Most people who are toying with the idea of investing in search engine optimization (SEO) know what SEO content is famous for doing — acquiring organic traffic.
By definition, SEO is the practice of optimizing content so that search engines preferentially value that content over others. The result: You receive the search traffic associated with ideal placement within whichever ranking system you’re competing in (YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Google, etc).
But at some point, your executive team (maybe that’s you) is going to start asking additional “So what?” questions regarding your investment and the ROI of your content marketing efforts. After all, every great marketer knows that traffic without context is a vanity metric.
Let’s take a look at some of the other notable benefits of publishing SEO-focused content outside of organic traffic results.
Or, if organic traffic is your “thing,” check out this helpful guide:
How To Increase Organic Traffic: 18 Actionable Tactics
Can Reduce Your Paid Spend and Increase the Effectiveness of Paid Ads
“PPC vs. SEO — which is better?” It’s one of the oldest debates that every digital marketer has wasted time reading about.
You can skip the next article. The short answer is that they’re fundamentally different and each userful under the right circumstances.
That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the fact that SEO content has the ability to reduce costs or at least improve the effectiveness of your paid advertising efforts. Here’s how:
Reducing the Cost Associated With Paid Ad Spend
With more and more examples of companies shutting off their paid ads and seeing almost no reduction in revenue, it isn’t too bold to suggest that paid advertising marketers are in some hot water.
Additionally, paid advertising rubs some potential buyers the wrong way. Even as I write this, I can honestly say that I’ve never intentionally clicked a paid Google Ad at the top or on the side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
There is still a case, however, to be made for a brand being associated with certain queries and topics as a form of authority. And perhaps you’d like to be associated with a query but you don’t want to keep paying every single day for that spot.
Let’s say for example, that you’re running paid ads for Skillshare and you want to own a top spot for the keyword “acrylic painting ideas.”
According to Ahrefs, you’d be spending an estimated $0.80 per click on your advertisement. With an estimated search volume of 35,000 searchers per month and a roughly 2% click-through rate for PPC ads, according to WordStream, you’d be looking at about 700 clicks per month. At $0.80 per click, it’s costing you an estimated $560 per month to rent space on that page.
[35,000 searches per month x .02 click-through rate = 700 clicks per month]
[700 clicks per month x $0.80 per click = $560 per month]
By contrast, a piece of SEO content that targets that query, depending on the agency, would likely cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600-$1,000 dollars to build. AND positions 1-3 for organic rankings are estimated to have a 29% to 43% click-through rate.
That means that you can expect roughly 10,150 to 15,050 clicks per month from that post. Considering the cost of $0.80 per click associated with a paid ad for that query, that’s a blog worth roughly $8,120 to $12,040 per month.
You can think of that as your ROI on a $1,000 investment that could last as long as one year or more. AND you can think of it in terms of how much you’re saving by not spending that amount on a paid ad spot every month.
Paid Ads and Organic Results Working Together
A few years back, I came across a Twitter thread that I’ll likely not be able to find again. But it was about an interesting case study on the psychology of seeing an ad for a company and then immediately seeing their organic result in one of the top positions.
Moz does a nice job of discussing this further with one of Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday pieces of content.
The essential takeaway was that when someone sees an ad by a company, it makes them more likely to click on their organic result upon seeing them a second time. You’ll often see this practiced by PPC specialists who bid on their own brand terms or terms for their own products.
Additionally, it should be noted that content creators, bloggers, and journalists are often on the hunt for sources of information they can use for data in their own work. We’ve seen running paid ads for SEO content related to industry statistics increase the number of backlinks a piece of content receives. And that, in turn, earns your website more organic authority.
Provides Relatively Predictable Returns on Investment
As demonstrated in the above section, there are ways of modeling, at least roughly, the potential value of SEO content and providing future predictions for achieving your annual or quarterly goals.
If you’re aiming for a given dollar amount to be generated by the blog over a year, for example, you can calculate how much the blog generates now, the number of organic visitors to the blog, the average conversion rate of blog traffic, and the average lifetime value (LTV) or amount per purchase.
If you calculate the rate at which you’re growing based on your current rate of content production, you can then begin to model out a content volume, plan, and cost associated with achieving your SEO goals.
It’s not nearly as straightforward as paid advertising when it comes to putting money in and immediately knowing the dollar amount, but we’ve tested SEO content modeling before, and it’s pretty accurate.
