HTTPS (https://) is HTTP (http://) with the use of an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. SSL (or TLS) certificates encrypt normal HTTP requests and responses. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP. HTTPS is so important that Google uses it as a ranking factor in its organic search results.
Question for you:
Did you know there’s a hacker attack in the World Wide Web every 39 seconds, affecting one in three Americans every year?
But if you’re not protecting the information being passed through your domain, you could be skyrocketing the chances of a cyber-attack happening to your site, your website that uses HTTP dropping down organic ranks—and sacrificing your customers’ sensitive data.
(Which, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge GDPR issue.)
Preventing that security catastrophe starts with learning the key difference between HTTP vs HTTPS protocols: A type of website encryption that impacts how a domain collects, stores and uses visitor data.
In this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know about SSL encryption, and listing information on how you can use security certificates and encrypted connections to help boost your SEO. Read this text until the end to learn what HTTP and HTTPS stand for, including how to use web protocols to protect sensitive data, such as credit card information.
What is HTTP?
Simply put, HTTP (stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol) basically what makes the internetwork.
HTTP is the core protocol of any world wide web data exchange. It enables transferring data such as hypertext, plain text, a structured text that uses hyperlinks between nodes. A variation of the protocol is needed to access any website—hence why URLs address usually start with “http://www…”—and works by sending a command to a website server to fetch the webpage your URL corresponds to. Why use HTTPs instead?
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) works in the same way as standard HTTP.
Is https really secure and is it the only difference between HTTP vs HTTPS? All of the data sent through a webpage using HTTPS has an additional layer of security which is extremely important for sensitive information. This is called a Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol and protects any third-parties from eavesdropping on any type of data being passed through the secure https encryption.
Secure protocol HTTPS gives domains extra protection because the data being submitted to and from the server is encrypted—meaning nobody has the ability to steal, hack, or view private data.
Plus, data is passed through the protocol sites that can’t be changed or corrupted.
You can check whether your website address has HTTPS encryption by viewing the URL in your browser. If there’s a green padlock before your domain name, your site has a secure SSL/TLS protocol:
(Your customers check this, too: 28% of internet users look for the green address bar.)
In order to make your website run on HTTPS, you’ll need a Security Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This certificate, originally developed by Netscape, is what encrypts the site’s data and proves to website visitors that you’re a secure website. The advantages of https are clear enough to force the site to use https.
SSL as a Google ranking factor: the Main Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
WhyNoHTTPS found many of the top 100 websites still don’t load securely—including Baidu, ESPN, and MyShopify.
Does that make HTTPS encryption completely irrelevant for SEO?
Not necessarily. In fact, those websites are an anomaly.
Google’s team has expressed their opinion on HTTP vs HTTPS and the need for HTTPS time and time again. So much so, they’ve released an algorithm update based around it—causing sites without SSL to TLS security to struggle on their quest to rank highly in the SERPs.
“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
It seems they’re taking their own advice. Over 90% of sites owned by Google—including Google News, YouTube, and content promoted through their Google Ads network—send encrypted user traffic:
…But Google has said they’re working hard to make this figure closer to 100%.
4 Key SEO Benefits of Using HTTPS
These days, there’s more to SEO than encryption certificates.
It’s unlikely that a switch from HTTP vs HTTPS will skyrocket your rankings to page one. It takes an entire strategy—including on-page SEO, acquiring backlinks, and creating SEO content —to see SEO success.
However, there’s no doubt that making the switch has SEO benefits. Those include:
1. It Gives Better User Experience
It’ll come as no surprise to hear that user experience (UX) is a huge part of Search Engine Optimization Results.
If people are landing on your site pages through organic search and you’re greeting them with flashing text, bouncing icons, and countless pop-up ads, they aren’t going to stick around. Chances are, they’ll be mad that search engines pointed them there. The secure protocol grants the use of https greater security in web transactions.
Google doesn’t want that reputation, which is why UX forms a huge part of SEO strategies.
Unsecure pages without an SSL or TLS (HTTP vs HTTPS) don’t fit the “high-quality, trustworthy, and reliable” criteria that Google set for sites to achieve high rankings.
In fact, Google is so against insecure sites that a recent Chrome browser latest update now tells users when they’re visiting a site without an SSL or TLS, labeling the unencrypted site as “Not Secure”:
Seeing that browser warning sign would give you a fright, right?
