Posted by John Connolly on Aug 22, 2016
John Connolly

The statement “content is king” continues to rule in marketing strategy, but getting content to perform effectively requires more than just a knack for high output. Smart content strategy focusing on audience needs will help you connect the dots between content and search marketing.

As any decent CMO can recite, smart organic and paid search strategies are the key to truly maximizing the volume of customer traffic coming to your site. But how do you engage visitors when talking content marketing strategies? It’s not all about traffic, conversions and revenue — success is based on content planning and promotion, as well. In other words, by linking your SEO to an effective content marketing strategy, you have the potential to build a powerful brand name for yourself in an otherwise hyper-competitive business world.

Types of SEO content strategies

If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that continuously creating fresh content for your website is a great way to stay on top of the SEO rankings ladder. Knowing this, you may find yourself feverishly writing article after article in hopes of lifting organic visibility, but only seeing minimal results. Many content marketers feel like they’re running in place when the metrics show minimal traction. Have you ever considered the types of content you’re creating? Long gone are the days where posting a few simple paragraphs in a blog will keep you at the top of the SEO game. Today, search engines and customers want to experience things like:

Product Pages — These are the real bread and butter of any retail e-commerce site. A good product page serves as both SEO content and a PPC landing page.

Blog Posts — A blog is one of the easiest ways to create a regular stream of SEO-focused content. In general, blog posts are more engaging and more likely to attract links than product pages, so they can be a great way to build some authority for your site. (Keep in mind blogs are very flexible, and you can use them to host any of the types of content in this list.)

Articles — Think news articles, interviews, or feature pieces. Short on thought leaders within your organization? How about a guest columnist with the clout and knowledge to connect with your target audience? This is the main kind of content you’ll find on most media publishers’ websites.

Lists — A list is really another type of article, but framing it as a list (such as “10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill” or “101 Things I Hate About Search Engine Algorithms”) makes it easier to scan. These types of titles also seem to be more clickable when found in search results or in social media feeds. Many B2B brands appeal to prospects using this strategy because it saves professionals time while sharing helpful knowledge which could lead to more shares among peers.

Guides — A guide is a longer piece of content that explains in detail how to do something. Guides are often broken into multiple web pages, though it’s a best practice to allow users to view long content as a single page if they wish. You can post a full guide on your website, or you can post a summary or excerpt requiring visitors to fill out a registration form to read the full guide. This can be a good way to generate leads, but keep in mind that putting up a registration wall might reduce the amount of SEO traffic you drive to that guide.

Videos — In general there are fewer videos on the web than pages of text, so consequently, it can be easier to rank on the first page for a competitive keyword by creating a video instead of an article. Depending on what type of site or business you run, videos can be a great way to attract and reach an audience. Consider creating video tutorials of how to use your products. Or illustrate a process that is related to your business — for example, a plumber could make a video showing how to unclog a sink. (SEO Alert: You might consider including a text transcript of your video.)

Houston, we have a content problem

When developing organic and paid marketing efforts around content marketing, technical SEO factors play an important role in your strategy, which means focusing on keywords, ALT text, domain analyses, inbound links and back-linking to internal pages. This is helpful because a content marketing practice incorporating technical SEO best practices gives you the ability to rank high in search engine results.

Once you’ve created and optimized your content and it’s generating traffic, it’s important to evaluate how the content is performing. What good is traffic if it doesn’t complete your call to action? The first step to understanding how content is converting is to set up trackable goals in your keyword and domain analytics. Once goals are set and your content starts receiving organic traffic, monitor whether that traffic is also resulting in goal completions. Quite often, sites have great organic traffic but no measurable conversions.

Go where your audience has gone before: Social Media

All of the major social media platforms have differentiated themselves by offering unique user experience through features, specific types of content, and levels of interactivity. This makes it nearly impossible for a single piece of content to generate the same results across all targeted social outlets. Remember, your target audience prefers interacting on different social media platforms because they’re familiar with the norms of using that particular platform and hence expect a level of interactivity with specific type and form of content. Consider the differences between Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest:

  • Users on Twitter are focused on crisp, to-the-point shareable content. They search for trends where they can contribute and build thought leadership among their peers.
  • Facebook users like discussion openers where they can extensively share and discuss their opinions with others. However, Facebook content requires strong and relevant images or videos to gain traction.
  • Users on Pinterest are interested in visual content more than text. This is where infographics and other bold visual content pieces come in handy.

Take the time to understand the advantage each social platform offers and publish content after optimizing it for that platform. This will significantly increase your chances of connecting to your target audience compared to simply sharing the same piece of content and messaging tactic across all social channels. No one can give you better ideas for content than your audience. They know what they are looking for, what they’ve found and haven’t found, and what they’ve like and didn’t like. You can easily transform your audience into your best contributors for ideas. All it takes is to either directly ask them for suggestions or to engage with them through comments on social media.

It’s all about doing content marketing right

Content marketing means different things to different people. The business end of content marketing is clear: if you want to build your brand to become a market leader, you have to own the niches in your market. Businesses can achieve these goals through keyword research, and various other SEO tactics allowing them a chance to tap into the holy grail of customer search behaviors. Done right, content marketing is an excellent way to build a relationship with customers. A well-implemented content strategy establishes trust and authority in the market. It positions your company in the middle of the research and the buying cycle so that you can take control of what they see, read, think and do.