7 ways to optimise your content strategy for SEO
For some brands, SEO can be one of the most enduring and cost-effective endeavours when building up your business.
Your website is the digital shop window of your business, so building it up in the right way means customers will find you more quickly. SEO can get extremely technical, but brilliant basics can still get you a long way. A good content strategy, optimised for SEO can be very hard-working, giving you lots of opportunities to get in front of people:
With the content you create and publish on your own website
When it gets shared on social (by yourself, and hopefully others)
On a third-party site if it’s earned its way there, through proactive outreach like Digital PR or by it just being so good others want to feature it too
The cumulative effect that all of the above activity has on your site’s visibility as a whole, and the likelihood that your site will rank for related keywords.
Here are a few ways to build up your content strategy.
Understand who your audience is
The first thing to consider when creating a content strategy for SEO is the bullseye audience. What kinds of things do they want to read about online? What are their pain points; what frustrates them, what don’t they understand? What topics do they care about? How do they search? Keyword research has really changed over the years; it can be a big tussle to rank for certain keywords, particularly if your brand is competing against heavyweights with big budgets, but it is still possible to break through.
How do people search?
Search is becoming much more fragmented, with keywords becoming more like specific phrases and questions. People aren’t just searching for “wardrobes”, they’re searching for “oak fitted wardrobes in the sale”. For that reason, keyword research is changing from focus on a handful of target keywords to a broader approach; which can be addressed with great, relevant content. Find your niche in the market, and own it. Do some keyword research with tools like Answer the Public, Google Trends and Moz’s Keyword Explorer to find out the questions people are searching for the answers to, then craft thoughtful content that answers those questions. When creating product pages, ensure this content either sits on that page, or can be found easily from those pages to make those answers easily accessible.
Create content that performs different roles: Hub and Help
“Hub” content is regular, drumbeat content that’s relevant to your audience, like articles (although they can and should take many forms, like video, animations or infographics). This could be your blog (that sits on your website). It can be topical or news-based, through the lens of your industry or sector. The role of this content is to build advocacy and repeat visitors, and is the kind of content you’d see posted on social media or shared through a newsletter. It builds momentum, with fresh content being posted regularly (which incidentally Google also likes) and is a great vehicle for building brand momentum through frequency of posting.
“Help” content is the type of content that gets served when someone searches a question related to your product. This could be something like: “what type of wardrobe is best for lots of shoes?”, “what wardrobe should I have quiz” or “wardrobe organisation ideas.” Be generous with your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise: not only does this build trust and goodwill with your audience, but its rich content and should keep people on your site longer (if it’s good!) – both of which Google will appreciate. Understand what kind of questions your audience want to know, then start creating a bank of all this knowledge. This type of content isn’t right for social – but it’s perfect for your would-be-customers to stumble upon your site when they’re researching their purchase.
Digital PR: earning links back to your site
This element of an SEO strategy can be key, as although the future of links is up for debate, it remains the single strongest signal for SEO for now. One of the good things about the internet is that the number of websites and online publications is vast and continues to grow. A good place to start is with local websites – these links can really punch above their weight when it comes to SEO, compared with national ones. This is because they are more likely to get clicked on and is therefore deemed for valuable to the user. It’s a great place to start – local news sites and niche interest sites for example, if you have a good story to tell or useful advice to give. A simple Google search can give you lots of ideas of websites to approach. Make sure you’re offering an interesting, unique and relevant piece of content in return: understand the type of content they’re already publishing on their site and consider what you can offer their audience… And make sure there’s a good reason to link to your site, i.e. great content.
Consider social media as a key tool for SEO
Social media is an extension of your online presence, so a well nurtured, bustling and rich social presence also plays a role in SEO. Make sure that your content is shared on social, and if you have employees, ask them to join in by following your accounts and sharing your articles. Social is also a great way to have conversations with your audience, find out more about them and even use it as a source of user-generated content.
How do you measure all of this?
Use your site’s analytics to measure organic traffic. Google Analytics is free to use and gives great insight into how traffic from organic search behaves compared to different channels you may have running. If your SEO strategy is working, you should see an uplift in organic traffic month on month.
Look at site engagement stats like time on site or pages per visit. How do people finding you through organic search move around your site? How high is the bounce rate? Which pages are they landing on? Organic traffic to your homepage indicates they came to you through branded search, which is valuable; it indicates they already know who you are. Traffic that lands on your content is a great indication that your content is doing its job as the first touchpoint of your site. How long do people spend on that page? If it’s a short amount of time, or the bounce rate is high, check whether your page is what they were expecting; does it give them the information they were looking for?
You can also use Webmaster Tools to give you insight into how people are searching; what phrases they use to find you, what device, what position you rank, how many times was your site served, and your click through rate. Understanding both how you fare in the SERPs and onsite means you can piece together the journey and whether your content is working.
The power of branded search
Someone knowing your brand enough to search for it first is the ultimate aim. These kinds of searches can be stimulated by any of the activity that you could be running, from PR to flyers, from free samples to good old fashioned (and powerful) word of mouth. Branded search will become increasingly important as voice becomes more prevalent, as there will be emphasis on the “one true answer”, which is the one your virtual assistant read out, making that coveted top spot even more.
If you can win your audiences’ hearts and minds with brand affinity so they come to you first, foregoing generic search altogether, then you have won SEO.