You’d think twice about continuing to the site after knowing your data is at risk, which isn’t going to lead to a great user experience—nor high rankings.
2. Secure URL Address Can Increase Dwell Time
Now that you understand what does https protect, here’s another important thing to mention. Dwell time is an important factor for SEO. It’s determined by the amount of time a searcher spends on your site before clicking back to the SERPs, which tells Google how accurate your result was for their query.
Domains without HTTPS connection could be sabotaging their own dwell time. SSL or TLS encryption is extremely important at this point.
The content you’re sharing could be the perfect fit for your searcher. But if they’re being faced with an ugly “Not Secure” message, you won’t have the chance to show them your awesome content.
They’ll simply head back to their SERPs, and contribute to low dwell time.
Google’s spiders will then view your site as low-quality, or totally irrelevant to that search term, and your URL will drop down the ranks—even if your content is top-notch.
3. Sites with HTTPS Load Faster
When you click a link and land on a site, how long do you wait for the content to load before your patience runs out?
Research by Incapsula found that 55% of people are willing to wait a maximum of five seconds. Combine that with the 7% of people who expect a page to load immediately, and you’ll see why site speed is a critical ranking factor when comparing HTTP vs HTTPS.
(Remember: search engines want to point searchers in the direction of sites that are fast, reliable, and trustworthy to keep sensitive information safe.)
There’s such a huge importance on site speed that Google rolled out a “speed update”, impacting how mobile SERPs would be produced. Read their announcement:
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”
Using HTTPS vs HTTP gives you an SEO advantage because websites using HTTP are 824% slower than HTTPS:
Granted, you can use techniques like compressing files, optimizing images, or reducing redirects to boost your connection speed.
But using HTTPS connection is a quick win that could see huge returns from one change.
4. HTTPS Leads to Accurate SEO Reporting
You’ll need to regularly check-in and audit your SEO results to find out what’s helping your performance, what isn’t, and tweak your strategy accordingly.
That’s the tried-and-tested process of any marketing campaign, right?
It’s not an easy task though; SEO is notoriously difficult to report on. Comparing HTTP vs HTTPS: switching to HTTPS can help improve the results.
That’s because referral information is stripped when a connection isn’t secure with an SSL to TLS protocol (HTTP). Traffic sources aren’t named on sites with HTTP address, meaning you’ll see a bunch of visitors who’ve come from “direct” source—when in reality, they’ve probably been referred from social media, organic search, or paid ads.
Secure sites using HTTPS vs HTTP protocols, on the other hand, protect (and show) this referral information in your analytics dashboard. You’ll be able to clearly pinpoint the best sources of user traffic to your domain, making reporting more accurate.
You can, therefore, tweak your SEO strategy based on reliable referral user traffic information.
How to Migrate to HTTPS Without Losing Your World Wide Web Traffic
Are you ready to take advantage of the SEO benefits that HTTPS provides?
Unfortunately, migrating from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t as simple as contacting your site server host to change your URL address. The switch means the links you’ve built to your old domain (without secured protocols) are no longer working—hence why many site owners worry about losing their organic user traffic during the migration.
Here’s how you can switch without that happening.
1. Install an SSL certificate
Ready to start protecting the data being passed through your site, and experience the SEO benefits of HTTPS protocol?
You’ll need to install an SSL certificate to establish an encrypted connection for the server.
Platforms such as WP Engine have public key encryption via SSL/TLS available as add-ons if you’re already using them for your web server hosting. You might need to pay extra for this, but don’t treat SSL certificates as an unnecessary expense that you can avoid.
Google is actively rewarding secure key encryption with higher results, and 85% of internet users avoid shopping on unsecured resources—meaning the SEO benefits you’ll get in return will outweigh the (small) cost of installation.
Alternatively, you could also use a free service like:
Once you have the SSL encryption for your domain, you’ll need to install it on your site.
You can either utilize a WordPress plugin like Really Simple SSL to do this (which will automatically detect your new SSL secure certificate) or ask your server hosting provider to activate the key certificate on your site.
Once you’ve enabled the SSL certificate for your domain, it’s time to set the HTTPS version as the default URL for your site.
