Do you want to create your own content strategy? But you don't have a lot of free time?
Let's find out
Since the Hummingbird algorithm upgrade and the accompanying excitement around RankBrain, delivering content that best satisfies the requirements of users has been top-of-mind for many SEOs. In principle, it seems simple enough, but what does that entail in practice? Many SEOs assume they're already doing this by relying solely on keyword research to guide their content strategy.
The problem with relying exclusively on keywords to guide your content strategy is that search does not capture all of your audience's content needs. Find out what queries your local customer support agent answers on a daily basis; I assure you that you won’t find all of those questions with search volume in a keyword research tool.
You'll be in a better position to create SEO content that converts if you shift away from a keyword-first content approach and toward an audience-centric one. Don't get me wrong, keyword research has a vital role to play. However, it should come later in the process, after you've done some research on your target audience and your own brand knowledge.
So, let’s start from the very beginning.
What exactly is an SEO?
Search Engine Optimizers, SEOs, are people that improve websites to help them rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more organic traffic. In essence, an SEO is a highly qualified content strategist who assists a company in identifying possibilities to answer inquiries about their products or services.
On-page SEO: This SEO focuses on the content that is actually on site pages, and how to optimize it to boost the website's ranking for specific keywords.
Off-page SEO: This type of SEO relies on links pointing to the website from other websites. The number of backlinks a site has from reliable sources helps search engines trust it.
Technical SEO: This type of SEO focuses on the backend architecture of a website, such as the site code. Because Google values technical setup equally as much as content, this position is critical for rankings.
Keep in mind that every business has distinct goals, so it's up to an SEO to research their industry, figure out what their target audiences care about, and build a strategy that provides them with what they want.
What is the difference between an audience-focused content strategy and a keyword-focused content strategy?
A content marketing plan begins with the target audience and progresses to a deeper grasp of your brand's expertise and value proposition. Keyword research is useful for learning how people talk about issues that are relevant to your business, but it is limited in terms of audience comprehension.
Consider one of your potential customers' conversion journeys. Is search their sole means of obtaining information? Hopefully not if you're collecting lead information or serving retargeting advertising. So, why should keyword research be the extent of your audience knowledge?
A content strategy is a comprehensive plan that addresses questions such as:
Who is my target audience?
What are their problems and requirements?
What kind of content do these individuals prefer to consume?
What distinctive skills does our brand offer?
Where are they currently conducting conversations (online or offline)?
How can we match our skills to the demands of our audience?
Successful SEO Content Strategies
1. Identify Your Target Audience
It's all about providing a great user experience and the most relevant information possible when it comes to SEO.
You must first identify your target audience in order to generate content that will resonate with them.
Here are some questions to consider in order to narrow down your target market:
Who are your existing clients?
Identifying important qualities of your present consumers can provide insight into who your potential customers are.
Examine quantitative and qualitative data, such as age and gender, as well as purchasing patterns and web page activity. All of these things can assist you figure out who you should be writing to.
Who are the people who are drawn to your competition?
Learn about the kind of people who interact with your competitors. Examine your social network profiles, blog comments, and client testimonials.
What are the preferences of those who are satisfied? Are you able to address the demands of those who are dissatisfied?
Businesses like yours have a lot to teach us.
So, what exactly do you have to offer?
Consider the items and services you provide and the value they provide to your customers.
Who would gain from such outcomes?
What is the general opinion about you?
Do you have a good understanding of how your customers feel about you and your products?
Survey your audience to learn what you're doing well, where you can improve, and what information they want to learn from you.
After you've gathered all of this information, segment your audience and create personas to aid in the creation of customized content that caters to the demands of specific target groups.
Personas represent ideal customers and give you a method to segment your audience even further for optimal impact.
2. Identifying your distinct content angle
The key to connecting with your audience is to create a unique content angle that discovers intersections between your brand's expertise and your target audience's problems. Because it requires taking a wider topic and tilting it in your own way, the Content Marketing Institute refers to this as a "content tilt." It can be more difficult than it appears to define your brand's expertise.
It's usual for brands to claim that their product is what sets them apart, but if a competitor offers the same generic product, it's not distinctive. What sets your company apart from the competition?
3. Determine your objectives.
Begin at the very end. What are you hoping to achieve in the end? Do you want to boost your lead generation by a certain percentage? Do you wish to raise sales by a certain amount? Are you trying to get people to sign up for a newsletter? First, make a list of your objectives. This will assist you in determining the type of content you want to create as well as the appropriate calls-to-action.
A car dealership, for example, will have a primary purpose of attracting customers in order to sell them a car. Their material doesn't have to be gated, but it should have a local flavor and answer frequent questions about the car-buying process, as well as display the human components that distinguish the dealership in order to build confidence and demonstrate how buyers will be serviced. Trust is especially important in that industry.
4. Define Your Topic Area
You can start brainstorming content themes now that you know who you're attempting to target and what they want to learn from you. Your purpose and expertise should be at the heart of everything you write, even if your goal is to create material that people want to read.
What information can you supply to the target audience that distinguishes you as an authority figure?
This is the place in which you will be discussing your issue. It will direct your audience interest research, keyword matching, and SEO content development.
