Content marketing continues to be a strong leader among the various types of digital marketing. It’s a powerful way to foster stronger relationships with your target audience, to build your brand awareness and reputation, and to cultivate new leads and sales.
It’s also important to your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Google and other search engines give extra weight to sites that regularly add new high-quality content. In addition, developing a content library is the main way to fill your site with relevant keywords—especially lots of long-tail keywords.
There are many different types of content (not all of which are written—content includes images, video, audio, etc.), and each has advantages and disadvantages. Deciding which type to use should involve a consideration of the intent of the people looking for a particular piece of content, as well as some thought to how you can deliver it in the most concise, helpful, engaging way.
For example, where is this audience in the buyer’s journey? Are they looking for a quick answer or performing in-depth research? Do they need a wide-ranging subject overview, or are they digging for specifics about one aspect? Can you assume some specialized knowledge, or are they laypeople?
Below are seven types of written content that regularly rank at the top of search engine results. While there are plenty of other options (not necessarily to be ruled out), these are reliable content styles to boost your SEO and bring in more organic targeted traffic through search engines.
SEO-Friendly Content Styles
- Blog posts – These are typically around 400 to 500 words, covering one narrow aspect of a topic. Blog posts should be published on a regular basis (once per week is standard for small businesses). This is a great format for covering topical and seasonal subject matter. Blog posts can be informal (which doesn’t mean poorly written!), but should always be consistent with your brand voice.
- Short-form evergreen articles – Brief, informative content (typically 500 words or less) that stays useful for a long time is the bread and butter of content marketing, especially for SEO, as it can rise in search results over time while remaining relevant. These pieces provide the audience with essential information about one narrow aspect of your industry, products or services, and other things related to your area of expertise. They should not be self-promotional or overtly sales oriented.
- Long-form evergreen articles – The idea here is similar to the above, but these pieces tend to run 1,000 words or more. Rather than delivering quick answers to fairly narrow questions, they either provide a comprehensive overview of a topic or delve deep down into one aspect. These are a great way to attract consumers looking for breadth or depth of information in one convenient place.
- Detailed lists – Readers are often looking for scannable lists that lay out the best methods, products, resources, and so on. These are particularly useful for people early in the buyer’s journey who are trying to learn about their options. However, to deliver SEO value, there needs to be some meat to the content. Rather than just rattling off the entries, include explanatory information about each one and why it made the list.
- Photo galleries with detailed captions – Similar to the previous entry, these are pretty much lists with a heavy visual element. We specified written content, and we’re counting this because it hinges on having informative, decently sized blurbs accompanying each image. When it does, this type of content frequently appears high in search results. It offers a combination of two things web users love: visuals and easily digestible information. Galleries are often presented in slideshow format, but they can run down the page, too.
- Multi-page guides – These are basically collections of short-form or long-form articles, combined in a logical, progressive way, like an e-book. They offer both breadth and depth of information in their subject coverage. The best have a clickable table of contents so readers can skip to areas of interest if they don’t want to read the whole thing. This is a high-value format—for your SEO and for readers seeking a lot of information—but obviously a good deal more work than single-page types of content.
- Topic directories – Think of these as lists of pieces of content. Once you’ve built up a significant library of content on a particular subject, it can be enormously beneficial to your SEO to create a landing page that indexes and organizes all that content. It should present clickable article titles, with a unique blurb under each one that quickly tells the reader what they get in each piece.