Steps to a Successful SEO Content Strategy
April 22, 2019
Before getting on with this blog, we need to outline the importance of having an SEO content strategy today.
Why do you Need an SEO Content Strategy?
Why do you need to build an SEO content strategy? To maximize organic traffic because SEO is not a standalone discipline, and performing standalone optimizations will not yield positive results. Today, SEO and content go hand in hand.
SEO managers, content marketers, and subject matter experts need to work together for devising and implementing impactful strategies to maximize organic traffic.
It is also important to note that SEO or search engine optimization involves multiple disciplines, such as on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, vernacular SEO, and so much more. A comprehensive SEO content strategy is devised in such a way that it categorically targets all these facets related to SEO.
More importantly, this content strategy needs to be flexible. Of course, you need content calendars and keyword planning, but today, things change fast. From customers’ expectations to search volume trends, new things keep on propping up. More importantly, search engines keep updating their algorithms.
How do you beat that? Be strategic and flexible. And that’s what we’ll help you do through this blog, and share proven tips on how to build a successful SEO content strategy.
Meaning of an SEO Content Strategy
Simply put, a content strategy refers to laying the groundwork for planning, creation, delivery, and governance of your website content. More importantly, it gives structure to your content to attract interested users and engage with them.
A content strategy requires a lot of deliberation and in-depth research to lay the groundwork. This dissuades a lot of people from following through with it wholeheartedly. However, following an SEO content strategy ensures you not only provide helpful and valuable information but you do it in a strategic way.
Now, what do we mean by a strategic way?
It means you adopt active practices for research, planning, selecting the right channels, and much more before actually getting to writing the content.
10 Steps to Build an SEO Content Strategy:
Here are the 10 steps you need to follow for building a result-driven SEO content strategy:
Analyze your brand and its USPs
To start the ideation process for a content strategy, you need to analyze your brand and identify its unique USPs. Now, your brand is more than your logo and name; it consists of your background, history, milestones, tone of voice, target market, buyers, and so much more. Moreover, the USPs are Unique Selling Points, i.e., what differentiates your brand from the competition.
Here’s a table that can help you identify your brand USPs:
Do competitor/market analysis
Next on the board is a competitor and market analysis. Starting with competitor analysis will help you fine-tune your content marketing strategy after gauging what’s working, and what isn’t. Basically, you will learn how your competitors are leveraging content to drive interest in their products and services. This could be the tone of voice, thought leadership, digital channels, and much more.
Here’s how you can analyze your competitors’ content:
- 1. Make a list of all your closest competitors
- 2. Review their position in the market and identify their USPs
- 3. Compare your content with theirs, from an SEO perspective
- 4. Analyze your competitors’ organic traffic and dive deep into their top-performing pages
- 5. Check their Domain Authority or Domain Rating score.
- 6. Learn what keywords they are able to rank high on search results
- 7. Identify the keywords that they have not yet targeted
Based on the findings, you need an actionable plan to integrate into your SEO content strategy. We suggest you list the key findings and try to rank your overall strategy and content compared to your competitors. Here’s an example:
|Transactional Content Rankings
|Blog Content Length
Research your target audience
SEO content is all about improving the buyer journey. That means identifying where your prospective and existing buyers may be falling off in the purchasing journey, and putting your content there to help them make informed decisions. For that, you need to create content that’s actually relevant to your target audience, and when you combine that with a good SEO strategy, the chances of your website ranking high on search results increase multifold.
Thus, research your target audience by asking the following questions:
- 1. What are the needs of your target audience?
- 2. What are their pain points?
- 3. What do they find interesting?
- 4. What are prospective customers attracted to your closest competitors?
- 5. What’s your understanding of the consuming habits of your prospects?
Based on the insights gained from these questions, create a Buyer Persona or an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). Accordingly, create TOFU (top-of-funnel), MOFU (middle-of-funnel), and BOFU (bottom-of-funnel) content to reach, attract and engage with your prospects at the right time.
Perform keyword research
For your content to work, you need to know what your target audience is searching for. That’s where keyword research helps.
Performing keyword research will help you identify the pain points of the users, including transactional and informational keywords that can be leveraged to create content. More importantly, you will be able to choose keywords as per the search volume, keyword difficulty, and long-tail keywords.
There are several tools available on the internet that’ll help you with keyword research. We recommend using Google Keyword Planner and tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Ubersuggest.
Make topic clusters
Gone are the days when you could create content in silos on just individual keywords. Today, you need to create topic clusters, also known as Hub & Spoke Model for content marketing.
Simply put, topic clusters are pieces of content centered around a broad theme or topic known as a Pillar Page. As a whole, you can establish topical authority by covering every query related to a broad topic.
To use topic clusters, here’s what you need to do:
- 1. Create a solid pillar page, hub, or cornerstone content
- 2. Identify sub-topics through keyword research
- 3. Create helpful content around sub-topics
- 4. Build contextually relevant internal links to augment your topic clusters
Make a strategy for different forms of content
Here are some of the most popular forms of content:
- 1. Blog posts
- 2. Videos
- 3. Podcasts
- 4. Infographics
- 4. White papers & eBooks
- 5. Interactive content
Choosing the right form of content will depend on multiple factors, like what’s trending, what your prospective customers like or look for, what receives greater attention, what generates the highest conversions, what works in your industry, and more.
For instance, White Papers are great for B2B organizations but do not yield impressive results for B2C or e-commerce businesses. Thus, you need to keep these points in mind before making a strategy to leverage different forms of content.
