Your content and SEO strategy are the driving force behind your entire digital marketing strategy. They contain crucial keyword and audience insights and data that will help you construct a digital marketing machine that is both keyword-strong and audience-focused.
In order to learn how to build a content and SEO strategy, let’s first focus on two basic building blocks of content marketing and search engine optimization: Your Audience and Your Keywords.
Search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and everyone’s favorite Google with an astonishing 92.18% of the search engine market: Google, work tirelessly to understand and better serve their users. Just like you should, they focus on their audience.
The algorithm evolution and its endless updates are focused on giving search engine users the best, most relevant, most accurate, and most trusted information according to what they’re searching for.
It’s clear your content and SEO strategies need to focus on your target audience and how your content and product/service can be better positioned and designed to help them the most.
Keywords are the language of SEO. Search engines crawl websites and pages to analyze the content for keywords, how they’re used, how they’re interconnected and related to each other, etc. These signals tell search engines how your audience is reacting and interacting with your content as it relates to the keywords they’re searching for.
Here’s a screenshot of organic keyword rankings report on AHREFS:
There is no doubt keywords are highly important. But the times are long gone when they were enough. Nowadays, user experience plays a huge role in search engine rankings, as well as in people’s actual decision-making process (AKA Buyer’s Journey).
The key with keywords is keeping user intent in mind. That way, your content will be readily displayed by search engines when your target users type your target keywords.
An Audience + Keyword-Focused Strategy
So, how do you create a strategy that is both keyword and audience-focused? The answer lies in understanding your business’ expertise and unique value proposition.
Keyword research is a great tool to uncover how your target users talk about topics relevant to your business. However, by themselves, they lack a deeper understanding of your audience.
When you analyze your Buyer Persona’s journey to conversion, is search the only channel they use to find you? Probably not. People come to your pages through many different channels (email, remarketing ads, social media, etc.) So, why should your audience’s understanding be limited to keyword research?
Understanding your audience at a deeper level includes a content and SEO strategy that answers the following questions:
- Who is my audience?
- What are their pain points and needs?
- What types of content do these people want to consume?
- Where are they currently having conversations?
- What unique expertise does our brand offer?
- How can we match our expertise to our audience’s needs?
Once you are able to find the intersection between your brand’s expertise and your audience’s pain points, you’ll be way ahead in finding your unique content angle or “content tilt”, as referred to by The Content Marketing Institute.
They define it as “taking a larger topic and tilting it in your own way” to leverage your unique value proposition and competitive advantage.
Combining Content Strategy with SEO Strategy
There isn’t really such a thing. Your content and search engine optimization strategies need to be one and the same. What you can shift is your focus depending on your needs.
Since we’ve already established the importance of the user, answering a couple of questions about your audience will help you decide your strategy’s focus.
- What does their buying process look like?
- What questions or challenges do they encounter in that process?
Answering these questions carefully and comprehensively will help you understand if your content is letting key questions go unanswered or if people are just not finding your content easily.
If your content is not answering your audience’s questions, then your strategy should focus on developing that content. But if you have all the content your audience could possibly ever want, then you need an SEO-focused strategy.
However, in real life, your strategy will be a balance between optimizing existing content and creating new content.
Before deciding where to focus your strategy, you need to map it out. Before you’re remotely able to provide an SEO strategy or create a content calendar, you need a roadmap that includes details, metrics, KPIs, and goals
Once you’ve developed your roadmap and goals, SEO can come in and ensure every effort is optimized accordingly. If your strategy is value-driven, as we explained earlier, it will definitely have enough SEO potential to truly maximize impact.
In short, content is a core pillar of SEO and vice versa, so the two must be done in conjunction with each other in order to be successful.
How to Build Your Content and SEO Strategy
The following steps will help you have a better understanding of what a content and SEO strategy entails and the most important steps to build it.
1. Set your goals
Setting clear, realistic, time-bound, and measurable goals is the first step. The objective of this part of the process is to help you better understand what the strategy entails and guide your team in the right direction.
You might not always reach your goals, but that’s part of the constant improvement process. Try to stay away from establishing vanity goals or metrics, and make sure your goals are business and growth-related. That way your strategy will have a real business impact.
2. Find Your Target Audience and Their Pain Points
The more focused your definition of your target audience, the more effective your content and SEO strategy will be. There are various research tactics that can help you draw a more detailed picture of your Buyer Persona, including:
- Your Own Team
This includes various departments in your company that have more interaction with customers, like:
- Your Competition
Conduct some content on your competition to see what they’re doing well, as well as gaps and opportunities to better fulfill your target audience’s needs.
- Online Research
Google, forums, and social media.
3. Determine Your Business’ Unique Expertise
Use your company’s subject matter experts and the most experienced leaders to understand how they contribute to the company and the development of your products/services. This is highly helpful to help you find the exact audience you want to reach.
4. Make a List of Relevant Topics
Once you’ve gone through the steps above, you’ve come to find your “content tilt”. In other words, that unique angle will define what your content looks like. Now it’s time to create a list of topics.
These are words and terms associated with your product or service. Then you can use these to come up with variations that make sense for your business. These “short-tail keywords” are the overarching topics for creating your content.
5. Conduct Keyword Research
Use one of the many available online tools to discover long-tail keywords that’ll help you figure out the best keyword targets around the topics.
The types of keywords you’re going to discover include questions, competition content gap keywords, YouTube or App Store keywords, keyword clouds, etc. This will help you attract people with varying degrees of interest and concerns, thus creating more entry points for people interested in what you have to offer.
6. Create an Editorial Calendar and Strengthen Your Link Profile
Develop an editorial calendar that will help you publish content consistently and regularly. This blogging schedule should include supporting content like video, graphics, etc.
Along with creating awesome new content that should naturally attract backlinks, consider reaching out to relevant blogs or websites to pitch them a piece of content and get a backlink.
Backlinks are the backbone of search engine optimization. Your content and SEO strategy needs to take a backlinking strategy into serious consideration.
7. Measure and Update Your Tactics
Determine how you’re going to measure success by defining what data you are gouging to track as it relates to your goals.
Some of the most common data to keep track of includes leads, conversions, organic traffic, engagement, etc. This will help you understand what is working and what tweaks you need to make in order to optimize your strategy.
It’s also crucial that you stay up-to-date on SEO news and best practices so that you can continue to optimize your existing content and create new content based on the latest trends.