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The 4-step SEO content framework that made my clients millions

Helloooo content connoisseurs.

It’s Perrin from Content Bites.

You do not need some long SEO optimization checklist to create content that Google loves (and rewards). I’ve been doing this for a looooong time, and still use the same 4-step framework for SEO content I created 10 years ago. It’s stupid simple, it still works, and it’s made my clients millions of dollars. Today, I’m going to show you.

  • Appetizers: Links from Reforge, The Optimist, and more…

  • Main Course: My ultra-simple 4-step framework for writing content Google loves

Let’s dig in.

Appetizers: Content about content 🤯

  • Don’t Build It, Yet: How Content Can Validate Your Next Product Idea (link)

  • How to Create an Editorial Calendar That Drives Results (link)

  • Content Marketing Secrets from Buffer’s Rise to 4 Million Users (link)

  • Marketing Tech Stack: What It Takes to Choose The Right Tools (link)

  • Growth Loops are the New Funnels (link)

Main Course: The easiest way to write content that crushes in Google

Today I’d like to debunk the myth that writing “SEO-optimized” content is difficult. Or even that “optimizing for SEO” requires much effort at all. 

Because trust me: it’s not rocket surgery. 

Please allow some quick, insufferable-but-necessary horn tooting:

I’ve run 50+ successful SEO campaigns for clients and have generated millions of dollars in revenue from SEO. I personally wrote all the content for a blog about dog food that grew from o to 1.8M visits per year. And so on.

I’ve been around the block. I’m not good at lots of stuff, but I am good at content-driven SEO. 

And I have NEVER used any kind of optimization software. 

I mean, I’ve tried them, of course. But I have never had the same kind of success I’ve had on my own. 

I have not yet found any SEO software that’s beaten my own ultra-ultra-simple SEO optimization protocol. 

How simple? 

Four steps. 

And honestly, I wasn’t even trying to make it simple. I just never found anything outside of these 4 steps that actually made any meaningful difference. 

One of these steps is at least a little unexpected and takes a bit of thought

Still, the whole thing is 4 steps. That’s it. 

So I’d like to share it with you guys today. Hopefully it can save you lots of headache and lots of wasted energy.

Quick note: Please don’t miss the template at the end. I put together a checklist template to make it easy for you to fold this into your own content with hardly any friction (if you want). 

And an assumption: These steps are for the content writing part of your process. I’m going to assume you’ve done at least a little keyword research and have some topics to write about. 

Ok. Gloves off. 

Here’s the easy-af way to write content Google loves.

Step #1: Search for, verify & document the search intent of the stuff you want to write about. 

**If you want to see the template I use so you can follow along, you can make a copy for yourself here (File > Make a copy). It’s a template for pre-writing research to structure content.

First step is a short step. 

Search intent = the question the user is asking when they type their keyword into Google.

Sometimes, it’s easy. 

If a user types in “best accounting software”, it’s pretty clear they’re looking for accounting software options, and they’d probably like to compare them. 

But sometimes, it’s a bit tricker. 

If the keyword you’re looking at is something like “US housing”, that could mean LOTS of different things. It might be any of the following:

  • Journalists looking for statistics on housing trends in the US

  • Exchange students looking for housing options in the US

  • Someone looking for a brand called “US Housing”

It’s very difficult to tell. 

In order to write content that even has a prayer of working, we need to know what the search intent is. 

To do that, we can do two things:

  • Use our intuition

  • Check the search results themselves

A lot of the time, the search intent will be intuitively clear. 

Someone searching for “stretches for tennis elbow” clearly just wants stretches for tennis elbow. And if it’s that clear, you may not have to search much (although it’s still very important to write it down). 

If it’s not as clear, go look at the actual search results and see what the aim of the winning content appears to be. 

If, for example, the winning pages for “healthcare in Europe” are mostly about how US expats can get healthcare while traveling in Europe, you can assume that Google thinks the search intent for that word (in the US) is that people are planning to travel and want to make sure they know how to get healthcare if they need it. 

So use your intuition & also just look. 

Then record it. Most of the time, it’s best to attach the intent to the avatar Google seems to be serving.

The best format is: [user avatar] + [question to answer / problem to solve]. 

Examples of how I would record search intent might be:

  • “Doctors looking for insurance options for private practices”

  •  “Runners looking for marathon training schedule templates”

  • “Parents of high school students looking for SAT tutors for their kids”

That kind of thing.

But write it down. Put it at the top of your content. 

Search intent is, like, Google’s whole thing. It’s what they care about most, which means our job is to write toward it as strongly as we can. 

Step #2: Figure out what Google “requires” & make those things 70% of your content.

These are the table stakes.

This is where we figure out what’s required to even play the game. 

For any given keyword you’re looking at, Google has “decided” what they want to show in the search results (SERPs). 

Not all the content is the same, of course.

