Content Marketing,General SEO

Content Marketing Strategy for SEO: Why an SEO-Blind Content Strategy Is Toxic & What You Should Do About It

by Tom Buckland Updated On February 28, 2019

It doesn’t matter what the topic at hand is. When you talk about SEO and content marketing in the same breath, you’re going to draw a few common emotions without fail. Here’s the biggest of ‘em all – confusion.

Do you let SEO take a free rein as if it’s still 2009?

Do you just concentrate on putting content out there, hoping one day it will all pay off?

Or, do you compartmentalize things for some peace of mind, assuming both SEO and content marketing will grow better, stronger on their own?

Let me tell you – this problem is actually a non-problem. Developing a content strategy that feeds off your SEO campaigns is the masterstroke that can actually drag your content marketing ROIs into the green zone (and, hopefully, far beyond).

 

First Things First – SEO and Content Marketing Are NOT Oil and Water!

SEO has always been the first love for the first-generation digital marketers and analysts – and quite rightly so. Even if and when revolutionary search channels like voice and images become the norm, SEO is going to be relevant, important and – dare I say – indispensable. The reason – its ability to shapeshift and evolve.

 

SEO vs Content Marketing - SEO Content Strategy - HQ SEO

 

Content marketing, in that sense, is a relatively younger, less specific and less flexible concept. But if you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that no other digital marketing channel lets you connect with the right kind of people at right times better than content marketing.

So, where’s the problem?

The problem lies in keeping these two massive powers from working together.

 

SEO and content marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. They don’t hate each other. They can’t possibly work against each other – in fact, they can’t work without each other! In the wild, wild west of digital marketing, content plays the loyal deputy to SEO’s upright, brave sheriff. They don’t just make a good team – they make an inseparable pair.  

 

Over the years, working with numerous businesses and marketers, I have learnt one thing – the obsession for having dedicated teams on board is real. You have a team for SEO and a team for content – all good.

But if these teams aren’t working together, you’re missing the entire point of doing either of those things. Synergy is the word, symbiosis is the result. It pays to add an SEO angle to every stage of your content marketing strategy. A good SEO agency will have their own ways of achieving this.

To know more about how we – at HQ SEO – do this, check out our content strategy creation process. You can also get in touch with our strategy team to let us know of your requirements.

 

Understanding the SEO-Content Relationship

SEO + Content is a case of 1 + 1 = 11.
 

Let’s break this down into finer points.

 

1.     The Traffic

SEO Content Strategy - Website Traffic

 

SEO exists for one reason – letting people discover your website by playing to Google’s tunes.

In other words, SEO serves one and only one ultimate purpose – driving traffic to your website.

But what do you do with this traffic? Surely, there’s only so much traffic you can send to a boring contact form!

This is where content marketing chips in. It gives you something to send traffic to via SEO.

 

2.     The Keywords

SEO Content Strategy - Keywords - HQ SEO

 

It’s an easy equation to get hold of.

You want to fuel your on-page SEO with all those amazing keywords you’ve got through some top-notch keyword research. But what’s next? You can only have so many core pages on your website – you will need more content to exploit all other gaps. Enter content marketing!

 

3.     The Link Profile

SEO Content Strategy - Backlinks - HQ SEO

 

No link juice = dreadful off-page SEO.

You don’t need me to tell you how important it is to build high-quality backlinks. It takes months and years to develop a link profile that the creepy-crawly Googlebot can fall in love with. If there ever was one sure-fire way of doing this 100% organically, content marketing is it.

Link building takes every ounce of outreach, management and creative experience to succeed. At HQ SEO, we employ dozens of bespoke strategies customised for each website to build a diverse, sustainable and healthy link profile. Get in touch with us here to learn more about how these strategies can skyrocket your off-page SEO efforts with handsome ROIs.

 

4.     The User Experience

Dozens of things impact your SEO – from the state of your SSL to the state of your servers.

But if you’re to take a wild guess on one factor that will only grow in importance in Google’s eyes, UX is a safe bet.

UX, in general, reflects in your technical SEO – site speeds, mobile optimisation and everything in between. These technical aspects are complemented by more direct engagement metrics like bounce rates, average times on pages and average session durations. Everything counts towards SEO.

If you have on your website some really valuable content assets – a great article, an amazing video piece or a gorgeous infographic – people won’t just come, they will stay. And that’s exactly where your content marketing strategy needs to be headed ALL THE TIME.

