ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SEO Content

 

Fresh, unique, and well-optimized content is the most important tactic to achieve your SERP ranking objectives, and deliver on your SEO KPIs. This ultimate guide will teach you how-to crush at planning and executing strategic SEO content. So, let’s get started. 

 

“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” – Google

What is SEO Content?

Optimized content for search assists Google in reading, understanding, and ranking a web page in the SERP. What differentiates regular content from SEO content is the “O” in SEO: Optimizations. Content optimizations range from copywriting to design to the more technical schema and metadata. Before we dive into how to create optimized content, we need to understand our purpose and direction.

SEO Content Strategy

Successful SEO content relies on aligning content development with larger business goals and audience search intent. Below is an outline to support your strategic content development.

A hand holding a compass to signify strategic SEO content.

understand macro bUSINESS GOALS

What is your primary business goal to be achieved within a specified timeframe?

SEO content should not be developed in a vacuum. A clear understanding of macro business goals is the first step in developing content that will both rank and impact your bottom line. Make sure to identify how each department within the company attributes to the macro business goal. This will help you more accurately set SEO KPIs. 

Example: The business has a target of $110M in revenue by Dec. 31, 2020.  The marketing department has a revenue target of $80M, 72% of total business revenue. 

align SEO KPIs with business goals

What is the key performance indicator (KPI) that SEO initiatives will achieve within a specified timeframe?

An SEO KPI should directly support your macro business goals. Ensure KPIs are achievable based on historical and forecasted data inputs, like organic revenue, organic conversions, organic conversion rate, organic click-through-rates, and potential monthly search volume for key topics. Data platforms you can leverage for these data inputs are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Ads, and SEMRush.

Example: SEO will achieve $30M in marketing revenue by Dec. 31, 2020, a 25% growth in SEO revenue from 2019.

Set SEO Supporting metrics

Which supporting metrics will help indicate how well you’re trending towards SEO KPIs?

By setting supporting metrics upfront, you can focus on developing content that will perform and ultimately achieve SEO KPIs. With organic traffic growth targets, prioritize content opportunities with valuable search volume. With conversion rate targets, prioritize content with valuable search intent for your target conversions. Typically, you’ll be balancing both of these supporting metrics to achieve your SEO KPIs.

Example: Through December 31, 2020, we will achieve a 10% growth rate in organic traffic when evaluating year-over-year data on a monthly cadence, and we will maintain an average organic conversion rate of 4%.  

identify Target audiences

Who are the key audiences that will help you achieve your SEO supporting metrics and KPIs? 

Audience personas defined by internal teams at your company will differ from your most valuable organic search audiences. Why? Audience personas tend to be aspirational, outdated, and defined by internal teams. Organic search audiences are realistic, real-time, and defined by search inputs. Your audience actively takes to search every day to solve problems, and better understand topics around the services you offer. Digging into audience search behaviors and organizing commonly searched topics by user intent will help you plan content at each stage of your buyer’s journey. 

Define Key topics 

What are the key topics or “pillars” your website needs to rank for?

To define key topics or “pillars”, think about the primary offerings or products of your business. The purpose of a pillar topic is to showcase your area of expertise and support achieving your SEO KPIs. Once you define your content pillars, you’ll need to build out supporting content or “clusters” for each of your pillars. This is called topic clustering. For each of your topic clusters, it’s important to internally link all relevant content. This shows Google the depth and level of expertise of the pillar topic across your website.

Example: Pillar topic is Cruises. Cluster content would include commonly searched content about Cruises, like luxury, private, family, etc. 

Website content audit

What content do you currently have on your website about pillar topics?

Since Google launched its RankBrain algorithm update in 2015, content expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E.A.T.) have become vital to SERP ranking success. It’s important to understand the content depth and relevancy of key topics across your website, and how this content is organized. Identifying content gaps will help you gauge the amount of effort needed for SEO content development. Identify how much current content can be restructured and repurposed versus how much content will need to be net new.  

Example: Audit content topics, content types, internal linking, and URL structure. 

SEO content Roadmap

What specific content will you be developing over a 90-day period in order to achieve your SEO KPIs?

When developing your 90-day content roadmap, prioritize the most high-value (search volume and KPI potential) topic clusters first. We typically use Google Sheets to build our content roadmaps.

Example: In your roadmap, each piece of content should specify Target Topic, Target Audience, Search Intent, Target Keywords, Current Rank, Target Word Count, and Publish Date.

How-To Write SEO Content

Now that your content has purpose and direction, how do you actually write SEO content? Below we’ll dig into how-to craft rank-worthy content for your topic clusters. 

A hand holding a pen on a notepad to signify writing SEO content.

Competitor gap analysis

Who are your top three competitors in the SERP? What are they writing about?

Let Google tell you what content they like to see for your target topics. When evaluating your top SERP competitors, review gaps and opportunities of on-page elements to help guide your content development. 

Examples: Competitor on-page elements to analyze include key topics covered, type of media used (videos, hero images, infographs, etc.), schema, and URL structure. 

“Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive.” – Google

 

context and comprehensiveness

What content do you need to include to support the user’s search intent and fully answer their query?

Google does not rank content based on word count. Google ranks content based on how well you solve the user’s search need. Your content should be clear, concise, and comprehensive. Cover everything your audience needs to know based on their intent and query. Internally link to other pages on your website related to the topic. This helps Google understand content depth and expertise. 

Examples: If the intent is purchasing a product, you’ll likely want to include things like how-to-use the product, product description, reviews, and price. If the intent is research-focused, you’ll want to include long-tail questions and answers.    

Schema and structured data

Is Google able to highlight your content in an engaging way within the SERP?

Not only does your content need to rank, your content needs to encourage clicks from the SERP. Schema is the best way to serve engaging, click-through content within the SERP. Schema is a form of structured data that allows Google to read and serve Rich Snippets in the SERP. Your content should include all relevant schema prior to publishing. Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure your markup is well optimized.     

Examples: Reviews, Product Markup, Organization, Videos, and more. 

SEO BEST PRACTICES

What are optimization best practices to keep in mind while developing content?

 

  • Headers: Only use headers to call out key sections on your web page. All too often we see headers being used for CSS styling elements. Having multiple H1s and H2s on your page can confuse Google. Use headers wisely and sparingly to let Google know, “Hey! This section of my page is important.”  

 

  • Images: Make sure your images are optimized for speed and performance. Using large image sizes on a web page will drastically slow down your website. Google really cares how quickly your website can serve information to users. So make sure your content is built for speed. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your web page performance. 

 

  • Alt Descriptions: Alt descriptions are read aloud to visually impaired users. Make sure your alt descriptions are written for this audience. Include your target keywords, but make sure the description makes sense for real people. 

 

  • Internal Linking: By linking your topic cluster pages to one another, you’re signaling to Google you’re an authoritative resource on your primary topic.

Phew! That was a lot. Hopefully you have a better understanding of how-to crush your next SEO content initiative. Still have questions? We offer content as one of our premier SEO services

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