Current search engine marketing strategies see an increased focus on quality content and an enhanced user experience.
Because organic search continues to be a leading source of traffic; a large part of providing user-friendly content means content that is easy to find. Creating a challenging task of how to satisfy what search engines need and what users want.
Integrate Search Engine Needs with User Needs
In order to write user-friendly content that ranks search engine thinking needs to be involved in every step of the content marketing process: audience research, writing, optimization, promotion and measurement.
This article shares our 5 steps to integrating search engine optimization with content marketing. This is how to write blogs that rank.
5 steps to SEO Content Creation:
1. Audience Research
How are users currently searching for the content you provide?
Understanding user needs and behaviors will help focus content creation efforts, preventing the wasted effort of creating content that doesn’t perform well.
Notice this stage is purposefully titled “audience research” because understanding how your audience searches and uses information online is more detailed then downloading a spreadsheet of keyword volume / competition density. As you research keywords, consider the impact of Google AI and how search engines are getting even better at conversational search. Proper keyword research puts yourself in your users’ shoes and understands how they are currently searching.
When audience research is done well this supercharges content creation by finding the “sweet spot.” The optimum balance between a user’s need, the product/service, and how users actively use the web.
2. Empower Content Writers
Many writers are aware of the value of keyword research and the positive impact ranking has for a business. While working with inbound marketing teams, I found that writers are generally motivated to write content that performs well in organic search.
Content writers will benefit from learning basic on-page optimization such as how to edit titles, header tags, meta tags, image tags and the page URL. When writers are empowered with SEO skills, content will is search engine friendly right out of the gate.
When SEO thinking is seamlessly integrated into the content writing workflow, search engine optimization is no longer seen as an obstacle, but important to the process of creating quality content.
3. Technical SEO
Empowering writers to make content naturally search friendly is a huge leap toward organic traffic success.
Having a technical SEO consultant review blog articles before publishing will ensure they are fully optimized for search. We look at the site as a whole and are able to build linking silos to support key “money pages,” and include the proper schema markup.
4. Publishing and Promotion
Creating a smooth publishing process is essential to success. This largely depends on how you well the SEO, social media and link building team work together.
Search Thinking: Questions to consider when Publishing an Article
- Review internal link structures. Are articles linked to relevant pages and how.
- Are the linking sites relevant to both the content and the keywords that content is being optimized for?
- What sites link to your competitor’s similar pages and what is the DA?
- Are there any relevant broken links?
Backlink activity continues to grow organically with time, be sure to create a spreadsheet and follow up periodically after content is published.
5. Measuring Return on Investment
Companies are seeking to invest in content at a record pace, putting the pressure on marketing agencies to show a profitable return on investment. Once the content is published, you need to know how it is performing against KPIs (key performance indicators.)
- What is the average page rank in the target location?
- What is the conversion rate for that article?
- What is the monetary value of the page?
Tracking overall traffic from organic search is simply not enough. To determine if the organic search traffic is accomplishing business goals you need to know page rank, estimated keyword volume and conversion rate.
Be sure to have a plan of what to do with this data. What can be learned from actual performance that can be applied to future SEO and content creation efforts?
SEO-Centric Content Writing
A true content strategy is SEO-centric. Search engine thinking needs to integrate into every step of the content marketing process: audience research, writing, optimization, promotion and measurement.
Keywords are a core component to SEO, but SEO is not exclusively about keywords, and the use of keyword data has changed.
Successful inbound marketing strategies are built from a foundation of knowing what the audience wants. To stay competitive you also need to know how they look for what they want. Super charge content marketing strategies by integrating search engine needs with human and business needs. This is the key to successful campaigns.
Organizing Content Creation
Communication is becoming more involved. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the multitude of audiences and channels requiring your attention.
There is prospecting new customers, retaining current customers and converting those in the marketing funnel.
Should the content be text, graphic or video? Which social channels will be used? Are Ads necessary?
How can we ensure the content reaches the right audience at the right time? Do we need to continuously pay for Ads?
Thankfully, there are a number of editorial tips and tools to make creating optimized content simple.
Content Creation Organization Tips
Organize content ideas as they spark up in Evernote or Google Drive Folders.
These can be ideas that come from emails with clients, an interesting discussion in a social thread or something you were explaining to a colleague.
Folders should start with the broadest subject and niche down just as you would a website structure.
For example we may have the main folder as “Content Creation,” with sub-folders such as “Content Calendars,” “Content Writers,” “Content Marketing ROI,” etc.
Content Marketing Goals
Write with a specific goal in mind, do not create content for the sake of creating content.
Know your audience, know which channel they prefer to hear the information from and what unique language they use.
Aso, know what action you want them to take with this content, how does it lead the user closer to completing the end goal of purchasing a product or registering for your services.
The bulk of this step will be completed by your SEO team member. An SEO will map out a content plan based on what is needed to rank for the target key terms and when that content needs to be published into a content calendar.
Create a Content Calendar
Creating a content calendar based on user trends will be sure to get your brand in front of your audience at the time of year they’re looking for it.
