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Think Strategic! Where SEO Fits into Content Marketing

Luke Summerfield

For some reason, many marketers think of SEO and content marketing in two different worlds. The reality is they really do work hand in hand.

In today’s blog we are going to take a look at where SEO plays a critical part in content marketing.

There are a number of different factors to consider when creating your content marketing strategy. It’s important to always provide a great deal of value to your readers while balancing the marketing of your business.

Theses are the main categories you can split your content into:

Persona-Based Content

This type of content is created directly based off feedback from your customers. Typically, the topics are created from questions, concerns, objections or what’s been expressed as helpful. You can learn more about personas by reading my blog, “Personas will rock your Inbound Marketing & Sales.”

Persona-based marketingThis will be extremely helpful for both current customers and prospects in order to nurture them down the marketing funnel and educate them to get them closer to making a purchase.

Even though persona-based content topics aren’t derived from SEO research, there is obviously an indirect effect on SEO because many times the questions your customers are asking, someone else in the world is also searching for.

Generally speaking, persona-based content should make up roughly 70% of your content you produce.

Search-Based Content

With search-based content you’re actively searching out popular topics and long-tail keywords that people are searching for online, and then using these topics to create blog posts.

They may not be exactly on point with your personas; however, they are specific to your industry or topic and will help push organic traffic and/or link earning from other websites.

Search-based content should make up 20% of your content strategy.

Brand-Building Content

Brand-building content is strictly purposed to help build authority, credibility and goodwill toward your brand. Many times these lean toward press release style news but also include some important educational component.

One example of this might be doing a mini-case study on a campaign/project that you ran and had great success with. It will show the success you had which builds credibility, but still educates on how that success was achieved.

Brand-building content should make up about 10% of your content strategy. This is a minimal part of your content strategy because it is the most “self-centered” and promotional. Many times this will be placed in a separate “Press Release” style blog separate from the educational content style blog.

Focusing in on Search-Based Content

When it comes to creating content geared towards attracting people searching online, the name of the game is Long Tail Keywords.

Long tail keywords are multiple-keyword phrases people are searching for online. This could include questions, explanations, localized searches or niche industry inquiry searches.

Although they typically receive less volume of searches, the nice thing is that long tail keywords can be much less competitive and you can rank in them very quickly.

Finding Topics

Although Google’s been closing off the flow of keyword data, there are still some effective ways to gain insight into various keywords being searched for.

The first place I would look is at Google Webmaster tools to inspect the keywords that are currently driving people to your website. You can see which long tail keywords are receiving a large amount of traffic but aren’t converting to website visits. These can make great areas to focus in. This same tactic can be done using Google Analytics; however, with “Not Provided’ dominating the data, it can be tricky.

A second way to search for long tail keywords to focus on is to leverage Google’s suggested search function. Here, you will simply go to Google and start typing in some industry related phrase. As you type, Google will pull up suggested searches based on popular searches. These all make great long tail keywords to write about. Also. I’d suggest logging out and clearing cache so you don’t get suggested searched based on your old searches.

A third method of keyword prospecting is to leverage social media search to browse the types of questions/topics being discussed in the social world. Many times there are some very good insights you can gain just by taking some time to listen.

Lastly, you can take a look at your current content that is performing well with organic search visits. Once you’ve identified topics that are very popular with searchers, you can then expand those topics and write around that topic.

Getting an Extra Boost of SEO

Once the piece of content is published it will now be your job to get some extra SEO power behind it. This can be done in a few different ways:

Link to it from Popular Static Content Pages

Most likely you have bigger and more popular static website pages on your site, such as a service or product page. Adding in a “Learn More About ____" section with links to related blogs is not only a great way to further educate your prospect, but it will also pass on some “link juice" to this blog post which will help it in SERP rankings.

Link building to that blog

For blogs, you really want to rank well in long-tail keyword searches and you may even want to develop some mini-link building campaigns around them. Many times this may be as simple as getting some guest blog posts on a related topic and then linking to your blog for readers who want additional education on the topic.

Push on Social

Although this almost needs to go unsaid, I will remind you that as search algorithms integrate social more and more into the way they are ranking search results, having a strong social media sharing reach will play a vital role in boosting blog rankings.

If you have a blog you are really pushing, you may even want to consider creating a mini-social media campaign around promoting it to get as much reach as possible on it. This may include influencer outreach, multi-level promotion schedule and even promoted posts.

Videos & Microdata

Another factor to consider is pairing video content into that blog, hosting on a service like Wistia (not YouTube) and using microdata and video sitemap. This will push that video into the SERP which will give your blog much more visibility on that long tail keyword search.

These are just a few of the SEO-related considerations to keep in mind while developing your content strategy. Please remember that SEO is integrated to the entire content process no matter what the focus of that piece of content is. Just because it’s a persona-focused blog doesn’t mean you can’t tailor it for SEO.

If you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments below and we'll chat.

Author bio:

Luke Summerfield is the Director of Inbound Marketing at Savvy Panda where he helps lead web and marketing success stories for medium to Fortune 100 companies. Additionally, Luke is also the head instructor of Master Inbound, a comprehensive online Inbound Marketing training course. You can find Luke on Google Plus. His last article for SEMrush was "Beyond Links: A Total Inbound Marketing Strategy."

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