Create a content calendar
Now, you need to plan a content calendar to keep track of all your SEO content activities in a centralized space. Most people typically pick a generic template off the internet, and leave it at that.
There is nothing wrong with picking a template off the internet, but it needs to complement your content strategy and objectives.
Here’s what you need to do:
- 1. Make a fresh content template or modify an existing one
- 2. Assign roles and responsibilities to writers, marketers, designers, editors, and SEO managers.
- 3. Make categories for informational and transactional posts
- 4. Create a column for the digital channels you aim to leverage
- 5. Add scheduled dates for content creation and publishing
- 6. Use an analytics tool to track the success of your content and adjust your calendar accordingly.
Post, and Post often
Now comes the execution, and this is when most SEO content strategies fail. Ideation and strategizing are crucial, but it’s the execution that will get you results. This is why you need to follow your content calendar diligently and post often.
And we’re saying this because there are multiple benefits of doing this:
- 1. Regular content updates send signals to search engines that your website is active
- 2. Posting valuable and interesting content often can help you build a loyal following
- 3. This exercise will also help you position your brand as a thought leader
- 4. Finally, posting often means you’ll keep climbing up the ladder of search engine rankings
It takes effort to create and execute an SEO content strategy, and it’s only going to be worth it if it’s strategic. For the same, you need to measure the results of your efforts. But you can’t just start tracking results without setting proper KPIs for each form of content. The best way to start tracking the success of your content is through a centralized dashboard containing the following key metrics:
- 1. Rankings: You need to start tracking the rankings of your content on search results. It’s a daunting task, so we suggest using tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to automate rank tracking.
- 2. OrganicTraffic: The same is true for tracking organic traffic. Though, you can keep track of organic traffic through Google Analytics.
- 3. Impressions: Keep track of the impressions on which your web page is appearing on the search results. For it, Google Analytics is an ideal choice.
- 4. The Number of Natural Backlinks: Track the natural backlinks your web pages have earned through backlink checker tools like Ahrefs.
- 5. Conversions: Finally, the conversion rate. The end objective is to have the target audience perform the action you want them to, and conversion rate helps you do just that.
These are only a few metrics you can use to measure the performance of your content. For instance, CTR (Click Through Rate) is another crucial metric, but you can calculate that through the data for impressions and clicks. CTR is “(Clicks/Impressions) * 100 = CTR.”
Make a strategy for optimizing and updating your content
Based on the performance of your content, you need to optimize and update it. Here’s why you need to do this:
Your content may not generate any organic traffic and get you the coveted rankings on the first try.
Even if it ranks high on search results, the rankings may see a drop.
Information you’ve added may get outdated, or perhaps, your competitors have provided better insights than you.
Rankings also fluctuate due to new algorithm updates, so checking if your content has been affected by algorithm changes is crucial.
Now, how should you go about optimizing and updating your content? First, loop in your SEO managers, content marketers, and writers to agree upon a general direction your content should be headed towards.
The idea is to find content that is underperforming and identify other factors that may affect its rankings or organic traffic. For instance, we’ve seen a lack of backlinks being a major contributor to a few pages not being ranked. Another thing to consider is the search intent. You need to ensure that your content meets the search intent and is actually helpful to users.
Expert Insights to Make Your Content More Impactful:
Content is ever-evolving, and even after diligently adhering to your strategy, the results may not be fruitful. That’s why we’ll also provide some crucial insights to make your content impactful:
Follow the 80/20 rule
An Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto came to a realization that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. The same is true for content marketing, and you can validate that by pulling up the performance data through Google Analytics.
Once you have identified what’s working and what isn’t, you can work smarter, not harder. Accordingly, you can put in more effort towards content that’s conversions and traffic drivers.
Get obsessed with content repurposing
Content repurposing is basically recycling your existing content and presenting the information in a new format to maximize its reach. Since you are recycling the content, you will also be increasing its lifespan.
How can you use it for your own content strategy? There are multiple ways to go about it, but the fact remains that you’re giving new life to your content.
- 1. You can add expert insights into an older blog post for better thought leadership. It’s what we did for a blog on Festive Marketing, and it delivered great results. Check the example to learn more.
- 2. Pick crucial insights from an ebook or a white paper and publish them in the form of an infographic or carousel post for LinkedIn.
- 3. Add a plugin to turn your blog posts into a podcast, which can be repurposed and republished on platforms offering podcasts.
Give out free resources – Templates and worksheets
People love freebies, and giving out free worksheets, templates, or checklists is a great way to reach your goals.
A better way to give out free resources is through gated content. You can generate high-quality content from customers who have shown genuine interest in your product or services.
Build contextually relevant internal links
If you’ve been on a website like The New York Times or 9GAG, you must’ve gone down a rabbit hole trying to find more and more related articles on a topic that piqued your interest. You can replicate that same strategy for your content through internal linking.
More importantly, we talked a little about Topic Clusters. Hence, for your hub and spoke model to be successful, you need to build contextually relevant internal links and connect your pillar and spoke pages. A similar model can be applied to your product & services pages.
We’ve covered everything you need to make a great SEO content strategy. Remember, your content strategy is only if you execute it correctly and publish helpful content. That’s why you should keep your strategy simple, and all the involved stakeholders should have a clear understanding of what they need to do. If you need help in creating impactful SEO-led helpful content, book a consultation with our content marketing experts today.