Smart Content: What is It? How Do You Make It?

Welcome to the New Era of Smart Content

What fuels successful modern marketing? It’s a simple question and the answer is Content. Smart Content. Every email campaign, every paid search campaign, each blog, and obviously each website page require content. Content - and content marketing - is the fuel for modern marketing - and the last mile for delivering performance and a great customer experience.

Yet, content marketing is falling behind. Put differently, content marketing is under-achieving. According to Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, Content Marketing entered the dreaded Trough of Disillusionment. Supporting Gartner’s claim, BrightEdge research found that less than 50% of all of B2B brands produce content that engages their target audiences. It’s worse for B2C. On average only 20% of B2C content brands produce engages their target audiences.

In an industry where it is estimated that $145 billion is spent on content each year, that means that marketers are wasting at least $75 billion creating content that is never consumed, never viewed, and drifts away never to be found. The net result is wasted resources, having competitors capture traffic and mindshare, loss of website traffic, conversions, and revenue.

Smart Content - B2C content engagement percentages by vertical

Consumer behavior has changed, but the content marketers create has not kept pace. Yesterday’s content is written for a world where the customer journey was linear and desktops accounted for the majority of website traffic. We are entering a new era where customer is first and content performance outweighs content production.

The answer is not to give up but to adapt to the consumer. Bypass the content congestion with a new type of content that ranks fast, engages the reader, and drives conversions. Now is the time for marketers to step up and take control of their marketing performance by becoming more intelligent with their investments. Welcome to the new era of Smart Content.

What is Smart Content?

Smart Content blends the best of search marketing, artificial intelligence, and content marketing to power the development, activation, and optimization of high-performing content. It is the heart of modern marketing and will fuel modern marketing. Without it, digital marketers will fall behind their competition, lose connectivity with their customers, and ultimately fail in the post-mobile world.

The secret to this high-performing content is that it discovers consumers needs - through organic search - and addresses that need with specific content that targets market and customer demand. It’s a customer-centric process for creating content. That means marketers select the right, high-demand topic and optimize it to make it as visible as possible to the target market - especially in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. The content is self-aware and self-adjusting, improving content discovery and engagement.

  1. TARGETED: exactly what customers want and need when they need it 

  2. OPTIMIZED: always optimized to make the content more visible and discoverable

  3. INTEGRATED: activated across devices and the entire marketing stack for maximum impact

  4. PROFITABLE: the content delights and engages readers on topics they have intent for and primes them for conversion

The Convergence of Organic Search and Content Marketing Produce Smart Content

This is where the role of Organic Search comes into focus. Organic Search is the market-wide voice of the customer. Trillions of searches are performed every year and in those searches are unique insights about customer intent. 

Meanwhile, SEO solves many of the problems facing marketers today, especially around content that is never found. While SEO and Content Marketing teams have co-existed for years – working towards the same goal of driving marketing performance the two functions have not really come together in most organizations.

smart content: seo and content marketing have already converged

So marketers are playing catch-up with content better suited for a mobile-first world, but consumers are lapping marketers once again. Those consumers blitzed through the mobile-first world and are now jumping in the post-mobile world. Bringing together SEO and Content Marketing has never been more important. In a recent BrightEdge survey of 242 marketers, 97% said that SEO and Content Marketing are more integrated than last year and are converging into a single function. This makes sense because:

  • Organic and SEO offer unique insights about customer intent and word choice

  • Organic offers unique insights about customer preferences

  • SEO with content marketing drive high-performing content called Smart Content

  • SEO with content marketing deliver a better customer experience and better ROI 

Smart Content: How Do You Make It?

1. Targeting Demand/Discovery

Identify high-value topics through content briefs that target different content strategies, such as stopping competitive threats or capitalizing on local demand. Content briefs assess the ROI of new content items and prioritize their development by unveiling insights, such as consumer intent, topic opportunity sizing, characteristics of top competing content, and recommendations for improving content performance.

First of all, to create content that delights customers and drives performance, you must first understand customer intent.


Smart Content understanding customer intent and micromoments graphic

Customer intent is the driving force behind customer action. Moreso than any other channel, Search divulges that intent in the form of the search query and the specific relevant content that appears most prominently in the search results.

Use topic strategies, based on artificial intelligence, for your existing content and to interpret the competitive landscape to uncover, characterize, and prioritize opportunities for new content that will drive business impact.

2. Always Optimized and Always-On

To ensure that Smart Content adapts to changes in customer and market demand over time, you need dynamic content recommendations for every piece of content created as well as any existing web page. The recommendations are relevant to the page content, keeping website visitors engaged and converting. Additionally, because the search landscape changes so frequently, Smart Content automatically adjusts to changes in content and organic search standards. Smart Content:

  • Remains automatically optimized for new search and mobile best practices, such as Google AMP and Google Image Search

  • Enables batch updating of markup tags and content recommendations

3. Integrated and Efficient Content Workflow for Content and Conversion

Marketers need a complete end-to-end workflow that takes marketers from ideation through content publishing as well as amplification and performance reporting. In this workflow, Smart Content ranks faster, acquires new customers, and stays optimized for search and mobile. 

