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Creating SEO Content: A Guide for SEO Content Planning From Start to Finish

February 17, 2021
by
Brenna Lynne
Brenna Lynne
page-2-google-humor

Creating SEO content is all about great research, writing, and attention to technical details. Because 68% of all trackable website traffic is organic or paid search and Google is said to process 5.8 billion searches per day, it’s fair to say that developing your SEO strategy can go a long way towards getting discovered by new leads. The trick is you have to beat out all of your competitors for a coveted first-page spot (which 75% of users never scroll past). 

That is why we’ve created this SEO content guide for beginners which outlines the steps you need to take to optimize your strategy and set yourself up for long term success. Read on to learn SEO, create effective content, and rank #1 in search. 

What is SEO Content? 

SEO content (or search engine optimized content) refers to any piece of text, photos, or video marketing that exists on your website. The structure and substance of that written content affects your search engine rankings. 

There are many different types of SEO content but the most popular options include:  

what-if-i-told-you-blogging-actually-works

         

  • Product Pages - a page on a website where customers can make a purchase or learn more about an offer 
  • Blog Posts - written content that provides information using text, photos, and sometimes videos
  • Short Form Articles - blog posts that average 300-700 words in length and are often preferred by human readers
  • Long-Form Articles - sometimes referred to as skyscraper content or pillar pages, these blog posts can be anywhere from 1,500 to 10,000+ words and are preferred by SEO algorithms 
  • Press Coverage - a news announcement shared with the press for publication that brings increased exposure and backlink opportunities
  • Guides - an educational long-form piece often used as a freebie for email newsletter sign-ups
  • Photos - images you can optimize for better SEO rankings using keywords titles and alt tags
  • Videos - videos you an embed directly onto a web page or link to a third-party host (such as YouTube or Vimeo) 
  • Infographics - a visually interesting presentation of data using colorful illustrations
  • Glossaries - a collection of relevant terms (like this list) your audience can reference 

As you begin to create SEO content, you’ll notice that there are a lot of terms you’ll need to master along the way. Here are a few digital marketing acronyms and abbreviations worth mentioning if you’re a beginner: 

keywords-are-critical-to-your-seo-strategy
  • Keyword Research - the process of researching search terms your target audience might use to find your business online
  • Keyword Optimization - the process of implementing your keyword strategy, as chosen through your keyword research process
  • SERP - stands for “search engine results pages” which are the suggested links to specific parts of websites that match your query
  • Metadata - technical information about a webpage such as creation date, author, and tags that were either manually or automatically added. Colloquially, this may specifically refer to the "title" and "meta description" elements (and historically the "meta keyword"), though it technically encompasses more.
  • Backlinks - a website shortcut to a different page or site

With these important definitions in mind, let’s get into how you can use SEO content to drive traffic, reach the right audience, and grow your sales and leads.

How to Create Great SEO Strategic Content That Gets Results

Follow this step-by-step guide on how to plan and create SEO content. Use the tips, template, and checklist to jumpstart your marketing plan. 

develop-your-seo-strategy

An SEO strategy is a well planned and executed roadmap of data-informed steps based on assumptions, constraints, and big picture goals that evolves over time. It is not simply a list of random “to dos” you try just to say you’ve “done it”. Instead, it’s a complex yet measurable plan of action that aligns marketing with your brand, strikes the right tone, and converts the best target audiences. As can be expected, B2B strategies differ quite a bit compared to customer facing businesses. Over time, applying one to your digital marketing materials can help you land on the first page of results for topics and queries your leads are most interested in. 

  • Narrow down goals

The SEO strategy and content you choose should revolve around your goals. Although you can run multiple campaigns at once, your content is not “one size fits all” when it comes to making a direct impact on your sales, traffic, or branding efforts. Once you’ve honed in on which goals will generate the highest ROI you can begin to craft an SEO strategy that will guide your content choices. 

  • Research your audience

If you already have customers who fit your ideal audience, create profiles on them. Identify what they care about, why they’ve come to your website, and which content type and subject matter combination gets the most response. If you don’t have any current leads that fit your target market, look for industry trends, news sites, and competing blogs they frequent to get some ideas about what you can use in your own SEO content strategy

In addition to the content types and subjects they prefer, note what tone of voice is used throughout as well as what language is used. Are they reading blog posts that are info-dense and heavy on industry jargon? Or are they watching short, casual videos that provide a brief overview of niche ideas and concepts? Look for patterns and plan to test them within your strategy. 

If you need more ideas, you can actually use search engines to source phrases and help you formulate a strategy based on what the algorithm already says is working. 

First, check out what content search engine results pages have chosen to feature on the first page. Take a closer look at the context of what comes up - it might not be as intuitive as you may think. 

For example, when you hear the keyword phrase “what is bone broth”, you may assume that the user is looking for a definition. However, the results show that top results all include recipes for how to make it and why it’s beneficial. So if you want to rank well for this term, your content should include a recipe and benefits plus additional information that will make it stand out. 

