Prior to the internet, smartphones and a world unaware of its impending hyperconnected future, brands remained elevated above the noise. Their identities weren’t reliant on the audiences they served because they didn’t have to be. The competition was real but nothing a steady stream of commercial airtime couldn’t handle.
Back to the future we go and what was once smooth sailing for brands big and small has now become the wild, wild west. It’s every marketer for themselves clamoring for customer attention as they navigate digital communities. The noise is everywhere and everyone’s a contributor.
Now that the doom-and-gloom nostalgia is out of the way, we can focus on the actionable takeaways. The new normal, while frustrating, has certainly leveled the playing field to an extent, especially as it relates to content creation and distribution. If you’re a brand with something to say and fans to sway, there’s a platform to do so. It’s effectively doing so that can be the real challenge.
That is especially true when it comes to content creation. If you’re writing just to write—without an end goal to contribute to or strategy—you might as well not be doing so at all. And if you’re still working off a digital content strategy that doesn’t take SEO into account, it’s time to reevaluate.
What is SEO content?
To some degree, you probably understand each of these components separate from each other. SEO makes reference to search engine optimization, wherein you optimize online assets (i.e. websites) to rank high in Google search results. Content is all information that lives online; information that is often used by marketers to further brand affinity and move potential customers along the buyer’s journey.
Together, SEO content encompasses content that is created with the purpose of attracting traffic through search. In other words, if you want content that’s found through search, you must optimize it for SEO. This means you’re consistently making tasks like keyword research, keyword optimization, content organization and promotion part of your content creation workflow. Simple, right?
What are the different types of SEO content I can create?
SEO content types are entirely dependent upon the nature of your business and end goals, but at a very basic level, consider just some of the content Google surfaces via search.
You can apply similar technical SEO-based tactics to content in any of these forms. And no one is necessarily better than the other. The choice behind how to deliver the message to potential customers is really a matter of what you think they’ll find most engaging based on what you know about your audience.
Why should my business care about SEO content?
We’d probably need more than a blog post to answer this meaty question but consider the following. Using your website to develop a base of engaging, authoritative content can:
A thoughtful content strategy inevitably leads to higher quality traffic and higher quality actions taken on site on account of said traffic. Through SEO content, you’re working to aid conversions and also develop your website’s authority and relevance. Aiding your brand’s owned digital assets in this way leaves you less at the mercy of third party platform policy changes, and better equipped to manage full funnel lead gen campaigns.
Perhaps a more important why comes into play when you’re already actively creating content. If you’re spending the resources to create content on a regular basis only to have it never get seen by those it was intended for, what’s the point?
How do I approach content through an SEO lens?
Clarify Your Intentions
From the get-go, developing content with SEO in mind should start with intention. If your intention starts and ends with merely driving more traffic to your website, revisit the drawing board. Traffic is only as good as the people behind it. Meaning, the quantity of views you’re driving doesn’t matter if they’re not represented by your audience(s).
In addition, high levels of traffic may increase your discoverability on a search for a certain period of time, but Google picks up on quality after a while. They’re not just looking at clicks to content after all. They’re considering the bigger picture that also takes into account bounce rates and low conversion rates.
These intentions also speak to the type of content you’ll want to create based on who your audience is and what they need. If you’re a B2B service selling to C-suite executives, a downloadable, thorough guide or white paper might be the best route to take. On the other hand, if you’re selling an obscure product to younger audiences, a highly visual video tutorial might make the most sense.
Do Your Research
Conducting research on behalf of the topic at hand can be done in a number of different ways. To start, consider the topic itself. Type some version of the subject matter you’ll be addressing into Google search to get a feel for what already exists.
Dig through three to five of the top ranking results to get a feel for what these content creators did right. Pick out common themes touched on across all of them because they lend themselves to the types of answers readers are looking for in relation to the topic. In addition, consider any points that were left out in the results. What can you contribute using your brand’s content that hasn’t already been said?
1. Keywords and Audience Searches
There are plenty of tools you can put to use when conducting keyword research. What’s important when doing so, is to remain conscious of both long-tail keywords and how audiences actually search on Google. More often than not, an individual will turn to search to help them answer a particular question. This is what you should structure your content around—answering that question.
Type the questions into Google search and get a feel for other related searches. If there are ways in which you can speak to multiple use cases through one piece of content, you’re optimizing for not just quality, but longevity as well.
Another way to approach your research is with respect to your top competitors list. There are tools like WebCEO that devote an entire set of features to competitor keyword SEO research. Once you have a feel for what they’re ranking for (or not), you can more strategically target the gaps in coverage.
Outline Before Writing
Before you jump into writing, consider mapping out an outline. Doing so will help you develop a thoughtful structure, laid out in a way that audiences can easily consume. Producing engaging content, after all, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re intending visitors to read every last word. More often than not, they won’t have the time for that. Instead, format your content in a way that’s readily scannable from one point to the next.
Throughout your outline, make sure to include noted backlinks to authoritative sources. In addition, you’ll want to link out to other pieces of content on your own website when it makes sense. It’s not about forcing material in but rather, providing a seamless experience that provides your audience with useful outlets when they might need it. Outlines help you get a feel for just how much outside and internal information you’re trying to shove into one piece.
Readability is key as you start to draft out a piece of decided content. Be mindful of this by chunking out ideas into preferably three to four sentence paragraphs. Again, you want your content to be easily scannable and shorter paragraphs are much less daunting in appearance than those that ramble on.
In addition, remain conscious of the cadence behind your primary and secondary keywords. While you want to establish relevance for the sake of Google, you also want to appeal in an engaging way to your audience. Stuffing an article with keywords awkwardly inserted into every other sentence is certainly not the way to do that.
Leave Room for Review
First drafts exist for a reason, so take the time to review and edit as needed. When possible, get another pair of eyes on any piece of content, as well. Making sure what you’ve written is free from grammatical mistakes will undoubtedly important during the review process. But this is also the time to ensure consistent keywording.
You can also use the review process as an opportunity to finalize any included imagery. It’s not always easy to incorporate relevant images from an SEO standpoint. Make sure it provides value on behalf of the subject matter and your audience’s experience. If you’re adding imagery just to add it, reconsider.
Striking a balance between engaging and authoritative can be difficult as a brand. When done right, however, the marrying of technical SEO with interesting, creative content has unlimited potential to produce highly relevant, converting traffic on behalf of your brand.
How successful have your efforts been at bridging these content strategy gaps? Let us know with a tweet at @powerpostsocial!