I can’t imagine an army general ever winning a battle just by “flying it”.
Military leaders study their adversary, follow their patterns, and chart their course.
They look for weaknesses and opportunities, and they use this information to devise a strategic plan of attack to increase the chances of victory.
Creating search-optimized content isn’t much different.
You can’t just write about any old topic, type in some keywords, post it to your site and expect it to produce results.
Driving profitable traffic to your site and generating high-quality inbound leads requires thorough research, careful planning, and the development of a thoughtful SEO content strategy.
Once all about using the right keywords, content marketing is now about writing to solve your audience’s problems.
To provide meaningful and useful information, you need to understand who your prospects are and what they want from you. This overview guides you through creating content with purpose.
Writing with intent allows you to increase the number of website visitors you gain through organic search.
This type of traffic can earn you thousands of quality leads and close tons of sales.
The question is, how do you create your own effective SEO content strategy?
As Baroness Maria von Trapp advised in the “Sound of Music”,
“Starting at the very beginning, a very good starting point.”
Focus on the basics of content creation first and keep SEO in mind as you continue to build on that foundation.
If you only hear crickets after posting your content, it’s time to take action and start strategizing.
Here are seven tactics to help you create winning content that maximizes SEO opportunities.
1. Identify your target audience
SEO is all about creating a positive user experience and providing the most relevant information possible.
To create content that resonates with your audience, you first need to know who that audience is.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you focus on your target market:
Who are your current customers?
Identifying the key characteristics of your current customers can give you clues about who your prospects might be.
Examine quantitative and qualitative data, from age and gender to purchase behavior and webpage engagement. All of these can help paint a picture of who you should be writing for.
Who is attracted to your competition?
Find out what kind of people are interacting with your competitors. Check out social media accounts, blog comments, and customer reviews.
Among the satisfied people, what do they like? For those who are unhappy, are you able to meet their needs?
There’s a lot to learn from companies like yours.
What do you have to offer?
Think about the products and services you offer and what they bring to your prospects.
Who would benefit from these results?
How are you perceived?
Do you really know what your prospects think of you and your products?
Survey your audience to understand what you’re doing well, what you could improve on, and what kind of information people want to learn from you.
Once you have gathered all this data, segment your audience and develop personas to help you create personalized content that meets the specific needs of target groups.
Personas represent ideal customers and provide a way to further categorize your audience for maximum impact.
2. Define your thematic area
Now that you know who you’re trying to reach and what they want to learn from you, you can start brainstorming content topic ideas.
Although your goal is to create content that people want to read, your purpose and expertise should be at the heart of everything you write.
What information can you uniquely provide to the target audience that sets you apart as an authoritative voice?
It’s your thematic area.
It will guide your research on audience interest, keyword matches, and SEO content creation.
Ultimately, this is what will help you create content that converts.
Once you have identified your area of expertise (or basic content), you can start integrating your audience data to develop a variety of content topics.
These are topics that fall within your domain and are important to your viewers. want to read.
3. Identify the keywords that meet the needs of your audience + the thematic area
Have you noticed that keyword research isn’t even one of the two main steps of SEO strategy?
Indeed, to create content that resonates with people, you must first know who you are reaching and what information will be useful to them.
Only then will you be ready to start researching what words and phrases might direct your readers to topics that are meaningful to them.
Here’s how to achieve it:
Step 1: Start with a broad search term that relates to your main content.
For example, if I’m selling baby clothes, I’ll start with the root keyword: “baby clothes”.
Step 2: Limit the scope taking into account these factors:
- Variants of keywords.
- Product Features.
- Questions people might ask Google to find your brand and products.
Step 3: Assemble everything.
You should now be able to build a preliminary list of ideas to start researching. Don’t forget to include long-tail keywords that allow you to dig a little deeper into your topic.
More specific than other keywords, they help target content with laser focus.
Whatever list you create, keep in mind that this is just a starting point. Still need ideas? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and just run some of your own Google searches.
For example, when I search for my general term “baby clothes”, I come up with this list:
- Baby clothes for boys (a bestseller).
- Baby clothes (a variation of the keyword).
- Baby clothes embroidery (identifies a feature of the product).
- What is the best baby clothing site? (a question frequently asked by buyers).
Step 4: Use keyword research tools.
Now that you have a rough list of words and phrases, you can browse through them with your favorite search tool. This will help identify which keywords would yield the best results.
The more words and phrases you have to search for, the more targeted your keyword targets can be.
It will take you longer to enter these words into your search tool, but trust me, it’s time well spent.
4. Optimize at every turn
Now that you’re armed with keywords that will increase your ROI, you can incorporate them into your writing to create powerful, high-performing content.
When writing your content, take advantage of every SEO opportunity by:
- Include targeted keywords in your H1, H2 and meta description. Google will detect them more easily and use them to rank your page.
- Prioritize your audience and create content with keywords that match their needs and provide value.
- Build brand identity and build customer loyalty by posting on a regular schedule. People will look forward to your posts and look for opportunities to learn from your brand.
When you optimize your content at every turn, you increase the chances of higher search rankings, greater visibility, and increased traffic.
5. Keep information up to date
Optimization doesn’t stop once your article is published.
Since creating helpful material is the cornerstone of SEO content strategy, it’s important to remember to constantly update your articles.
Research findings and societal trends are constantly changing, and references to them can quickly become outdated.
Articles you may have linked to in previous articles may no longer exist.
A site that publishes outdated information or broken links loses a reader’s trust. Stay in good standing with your audience (and Google).
Show them that your site is fresh, up-to-date, and a trusted source for the most useful information possible.
6. Host your own content
To maintain full control over how your content is published, it’s best to host your material on your own platform.
Think of posting to social media and content sites like renting real estate from a landlord.
At any time and without notice, this owner can change his mind and evict you from your accommodation.
When conversions and sales are at stake, that’s a scary thought.
This is exactly what happened to many guest writers (including myself) when the Huffington Post ended its guest contributor blogging program in 2018.
Without warning, all the rankings these blogs had earned suddenly disappeared.
Not only is it a waste of time and resources, but it’s also a potential loss of business.
The only way to guarantee the fate of your own publications is to host them on your own platform.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider partnering with other websites as an affiliate or serving as a guest writer for sites you trust.
But the priority of your content strategy should be to publish your own articles on your own site.
7. Track your success
It takes a significant investment of time and resources to develop a well-planned content strategy.
And it’s definitely worth it – if it works.
To determine if your efforts are worth it, you need to constantly measure the success of your content strategy.
Check if your plan is working by monitoring:
- Organic traffic: a good web analytics tool or spreadsheet can help you determine if you are getting unpaid search results.
- Indexed pages: search engines find your content relevant and valuable.
- Conversion: the more effective your strategy, the more conversions you will earn.
- SERPs: higher rankings indicate successful use of content.
Tracking metrics not only helps measure your success; it shows you opportunities for improvement, which can be just as (if not more) valuable.
Score a win with an effective SEO strategy
A content strategy based on the founding principles of SEO will drive traffic and profits for your business.
As you develop your plan, the research you do will be instrumental in identifying your audience and area of expertise.
You can use this insight to write with purpose.
By doing so, you will attract your audience and get higher SERPs from Google.
And that’s what I call a victory.
All screenshots taken by author, April 2021