We all know how powerful content marketing is as a tool to boost your brand and drive new website traffic. Marketers everywhere are prioritising blogs, white papers and eBooks, spending much of their energy and time dedicated to creating great content.
Unfortunately, this popularity in turn means that the content market is insanely crowded. And when you’ve put a lot of effort into writing a compelling and engaging article, you want it to be seen and read by as many potential customers as possible. So, you share it on social and email – but what about the people who don’t follow you or who aren’t on your mailing list? How do you reach audiences who’ve never interacted with your brand before?
Incorporating effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) into your content marketing strategy could be the key to boosting your website traffic and getting your content seen amongst a hugely crowded market.
What is SEO?
SEO is all about improving your visibility online by using methods to make your website more ‘crawlable’ to search engines, like Google & Bing.
Search engines decide on what content appears on their results pages by ‘crawling’ the web and identifying information that will provide the best answers to their searchers’ needs. They take into account relevance to the search and the authority of the site providing the data.
Effective SEO fulfils the criteria the search engines are looking for in order to rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Although it can get very complex quickly, SEO doesn’t have to be daunting. There are some simple things you can do when creating content that will help you rank higher.
How SEO can help your content marketing strategy
Optimising your content for search engines will help more people discover your business and visit your site, who might otherwise have never found you. This provides a great opportunity to then convert these visitors into leads.
When integrated properly into a marketing campaign, content marketing and SEO can prove to be an insanely powerful pairing. The secret is finding that careful balance between creating valuable content for the reader and optimising for the search engines.
Get this balance right, and you’ll unlock all new power over your competitors and discover a whole world of new leads. The question is, how do you effectively blend SEO with your content marketing strategy?
Effectively blend SEO with your content marketing strategy in 6 key steps
Step 1 – Pinpoint your target audience
Introducing SEO into your content marketing strategy provides a great opportunity to review your target audience. SEO is all about creating a positive experience for the searcher and delivering the most value in their results, so a sensible first step is to pinpoint exactly who you’re targeting.
Ask yourself, who are your existing customers? Who already engages well with your brand? Draw up a persona for this audience, if you don’t have one already, to help you identify your ideal customers.
Another thing to take into consideration is who your competitors are attracting. Are they different to your existing customers, and if so, why? Do you want to try and expand your market to reach them too? If they’re potential customers, the answer is yes.
To get a good insight into your competitor’s audiences, look at the type of people who engage with them on social media, in blog comments and in customer reviews and testimonials. Of the people who are positive about the company, what do they like about it? And as for those who aren’t satisfied – why? And how can you meet their needs instead?
To help you understand your own customers better, try conducting a survey. Ask them what you’re doing well and what areas could be improved. They’ll likely appreciate your interest in their opinion, and you’ll gain valuable feedback.
Once you’ve gathered more information about the type of people you want to be targeting, you can move forward much more confidently with the next steps on your SEO and content marketing strategy.
Step 2 – Research popular topic areas
Now that you know who you’re planning to target with your content, it’s time to find out what sort of topics they’re researching. You shouldn’t just be blogging for the sake of it. You need to ensure that what you’re writing about is something your visitors will find engaging and valuable – something they actually want to know.
If you’ve already got a blog on your site, start by looking at the type of content that’s performed well, and which articles haven’t generated as much engagement. This may be on your site itself, or on social where you’ve shared content.
Once you’ve got a basic idea of the type of topics your customers enjoy reading about, it’s time to really delve into some keyword research. Here are top 3 favourite tools to help get a better idea of what will resonate:
#1 – Answer the public
#2 – Frase
#3 – Moz keyword explorer
These tools will help you discover the type of questions people are asking, and what keywords are generating the most engagement.
You can also take a look on popular social networks to see what’s trending in your industry and even check out what topics your most successful competitors are writing about. Use their content as inspiration for yours (but write a better version!)
Step 3 – Plan your content
You’ve got your keywords and you know who your audience is – you’re ready to plan. Use your findings to review your content planning process and start creating a content calendar for the year with article titles surrounding the topics you’ve discovered.
Good content creation is all in the planning. Your blog posts should complement each other, and link together to create the ideal collation of information for your visitors to take value from.
Once you’ve decided on a few weeks’ worth of article titles, attach a list of keywords you want to incorporate throughout each one for reference when you’re writing, to make sure your research efforts don’t go to waste.
Step 4 – Craft compelling content
Your research and planning will make the actual writing stage much easier. Here are few tips to remember when creating your search engine optimised content:
Keep your keywords in your mind at all times
You’ve done the research, so make the most of it. Incorporate your key words throughout your writing, and make sure to feature them in titles and subheadings (search engines pick up on these more easily when ranking your page). If you can, edit your meta descriptions and titles to include them too.
Just make sure not to sacrifice good quality writing for SEO. The keywords you’re including should flow in the sentences you write and make sense in the context of what you’re saying. Remember, it’s all about finding a balance.
Write in-depth, high quality content
It’s far better to create a few pieces of long-form, well written content that really deliver value to your audience, than to create lots of short, mediocre articles. According to HubSpot data, for SEO the ideal blog post length should be 2,100-2,400 words.
Once you are able to write detailed articles that are high in quality, you can then shift your focus to increasing the quantity. Until then, you should focus on writing more detailed content. Of course, not all articles need to be this long. Vary the length of your content depending on the topic and format, but avoid writing any posts fewer than 1,200 words.
Cross-link to internal pages
Search engines like it when your pages link together is an organised and reasoned way. Where relevant, link to other pages of your site or other blog posts throughout your writing.
Keeping your content organised and well-linked will help both searchers and search engines navigate your site. However, don’t overdo it. You can damage your post quality and make your content come across overly promotional if you’re constantly linking to things that aren’t necessarily relevant. Once again, it all comes down to finding a balance.
Step 5 – Get your content out there
Don’t assume that once you’ve written a search engine optimised piece of content that the traffic will come flooding in automatically. Sure, including keywords in your writing and focusing on popular topics will help with engagement, but there are a few extra things you can do in terms of distribution of your content to help boost your ranking even more.
Did you know, the number of times your content is shared, liked and commented on also affects your SEO rankings? This is where the authority aspect comes into play. If search engines can see that your content is already creating value for lots of people and is generating a lot of interest, they’ll rank your site higher in search results. Here are couple of tips to get the ball rolling with your content:
Boost your social media presence with a scheduler
Social media schedulers, like our tool CoSend, will help you share all your content easier and quicker, and streamline your processes to help boost engagement on your channels. They make it easier to share content on a regular schedule and enable you to automatically recycle certain posts to make sure you get the most out of every article.
Improve authority with guest blogging
Contact popular, industry-related blogs to see if you can write content for their site. You can then link to your own blog and pages from the guest blog post, to generate more authority and traffic from there. The more links you have, the higher your rankings will be.
#6 – Keep your content up to date
Optimisation doesn’t end once your article has been published and shared. It’s important to go back through your content and check all references are still relevant and up to date. This will also give you the opportunity to link to more recent articles, where relevant, to tie your blog together. Show your readers that your site is a fresh, current and a reliable source for the latest insights.
Transform your content marketing with SEO
Follow these 6 steps to integrate SEO into your content marketing strategy. It may take a while for these methods to create real results, but it’ll definitely be worth the investment in the long term. Optimising your content for search engines as well as searchers will ultimately generate more traffic to your website, which can then be converted into leads.
Look at it this way: if you create great content, more people will engage with it and your ranking will improve; if you optimise your content with keywords to make it rank higher, more people will find it, engage with it, and so the cycle continues. It’s the most sustainable model there is.