The next step is adding in the content editorial information, who will be responsible for writing which pieces, editing, graphics, publishing, etc.
An editorial calendar saves you from creating content willy-nilly and finding out months later that the content isn’t ranking or that yikes – no one ever finished writing it.
There’s no wrong way to set up your editorial calendar, as long as it’s meeting your needs. Pick the one that’s right for your team:
- Google Calendar with post titles written on each day
- Excel or Google Doc with authors and post titles
- Project management software (We love ClickUp.)
The content editorial tool doesn’t matter as long as your team is on board and the people who need to can easily access the document.
Hiring SEO Content Writers
Once the editorial calendar is laid out, you may realize that your current staff does not have the bandwidth to carry it out in an efficient manner.
At this point, you will need to hire content writers who understand how to integrate seo with user experience.
It’s easy to find people (and agencies) who claim to write optimized content – they’re everywhere.
Finding the best ones? That’s a daunting task many business owners face because you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.
So, how do you find exceptional seo content writers? There are a vast number of freelance platforms but your best bet is going to be contacting a contributor you enjoy at your favorite online publication or referrals from trusted colleagues.
When interviewing writers ask for a live writing example and have them walk you through the article. Look for the following basic SEO factors.
Is there a ‘focus keyword’?
Several factors come into play when trying to rank a web page, but your writer needs to know how to control things on the keyword side.
When reviewing their writing samples; check that the focus keyword is clear. It should be in the title of the article, opening paragraph and naturally throughout the content copy.
Are title tags and H tags used properly?
Essentially, your SEO writer should understand search engines and use title tags to understand what the website is about and how to use them to attract clicks from potential customers in search results.
What is the internal linking strategy?
Internal linking is a major key to search ranking so it is important that your writers have this in their set of onpage seo tools.
They should know how to create an internal linking silo connecting old and new articles in a cohesive manner to help fully communicate the topic.
Internal linking helps:
- Communicate the relevance and value of your pages.
- Demonstrate that your site contains in-depth content about the topic.
- Ease of navigation — a high quality site is well-structured.
But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts. There are two key anchor text elements:
- [Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to.
- [Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long.
Is the appropriate Schema implemented?
An seo content writer should be well-versed in schema markup. Schema is a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs.
Structured data can be used to mark up all kinds of items from news articles to FAQs to videos and more.
Does your writing candidate know the difference between article schema and blog schema?
Are they able to write cohesive long-form content?
According to 2020 research published by Backlinko the average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.
Is your candidate able to write engaging long-form content? In other words, can they keep people reading a page for several minutes? Is the content copy persuasive in leading the reader to the desired action.
Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content.
These writers are everywhere but here’s the thing — you get what you pay for.
SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. Before you open your wallet get a writing sample, ask the questions in this guide, and ensure you get what you pay for by measuring the campaign’s success.
Measuring SEO Content Success
A well-designed and optimized campaign will continue to bring quality leads to your website long after the invoice is paid.
In fact, for every dollar spent, content marketing generates 3X the leads you’d get with traditional marketing.
The content marketing agency or freelance writer you partner with should be able to quantify that feeling into a visually compelling report that measures the success of the content campaign.
Kayle Larkin covered this topic well in an article published in Search Engine Journal. For our purpose here we will focus on calculating the content ROI.
Content ROI is measured by dividing the goal value by the cost of your content marketing implementation: strategy, writers, search engine optimization, management, etc.
First, you need to know the cost of your investment. Add up the expense for each step involved in creating, launching, and reporting on a campaign.
- $3,000 campaign strategy.
- $5,000 for 4 articles, 1 landing page and 1 downloadable or quiz.
- $2,000 search engine optimization + reporting.
Total Content Marketing Investment = $10,000 per campaign
Now, let’s calculate the return.
Return on Content Marketing
Jot down the average percent of leads (or downloads) that turn into a sale. And, what the lifetime value of that partnership is.
In other words, what is the average consumer’s profit margin over the course of their relationship with your company?
Number of Customers Example:
- Campaign average monthly traffic: 5,000
- Conversion rate to lead: 2%
- 100 leads
- Closing conversion rate (lead to sale): 2%
- Customers attributed to the campaign per month: 2
Customer Lifetime Value Example:
- Average customer contract is $90,000
- X average duration (3 years) = $270,000
- Profit margin per client is 15%
- Average customer lifetime value is $40,500
- CLV x # of new customers = $81,000
Content Marketing ROI Formula
Content marketing ROI can be calculated by multiplying customer lifetime value by the number of new customers per month minus cost of investment divided by cost of investment.
($40,500 x 2) – $10,000 / $10,000
($81,000 – $10,000) / $10,000
$71,000 / $10,000 = 7.1
The ROI for this content marketing campaign example is 710%.
How Soon Can You Expect to See the Return?
When content strategies are intentional and built on a solid audience analysis, you can begin seeing results as early as two weeks of indexing.
Larkin SEO has been providing search engine optimization services since 2008. Ensuring content marketing agencies are targeting the key phrases users are searching, on the platform users are engaging with.
To learn more about our seo content creation, send a note here.