article.. as always!

    I can appreciate that Google takes content so seriously, but when it comes to service businesses the results kind of suck to be honest. Just because big businesses can afford to pay New York Times, best selling authors to write their content, doesn’t mean they actually offer what you’re looking for.

    For instance, I have a small virtual assistance business and I’m not saying I expect to be number 1 on Google, but every keyword search clients would use to find a quality VA lead to top search results for sites that do NOT provide quality virtual assistance. Instead you get articles from Inc or Forbes about virtual assistance but you can’t hire either of those companies to assist you so that doesn’t help. Or you get results for some huge business with millions of dollars for marketing but who’s assistants are paid a few dollars an hour and the work they provide is mediocre on a good day.

    Point being, Google thinks they are doing a good thing by rewarding quality content, but somehow the first page is still home to the biggest businesses with the biggest budgets. Just because big businesses have writers write about different services and topics, it doesn’t help those who are looking to purchase that service.. unfortunately.

    • Sergey Lucktinov :


      From my experience it is much easier to promote local business than national one. You just have to target right keywords and do smart linking strategy.

  30. Niel,
    you always seem to hit it out of the park perfectly, a home run again. I normally don’t leave comments, your articles are just awesome, had to leave a comment, you left me no choice 🙂 . I subscribe to many sites and most emails i just scan and hit delete, your posts i have marked and saved them all and use them as i tweak my own site from time to time. Absolute value, wish i could afford to hire you to start something…
    cheers and keep on posting awesome articles.

  31. I thoroughly enjoy your articles Neil. Its’ sobering knowing the type of hard work that must be done to succeed online, but anyone can apply this knowledge to any niche, and be better for it. I for one appreciate the education you provide.

  32. Bill Schick :

    Neil –

    Great post. Frankly, it’s brutal to pull together a 2,000 word blog post on a regular basis, and I frequently recommend to clients to repurpose their own content (uniquely), but also to leverage data/statistics and subject matter expects to help there. Thank you for sharing.


  33. woww its awsome ,thanks for shring this stuff

  34. As always, an awesome post!

    One question: I completely agree that giving as many citations as possible and backing up each and every claim gives the post more credibility. Do you ever worry though about distracting users and giving too many opportunities to leave your website?

  35. Nice post Neil. For content writter this helps more good content creation. And website ower have idea about how to optimize landing pages content. Now a days content is most importance factor in keyword ranking. One again thanks a lot for sharing about this post


  36. Andrew Hall :

    Wow Neil. This is a major eye opener for me. I’ve always tried to keep articles to 500 – 600 words maximum. The graphs and data presented in your article obviously support your thesis, so I’ll definitely be adopting this strategy in my own content creation. One question though, how does long form articles match up when compared to videos presenting the same content? Sincerely curious to see some data on this type of comparison.

    As usual, thanks for providing such a comprehensive explanation.

  37. Really Neil Sir.. You Rock Again . You Covered All topics.. 🙂 Keep Sharing ..

  38. Healthcoach Cathy :

    Hi Neil –

    Before you even brought up this point I thought to myself “so what is it about Neil’s posts that drew me in to begin with?”
    Definitely it was the quality content but just as important is the fact that you present the info in understandable language! That is huge!! Thank you!


  39. Nate Johnson :

    Great post Neil!

    Raising the challenge once again I see! 🙂

    I really like the tough love approach of objectively asking yourself if your post deserves to be number one. I even find myself at times putting in the minimum viable effort. Granted not everyones MVE is the same but I think we could all give a little more in our posts.

    A shift I have been making is trying to be as actionable as possible. Maybe even breaking each list point to a how to implement this.


  40. Another awesome post, Neil, congrats! I try to continually learn from you and put into practice. And there’s so much to learn from you!

  41. I always struggle to come up with content for our blog. Creating longer blog entries is definitely the KEY though. Back to the drawing board to come up with some great skin care advise. Thank you again! I have literally rewritten many things on my site to keep up with SEO.

