How do you write content that helps you rank higher in search results? First, you formulate an SEO Content Strategy. Then you get busy using it.
- Define your topics
- Target your audience
- Research keywords that fit topic to audience
- Write keyword optimized content articles
- Build topic hub pages that leverage your keyword articles
Search engines just want to put orderly, content-rich, topic-focused sites at the head of the class. You don’t have to be an expert in content strategy or SEO to implement an SEO content strategy for your site and start ticking up the ranks.
SEO Content Strategy: By Definition
Search Engine Optimization and Content Strategy are two very different professional fields. Wikipedia defines Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as:
“the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.”
On the other hand, Content Strategy:
“refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media.”
Now, you should absolutely invest in pure, uncut Content Strategy services. Site visitors form positive or negative opinions based on the content they can (or can’t) find there. Craft it and curate it with serious attention. A content strategist specializes in this multifaceted work. By the same token, SEO professionals provide valuable expertise in a myriad of ways. They help you identify, execute and measure opportunities to grow your page ranking. Competition for clicks is a constantly evolving game. It pays to have a pro coaching you.
But we’re not talking about those big ticket subjects today. We’re talking about a simple blending of both practices that anybody can do, and why they should.
Watch what happens when you merge the two definitions together.
SEO Content Strategy is the planning, development, and management of content to increase the quality and quantity of website traffic.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Is this not the entire reason for having a website in the first place? Does anyone want content on their website that does not drive quality leads? Rather, they want more of that content, that drives more of those leads.
How do you get that kind of content? See the first part of the definition: planning, development and management. In other words, not through random guessing at what content will drive leads.
SEO Content Strategy: By Example
At Entermedia, we want you to think of us as experts when it comes to:
- Web development
- Online Strategy
- Content Marketing
A layer under that, there are topics that we have certain authority to speak about. When you search for these topics, we would love to rank well for them (but it’s hard because there’s a lot of competition):
- ADA compliance
- Content Strategy
- Best Practices
To show our authority on the above broad topics, we publish original content on specific subtopics, optimized for specific keywords. The keywords should be relevant to the topics we want to rank better for. And they should be likely terms used for your Google search. That is to say, we research the key terms you might be searching for.
First, we publish content that provides that information.
- How to migrate to Drupal 8.
- helps us reinforce our Drupal and Best Practices topics.
- How we used Shopify on a Drupal 8 site.
- helps us reinforce our Shopify and Drupal topics.
- Our review of Elementor.
- helps us reinforce our WordPress and Elementor topics
Then, we gather together all our original and relevant content links on a given topic into one “hub” page. This makes it super clear to you (and to search engines) that we are authoritative on this topic.
- e.g. collecting all our blog articles, case studies, resources, and media on the topic of ADA compliance onto one optimized page on that topic.
Over time, here’s what should happen.
By publishing great content, we create opportunities to improve our site authority. The more authority we earn, the more prevalent we become in search rankings.
- Search engines notice we’re publishing a lot of original content lately. They like to see that, and give our website a gold star.
- They also know what you’ve been searching for. And they recognize that our content delivers an answer to your question. Another gold star for us.
- Search engines notice that a lot of our original content focuses on a certain topic. Looks like we are an authority on that topic. Another gold star.
- In fact, we have a well structured hub page on that topic that gathers all our reinforcing content about that topic in one place. Gold star again.
- Sooner our later, if we keep up the good work, our rank on certain broad topics climbs higher. When you search for something related to our topic, it’s a good bet you’ll see us high in the rankings. We’ve earned authority, relevance and trust.
SEO Content Strategy is a Win-Win
Do you see all the dirty SEO tricks we pulled in our above example?
Spotted any sorcery? Shortcuts to success that will eventually come crashing down over our heads?
Of course we didn’t do any of those shady things.
We just followed our strategy, and put in the time. This creates a mutual benefit. As our customers get better content, our web pages get better ranking. A win-win!
As you can surmise, SEO content strategy requires a sustained effort. You have to study your target customer’s needs. You’ll spend hours creating original content that serves their needs. You must structure your web pages with care to help search engines index them. You’ll have some surprising hits and disappointing misses, but keep your momentum at all times. The best way to get good at something is to keep practicing it.
If you’re not willing to do the work, then you’re not serious about improving your site authority. You have to commit to it, and you’ll need some patience to allow it to work. But there’s an immediate reward to making the effort, that has nothing to do with your SEO performance.
SEO content strategy is all about serving your target customers. It’s not fakery. It’s service. You are learning more about them as you research them, to serve them better. You’re engaging them through your content, having anticipated their questions.
Will search engines reward you for publishing content your target audience shows interest in? Absolutely. Guess who else will? Your customers!
Your customers will give you credit even before Google does. They will appreciate how well prepared you are to answer their questions. They will understand your products and services so much better. Many of your competitor’s sites will look less competitive, compared to your website.
The 5 Key Concepts to Master
This is how you plan, develop, and manage content that serves your target audience.
- Define Your Topics
- Target Your Audience
- Research Keywords that Fit Topic to Audience
- Write Keyword Optimized Content Articles
- Build Topic Hub Pages that Leverage your Keyword Content
Defining Your Topics
Meet with the key stakeholders on your team. Get their input and buy-in. Make a list of the core services, sales propositions, unique differentiators, and key experience factors pertinent to your organization. What do you you want a customer to know about you?
Put your list into priority order. Evaluate the list items as potential topics.
They should fit this criteria:
- Subjects that you are credible to talk about. You have a lot to say about them because of your experience, that you can demonstrate.
