Gone are the days of throwing in a few keywords before a blog post goes live. Content marketing, and specifically SEO content, has become more competitive than ever. In this post, we dive into what SEO content is, what it isn't, and why it is so important for businesses.
SEO content is any content that is created on your site with the primary intention of ranking in search engines and driving organic traffic to your site.
While this can include product pages, landing pages, etc., the term "SEO content" most often refers to blog content.
A company cannot and should not only focus on creating SEO content. Just as press releases and product documentation are types of content that have a specific primary purpose, so does SEO content.
Companies can and will create many other content formats with the intent to attract customers, educate and engage prospects, convert visitors into leads, etc.
And while some SEO content can help accomplish those as well, it is different from the rest in that it is created from the ground up to be highly optimized to hit on every element and detail necessary to rank high in the SERPs and generate traffic and conversions for your company.
Now, just because SEO content has a clear purpose does not mean that it is something that defies SEO best practices or crosses a line into "shady" tactics. Here are a few things that SEO content is not.
In the past, many companies would pump out thin, crappy content at alarming rates to cover as many keywords as possible to rank and increase traffic. And it would be right to consider that low-quality content because it didn't add any value to readers or cover any topic sufficiently.
It only existed to include target keywords and that's it.
Today, the search engine's algorithms have gotten much better at understanding quality, context, and semantic relationships.
In order to compete in the SERPs, your SEO content must be high-quality, covering the topic in full, and creating a good experience for visitors. All of these align with most companies' desire to create value-adding content and user experiences.
Keywords within SEO content still play an important role in optimizing your content but the focus is on covering topics fully and covering any and all keywords/sub-topics within the topic you are writing about.
You shouldn't ever be piling in keywords for the sake of adding them into the content, but the guidance from SEO tools highlighting which keywords to touch on is important in making sure the search engines feel that your content is aligned with the searcher's intent.
We've all been there. A web page or piece of content is about to go live and someone says, "Hey, really quick, what keywords should we use for SEO?" 🤦🏻♂️
SEO content is NOT trying to retrofit a few keywords into an existing page or post. It requires everything from the structure of the page to the search intent for the topic to be considered from the very start.
As we've noted, SEO content has a specific purpose, but it would be a mistake to count rankings and traffic as their only benefits. SEO content can be an extremely important part of the success of a company.
Studies continue to prove the buyer research starts long before they engage with your company or products with search engines being a big part of where that research starts.
The 2020 Content Preferences Study by Demand Gen Report found that listicles, infographics, and blog content were the top three content formats that buyers consume most in the early stages of their research.
That means that SEO content has a huge role in getting your company's foot in the door to be part of further consideration as they progress along their buying journey.
Organic traffic is often one of the most consistent channels for high-quality leads/purchases for both B2B and B2C companies. Rather than having to target people with ads or other tactics that are seasonal/inconsistent, organic traffic tends to produce a fairly consistent number of conversions each month.
On top of that, leads from organic are typically already more qualified and actively searching for products/solutions vs someone whose scrolling on Instagram was interrupted by an ad for something that they don't know about.
I can't think of a single topic or vertical where a website is without competition that is trying to outrank them and get more of the same organic traffic.
Competition is everywhere and if your business isn't actively working to maintain and grow, it will be losing traffic and mindshare to your competitors that are.
As you build out thorough and quality content on a number of topics, you will build up your topical expertise and authority on those topics.
This authority leads to many other benefits like being linked to from other sites, invitations to participate in events/webinars as an authority on that topic, customer retention, and more.
Because your SEO content can rank for thousands (if not millions) of keywords, there are a significant number of entry points for people to learn about your company, products, and services.
Beyond the discoverability benefits, your wealth of quality content also creates a great experience for your customers and prospects alike.
When you become a resource that has so much good content on the topics that matter most to them, they feel like they hit the jackpot and they will become more loyal to your brand and products.
When you have hundreds of blog posts covering a variety of topics, you begin to learn a lot about your audience, what they care about, what motivates them to convert, etc. by looking at how they engage with your content.
All of this becomes more valuable when analyzed as a complete data set rather than what you might gather from looking at the performance of a single piece of content.
Content marketing focuses on all of the content you are creating and distributing to fuel your marketing. SEO content is an important part of content marketing - it can make all other content better and vice versa.
When you see patterns in the top 5-10 blog posts, you can understand what kind of topics really resonate and continue to expand your content strategy from there.
This can lead to a webinar, a video series, a data report, or any number of other ideas that can come out of the insights from SEO content performance.
SEO content can be great for sharing on social media and other digital marketing channels.
Because it is fully covering a topic and often includes clear takeaways, this content is a great value-add for social audiences and has the potential for more social shares and greater reach.
SEO content can be a great addition to the suite of content often required for sales enablement.
