With so much content being published daily, you need to take a strategic approach when it comes to creating content for your business. First you need a strategy for creating and distributing your content. Then you need to optimize your content so people can find it. Your content needs to appeal to your audience. But just as important, it needs to be seen by the major search engines for them to index it properly. This is why you need to plan your SEO as part of your content strategy to ensure your content can be found.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is the planning, creation and delivery of content targeted at what your customers want or need. A content strategy helps you determine:
- What content you will provide
- Why you want to provide it
- Where the content will be distributed
- And to what target market
Content can be created in any media including written, images, video or audio. The strategy also defines what channels you will use to distribute your content so that it becomes visible to your target audience.
Having a defined content strategy helps you create better content faster because you will know what you need to create, when and why.
Importance of adding SEO to your content strategy
You might be wondering what an SEO content strategy is. It is a cohesive strategy for both creating and optimizing content for search. This may sound simple, but in many cases, those who create content are different from those who optimize the content. Content creation and content optimization must work together for the following reasons.
Content is strategic
Writing content that never gets seen is a waste of time. Tying your content to the needs of your target audience makes you more valuable to them. The main goal of your content is to drive qualified organic traffic and leads to your website.
Writing just for the sake of writing or pumping out a lot of low quality content, isn’t going to help you gain you more visibility in the search results. In fact, it could do just the opposite. With 7.5 million new blog posts being published every day, you need to make your content valuable to your desired customer. Having a plan for what content you will create and when is important to your content marketing success.
Optimized content is visible
Having great content that that doesn’t show up in the search engine results is no help to your business. Optimizing your content amplifies its visibility and can drive more traffic to your website. But the search engines are smarter today. They no longer need exact match keywords in the content to figure out what it’s about.
Content can be indexed for a keyword based on a topical match. Google cares more about how your content covers the topic and how helpful your content is to the reader. This allows you to optimize your content using not only the focus keyword but also using its synonyms.
Benefits of writing quality content
Content is the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy. It is the primary vehicle to attract visitors. If your content attracts the right visitors, you can turn them into leads by offering them something of value. From there, you can nurture those leads and convert them into customers.
But there are additional benefits of providing quality content.
Increases your reputation as an expert
Quality content that demonstrates your expertise and how you can help them solve a problem makes you memorable. When you demonstrate your expertise and authority, you will attract your ideal customers. The content you provide will show them you are an expert.
When you provide authoritative content that helps your target audience, you will then develop the third piece that will help you get found – trust. And when the challenge is bigger than they can handle on their own, they will turn to you for help.
Makes it easier to get inbound links
Having great content encourages inbound links from blogs that find something you say interesting. I link to quality content and love to find a great post from someone I never heard of before. Providing that inbound link helps them and helps my readers.
Enables you to show your personality
Writing in your own voice helps people get to know you. Show your personality so that you connect with your audience. Write as if you have having a conversation with someone. This makes it easier for your reader to get the message quickly and easily.
Helps you to stay up-to-date within your field
Researching and writing a blog post helps you to stay current on what’s new. It helps you not only gain additional knowledge, but you then translate that knowledge into content that helps your reader. This becomes valuable to your clients because you are the person they see the leader in your field.
Makes you the central source for quality content
If you always provide content that helps educate your audience and solves a problem, people will come back when they need more help. Sharing your content plus some from other sources on social media keeps you visible to your connections. This can make you a resource for quality information, both from you and others in your industry. Plus people are more likely to follow you on social media (and connect with you) if you provide good information.
Keeps your website fresh
Stale website content is the kiss of death. People who want to do business with you are looking for the most up-to-date information. A website built on WordPress with an active blog and powerful cornerstone pages is just the recipe for a powerful online presence. The simplicity of updating content in WordPress will encourage you to add new, fresh content on a more consistent basis.
Defining Your SEO Content Strategy
A content strategy is the planning, creation and delivery of well-optimized content targeted at what your customers want or need. A content strategy helps you determine:
- What content you will provide
- Why you want to provide it
- How it will be organized
- Where the content will be distributed
- To what target market
- At what frequency
Planning your content strategy before you start writing helps you ensure your content is relevant, visible and valuable to your target audience.
Set your outcome goal
Know what you are trying to achieve before you start writing. This will help you focus your efforts and not waste time on content that doesn’t help your business. Do you want to:
- Increase leads by a certain percentage?
- Build your email list?
- Drive traffic to a sales page?
This will help you prioritize the type of content you want to create and what the calls-to-action should be.
For most small businesses, having a blog expands your digital footprint. The more pages to index, the more opportunity you have to appear in the search engine results. This helps create visibility, generate traffic to your website and establish an expert reputation.
Great content helps your business stand out from the competition. When people find your content and hear what you have to say, you are seen as an expert.
