Content Creation: An SEO Approach
Since the dawn of time, humans have had a burning desire for knowledge. This flame of understanding has propelled us forward (and sometimes backwards) for thousands of years.
Then came the Internet — and suddenly everything anyone ever wondered had an answer. Even if the answer was suspect. Even if the answer didn’t matter. Armed with a mobile device, we can easily pursue our interests, stay informed, develop new skills, conduct business from afar, or gain an edge in a petty argument.
For forward thinking business professionals looking to improve online visibility, the ability to efficiently create, publish, and distribute content has leveled the playing field. They need only to be imaginative, organized, and diligent in their follow through.
Several factors can derail a content marketing campaign. The virtual world is a dense and disorienting labyrinth — our attention is in high demand. To be successful, content creators must be diligent in the allocation of resources, focusing on efforts with the highest potential to move the needle. To do this, it’s imperative to research what your audience wants and where they hang out.
Content creation is an important aspect of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, particularly in regards to SEO. Properly optimized content can draw relevant organic traffic into your funnel like a moth into a flame.
Read on to learn how content creation can help with your overall SEO strategy.
What is Content Creation?
Content creation is a simple three step process. First, brainstorm topic ideas that are relevant to your customer persona. Second, develop content ideas in mediums that best suit your message — this could be video marketing, a podcast, business blogging, an infographic, or any other format. Third, publish and promote the content to your audience.
Like most things worth doing, content creation is easy to understand and difficult to execute. It takes careful planning, an understanding of your audience, and patience throughout the process.
Why Is Content Creation Important for SEO?
SEO Content creation is an inbound marketing tactic that exchanges the value of free information for the opportunity to nurture a relationship into a transaction. It’s a soft approach that can be very lucrative when done correctly.
This relationship begins organically, when a potential customer enters a search query into Google and discovers a great piece of content that fully answers their question.
How did this happen? Search Engine Optimization.
Your website won’t rank for keywords that your content doesn’t target. In order to rank, you need to be thinking about SEO from the start. This process begins with discovering the needs of your audience and ends with a thoughtful trail of breadcrumbs that search engines interpret as meaningful.
Below are some pointers for SEO content creation. These coincide to help your content rank organically — driving organic traffic through a gathering of keyword rankings. Keep in mind that SEO takes time. Patience and diligence are rewarded with equity.
Creating Content That Ranks
The SEO content creation process is both an art and a science. An art because it requires imagination and creativity, and a science because decisions need to be informed by research and measured in data.
Here are some key considerations when creating content for the purpose of gaining organic rankings.
Understanding Pain Points
There’s no point in creating pointless content. Quite frankly, there’s too much of it as it is. Great content, however, contributes to the growth of business objectives by providing value to potential buyers. The key to creating great content is in understanding your customer’s pain points. Regardless of what product or service your business offers, people open their wallets when their problems are solved.
Learn about your customers and provide them with content that guides them through the customer journey. Taking the time to understand the buyer decision process will provide unlimited opportunities for content ideas. The goal is to create content that not only draws potential customers in, but also nurtures them along the customer journey.
This is done by creating content that targets long-tail keywords. Many of these keywords are lower volume, as they are based on far more specific queries. Over time, you’ll gain rankings for higher volume keywords and the process will start to steamroll.
Don’t Skimp on the Research
Creating useful content to improve your rankings means doing your research. SEO should always begin with research. Once you have an understanding of your customer’s pain points, let it inform the types of content you create as well as the breadth of topics you cover.
If an instructional video about how to use your product would provide the most value to your customers, then make a video. If a blog would help you rank for long-tail keywords related to your business model, invest in that.
Always look at what the next level of competitors are doing — the competitors that are where you want to be. Afterall, they got there by doing things right. Learn from them.
When I begin research for a new piece of content, I generally check out pieces of content that I find useful. This not only helps with generating ideas, but also uncovers a clear path for how to cover a topic. From there, conduct thorough keyword research to refine the idea.
More often than not, I end up creating different content then I set out to create by virtue of knowing how people are searching. Great content isn’t just topical, it’s also structural. To build it into the structure, do your research.
Create an Editorial Calendar
When it comes to creating and publishing content, consistency is important. Whatever frequency you choose to go with, make a commitment to sticking with it. Creating an editorial calendar can be useful here.
While there are many useful tools that can help you make thorough content calendars that look impressive, I find a simple (and free) approach to be adequate. An editorial calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet that contains a title, overview, due date, and a list of keywords to target.
Here’s an example content calendar that you can feel free to use for your own purposes. Check out the related article from Search Engine Journal for context on how to best go about using this content calendar.
You don’t have to get too fancy when creating a content calendar, it’s just a way to stay organized. Find a system that works for you and refine it as you go. It’s a lot easier to create content when you can dive right in and get going. Barriers slow things down — try to remove as many as you can.
For your content to be SEO-friendly, it’s important that the entire process be optimized. Use your knowledge of customer pain points along with the thorough research that you’ve done to inform the creative process.
If your content is a blog post or article, structure it in a way that comprehensively addresses the topic. Use headers and short sentences to improve the user’s experience. We all skim. Few people will read this article in its entirety. For that reason, I’ve made it easy for readers to find what they’re looking for as they scroll down the page.
During the content creation process, stay focused on why you’re creating this content in the first place. If you or a member of your team are capable of creating a great piece of content, that’s great. Do it. If not, outsource it to someone who can.
Optimize Your Content
Before you publish your content, be sure to optimize it. For videos, this means tagging and categorizing it appropriately, as well as including a title and description that contain your targeted keywords. Outfit it with an image that is branded and compelling. You don’t have to settle for whatever random image YouTube chooses for you.
When optimizing a blog post, include internal and external links that make it easier for the reader to navigate to other relevant resources. Additionally, these links will help search engine bots to crawl your site more effectively and efficiently. Add Schema markup, optimize your title and meta description, and add alt text to the images.
The goal is to use the research to target potential customers. This will help your content, that you worked so hard to create, get found organically. When it does get found it needs to be enticing enough that the searcher can’t help but click through.
Quality Over Quantity
Make quality over quantity your primary concern. It’s far better to post great content less frequently than to post mediocre content constantly. The Internet is full of useless, half-baked content. Don’t add to the pile. In an effort to gain traction, many businesses will publish a lot of content that has little or no value.
This is ill advised.
While Google will sometimes reward poor content, the reward is usually temporary. Their primary concern is to provide value to web searchers, ie, answering their questions in a comprehensive and direct fashion.
Sooner or later, weak content is replaced with stronger content in the SERPs. There are too many search engine ranking factors to game the system long-term. Eventually, bad content is demoted for adding little to no value.
Content marketing is part of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. Taking an SEO approach to content can help drive qualified organic traffic to your site. To do this, your content needs to be better than an existing resource on the same topic.
It’s all about adding value.
As part of your research, find well-ranking content that you would like to emulate. A great way to learn is to find out what’s working for someone else and adopt those strengths into your workflow.
Go forth and create!