In our digital age, content can make or break your brand reputation. The pathway to online business success is paved with compelling, SEO-friendly content strategy.
In the past, advertising alone was enough to prove business credibility to consumers. These days, consumers expect more tangible proof that your business is as great as you say it is. That’s where content marketing comes in. This popular digital marketing tactic involves creating and sharing online content – such as blogs, videos and social media posts – to stimulate interest in your brand and build brand authority.
If a hairstylist places a magazine ad, claiming to be the best in the business, some people might accept the claim at face value. But if the same stylist publishes a compelling video of himself in action, walking the talk, people will be more readily convinced of his expertise.
As more brands adopt content marketing as an essential promotional tactic, a content avalanche is sweeping the digital landscape. In this context, it’s more important than ever to develop a content strategy that will stand out from the crowd and help your brand flourish.
To save your content from drowning in a sea of competitor content, make sure that it’s search engine-friendly – the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) can’t be overstated.
Here are seven shortcuts to developing killer SEO content strategy that will climb search engine ranks without breaking a sweat.
1. Unlock SEO with keywords
When writing for the web, try to use significant, relevant keywords that will boost the visibility of your content in search engine result pages, or SERPs. Strategic, sparing use of keywords in your content will help connect searchers to your website or posts.
But don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing is a problematic practice that can hurt more than it helps. Search engines have cottoned on to keyword stuffing and, when they detect excessive stuffing, you will incur over-optimization penalties.
And readers will pick up on it too. When you jam too many keywords into your content, the repetition makes for a boring read. Instead, you should try to use natural synonyms, to keep the piece fresh and hold readers’ attention.
2. Mind your language when writing headings
If your content starts with a bland, unoriginal headline, most readers will just move along to the next headline. In the era of smartphones, the human attention span has shrunk to less than that of a goldfish. To keep people focused on your content, it had better be compelling – the headline is your hook.
Be playful, clever and thought-provoking while preparing your SEO content strategy. And make sure that your writing is not scandalous or dishonest. Modern audiences are switched on and they know better than to waste their time on click-bait.
Use relevant keywords in your headlines to optimize the content for search – but only if the words fit naturally. If key search terms seem forced, use strong, actionable words in your heading instead.
3. Keep it crisp and compelling
Have you liked, rated or shared any online content lately? What compelled you to engage with the content? Was it informative? Amusing? Original? If you want your content to cut through the noise online, make it fresh and compelling.
When jotting down a content strategy for the web, think about who your audience is and how they are likely to read your content. Mobile Wi-Fi is the norm these days, so much of our reading happens online, on the go and in a disjointed fashion.
For this reason, online content should be crisp, concise, compelling and easy-to-read. Save the mind-bending, flowery stuff for your next novel. Your writing style should be informative but accessible, and easy to digest in bite-sized morsels.
4. The magic word count
Pay attention to the length or word count of each blog post or article. The ideal word count varies, depending on what you hope to achieve with the content. If you are fixated on SEO, longer word counts are usually better. But if you want to boost engagement, keep it short and sweet.
To spark conversation and engage readers, try short posts with 300 words or less. These posts are no SEO dreamboats but they’re great for engagement.
Beef up your posts to the popular 600-word blog standard and you’ll enjoy even more comments and social shares. And for more brand authority and search engine-love, up the ante to 800 words, the typical length of an online newspaper feature.
If search engine ranking is your top priority, aim for a generous count of at least 1500 words. But remember: the quality of the article is as important as the quantity of words. Don’t stuff the article with fluff and filler.
5. The missing link
When you publish content regularly on your website, strategic use of internal links can improve the reader experience and give you a big SEO boost. For example, if our hair stylist friend publishes a blog about the latest perming trends on his website, he might link to the page on his site where clients can book a perm.
Internal linking is an easy, straightforward tactic to improve your SEO. It distributes page authority and ranking power throughout your website. Internal linking also improves site navigation and defines the architecture and hierarchy of your site.
And if publishing on external websites is a part of your content strategy, then it is also wise to include links back to your site where possible.
6. Maintain the right frequency
Publish regularly, but don’t just publish for the sake of publishing. The quality of your content should always have some value for your audience.
A Hubspot study found that companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month experienced almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published four or fewer posts each month.
And your content keeps working for you long after it’s published. If you produce relevant, valuable content, people will keep finding your old blog posts in search and social media for years to come.
The more posts you have on your website; the more inbound traffic the site receives. Ironically, the magical SEO content strategy tip for driving traffic seems to be 401 – an otherwise unlucky number in the digital world. Companies with 401 or more blog posts on their websites get about twice the traffic as companies that have published 301 – 400 posts.
7. Plan ahead with a content calendar
If you publish content on a regular basis, you need to be organized and stay on top of the narrative. There should be some rhyme and reason to every post. The best way to keep things under control is to map out a content calendar.
First, decide which platforms to focus your energy on. Your own website is a great place to start, but you should also try a mix of social media platforms and other websites.
Perhaps you can publish one in-depth blog post on your website each week, and then break down that content into a series of short, snappy social media posts to be published throughout the week. You should also create content that can feature on other websites, to expand your audience.
Sound time-consuming? It doesn’t need to be. Map out your content calendar, month by month, and the process will become fairly streamlined. And to save time on social media publishing, use a tool like HootSuite to do all of your scheduling ahead of time.
In the competitive digital landscape, content strategy is critical. Follow these seven strategic shortcuts to SEO-friendly content writing and your content marketing efforts will reap the rewards for your business.
Have you had any major wins or fails with content marketing? Tell us your story in the comments section below.