Helps People Discover Your Company and Your Products
SEO content is one of the best ways to predictably drive new traffic to your site and help potential customers discover your products and services.
This is especially valuable when few people outside of your direct circles are searching for your brand, and you might be attempting to compete among giants in the early stages of your company.
Prioritizing thorough content that demonstrates your knowledge of a topic related to your product or service builds trust and makes for a solid first impression of your company.
Segments Your Content for Easily Distributable Social Media Content
It’s often said that creating SEO content is more like assembling content than it is writing content.
If you pay close attention to SEO content, you’ll notice that it uses headers to segment ideas into specific sections. For example:
- What X is
- Benefits of X
- How to calculate X
- 10 best strategies/tips/tools for doing X
This segmentation is helpful for readers, search engine bots — and even better — your team. A savvy social media marketer knows that an article with the above sections in it could turn into 10+ helpful pieces of social media content ready to distribute. For example:
- Take a look at this calculator we created to help you do X in seconds.
- Discover the top 10 benefits of X. The first 3 are below, but you’ll have to check out our article to see the rest!
- Here is our Tip of the Week for doing X really well.
All of that should help fill the content calendar with relevant content, increase engagement, and attract people back to your website.
Adds More Useful Content for Your Newsletter Subscribers
Similar to social media distribution, SEO content is great for adding additional content to newsletters. You can share articles as many times as it makes sense and curate related topics based on current events or newsletter themes.
Not only are you exposing more people to your website and your expertise, but you’ll also gain valuable insights into what your most dedicated subscribers want to read about based on the engagement metrics for each newsletter.
Helps Build Brand Trust and Authority With Prospective Buyers
SEO content is about becoming visible around core ideas, useful resources, and entire pillars of information. Perhaps you become the go-to source for lists of ecommerce website tools by building hundreds of lists and reviews. Maybe you’re covering all there is to know in a Wikipedia-style blog for your niche part of an industry.
That portfolio of content builds your image with prospective customers/clients as a true industry expert and someone worth working with. For example, many of us think of HubSpot when we think of a blog where we’ve learned something about marketing, sales, or customer success.
Achieving that trust and authority on the internet is an investment, and it’s often challenging to assign a dollar value to a metric like “authority” or “brand power.” But we all know it’s valuable.
Serves as Effective Sales Enablement Content
Great SEO pieces come from understanding your customers’ pain points — making your prospects feel heard and giving them confidence in your ability to help them solve their problems.
And no one on your team encounters more pain point-related discussions and direct feedback from customers than your sales team.
Creating SEO content that answers the “why-to” and “how-to” questions that your prospective clients or customers want answered can serve as powerful sales enablement content.
Assists Your Customer Retention Efforts
Not to beat you over the head with a word like “useful,” but because SEO content is so focused on questions that your users and readers are asking themselves, you’re likely creating useful content.
And a consistent stream of useful content that mixes videos and articles about how to use your tools/services, and tips to better perform tasks or understand complex ideas within your customer’s industry, makes for great retention-based content.
Valuable retention-related SEO content can range from tools like calculators and free template downloads to guides related to important technical specs for setting up an ecommerce site.
For example: Clyde works with a lot of ecommerce clients. Their service is specifically for connecting shoppers to product warranties and accident protection for their purchases.
As a company that understands that its customers are trying to run successful ecommerce businesses by increasing revenue and optimizing the customer experience, they’ve created several pieces of SEO content aimed at customer retention. Here’s one of their pieces:
Not only is their blog generating organic search traffic, but it’s been a customer retention tool. They’ve included it in email campaigns to current customers and received positive feedback about the real-world impact of the strategies in their blog.
Makes Generating Content Ideas a More Intuitive Process
As a team that spends a lot of time around content strategy, roadmapping, and workflows, I’ll start with one of the most overlooked advantages of SEO-based content: SEO strategies are built with data and content marketing best practices in mind.
There are several points worth drawing out from that statement, so I’ll tease them out below.
- Removes content creation guesswork: You don’t need to guess which topics should be covered in a single blog post or whether to break up that Ultimate Guide into 12 pieces of content. Your target query’s SERPs will tell you what people prefer in terms of length, topic coverage, and style. And the algorithm ranks the pieces with the preferable behavior metrics the highest to keep connecting users with popular content.