Sign in to your WordPress dashboard, click Settings, and be sure your WordPress and the URL include the HTTPS prefix:
(The Really Simple SSL plugin might do the difference automatically, but it’s worth double-checking.)
2. Automatically redirect HTTP to HTTPS
Your old HTTP URL is no longer in use, but people still might land on the unsecure version on their browser. So, as soon as you’ve changed your default URL, you’ll have to automatically 301 redirect users landing on the old URL to the new one.
For example: If someone visits https://gotchseo.com, a browser redirect would automatically send them to the secure https version at https://gotchseo.com.
The server hosting provider you’re using will likely generate this secure redirect once they’ve installed your SSL certificate. But if you’re installing it manually, get instructions from the guide to redirect HTTP to HTTPS, depending on your server.
3. Add the new URL to Search Console
Use analytics to measure http https impact. You probably already know that Google Search Console is the primary way Google will communicate with you about your site. Not only that, but it contains tons of sensitive information that SEOs can use to understand (and improve) their organic results.
That’s why when you’re migrating to HTTPS, add the new URL to Google Search Console as a new “property”:
When you get to this stage, take special care to include the URL exactly as you see it in your web browser—including the https://www. prefix.
You’ll then see two properties in your Search Console account: The HTTP and HTTPS versions of your website.
(Bear in mind it might take a while for Google to crawl the new version, but from now on, your site SEO data will be found in the HTTPS account.)
4. Find and replace external backlinks
You’ve automatically redirected from HTTP to the protected web server, and crawlers analyze the new version of your site.
What happens next?
The answer lies within backlinks: Arguably the most important factor of any SEO strategy, because external links prove to Google that your website is trustworthy.
…But the backlinks you’ve previously built point to the unsecure version of your domain address. And even if you’ve redirected your old URL to the new HTTPS domain, you’ll still need to check (and replace) external backlinks pointing to the HTTP version.
For every external link you find, check to see whether you’re automatically redirected from the HTTP to the SSL secured hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS) version of your website. If you’re not, don’t panic.
Simply install the Redirection plugin for WordPress and create the link yourself.
Redirecting these backlinks makes sure you’re not losing any link juice.
Since the backlink leads people to the secure version of your site instead of the unsecure HTTP version (or worse, a 404 error page), Google will crawl the backlinks—and take them into consideration when determining your rankings.
5. Scan for crawl errors
Now you’ve checked that your site’s external backlinks are in check and know how to use https instead of http, let’s confirm you’re not losing any search engine optimization value with the internal links littered around your website.
Sign in to your Google Search Console account and head to the Coverage report.
Here, you’ll find broken internal links that crawlers don’t recognize and that you’ll get to redirect to the page with a secure connection:
Redirect broken internal links to the same page on the secured HTTPS version of your site.
This works similar to external links in the fact that search engines can now crawl your site, and understand what it should rank for, without dead ends blocking their tracks.
Are you convinced of the huge difference and ready to switch from HTTP to HTTPS?
Following this guide is the key to the successful migration—without losing your organic Wold Wide Web traffic in the process.
Using HTTPS instead of HTTP is essential these days. Not only are you protecting your business and domain name from hacker attacks, and public-key encryption via SSL/TLS also protects your sensitive data and credit card information. Installed SSL certificates and encryption data is bound to support your SEO strategy.
Role of featured snippets in website traffic boost
- Featured snippets account for a 35.1% share of all clicks.
- The featured snippet and knowledge panel SERP give a better click-through rate together.
- Users click on featured snippets that seem “informative”.
- Users who prefer the regular search results listings don’t click on featured snippets.
- “People also ask” boxes are an unpopular choice showing the lowest amount of clicks.
- 24% of users consider a featured snippet as an ‘Ad’ and don’t click on it.
Featured snippets are probably the first thing people see when they perform a search query. Acquiring the position ‘zero’ on the SERPs, the featured snippets dominate the page and immediately capture the attention of the viewer.
However, does it make an impact on the visitor? Do the featured snippets get more clicks when compared to the top results? How does the audience perceive them?
To answer these questions and more, we at Engine Scout recently conducted a study and analyzed how featured snippets influence searchers’ behavior and overall experience.