BUT every piece of content you see on the front page of Google for a given keyword will have common characteristics. 

You can think of any of these characteristics that appear in the top 3 pages OR at least 7 of the top 10 pages as (more or less) required to play

If, for example, you’re looking at the keyword “best CRMs for accountants”, and you see that all 3 of the top 3 pages include the subtopic (“What is a CRM”), you know you have to include that section in your content. 

Is it boring? Yep. 

Will the content be rote? Yep. 

But Google is telling you that they really value pages that have that information on them. 

So slap that boring ass “What is a CRM” subtopic on your page. 

Most of the time, you’ll be looking for subtopics, which means most of the time, when you’re looking for “requirements”, you’ll just be cracking open the winning pages and scanning their headings. 

But these “requirements” can also include other stuff, including (but not limited to) the following kinds of things:

  • UI/UX elements

  • Storytelling frameworks

  • Tools or calculators

  • Images or a specific kind of image

  • A type of author

  • Content structures (listicles, “how to”, etc.)

So look at it all. 

Most of the time, about 70% of your content should be made up of the stuff Google has proven it wants to see in winning pages

As a purely personal note, I’ve always kind of resented this because it means content ends up being more and more the same over time. 

But that’s the game, and if we wanna play, we gotta respect the rules. 

I’ll usually just record these in a bullet list (also in the template below). 

Now, here’s the super critical thing…

We cannot win JUST by copying winning pages. We might get some traffic, but it’s difficult to really be competitive.

And that’s why we have to do this next…

Step #3: Figure out how to be better / add value / fill gaps and go super hard on those in 30% of your content. 

Now that we’ve gotten ourselves into the game by figuring out what we need to copy…

…we can try to actually create content that wins. 

This is the fun part. This is where we can get creative and competitive and lean into all the primal instincts that make us great marketers. 

Here, we want to find the things no one else is saying that users still really need. 


Say we’re looking at “best CRMs for accountants”, and we realize that while everyone is talking about price and features and integrations – no one is talking about what real customers think. 

That’s EXACTLY the kind of opportunity we’d be looking for. 

It’d be an extremely import gap to fill, and it’d be relatively easy to do. 

We could do it purely with research – pulling samples of customer reviews for each software and aggregating that data – or we could even reach out to real customers and get some juicy quotes. 

Another example. 

Suppose we’re writing about dog food. 

And all the existing content has plenty of information about brands and ingredients and what “grain free” means and so on…

…but no one is talking about how much food a dod needs to eat

Spoiler alert: this is exactly the gap I noticed when I was building my dog food blog. 

So, I made sure I had all the stuff Google “required”, but then I researched how many calories specific breeds needed and converted it to measurements for each dog food I was reviewing. 

Then, I created an animated calorie counter and measuring guide. 

No one else had anything like it. I solved a problem that wasn’t being solved, and I was rewarded for it. 

So we’re looking for gaps to fill, needs to meet. We can do that by:

  • Addressing subtopics that feel important but don’t appear in winning pages

  • Adding data that we have access to that isn't’ cited anywhere else

  • Reaching out to experts to get proprietary quotes

  • Adding personal experiences

  • Adding new analysis of our own

  • Creating videos, images, or other media of our own

  • Building a supplementary tool

  • And so on

There are a million ways to do it. 

But please believe me when I tell you that this is where your energy should be spent. 

Copying the winning pages is important, but it’s not hard.

THIS is where we win. 

Step #4: Tie it together under the banner of the author. 

Authorship has always mattered. 

Google is indexing on it WAY more heavily these days, but it’s mattered (and mattered for the same reasons) for a long time: people trust people, not websites

So your content really should have an author.

And that author should have a strong voice. They should have experience. And they should have expertise. 

This is much less tactical and much more about making content your own (or letting your team make it their own), so it’s a lot more difficult to provide hot and spicy advice. 

But some stuff that helps do this are:

  • Write in first person singular “I”, not “we”

  • Lean into your own opinions and analysis

  • Structure content like a story and/or include stories in content

  • Include your own experience, especially in the form of anecdotes

  • Have fun with your readers

To put on a bow on it, this is how you write content Google loves

  • Nail the search intent

  • In 70% of your content, cover stuff Google “requires”

  • In the other 30%, go absolutely nuts on creativity and value that no one else has

  • Put it behind a strong author

Honorable mention: this isn’t about writing because it didn’t make the list, but the hidden to-do here is to link to your other content liberally; create great resources and make sure you’re using them as sources for your other content. Readers like it, and internal links are an incredibly powerful SEO tool.

Then, usually all you have to do is produce as much great content as you can.

Oh, and here’s that template…

If you want to roll this into your process, I built a a 1-page pre-writing research template.

I usually just add it before the first page of content on every piece I write.

That’s the issue. If you missed last week’s issue, you can read it here.

Go forth & conquer.



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