- Things you want to be known for. You are different than your competitors because of this, that, or the other.
- Topics that resonate with your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes. A good topic is one that has a lot of room to explain return on investment (i.e. making more money), for instance.
Targeting Your Audience
Why do your customers buy from you, donate from you, hire you, or listen to you? Who are they, demographically? Who are they individually?
Make a list of all your actual customers and their attributes. Look for patterns and commonalities. Also do this for your leads!
Think about them opening up Google on their computer:
- What are they searching for?
- Are they going to find it on your website?
- Are they going to find it on your competitors website?
Interview them. Survey them as a group. Study your own analytics on how they use your site. Use whatever means at your disposal to understand their likes, dislikes, problems, and questions.
You’ll be developing a clear picture of your target audience. The content assets you’ll be creating will be designed to grab their attention, educate them, and convert them into customers.
Choosing Keywords that Bring your Target to your Topic
Keywords and/or key phrases are search terms. What do you type into your Google search bar? It’s a keyword. You find content that’s been well optimized for that keyword, from a site that has authority on the topic.
Ideal keywords are those that reinforce your authoritative topic(s) when you layer them into your content. You’ll want to include them in the title, body, headers, and image alt text, so they should sound natural.
Do your research. It’s helpful to use Moz or some other SEO resource that can analyze a potential keyword. Look for relatively high search volume, and relatively low competition.
Don’t overthink it. Keyword research ought not overtake your entire SEO content strategy. A keyword opportunity should be a factor in what you write about. It should not cloud your judgement of what matters most to your target audience. If a subtopic is worth writing about, you’ll find a suitable keyword. Just write the article and optimize it so that people can find it.
Writing Keyword Optimized Content Articles
Keep in mind, you are writing to help your target audience understand something they are genuinely interested in. You will have a good idea what to write about, because:
- You know your audience
- You’ve researched keywords they are searching for
- You’re an authority on that topic.
Your goal is to fully answer the question implied by their keyword search. Create a quick outline. Research what others have written on the subject matter. Gather resource material that will help you educate your target. Write a draft, get feedback from an editor you trust, and revise it until it’s dynamite. At that point, give it a thorough review for optimization, and readability.
Best practices for writing a keyword optimized content article.
- Put your key term in the title of your page. It’s better at the beginning.
- Ensure that the key term is part of your article’s url.
- Write a nice, longish article that uses your keyword throughout. Aim for over 1000 words but just focus on completely presenting your information.
- Use the keyword in your opening paragraph, if you can.
- Don’t overuse your keyword. Keep it natural. Search engine algorithms will penalize keyword stuffing.
- Try to include the keyword in your subheadings (h2, h3, h4, etc).
- Link to outside resources. Avoid linking to a resource that competes to the same keyword, though.
- Link to relevant internal pages on your site.
- Include images and video, and see if you can include the keyword in the image’s alt text. But don’t keyword stuff.
- Include the keyword in your meta description. That’s the snippet of text that appears with your title and link on a search engine results page. You are more likely to get a click if you present an attractive and informative meta description.
How to make your keyword optimized content article more readable.
- Avoid speaking in jargon.
- Use simple vocabulary. Know your audience.
- Break up long sentences and long passages.
- Create white space on the page with shorter paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings. This makes the page more scannable.
- Use active voice.
- Add images for visual interest.
- Don’t waste your reader’s time. They are busy. Get to the point and keep it moving.
Building Topic Hubs that Leverage your Keyword Articles
At some point, you’ll have 5 or 10 or more articles that educate your target audience on a specific, but narrow topic. These specific topics should relate to a broader topic, like subtopics to a parent topic. And you could have case studies, and a set of FAQs that relate to that broader topic, too. Maybe you have some video assets or pdf downloads covering that topic?
Once you have all that in-depth material to work with, you can fully capitalize on your SEO content strategy. Build a parent topic hub page to house all your related subtopics in. You will be pointing many good pages to one super page on your site, to signal how important that one page is.
It’s like as if all roads in town led to one building. That would be one important building, and hard to miss.
Topic hubs broadly cover a particular topic. Keyword pages address a specific subtopic in depth. Your best keyword pages link to the topic hub page. You should put any other quality related resources (videos, faqs, downloads) on that hub page, as well.
This is the test to know if you’re ready to create a topic hub. If someone searched for the parent topic, could this page answer almost every question they had? It should be more than just a page full of links. You want this page to be extremely useful for your target audience. Make it interesting with a well designed layout and visuals to support your content.
Why Building Authority on a Topic Matters
Topic hub pages help you build authority on a topic in the eyes of search engines, as well as with your customer. Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are important quality of content factors in Google’s search algorithms.
Here is a simple scenario of how they work together:
- A site recognized to be authoritative will show up higher in search results.
- You’ll be more likely to get clicks, the higher in search results you are.
- When you do get those clicks, search engines recognize that searchers trust you to provide that information.
- They also know how long people stay on your site, another signal of trust. That’s another benefit of making your content readable and educational.
- Building a reputation as authoritative and trustworthy on a topic bolsters your case for relevance on that topic.
Conclusion: SEO Content Strategy Works For Everybody
Developing a simple SEO content strategy is the a-ha moment for site owners who have wondered why they don’t rank higher for this or that keyword.
Stocking your website full of relevant, well structured information is the best SEO trick of all time. All your effort helps to improve your page rank, while you’re making your prime selling tool better equipped to convert leads into customers.
This strategy is all upside. Building content assets that serve your target audience and reinforce the topics you are an authority for is a win-win.