Content marketing is a powerful digital marketing tool for businesses to grow and capture leads, build revenue, and nurture new customer relationships. But how do you know if you are targeting the right people and growing your audience?
Good content marketing relies on an effective content strategy, and for a strategy to be effective, it must be informed by SEO. What this means, though, can be confusing. SEO, which otherwise stands for search engine optimization, is the driver behind organic search traffic and your SERP position (or search engine results page). This improves how people can “organically” and naturally navigate to your site by searching on the web. And there are several ways that businesses and content marketers can use SEO when developing an effective content strategy.
As a marketer, it’s important to establish how SEO works and how it applies to your website. Often, there are simple SEO-related changes that can be applied to your website and the content you post.
Have you been wondering why SEO is vital to your content strategy? We are here to shed light on SEO’s importance and give you some tips for including it in your content strategy.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO is optimizing your web pages to be easily indexed by Google and quickly accessed by search engine users. Pages are regularly crawled by search engine bots and organized. Google will categorize the content on the web page based on its URL, the headers/subheaders (H2s), the links (going to and from the URL), the media and content on the page, and the written content itself, including the long-tail keywords related to the page’s subject.
There is a lot that goes into SEO; in fact, there are an estimated 200 factors that marketers need to consider when conducting SEO. These factors are organized into the following categories:
- Domain Factors
- Page-Level Factors
- Site-Level Factors
- Backlink Factors
- User Interaction
- Special Google Algorithm Rules
- Brand Signals
- On-Site Webspam Factors
- Off-Site Webspam Factors
While we will not go into all of these factors, recognize that Google regularly changes its search algorithm. Ever since BERT’s release, it seems that Google updates its algorithm once every quarter (or so). So many web pages find that they are reshuffled and reorganized based on these new categorizations. However, there are best practices that marketers can use to stay consistent, which include creating great content and matching the title tag to the primary keyword.
SEO for Content Marketers
When it comes to SEO for content marketing, it’s important to focus on two of the main factors: content-based SEO and technical SEO.
- Technical SEO or Site-level factors: This is based on your website. Your website must be quick, easy to browse, and understandable for any user.
- Content-based SEO or Page-level Factors: Content created to help your site rank higher in search engines.
Technical or off-page SEO is essential to Google’s bots. When your site is technically sound, the bots will have a clearer understanding of the contexts that your site relates to, its authority (whether it’s worthy of being ranked higher or lower), and its reliability. But, if your website has one or many technical errors, you could have it blocked by Google altogether. For example, your website should load quickly, have a sitemap, have a meta description with your related keyword, be easily adaptable for mobile users, have no HTML issues, and no lousy page redirects.
You also do not want to limit your focus to creating a technically sound website. Your content, when combined with technical SEO, will be better all around. If you have checked all of the technical SEO boxes (you can do a content audit if you are unsure), Google will look at your written content and structure. It does this by measuring how your audience interacts with your site. Suppose users are not selecting your site or not interacting with it when they are there. In that case, search engines will conclude that your site is not beneficial and therefore push your website lower in the SERPs.
In reading your content, Google’s search engine algorithm will try to determine the authority of given content based on the page references, the features on the page, and its readability.
Content Marketing Strategy and SEO Keywords
Marketers used to prioritize SEO in content strategy. However, in recent years, SEO requirements aren’t as straightforward amidst Google algorithm changes, and content creators can’t seem to keep up with all of the SEO best practices.
Before you get to writing your content, though, your brand should use SEO for targeting the strategic approach to content development. While it may be useful to write about a topic like accounting, what marketers don’t recognize is the range of SEO keywords that can direct this topic. For example, an accounting firm that uses the keyword “accounting” on their page might find they are buried against heavy competition. Therefore, these firms can target extended tail keyword opportunities like “accounting firms Toronto” and, better yet, niches like “accounting firms for small business Toronto” to direct your target audience to your website.
Finding the right keyword-related strategy will come by using an SEO tool like Google Search Console and SEMrush. In analyzing a targeting keyword related to your URL, you can tap into additional questions that users are looking for and related topics that could speak to your audience’s needs. And, by comparing this data to competitor data, you could excel with a strategically chosen keyword or keyphrase that your competitors aren’t using!
