The saying “content is king” has become a cliché in marketing circles—but it still holds true.
To attract customers to your business, you need to first attract them to your website. And to attract them to your website, you must first have some valuable content in place. Developing an SEO content strategy streamlines the entire process of content creation and optimization.
So the question is: How can you create great content on a regular basis? While there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, there are certain steps you can take to make sure that your content is driven by SEO best practices, and delights your users at the same time. Let’s dig into some of the details.
Here are four basic steps to creating an effective SEO content strategy.
Step No. 1: Identify Your Target Audience
First and foremost, you need to clearly identify your target audience. In other words, for whom you are writing.
Of course, you may say, “We are writing for everyone who needs our product!”—which is true. But the more details you can uncover about your “ideal customer,” the more effective your SEO content strategy will be.
This is where a buyer persona really comes in handy. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile of your ideal customer. It’s based on attributes like age range, gender, education level, income level, occupation, and so forth. But you can expand your buyer persona to answer questions like:
• What are my ideal customers’ goals, interests, and concerns?
• What pain points are they dealing with?
• How can our product solve those pain points?
• Why would customers buy from us, instead of our competitors?
As you flesh out your buyer persona, you’ll be able to create content that resonates with your target audience. As a result, you’ll gain new visitors to your site—and you’ll keep existing customers coming back for more.
Keep in mind; your buyer personas will evolve as your business does.
Assumptions you may have made initially about who would benefit from your products or services may not have been in your business’s best interests. For example, you realize that the initial version of your personas can’t afford or aren’t willing to spend for the value you bring to the table.
It is therefore imperative to regularly validate and update your buyer personas to make sure your content is hitting its mark and resonating with the right audience.
Customer persona validation doesn’t have to be a tedious or expensive process. In-person interviews and online surveys (using tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform) are powerful ways to get real-time and actionable data to help you understand your customer and hone your content.
Here’s a great video highlighting some key points to keep in mind.
Step No. 2: Develop Topic Clusters or Content Themes
The topic cluster model is an SEO strategy that focuses on addressing topics rather than just keyword phrases. It’s important to remember that Google and other search engines have been focusing more on user intent rather than just strictly keywords.
By creating content themes or topic clusters, you cast a wider but more focused net to attract and capture the attention of potential clients. By adopting a topic cluster model, you improve your site architecture; you make it easy for users and search engines to find related content, ultimately improving your site visibility and rankings. It does this by creating a semantic relationship between your related content and demonstrating that you are an authority in the subject matter worthy of attention and rank.
This model works as follows:
--You create pillar content for each broader concept and create supporting content with specific long-tail keywords to flesh out each sub-topic or aspect.
--The pillar links out to each cluster page, and each cluster page links back to the pillar content using the same anchor text/keyword phrase.
--That way, when any piece of content in the cluster does well, the entire cluster gets a boost.
Here is a short Hubspot video that explains the model.
Step No. 3: Determine Which Keywords to Use
Once you’ve clearly identified your target audience and developed your content buckets, the next step is to identify which keywords to incorporate in your content.
Remember, when it comes to SEO content, you’re actually writing for two audiences: your human customers, and the search engines they use. You want to develop your content so that it’s relevant to your customers’ search queries, but also ranks as high as possible on Google.
Using the right keywords is essential. For some companies, broad keywords are the best option. For instance, if you type in “iPad,” which corporation do you think will pop up first in Google’s results? However, smaller businesses often find that geo-specific search phrases (like “pizza near me,” for example) or long-tail keywords (search phrases with three or more words) work better. These keywords often come with less competition from companies in the same industry—and are usually more relevant to your target audience anyway.
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How can you identify the best keywords to use? There are several keyword research tools on the Internet, and some of them are free. Others charge a monthly rate for their services. These tools can help you to determine which keywords have the highest volume of search traffic, and which ones come with the stiffest competition.
Once you determine which keywords to use in your content, you’ll be ready for the next step of your SEO content strategy, which is…
Step No. 4: Create the Content!
Now it’s time to actually write that blog post (or have someone else do it for you if that’s not your jam).
You have your target audience and the topic clusters in mind, and you have the keywords to build around. Here are some other elements to keep in mind:
Brand voice: You want the “voice” and “tone” of your content to reflect the sensibilities of your ideal customer. For instance, if you are targeting conservative housewives who don’t like aggressive language, then leading off your content with: “ARE YOU READY TO CRUSH YOUR DAY?!” may not be the best strategy.
Linking: There are two basic linking tactics you can employ—back-linking and internal linking. Back-links are links you include in your content that redirect the user to another website. These are great ways to back up your claims with authoritative data—but only if you link back to trustworthy sites!
Internal links, on the other hand, are links to other pages on your site—and ideally to those pages in your topic cluster. Think of these links as a way to gradually build up your own credibility as far as Google’s algorithm is concerned.
Metadata: It’s a good idea to incorporate metadata into your content (i.e., data that’s visible to search engines, but not necessarily to users).
Metadata like tags and descriptions for your content can help search engines to more effectively categorize your web pages, and return more relevant search results for your target audience.
Of course, some metadata is visible to users, as well. For instance, a page’s meta description on Google Search acts as a brief summary of what the content includes and can drive traffic to your site.
Content delivery schedule: It’s important to post content to your site on a consistent basis. You don’t want to confuse or frustrate your followers by posting 10 new articles in one week, but only two in the next.
With that in mind, make sure you have your content strategy planned out several months in advance. Create a workable schedule with some built-in flexibility in case you need to make an adjustment “on-the-fly.
Also, schedule out when to update your content—outdated content is not only a no-no for SEO purposes, but it doesn’t reflect well on your brand, either.
*Pro Tip! Convert your written work into video content as well to leverage the incredible power of video marketing!
RELATED: Read more by Nachum Langsner
Of course, there’s much more to creating content than what we’ve mentioned above (like SEO copywriting for example). But if you follow these basic steps, you’ll be in a much better position to deploy your SEO content strategy in an effective way.
Partner With Experienced SEO Content Strategy Experts
The good news is, you don’t have to develop and implement your strategy all by yourself.
Many local businesses have partnered with an experienced digital marketing agency to form a sound SEO content strategy and generate high-performing content.
In today’s highly competitive market, working with experts is the best way to capture more leads, convert more customers, and keep existing clients coming back.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you set up and implement an effective SEO content strategy, reach out to us today to start the conversation.
Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.