SEO and content marketing used to be the very definition of chalk and cheese; two separate disciplines helmed by two, often feuding, departments. But, while some individuals on both sides of the great content/SEO divide are yet to bury the hatchet, the two facets are now closer than ever — with each affecting the performance, success and destiny of the other.
Despite the close-knit bond which has developed between SEO and content, many content marketers are guilty of shunning the technical world of SEO, perhaps hoping that their perfectly-illustrated infographic will be enough to see them to the top of Google’s SERPs. The truth is, content marketers need to have at least some knowledge of current SEO best practice, or else they could flounder in the face of ever-changing algorithms and ranking factors.
Here, we look at five things content marketers should know about SEO.
1. Keyword Research
While the value of relevant keywords has diminished slightly since the early days of SEO, it’s still a vital ranking factor, and one all content marketers need to consider when fleshing out content campaigns. SEOs use keywords to find opportunities on a page which will allow it to achieve a higher rank, and understanding what the relevant keywords are for a certain topic is a great way to begin to plan a piece of content.
There are several simple (and free) tools available which can help you manage keywords, the most well-known of which is, of course, Google’s Keyword Planner tool. We’d also recommend Answer the Public, which offers great insight into specific topics, helping you improve the relevancy of your content whilst targeting the niche, long-tail search terms which people most regularly use. It’s also great for generating fresh new content ideas — something all content marketers will be all-too-pleased to hear.
2. A Sound Knowledge of User Search Behaviour
In a similar vein as keyword research, understanding how users behave in search results can have a big impact on your content marketing strategy. While using SEO-friendly keywords will improve the relevancy of your content, knowing how users interact and engage with articles and blogs, and when, will enable you to spot trends, patterns and seasonality in user behaviour — for increased engagement and ROI.
As with monitoring keywords, there are a number of tools you can use to get a handle on search behaviour — including Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Don’t fancy putting your trust in the search behemoth? Try Searchmetrics. This handy (albeit, rather pricey) tool lets you analyse online search visibility for any site — including your competitors. By gathering data from a few of your brand’s closest competitors, you can discover where their audiences come from and build a competitive strategy for winning their clicks instead.
Understanding search user behaviour might sound suspiciously techy, but considering how people search and what they search for is hugely important when creating a content campaign which meets the needs of your target audience.
3. In Content-Based Link Acquisition We Trust
The term link building is laden with stigma, and is one of those tactics which has, on occasion, seemed destined to disappear into the black hat wilderness. Yet despite the bad press, link acquisition remains one of the most popular and effective strategies for gaining authoritative, high-value links — provided it’s done properly, that is.
From a content marketing perspective, you shouldn’t set out with link building as a primary objective, but instead create something which will be of genuine interest to the user. However, be mindful that quality content will attract the attention of authoritative websites – providing lots of natural, positive PR potential.
In a 2016 study regarding link building, content-based tactics were found to be the most effective, with 78% of respondents agreeing that content publication and promotion, such as guest posting, provided great results from an SEO and content marketing perspective.
4. Recognise Your Most Popular Content — And Repeat
You’ve just published a witty and well-researched article on your blog, only to find it doesn’t perform half as well as you’d hoped — bummer. No matter how well you understand your target audience, it can be hard to determine which pieces of content will be successful, and which will flop. A scatter-brained approach, in which you pump out content on all manner of topics, will only get you so far, and certainly won’t maximise ROI. Instead, you need to determine what works and what doesn’t — and that’s where SEO can help.
Understanding where to find your weakest and strongest performing pieces of content is a veritable goldmine of data for the discerning content marketer, and you can find this information quickly in Google Analytics’ Content Drilldown feature.
This useful tool lets you look at files where all your existing site content is collated, and identify the articles and posts which have performed the best on a page views, unique page views, average time on page and bounce rate basis.
It goes without saying that, when formulating your overall content plan, this should align with the content which is most popular with your audience.
5. KPIs that Meet Your Content and SEO Needs
Implementing appropriate KPIs into your content marketing strategy is key to measuring the performance of your content marketing efforts. And content marketers should have a clear understanding of the types of technical KPIs which are best for measuring the ROI of their strategy.
Below, we’ve listed some of the KPIs normally associated with SEO, which can be helpful in assessing the performance and value of your content:
- Organic search rankings
- Quality of inbound links
- Referring traffic from social media sites
- Unique visits
- Engagement (bounce rate, time on page, etc.)
- Social shares/bookmarks
By implementing any, if not all, of the above KPIs into your content strategy, you’ll be well placed to identify your best performing content, and use this data to dictate your on-going strategy — helping to increase the content authority of your website.
At Banc Media, our Content Marketing and SEO teams work in perfect harmony to deliver exceptional results based on measurable performance and data. To find out more about how we can help you, give us a call on 0345 459 0558 or email [email protected].