Is there anything more disappointing than stumbling upon a treasure map that ultimately leads to…nothing of any real value? And yet, businesses that over-emphasize the use of advanced search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to the detriment of their content strategy run the risk of doing just that.
On the other hand, companies that stress content strategy without bolstering their technical SEO efforts make the opposite marketing mistake; they are, in effect, burying marketing “treasure” (i.e. great content) in the vast sands of the internet wasteland without bothering to create a keyword map.
For search engine success, make sure you do not treat SEO and content strategy as two distinct and separate marketing disciplines. While it’s certainly possible to do so, it’s not a winning SEO content marketing strategy for building long-term customer engagement.
Your SEO strategy should inform your content strategy. Similarly, your onsite content strategy should be tailored to your keyword research. Consequently, great content targeted to specific keywords and arranged in a topic cluster can help your brand rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO and content strategy tactics can helpfully be compared to a keyword treasure map that leads to buried marketing treasure. SEO and content strategy go together like peas and carrots. Peanut butter and jelly. Pick whatever metaphor works for you; the point is that you’ll need both to succeed.
As you look to begin content marketing or raise the profile of your existing enterprise, keep the following critical SEO content practices in mind. Refer to them often as you strategize, hire, acquire, reboot, conduct your keyword research, and reconfigure your content plan.
1. Zero In on Your Target Audience
The old axiom certainly proves true in the world of content strategy. “If you aim at nothing in particular, you’re sure to hit it.”
When engaging in online marketing, you absolutely must know who you are trying to reach. If you attempt to reach everyone with your existing content, you are increasingly unlikely to use the right keyword strategy or engage with anyone.
Do your keyword homework. The time you spend on your SEO content strategy will pay dividends later on.
- Who is your typical customer?
- Where do they tend to gather online?
- What kinds of things are they searching on Google?
Build a handful of buyer personas to guide the efforts of your writers, website developers, and marketers as they optimize your SEO strategy to hit your keyword sweet spots.
2. Pick Topics Based on Your Expertise
Avoid the SEO content strategy mistake of trying to appeal to everyone with a wide array of marketing information.
If you’re like most companies, your business operates in a specific niche. As a result, you will want your SEO content strategy to remain solidly in your lane. Start asking others if you struggle to identify what makes your business special. As part of your content strategy, pay particular attention to the inquiries that routinely come your way via social media or other channels.
Many business owners are tempted to hold back a bit at this stage in the SEO content strategy. The operational (though faulty) logic is to reserve your best bits for paying customers.
However, living in a world where people consult a Google search result to answer everyday issues, this is a shortsighted content strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, it’s been clearly shown that companies who consistently put out reliable content marketing information without paywalls tend to build up social media followers and, ultimately, customers.
3. Choose Your Keywords Carefully
Keyword research is the “secret sauce” that separates a successful content marketing strategy from one that’s solidly mediocre. This is the second step at which taking the time to conduct research will be most helpful. If your content strategy focuses on a keyword that’s too broad, larger corporations are likely going to bury your content marketing efforts.
Long tail keywords can be key to a winning strategy as you seek to reach a specific target audience. A long tail relevant keyword typically consists of three to five words. This keyword strategy helps your content marketing cut through the noise and yield targeted search results more likely to result in a conversion. At the end of the day you want to be targeting the keywords that your audience is searching.
4. Create Content To Build Topical Authority
Now that you are clear on your target audience, areas of expertise, and marketing keyword, you’re ready to begin producing new content.
Every decision of your content strategist should be driven by the audience research you conducted in Step One. Your content marketing needs to show up wherever your people already are, not where you expect them to travel.
Stick with what you know best and create the content that your brand should be known for. You’ll struggle to rank for your target keywords if you don’t have a strong web of content on your site around your key topics.
In addition, your content strategy should be tightly bound up with search intent. Are people looking to purchase when searching your target keyword? Or are they looking to get information and education on a subject? In other words, focus your content on what your users need when searching that keyword. If you are trying to rank a product page when people are looking for educational guides when searching that keyword, you likely won’t see the progress you’re hoping for.
5. Link, Interlink, and Backlink
If you’ve published high quality content, especially content that solves problems, you can reasonably expect other people to begin linking to your site. Good content is its own advertisement, though initially you might want to augment your visibility with Google Ads or some other paid content marketer service. Backlinks suggest to search engines that you are a leader in your field. This, in turn, will help boost your domain authority and your rank on a Google SERP.
You will want to interlink these pieces within your website as you produce value-laden how-to guides, white papers, instructional videos, and more. Then you can start link outreach efforts and see if you can get other authoritative sites to link back to your content. You may even start ranking for your target keywords with your rankable content. The point is that relevant keyword linking practices is a strategy that will pay off in the long run.
6. Commit to Ongoing Improvement
Search engines are constantly crawling the internet and updating their SERPs according to the latest data they can collect. As a result, a keyword that worked great as part of your content strategy just two weeks ago may already be starting to slip a bit. This is where your SEO audit comes into play.
Make sure you consistently monitor your Google Analytics and social media platforms. Similarly, collect empirical marketing data ahead of your decision-making. Dive into what is working and what isn’t for your content marketing by looking at what content is driving traffic in Google Search Console or some other SEO tool that suits your needs. You might even share your search engine data with an SEO agency and have them provide additional marketing insights.
Analytics, search engines, marketing statistics, and spreadsheets might not be “your thing,” and that’s OK. However, you owe it to your company’s future marketing success to ensure that someone you trust is combing through the piles of search engine data to identify current trends. In a time crunch, it might be tempting to leave outdated videos on your site or hold off on retooling a page with a high bounce rate. In those moments, remind yourself of your marketing strategy. Recall how you felt when you were led to information on the web that wasted your time.
Every business, large or small, thrives by providing valuable products and services at a competitive price point. Along the way, you refine and sharpen your niche-specific expertise. When that expertise fuels content ideas and you share it freely, you kindle potential customer gratitude. In today’s world of eCommerce and SEO content, successful businesses are learning the value of reliability. Trust and appreciation are vital for gaining the attention of search engines and (ultimately) making sales.
Your content strategy will probably need a tune-up every so often. However, the time you invest in SEO content marketing is well worthwhile.
Regardless of your niche, there’s almost certainly a way to leverage your knowledge and insights. You can create quality content that cuts through all the search engine clutter and results in SEO success. If you are struggling in the digital marketing space or need help balancing your content strategy or other SEO services, don’t go it alone! Feel free to schedule a time to chat with one of our subject matter experts.