SEO and content marketing are two things that cannot be separated from each other in today’s digital marketing: content needs search engine presence—and thus, SEO—to effectively generate organic traffic. On the other hand, we won’t be able to get good results from SEO unless our content is relevant and high-quality.
Content marketing and SEO should work hand-in-hand as the most effective way to bring long-term, targeted traffic to your website.
However, many marketers and business owners nowadays are still hesitant to invest in SEO and content marketing, and one of the most common reasons is that the ROI of content marketing/SEO is harder to calculate, and it can take much longer to see any significant result from our SEO when compared to channels like PPC advertising or influencer marketing.
This is why, in this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about SEO and content marketing. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the necessary steps you need to take in order to launch a successful SEO content strategy.
SEO Content Strategy: Key Concept
What can we define by the term “SEO content”?
SEO, as we know, refers to Search Engine Optimization, which is an effort, or series of efforts made to optimize a web page or website so that it will rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Content, or in this case, online content, is any information that is available online on web pages. We commonly associate ‘content’ with text-based information like a blog post, but nowadays there are various forms of content like videos, infographics, podcasts, and so on, all of them can be utilized in a SEO content strategy.
So, SEO Content is any content that is developed with the goal not only for the content to rank higher on Google and other search engines’ SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), but ultimately the objective is to attract search engine traffic.
Thus, the focus of an SEO content strategy is to optimize the content according to the search engine’s algorithms, which will involve several key steps, which we will discuss below:
SEO Content Strategy: Step-By-Step
Step 1: Define Your Objectives
It’s important to understand that search ranking should not be the end goal of your SEO strategy.
Ranking by itself is just a vanity metric, and won’t provide any value for your website and/or your business. Instead, by ranking on valuable/popular keywords, we can get high-quality, highly-targeted organic traffic, which in turn, can help us achieve our end goals, which can be:
- Lead generation
If your business is lead-driven, then generating more leads is obviously one of the most important factors in growing your business. The basic idea is that by generating more organic traffic, some of them will convert into prospects or leads.
- Raw organic traffic
For example, if you are simply running a blog to generate revenue from ads and affiliate marketing, then your SEO objective can be generating traffic for traffic’s sake.
- Brand awareness
The idea here is that by consistently publishing relevant and high-quality content, we can establish our brand’s credibility and thought leadership. Also, people tend to value websites with high search engine ranking higher, and thus SEO can definitely help in building brand awareness.
Brand building is often an overlooked but critical aspect of digital marketing, and even for established brands, it’s important to perform ongoing branding via content marketing to protect your business’s credibility.
- Website sales
For eCommerce websites, the objective can be driving relevant traffic to the website and optimize its conversion rate to boost transactional sales. With this objective, it’s important to focus on making the conversion as easy as possible via conversion rate optimization (CRO).
- Reputation management
By optimizing for keywords that are relevant to your brand and your brand keywords, we can ensure that only content with positive influence rank higher on the SERPs for these keywords. This will also include how you will manage negative content to protect your brand’s reputation.
- Customer service
People now use Google to ask various questions and look for information. The idea here is to make sure that the relevant answers come from you. This will include optimizing your content to be featured as a rich snippet.
Another common tactic here is to create content that answers questions about your competitor’s product or service. You can help answer their question and guide them to your product/service instead.
- Account-based marketing
Especially in a B2B environment, you can target a specific company or even an individual within a target company by developing highly personalized content and a personalized landing page to target their brand name (or their name) as well as other highly targeted keywords.
It’s very important to define your objective(s) clearly before you plan your SEO content strategy. Makes sure your goals are clear, realistic, and measurable so you can assign KPIs and metrics to track your progress towards these goals.
Step 2: Identifying Target Audience
The main intent of your content SEO campaign is to reach a target audience, and without this audience, it has no value.
No matter how good your content is and how optimized your landing page, they don’t have any value at all until they are acknowledged by your target audience.
Thus, it’s very important to understand your target audience in and out.
SEO audience analysis is more than simply figuring out the queries/keywords this audience searches for, but also their behaviors, needs, pain points, and other factors.
You can :
- Conduct surveys: there are tools like SurveyMonkey that can help you conduct online surveys quickly and easily.
- Interviews: interview existing clients about their needs and pain points
- Test with ads: you can use Google Ads to collect accurate data on search volume on keywords, conversion rate, and others.
- Offering incentive: you can offer incentives for existing customers/clients to provide feedback.
- Competitive analysis: you can use SEO tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs to identify your competitor’s target audience and what search queries your competitors are ranking for.
Developing Different Buyer Personas
A unique thing in a B2B company’s sales cycle is the fact that there can be several decision-makers in the sales cycle, and each might have unique roles in the target company/organization.
