The Benefits of Aligning Your Content Marketing With SEO
Both content marketing and search engine optimization have evolved dramatically in recent years. A few years ago, the dominance of search as an acquisition channel and the relatively low cost of developing content made content farming a primary strategy. Virtually every business was busy producing mediocre content to cover a span of keywords and attain increased search engine exposure.
Search engine experts struggled with balancing volume and attaining business results. Additionally, over time the search engines caught wind of the strategy and refined their algorithms to focus on relevance and quality rather than frequency and keyword stuffing. Unfortunately, many companies are still in the business of producing a set number of blog posts each month simply for the act of producing content. It's all for naught since average content doesn't deliver business results nor search engine ranking anymore.
The team at Inbound Writer have calculated the cost of poorly produced content. Ninety percent of blog posts lead to no activity, resulting in an average cost per post of $900 for engaging content that attracts business.
The Old Strategy: Keywords and Rankings
Search results are personalized to virtually every device, location and individual. Search results are also now a key indicator of your overall authority on a given topic, whether that's your brand, a product or service, or a series of how-to articles. And that authority is ranked based on the search engine user's device, location and personal search history.
The established way of writing content for search engines was as follows:
- Perform keyword research and identify top terms you would like your business to be ranked for.
- Write content for those keywords.
- Monitor rankings.
The New Strategy: Build Authority Within a Content Landscape
Because of the algorithm changes and the need for businesses to write exceptional, relevant content, I recommend modifying this process significantly.
- If you're an established business, analyze your current rankings on nonbranded terms. Identify whether you're ranked in local search results, identify whether you're ranked with geographic terms, and identify the topics you're ranked on.
- Identify geographic and topical nonbranded keywords that are driving clicks and conversions to your website. Remember, you're interested in business results, not just ranking on vaguely relevant keywords with high search volumes.
- Produce a comprehensive list of topics associated with your business and its competitors. Expand the list based on similar terms, opposing terms, industry-specific acronyms and terminology, and parent and child terms. Your content shouldn't be a one-to-one relationship with your business and the products or services it sells; rather, it should be valuable content that's appreciated, shared and promoted by the audience you're trying to reach.
- Audit your current site and identify thin pages that lack views or value to your audience. Remove these pages and redirect any traffic to pages with strong content that provides a rich experience for readers to understand the topic thoroughly. If you have multiple pages focused on a specific topic, for example, merge the content to a single article, add images and video, and republish it as new. Search engines can rank a single page on dozens or even hundreds of keyword combinations if it's superior content. Likewise, thin content spread across multiple pages gets buried in search results.
- Use SEO ranking tools to identify groups of keywords rather than individual phrases to monitor your authority on a given topic or that topic in a specific geographic region. While you may not win a search for a high-volume keyword, you'll most likely win on dozens of combinations that are more relevant to your brand and produce high clickthrough rates and conversions.
- Develop a content calendar to fill the gaps in your topic list from step three. Prioritize the list based on the clickthrough and conversion metrics you've identified from Webmasters and Google Analytics data.
- Ensure you have balanced content, both by medium and audience type. Images, diagrams, video and interactive tools enhance comprehension. Providing referenced facts, user stories and industry quotes ensures that you're providing each type of reader with the compelling content they require to make a purchase decision.
The ultimate goal of your content marketing strategy should be to develop a landscape of topics that build value to your target audience and authority for your brand across the web. It's no longer about quantity; it's about quality. SEO has shifted from a math problem back to a people problem. Your goal isn't to rank, it's to convert people researching a topic into customers.
Why Search Still Matters
Search engines continue to provide the most complex and thorough algorithm that identifies whether we're influential and authoritative within our industry – regionally or nationally – on specific topics. There's no social index, no follow or share count that comes close to the array of indicators that search engines use to rank content.
When you rank better on an array of topics, it's the strongest indicator in online marketing that you're attaining greater presence and authority with the audience you're seeking. Investing in content will benefit your business in the following ways:
- Reduces the cost of producing high volumes of content that don't produce business results;
- increases your organic rankings naturally on topics you're recognized for within your industry;
- drives higher clickthrough rates and conversions with lower marketing costs that last well beyond any other paid promotion; and
- helps you not only acquire new business, but also retain the business you already have by providing valuable content that ensures your customers' success.
Douglas Karr is CEO of DK New Media, a company that helps enterprise corporations optimize and deploy successful content and search strategies that produce measurable business results.