Smart Content can be used by marketers to create articles, campaign landing pages, blog posts, knowledge center documents, product pages and more. It provides customized templates and organized, easy-to-use CTA assets.

Additionally, Smart Content continues to be automatically optimized over time when search engines introduce changes to their algorithms, standards, and formats that would otherwise require retroactive and sometimes work-intensive optimization.

With a click of a button marketers can activate new content at any time. Each piece of content should be optimized for organic performance and customer experience – such as schema for structure, AMP for better speed and mobile experiences, and Open Graph for Facebook and Social. Marketers can then more easily amplify their content on social networks for greater visibility.

4. Profitable

Increase content ROI: Make intelligent content investments by identifying high-value topics that customers search for, are favorable to you from a competitive perspective, and have the most commercial value. Prioritize content that will increase organic visibility and engage customers.

Increase organic share of voice: Outsmart the competition by uncovering important topics where they outperform you in search and by understanding the tactics they employ so that you can develop more targeted content with integrated intelligence and automation.

Pursue well-defined content strategies. Identify topics with strong market demand and low competitive authority with clear path to conversion points and effective CTA deployment.

Optimized, smart content outranks the competition 5-to-1 for the largest brands

BrightEdge investigated what differentiates content ranking on page one versus content ranking on page two or worse. It’s a simple answer. Page one content is engaging to audiences and optimized for search engines.

BrightEdge research shows that on average brands with more than one million pieces of optimized smart content ranked on the first page of Google 390% more than comparably sized brands that didn’t optimize content. 

In other words, for every piece of content from the non-optimizing brand which ranked on page one of Google for a given topic, the brand with optimized smart content had 4.9 pieces of content that rank on page one of Google for as many topics. Brands that invested in content optimization outperform their competition almost five-to-one.

On the smaller end of the spectrum, brands with fewer than 1,000 pieces of content outperformed their competition by 110% on average. Even for the smallest brands, optimizing content results in very meaningful lift.

How does smart content help marketers?

The benefits of smart content marketing are to make less content, generate better engagement, and deliver higher ROI. It’s easy to empathize with the thought process of companies that wish to scale down their content investments. After all, there’s already a ton of content out there, and much of it is never found by its intended target audience. Simply creating more of the same old dumb content is unlikely to help. It will just lead to more content workflow congestion and content vying for customers’ attention.

  • Stop Competitive Threats - Identifies topics where your direct competitors’ content outperforms your content. Creating meaningful content for these topics can help you defend against your competitors and take back market share.

  • Opportunities with Weak Competition - Lists topics where the top competitors have domain authority weaker than your current domain authority. This represents opportunities where you will more likely perform well sooner with strong, relevant content.

  • Appear in Quick Answers - Identifies topics where there is potential to rank in Quick Answers. Quick Answers is one of the most valuable positions to appear in because the click through rates are higher and competitors are pushed below the fold. BrightEdge Content can help identify opportunities where there is Quick Answers potential then help create content to appear in that section of the SERP.

  • Capitalize on Local Demand - Identifies topics where there is location sensitivity. As search becomes more localized, it’s important to know which topics have a local component so content can be targeted to locations that are most meaningful for a business.

  • Win on topics with excellent value - BrightEdge Content scores each topic according to different characteristics of the opportunity, including: search volume, relative competition level, and commercial value. Topics with excellent value are the best opportunities.

Marketers need ways to make it easy to produce the right content at the right time for the right audience. Writers need to pair content ideation and strategy with content briefs that will balance content production and performance. Context-sensitive guides ensure that a writer’s content adheres to the latest SEO and mobile best practices and outperforms on SERPs, too. With easy review, approval and publication processes, writers can activate and amplify new content faster.

BrightEdge Customer Quotes on Smart Content

BrightEdge is truly innovative. We love the revenue opportunities it uncovers for us through its recommended topics. We look forward to increasing our brand visibility on search engine results pages and engaging new customers with Smart Content that addresses their key questions and needs.” Pauline Montgomery, Digital Marketing Specialist, Duncan


BrightEdge Smart Content increased organic search traffic to silverjeans.com by 26% quarter-over-quarter. Much of the net-new traffic came through the AMP pages that BrightEdge Content automatically created for our Smart Content.

We love the automated topic research and discovery capabilities as well as the contextual SEO suggestions that help us activate new content quickly for untapped market demand.” Mike Girardin, Director of E-Commerce, Silver Jeans Co.


BrightEdge Content has helped us quickly and easily optimize and publish knowledge-based Smart Content that showcases our deep orthopedic expertise.” Timothy Wall, Marketing Director, Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute

In summary, smart content is more efficient to produce and performs better. It generates more visits, moves people along the funnel, and generates more profit. BrightEdge helps you make it with the introduction of the BrightEdge Content product.

BrightEdge Content is an AI-powered content marketing solution for increasing website traffic, conversions, and revenue. Powered by BrightEdge DataMind and natively integrated in the BrightEdge platform, BrightEdge Content blends the best of search marketing and content marketing best practices, and powers the development, activation, and automated optimization of Smart Content.