For example, if we are a B2B company selling accounting software, there might be several people involved in the actual decision:
- An accounting staff who first stumbled upon our solution (the influencer for the purchase)
- Accounting manager who is requested by the staff about the solution
- Finance manager who needs to approve the budget
- CEO who finally approves the purchase
Each might have different concerns and might search for different queries on Google.
You’ll need to develop different buyer personas for each of these decision-makers and influencers.
A core concept of understanding your target audience in SEO content marketing is keyword research. We are going to reach this audience by optimizing our site for the keywords they search for, and thus this step is crucial.
In performing our keyword research, there are three core principles we should focus on:
- The keyword should be valuable for our target audience, signified with a high enough monthly search volume.
- The target keyword should be relevant for our B2B company. It’s important to understand that not all keywords that are popular with your target audience are going to be relevant for your business.
- Based on the available budget and other factors, the competition for the target keyword should be manageable.
Specific for B2B keyword research, it’s important to note that it is natural for B2B keywords to have a lower search volume than B2C keywords. So, rather than solely focusing on search volume, we should also focus on the search intent and conversion rate of the search by considering:
- The problems your target audience is facing when making a specific search.What other related search queries might be related to these problems.
- How your solution can potentially help these problems
- The unique features of your product/service
Step 3: Content Development
Now that you’ve properly understood your different buyer personas and the target keywords for each, it’s time to develop the content for these target keywords.
Remember that our content should not be solely a promotion for our product/service, but the objective is to establish thought leadership: by consistently publishing valuable, relevant content, we can convince our buying influencers and decision-makers that we are indeed the best solution for their needs.
When developing each piece of content, we should consider:
- The target keywords
- The search intent for these keywords (might be unique for different buyer personas)
- The target audience’s current stage at the sales funnel
In SEO content, it’s also important to note that we should not solely focus on optimizing the content for the search engine algorithm’s sake. Instead, focus on ensuring the content is engaging and comprehensive for our human readers:
- Focus on the message you want to convey in the content. What do you want your target audience to do after reading this? Ideally, it’s to help them move to the next stage of the sales funnel.
- Structure your content carefully. Use paragraphs with the right spacing so it won’t look cluttered.
- Use and optimize headings and subheadings. Accommodate the fact that your readers might want to skim through the main points, and optimize your headings to pique their curiosity so they’ll read further.
- Highlight your main points with bold, underline, or italic fonts. For example, if you have data that might add value to your content.
- Some topics might need long-form content, but not for the others. Again, focus on providing value, and don’t bombard your reader with information they won’t be interested in.
- Update your content frequently. Not only the trends in your industry might evolve rapidly, but Google does value the freshness of your content when considering ranking.
- Link to your other on-site content (internal linking) and also relevant third-party content. Aim to create a natural link profile with each piece of content.
While you should mainly focus on your blog when developing your content, remember that today we have various other mediums we can capitalize upon. Diversify your content in various forms including but not limited to:
- Case studies and testimonials from previous clients
- Research reports
- White papers
- Video, including live-streams
Keep everything organized, and you should plan at least 6 months worth of editorial calendar that includes:
- The target keyword
- The topic/working title of the content piece
- Who’s responsible for creating the content
- Who’s responsible for publication and promotion
- The current status of the content (on progress, published, revised, etc.)
- The date the content is going to be published
- Where the channel is going to be published (which channel)
- How you are going to promote your content
Step 4: Technical SEO Optimizations
While we should mainly focus on providing value to our target audience when optimizing our content, technical on-site optimizations are still important.
Understanding the objective of technical SEO is very important so we can do it right: it’s not about ‘fooling’ or ‘cheating’ the search engine algorithm, but rather about convincing Google and other search engines that your content is indeed the most relevant content for your target audience and for the specific keyword targeted.
Thus, when performing technical SEO optimizations, we have to make sure:
- Our page can be properly crawled and indexed by Google’s and other search engines’ bots
- The search engine bots can properly understand the content and context of our page
- We don’t sacrifice readability and structure for human readers
Technical SEO optimization can be a pretty deep subject to discuss, and we’d suggest visiting our technical SEO checklist guide for a better understanding of this aspect. However, here are some important areas to consider:
- Mobile-friendly: make sure your site is mobile-friendly/mobile-responsive. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to assess your site, and test your website on as many mobile devices as possible (with different screen sizes)
- Page speed: use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s speed performance.
- Keyword optimization: check whether your content is properly optimized according to your target keyword. Make sure to include your target keywords naturally and focus on providing comprehensive reading experience for your human audience.
