About time for you to get a haircut, am I right?
Let’s go for something new! Something ambitious and risky. Something crazy enough to get us all killed. And yes… This will relate to SEO eventually.
Well, who better to ask for hair advice than our wise old uncle G?
Ok, Google. Not exactly what I was looking for.
A quick tweak to our query and….
Here, in its natural habitat — with one simple little search — we have discovered a wide array of content types. All of which we will cover in this article.
Content Type #1: The one-page listicle
Pioneered by early gossip sites and mastered by Buzzfeed, the first result for our search query is a standard one-page listicle.
So, how did Google end up displaying this page in its search results?
This, my friends, is a Google instant answers result — or as others like to call it: an “answer box”.
The type of information shown in the box can vary.
- For an “idea” related keyword like “moderately ambitious hairstyles for men”, you’ll likely get a bullet list just like this one.
- If you’re looking up a “how-to” related topic, you’ll likely be given a numbered list.
- If you’re asking a general question, more often than not, you’ll get a simple paragraph.
How Google pulls its instant-answer data
Take a look at the page and you will quickly see where Google decided to get their list data from. The headings!
However, this is not the case for all bulleted instant answer results. Sometimes Google can pull this data from…you guessed it! Bulleted lists.
All-in-all, Google is one smart cookie that is getting better and better at understanding your content.
Content Type #2: The gallery + short article combo
Second in the search results is FashionBean’s gallery article. Even though the article didn’t make it into Google’s answer box, I feel like it’s the best content type for this particular keyword.
Take a look at the page:
It’s perfect! There are multiple elements I would like to point out.
Before the big ol’ gallery of images, there’s a little 500-word article explaining the topic.
It introduces the reader to the world of medium-length hairstyles, tells them the ideal thickness of their hair for these styles, quotes a hair expert from the UK, and gives the reader some pointers on finding a style that suits them.
This mini-article section provides Google with some great, textual content to process. It also provides you with some good opportunities for internal linking — In this case, FashionBean chooses to link to their article on picking a hairstyle based on your facial shape.
But let’s be honest. Most users are going to skip the article and go straight to the images.
That’s just the nature of the search term. It’s why you commonly see Pinterest ranking for “idea” keywords; people want to see big galleries and many ideas.
Links to the cornerstone content
Just before getting to the gallery, you’ll notice a few links to related galleries. If you click on one, you’ll be brought to a very similar piece of content on a different subject.
For FashionBean, this is their cornerstone content — Important pieces of content that they always come back to and update.
With the fashion industry, trends are constantly changing. So they’ll have to come back and update these galleries regularly to keep them fresh and highly ranked.
An easy-to-use image gallery
The gallery makes use of what are called “lightboxes”. This simply means a popup that shows the image in a larger form. It makes for a better overall user experience.
Rather than just having tiny little thumbnail images that the user has to squint at, the images are easily enlargeable. This is especially important on mobile devices.
Content Type #3: The In-Depth Answer Blog Post
The next few results are a mix of content types #1 and #2. But then, almost out of nowhere, we see this blog post from Fashionista.
It’s a 1,200-word blog post that answers a pretty basic hair care question: “how much should it cost?!”
I love these kinds of posts because they establish you as an expert in your niche. When these bad boys rank, you typically get people that are nearing the end of their purchasing decision. If you’re looking up how much a haircut should cost, you’re likely interested in purchasing a quality cut without overspending, within the next week or so.
SEO can be hard work. Have a pint!
We’ve pretty much tapped out the types of content that our “moderately ambitious hairstyles for men” keyword could provide.
It’s time to move on to bigger and better things. The weekend is approaching and it’s time to get our hobby on!
Care to make your own ale…from scratch? Of course you do! But how?
Our next keyword: “how to make beer at home”
Look at us…
We’re spending all this time crafting such optimized websites with crazy good content and here we have a Youtuber that beat us all in the SERPs!
This brings us to our next point.
Content Type #4: YouTube videos
The first piece of content Google chooses to show its user for “how to make beer at home” is an explainer video by the popular YouTube channel “Brothers Green Eats”.
It did a great job at breaking down the whole beer-making process. Their audience loves the video and it has almost a million views.
One thing that Google tries to do with a lot of how-to keywords is “suggest a clip”. They thought that particular part of the video answers our question, but unfortunately, it does not.
Regardless, if we want to rank our videos in Google, there is some optimization work to be done.
I’ve come up with three tips to greatly increase your odds of landing one of these spots.
YouTube SEO Tip #1: Add an accurate transcript to your videos
Google attempts to automatically create captions for your videos using artificial intelligence. They’re not all that accurate though; especially if you have any sort of accent or your microphone is not the clearest.
It’s recommended to add manually-created closed captions to your videos. This is a task that you could affordably outsource to a virtual assistant to save time.
Videos are tough for a search algorithm to analyze; a transcript makes it easier. To make even better use of your transcript, add a professional voice over to your video for your viewers’ benefit.
YouTube SEO Tip #2: Descriptive descriptions
Say this five times fast! “Descriptive descriptions are delicious to Google.”
The description section of your video is a fantastic place to jot down all of the most important topics covered. If you’re making a recipe video, you better leave me the ingredients and directions! Is it paleo? Is it vegan? What model Instant Pot did you use?
Sprinkle in keywords here and there as long as it does not hurt the description’s readability.
YouTube SEO Tip #3: Optimize your title
This is a very simple step that a lot of you might be guilty of neglecting.