 

5.     The Authority

It’s a controversial issue. John Mueller – the face of Webmaster Trends at Google – recently revealed in a Reddit AMA – without saying much – that Google really doesn’t have a domain authority algorithm. But we all have seen countless examples where new pages on older, more ‘established’ domains rank faster, higher.

It’s safe to assume that Google combines the quality of content with the quantity (on-page and on-website) to make these calls. The only way to tick both these boxes to benefit your SEO is to develop, create and market top-drawer content consistently. Also spelled as content marketing.

 

Integrating SEO into Your Content Marketing Strategy

So, it’s clear that SEO and content marketing can feed off each other’s successes. But how does this integration really work?

 

A. Look Within – What Do You Bring to the Table?

Here’s a simple deal – you rank in Google SERPs, I like your link and I click through. What are you giving me in return?

The concept of ‘value’ comes into full force here. We are talking about business websites here – not random, click-baiting, ad-mongering popup clusters. Just bringing a visitor over doesn’t cut it – not for the visitor, not for Google and definitely not for you.

 

Content Marketing Strategy for SEO - Content Topics & Ideas

 

An SEO approach to developing a content marketing strategy MUST start with a little bit of introspection. Know exactly what you are great at – and decide how you want to display this in the best light possible.

Then, go ahead and identify customer pain points. If you’ve been running your business and your website for some time, you likely have some analytics to extrapolate these from. The common ground between your expertise and your customers’ pain points is rich, fertile and teeming with explosive content topics. A brilliant place to start any content marketing effort at, I say!

The obvious bottleneck here is coming up with topics that speak to the end user – day in and day out. Your content marketing campaign, when let go adrift, creates nothing but a bunch of loosely connected assets that don’t yield value in the long term. Data scraping, efficient use of social media and regularly ‘listening’ to what your customers have to say can solve this problem.

 

B. Define Your Goals and Objectives.

This is the customary starting point for every marketing mission.

Without defining your mission, you really don’t go anywhere. Worse yet, you keep bleeding cold, hard cash while your poorly defined campaigns are live.

What do you want your SEO-oriented content marketing efforts to achieve?

Is it just the organic traffic? Are you eyeing more inbound flow to your lead funnels via landing pages? Or, is it more visibility, more awareness that you are after?

 

C. Know Who Your Visitors and Customers Are.

You (or your marketing teams) may already have done this – but it’s worth starting from the scratch every few months. The closer you can get to pinpointing who your visitors and customers are, the more breathing space you give to your content marketing plans.

Your SEO content strategy is going to be chained firmly to these perceptions, and hence, you need to be as thorough as you can while doing this.

 

 Start with Your Existing Customers.

There are many ways to do this. Here’s one – pull up orders from all four quarters for the past one or two years. Draw sufficiently large sample orders from this lot and further divide these into sections. A lot will depend on what your website does. If it’s an e-commerce website, you’ll need a lot of sifting to do. If it’s a simple lead gen machine, you’ll need to further attach off-page conversion metrics to each sample size.

Here’s what the samples should look like:

 

Use Your Best Judgment.

It’s not too difficult to arrive at a targetable audience if you know your industry and business inside out.

 

Take Some Help from Advertising Tools.

All major advertising platforms will gladly unfold mesmerising audience segmentation data for you if you are a paying customer (heck, Facebook does it for free!). Without going into the details of how, I’ll just say that you can very easily scrap the junk and know exactly who you need to target.

 

Reverse Engineer.

This is a vital component for all marketing strategies.

The fastest way of making your content pieces fly is to replicate what’s working for your direct competitors. Check out their social media to assess where they are getting the biggest share of engagement from. Again, Facebook Ads can be your dutiful ally in this process.

 

The eventual aim here is to be able to develop a handful of buyer personas with age, gender, location, interests and other relevant details. All your content assets will be built around these personas to increase engagement, conversions and downstream SEO benefits.

 

D. Goal-Driven Keyword Research

This is where SEO and content marketing nearly merge into each other.

 

What is It?

Goal-driven keyword research keeps itself limited to the specifics of goals at hand.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a website sells paleo diet programs to its customers. They have set a goal for their first content marketing campaign – ‘Drive more traffic to the category ‘paleo breakfast recipes’’. Now, a general keyword strategy will target a host of broad keywords – but a goal-driven keyword strategy will more or less ignore high-competition keywords like ‘paleo’ and focus on keywords relevant only to the goal at hand.

Goal-driven keyword research essentially serves a smaller number of content assets to rank them higher.

 

Goals, objectives, buyer personas and keywords – this is all you really need to come up with content ideas that fill the gaps, address pain points, provide value and drive favourable actions.

