SEO Content Marketing Guide: How to Write Killer Content That Drives Traffic & Sales
No one can deny the importance of high-quality content as part of a successful SEO strategy. To coin the phrase, “content is king.”
As you develop your SEO content marketing strategy, however, you need to balance the intricacies of creating compelling content for your reader AND the likes of Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. This doesn’t mean you need to write like a robot – quite the opposite actually. While you’ll need to be deliberate and signal to the search engines what your articles and blogs are about, you don’t have to sacrifice that human element that will make your content unique to your brand.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through several key considerations to keep in mind as you develop your [soon-to-be] killer SEO content marketing strategy.
But before we dive in, let’s first define what we mean when we refer to SEO and content marketing and the impact they can have on your overall digital marketing efforts.
What is SEO and Why Does it Matter?
In the most basic sense, search engine optimization (SEO) is all about getting your website to rank for relevant keywords and phrases when a user conducts an online query on a search engine. The higher you rank, the more visible your website becomes, the more traffic you’ll get, and the more revenue you’ll ultimately drive. Pretty straightforward, right?
Yes and no. While SEO seems fairly basic at its core, your SEO strategy needs to be constantly optimized and maintained in order to make a long-term impact. That’s why it’s often necessary to engage an SEO agency to help create and execute a winning SEO strategy.
How Do Content Marketing and SEO Work Together?
So we covered SEO, but what is content marketing, and how do the two work together? Content marketing is all about establishing you as a thought leader in your industry by building out exceptionally high-quality and evergreen content – this can take many different forms and include everything from blogs to well-written FAQs, to whitepapers, and everything in between.
As content marketing is used to educate and create awareness around a particular topic, it is an essential component of any successful SEO strategy.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s explore how you should approach your SEO content marketing strategy to drive exponentially more traffic to your website and generate mind-boggling revenue.
The 5 Tips on How to Craft the Perfect SEO Content Marketing Strategy
Create Content Driven by Keyword Research
Say it with me… “Duh.”
While this may seem obvious, it’s imperative that your SEO content marketing strategy be driven by keyword research done by professionals. This doesn’t mean simply building a keyword list and randomly picking off words to throw into your blogs. It means building a deliberate keyword-driven content calendar, outlining what each piece of content will be about, mapping individual keywords to that content, deciding what links will be included, etc., etc. While there are tons of different content calendar tools and templates out there, a simple spreadsheet often does the trick.
The below SEO content calendar template is an example of the kind of information you’ll want to include in your own calendar.
One important strategic element to keep in mind is to make sure you’re not optimizing a blog or piece of content for a phrase your website already ranks for. This will create pages that effectively compete against one another when it’s a significantly better idea to put those eggs in just a single basket. We see new clients do this all the time but it’s actually an easy thing to avoid if you use Google Search Console and follow these keyword research and SEO optimization steps.
Long-Form Content is King
The evidence is scientifically irrefutable: long-form content performs better than short articles. As noted in “The State of Content Marketing 2020 Global Report,” SEMrush found that articles with 7,000+ words received three times more pageviews and 43% more social shares when compared to articles that were 900-1,200 words.
Granted, this doesn’t mean that every piece of content you write needs to be 7,000+ words. As you plan out your content calendar, prioritize your keywords by the level of importance. Keywords at the top of your list should be used in your “cornerstone” content and will serve as the backbone of your SEO content marketing strategy for years. These cornerstone content pieces will be longer by default and help you rank for the keywords and phrases that matter most to your business. Once you create these cornerstone assets, you’ll want to continually update them so they stay fresh and continue accruing keyword rankings, keeping you from always having to write new content completely from scratch.
As you move down your keyword priority list, this is where you can shoot for slightly shorter content pieces. You’ll still see higher engagement if you keep your content around 900+ words. In fact, SEMrush’s study found that articles between 900-1,200 words received 21% more traffic and 75% more backlinks than articles that were only 300-900 words. So, when it comes to content creation, longer is [nearly] always better!
Content Structure Matters
While Google and all the big search engines continually update their algorithms that dictate what pages appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERP), one thing remains constant – they want to deliver the most relevant content to the end-user.
