Combining your content marketing strategy with your search engine optimization strategy is a delicate balancing act. On one hand, your content marketing strategy is meant to educate, engage, convert, and delight your readers. On the other hand, if your readers can’t even find your content online, what’s the point?
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Marketers have been getting philosophical about the balance between publishing quality content and content only optimized for the search engine game for years.
So, how can we strike that perfect balance?
Here are three things you should consider to successfully combine your content strategy with your SEO strategy so your readers both like your content and are finding your content!
It all starts with your personas and buyer’s journey, folks. (Groundbreaking stuff). Before you even think about building a content OR SEO strategy, you need to consider the people you’re trying to attract, engage, and delight. Hence, relevance within your strategy is the first thing you should consider.
How are you going to make sure you’re getting the right people to your site, and that when they get there they like what they’re seeing? If the people coming to your site aren’t relevant, you don’t care about them, and if your content isn’t relevant to the people coming to your site, they don’t care about you. You’ll break up before you even started dating. Sad, right?
To avoid this, determine who your ideal customers are and figure out what problems or pain points they’re trying to solve along with their needs, wants, and goals. Then, take it a step further and determine the pivotal moments within their education and decision-making process that could stall them in a particular stage and make sure you’re building content to address it.
This is how you’ll determine your content strategy and how you’ll pick pillar topics to optimize your site and content around for search engines. Voila, we’re combining content and SEO strategies together to make magic happen!
So you’ve already considered your personas and their respective buyer’s journeys. Is the magic happening yet? Not quite, but we’re getting there.
Now you’ll want to consider the purpose of your content.
Here’s how I see it. Content has 3 main (but different) purposes:
- Attract the people
- Nurture & convert the people
- Delight the people
Your SEO strategy is focused mostly on attracting the people. Again, you want people to find your content when they’re searching for something, right? That’s why you went through the trouble of figuring out what your ideal customers will be searching for based on the problems they are trying to solve and goals they are trying to achieve.
This is when you create content that is very high level, very optimized for search engines, and very driven by your overall SEO and pillar strategy.
When you’re looking to nurture & convert or delight the people, your strategy is very different and does not need to be driven by your SEO strategy. It should be driven by your content strategy, personas, and buyer’s journey.
Examples of this strategy in action are creating “delight” pieces for current customers like support webinars, training pieces, etc. We don’t really need these to be optimized for search engines based on the overall goal of these pieces, and your customers won’t get any value out of them if you’re trying to stuff them with keywords.
(PSA – don’t ever keyword-stuff your content, even if your goal is to attract the people!)
So, different purposes for your content equals different applications for your SEO and content strategies. Combined, however, they should work together like a well-oiled machine to push people through the funnel and keep ‘em coming back for more.
Now the fun part!
You’ve considered both relevance and purpose in your strategies, but now you need the data to back it up and be truly successful.
From an SEO perspective, you’ll want to use data to see what people are actually searching for. You’ll look at things like monthly average searches and competition when choosing your keyword strategy to ensure you’re optimizing for keywords that are worthwhile. You’ll also look at how your organic traffic and keyword rankings are trending to gauge overall performance.
From a content perspective, you’ll want to use data to see what people are converting on or where you’re struggling to get people to convert or move forward on. Consider things like conversion rates at each stage of the funnel (views to new contact, lead to qualified lead, qualified lead to customer, customer to evangelist, etc.) to help prioritize and adjust your strategy.
From both a content and SEO perspective, you’ll look at metrics like bounce rates and time on page to see how both strategies are performing in unison.
There needs to be some method to the madness, after all.
Remember, a content strategy isn’t solely based on SEO. It’s a delicate balancing act that requires you to consider 1) relevance – what your ideal customer wants or needs, 2) purpose – what is a piece supposed to achieve in the grand scheme of things, and 3) data – is what you’re doing worthwhile and backed by data too?
If you consider these three things, you’ll be able to build sound content and SEO strategies that can combine successfully into one harmonious (and kickass) digital marketing strategy.