Know your audience
One of the reasons I encourage small business owners to develop a simple marketing plan is to understand the wants and needs of your target market. The more you know about the types of challenges your customers face, the more you can focus on producing content that can serve them.
Get to know your audience and find out the primary challenge they have that you can help them with.
- Who is my audience?
- What problem they are trying to solve?
- What types of content do these people want to consume?
- How do they search for those solutions?
Now map your value proposition to how you can fulfill your audience’s needs:
- What is the unique value in your offering that encompasses the entire customer experience?
- How can your company use this expertise to help your audience?
When you focus on one target market, your messages are clear, your offerings meet their needs and your marketing efforts are more effective, even to those not within your target market.
Do your keyword research
Effective SEO content strategies start by analyzing the keywords relevant to your business. You will need to use tools to help you determine your best keywords. Keep in mind that keywords are no longer just one word or simple phrases. People now search using questions so keep an eye out for those. They can inspire some of your topic ideas.
Browser extensions like Keyword Surfer and Ubersuggest provide the phrases people use. They use Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords for any topic. These can help you get the data you need to determine which keyword phrases will work for you.
It’s important to know the search volume for a keyword. Although it would be wonderful to rank for a very high volume, highly competitive keyword phrase (short-tail keywords), most small businesses will do better focusing on the lower volume, less competitive keywords (long-tail keywords). By lower volume, I don’t mean zero since if nobody is searching for this topic, it won’t generate any additional traffic to your website. But long-tail keywords are more focused and will help attract those searching for what you offer.
Further Reading: How to do Keyword Research for SEO
Create a content plan
Using your keywords, identify and prioritize the topics that are relevant to your customers. Although there are keywords that you could create content for and increase your organic traffic, not all keywords will help you achieve your goals. If the content doesn’t fit with your target’s needs and your expertise, it isn’t worth your time writing about that topic. If you have content already written, you should do a audit to see what to keep, update or eliminate.
Brainstorm topic areas you will focus on for your content development efforts. Then you can create a list of titles that can fall into those categories.
For example, if you are a financial planner, you may have topics such as retirement planning, financial planning, investment advice and insurance. If you are a landscape construction company, you could organize your topics around retaining walls, excavation, drainage, demolition and grading.
Once you have your categories defined, build out your topic clusters so you can structure the content on your website for easy access. Then add your content to an editorial calendar so you stay on track with producing your content. (You can get an editorial calendar with my Marketing Plan eBook when you sign up for my email list).
Further Reading: Topic Clusters Simplify Your Content Strategy and Improve SEO
Write your content
Now pick your topic based on the keyword phrase you’ve chosen and start writing. Knowing the keyword you want to rank for before you write your content will help you be more focused when you are writing. It needs to be well-written, authoritative and cover the topic in depth. That doesn’t mean length or complexity. The content should directly cover the intent of the search query in simple terms but in a complete and comprehensive manner.
Not everyone is a writer. If creating content isn’t your strength, there are many ways to get it done without you agonizing over it. Consider outsourcing to someone who can produce the content for you.
- Dictate your thoughts and send them an audio file to use.
- Have them interview you for your expertise.
- Provide them an outline of the key points and let them fill the rest in.
Always oversee the process so what is being created aligns with your vision and beliefs. Then edit the content they produce and add your optimization.
Optimize your content
Once you’ve written your content, now optimize it for your chosen keyword. Install a quality WordPress plugin for SEO (Yoast or All in One SEO) and use it to guide you.
- Post title – Include your keyword phrase in your title. Craft a title that attracts the reader.
- SEO title – This is the title that shows up in your browser tab and as the title in the search results listing. This can be the same as your post title, but there are times when you may want to tweak it a bit.
- Page URL – Include your keyword phrase in the slug of the URL. Keep the slug clean and short if possible by removing unnecessary words.
- Content – Use the keyword phrase in your content. It does not need to be exact so you don’t need to sound like a robot. Use the keyword phrases in your headlines if it makes sense.
- Meta description – Although this meta tag is not used for SEO, it is used as the content that appears in the search engine results. Use the keyword phrase in the description but write it to attract the searcher to your post.
Further Reading: Mastering On-Page SEO for Improved Search Visibility
SEO and content must work together
Knowing how your target audience searches for solutions to problems can help you create and optimize content that helps them solve their challenges. By doing so, you become a valuable resource that they will turn to when they need help.
An effective SEO content strategy balances the needs of your customers with optimization efforts. If you pick only one of the two components, content or SEO, you will either have great content with no traffic or traffic with no one sticking around. But, when content and SEO are unified, your content will more likely appear in the search results, being delivered to potential customers who are searching for this content.
If you don’t have an content strategy that includes SEO best practices, create an effective one for your small business. Then put together a content marketing strategy (how you will promote your content) to increase the probability that your business will be found.
Further Reading: Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy