By Nicolas Pustilnick

Creating a winning content strategy for both customers and search engines

Content marketing is at the heart of most efficient digital marketing campaigns, offering businesses an excellent opportunity to boost their results. A well-documented content marketing strategy can improve online visibility, create brand awareness and build communities. But, if you want to stand a chance of showing up on the SERPs and boost organic traffic, it is essential to write content that satisfies both users and search engines. One can’t exist without the other.

You can write excellent content that is highly useful for the readers, but if you don’t appear in Google SERPS, no one will ever read it. Also, you may rank number one in Google with a specific piece of content, but if it’s not useful to users, they will leave the website immediately and bounce rates will increase.

Critical Elements of a Content Strategy

So, what are the key elements to take into consideration when creating a content strategy?


Knowing your audience

To make sure you get to your audience, you must understand their lifestyle, concerns, problems, and needs. Looking at the analytics and demographic data to define your buyer persona and their buying journey will help you determine what they are interested in and how they could be persuaded to take action.

Maybe your audience has not even entered the buying journey. But if potential customers have interacted with your brand one way or another, good quality content will draw them into your brand’s universe and will soon turn them into customers.

To create valuable content for a target audience, a talented content marketer would try to find the most important questions people are asking and build content around those questions.

For example, if you want to target women interested in “anti-wrinkle serum”, you should find questions women ask regarding this type of product (benefits,  efficiency, comparisons with similar products etc.), and create specific content answering these questions. Make sure you are using relevant words and phrases that are likely to persuade your public to take action.

Buyer persona template: Moz Academy.

 

 


Performing a full content audit

Performing a full content audit will help you understand which of your pages are already ranking, what can be done to improve existing content and what are the gaps to fill to bring added value to your potential customers and become an established voice in your area of expertise. To become more convincing, you can quote well-known specialists, include engaging video content, add reviews and links to authoritative content.


Identifying the most appropriate type of content

Identifying the best content type to produce is the next step in the creation of a content strategy. Most common content formats are:

If you have decided to create a podcast, you could make the most of your podcast type of content by transcribing the audio into a written piece of content.

Creating in-depth content might increase your chances of getting the Answer Box (ranking zero). The answer box can boost traffic to your website/blog, so earning it would be a big win.


Content Formatting

To make sure you grab users’ attention, you may use different content formatting techniques, such as:

 

Content Planning

Many factors can influence the success of your content strategy. But the critical factor is Consistency. To keep your (potential) customers’ interest alive, you must regularly produce good quality content.

Therefore, creating a content calendar and promotional activities on various social platforms would be the next steps of your content strategy. Details to be included in your content calendar are:

  • Names of the Team members responsible for content
  • Sales funnel stage
  • Content format
  • Due date
  • Publishing date
  • Promotion channel

To create an easy to use content planning, you can try Google Sheets, CoSchedule or the Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin.

To make sure your content is correctly crawled, indexed and well ranked by Google bots, you should also consider SEO best practices, such as:

 

Performing Keyword Research

Some specialists might argue that keywords are no longer essential for SEO, but the truth is keyword are still crucial for understanding the intent behind the queries. The importance of keyword research has not changed. What has indeed changed is the way we conduct keyword research, and the way create content using groups of related keywords (topics, or themes) to satisfy the overall intent of your potential users.

Analyze your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts to identify content which drives more traffic. Also, identify what your competitors are ranking for and search for ways of optimizing your website for the same terms.

Focus on themes rather than keywords and try to produce compelling articles satisfying the intent behind all keywords around a specific theme. Ideally, content is organized in hubs, which could be described as sets of content (usually web pages) organized around a particular topic (usually a central page). It could be a category on a blog or a section of pages on a website. Content hubs are relevant to both web design and ongoing content marketing. As Neil Patel puts it, “a value-packed content hub is your best bet for creating a digital media magnet”.[….] “Your hub centralizes all that you publish to provide its visitors a more interactive and valuable experience”.


Using Meta Tags

Even if meta descriptions won’t always show up as the snippet on the SERPs, it is recommended to optimize them as if they will show up. A well-written meta description is a must as it may improve the click-through rate. To convince people to click, make sure you include the most important keyword at the beginning of the sentence and also add a compelling call to action.

Meta titles are also a major signal for search engines as to what the page is about. When writing the title tag, you should include the main keyword in the beginning and limit it to 60 characters.


Deciding Upon Content-Length

When deciding upon content length, the truth is there is no general rule. If you want to determine how long a piece of content should be, check out the pages that already rank for your target keyword and use them as a guide.

 

Optimizing Website speed for Desktop/Mobile

Another detail to be taken into consideration when optimizing for users and bots is website speed. If you are a marketer, you already know that speed became a direct ranking factor, since Google’s Algorithm Speed Update. But speed can also affect rankings indirectly, as it increases the bounce rate and reduces the time spent by the users on-page.  Statistics show that 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes too long to load. A delay by just one second in page load time can reduce conversions by up to 7%, according to a report on Fast Company.

Many tools monitor site speed and offer optimization instructions. Marketers and developers primarily use GTMetrics, Google Page Speed Insights, and Pingdom.

Prioritizing content above the fold, minimizing server response times and redirects, considering AMP and decreasing your website’s weight could be some winning speed optimization strategies in 2020.

For more ideas on website speed optimization, check out the video below in which John Mueller and Martin Splitt (Webmasters Trend Analyst at Google):

Conclusion

We all know that fresh, good quality content is more rapidly indexed and better ranked by Google than older, lower-quality content. When your content ranks well organically, this has a positive impact on brand awareness, increasing engagement with your business and turning users into customers. Therefore, SEO should be considered an essential part of the overall marketing process, and a correct content strategy should try to satisfy both user intent and search engine bots’ requirements.

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