SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the discipline of improving a website’s visibility and ranking on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). There are two major types of SEO and they are called:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
On-page SEO refers to optimizations with regard to content and the website design itself to improve its visibility. In other words, these are the actions that are taken on the website itself.
Off-page SEO refers to the actions taken outside of the website to improve its visibility and ranking.
According to HubSpot, an SEO content strategy is “…the process of organizing a website’s content by topic to improve the likelihood of appearing in search results. Essentially, it is the process you follow in order to maximize the opportunity to gain organic traffic from search engines”.
Content strategies are an important part of content marketing. Without a strategy, you can actually harm your SEO, since you will be writing on different topics haphazardly. This confuses search engines as they are unable to determine what topic you are an expert on.
A content strategy is also really useful when determining what your audience wants and writing about that. People tend to start writing without thinking about that and this can cause a disconnect between the audience and your brand.
Now that we know why content strategies are important, let’s take a look at how you can build an effective content strategy yourself.
How to Build a Content Strategy?
- Find a Niche
Before you can start writing anything, you need to know what you are going to be writing about. If you are writing for a brand, then it is very easy to find your niche. You just have to look at what kind of products or services are being offered by the brand and what they are used for.
However, it becomes a problem if you are not related to a brand and are operating on a smaller scale. Then you have to resort to some soul searching. Look within yourself and determine what are the things that you enjoy and whether you would like to teach them to others.
This will help you find your niche and the kind of topics you should write about. But you can’t start writing just yet. That part comes quite a lot further in the strategy.
- Identify Your Target Audience
Now that you know what you want to write about, you need to do some research about the people who are interested in your topic.
You need to conduct in-depth research and find out information such as the average age of your prospective audience, their interests, and where they live.
Knowing such information helps you realize what kind of people are interested in your brand and what kind of approach would work best for them.
As a business owner, you likely feel like there are never enough hours in the day. SEO is an ongoing process that requires hours of research, website optimization, and content writing. Let’s make this task with SEO Santa Rosa.
If you are selling clothes targeted toward young men who live in cold climates, you would not write content targeting old people or people living in temperate areas. If you did, such content would be useless and ineffective.
You can create audience personas from the data that you collect during your research and use them to create content that each persona would be more receptive to. This ensures that your content has the maximum impact possible on your intended audience.
- Setup a Blog
Once all the preliminary preparation has been done, it’s time to actually start a blog where you will publish your content.
Blogging is one of the single most effective ways of content marketing. According to an online source, 77% of all online users read blogs.
On your blog, you will write about the topics that fall under your niche and are interesting to the audience personas that you have researched in the previous steps.
The blog content will be what actually ranks in the SERPs and makes your website more visible. This, in turn, drives more organic traffic and increases the chances of lead conversion.
This further results in improved exposure and brand awareness among the common public and denizens of the internet.
Ultimately, that is the goal of any content strategy i.e., to improve exposure and increase brand awareness. People cannot buy from those brands that they don’t know to exist.
Blogging will help you reach out to prospective buyers and when they need your services or products, you can bet that they will reach out to you.
- Do Extensive Keyword Research
Honestly, this tip should have been higher on the list as it technically falls under both researching your audience and finding your niche.
Keyword research basically entails finding out the most popular keywords that people use when searching for a topic. You need to know the keywords that people are going to use to find your blog.
The best keywords are those that have high search volume (as in lots of people search for it) but have low competition (as in not many websites rank for it). However, finding such an ideal keyword is merely a pipe dream.
What you should be doing instead is finding ‘long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are basically variants of the original keyword, but they are more specific. For example, for a shoe store, “Men’s shoes” is a great keyword, but its long-tailed version “Men’s blue trekking shoes” is much more specific.
Long-tailed keywords also have the added benefit of letting you know the user’s intent, so you can try and match that intent better.
Using these keywords in your blog content will make it rank higher on the SERPs as search engines will have an easier time matching your blog’s know-how and intent with the user intent.
- Use Content Optimization Tools
Now blogs are great and all, there is no doubt. But they take a lot of work to become successful.
Blogs are read by a wide variety of people, not all of whom are very well-educated. Some of them are just kids who can only read very simple sentences. Others are multilingual and English is their second language, so they are not very good at understanding it.
And then there are those who are so well-versed in English that they can understand even the most difficult words with ease.
Excluding parts of your audience by writing in a difficult manner is… let’s just say “thoughtless”. However, sometimes it is not intentional and writers can accidentally start writing at a higher readability level.