Say you’ve created a large article on how to make beer and you shoot a quick YouTube video to insert into the article. Don’t title the video “beer.mp4”. Give it a keyword-rich title that also drives curiosity.
Check out how our buds at Brothers Green Eats did it:
“Idiot’s Guide to Making Incredible Beer at Home”
They didn’t even have to use an exact-match-keyword in their title like “how to make beer”, although that is definitely a strategy you could use.
They also harnessed the same attention-grabbing title structure that John Wiley & Sons made millions off of with their “For Dummies” books.
Follow our detailed guide to ranking YouTube videos:
We’ve also produced a full written guide to Youtube SEO to go alongside our great video – remember, it’s always best to go for a multi-channel approach with your content after all!
Content Type #5: The Multi-part Guide
The first standard Google result that we see on the page is Northern Brewer’s multi-part beer brewing guide.
I want you to pay special attention to the left sidebar of the article that reads “Articles in this section”. Those are all of the different articles that make up this guide.
Now, Northern Brewer is the largest household name in the homebrewing space.
For that reason, they carry a lot of authority with their name. Also for that same reason, they didn’t have to write very comprehensive articles to get ranked.
This multi-part guide is an absolute GOLDEN customer acquisition tool. It allows them to capture customers at the very beginning of their homebrewing journey and get them on board with their products.
If you sell products or services through your website, keep your eyes peeled for these beginning-of-the-journey, how-to topics.
This is one reason why DigitalOcean became one of the largest companies providing virtual private servers. They created a killer SEO strategy where they kept cranking out high-quality technical articles about maintaining servers. Their most popular of articles were targeted at folks at the beginning of their server-hosting journey.
Content Type #6: The Monster Guide
I’ve…I’ve created a monster!
Just kidding. There is nothing scary about this type of content unless you hate writing.
The next result is not from a mega homebrewing corporation. It’s from a pretty average Joe! …Average Mark!
Mark is the creator of a site called 52Brews.
His site isn’t all that authoritative; at least not as much as Northern Brewer. Moz shows his website has a domain authority of 33 which is pretty achievable for all of us over time.
“How’s he ranking for such a good keyword?”
This isn’t just a few bullet-point instructions on how to make beer. This is a 5,000+ word guide that turns you from complete newbie to having a solid understanding of the whole brewing process.
These kinds of posts are a great long-term investment for your blog. They attract all sorts of links, build great trust among your audience, and are pieces of content you could always link back to in your posts.
Content Type #7: The ‘Start here’ Page
The next piece of content we’re able to find in the SERPs is from the American Homebrewers Association.
If you take a look at it, it’s more of a directory of their own links rather than an actual guide on brewing beer.
This page provides links that enable you to:
- View tutorials
- Find brewing events near you
- Read about various ingredients
- Read about various equipment
- View recipes
- View brewing articles
- Participate in their forum
You can pull this off if you put out a ton of content around a certain subject. These kinds of directory-of-my-own-links pages are great for link building. (Go figure!)
They are super helpful for beginners of the subject, trying to navigate the hobby and find the information they need.
Content Type #8: The Short Answer Post
We covered the in-depth answer post in Content type #3.
The short answer post is exactly as it sounds.
A short answer!
We’re going to be brewing a batch of beer; so how long will it take?
Two weeks! And the first result is a great example of this type of content.
A short answer post is typically under 1,000 words. This one happens to be around 800.
The article is pretty easy to skim, although I would’ve broken up the text a little more to make it even easier for the reader.
Two weeks, you say?
I’ve got a good feeling about this batch of brew. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a couple of weeks before we’re ready to fill up the old keg.
We’ll have to get our ale from somewhere local this weekend. There’s a microbrewery just a few miles from here. But what’s it called again?
In the final section of this guide, we’ll be covering an additional content type for the local keyword, “microbreweries London”.
Nowadays, Google always shows their local business widget for local keywords.
If you’re a local business, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not registering with Google My Business. Get set up and ask your customers for some honest reviews; they will boost your Google My Business listing’s rankings.
Content Type #9: The Local Guide
Run a food blog? Perhaps you could review a few local restaurants and put together a “Best eats in [location]” article.
Fitness blogger? What about an article compiling the best-run gyms in your local area?
For our search term, “microbreweries London” you can see many examples of this. Standard.co.uk was the first result.
It’s a standard post that features a short review of each microbrewery along with some nice pictures of each.
Niche it down a bit!
London is one of the world’s major cities. You’re going to notice a lot of larger sites competing for this keyword’s top rankings.
So let’s take a trip down to Newcastle, shall we!
And just like that, our competition is a lot easier to beat!
I scrolled past the local business listings to reveal the regular search results. Although no one has really put together a roundup of microbreweries in Newcastle, plenty of local microbreweries do exist.
This is how you could find an opportunity to create a local guide.
Sometimes we forget about just how many different types of content we could create to rank well in Google.
I hope this guide has opened your eyes to some new possibilities. It all comes down to choosing the right tool for the job.
Is the user looking for loads of product recommendations? Go with the one-page listicle. (Content type #1)
If the SERPs are filled with gallery posts, perhaps create a gallery post with a short article. (Content type #2)
Put yourself in the user’s shoes and figure out what type of content would solve their problems most effectively.
You can pair this new knowledge with Google Trends data to pick out the optimal topics to cover. Finally, once you’ve decided on the content type you’re targeting make sure to use our Scalable Content Strategy to get the best possible results from your content efforts.