As far as business websites go, the basic keyword research falls short on every level. Our advanced keyword research services help you overcome these shortcomings, so you can beat your competitors with result-driven, creative and customised solutions. If you’d like to talk to our high-performance team, drop us a line here.

 

E. Build Your Content Pipeline with an All-Round Content Calendar.

SEO Content Strategy - Content Marketing Calendar - Editorial Calendar

 

We have been offering 360-degree content services at HQ SEO for quite some time now. While starting out, I couldn’t have missed one thing if I tried – the leniency, the casual approach, the sheer second-class-citizen treatment that content used to receive from businesses.

 

Let me spell it out so it sticks with you – even the smallest of content marketing campaigns can benefit from having an all-round content calendar. It’s very, very easy to stray off the course while creating content assets if you don’t have an editorial calendar to guide you. Better, more seamless and on-point inter & intra-team comms are a huge bonus, too.

 

There are two ways to go about this – you can either create an all-encompassing, website-wide calendar, or prepare more project specific, short-term timelines. Both approaches work and it’s all a function of what your goals and priorities are.

Here are some typical things a content calendar should have – clear timelines, content topics, misc. notes, keyword notes, reference notes, team comms, reviews, editor notes and periodically updated KPIs.

 

F. Finally, Create Kick-Ass Content Assets.

There’s no easier way of saying this – poorly created content that adds no value is garbage. Your SEO can still push it up the SERPs for a while, but the moment Google sees your crazy bounce rates, you’ll be pushed down with no luck to spare. This may be an indirect SEO setback, but it’s still going to hurt.

So, I’ll add a little modifier to my earlier statement – Good content and SEO feed off each other. Bad content just has no place in this discussion.

To create content that converts, you will need to have discipline, creativity and flexibility in approach. Rehashing what’s already out there won’t work. Give your visitors something new, something exciting, something that ticks all the boxes we have laid out so far. In short, your content assets should leave them no choice but to ‘convert’.

The SEO angle is clear here – great content yields great engagement (on-page, off-page and social). Great engagement signals to Google that you are worth a top ranking.

Your content assets should be diverse, valuable, unique, linkable and shareable. Blog posts, videos, slideshows, infographics, interactive content and so on. Moreover, you should be able to create and deliver these assets on a consistent basis – a thing most businesses just can’t manage.

Publishing a post here and a post there is pointless. If you already have too much on your plate, consider bringing on board a professional content marketing agency that can offer end-to-end content solutions. At HQ SEO, our content marketing services are – by default – integrated with thorough on and off-page SEO solutions. To know more, get in touch with us here.

 

G. Post Production – Delivery, Amplification, Tracking and Optimisation

Once you have a content piece ready to go live, it’s time to choose the right time, the right way and the right channel for publication. We will keep our discussion in this regard limited to the SEO point of view.

  1. Your website should always be the first choice for publication.
  2. You can syndicate the same content piece on guest blogs, Medium, LinkedIn and other content sharing platforms for more visibility. Be sure to canonicalise these pieces where you can.
  3. Don’t ignore social media as a fast-moving content amplification tool. Social sharing signals go a long way towards bolstering your SEO.
  4. Track the performance of every piece with traffic, engagement and conversion metrics.
  5. Optimise diligently. Don’t be too hesitant to try out new ideas, split tests, UX changes and new target demographics.

 

Content Marketing vs SEO? Nope. It’s Content Marketing AND SEO.

The world of digital marketing is just as confusing as it is interesting. You can’t not have specialists handling your SEO and content marketing – but you still need them to pull their weight in the same direction.

 

When you try to separate SEO from content, all you are left with is a Google-smooth website that can rank well but has nothing to rank for. I can’t stress this enough – this isn’t about SEO vs Content Marketing, it never was. It’s about SEO and Content Marketing. 

 

Thanks to this complex relationship, it’s important to have on your side a team that understands these nuances and brings to the table great expertise in both areas.

 

Exploit the Content Gaps & Explode the Content Marketing ROI

Ready to Deploy Content Calendar for Your Content Marketing Campaings

Content Strategy That Aligns With Your Marketing & Business Goals

 

We – at HQ SEO – have been vocal advocates of fully-integrated digital marketing for years now. This holistic approach works wonders, as many of our clients have found out.

To know more about how an SEO-centric content strategy can turn the corner for your marketing efforts, write to us here. You can also request a free, customised proposal right here by filling in the form below.

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About Tom

Hi, I'm Tom, Founder & Director of HQ SEO. I live and breathe SEO. I hope you enjoy my findings. Interested in SEO?
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