Using a paraphraser can help out such writers. A paraphraser is a tool that can paraphrase text using different words and phrases. Quite a lot of them come with specific options to increase readability.
Using such tools to optimize content is great for SEO and audience satisfaction. Paraphrases are just one part of the pie that is content optimization tools. There are plenty of other tools such as summarizers, and plagiarism checkers that are also pretty useful.
- Create A Publishing Schedule and See It Through
In an effective content strategy, people usually gloss over the importance of a steady stream of content.
To your readers and consumers, having new content to read is the reason why your brand stays relevant to them. If your content is posted erratically and sporadically, it’s going to result in your readers losing their interest in your brand.
That’s why it is of paramount importance that you create a schedule for publishing content and follow it till the end. This is not as easy as it sounds! The main reason people are unable to follow schedules is because of burnout.
Having to write too much can make your content writers get overloaded and this can result in them not being able to write well, if at all.
That’s why creating a sufficiently relaxed schedule is also necessary. It’s a delicate balancing act; you cannot make the schedule too relaxed for fear of losing readership and you cannot make it too tight for fear of causing burnout.
Creating and sticking with a good schedule is necessary for a content strategy to succeed.
- Optimize Your Site
Now, one would rightfully think what does optimizing a website have to do with a content strategy? The answer to that question is: where do you read the content? The brand’s website, of course.
As such it is necessary that the actual platform on which the content is posted and accessed should be well-optimized.
The speed and responsiveness of the website directly correlate to readership satisfaction. Just think about it. If a website takes too long to load, nobody is going to wait around (unless your content is just too good).
Hence, optimizing websites should be a priority, because not doing so can single-handedly bottleneck your content strategy.
Now, how can you optimize your website? There are several ways to do that. You can compress any images on the site that are too large and take too long to load.
The website should be designed with a “Mobile first” approach because most of the internet traffic nowadays is from mobile users.
Make sure there are not any dead or broken links that can confuse your visitors. The website should have a simple to-figure-out interface. Basically, you want to make it as accessible as possible and that’s what constitutes optimizing your site.
- Monitor Your Performance
Every strategy needs to be periodically monitored to gauge whether it’s performing well or not. Strategies are not set in stone; they are flexible and can change according to the situation.
If your content strategy is not performing well according to the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you are monitoring, then obviously something will need to be done.
Some standard KPIs that can be monitored are basically all related to SEO. You can monitor the bounce rate, dwell rate, monthly traffic, and the number of successful conversions.
A high bounce rate would imply that your content is not what your audience is looking for, while a high dwell time implies the opposite. However, if both of them are high then that means that something is wrong with your site optimization.
The monthly organic traffic will indicate how many people are finding your site through search engines. On the other hand, referral traffic will indicate how many people are getting to it through backlinks and word of mouth.
A significant amount of referral traffic implies that your content is good enough for people to enjoy and recommend to others. This will also help directly with conversions.
A high conversion rate means that your strategy is successful and that your marketing is working as intended.
Thus, monitoring the performance of your strategy is mandatory, so that you can understand if some part of it is not working as intended.
- Keep Up with the Latest SEO Trends
The final tip for building an effective content strategy is to always stay up to date with the latest happenings in the SEO world.
SEO is a field that is always changing. The biggest search engines available nowadays don’t let us know what their criteria for ranking are. However, experts are always guessing what those criteria could be and how they are measured.
A great example would be “Domain Authority”. It is a predictive metric developed by Moz. It predicts whether a website will have a better chance of ranking high in the SERPs or not.
Now, domain authority is not something that search engines use at all, but clearly, the metrics used to determine domain authority are used by search engines to some degree. Websites that have a high domain authority are usually highly ranked in the SERPs as well.
So, keeping up with trends and staying on top of the latest developments in the SEO world is really useful for your content strategy.
And these were nine tips to create an effective content strategy. The steps involved basically entailed knowing what your brand is about, what the people need from it, and how you can provide it.
It also involved finding out what kind of people your brand is targeted toward and if such people are attracted to your website or not.
Then, there were some standard SEO tips related to blogging such as doing keyword research and finding low-competition but relatively high-volume keywords.
Using content optimization tools to improve the quality of the content, publishing regularly, and optimizing the website on which the blog is hosted were some of the steps that followed.
Finally, monitoring the performance of the strategy and staying in the know of the latest SEO developments were discussed.
Following these tips, you can create an effective content strategy.