  42. Such an excellent post Neil. I couldn’t write like you, you’re playing with the words well.

    I like all your tips to create good content and yes, it would be good to focus on getting organic traffic. Really I can’t read the post at one stretch, so bookmarking it to read later.

  43. Hi Neil, I regularly read your blog posts. I then heard you interviewed on a podcast, and as a blog writer myself, I just don’t get it. How the **** are you so productive? I wrote a 2,500 word article last week, it took me 8 hours. How long did this article take you to write? including pulling in graphics, revising drafts etc. It’s impossible for one person to be this prolific. Do you have a team working with you to create this content? how big is the team? You’re not just mindlessly waffling…everything you write is on point and useful.

    • Tim, it’s me and a couple of designers and editors — I just put my mind to it and write. It’s taken years to master the process.

  44. Wow, another killer post. I do most of the techniques here but don’t often zoom in and deliver more details and I like the fact that if you are providing a list that you deliver quality content, more information and well researched SEO, links and other good sources. Great post!

  45. Your Helpful Elf :

    Well here’s another post I’ll be sending to my clients 🙂 Blog posts like this are incredibly useful when backing up advice and encouraging my own clients to take more responsibility for their content.

    I was pleased to see you recommend keyword research before writing, this is something so many people forget, but without it you could easily waste your time working on a masterpiece that simply has no audience.

    I recently wrote a post that goes into some more depth regarding choosing blog post topics that will have a big audience:

    I just doubled checked my post and it fits ‘most’ of your quality guidelines 🙂

  46. John Lincoln :

    Great post! Bigger is better.

  47. If someone throws something at you, you automatically flinch. For most online readers, if they see a page of nothing but text, they automatically run.

    A simile to ease understanding 😉

  48. Theodore Nwangene :

    Yet another mind blowing article Neil,
    You will never cease to amaze me with the kind of post you always publish here. One thing i always wonder is the amount of time you always put to create your articles. Do you do all these alone? Or you have a team of writers?

    Indeed, writing a comprehensive article on any topic is the best and i will rather prefer to read a post with multiple tips than the one that has just a few tips. I remembered the first time i heard of the Skyscraper technique from Brian Dean where you have to check a particular post and then, analyse it and figure out the things you could do better on the topic after which you’ll now publish it and boom, you’ll become the go-to resource on that topic.

    I believe that writing a longer indept article will always help you to rank higher on the search engines as you’ve always mentioned here but its not easy man.

    And that’s why i always wonder how you research your articles?

    Thanks for sharing and do have fun 🙂

    • Theodore, I read a lot! That’s the key. I also spend a good amount of time writing which is helpful. Thanks for all the support.

  49. Hi Neil,

    It has been quite a time that I didn’t comment, I was waiting for a great SEO post like this ONE!
    Thank you for it, you are really doing a great work!

    Just one little question: is there any way to make an awesome and pretty table of content for our posts (a plugin or free service from a website)? I am not a designer unfortunately…

    Keep the nice work Neil 😉

    • Oussama, I actually use a designer to create my site. You can check online — there are a ton of resources.

      • Thank you for the quick reply Mr.Neil. I guess I will have to wait that my website start generating revenue before to head to these design and look investments.

  50. Priya Florence Shah? (@PriyaFlorence) :

    Really useful tips, Neil. I especially loved the ones about breaking up the blog post with images every 350 words and using a table of contents. I implemented both on my blog immediately.

  51. I always enjoy your posts and learn something from them, but many are orientated towards blogs and I mostly have ecommerce websites to manage. I know many of the tips for blogs will apply to ecommerce sites too but there are different challenges with ecommerce sites.

  52. Got the point, but sometimes it is hard to do. Haha.

    Btw,thanks Neil

  53. Hi Neil

    Thanks for the thoroughness of all your articles. What a huge amount of work! Usually when I search for something, I prefer a short, to-the-point article, so that fact that longer ones rank, is interesting.

