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What Role Should SEO Play in Your Content Strategy?

You know you need content and that SEO is important, but how — and when — do the two intersect? 

SEO and content should first come together when developing your digital strategy, but shouldn’t be set in stone. You should regularly check in to see how content is performing, additional opportunities for optimizations, new or modified keywords, etc. 

It’s not uncommon for companies or even agencies to have SEO and content marketing responsibilities live with different individuals or teams. However, the inextricable link between the two make it essential that these teams or individuals collaborate. 

The content team may be comprised of writers who prioritize creativity in their work. The SEO team may include SEO purists who are more focused on including the right keywords than creativity. That’s why it’s important, and challenging, to strike a balance between SEO, creative and user experience because all of it impacts your search engine rankings and the success of your efforts. 

Search engines continue to get smarter and past methods used to try to game the system are no longer effective and can actually work against you. Your best strategy is to create the best content possible, include the right keywords in addition to some technical factors to ensure users have a positive experience.

Tips for Using SEO in Your Content Strategy

  • Pair keyword research with what you know about your audience.

Through your website, CRM, email and other digital systems, you have a treasure trove of data about your audience. Your sales team is also a great resource for insights into your customers. Use that knowledge to inform and refine your keyword research and content strategy

Are you trying to reach professionals in your industry? They likely know industry jargon and terminology. However, if you’re also trying to reach consumers, they likely don’t and may use a variety of terms and descriptions when researching their options. Keyword research is a great way to uncover those terms and understand where your target audiences are in their search and purchase process. 

Consider the same keyword research process when naming a new product or service. It will provide valuable information into how your proposed names align with what terms your audiences actually use and search for.

  • Keyword stuffing is dead, but including keywords is important.

In the early days, it was common to try to pack as many keywords onto a webpage or article as possible, regardless of whether it was relevant to what was on the page or not. This often resulted in terrible content and user experience. Now, your penalized for this by knocking your content lower in search engine result pages (SERPs.) 

However, it is still important to include relevant keywords, incorporating terms with high and medium associated search volume. There are often opportunities that competitors in your industry are not taking advantage of.

  • Don’t forget about Public Relations (PR) 

SEO doesn’t have to be exclusively used on your owned channels, but can be leveraged in your PR efforts as well. Include relevant keywords in your press releases and when pitching to ensure you rank for key terms and get the full benefit of backlinks from credible third-party media sources. 

Steps to Help Measure Your Digital Content Strategy’s Success

Simply put, if you don’t measure your SEO content strategy, you won’t know how it’s performing and adding value to your business. Use the following guidelines to help understand the impact of your SEO and content marketing. 

  1. Identify key marketing and business goals

    Whether your company is prioritizing brand awareness, increased quality leads or sales, your content strategy needs to support those business and marketing goals.

  2. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with your company’s business and marketing goals for owned, earned, shared and paid channels.

    Your content marketing plan includes different tactics and deliverables, make sure each component of your plan has associated KPIs. If your goal is increased engagement and awareness, perhaps the KPIs for your blog are increased time on site or a specific percentage increase in email subscribers or click-to-open rate on your newsletter. For lead generation, perhaps you look at increasing the conversion rate of your PPC ads or gated content downloads on your website. While it’s common and tempting to focus on vanity metrics like site traffic, try to get granular to identify metrics that more clearly relate back to your goals.

  3. Collaborate with sales to understand the nuances of the sales and customer journey.

    It is possible for sales and marketing to get along, especially when you collaborate to help solve their pain points and challenges with supporting SEO-optimized content. 

Understand lead and nurture times, the average cost per lead and customer lifetime value. Tie this information into your KPIs. For example, if you know 8% of demo requests or a specific whitepaper download covert to customers, you can then assign specific values to each conversion, demonstrating the business value of your efforts.

  1. Set benchmarks — look at your company and your top competitors

    To understand if you’re successful, you need to know where you currently stand so you can clearly see if you’re moving the needle. For example, if you’re looking to increase your conversion rate, know your current conversion rate. This can also ensure that you’re setting realistic goals and targets within given timeframes. 

It’s also helpful to see where you currently stand in relation to your competitors, particularly if your goals are related to the competition.

  1. Monitor. Learn. Optimize.

    Measuring the impact of your SEO content marketing strategy is not the easiest and won’t be perfect since so many touchpoints and factors go into a lead or sale. However, there are plenty of tools to help fill in some of the gaps and help you better understand how your efforts are contributing to your company’s business and marketing goals.

    Also, keep in mind that while there are some “quick wins” in SEO and content marketing, it’s often a long-game that takes time to see significant results. 

If you want to discuss what an SEO-informed content marketing strategy might look like for your company, contact us for a free consultation and sign up for our newsletter for more insights and tips.

For more information, watch this Two Minutes with True with Ciara Simiele as she talks about how to find the the right balance of SEO, creative content, and UX to leverage your digital content strategy.

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