Everyone knows SEO and content are birds of a feather, right?
Many content marketers I speak to still see SEO as a technical checklist they have to use to get people to their content.
They view SEO is a chore or a necessary evil or, dare I say it, a boring part of their jobs.
Well, they’re wrong.
SEO is a superpower for content marketers.
It’s a direct connection to the customer voice. It’s the radioactive spider bite to the Peter Parker of content strategy. And, most importantly, it’s a way for content marketers to be more creative, not less.
Here are three ways to evangelize SEO to your content marketing colleagues that will are guaranteed to win you some converts (and a closer relationship between SEO and content).
1. Drive Creative Ideation Using Keyword Clouds
Content marketers have a responsibility to do keyword research for their content.
But too often they approach it in a painfully old-school way:
- Find an idea.
- Create the content.
- Ret-con titles, headers, URLs, and other elements to align with keywords.
On enterprise marketing teams, that might be an even more protracted process, with the SEO team providing keyword research to content marketers or optimizing content themselves independent from the content team.
One way our team has made keyword research not just an essential part of the content ideation process, but a creative exercise in itself, is by creating keyword clouds as part of our brainstorming sessions.
In real time we use our own tool to use keyword research as a way to use a kind of data-driven lateral thinking.
We come with ideas for content topics, and start throwing them in our tool to see what comes out the other side.
We then whiteboard new ideas and connected concepts until we find a compelling and unique angle that also serves as a strong keyword strategy outline for the piece of content that feels holistic and true to the topic.
2. Make Content That Lives Forever (Or at Least a Really Long Time)
Have you ever looked back at blog posts from years ago at your company?
It’s like visiting the house you grew up in after other people have lived there for years.
It’s familiar, yet infinitely strange. The hallways are the same, but all the furniture is just weird.
That’s because the vast majority of content we create ends up in a great big ghost town that exists along the edges of our websites.
There are some unicorns of course; pockets of civilization in the wasteland that still get traffic and hold a respectable position on the SERP. But most of it is only doing duty as an exercise in nostalgia.
That’s where SEO can make a huge difference to content marketing teams.
We like to think about it in terms of calories: if you’ve expended calories (effort, budget, time) creating something, don’t you want the most out of it that you possibly can?
To do that, you need to look through your older content to find your candidates for reoptimization and republication.
Reoptimization candidates tend to be more recent. Usually, these are pieces of content that are teetering on the edge of appearing on page 1 of a SERP. They require small adjustments and edits to position them for success for those striking distance keywords.
The higher the monthly search volume on a striking distance keyword, the higher the priority for reoptimization.
Also look at blog posts that showed sudden drops in organic traffic, indicating something new is happening on the SERP or with the post.
Then implement whatever changes are needed to reoptimize your content.
Republication requires some more stringent qualifications for candidacy.
The initial discovery process is the same, but the content itself is outdated or the striking distance keywords the content is ranking for are outside the core subject matter of the piece.
Then the team collaborates to decide if it’s worthwhile to use the older piece of content as a base to create something better that aligns with the current content strategy and the SEO opportunity.
If it is, we add it to the editorial calendar.
If the original content is too misaligned with either the current priorities on the content team or the keyword opportunity, then we have an additional potential source for brand new content.
3. Optimize Content Touchpoints & User Paths
Bounce rate is often the scourge of content teams because it’s hard to understand how to approach it.
It’s great that somebody came to your site and interacted with a piece of content, but it also means we didn’t provide them with a tantalizing next step (i.e., another fantastic piece of content that aligns with what brought them there in the first place).
User paths on a website are where UX, content, and SEO come together.
We need to understand:
- Where people are coming from.
- What appeals to them once they get to us.
- How to get them to the next thing they need.
SEO helps us answer all of those questions, and create a content strategy that reflects the actual behavior of people once you connect with them.
Those word clouds we talked about above? They give us insight into how different search queries connect with each other, and set us up to create multiple content touchpoints to keep people engaged beyond a single interaction.
We can also use SEO to look at the actual user paths from key pieces of content and set up optimized next steps to bring people deeper into the site.
Our SEO and content experts team up with our web development designers to make sure that those user paths are as seamless and comprehensive as possible.
by Christine Schrader