By Lissie Hoover, Sr. Marketing Copywriter
SEO and content marketing are two different though integral components used to enhance user experience and build credibility through content. As you develop a content marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how to best leverage SEO to grow your business.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization refers to a specific set of actions, both on the front and back end, that optimize a website for search engines. This allows your webpages, blogs, landing pages, and forms to be found users searching on Google, or an alternative search engine.
There are four areas of SEO, technical, local, on-page, and off-page. When combined, your website has a better chance of appearing for more related search queries. Your content on your website, when aligned with SEO best practices, can help you grow brand awareness, visibility, and authority.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing uses content to enhance brand awareness and drive more traffic — and potential leads — to your website.
Most content marketing strategy involves creating and/or promoting content across a variety of destinations and assets that make up your digital footprint, such as:
- Landing pages
- Blog posts
- Social platforms
Your blog and web pages should be a priority as you develop your content calendar. It’s best for you when a potential customer lands on your website directly. They can engage with your service pages and even fill out a form with greater ease on your owned platform as compared to third-party or “rented” platforms, such as social media. Further, you will have more control over the SEO execution on your owned environment.
The Role of SEO in Content Marketing
Great writing is essential for effective content marketing. But it must incorporate SEO to see a satisfactory increase in your organic traffic.
This includes implementing:
- Keyword research
- Readability and UX practices
- On-page SEO optimizations
- Linking strategy
- Content refreshes
- Content optimization
- A regular posting cadence
1. How to Use Keyword Research for Content Marketing
Half of the battle for effective content marketing is knowing what your audience wants to hear or learn about. Your audience’s interests don’t have to be a mystery. Keyword research should be part of every optimized blog or landing page you write.
For the best results, use a leading SEO platform, such as Semrush or Ahrefs. These platforms offer keyword research tools, allowing you to enter phrases related to your topics. Explore data on their difficulty level, global search volume, related keywords, and more.
This enables you to see if the topic is viable. Ideally, you want to find a few related keywords that have a decent amount of traffic with a medium to low difficulty level. This gives you a greater chance of ranking well for these keywords.
Now that you have your keywords, you’ll want to make sure you implement them naturally throughout your content.
Also, make sure that it is in the following places:
- H1 (first header or title of your post)
- Meta description
- Within the first 100 words of your post
- Other headers as appropriate
When you combine this key rule of SEO with your copy, you’re optimizing your content marketing strategy to get the most out of each post or landing page.
2. Readability and UX Best Practices
Consider the following example. You’ve posted a blog and filled it with your experience. Time passes and it doesn’t perform well. You have a ton to share, but the search engines don’t seem to eat it up like you thought. It doesn’t even pull up on the first few pages.
As most writers can attest, this is a common phenomenon. Awareness of digital best practices and reader habits can help you restructure your content so readers don’t bounce off the page after a few seconds.
A 2022 study from Hootsuite and We Are Social found that the average internet user between 16 and 64 spends nearly 7 hours a day online. People have a limitless amount of content at their fingertips. With this comes intense competition for a user’s attention and difficulty keeping it.
If your article is dense, hard to read, or visually unappealing, your traffic will probably bounce before they get to your second paragraph. This is bad for your brand and bad for your business.
Consider implementing the following changes for a better user experience for your readers:
- Short paragraphs, have plenty of whitespace
- Less complex sentences
- 6-8th grade reading level, on average
- Frequent headers
- Colorful CTA buttons
- Larger font, no smaller than 16px for body copy
3. On-page SEO Optimization
Besides what we’ve already covered in this post, there are more advanced on-page SEO optimizations that can boost your content in search.
If you’re looking to strengthen the SEO of your content, implement the following:
- Original images: Stock imagery doesn’t hold as much value as original images.
- Image optimization: Consider linking images, as appropriate. Specifying what type of link it is (no-follow, do-follow, etc. Also, include alt text, and optimize the size for faster page-load speeds.
- Optimize for featured snippets: If you’re already ranking on the first page, you have a chance of winning the coveted featured snippet spot. This will increase your CTR and visibility. Emulate what Google is already ranking for the keyword you’re after for a greater chance.
- Comprehensive Content: In general, comprehensive content outperforms short-form content. This will vary depending on the topic or the keywords you’re targeting. Yet, longer-form content provides the user an in-depth understanding of the topic at hand.
4. Backlinks and Your Content
Another critical SEO component of your content strategy should include links. When you create a winning piece of content, you will likely gain backlinks from other websites.
The more backlinks you gain, the more your site is seen as an authority. The best way to gain backlinks is creating content that people want to link to, though backlink campaigns may help as well.
Interlinks, however, are entirely within your control. As you craft the content, consider what other content would help expand the topic further or help the reader move through the buyer’s journey.
You can naturally hyperlink relevant content and help your audience understand the topic, or your services, in greater depth. This increases your chances of converting the lead.
5. Refresh, Don’t Duplicate
Avoid duplicating your content throughout your site. As best as possible, don’t reuse keywords either. This way, your internal copy won’t compete with each other on the search engines. This is a precedent referred to as keyword cannibalization.
However, you will want to refresh your content as it loses relevance, loses keyword positions, or ages. Most likely, you have a trove of existing content on your site. This can be repurposed and refreshed to bring new traffic to your site — with minimal hassle required.
You might implement a calendar of refreshed content. This will keep you accountable to make the most of your existing content and help keep your website fresh, relevant, and optimized.
6. Establish a Content Optimization Cadence
Part of an effective content marketing strategy is an established content calendar. Publishing regularly will help you grow your authority, audience, and increase your organic traffic.
Your content calendar can live anywhere from a complex management system to a basic Google sheet. How you choose to do it is entirely up to you. Yet, a content calendar is essential to continued success for your content strategy. It will provide the clarity needed to execute your strategy well.
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