    My latest Google searches frustrate me. The things I search for the most is around “how-to” things to do with technology. For example, yesterday I searched for why the “add” feature is greyed out in my Word for Mac dictionary. As has been happening of late, I get searches that show up on the first page from 2006 to 2011. Not good when technology changes all the time! Even when I add 2015, I still get that old stuff showing up. Needless to say, this has made me frustrated with Google and makes me use it a lot less. I wonder if they know this is going on?

    I must admit, I hardly use their calendar or search engine any more because of that. As to my own content, I now ignore them completely and just focus on engaging with my audience using other means than SEO. Too much work for one person!

    Thanks Neil.

    • Sophie, glad we could connect. I think it’s important to provide value which is why I put together this blog to help others. You are right about Google they still have a lot of work to do to provide value and context.

  54. Dave Chesson :

    As always, great post. I find myself nodding my head as I went through that list. However, I’ve always wondered how you did your #2 formatting technique, even before reading this article. Any good resource on that kind of web page design?

    • Dave, I utilize a designer that does all the work. But you may want to check out some other blogs by running a google search.

  55. Awesome post Neil, I’ll definitely be adding in the table of contents to my posts.

    I’ve got a question about how affiliate links would affect a page which otherwise ticks all of the boxes that you’ve listed?

    I’ve got some epic posts about buying a specific, high cost item – going into more detail and providing more value than any other page on the web. I’ve got about a couple of competitors who have been established for longer than me but my content is much better.

    However, I also include affiliate links – around 15 per page, on some product images and descriptions. Could this be preventing these epic pages from ever ranking?

    I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by making a basic error here, but at the same time I think that including the affiliate links on these pages are more likely to result in clicks



    • You should be fine as long as you have solid backlinks and page metrics such as time on site and people aren’t bouncing off. This is what affects rankings more than anything else from what I am seeing.

  56. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    I love big content. I realize online catalogs for companies from various fields, and page content is usually quite long.

  57. Hi Neil

    I am a regular reader of your articles, and I also go through all or most of the comments. However, this is the first time I am commenting here. Am a lazy bum, when it comes to commenting.

    Great Article Neil. Love this piece and everything that you Post. I try not to miss any of your emails.

    FYI – In January I embedded the infographic post ‘The Scientifically Proven Best Time to Think and Write Creatively’ and linked to your website. Please find it here:

    • Hi Heston,

      The link you mentioned in your comment related to infographic is not working.

      When I try to check out the infographic it will show an error message “Error establishing a database connection”.

      Kindly fix the issue so I can check the infographic and may be I get something new from your ideas 🙂

      • Hi Satish

        Thanking you for interest. I just checked it, it seems to be working now. maybe a temporary glitch. Please try clearing the browser cache and check.

        A few days ago I activated the cloudflare CDN

        Please let me know if its working,
        Thanks once again for the feedback


    • Heston, glad you are commenting now 🙂

      Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  58. Pashminu Mansukhani :

    Great post, Neil.

    One question: You have always been writing about adding value to the blog posts with lots of content that will help the viewers, but what if we want to get our website page (not a blog post) rank #1 in Google for a specific keyphrase?

  59. Waqar Ahmed :

    Dear Neil,

    All the information is there but still it feels hard to act on it. You have told all the secrets but there will be few people who will take action. That’s why there are just few people who are making the difference. 🙂
    Great post!
    Best regards,

  60. Lasitha Fernando :

    Wow. This post is gr8 it helped to find answers for few of my questions. Thanks

  61. Hi Neil,

    Thank you for the desire to help by sharing the best insight from a very successful marketer like you. What you have shared may cost a lot for us if we hire you as consultant. But thanks for the golden insight.

    I’m learning content marketing using Quicksprout Guide –

    Hopefully I’ll launch my niche site in a month.

    Thanks a lot,


  62. Hi Neil,

    Great post!, Right now I am always aiming to write almost 1000 words high quality content.



  63. Hey Neil, do you know what? you are awesome like always. I like you to please provide a link to directly print the article to read/keep it for future references. Thanks

  64. Kapil Thakur :

    Amazing… Great article.. very logical. Thanks for sharing…

  65. Jithin Chandrababu :

    Neil, This is amazing stuff. You wrote a blog post about how blog posts should be and this post itself is the best example for what you mentioned. (Yes, I scrolled up and down many times).

