SEO content strategy

4 May 2023

By: Kieran Read, SEO Content Consultant

Category: Blogs

It’s a common misconception that SEO (search engine optimisation) can suck the joy out of content creation, turning a ‘content strategy’ into a simple checklist task with little room for creativity. In actuality, SEO not only provides a strong set of guidelines which helps your quality content become competitive but can also be a great source of completely fresh article ideas.

In this blog, we’ll look at why enhancing your content strategy with SEO is an essential step towards search engine success, as well as a step-by-step guide into how to get your new SEO content strategy rolling.

Why is content so important for SEO (and vice versa)?

Simply put, content lets search engines like Google and Bing know what your site is and does. Not unlike someone visiting the page, a search engine will literally scan the words on the pages from top to bottom to understand this, then index these pages and make a judgement call on where that given page should rank on SERPs (search engine results pages).

When search engines scan sites, they look for keywords. These are pretty much exactly what they sound like: simple words and phrases that people enter into search engines. They are also known as ‘search queries’, which helps create an important delineation; they’re not always simply one word, instead often a sentence, phrase, or question.

As we want our content to remain relevant and competitive, using keywords as the basis of a strategy allows us to see what topics are currently important within your given industry (AKA, an opportunity to tap into), meaning content has a higher chance of gathering interest and traffic. Remember – your online content can be written to the quality of Shakespeare, but if no one reads it, it’s all for nothing!

How to do keyword research for an SEO content strategy

We’ve now established that keywords are the primary drivers when creating an SEO content strategy. The foundation of any good content strategy should be ‘keyword research’ – essentially, a process in which you create an extensive list of words, phrases and questions your business would ideally rank for on search engines.

There are several methods to assemble this roster of keywords:

  • Common sense: It may sound obvious, but a lot of these keywords should be readily apparent. Create a list of the fundamentals – the service you provide, your highest-selling products, variants/acronyms of your business’ name, and where your business is based. These are all likely candidates for ranking keywords!
  • KPIs: Consider what really means the most to you as a business. What does success look like? Are you planning on expanding into an exciting new area or running any product-specific campaigns?
  • ‘Similar’ keywords: There are various tools which analyse the keywords your site is already ranking for and then tell you the words which are semantically similar, so are potentially also viable (and hopefully easy) ranking opportunities. This is something Sagittarius can help you with!
  • Competitor research: Perhaps the most important and challenging means of keyword research is analysing the keywords which your competitors are ranking for, and making a judgement call on the ones which are viable prospects for your business. Also, what are competitors not ranking for that they should be? Again – Sagittarius can help with this.

Remember – these keywords don’t have to be ones you know you’ll immediately achieve well with. Set yourself a challenge (but be prepared for the data to reflect this)! You can also always create and track different sets of keywords for different purposes; breaking down keywords into categories can actually be very beneficial, such as if your business offers completely separate services. Separation is also especially useful when it comes to…

Branded vs. generic keywords

Understanding how different types of keywords will perform is crucial to tailoring your approach to them and keeping expectations in line. Once you’ve compiled your list of keywords, you’ll likely find a mixture of branded and generic keywords. What are these?

Very simply, branded keywords incorporate or are contextually dependent on your brand – this can be simply your company’s name, a branch-off of the main company or products provided only by the company. These will almost always include your brand name – i.e.
‘apple’, ‘iphone’, ‘apple earbuds’, ‘itunes’ etc. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have ‘generic’ keywords. These have no association to your brand’s name but will obviously be important to you as they’re related to the broader products or services you provide. These won’t include your brand’s name – i.e.,
wireless earbuds, best smartphones, music streaming, etc.

There are benefits to both. Because they’re more niche, branded keywords will have mostly lower search volumes (how many people are literally typing that keyword into search engines), but because you’re being sought out directly, will have a higher click-through-rate (the percentage of people who actually click the link to your site after seeing it on a search engine results page). For this reason, branded keywords will likely always be your highest traffic drivers.

On the other hand, generic terms are much harder to obtain and retain as primary traffic drivers – but they’re the most desirable as they will usually have much far bigger search  volumes, so will get a higher number of impressions (the number of people who see your site link on search engine result pages). These audiences are generally people who are unaware of your brand and/or are shopping around for the correct solution to their problem, and so are potential new prospects.