There always seems to be that one question that comes up in the sales process that there isn't collateral to support.
Allowing reps to send links to in-depth blog posts on the subject is a way that marketers can help give prospects what they need much faster than trying to create a new PDF or slide deck.
It is quite common for there to be other people in your company or even on your own marketing team that have questions about SEO content.
"Don't we already have SEO-friendly content?"
"I thought we already had an SEO strategy."
Here are a few comments on how we explain it that you can use or adapt to explain it to your team or leadership within your company.
Isn't writing SEO content basically just blogging or SEO copywriting? Kinda, but before you even get to the writing of the words, there are a number of factors that go into creating the content.
Whether you plan to write the content internally or outsource to freelance bloggers, this will be an important process to follow to set the writer up for success.
Starting with keyword research, it is important to identify not only specific keywords but topics (or topic clusters) that pull a number of keywords together into one comprehensive topic. This will typically include your target keyword or main keyword as well as several long-tail keywords.
Even then, the keyword research or corresponding search volume doesn't necessarily encompass the entire opportunity. A single piece of content will often rank for dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of individual keywords, so the goal of keyword research isn't to group together every possible permutation of keywords, it is to find all of the key elements to the topic that aligns with the searcher's intent.
Once you have a few of the keywords within the topic, search each of them in Google and review the main sections and subtopics that each of the pages that rank on the first page to understand more about the elements that Google is identifying as important.
If you don't want to do this manually, tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Clearscope can help automate this step of the analysis.
How you organize and structure your blog post is an important part of planning your SEO content. A well-structured piece of content that properly uses HTML markup like H2s, H3s, and H4s will give good hierarchy signals to the search engines and also dramatically improve the readability and user experience of your content.
Planning this ahead of time is important because it allows you to organize all of the sections to create a logical flow of information and is much easier than trying to retrofit the written content into sections after the fact.
When you are writing a list of items or steps in a process, it is important to use ordered or unordered lists. Again, this is helpful as the search engines crawl your content and it also makes it easier for your readers to skim the information in the list.
Strong imagery and other resources like videos, charts, or GIFs can help communicate context and support your content.
Understanding what type of imagery or resources you can use to support the content ahead of time can also save time writing something that you will end up deleting and instead use a video or image to explain.
Lastly, using proper file naming and image alt tags on your images gives further context to search engines. Every Google search is an opportunity for someone to be served the best results page Google can put together, so including images and resources help indicate this is a quality web page with more than just a bunch of text on the page.
Once all of the research, planning, and organization is done for your next post, it is time to do the writing.
There isn't a magic number of words that every post should be or specific formula for writing. The goal is to focus on fully covering each section of the blog post. By doing this, you will often end up with content that is a higher word count but it doesn't have to be. Concise, quality writing is still desirable!
When you feel that you have fully covered the topic to the point where if your target audience were to land on your blog post they wouldn't leave feeling like they didn't get the information they were looking for, you are probably done.
So you finish writing, build out all of your content and images in WordPress, and publish your content. That's great, but what comes next?
In some cases, your content may rank quickly and start generating some search traffic for your new blog post. However, there isn't an easy answer. Every site is different and even on the same site, each piece of content will not yield the same results.
Search engine rankings are constantly fluctuating. In some cases, you may see a sudden surge of impressions and clicks, followed by a sharp decline, and then a slow improvement over time.
In other cases, it will do nothing when you first publish and take several weeks or months before it really starts to take off and generate more search traffic.
Here are some of the factors to consider for each piece of content you publish.
The number of backlinks and referring domains to your domain are important, but so are the backlinks to the specific URL of the post you want to rank.
In some cases, you will naturally pick up enough backlinks to that URL to rank and get traffic and in other cases, you will need to do some manual link building to get it to a place when it can compete in the SERPs.
Similarly, it may be helpful to evaluate the internal links on your site that are pointing to the specific post URL. Each new post you publish creates new opportunities to build new internal links from other content already on your site.
Site speed is an important ranking factor.
The page speed and load times for your post can impact how well you rank. Especially when you are focusing on adding more imagery and resources to your SEO content, it will be important to make sure that you are optimizing and compressing your images and other file formats to avoid poor technical performance on the page.
Rarely do you publish new content and then never touch it again. As your post starts to rank and generate search traffic, it is important that you be circling back to review performance metrics in Google Search Console (GSC), Google Analytics, and any other web analytics or SEO tools you use.
When reviewing the metrics, here are a few suggestions.
Seo content in a unique approach that, when done right, can yield massive results for your company. If organic search traffic is important to your company and the future of attracting, educating, and converting new customers, we highly recommend investing time into the art and science of SEO content.
If you don't have the time or skills to do this in-house and need some help with all of the research and planning, we'd love to chat.