The methodology applied for the featured snippet study
In our study on featured snippets, we collected data from 3552 testers, who were asked to look at four different SERPs with snippets. They were required to make a search on Google related to a specific keyword and make a selection from the results.
To collect an unbiased opinion, featured snippets were not mentioned anywhere in the survey.
There were three choices for the testers to choose from: Ads, featured snippets, and regular result listing.
They were later asked which section they clicked on to estimate the Click-through rate (CTR).
What is a featured snippet and how does it boost website traffic?
The featured snippet is a summarized extract from a post that answers the user’s ‘search query‘ most accurately. It is placed above all the Google search result listings, occupying position zero.
This means no matter what your website’s ranking for a certain post if Google chooses a featured snippet from your post, it will appear on the top.
According to Ahrefs, it is 99.58% true that Google will only consider your content for a featured snippet if it is already ranking on Page #1. The other 0.42% pages that Google considers account for their ‘People also ask’ box SERP feature. This feature only receives a total of 6% click shares, for the same reason.
The ‘concise and direct‘ nature of these featured snippets motivates users to click on them. According to our study, they account for 35.1% of all clicks which translates to getting ‘extra traffic‘ to your website.
Optimizing a post to rank for a featured snippet can be tricky. Any content can be worthy of becoming a ‘Featured-Snippet,’ including a paragraph, a list, table, or even a video.
Try these three quick strategies to win more featured snippets that get clicks to your website.
1. Include direct answers to a search query in a paragraph snippet
Paragraph snippets account for 82% of the total featured snippets.
These snippets give the most relevant response to a query in a paragraph form. They usually also display a pertinent image alongside or above the text.
Here is an example of how Google shows a paragraph snippet when asked about ‘What is SERP?‘
2. Make the best use of keywords in your paragraph
Attaining the first rank in Google for a keyword requires quite an effort.
Enriching your optimized content for featured snippets with the right keywords increases your chances of that ‘Position Zero‘ in the SERP.
Try to include question-oriented keywords in your content. People find search results with keywords resonating with their question as “trustworthy” and “informative.” This is the primary reason why they prefer a featured snippet over all other organic results.
Take a close look at your competitor’s featured snippets for some inspiration. Make a list of keywords that have triggered a featured snippet for them, and make your content surrounded by these keywords.
Several online tools can lessen your workload by retrieving information and keywords from the competition’s snippets. You can use them if you find it time-consuming to manually optimize your content for featured snippets.
3. Include a knowledge panel in your content marketing strategy
A box with information relevant to a search query appearing on SERP’s right panel is called a Knowledge Panel.
It only appears when the search is about an entity, for example, business, person, or location. The information inside this box lets the reader know about the entity and gives them a way to reach out to it.
Featured snippet alone offers a close competition to the organic listing for the total click share.
But pages ranking for both the featured snippet and the knowledge panel outperform the organic listings for the CTR. A double featured snippet leaves behind the CTR of organic listings, getting 42.1% of the total click share.
Therefore, it is an added benefit if you strategize your featured snippet to trigger a knowledge panel.
For reference, check out this post to see how Gennaro Cuofano structured his featured snippet with his Amazon author page reference. Google considered this reference and used it to display a knowledge panel alongside his featured snippet.
The other side of the story
Featured snippets can sometimes work opposite to their intent.
According to our study, 24% of users confuse featured snippets for Ads.
Therefore, merely optimizing content to target the featured snippet doesn’t ensure a high CTR.
Google keeps altering its interface to make the Ad label on the paid search results barely noticeable.
As featured snippets also acquire the top position on SERPs, it is very natural for someone to get confused and not click them.
According to Dr. Pete Meyers, the Marketing Scientist at Moz:
“The lesson for SEOs is that we can’t just target a feature — we need to understand query intent, what our buyers expect from that feature, and how they perceive that feature.”
Try to make your content look like a straightforward, quick answer to a query with images for references to appear very different from an ad.
Google introduced the featured snippet to make it easy for searchers to find relevant answers quickly. With voice search technology becoming a common search tool for half of the smartphone users, featured snippets catered to the trend and enabled users to read the answer out loud.
To make Google identify your content worthy to pick snippets from, you have to optimize your content so it’s relevant and appropriate for voice search SEO, so it helps to bring in more traffic to your site.