- URL: shorter URL is always better, but make sure your human audience can understand what your URL is about. Use your main target keyword in your URL, and use dashes instead of underscores
- HTTPS: HTTPS is a very important SEO ranking factor. If you haven’t already, make sure to migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS and use SSL certificates.
- Internal linking: check for broken links and orphan pages. Aim for a proper internal linking structure, and make sure all redirects are working properly
- Structured data markup: implement schema.org markup accordingly so that your site is eligible for being featured as rich snippets
Step 5: Link Building
No matter how good your content is and how optimized it is for SEO, it won’t bring any value for your business if you don’t promote it well due to two main reasons:
- You won’t get enough organic traffic to this content, thus you won’t achieve the objective of publishing this content
- You won’t get enough inbound links, and backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors for your SEO
Thus, one of the key objectives of your SEO content marketing strategy should be to generate more backlinks to your content, but it’s important to understand that link building is not only about quantity.
In fact, Google and the other search engines are now getting better at understanding the context of each link, and thus the quality of these links are just as, if not even more important than quantity.
So, getting just one link from a highly-relevant, reputable site in your niche can potentially bring more value, SEO-wise than getting 20 different backlinks from low-quality sites, or worse, sites that are totally unrelated to your niche.
The question is, how can we get these high-quality backlinks?
It’s very important to understand the most crucial foundation to link building: it’s all about your content quality. A high-quality, valuable, relevant content will always get links sooner or later. On the other hand, no amount of link building tactics will help low-quality, bad content to get more quality backlinks.
So, the most important link building tactic is to ensure you are developing high-quality, relevant content with the steps we’ve discussed above. However, we can amplify your content’s linkability by making sure we give these link sources enough reason for them to link your content, the link hooks, which can be:
- A piece of unique information/data, for example, a research report, white paper, data round-up, etc.
- A new and unique insight regarding a certain topic
- An interesting story worth sharing
- Aesthetically pleasing assets like images, infographics, and even videos
Next, is about promoting your content to get more links while also getting more organic traffic in the process, and we can generally divide content promotion strategies into three major groups:
- Outreach/Sniping Tactics
Reaching out to a potential source of backlink and building quality relationships. For example by sending outreach emails to other websites and influencers relevant to your industry. Outreach link building strategies can involve many different forms: email, social media mention, blog commenting, and so on.
- Broadcast/Shotgun Tactics
Pretty self-explanatory: we broadcast our requests for links to as many people as possible (i.e. by broadcasting your content on social media), with the hope that some of these people will give you those valuable backlinks.
- Paid Channels
Using various paid channels (i.e. Facebook Ads) to promote your content to amplify our broadcast reach and get those backlinks. Paying for guest posting opportunities or even paying directly for backlinks can be categorized here.
Step 6: Evaluate, Monitor, and Re-Assess
SEO and content marketing are by nature, long-term strategy.
You may need months before you can see significant results from your SEO content strategy, and this is why monitoring your progress and making the necessary adjustments are very important in ensuring success.
When monitoring your SEO content performance, you should measure at least the following metrics:
- Organic Traffic
The amount of organic traffic you receive from Google and the other search engines is a very important indicator for your SEO content strategy’s performance. You can use Google Analytics to easily monitor organic traffic and its changes overtime, and as a general rule of thumb, your organic traffic should climb as your ranking also goes up.
- Keyword Rankings
This one is pretty obvious. Monitoring your keyword ranking helps in tracking whether your SEO strategy is paying off or whether you’ll need to make adjustments. You can use tools like SEMRush or Ahfrefs to help monitor keyword rankings. However, don’t obsess over keyword ranking too much. If you don’t climb too much on the SERP but you get significant increase in organic traffic, it’s also a good thing.
- Bounce Rate
The lower the bounce rate, the better. Bounce rate essentially shows whether your site is relevant for your target audience. If your bounce rate is too high, you’ll need to act quickly.
- Click-Through Rate
Click-through rate or CTR refers to the percentage of visitors that click on your result on the SERP. This mainly indicates how optimized your title/heading and META description are according to the user’s search intent.
- Conversion Rate
This one measures whether your content is meeting its specific objective to move users to the next stage of the marketing funnel until they can finally make the purchase. Again, you can use Google Analytics to track conversions for certain goals.
SEO strategy with content marketing as its core can help B2B companies to generate more organic traffic, which in turn can convert into leads and finally make a purchase.
It’s important to note, however, that an SEO content strategy isn’t solely about optimizing your content for the target keyword. Yet, it’s about understanding your target audience and meeting their search intent. By consistently publishing high-quality content that is relevant for your audience’s search intent, you can establish thought leadership, which is the most important factor for B2B companies to build brand awareness and generate more leads.
By following the steps we’ve shared above, you can start planning and executing an effective SEO content marketing strategy for your B2B company.