This next section covers my content "template" strategy.
What I'm about to discuss will contradict a lot of traditional SEO advice and SEO gurus.
These are my own independent opinions based on my personal experience.
So you often hear in SEO that "content is king".
That if you create "amazing content", you'll be on your way to the promised land.
Now, I don't deny the importance of great content.
It's a fundamental part of ranking well in Google, not to mention satisfying your visitors.
But I find there's an implicit expectation that every piece of content you write has to be a masterpiece. Like a work of art by Michelangelo.
Masterpieces take a lot of time to create.
Now, a blog post is obviously much easier than the Sistine Chapel. But a really good one still takes a fair bit of time (research, planning, writing, editing, formatting, graphic design, etc.).
Here's the punch-line: I don't think you need to create masterpieces to rank for low-to-medium competition keywords on Google.
Similar to art, comparing two articles is inherently a subjective judgment.
It depends on a lot of things - the topic, audience, context, perspective, tone, language, etc.
In essence, people value different aspects which means there can't really be a universal "winner". I might enjoy an article because it's comprehensive while someone else may feel it's too wordy.
Since content quality is subjective - one that even humans can't agree upon - I don't think that Google can really evaluate it. And if Google can't evalute it, it can't be used in its algorithm.
By the way, what I mean by quality is - how well do you like something vs. something else? Sometimes in SEO, content quality may refer to legitimate content vs. spammy content.
Okay, so let's assume that Google can't evaluate content quality. Yes, I know there are counter-arguments that Google can indirectly measure quality via user engagement (time on page, bounce rate, etc.) and off-page signals like links. But let's ignore those for now.
So then how would Google determine search rankings?
The answer is: Relevancy.
For me, relevancy trumps so-called "content quality". At least for low competition keywords.
On-page SEO is essentially the art of nailing down relevancy for a target keyword.
I've been listening to guys like Kyle Roof (mentioned him last month as well) talk about on-page optimization and I've been using his tool PageOptimizer Pro as well.
As a starting point for on-page SEO, you should have your target keyword in your meta title (usually the same as your H1), URL (also called slug), and introduction.
Beyond that, there's also additional optimization for keyword variations and related keywords (also known as Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI, Natural Language Processing or NLP, and Term Frequency - Inverse Document Frequency or TF-IDF).
To ensure that I'm doing basic on-page optimization for my content, I've been developing "templates" for each type of article:
For each template, I set a pre-defined page structure of H1, H2, H3's with specific sections. This means I always include my target keyword in the optimal places.
These templates also help cut down on the planning and writing stages.
In addition, for every product category I want to make sure I cover it as fully as possible to maximize the value of my research and writing.
I write my articles in this particular order for best results:
Allow me to explain.
I start with the single product reviews to understand the features of each product and their pros/cons. As I look at more products, I get a good sense of how these product compare to one another.
This naturally leads to "VS" reviews where I'm specifically comparing two products. I can reuse my review content to write these posts (very efficient).
I find that "VS" keywords have the lowest competition among the 3 types.
When I'm finished writing reviews and product comparisons, I'll have the knowledge to create "Best X for Y" round-up articles that are so common in online marketing.
Again, I can reuse prior content to compile a list of my top product recommendations.
As an aside, here's my complaint with most round-up articles.
As in, the author didn't spend much time actually researching each product. It was likely a freelance writer who just took the top products from Amazon and wrote a little blurb on each one.
E.g. "The 18 Best Vitamin C Serums for Hyperpigmentation"... cough cough by MomCurls
What I like about my current approach is that by the time I write the "Best X for Y" posts, I have a complete understanding of the product ecosystem and hierarchy. By then, it's really just a matter of repurposing existing content.