STOP WRITING: Create an content strategy plan for SEO first
The point of having a website for most of you is to receive traffic and sell the user on an action. It could be to subscribe, to purchase a product or service, to provide information on a subject and/or all of the above. Having a strategy plan for SEO with benchmarks and goals is necessary to fully take advantage of your website content.
In most cases there are two things that need to happen.
- You need to get users to your site
- You have to convert those users into a customer
Often times we look at how many users visit a website as a matrix to our success and failure without going deeper into the analytics. Getting users to your site isn’t brain surgery. Getting the right users, getting the users that will become a customer is what takes work and a strategy.
The less focused your SEO strategy and overall digital strategy is, the more likely it is that it will take a lot more site visitors to get the conversions you need to be successful.
Writing content is a lot of work, let’s make sure it was and is a worthwhile exercise.
The steps of creating an SEO content strategy plan
Determine what success looks like
Before you begin researching keywords and writing content, you should have an idea of what success to you looks like. How many sales, customers, subscriptions are you after? Simply saying “more” isn’t helpful. You need a series of goals to reach for.
Separate your organic SEO goals with your overall traffic goals
It’s important to separate your goals out. We are creating a content strategy plan for organic SEO. We should have goals and KPIs specific to organic search engine traffic.
High-level goals like: Traffic and conversions specifically for traffic from organic search.
Once we determine what those goals are, there are lower-level KPIs and goals, we can set to help achieve our high-level goals.
These could be KPIs like:
Topic / channels.
Top performing pages.
Who is your target audience
Who you are targeting can determine what topics you write about and even your writing style.
If you are a business that only services local customers, your content should be heavily focused on local SEO.
What does your target audience need answers to? What will help them and provide value?
Who are your competitors
One of the great and sometimes bad things about the Internet, is that it’s highly public. You can see what other websites are targeting, what they are writing about, where they are ranking and focused. This information can be incredibly valuable.
Before I write an article in order to target certain keywords, I’ll search for those specific keywords and/or that particular topic and see what other websites are writing about and what they are targeting. Sometimes I will end up taking a different spin with the content, sometimes I won’t write the article at all.
Even if you are writing your first article or page, you should have a plan of what the content on your website will look like. Having topics planned out, will help your blog have consistent content and tell the user what your website is about and your expertise.
An example is this blog. The main topics we do and will cover is SEO, website design and development. That is because those are the services we offer.
Keyword research plan ahead
One of the biggest issues I see from website owners in regards to their SEO is their failure to either not do keyword research at all or doing so after the article has been written.
To achieve traffic from SEO, it is important to target keywords, phrases that people are actually searching for. You would be amazed at how many times I figured people were searching for one thing when it turned out they were searching for something else that was related.
The article should be about the keywords that you are targeting. It should also be naturally written with those keywords in-mind. While it’s not impossible to optimize an article already written for a set of keywords, the results overall will be better and easier if you research before the article is written.
Creating your research far in advance
This article is about creating an SEO content plan. Plan = planning.
This is what I do and by doing so, you can do a lot of your research all at once, you can mold your website for your target audience and goals and you don’t have to figure out what to write about each week.
- Create an initial set of high-level short-tail keywords within the various topics you’ve selected. An example for this blog would be web design, web development, wordpress, google analytics, analytics, SEO and so on.
- Create a sublist of keywords for each of those higher-level keywords. With a keyword like SEO, it could lead to lower level keywords like keyword tracking, content strategy, local SEO, paid search and so on.
- Create a sublist of short-tail and long-tail keywords. With a keyword like “local seo” I could find keywords like local search marketing, local business SEO, local SEO tips.
Remember to organize the keywords within their groups and sub groups. I also group those keywords further so that primary and secondary keywords can be visible.
Make sure you are listing the important info about the keywords in your list. Things like how often they are searched, how many websites also contain those keywords and so on. A list of keywords without that info isn’t super helpful.
By doing this all at once, it greatly helps you plan out your future content and more easily. I try to map out between 5 to 10 articles in advance, sometimes more. The research will also help you decide what to write about and give you ideas.
Tracking is vital to knowing what is working and what isn’t. Make sure you are using tools like Google Tag Manager to track click events on your CTAs. Your conversion percentages will most likely be different depending upon how the users are arriving to the site. It can also vary depending upon which article or page the user happened upon.
This data can help you determine what content is resonating with the users. That info can help you write future articles and even promote others through paid search and social.
Like I always say, organic SEO is the gift that keeps on giving. After you’ve spent the time developing a strategy, doing the keyword research and writing the content, the traffic you will receive for years to come is free for the most part.
I’ve never been a believer in placing one’s eggs in one basket. Your organic SEO content strategy should be only one component in your overall digital strategy. This includes paid search, social (both paid and outreach), email marketing, and possibly banner advertising. Obviously though, the more successful your organic SEO for your site is, the less you will have to pay for your customers which equates to a high overall ROI.