“Content is the reason search began in the first place.”
— Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing
In a mere two years, it is predicted that content marketing will become a $300 billion industry.
This figure should come as no surprise considering the unfathomable amount of content that is produced each and every day.
The problem for small business owners, however, is competing in the content arena as seemingly every business on Earth is busy pumping out blogs, articles, videos, infographics and every other form of content available.
Content creation only becomes more difficult as the noise significantly increases and search algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird takes power away from keywords and the Panda algorithm demotes “thin content.”
All of this means that content needs to be more informative, valuable, unique and optimized for user intent and search engines.
While you should never write content with search engines in mind, you do need to consider how your content is viewed and analyzed by these bots; and that’s what SEO is all about.
If your brand is struggling to produce meaningful results with its content marketing efforts, here is everything you need to know about optimizing your materials for SEO purposes.
Know Every Little Detail about Your Audience
In order to develop content that will rank well, you need to write materials people actually want to read. This means that you need to first understand your audience’s interests, pain points, behaviors and other defining characteristics.
This can’t be accomplished via guesswork. The easiest way to ascertain these details is to ask your audience who they are, where they live, what they love, etc. Voice of the Customer surveys are priceless in determining these attributes.
Additionally, creating buyer personas will help to identify potential interests and struggles that you could create content to address.
Doing these two tasks will let you know who you are writing for and what they are seeking.
Your research, however, should not end there. . .
Study the Competition
You have competitors in your niche who are producing their own content, so study the topics they are covering and determine how the content is performing. This will help you identify unrealized opportunities and not produce similar materials that end up underperforming. Likewise, if you tackle the same topics as your top competitors, do so with more detail, intrigue and value.
Tools like QuickSprout and Buzzsumo can help you understand more about your competitor’s strategies, how to optimize your own materials, and outrank your rivals.
Identify Prosperous Keywords
While keyword implementation is no longer as powerful as user intent, it is still a necessary strategy for targeting specific topics and consumer intentions.
Conduct keyword research for any prosperous content ideas you may have along with what people are searching for in your industry. Then, begin to pair those phrases with the user’s intent to formulate content that addresses the consumer’s need.
Document Your Strategy
This is a big one. This falls in line with the old adage, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Sixty-eight percent of B2B marketers confess to having no documented content strategy and 60 percent of B2B content never sees the light of day. See the correlation? Content that doesn’t fall in a focused strategy is often a wasted effort.
A well-documented content strategy will help you to ensure that you have enough content planned to generate buzz and keep conversations flowing about your products and services.
Create and Optimize Content
With your keywords and strategy in hand, begin developing content on your selected topics. Of course, use your keywords, but do so sparingly. The goal is to write content that flows naturally and serves to answer the user’s search query.
Additionally, be sure to leverage your chosen keywords in specific areas; in your H1, H2, H3 and H4 headings. You will also want to include them in your content’s URL, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Don’t Neglect Images
Image optimization is a crucial component to SEO, yet scads of marketers, business owners, and bloggers fail to implement this strategy.
To effectively leverage images for SEO purposes, it is vital that you utilize keywords for the image’s file name; be sure to use your most important keyword first.
Additionally, include a brief description of the image in the corresponding field. Again, don’t stuff these areas and ensure that the name and description is accurate and flows naturally.
Create Magnificent Meta Descriptions
While meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on SEO, they do have a direct impact on a user’s perception of your page and if they will visit it; the more clicks you get, the better for your rankings.
To effectively drive users to your page from the SERPs, write an alluring and accurate description of the page and what problems it solves. This is easier said than done, but with a bit of practice and a heaping dose of dedication, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s the reaction of your audience that matters; content with loads of clicks from search engines has hit the mark.
Utilize URLs to the Fullest
URLs play an important role in how a page ranks. A URL that is rich (but not stuffed) in keywords has a tendency to rank better than those that are less relevant to the page’s content offerings.
Here you will want to include any keywords or phrases (including long-tailed ones) to provide search engines with further context about the page.
Similar to meta descriptions, social media does not have any direct impact on SEO, but by promoting your content across these destinations, you are driving more clicks and visits; this ultimately does affect your SEO ranking.
Be sure to promote your blogs, infographics, videos, and other forms of content across your social channels to drive clicks, shares and other forms of engagement.
If your budget permits, promoting your content with social media ads is a great way to boost the awareness and prominence of your content.
Using these steps, you can optimize your content like a boss. Each task above helps you to achieve greater search engine rankings. Just be sure to create comprehensive content that addresses the user’s needs; that is the secret sauce that makes the whole process powerful.