When you’re trying to boost your website’s prominence in search engine rankings, it’s good to aim high. Typically, the further up the search engine result pages (SERP) your site lands, the better your click-through rate and the more organic traffic you’ll attract.
But getting to those prized top spots takes some work. You need a comprehensive SEO content strategy built around audience, keywords and user intent, and a pulse on the ever-changing search landscape.
In this article, we’ll look at how SEO-driven content fits into your overall search visibility efforts and the key elements you need to build an effective campaign in 2023.
4 Elements of an Effective SEO Strategy
Before we dive in, let’s look at the big picture. It’s said that there are more than 200 Google ranking factors that impact where pages fall in SERP. SEO content writing is an important part of it — but only one component.
A comprehensive SEO strategy has four parts:
- On-page SEO helps search engines understand the meaning of a page so it can be matched to relevant search queries. These tasks include writing meta titles and descriptions, using headers, optimizing images, creating descriptive URLs and adding internal links.
- Off-page SEO involves building backlinks from external sites to demonstrate your content is trustworthy and valuable. A link-building strategy can involve guest posts, partnering with influencers or requesting links in resource directories.
- Technical SEO helps search bots more easily crawl your site and addresses elements such as site speed, loading times, mobile responsiveness, security and site errors.
- Content SEO, the focus of our article, is the creation of content that readers want to consume. The content should be easy to read, insightful and substantially answer the search query.
When your site is optimized using the above tactics, search engines can more effectively crawl, index and rank your pages.
- Crawling. Google uses software called crawlers to gather and store information from every web page it can access.
- Indexing. The information gathered by search bots is organized and indexed according to SEO elements such as keywords and metadata. When a user performs a query, search engines pull the relevant page.
- Ranking. Search engines weigh factors such as relevance, quality and user experience to decide how useful the page is and where in the SERP the page will surface.
Building the Foundation of Your SEO Content Strategy
Google’s objective is to provide users with the best, most relevant information for their searches. This means that you need to publish great content that matches user queries as closely as possible to rank well.
Build your strategy around the following components to tailor content to customers’ needs and your business goals.
The first step of SEO content writing is to know who you’re writing for. What are their pain points? Where do they go for information? Do they prefer video or in-depth articles? Align your content to the customer and deliver your message in a tone that resonates.
SEO content strategies vary depending on industry. Research the keywords customers use when searching for products and services, as well as keywords your competitors target. Businesses such as landscapers, event planners, plumbers, realtors and automobile mechanics need to focus on local SEO. Businesses in health and finance sectors that are publishing on topics Google refers to as “your money, your life” (YMYL) need to be extra attentive to quality and subject matter expertise.
A good SEO content strategy focuses not just on keywords but the meaning behind the keywords. This ensures you shape content to answer a user’s questions. For example, a cosmetics company targeting the keyword “moisturizer with retinol” should determine if someone using this phrase wants general information to understand the benefits of the product or already knows they want the product and are evaluating brands.
Sites that Google considers as reliable sources of content tend to rank better. Build your site’s topical authority to establish expertise. Instead of targeting random keywords, build purposeful clusters of content and explore topics in-depth. These content clusters serve as the core of your website and help you grow an inventory of content that continually demonstrates knowledge in an area.
We’ve talked a lot about optimizing your website for Google, but it’s just as important to remember that the content will be read by humans. Focus your SEO content writing on delivering well-written, original and insightful pieces that provide value to readers. Here’s some guidance from Google on creating helpful content.
Key Performance Indicators
Set goals so you can track the impact of your SEO content strategy and adjust tactics. Choose KPIs that reflect what you want to achieve — for example, the number of impressions can be a measure of brand awareness. Common metrics include traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates, session duration and conversions. Determine your benchmarks and measure progress regularly.
10 Steps to Create a Top SEO Content Strategy
Now that you know the ingredients of an impactful strategy, you’re ready to put together the pieces. Here’s how to create an effective SEO content strategy to land higher in search engine rankings and attract customers to your site.