Next, examine which angles competitors take with their content for this keyword or phrase. Find ways you can fill in the gaps with missing yet important aspects of the subject your audience may also be interested in. In the bone broth example, there currently aren’t any article previews that include a list of bone broth flavors even though Google allows you to narrow down your search this way. 

search-refinements-illustrate-potential-content-gaps

         

Adding in this crucial detail will help you rank higher than competitors because you have gone above and beyond what the top results have shared. Quality content matters, and part of that is thinking through providing ever more value over time. Top SEO tools and analyzing SERPs will give you guidance on the path to the quality content.

Finally, discover information that will contextualize what the user might be thinking just by looking at the People Also Ask questions section. Try to answer at least a couple of these questions in your content too. 

  • Choose smart topics

Some brands are great at picking low competition keywords and creating content that ranks. Yet they still don’t see an increase in conversions or sales. Why is that? Companies that have this issue are, more often than not, picking subjects that attract leads who aren’t part of their target market. So even if they see an increase in site visitors, those leads aren’t truly interested in their products or services after they’re done with the content. The solution is to choose smart topics that fulfill both your SEO goals and the needs of your desired customer. In other words, honing the heart and soul of selecting the right keywords.

Talk to your sales and customer service team members if you aren’t sure which key questions and concerns your target audience might have, and don't forget to consider the needs of your other marketing channels. Content creation should support the efforts of your email and social media teams at a minimum.

  • Draft content briefs

An SEO content brief outlines all the technical and informational details that need to be included in a piece in order to fulfill your goals. How you choose to structure your content brief is up to you, and how your team likes to work. But your content brief should at least include a potential title, a keyword or phrase, the intended audience, and key information that should be included. 

Here’s a content brief template you can use to get started: 

Title:

Content Details
Target word count or range: 
Brief description of what the article is about: 
Relevant tags, like titles and meta descriptions:
Target audience personas: 
Customer funnel stage target:
Goals: 
Keywords: (include monthly search volume)

People Also Ask Questions from Google Search Results
Question 1
Question 2 
Question 3
Question 4

Top Ranking Results for Primary Keyword
Link to a first page result
Link to a first page result
Link to a first page result
Link to a first page result
Link to a first page result

Internal Links to Include 
Relevant webpage link #1
Relevant webpage link #2
Relevant webpage link #3

  • Create High-Quality Content

Here’s a checklist you can use to create SEO content that ranks well no matter what strategy you choose.  

  • Add subheadings and bulleted lists that break down complex ideas into skimmable steps. 
  • Prioritize action words and use short sentences (14 words or less is ideal). 
  • Write compelling social media descriptions, and don't forget to share them once they are live.
  • Shoot for a readability score that matches that of your target audience
  • Optimize images by adding your target keyword to the file name and alt text. Then reduce the file size to decrease page load times. 
  • Create an SEO-friendly URL
  • Include your chosen keywords into your page title tag, meta description, headline & sub-headlines, and body copy. You can start optimizing content for your existing content first, then build on your efforts with the new landing pages.
  • Link to external sites that are authorities in the subject matter, but are not associated with competitors. Prioritize web page links that are highly useful, relevant, and timely.
  • Add helpful & relevant internal page links at least twice throughout the post. 
  • Make sure that your content offers a comprehensive take on your chosen keyword given the context of related search results and what your competitors have neglected to include in their own pieces. 
  • If rich snippets and structured markup are appropriate given the subject matter, don't forget to include them.
  • Don’t forget to include a CTA (call-to-action). Traffic doesn’t mean much if you are looking to sell products or services.

How To Keep Up Your SEO Momentum 

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Once you’ve mastered how to create SEO content that makes a real impact, you’ll need to create a roadmap that works for you and do these three things for better long term results: 

  • Create an editorial calendar. Consistency is the foundation of any good content strategy. An editorial calendar will help you organize ideas, schedule projects, and publish high-quality pieces on a regular basis. 
  • Analyze and re-assess content on a regular basis. Use performance monitoring platforms such as Google Analytics, MarketingCloudFX, and Animalz to track & monitor your chosen KPIs. Even if you’re already ranking for a few target keywords, you’ll need to keep an eye on performance over time, as new content is published online daily that will require you to reevaluate and tweak published pieces if you want to maintain your domain authority for those search terms. 
  • Hone in on the best topics for your unique audience. Look for patterns among high performing content or webpages. Then use a tool like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo to check your rankings for specific keywords and find new, similar ones your audience might also be interested in. 

Conclusion

SEO content is any digital marketing piece that helps your website rank higher in search, reach the right audiences, and build domain authority over time. Although the SEO content planning process looks straightforward, it is actually quite detailed and complex. Now that you know the basics, you can get started on creating your own SEO content marketing strategy, calendar, and briefs. Or contact us today for help building and executing an expert-level SEO content plan tailored to your goals!

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