In the challenge of getting visitors to your website with the intent of converting them, what is the best route? Do you throw money at well-crafted advertisements? Do you focus on a strong search engine optimization (SEO)? Do you focus on maintaining a blog and pursue a content marketing campaign? Do you craft a social media campaign that uses Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?
The truth is, there are a variety of tactics that you need to focus on to drive potential customers to your website. But the one you really want to put effort towards is synergizing your content marketing and search engine optimization.
SEO and Content Marketing
Content is one of the top two ranking factors on Google, and search engine optimization helps your website rank. Thus, content marketing is one of the biggest aspects of SEO. But even though content is a huge part of SEO many still fail to synergize the two. Instead, they’re kept apart.
But by understanding how they work together and making conscious efforts to have them work together, you’ll be well on your way to the first page of results.
How to Create Synergy
Here’s a short guide on how to make content marketing and SEO work together. Take these steps to start off on the right path, or use them as a guide to re-evaluate your current methods.
Benchmark Research of Your Niche
What type of content and keywords works best for your company largely depends on two factors: Your industry and your services. If your company is in the manufacturing industry and you offer consulting services, your content will revolve around the consulting process.
But before diving in and creating content, there is one important step to take first: Benchmark. You need to understand what your competitors are doing. The only way to know is by conducting research. What type of content are they developing and how is it performing? Where do they rank on Google for keywords for which you want to rank? Gather this information for your top competitors and keep track.
Once you have this information, it’s time to set goals.
Define Your Business Goals
Now that you’ve conducted benchmark research in your niche, you can define your business goals. This should be done prior to crafting any content or working on your SEO. You need to know what you’re working towards.
Do you want this synergized effort to lead to more consultations? Do you want to see an X percentage growth in sales? Do you want to beat a particular competitor in some way? Whatever your goals are, they need to be explicitly defined before you create content or an SEO strategy.
Define Your Keywords
Once your goals are in place, you can begin the first step in synergizing SEO and content marketing. Think of Search Engine Optimization as the structure: It establishes the rules and tells you what you need to be optimized. Content marketing follows those rules and helps provide what is needed.
Keywords are what search engines use to pull up websites relevant to a user’s query. If you were to search for “dog food,” you would expect to find results related to dog food. And if you are selling dog food, you’ll hope that your company would be one of the results. And they can be if you’ve defined “dog food” and other phrases as your keywords and made a conscious effort to rank for them.
But “dog food” is pretty general and therefore hard to rank for. And there are a lot of specifications people might include in their search: Wet, dry, made in the USA, organic, all-natural, for elderly dogs, for puppies, canned, for bone health. Therefore, you’ll want to look into more specific, long-tail (3-4 words) keyword phrases like “organic dog food made in USA.”
Begin to Create Your Content
You have your keywords and thus a baseline for creating content. Your keywords can influence your content because you’ll want to write about topics that your prospective customers are interested in. Let’s say you own a canvas printing shop and you want to direct customers to your website. What might they be interested in, and what questions might they have? Content could focus on:
- The differences in canvas materials
- Professional printing versus non-professional printing (such as at a drugstore photo lab)
- A deep dive into copyright and photos
- Decoration advice
The idea is to craft content that would answer research queries. Your content will use keywords that will help a search engine’s bots determine your site’s relevance to specific search queries.
Know How to Craft Content
You know that you need to create content, but you need to create it well. If you don’t, you’ll alienate potential customers and likely get dinged by Google’s algorithms. Here are some rules for creating content that will help—not hinder—your SEO efforts.
- Make It Knowledgeable: Your content should inform your audience. If it doesn’t leave them with some new information, then why are you writing it? You should not create content just to fill pages and hope to rank.
- Make It Original: Each new piece of content needs to as original as possible. If not, it could be marked as duplicate content and you could lose rank. It’s impossible to be 100% original due to the structure of language, but do the best you can.
- Don’t Keyword Stuff: Keyword stuffing is just poor practice and won’t help you rank. Instead, it will trigger Penguin, which aims to prevent websites who spam search results from ranking high.
- Make It Readable: Your content should take advantage of header tags, paragraphs, and short sentences. Headers divide the information and allow users to skim and find the information they need. It also encourages them to read through.
Creating quality content on a regular schedule can be a challenge. That’s why companies often have several individuals dedicated to content creation. But if you don’t have the time, you can also look into hiring a company to craft original content for you. The more often you post quality content, the better your SEO.
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Make Use of Available Opportunities
Your content marketing can help your website rank, but don’t stop there. Use all available opportunities and show your content where it is relevant. Share it on your social media sites and direct people to it. Send it as part of an eBlast to people who have signed up for your newsletter.
Be sure you’re also using channels that are relevant to your audience. Consider starting a video series on YouTube, sending eBlasts through MailChimp, or answer industry-related questions on Quora.
Also, remember that content is more than just writing blog posts. Content includes videos, brochures, and infographics. Other content types that may be appropriate for your business include product reviews, lists, case studies, podcasts, and interviews.
You’ll have an initial idea of what content works best through your benchmark research. As time goes on, be sure to pay attention to your content’s analytics. What type of content performs best? Is there a specific time of day that sees more activity? Adjust the content you make as necessary.
Measure Your Progress
The most important step in synergizing your content marketing and SEO is to measure your progress. You won’t know if your efforts are paying off unless you measure. You’ll want to use the benchmark research you gathered earlier as well as the goals you set. Look at analytics for your website, social media sites, and more—wherever you have posted content.
To ensure that you are getting accurate information that you can compare over time, you need to set a schedule. How often are you going to measure your progress? You’ll want to give enough time to let the content do its job and to let any changes fully implement. But you don’t want to measure too often. Measuring your progress at the end of each month is generally a schedule that works for every industry.
Keep a Record of Changes
Be sure to note any changes that you have implemented to see how or if they worked the next time you measure. If your numbers seem to have dropped, look into whether it was these changes or something else. If you’re not sure what caused the change, let it go for another month and check again.
Your audience and the channels available to you are always changing. For these reasons, it is crucial to measure and amend your strategy when necessary. The strategy you create today will likely be different from the one you’ll use in a year’s time.
Putting It Into Practice
Synergizing your content marketing and search engine optimization will take some effort but it must be done. These two tactics cannot be conducted in a silo. Content marketing is a key component of a successful search engine optimization. The two must be conducted in unison, and they need to support one another.
Even if you’ve already started a content marketing strategy and have some SEO in place, it’s not too late to bring them in harmony. Start by conducting your benchmark research. Once you’ve collected this data, see how your current business goals and keywords align with this data. After that, it’s focusing on quality content and measuring to see how your synergy efforts are impacting your business.
Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google