1. Understand Your Customers
The more precisely you know your target audience, the better you can tailor your campaign to meet their needs. This means knowing their needs, concerns and motivations at each stage of the buyer journey. For example, if you sell baked goods, determine if your audience is most interested in quality (organic), cost (affordability) or a solution to a problem (gluten-free). Create content to capture them at the awareness, consideration and purchase stages.
2. Research Keywords
Once you know who you’re writing for, zero in on the broad and long-tail keywords they’re most likely to use. Sort the keywords into topic clusters and begin building an SEO content strategy.
3. Plan Your Content
Look at your chosen keywords and choose the best format for each piece of content.
- Blog posts are simple to publish and can be outsourced to an SEO content writing service to help you scale output.
- Videos are helpful for product demonstrations, how-to guides, tutorials, presentations and fun behind-the-scenes content.
- Podcasts give your brand a personal touch and enable you to bring in experts and leverage their audiences.
- Infographics are a visual way to deliver information and are easily shareable.
- Ebooks are a type of long-form content for examining a topic at depth. You can share valuable expertise and generate marketing leads by making the ebook gated.
- Case studies show customers how your product or service makes a difference in real life.
- Interactive content invites user engagement. Examples are mortgage calculators, quizzes that provide product recommendations, games, polls and interactive maps.
4. Create a Content Calendar
Use an editorial calendar to plan the content rollout. This helps manage workflow and ensures everyone on the team is working toward the same goals. It also ensures you don’t miss out on seasonal marketing opportunities in your industry.
If you don’t have the in-house resources to devote to content writing, consider using a blog writing service to implement your strategy. When you outsource, you can create a framework for a steady output of content or simply turn to a writing service when you need extra help.
Build deadlines into your calendar for writing, editing and publishing, assigning each task to your team or SEO content writing service. Prioritize pieces that focus on important core keywords first, and grow your content clusters later.
5. Ensure Content Can Be Crawled and Indexed
Keep an SEO checklist close at hand and optimize each piece of content according to SEO best practices before you publish. Format content with headers, use metadata, add internal links and ensure the page loads quickly for desktop and mobile.
Don’t forget that search engines can’t crawl webinars, videos, images, infographics and other visual content. You can provide transcripts or written summaries to convey the meaning of content and help with indexing.
6. Develop an Off-Page SEO Strategy
Complement your SEO content strategy by building backlinks from respected third-party sites that are considered authoritative in your niche. There are a few ways to create these links. Share your expertise by publishing guest posts on other sites that link back to your own site. Partner with influencers or businesses that may have the same target audience. Add your site to directories with local chambers of commerce or business associations, and make new content shareable on social media.
7. Engage Users
As your pages climb up the search rankings, you should see an increase in organic traffic. Make sure those who land on your site enjoy a great user experience. The site should be easy to navigate, appealing to look at and provide relevant, interesting information. The more you engage users, the longer they’ll stay on the site and the more likely you are to establish trust and brand awareness.
8. Track Performance
Set goals for your SEO content strategy and track your progress toward achieving them. You can monitor the impact of specific campaigns and compare quarterly or annual performances. Use the data to build on successes or refine your approach when performance is falling short.
For example, if a page ranks well but isn’t generating click-throughs, you might need to rewrite your meta title and description to be more compelling to readers. If a page has a high bounce rate, the content might be falling short of reader expectations.
9. Understand the Search Landscape
Search engines are continuously updating algorithms and ranking factors to better serve users. Read up on SEO and ensure you’re always following best practices. This helps you respond to changes in the search landscape as they occur and stay ahead of your competition.
10. Update Content Regularly
As the bar rises on quality SEO content, readers are expecting the latest, most accurate information when clicking through to sites. Regularly review your posts to make sure you’re providing the best information possible. Use current statistics, update studies and fix broken links.
Put Your Content Strategy to Work
Whether your SEO content strategy involves blog posts, ebooks, case studies or landing pages, harness the power of Crowd Content’s skilled freelance writers. Our SEO content writing services deliver high-quality, publish-ready content to help you drive traffic and conversions. Ask us about our writing and editing services and put your SEO content strategy into action today.