Content marketing continues to explode across both the B2B and B2C industries. An estimated 90 percent of the data available today has been produced in just the past two years. An estimated 93 percent of B2B brands leverage content marketing and 86 percent of B2C consider content marketing key to their strategy.
The numbers that these modern online techniques bring in continue to be impressive. Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, but it generates three times as many leads. These success rates have been an important factor in driving people towards trying these new methods. Content marketing is a better long-term strategy brands should work on if they haven't already.
Unfortunately, while people increasingly understand the importance of content marketing, they often either neglect their content in favor of SEO, or they neglect SEO in favor of the content. Those who push strongly for SEO speak about the importance of keywords while only giving lip service to flow and content.
On the other side of the scale, there are those who tell brands that they should not be thinking about SEO at all, and they should just write what the audience wants to read. According to these advocates, the audience will somehow just find the material. These discrepancies may help explain why more than half of B2B businesses using content marketing say that their efforts are not effective.
Brands that lack a cohesive strategy for both production and optimization will struggle. An effective SEO content strategy requires a careful balancing act of both content creation and SEO. It works like a scale, where both sides need to be equally measured and employed together to see true success. Your content needs to appeal to your audience while also being clear and relevant in the eyes of the major search engines.
Leverage a content strategy to better your SEO
Creating SEO content means flopping material that is both written for the people while also being optimized for Google. Brands must understand what their customers want to read and learn about, while also taking the time to ensure that the content is prepared for the search engine algorithms. This optimization process will ensure that the content is easily understood by the search engines so it can be displayed to readers for applicable queries. It is important to remember that Google is now rapidly advancing semantic search.
Since a few major algorithm updates - such as Hummingbird and then RankBrain - went live, there has been significantly less emphasis on matching keywords in queries and websites and a greater importance placed on understanding intent and uncovering context. Your content must similarly fit this pattern. Rather than worrying about using set phrases repeatedly, you want to use keyword research to uncover particular topics of importance that are driving user searches and that interest people in your ideal audience. There should be a far greater focus on creating content that answers the needs of users rather than writing material that checks boxes. Below is an image of BrightEdge Data Cube showing the search volume and listing type. Customers use this to plan out their editorial calendars and help content creators write for both search engines and consumers.
Ideally, you should work on developing stables of content that helps your audience dive deeply into their blog topics of choice. With different pieces of content, you can break down the topics in an increasingly complex and intricate way. You will discuss different aspects of the material and provide internal links to guide users from one piece to the next to encourage their curiosity and help them fully answer their questions. At the top of the silo, you will have a general topic that explores a broad idea. This page will then contain internal links to help users dive more deeply into the material by exploring subtopics related to the general topic.
For example, if a content section was constructed for a retail brand about fall fashion, one subtopic might discuss trends in pants and another in dresses. Internal links and other navigational tools can enable users to move around your website easily, improving their user experience as well. Easy navigation also helps the search engine spiders understand how your site is organized, which can improve your rankings and traffic. Google wants to rank sites that provide an outstanding resource for users, so the easier your readers can explore your material and the more value they can pull from your content, the better your page will be regarded. A strong SEO content strategy also includes off-page SEO, such as social media and building backlinks.
Social media can help you promote your content, driving traffic and readership, which will also boost the ranking and popularity of your piece which usually boosts backlinks. Influencer marketing or syndicating content are ways to bring in strong links from reputable sites. These off-page techniques help to demonstrate how your material fits into the greater digital ecosystem. They demonstrate how much people value your content.
Creating an effective content strategy for SEO
For effective SEO content, you want to remember that Google wants to keep readers happy just as much as you do - so by writing for your readers, you are also writing for Google. Particularly in the content-development stage, you want to focus primarily on your customers. Therefore, writing your content should revolve around these steps:
- Develop your ideal customer personas.
- Map your personas to the buyer journey.
- Conduct keyword research to uncover topics that your customers are most likely to find interesting and helpful at each stage of their buyer journey.
- Organize your content so that it is easy to find and navigate on your site, which will encourage people to explore more of your content and increase engagement.
- Use meta descriptions when publishing your content to make it look more appealing on the SERP.
After your SEO content strategy and the content itself has been developed, you will shift your focus more towards the search algorithms to make sure that Google and the other major search engines know how important your content is for a particular topic. This means you will want to include optimization efforts such as:
- Use keywords in the URLs, headlines and alt text to make the material seem more applicable to particular topics.
- Have an effective content distribution plan across newsletters, social media and emails to drive traffic, engagement reach and backlinks.
- Invest time in influencer marketing, finding content advocates and fans and similar chances for backlinks.
An effective SEO content strategy requires balancing the needs of your customers with optimization efforts. When these two aspects work in unison, they are able to effectively promote content in the SERPs and find traction and readers for your articles. Customers who neglect their SEO content strategy find themselves with websites filled with great content but no readers, while those who neglect their content quality will have good technical optimization but low engagement. It is only when these two areas work together in unison that brands start to experience the incredible success that content marketing can offer.
Content best practices
Check out a recent piece on content marketing: A New Era of Content. The paper is based on industry research by BrightEdge and iProspect, it packs a number of content and online marketing best practices into 20 short pages.