SEO is a massively deep topic. It is easy to get paralyzed by the complexity. I am all for chasing the very valuable last 10 – 20%… but start with a solid foundation.
Here are 5 things every site’s content marketing strategy needs to address in 2019.
- 1Keyword research — Who is searching for this content, are they my audience
- 2Competition — What are the top posts doing – emulate & improve.
- 3Quality counts — Best content for the topic. Great headline, intro, visuals.
- 4On Page SEO — It must help & assist Google’s analysis. It most.rock on mobile.
- 5Content Depth — Update old content. Fill topic gaps with a variety of content
Given the impact of good SEO, there are many in-depth posts about SEO for bloggers and affiliates ( here’s our detailed On and Off Page SEO post).
The objective of this article is not to delve into the minutia. It is to create a baseline. Things that us mere mortals can do without teams of workers and services.
1 — Keyword Research
This is where your content MUST start. You are creating information that draws an audience from search. You must do the keyword research to find the questions and problems your content will address. There are a number of things you must consider:
- Search Intent – There are a few types of search intent. Is someone searching for information about a topic or product? Are they trying to find a review or price for the product? The
- Competitive Content – You find a great topic with buying intent that will resonate with your audience – great. But who else is optimizing for this keyword? If the first 20 search results are all household names with authority much greater than yours – keep looking. If you are a new site looking to gain traction look at low-volume keywords. You can use something like the KGR method to find underserved low volume keywords.
- Topical Relevance – You need to build authority within a topic. Even if you are Googles favored site for solar equipment you will find it difficult to rank an article about a health supplement.
- Gaps in Your Content Collection – I like to use a silo architecture and build clusters of information in each silo. I try to think of each silo as a separate topic and cover all aspects of that subject with a combination of information posts, money pages, infographics, surveys, etc. Usually anchored by a pillar post that strives to be an in-depth introduction to the silo topic. So I am always looking for keywords that will help me fill in the gaps. Competitive research is a great place to find these gaps.
2 — Competitive Content Landscape
I look at a competitor’s content for a few things:
- Keywords they are getting traffic from – It only makes sense to see what keywords your competition is ranking for and factor them into your content marketing strategy. This is a great way to get ideas and fill content gaps in your site.
- Structure of their ranking content – After I have decided on the keyword & topic for the article, I look at the top articles that I want to outrank. Since Google doesn’t give us a recipe for how they are ranking for a given keyword I try to emulate the on-page SEO and improve the content.
3 — Quality & Relevance
Once keywords are selected and competition checked it’s time to create. The actual content is the most important factor. I am always trying to create the best information for my audience. I don’t try to be a generalist. I want to be a specialist who is targeting a very specific group.
My goal is to be laser-focused on topic(keyword) and how it relates to my audience.
I have created technical documentation and non-fiction books like this old chestnut – GoodReads – Mark Ketzler. But writing for a blog or niche site is very different.
You want short sentences and short paragraphs. Simple and familiar vocabulary is best. You need a solid intro with a hook of things to come. You need a great headline.
Content can be much like a sales funnel. You are trying to draw the visitor in from the SERP, hook them with the intro and great content and finally to take the desired action.
We spend a lot of time looking at writing techniques and sources. Visit our articles about content marketing and writing.
4 — On Page SEO
To give your content its best chances for ranking with Google search you need to properly present it to Google. You must help them understand that your page is the best one for their search customer’s query.
This part of SEO can get very nerdy. Particularly if you are using PBN or other situations where you can control anchor text etc.
But there are things that every page really must contain.
- Mobile & performance – Performance is a given. You must have pages that load quickly. This is a strong ranking factor. The page must be optimized for mobile. Not just viewable. Optimized. For example; if I have comparison tables in a review article, I will have two layouts for each table. One is horizontal for desktop and tablet. Another table is stacked item by item for mobile. Consider creating an AMP version of your site.
- Keyword Optimization – You need to optimize your article for the keyword you researched and selected. You want to optimize but not over-optimize. You want your keyword in the title, h1 tag, one image alt attribute and in the first paragraph. That is the minimum. You never really know how much is too much keyword density. What I do is to check the completed document with a tf-idf tool and make it have the equivalent keyword frequency as the leading posts for the keyword. We have an article on tf-idf that can help you.
- Image Optimization – You can get a good amount of traffic from good image management practices.
- Always use descriptive alt attributes
- Use descriptive file names
- Size and compress images before uploading – don’t rely on Smushit etc.
- H tags – Just one H1 tag per post. It should have the keyword in it. H2 tags also help Google understand the context of your post. This is a good place for semantic and secondary keywords. Don’t use tags out of order for formatting reasons.
- Title Meta and slug – Your title and H1 tag should be consistent. They do not need to be identical (though many themes default to this). I make them consistent with the main keyword in both but I do add some semantic type keywords where it works. Your meta description works like an introduction to the article when a user is scanning the search result page. Try to get a hook of some kind in there. Slugs are your URL names. They should be short. Be careful of overoptimizing a keyword by having it in the parent and post portions of the slug.
These are the basic things that all good content needs for on page SEO. If you get these right then your content should rank well within your authority window.
No amount of on-page is going to rank a weaker site’s content above a dominating authority site. This is why you need to choose keywords carfully in the first place and have a strategy.
5 — Create a Variety of Content
The number of websites continues to grow every day. To be competitive you need to do more than just write long-form posts with a few images. In addition, to review articles consider creating:
- Guest roundups
- Case Studies
- Videos and podcasts
- SaaS Tools
Also, keep your old content fresh. I tend to use a silo type architecture with a pillar post for each silo. The pillar posts are always evergreen and updated regularly. But I also update information and other individual posts.
I have an investment in the content so it makes sense to maintain it.
SEO can be overwhelming but can’t be overlooked. Take care of these five things and you will know your content is being presented to Google in its best light.
Finally, remember to promote your content as widely as possible. Get new posts announced in your e-mail campaigns, on your social media sites infographic portals and places like Quora. You made a quality piece … let people know about it.