Finally, this is what will assist you in producing content that converts. Once you've determined your area of expertise (or core content), you can start using data from your target audience to create a variety of content topics.
5. Select Keywords that Meet the Needs of Your Audience + Topic Area
Did you notice that keyword research isn't even one of the top two processes in an SEO strategy? That's because, in order to develop content that people respond to, you have to first figure out who you're talking to and what information will be useful to them.
Then you may start looking for words and phrases that will lead your readers to topics that are important to them.
This is how you can do it:
Step 1: Start with a wide search keyword that is relevant to your main content.
If I were selling kitchen utensils, for example, I'd start with the root keyword: "kitchen utensils.”
Step 2: Narrow the scope by considering these factors:
Step 3: Piece it all together.
You should now be able to make a rough list of topics to look into. Don't forget to include long-tail keywords that help you to delve a little further into your topic area.
They help target content with greater precision than other keywords since they are more particular.
Whatever list you make, keep in mind that it's just a beginning point. Still looking for inspiration? Put yourself in your audience's shoes and conduct some Google searches of your own.
Step 4: Make use of keyword research software.
You may run your rough list of terms and phrases through your favorite research tool now that you have a rough list. This will aid in identifying the keywords that will produce the best results.
The more words and phrases you have to research, the more focused your keyword targets can be.
There are plenty of good tools out there to help you with this. Here are a few of my go-tos:
Moz Keyword Explorer (freemium): If you have it, it’s a great tool for uncovering keywords as questions, looking at the keyword competitive landscape, and finding other related keywords to your topic.
Keywordtool.io (free): One of the only keyword discovery tools out there that will give you keyword research by search engine. If you are looking for YouTube or App Store keywords, for instance, this is a great idea generation tool.
Ubersuggest.io (free): Type in one keyword and Ubersuggest will give you a plethora of other ideas organized in a list alphabetically or in a word cloud.
6. Set Up a Blog
Blogging can be a fantastic technique to rank for keywords while also interacting with your website's visitors. After all, each blog post is a new web page with a new chance to rank in the SERPs. Consider starting a blog for your business if you don't currently have one.
Three things to keep in mind when you create each blog post and expand on your clusters:
Only utilize your long-tail keyword three or four times throughout the page, as Google no longer considers exact keyword matches as frequently as it once did. In fact, having too many instances of your term can signal to search engines that your keyword stuffing to improve your ranks, and they'll penalize you for it.
Always provide a link to the pillar page you made for each of your themes. This can be done using tags in your content management system (CMS) or simple anchor text in the article body.
Once each blog post is published, include a link to it on the parent pillar page that supports the subtopic. You're informing Google that there's a link between the long-tail term and the overarching topic you're attempting to rank for by connecting both the pillar and the cluster in this way.
7. Establish a Regular Blogging Schedule
You don't have to include a topic cluster in every blog post or web page you write. Writing on tangential issues that your clients care about can also help you gain authority with Google's algorithms.
Make it a point to blog at least once a week with this in mind. Remember that you're writing for your readers, not search engines, so research your target market and write about topics that they care about.
To stay consistent and focused on your goals, you might want to develop a content strategy.
8. Consider Mobile SEO Strategy
When developing your overall strategy, mobile SEO is a crucial consideration. Mobile optimization is making sure that your site and its content are available and accessible to users on mobile devices, so that they can have the same experience and benefit as desktop browsers.
Because Google has a mobile-first indexing strategy, mobile optimization is critical. This means that instead of crawling a desktop site, the algorithm will index and rank pages for SERPs using the mobile version of your site. Furthermore, mobile devices account for 61% of Google search searches in the United States. In the end, your SEO strategy would be worthless if mobile optimization was not prioritized.
While mobile SEO isn't a completely independent process, it does have its own set of considerations, such as page speed monitoring, responsive site design, local SEO, and providing high-quality content that can be viewed on any device.
The SEO Methodology
You should also design a process to continually optimizing for new keywords and changing search intent once you've created your SEO plan. Here are a few things you can do to help.
1. A Timeline to optimize your content
To stay on top of the SERPs, set aside some time each month to update old blog entries with new and up-to-date material. You can also take use of this time to solve any SEO best-practices that were not addressed previously, such as missing picture alt text.
2. Keep an eye out for new search intent and changing terms.
Track how your blog entries are ranking and which keywords they're ranking for after a few months. This can help you tweak subheadings and copy to capitalize on fresh search intent that your target audience might be interested in.
3. Increase the editorial value of your existing content.
You can come upon a post that is utterly out of date. In this case, you should go above and beyond the standard historical SEO update and give it a complete overhaul. This can be accomplished by updating out-of-date material and statistics, adding new sections for extra depth, and including quotes or original data to increase referral traffic to the post.
4. Make a monthly content strategy.
Creating and refining a monthly content plan might help you stay on top of your SEO approach. You can enter it into a spreadsheet, and your teams will be able to keep track of it.
With an effective SEO strategy, you can win
A content strategy based on SEO's foundational principles will increase traffic and earnings for your company. As you develop your strategy, the research you perform will be crucial in determining your target audience and area of expertise. You can utilize this knowledge to write with intention. As a result, you'll draw a larger audience and rank higher in Google's SERPs. That's what I call a victory.