Content is an integral element of search engine optimization (SEO), so check out columnist Thomas Stern’s handy check-list to ensure your content reaches its full potential.
It’s 2015 and by now you’ve been told, again and again, the importance of developing valuable content to increase your visibility in search. It’s time to cut through the noise and step up with some advice you can actually use to generate results from content development.
The checklist below is intended for marketers to use with their team to identify specific tasks needed to create valuable content that generates results.
We recommend leveraging this check list to guide content marketers and capitalize on opportunities in your industry. Start by documenting your strategy and use this list each time you launch a new campaign to ensure your content reaches its full potential.
Understand How Users Search
Content strategy begins and ends with users in mind. Of course, your end goal is to increase sales, but the best way to achieve that is to keep users top of mind in each phase of your strategy development process.
By understanding your target audience’s online behaviors, interests, and expectations, marketers can develop stronger content that compels users to interact with and talk about your brand.
- Analyze current data from search, social, and other owned assets to identify user trends (top content, sharing/engagement, and demographic data)
- See what content currently appears in search and what competitor content users see when searching for related terms and keywords
- Examine competitor content strategies to understand what content your audience currently sees in search Identify what users want and expect from your brand
- Create a story from your data that identifies trends, behaviors, and interests to develop personas for unique audience segments
Optimize For Users
With users in mind, your content should be formed around the interests of audience segments to offer more value. Targeting your content will draw stronger followings and deliver more quality leads. While achieving high search rankings for keyword targeted content is valuable, speaking to an audience is what drives engagement and conversions.
Identify how your post will offer value through education or entertainment and create content worth sharing
Support your ideas with references to validated, external sources to increase credibility and authority
Build your content around the topics and keyword phrases your audience is searching for to increase exposure
Keep content “human” in delivery that is easily digestible and appropriate for your audience segments
Establish your brand’s tone and voice in individual channels to create unique content that contributes to your overall focus and strategy
Explore different content mediums and delivery channels to determine what methods generates the highest engagement
Keep the limitations and unique features of mobile in mind when crafting content to ensure all users have a consistent and quality experience
Optimize For Search Engines
High performing content is a balance between users and search engines. Just as your content needs to quickly capture the attention of a user and clearly deliver value, search engines require the same consideration.
Optimize your content and distribution channels to help search engines make connections between your content and the information your audience is searching for. Be careful to keep your content “human,” as search engines have evolved to respond to quality more than over-optimization techniques such as keyword stuffing.
- Maintain a consistent schedule and focus by creating a content calendar that identifies topics and keywords for each piece of content
- Integrate keywords into content and back-end optimization such as headlines, page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions
- Leverage tools to audit content for SEO such as Yoast for WordPress
- Create unique pages for content to earn authority for individual assets
- Generate quality links from bloggers and trustworthy publications to help search engines connect content with keywords
- Perform periodic audits to discover and fix any broken links
- When applicable, optimize content for local search with unique pages and detailed information for individual locations
- Create an XML sitemap and submit to Google and Bing to assist in indexing pages
- Amplify content with paid media to increase visibility across the web
Measure & Improve
Your data tells a story of the obstacles faced and opportunities created from your brand’s content and distribution, and analyzing this data provides a path to develop stronger campaigns. By understanding how audiences interact with content, marketers can hone their focus to increase visibility, engagement and conversions.
- Pull reports from all owned, earned, and paid channels and identify patterns of engagement and interest
- Leverage tools in analytics platforms to discover what content drives more traffic and action from users
- Define clear goals in Google Analytics to monitor how content influences your conversion funnel and sales cycle
- Monitor Google Webmaster Tools to look for site errors than can inhibit exposure in search
- See how users move across your website and content with click tracking and heat mapping tools such as Crazy Egg
- Use data to understand what content mediums, focus, tone, and distribution channels result in the highest engagement
Leverage this checklist to create stronger, more visible content by understanding which components of your digital strategy to monitor. By viewing SEO and content marketing as partners, your brand can put the right content in front of the right users with timely precision. Always keep your content top of mind and current by revisiting your strategy throughout the year.