    Hope to get a similar type of post about latest off page optimizing practices.

    A major complaint i noticed over the internet about you is that most of your tips are useful only for blogs and not for business websites or static websites.

    Hope you will come up with some great strategies to optimize static websites also..

    And as you know i have nothing to give you in return other than tons of thanks and couple of shares..

  66. Pramod Singh :

    Hi Neil

    I am new in SEO, I follow your blog and I found it very useful and informative. I have learned a lot from your posts and still learning. Great work


    Pramod Singh

  67. Really good article. Loved the fact that this article itself adheres to each of the content tips you have mentioned above. For me personally, the toughest challenge is creating good infographics / visual elements on my blogs.

  68. Hi Neil, Thanks for sharing such a great post. I really like this, not only like this also helped me to learn many things which I can apply to my blog :
    To get much better results from search engines..

    Thanks again, for sharing this article..

    Regards: Duryab Aziz

  69. Michael Wiewior :

    Hi Neil,

    thank you again for a great bunch of advice. I have to work harder on Infographics and include them to post.

  70. HI Neil,
    Lot of good stuff mentioned hear , which are take away from hear, Content marketing is next big thing and any content backed up with evidence of facts will always attract croud for sure.

    Created linked content for sure helps , I will try implementing few ones . Thanks

  71. These are things that I for sure didn’t know before signing up for your email list.

    To do that may have been the best thing that have happened to my internet marketing.

    Thank you for all invaluable tips.

  72. Anthony | :

    Great article! I learn a lot from it.

  73. Great one 🙂
    Thanks for the insignts 🙂

  74. Writing long form content also helps rank for a lot of long tail keywords that one might not have otherwise thought of.

    Great post Neil.

  75. I learnt new insights to leverage content for ranking. Thanks for the great article!

  76. Great Post Neil. I enjoyed reading your blog. The points you have come up with are just awesome and very practical i would say. I will definitely use the above points for my site as well. Keep Sharing such informative post with us.

  77. Hi Neil,
    Kudos for this article. I gone through the article. I want to ask you a question that you have written to update dates of old articles.

    Here I have a doubt. If for example I have written an article in the year say 2012. The article is unique. Eventually a person copied that article on his site.

    Since I was the first to write the article search engines rank me first for that article and related keywords and not that person.

    My question is that If I update the date of that article which bears 2015. Then will its originality be retain by me or the website which copied the article will rank first for it and my will be treated as duplicate.

    Plz clear my confusion.

  78. Rahul Sharma :

    Hi Niel,

    Everything mentioned in this post essential.i am grateful to reading your blog. Every week recirculating my activities accordingly you blog. Thank you.

    Have a Great Day!


  79. Dewald Swart :

    Another wicked blog from Neil Patel. Gee wizz, how many blogs do you write for? If I can ad anything here it would be to use striking images along with your content. Images, especially big images are becoming a huge trend in web design.

  80. Cathy Mayhue :

    Hi Neil,

    I have read loads of content on creating search engine friendly content, most of them are similar but your approach is from the reader’s perspective, which is very nice and lot more effective.

  81. Hi Neil,

    1) I took your advise and created a list of 100 celebrities (favorite snacks)…

    2) I tried to make the page look “customized” layout-wise instead of the usual post format…..

    3) Took me forever, but I did put in over 100 relevant links….

    Here is the page:

    • Nita, awesome. You did a great job — continue pumping out great content like this and you’re golden!

  82. Thanks Neil, Once again for such a awesome Post i always love to read your post on every website you post your content. And in every post of your i learn something new.
    Keep it up!

  83. I loved the title of this post Neil – “no more tricks” really rang true when you mentioned the fact that anybody can create a blog online and pose as an expert in the article.

    I really am learning a lot from your blog – even by the way that you write!

    Keep it up Neil – we love the detailed info! 🙂


  84. Thanks Neil. YouVe taught me that successful online marketing is a blend of art and science. I think that applying your principles to our blog posts has been really beneficial. A link on our FB page to an article on our own blog rated 438% higher than other posts (which are usually sourced from high ranking articles on buzz sumo). Still lots to learn. Best wishes from your eternal student.