- Forces you to start with the right content questions: A search engine implies that someone is typing in a “question” and the list of results are the “answers” to that question. When you strategize SEO content, you’re primed to start asking yourself what your users/readers want to know as it relates to their goals, and hopefully, your product. And by thinking in questions, you’re able to naturally formulate various marketing funnels with your content.
- Requires you to think objectively about your readers’ goals: Content that pulls in significant traffic often requires solutions that are not specific to your brand or your tool. This leads you to create more “pure” content (by pure, we mean more objective content that, on the surface, doesn’t appear to be motivated only by ROI for your company). Be smart and be generous with content and you’ll build a loyal audience.
- Targets content topics where there is known traffic: SEO is one of the most tactical forms of content in which you can create content that you feel your audience needs AND verify that traffic potential really exists. With the help of third-party tools and observing how Google’s SERPs respond to queries, you can be certain that you’re generating a piece of content that will be read.
- Allows for scalability: Strategizing for SEO creates a simple framework for scalability. Did you create a guide to doing a task for one ecommerce platform that’s getting traffic? Great, turn that guide into a reusable template. Then, quickly build one out for every ecommerce platform from Shopify to Magento 2.
Creates a Level of Accountability in Your Content Workflows
And while we’re discussing the benefits of the SEO content creation process, a practical advantage is that it requires you to prioritize regular content updates. I know that might not sound like an initial benefit, but you’d be surprised at the number of marketing teams that we work with who have no plans to revisit their old content.
What’s the issue with not updating old content? That piece of content that’s generating your best leads is eventually going to “decay” in organic traffic as competitors build better or more timely resources. Or worse, that “how-to” guide you built for your clients will eventually contain outdated information, and trust in your brand will be impacted every time someone visits it.
And eventually, you’ll experience what a lot of large blog and publication companies do: a website full of content that is thin and outdated. And according to the theories surrounding content pruning, too much “bad” content on a website can start to impact the overall authority of the domain, including the ability for newer pieces of content to perform well.
By being invested in SEO content, we often find that teams become increasingly invested in the well-being and accuracy of all their website content.
Provides Data-Backed UX Recommendations as Part of the Algorithms’ Rankings System
Similar to what we mentioned earlier about SEO content planning and strategizing, SEO content only works if you’re following the rules for best optimization. And those rules are a tremendous resource for understanding the quality of the user experience on your website.
You can see what users prefer as far as design, responsiveness, loading times, and page layouts by analyzing the top results of your target keyword or related pieces of content. You’ll also start improving your conversion rates and know which CTA is appropriate on any given piece of content by seeing what CTA types exist for other companies writing about similar topics.
Recommended Reading: Assisted Conversions: Understanding the Value of Your Content
Builds Highways Into and Through Your Website via Links
While organic traffic is often the first boost we see as the result of a successful SEO effort, we often notice that building the highest quality SEO content results in something even more valuable.
The more useful and share-worthy a piece of content is, the more people will start to build links from their website to yours. These highways are known as external links, and they serve as a natural pathway for people to visit or return. Additionally, external links serve as one of the ways that Google prioritizes content for “authority.” You can think of gaining external links as similar to being included in someone else’s research paper as a credible source.
We also find that as clients start to recognize the power of building highways into their website, they begin to prioritize what might be the most important set of roadways on a website: internal links. They start asking the key questions:
- How can we move readers most naturally from one piece of content into the next piece of content that they’re likely to be interested in?
- Is there potential to work our product into this piece of content and create links from the content all the way through to a sign-up page?
- Are we missing any important gaps inside of that content experience?
Bonus: Pushes You To Partner With Other Businesses and Influencers
There is a whole lot of conjecture surrounding SEO content as far as the impact of social signals and amplification on rankings. However, as we mentioned above, we know for a fact that getting backlinks is an effective way to build highways into your website.
Sometimes those highways come about naturally, but sometimes, they require intentional efforts on your part.
We find that as people understand the importance of getting their website mentioned on relevant, authoritative, and highly visited channels, it opens their eyes to the importance of content partnerships.
Having your CEO on a well-known industry podcast could get you a backlink in their bio, be shared by other industry leaders, and generate valuable leads. Your team might decide to do a guest post on an industry news website that is also shared via social media, their newsletter, on their website, and your author bio links back to your website.
Not only do these partnerships expand your network, but they build authority and increase the chances of prospects discovering your business.
Start Building SEO Content With an Experienced Team of Marketers
If you’re interested in learning more about how SEO-based content marketing can benefit your company, contact us today to get the conversation started.