That’s why the structure of your content is critical. A well-structured piece of content helps the search engines understand what your content is about. The better they understand your content, the more likely they are to serve it up to a user based on relevant search terms. A well-structured piece is not only helpful for search engines, but it also delivers a better user experience, the varied metrics of which are indicators to search engines of the value of an article. And round and round it goes…
As you structure your website content, here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Header Tags: You never want to underestimate the importance of H1 header tags. Header tags are a vital component of your SEO strategy as they help search engines understand what your web page is about. As a best practice, you’ll want to of course get in the habit of using your keywords in your H1 tags. This not only gives search engines greater context, but it also helps end-users understand at first glance what your content is about.
- Anchor Text & Internal Linking: While this is something that is often overlooked, you’ll want to be very deliberate in how you use anchor text and internal links. Too often, marketers will use phrases like, “click here” or “learn more” when linking to an internal page. While it’s great to link to related content, generic phrases like these don’t mean anything to search engines. As a best practice, always try to include keywords in your anchor text as a way of providing additional context to the search engines.
- Optimized URLs: Building off of the two points above, your URL is also a key component you’ll want to optimize for every piece of content you create. If an end-user or search engine can’t tell what the page is about based on the URL, it’s probably not optimized. Oftentimes, CMS platforms will automatically add irrelevant numbers or terms to your URL that mean nothing to the search engines or your website visitors. While every CMS is different, they should all provide the flexibility to manually update your webpage URL so that it is fully optimized based on your content.
Humans and Search Engines Love Images and Video
As you put together your SEO content marketing strategy, you’ll want to factor in the use of images and video as part of your plan. Given the inherent difficulty in finding great photography and shooting great video, this is too often an overlooked piece of the strategy. But man does it have legs.
In case you need more proof as to the importance of images and video, here are some stats from SEMrush’s “The State of Content Marketing 2020 Global Report:”
- Posts with one image received twice the traffic as posts with only text. These posts also received 30% more shares and 25% more backlinks.
- Posts containing at least one video got 92% more traffic and 24% more shares than posts without a video.
Always make a goal to include at least one multimedia element in your content. You’ll thank yourself later when the rankings and revenue start to pour in.
Leverage Open Graph Meta Tags
An important piece of your overall SEO content marketing strategy should be around sharing your content and extending its reach – that’s where open graph meta tags come into play. Open graph meta tags are snippets of code (see image below) that dictate how URLs are displayed on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Open graph meta tags provide a level of control when sharing content from a third-party website to a social network. They give you the ability to specify how and what content is displayed and can help make your content more “shareable.” Isn’t that what you want after all?? If you’re going to invest the time in creating killer content, you want it to be seen!
Below is an example of how the open graph meta tags noted above will enable your content to display on a site like Facebook.
The image (https://www.outerboxdesign.com/frontend/img/articles/og/how-to-drive-traffic-to-your-website.png) being pulled in is specified in the og meta tag as well as the title (“How to Drive Traffic to Your Website and Increase Sales in 2020”) and description (“Wondering how to increase traffic to your eCommerce website? We’ve got 15 surefire methods you need to be using”).
While open graph meta tags are often an afterthought, they provide important details that increase the likelihood of your content being shared. Open graph meta tags won’t directly impact your on-page SEO but they will play a major role in improving how your content performs on social media. You should look at your open graph tags as vital elements in helping boost the reach of your content, which will ultimately help drive traffic to your website.
Phew! That was a lot of information! While there’s a great deal to consider when putting your SEO content marketing strategy together, the best way to get started is to just dive in. It’s no secret that content marketing needs to be a major part of your SEO strategy so if you haven’t given much thought to your SEO content marketing plan, you’re wasting precious time. Just think of all the website traffic, leads, and sales you’re missing out on by not having a firm strategy in place!?
Alright, let’s not dwell on that too long…let’s get to work!
We know that building a winning SEO content marketing strategy takes time and lots of planning so if you’re stuck, or just have a question, our team of SEO experts is here to help!