  85. Cloris Kylie :

    I always get so much value out of your articles, Neil. Thank you for creating EPIC content!

  86. Hello Neil, this is such a detailed post with so much of information. I have a query here. I feel some of my very old posts which ranked higher for some keywords are not ranking well now. I am feeling that it is due to thin content. Shall I update the same post with more information or can I create new post with detailed information to rank higher for the same keywords. Which one is good and why? Please help me out. Thanks in advance.

    • Sundari, I think that’s a good idea. I always go back and try to beef up old content to see how I can improve.

  87. Hi Neil,

    These are really useful tips for everyone. Content really matters for any kind of promotion. Thanks for sharing another great article.


  88. Mehmet Mustafa :

    Very nice Post. I accept, that as long the post/page ist, better for search engines and users, but i think must be really careful with it, what we write, what we describe, how we describe the solution, and a mixing of pieces of content would be not bed, with testimonials coming from external sources, video descriptions, some social media channels, last posts from blog or forum topics, i think dynamic must be too.

  89. nice post .
    I want to know that will writing long content in b2c market like technology helps or not with search engines?
    you always tell us that write long content .

  90. Thanks for the big detail Neil!! i was trying to find the image to text ratio, thanks for mentioning that.!! I have just started the website.

    your tips are a big help!!

    Keep them coming

  91. Hey, am running a blog called It is generally based on Tips and Tricks or Android Games and daily life stuff. It is hard for me to write more than 500 words in an article especially when it comes to android games. As you mentioned above, it is mandatory to have more than 2000 words in an article in order to get good a rank in Google. So is it possible to obtain a good rank with 500 words articles if I create quality backlinks ?

  92. These tips are true even with lifestyle blogs. My two best-ranking posts are lists, one of lessons my parents taught me about marriage and the other of tips to enjoy Cedar Point. The main point is bolded, for people who want to skim, followed by details regarding each point. They’re two of the longest, most detailed posts I’ve written, and they’re consistently in my three most popular pages. Granted, the Cedar Point post is seasonal, but it’s still relevant six months of the year.

  93. Naz Qarbozian :

    Dear Neil,

    This was a great post and easy to read. I found your tips helpful for my business, Webcontentspecialists were I am creating a start up to provide content and maintenance assistance for websites.

    I enjoy learning all about this, and you should pop by and check out my services on: I even shared your blog since it was to good to resist. 😉



    • Naz, thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely check it out. If you need any help with anything else please let me know.

  94. Neil,
    You are still the Top Blogger ever online!!

  95. Oh Neil, you make me speechless…..
    great content as always!

  96. Hey Neil, great post! Quick question for you. I noticed in your recent post on CMI’s blog ( that you suggested “Instead of using keywords, use sentence fragments, branded terms, or other innocuous words in your anchor text” however, for this post, you kept the anchor text the same as the title. Why is this? Thanks!

  97. Srikanta Kundu :

    I have read top to bottom of the article and found that how easily you have write it.Is it come from your knowledge about the topic or you always research on topics ?

    Every point is important ,most important is to write large content above 2500 words and making list.But how it is possible for us,it is very tough for me.In my blog I have written some article but content length is less than 1000 words.

    Please suggest me what should be my first step.

  98. Neil, thanks for always over delivering on your tips and how to’s. I feel like my content should rank higher sometimes, but I think you’ve pointed me in the right direction. I’m going to refresh some old content with more descriptions and examples to see if I can rank higher.

    I thought there was a time when shorter posts were better, but I think this has changed since Google updated their algorithms. I like the longer meaty posts, and I need to get back to writing those.

  99. Fantastic!. This is one of my favorite so far. Thanks Neil. Please continue surprising us with amazing tips and ideas.

  100. Finally, a smart, thorough, clear take on modern SEO. Thank you so much for this Neil.

  101. I’m reading a LOT about ranking factors moving away from keywords and key phrases to “Giving the reader what they want” – I also just read on another site that they suggest not putting in your ranking keywords in your URL or META description? Just the Title and content?