Without this type of research, though, then your content marketing strategy could be worthless—that is, it could be trying to tap into highly competitive keywords that most brands will never be able to compete with. Being smart about this keyword research will better position your strategy for success (and your customers will be happier!).
Improving Your Page-related SEO
Once you have developed your customer avatars and set up site-related SEO, you can begin to implement page-related SEO.
Your customer is, after all, looking for their problem to be solved, and your company can offer a solution. But, if the customer can’t find your website, they will go elsewhere for that solution. Tap into SEO to ensure that your target audience can find your content when they need it the most.
You can significantly improve your SEO by providing content of different varieties, such as:
- Blog posts
- Product pages
By tapping into different ways of accessing content, like FAQs, featured snippets, and videos and media, you can create more ways for Google to respect your content and more ways for searchers to find and interact with your content, increasing its authority.
Since Google changed its algorithms, there is so much more to SEO. Search engines are much more intelligent than they once were, and gone are the days of keyword stuffing and duplicate content. With these changes, Google expects your written content to have better readability and improved customer experience. The focus on the caliber of your website and the user experience means that you should no longer use specific keywords as many times as possible.
Instead, write for your audience first and foremost. Once you have created some good content, optimize it for the search engines. You may still want to include keywords, but only if they fit the piece of enticing comprehensive content you will publish.
Content Creation Aligned With an SEO Content Marketing Strategy
Work with a content strategist to create your SEO content strategy. Here are a few things that you can do to implement a successful content strategy:
- Understand your target audience: You started your brand to connect with a customer, and without an understanding of them, you will never understand what they like. Give yourself an advantage over your competitors by analyzing your CRM data and creating at least one buyer persona. You will miss a crucial part of marketing and the opportunity for an edge over others if you don’t study your customer’s locations, preferences, and the questions they have.
- Target keywords and secondary keywords: As we mentioned, you don’t want to use keywords just to use them. However, you can leverage keywords to show your audience that you are a leader in your industry and establish domain authority. Your brand will have commonly searched keywords, and they should also include a relevant keyword and common keyword phrase intents. If you can masterfully add them into your content, you will not only add to your SEO, but you also give your audience a little something that they might not get elsewhere, fostering brand loyalty.
- Invest in a good SEO tool: While Yoast SEO can be helpful, it is limited, and many of your competitors are using this tool as well. Even if you aren’t an SEO expert, a successful content marketer will invest in intuitive SEO tools like MarketMuse, which uses AI-driven SEO support.
- Create good content: Think about your product’s solutions to help generate topics for your content. Your content should be well-written, have a strong internal linking strategy, be a good length, and be easy to read. Think about different types of content, such as white papers and e-books that could help generate traffic and drive your audience into action. Google’s algorithm will want to see valuable content with useful, authoritative backlinks.
- Update existing content: Occasionally, you should update your website to include new primary keywords and more up-to-date content. This is called optimized content. Whenever there is new or better information available, such as statistics or percentages, update your content. Check your metadata to ensure it is optimized. You might be able to optimize your content based on different user intents.
- Structure your content: Plan first, and then fill in the details. Use proper spacing, headings and subheadings, and paragraphs to help with readability. Link to your past content, if it still fits.
If you can check these boxes, you can start planning your SEO content strategy.
SEO and Your Brand
If you can create content that caters to SEO, is updated consistently, and is written for human readers, your SEO strategy will be successful.
One thing to be mindful of is that your content can take some time to appear high in Google rankings, which can be frustrating. However, stick with creating SEO-friendly content. You will eventually start to appear on the first page of the search results. Even with good domain authority, your content can take months to start ranking on Google. Once it is there, you will be one of, if not the top choice for thousands of searchers, so sticking it out is to your advantage.
Even better, new customers are typically more apt to convert to sales if they land on your page via organic search versus paid ads. This is because your content (and brand) will be served to them by Google as a solution to their problem, which means they already know what they are looking for.
Your search engine ranking, as discussed above, depends on: how long your website has been around, the SEO work you have put into it up until this point, how well constructed the website is, the links on your site, and your content and how much there is.
While most B2B marketers and SEO companies will say that your optimization should take four to six months, that is just your starting point. Your Google ranking a year from now should be even better than where it is in four to six months, and if you are satisfied, you will then need to work to keep it there.
Smart SEO strategy will bring organic traffic to your site, which will lead to increased loyalty and more conversions for you.