What you need to know and five steps to prepare for 2021
- Google page experience metric goes live in 2021.
- Rewarding pages that offer a better user experience.
- The signal measures a site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness.
- To prepare for 2021, get a fast web hosting service, optimize your content for mobile users, and install security measures (firewall, SSL, etc.).
- Avoid pop-ups and whole screen banners that restrict the visitors’ access to content.
The newest search ranking benchmark that’s cooking in Google’s development lab is the Google page experience metric.
In short, this upcoming metric aims to measure (and rank) the overall responsiveness and user experience of websites that show up in Google’s search results.
Google plans to introduce this metric alongside the current ranking factors. However, there isn’t an exact date announced when this metric goes live.
As Google’s developers officially state in their blog:
“The ranking changes [Google page experience] described in this post will not happen before next year , and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.”
You still have plenty of time to react. However, we suggest planning ahead and implementing some of the best practices as soon as possible.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect from this ranking update and how you can prepare your site from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective.
Elements of the Google page experience metric
Google is mainly building the new metric upon the Core Web Vitals that their Chrome team launched earlier this year.
The overall goal with Google’s page experience metric is to ensure the Google Search users are getting a mobile-friendly, safe, and straightforward browsing experience.
Let’s look at each element that contributes to the page experience metric.
1. Core Web Vitals
Google developed the Core Web Vitals because the average user enjoys fast and seamless web surfing. They also created a Chrome User Experience Report, which you can use to evaluate your site’s current performance according to these signals.
The Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – quickness of the largest content piece’s loading time.
- First Input Delay (FID) – responsiveness to the user’s clicking, scrolling, and typing.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability of the page.
To tick a box in each of these signals, your pages’ LCP should be below 2.5 seconds, FID below 100ms and the CLS score less than 0.1.
2. Mobile-friendly site
Google already favors sites that are optimized for mobile users, and rightfully so.
Research conducted by Statista reveals that there are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users this year, with this number growing to 3.8 billion in 2021. It’s safe to say that sites that aren’t mobile-optimized will miss a lot of traffic.
Therefore, it makes sense that Google only wants their search to display mobile-friendly sites.
Google puts a lot of emphasis on security and weeding out potentially harmful sites from their search results. After all, if the top search results harm users, it won’t look good on Google at all.
One of the signals with the upcoming page experience metric concludes if the indexed site contains any malicious or deceptive content. Some straightforward examples are malware, spyware, social engineering scams, and false information.
To get a sense of how this works, check out Google’s Security Issues report. You can also scan your website to see if any issues pop up at this time.
Following the security topic, Google also prefers secure sites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Visibly, the difference is between http:// and https:// (where the latter is SSL secured) in the website’s URL.
The SSL certificate’s job is to encrypt any data that travels between the user and the servers. Even if a cyber attack occurs, the hackers are unlikely to make sense of the data.
If you’ve used the Chrome browser, then you might have come across a security warning with a suggestion that the connection is not secure. This is mainly due to the site missing an SSL certificate.
5. No intrusive interstitials
Last but not least, Google aims to punish sites that aggressively keep the visitors away from quickly accessing the content they are looking for in the first place.
The main culprits here are the pop-ups that cover the entire screen, are difficult to dismiss, or keep popping up while consuming the content.
However, disclaimers, cookie usage information, age-sensitive content confirmations, login dialogs, and reasonably sized banners aren’t going to affect your ranking.
Five steps to optimize your site for 2021
Google’s new page experience metric isn’t going to substitute the current ranking elements. It becomes an additional ranking factor, but the most essential part from an SEO perspective is still the quality of the content.
Still, since the page experience metric IS going to affect the ranking results, it’s a great idea to know what you can do to prepare.
Here are a few steps you can take to get your site ready for 2021.
1. Get an excellent web hosting service
Your site’s performance is already one of the key ranking factors today. Either you have a server in-house or using a hosting service, it’s wise to make sure your site is fast and responsive.
You can analyze your site’s responsiveness with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or use a website performance monitoring tool such as Pingdom.
Additionally, you can check out sites that gather and share performance data on web hosting providers.
2. Keep your page’s size lite
Images go hand-in-hand with today’s websites. However, overstuffing your web pages with visual content is going to make your site slow.