    I still see a lot of sites putting their clear ranking keywords in the title, meta title, URL, meta description, all H2, H3, and H4 and the density is around 4% – and the are ranking good.

    Then I am seeing sites that don’t put keywords in the URL, description, any of the headers, and their keyword density is VERY low.

    So getting back to writing for what the reader wants, whats doing on? And how exactly does one do this?

    • Surveying. You ask your readers what they want, and you give it to them. Keep adapting and optimize for user experience. That’s the future of search… that’s what will cause sites to rank the highest in the long run.

  102. I have to admit you are the best content writer I have seen on the web. I rarely read an article more than 10 mins, but I find myself reading your articles for one hour and counting. You have done an exemplary work Neil.
    Your are very original and very clear, a sign of indepth research and coherency. You inspired me and a four days ago I started a website: where I want to try all those tips you have given in your articles and see how far I can go. Having a clear blue-print from you, watch out in the next few years another ‘Neil Patel’ in the making from this side of the world.
    Kudos and Bravo for spectacular work.

    • Tony — I have no doubt that there will be many more that write just as much content as me 😉

      I am sure it can be you if you keep it up. Best of luck!

  103. Harshita Verma :

    It was really a great post. Some of the points were too good which I never read before in any post. Thank you so much Neil to make us aware about these strategies. I am newbie blogger who is into core blogging since 8-9 months and experts like you help beginners like us to grow.

    I have a confusion about one thing still that what should be the average word limit for a post. Some say it should be short and crisp while others say it should long and deep. I would be glad if you would answer me.

    I write basically on Indian arts, culture, heritage, handicrafts etc.

    • Harshita, there is no precise or exact number. Focus on providing the best quality content to your visitors and the rest will follow. Let me know if you need any help along the way as well 🙂

  104. Hi,
    I will be linking to you tomorrow. You said I could pick any SEO article I wanted to feature in my Weekly Link Roundup; I chose this one.

  105. Hi Neil! I am new to quick sprout. Already downloaded your “link building” pdf and reading that. Compare to other seo sites i read before, your writing is simple to explain all. Can you change the ‘refereal” method to access the analytics?

  106. Neil,

    When using these strategies for content, and looking at the “How to Use Heading Tags To Get More Search Engine Traffic” video, is it best to incorporate LSI keywords or Long Tail keywords in heading tags? Not sure if it matters either way, but looking to see what would be more beneficial for my content and increasing Google traffic.


    • Lisa, try to mix it up — I would test it it out to see what strategy works best.

      Let me know if you need any other help along the way!

      • Thanks, I’ll give it a whirl.

        I’m still trying to fully wrap my head around analyzing competition in Google using SEOBook and the MOZ toolbar to make sure what I’m targeting is easily achievable. It’s looking like a lot of the 10 ten pages I’m looking at are not properly optimizing their pages, and PA authority is mixed which most of the top 10 in Google averaging around 30 PA. I guess that’s the luck I get for being a recipe blogger. The only thing I do not understand is how their back links or domain age may play a part.

  107. Hi Neil,

    A great piece of content again, I was really looking for such article where I could get the true reasons behind getting the first rank in the google search.

    Thanks for the share!

  108. Thank you, great post. I wish I had written this 😉

  109. Hi Neil!
    Thanks for share, now I’ll try pratice everthing that you said.

  110. Nice post on SEO, will definitely try in implement.

  111. Maria Wynham :

    Old days are gone away. Now a days content is more important than massive backlinks to your website.. Because Google & other search engines give weightage to good contents over backlinks.. Following these methods posted above we can really grab some good results.. Thanks Neil!

  112. Excellent Content You wrote on this topic

    I am following you since from 1 month and Found You a Good Teacher, so You are the best teacher

    I learnt many things from this post

    keep it Up .

  113. Awesome Post

  114. Really your writing pattern is very standard and helpful

  115. This is really and very great informative post I have also a Blog

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