5 things to consider when taking a content-first approach to SEO

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Austin Lyons serves as the digital strategy manager for CMG Local Solutions. Austin is responsible for educating clients on the unique value proposition of CMG Local Solutions’ digital marketing offerings and coordinating multichannel strategies to ensure client-specific growth goals are achieved. He strongly believes he was destined for his role ever since attending the University of Texas at Austin while majoring in advertising. Since studying advertising, he has been involved in many facets of digital marketing, including analysis, operations, management, sales, and strategy. Austin loves his work because he can take creative ideas and turn them into profitable solutions for his clients, which he also cares very deeply for.

One of the biggest SEO mistakes companies make is within the SEO content strategy itself.

So much time and attention are paid to keywords, page titles, schemas, internal linking, and, of course, the all-important heading tags (think H1s, H2s, and so on) that the actual words on a page become almost an afterthought. This isn’t to say that the technical aspects of search engine optimisation are inconsequential — it’s more that content will always be the catalyst for a successful SEO content strategy.

In fact, just one compelling piece of content backed by a technically sound website can easily help improve a business’s ranking for multiple search terms, either due to search volume or solid intent that drives high-quality traffic. That’s why the importance of content writing in SEO should never be underestimated. Factors surrounding SEO algorithms are always changing, but the one constant is high-quality content.

But again, aiming to increase organic search rankings is only one portion of a successful SEO content strategy. The content also needs to educate visitors, encourage engagement, and differentiate a business from others in the marketplace. Otherwise, it’s difficult to compel consumers to convert to actual customers. And converting readers with your content is the most challenging part.

Think of it like this: Technical SEO is the foundation that allows website content to rank organically in search results. Relevant content is what encourages people to click and linger, whereas high-quality content compels people to take action — be it subscribing, converting, or handing over personal information. Do all three things well regarding content and SEO, and your website becomes an organic lead-generating machine.

How to Write Effective SEO Content

Learning how to write effective SEO content often starts with first getting out of the SEO mindset. You want to stop thinking solely about keywords and page titles and instead focus more on creating the right content for the right audience. It’s all about delivering valuable information at a time when consumers need it most — not writing content exclusively for search engine bots.

Going this route doesn’t just help you avoid some of the biggest SEO mistakes that businesses often make. It can also drive people to your site (and store) and improve those conversion rates. With that in mind, here are just a few things to consider as you bring together quality content and SEO best practices for websites, blog posts, and other marketing materials:

1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Products and services are meant to provide solutions to consumer woes, and it’s important to keep that top of mind when dreaming up content ideas. If you were a member of your target audience, what’s the biggest challenge you’re facing? What really gets under your skin? Think about those pain points and speak to them with your content.

2. Watch the competition.

Sometimes, the fix for a struggling SEO content strategy can be found in the competition’s content. Not that you want to copy a competitor’s approach word for word, but it can certainly give you ideas about what types of content work well for them. It can also help inform timing, channel selection, and more.

3. Understand your niche in the marketplace.

Even if you’re in a relatively saturated market, something about your brand will be unique. Think about what sets you, your product, or your services apart from other players in your industry: Is it customer service? Is it a product feature? Is it user experience? Use this information and answer questions within your content to drive that point across. What do you provide to customers that no one else can?

4. Research topics fully.

Although researching topics might sound obvious, many businesses fail to search the internet to see what’s already out there. Google a topic to review what the competition might be saying — and whether anyone is talking about it at all. Often, the quickest way to see results is with content topics that have decent search volumes, but low competition. Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner are free, easy to use, and can help identify these “holy grail” topics and search terms.

5. Keep content creation in-house when possible.

Lastly, the key to writing effective SEO content often boils down to keeping content creation in-house. After all, you and your team are the experts. Being that time and resources can be limited, however (and especially for small businesses), create a calendar to ensure you set a steady cadence for content creation. Going silent on your own website could hurt your search rank and leave people wondering if you’re still in business at all. On the flip side of this, don’t force yourself to carry out all content creation in-house if it’s just not realistic. In these cases, a great partner can surely help.

Content-first marketing done right not only increases SEO rankings, but also boosts website visits; creates thought leadership; and ultimately drives new conversions, leads, and sales. Just make sure to develop an SEO content strategy that works for your business. You never want to bite off more than you can chew. Start slowly at first, and then grow from there.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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