An effective SEO content strategy will consider both of these types of keywords and. acknowledge that they require different treatment when it comes to content creation. Much of the time, search engines will sort out your branded keywords naturally (how many other companies have your exact name and provide the same service?), so most attention often turns to organic outreach by tackling ‘generic’ keywords, broadly equating to the search for brand-new audiences.

Competitor research: what type of content works best?

SEO content strategy

Once you have your core set of keywords, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to ranking. Taking each keyword on its own merits means analysing what type of content ranks the highest for it. Often, broader generic keywords would benefit from an in-depth article breaking it down conceptually. For product-oriented keywords, you may want to retain focus on optimising the product page with extensive descriptions and FAQs.

It’s also essential that you identify the audience the specific keyword is reaching. The broader the keyword, the more unaware the audience likely is, so content could benefit from being as general yet extensive as possible. This information can all be gathered through competitor research, which is essentially monitoring the types of pages which rank the highest, the audience they are speaking to and working out whether this type of content is appropriate for your business, hence whether the keyword is worth ranking for.

It’s important to remember that the hierarchy of keywords works a bit like the branches of a tree. ‘Parent topics’ are found at the base and are often the absolute core of what you are trying to offer as a business. Branching off from this are more ‘long-tailed’ keywords – usually, specific variants or queries which are about a far more specific niche of the parent topic. Just because one bit of content works for a parent topic, does not mean it will work for the branches of it!

They say that good artists borrow, great artists steal – this is absolutely not the case here! You can get penalised for content duplication by search engines, so ensure you’re never outright echoing what a competitor is saying. That being said, acknowledging common aspects of the high-ranking content and giving it your own spin is very much recommended.

Establishing a content calendar

So, you’ve got a bank of content ideas all grounded in keyword research which are primed for a fighting chance at success on SERPs. What else can help you rank?
You’ll want to start tackling the most important keywords in your list first as noticeable SEO impact can take a while, so prioritisation is key. For this, you’ll also want to closely analyse the ‘search volume’ of each keyword – essentially, how many people are searching for that given term. Search Volumes can be found using tools such as Ahrefs, Moz and Semrush, or through our help!

You ideally wouldn’t want to waste time and resources on content for a keyword with 0-10 global searches per month, for example. You also can’t realistically expect to land within the top ten for a keyword with millions of searches. It’s all about finding an appropriate balance and understanding that it’ll be easier to rank for some keywords than others. Pick your fights accordingly – we recommend starting somewhere in the middle. Both consistency and quantity are also key. Ideally, you’ll be uploading a good amount of content regularly touching on a range of topics. The exact number is very much dictated by the industry you work within, but for a good shot at success, you’ll want two posts a week at the very least.

How to track organic content success

SEO content strategy

It’s essential you track the success of these pages once they have gone live through Google Analytics and Google Search Console, or tools such as Moz, Ahrefs or Semrush. As mentioned above, don’t anticipate immediate success, though – it’ll take a few months for the page to settle, so you can expect some volatile performance prior to this.

Some key metrics you’ll be wanting to track for your keyword, both collectively and individually, include:

  • Impressions: The number of people who have seen your ranking page(s) for this
  • Clicks: The number of people who clicked on your ranking page(s) for this keyword.
    This is hard to control but can be influenced by the implementation of metadata and
  • Click-Through Rate: The percentage of people who have seen your ranking page(s)
    and clicked on them. This is great for understanding whether the content you have
    created is appropriate for the audience search engines have assigned it.
  • Average Position: The average ranking position of your page(s) for this keyword.
    The closer to #1, the better!
  • Search Volume: The number of people searching your given keyword. You have no
    impact over this, but it offers great context as to why your Impressions/Clicks may
    have risen or dropped.

Your keywords are unlikely to drastically change. So, if you’ve put out a piece of content and it’s not achieving as highly as you hoped after a few months, take it back to the drawing board and aim to enhance/optimise it even further. Complete some fresh competitor research, consider new creative queries and insights to include, or simply tweak your copy to include the keywords more seamlessly.

Remember, SEO can be difficult to manage and predict, and your actions do not guarantee high performance! It’s ultimately up to the search engine algorithm to determine where your content will rank – but that’s why persistence in posting and creativity of content, alongside a healthy understanding of your competitors and what achieves well, gives you the greatest fighting chance. Good luck! Or, of course, you can always ask Sagittarius to help.

We are a team of expert digital marketing specialists and a leading Sitecore Agency who have helped hundreds of clients exceed their targets and goals. Contact us to find out more about our SEO services and book a free demo with one of our accredited experts.

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