If content marketing is a main strategy for your business, then optimizing your content so people can find it must also be a key strategy. First, your content needs to appeal to your audience. But just as important, it also must be clear to the major search engines for them to index it properly. This is why you need to plan your SEO content strategy before you begin writing.
Importance of an SEO content strategy
You might be wondering what an SEO content strategy is. It is a cohesive strategy for both creating content and optimizing that 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 5 million or more 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. This allows you to optimize your content using not only the focus keyword but also using its synonyms.
Defining Your SEO Content Strategy
A content strategy is the planning, creation and delivery of content targeted at what your customers want or need. Quality content demonstrates your expertise and how you can help them. 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
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
You need to define what you are ultimately trying to accomplish with your content.
- 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.
Know your audience
Before you can implement effective marketing activities, you must intimately understand your audience. Find out what the primary challenge is for your audience.
- 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.
You can start with Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest. They both use Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords for any topic. Both have Chrome extensions, and Keywords Everywhere has a Firefox extension. Both 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.
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, will the traffic you get be valuable to you? Will this content attract visitors that are going to convert?
Once you have your topics, 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.
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 go back and 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.
SEO and content must work together
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.