There are a few ways to approach this problem, depending on the nature of your site.
You can optimize your images and make them weigh less by using an image compressor such as ImageOptim. If your page is already content-heavy, consider spreading the largest items to multiple pages within your site.
Alternatively, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as CloudFlare to cache your content closer to the visitor’s access point.
3. Optimize your site for mobile
As we proved earlier, the world is heading rapidly to mobile. It’s not enough for your users to access your content with their smartphones; they also expect your site to adjust to the smaller screens.
Therefore, your site needs to be mobile-optimized.
The good news is that most modern website creation platforms, such as WordPress, already have mobile-friendly templates that don’t require extra coding efforts.
You can quickly test if your site is mobile-responsive by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly testing tool.
4. Install security measures
Website security definitely deserves a separate article to cover all the bases, but let’s only focus on Google’s perspective.
First, don’t knowingly add any malicious scripts or deceptive content to your website.
Secondly, protect your site from malware and other hacking attempts by adding a firewall. While it’s not clear yet if Google will check your site for a firewall, you should have one in place either way.
And finally, install an SSL certificate that encrypts your data since Google is already keeping tabs on if a site is secure or not. However, most of the modern hosting services already include an SSL certificate with their plans.
Overall, investing in website security is worth it for peace of mind and from the SEO perspective.
5. Tone down or remove large pop-up banners
Google considers anything that keeps its users from accessing the content they search for as a nuisance.
Therefore, a piece of straightforward advice – don’t put a giant banner on your site. Make the promotion more subtle, and you won’t have any problems with Google.
As a reminder, cookie information, age-restriction policies, and login dialogs are the exceptions. Although, please don’t go overboard with these either for the sake of user experience.
Google’s page experience metric will become one of the search ranking signals in 2021, but there isn’t an exact launch date yet.
Still, you can start preparing your site for the upcoming changes. Even if it’s unclear how much weight this new metric has on the search results, offering your visitors a great user experience is a substantial value on its own.
Start by testing your site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness. The results give you a pretty good idea of what to tweak and add to your site.
However, remember that the most important ranking factor is still the quality of the content.
Gert Svaiko is a professional copywriter and mainly works with digital marketing companies in the US and EU. You can reach him on LinkedIn.
Seven most popular types of blog posts guaranteed to boost traffic
- Optimizing your content for search results requires search intent.
- Understanding search intent will help you generate effective content.
- Target search intent by examining high ranking search results.
- How-to and listicles are the most shared blog post ideas.
- Focusing on key on-page SEO elements drives higher search visibility.
When it comes to blog posts, not all content formats are created equal.
What’s more, with more than 500 million blogs out there all vying for attention, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out amidst the noise.
For a blog to be successful these days, it takes more than just shareable images or enticing headlines. While these elements are undoubtedly important, writing blog posts that attract the right kind of reader requires careful ideation, optimization, and outreach.
Fortunately, SEO content is not rocket science. Whether you’re struggling with content ideas or looking to monetize your ideas better, below are the seven most popular types of posts that will help your blog gain better traction and drive traffic to your site.
Why understanding search intent matters
Before I identify the blog post types already proven to deliver results, we must first talk about search intent. If you don’t know what search intent is, search intent is the why behind a specific search.
Each type of search falls into one (or several) intention types:
1. Informational intent
The search user wants to learn something. While this type of search typically includes words like “how-to,” “what is,” or “who,” not all informational searches are posed as questions (for example, JFK International Airport directions).
2. Navigational intent
The search user wants to visit a specific site. People would rather ask a search engine than type the full web address in the URL bar because they may be unsure of the exact website. Examples include “Facebook” or “WestIn contact number.”
3. Transactional intent
The search user wants to purchase something. A transactional intent typically means the search user is wallet-ready. They’re merely looking for a website to make a purchase. Typical search queries include “buy iPhone 12,” “spa package,” and “MacBook air cheap.”
4. Commercial investigation
The search user has the intention to buy but is still at the research stage. People performing these types of searches require more information about the product or service that they have an interest in buying.
They search for terms like “top restaurant in New York” or “best android phone” to compare a specific product or service.
By understanding the specific intent behind a search, you can optimize your blog post for the right search terms. And when the correct type of searcher finds your content, your blog can generate relevant and targeted traffic.
How to target search intent with your blog
With Google’s perpetual goal focused on providing the most relevant information for a search query, aligning your content with your audience’s search intent allows your blog to rank high for relevant search results.
For SEO success, relevance is a core tenet not to be overlooked.
So how can you infer search intent and create content that drives significant traffic potential?
The answer lies in the search query itself.
Let’s look at the search term “how to bake a cake,” for example. For those keywords alone, it may appear like the search has informational intent. But, don’t just guess search intent. A quick way to confirm the specific intent of a search is by performing a Google search.
By inputting your keywords into Google’s search, which in this case is “how to bake a cake,” it’s clear from the results that users are looking for cake recipe ideas and baking guides. To rank competitively high for this type of search intent, you should focus your content around a how-to post or a list article.
Now that we have a better grasp of search intent and its role in content creation, let’s look at the most popular blog post ideas that you can use today to start producing high-quality content.
Seven blog post ideas that deliver valuable, engaging content
Ready to put virtual pen to paper? Take the guesswork out of content ideation with these top-ranked content ideas.
1. How-tos and tutorials
With 80% of all Google searches being informational, how-to and tutorial posts are a staple for any blog, no matter your niche or industry. Since the goal of a how-to guide or tutorial is to solve a problem, readers of your article will be more inclined to invest in your product or service.
And as you’re an authority in your business, how-to type articles are simple ways to connect with your audience and establish credibility while showcasing your expertise.
To maximize the effectiveness of these types of post ideas, be sure to include visuals like images and videos in your articles. Not only do visuals enrich the content, but they also help readers comprehend the information provided better.
Readers are also more willing to take action when content is easy to process.
A great example of how-to content is Ann Smarty’s blog post, “Google’s featured snippets: How to get your YouTube video featured in Google.”
Another content powerhouse, list articles (listicles) help to streamline information. Just how powerful are list articles?
In a comparison between list-based articles and non-list articles, SEMrush found that the presence of lists resulted in 4x more traffic and 2x more social shares. What’s more, 36% of readers are more likely to click on an article with list headlines.
With content typically formatted as a numbered list, readers can quickly consume the content of your list posts. It being easily digestible also helps readers better share the post and act on the information.
Like how-to guides, list-style articles can be a useful tool for informational intent, as well as transactional intent and commercial investigation.
As an example, here’s an excellent list-based post on web development tools.
3. Case studies
A case study post is a highly valuable marketing and brand promotional tool. In B2B marketing, case studies can provide the following five benefits:
- Showcase the tangible value of your product and capabilities
- Highlights how your product resolves customer pain points
- Establish credibility with real customers
- Provide social proof for prospective customers
- Uncover your brand evangelists
In several content marketing surveys, B2B marketers identified customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) as being the most effective content marketing tools for lead generation. And three-quarters of B2B marketers found case studies accelerated leads through latter stages of the funnel quicker than any other content marketing format.
To realize the power of case studies, structure your process from challenge or problem to potential solutions and, finally, the results and conclusion. Here’s a great SEO case study example showing off this structure without being dull or boring.
4. Predictions and trends
The brilliance of writing posts on future trends is that you’re able to display your expertise and industry knowledge. What’s more, as people are always looking for advice or information about the next market trend (commercial investigation), prediction posts can generate great responses, and even spark debates.
Statistics by Hubspot found that few people who regularly read blogs do so to learn about a brand’s products. Instead, people commonly read blogs for three reasons:
- To learn something new
- To be entertained
- To learn about news or trends in their industry
And when it comes to content formats, 47% of bloggers have found trend pieces to be highly popular among their readers. Prediction and trend post ideas are only outpaced by lists (57%) and how-to articles (77%).
5. Ultimate guides
Ultimate guides are the most definitive blog posts you can write. These types of long-form post ideas typically exceed 3,000 words. Some guides can even take as many as 10,000+ words to write effectively.
So why would you want to commit to writing a detailed, comprehensive blog post? Here are a few benefits to ultimate guides:
- Produce evergreen content that produces traffic year-round
- Positions you and your brand as a subject matter expert
- Indicator of relevance, which is vital to search intent
- Provides your brand with marketing campaign assets
- Receives more social shares, increasing content engagement
- Expands keyword opportunities
Regardless of the topic or niche, long-form content outperforms shorter blog posts. In a study done by Brian Dean, blog posts longer than 3,000 words had 77.2% more referring domains than short-form content. And thanks to Google’s RankBrain, long-form content gets rewarded with higher-ranking positions.
Interview posts are a great addition to any blog as it diversifies your site’s blog content and relieves some pressure to content creation. Interviews allow your brand to:
- Expand its influence
- Broaden its network
- Generate more quality backlinks
- Increase its authority
- Diversify its blog content
As an influencer outreach tool, interviews are undeniably powerful. With 69% of consumers distrusting traditional advertising, collaborative content like interviews enables your brand to reach and connect with audiences in a more natural way.
First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture firm, knows all too well the transformative power of interviews. A single interview about Slack’s launch strategy earned First Round Capital a total of 2,243 backlinks from major publication sites like Fast Company and Entrepreneur.
If your blog is relatively new and you’re unable to attract any influencers to interview, consider writing expert round-up posts. Influencers love participating in round-up posts as these provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their expertise.
Both post ideas can contribute to more significant blog traffic as influencers are more willing to share your content with their network.
As images are more attention-grabbing than text, consider adding infographics to your blog content calendar. Infographics are not just attractive or exciting to read; they are also shared 3x more than any other type of content.
Admittedly, infographics work best when professionally designed. Fortunately, there are many online infographic tools like Canva and Piktochart that enable you to create beautiful infographics at a freemium price.
Now that you have plenty of post ideas to keep your content calendar full, let’s look at specific on-page SEO elements that will help attract the right visitors to your blog.
Three on-page SEO factors for greater searchability
Whether you’re looking to write a listicle, tutorial, or ultimate guide, include these three on-page SEO factors into your content before hitting publish.
1. Target one or two medium-tail keywords
As the primary goal for any blog is to attract an audience, keyword research is vital. After all, no content can compete in search results without keyword research. If you don’t know what your audience is searching for, how can you get your content in front of them?
With that said, though, don’t try to rank for short-head search terms like “chocolate cake.” These search terms are highly competitive, making it difficult to rank high against already established blogs. Instead, focus on medium-tail keywords like “chocolate pound cake recipe.”
Medium-tail keywords, like the previous example, are more specific than short-head terms. People using medium-tail keywords are more likely to read your content. They are also more motivated to take action, resulting in a positive interaction with your brand.
Once you’ve done your keyword research and compiled a list of medium-tail keywords, include them into these important places in your blog post:
- Title tag
- Meta description
You can also add your keywords into the body but don’t over-optimize your content.
Over-optimization is a form of keyword stuffing, which goes against Google’s guidelines. Just add your target keyword in the first 100 words of your article.
2. Link to important pages
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to a different web page on the same domain. Internal links are an SEO best practice because it helps search engines find and index relevant content. Visitors also use internal links to check out high-value pages, increasing site dwell time.
When linking internally, aim for two to three links. Use a descriptive anchor text with keywords that are relevant to the linked-to page. Another way to include more internal links to your blog post is by adding a related post section at the bottom of the page.
3. Optimize images for maximum shareability
Blog posts that only contain text are flat-out dull. Adding quality images to your post better explains complex information and makes your content more visually appealing. Because visuals stand out, images can improve the scannability of your post significantly.
But don’t just pop images into your post and hit publish. Images can also be optimized for SEO, allowing your visuals to rank for Google Images. When optimizing images for search, be sure to:
- Write a descriptive alt text with your keyword.
- Keep alt text under 125 characters.
- Include your target keyword in the filename.
- Compress the image for faster load times.
- Use unique images rather than stock imagery.
- Use the proper file extension for your image.
- Resize your image to optimum proportions.
Putting it all together
By writing for relevant search intent and incorporating these SEO best practices to your post ideas, your blog will gain more opportunities to appear high in search results. More visibility in search means increased organic traffic to your blog.
After you’ve published your blog post, let the world know about it. Promoting your content via outreach can be done by sharing your post on social media, engaging in forums like Reddit, reaching out to influencers, and advertising through Facebook.
Karl Tablante is Inbound Marketing Manager at SEO Sherpa.
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