How Can Content Marketing Boost Your SEO?

In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Roketto is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in Canada . Check out their profile!

Every customer is a researcher.

Before they purchase your product or service, they’re going to be spending time devouring content about their pain point and what solutions are available to solve it. Your potential customer will be reading articles and reviews, browsing websites, and asking colleagues, friends, and family for their opinions.

The point of marketing is to capture the attention of your customers during this process and guide them to your product as the perfect solution. This is often done through a holistic marketing strategy that includes advertising, website optimization, and of course, content marketing.

Content marketing is often touted as one of the most effective methods to reach target audiences, develop brand awareness, and solidify your company’s position as an expert in a particular category.

One of the ways you can use content marketing to reach your audience is through writing SEO-focused articles. The blog posts can not only showcase your expertise on a topic, but if done correctly, they can also serve your audience’s search intent and guide customers to your website, which will give a huge boost to your SEO.

Sounds easy enough, but a good blog content marketing strategy needs careful planning, including using data-driven research to inform what topics you write about and how to write about those topics effectively.

Let’s get started by defining content marketing and SEO, and getting into the nitty-gritty of how they work together hand in hand.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing refers to the whole process of creating, distributing, and amplifying content (blogs, social media posts, whitepapers, e-books, videos, podcasts, etc.) to serve a target audience. 

This media is created to target customers at different stages of their buying journey , either the awareness stage, consideration stage, or purchase stage. 

  • At the awareness stage, the customer is aware of a problem they are facing
  • At the consideration stage, the customer is searching for a solution to that problem
  • At the purchase stage, the customer is ready to choose a solution

The point of content marketing efforts is to engage and entice both existing and potential customers so that they will remember your company as a trusted resource for information and a place to buy from. 

This is why many companies view content marketing as a fundamental part of their marketing strategy. In fact, 82% of companies surveyed in the 2021 HubSpot State of Marketing report said that they actively use content marketing. Among companies that haven’t developed a content marketing strategy yet, 28% plan on investing in one, which is up from 17% in 2020.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of fine-tuning your website and content to improve your website’s visibility on search engine results pages. In other words, you use SEO to help your website show up when someone types out a relevant query into an online search engine.

For this article, we’ll be focusing on organic SEO, which is explained in more detail below.

With organic SEO, when someone types a query into a search engine like Google, the algorithm sifts through millions of pages of website content like a librarian to deliver the best results to the user based on that query. It uses a ton of different ranking factors to influence which results get delivered and which don’t. 

Google ranks web pages, social media posts, forum posts, and more in organic search results based on the following factors:

  • If the content fits within the context of your search (location, search activity, freshness signals , and personalization based on your Google account)
  • If the content is high-quality and reliable
  • If the websites served as search results are easily navigable and user-friendly

There’s always a lot of discussion among content creators that target organic search rankings surrounding the who, what, when, where, and why with how Google ranks content. It’s easy to get caught up in these discussions and focus too much on over-optimizing your content so it follows every ranking convention that an organic content creator asserts is the most important.

But realistically, the best way to ensure your content ranks is to create valuable content that serves the user. This involves careful consideration of searcher intent, which we’ll get into more later in this article. 

SEO Professionals

Because there are so many factors that influence when and if a web page will show in search results, there are different types of SEO professionals that target different aspects of a webpage to ensure it’s ready for search engines. 

  • Content marketers create, curate, and distribute relevant content to a target audience, including blog articles, social media posts, and more.

  • Digital Marketers often handle paid SEO initiatives, like PPC advertising through Google as well as other digital advertising like social media. They may delve into organic SEO as well from a strategic perspective.
  • Technical SEOs take a deep dive into a webpage and the overall website to ensure that it loads fast, is responsive on mobile devices, and that the code is easy for search engines to understand.
  • Website developers and designers ensure that the website itself is easy to navigate, follows a logical structure, and looks nice.
  • Copywriters write web page content that is a mix of describing what a product is using relevant keywords and enticing customers to buy it.

Out of these professions related to SEO, you’ve probably noticed that two of them focus on content. That’s because, for search engines, content truly is king.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work Together

Without content, we’d have no reason for SEO. Without SEO, there’d be no way to ensure that our content is delivered to the right people. That’s why the majority of SEO is structured around content marketing because without content, there wouldn’t be anything for search engines to deliver to users.

Keywords and Searcher Intent

To understand the relationship between SEO and content marketing, we have to talk about keywords. You’ve likely heard of them, specific words that set search engines off like a lightbulb when they find a web page that matches those words with what a user typed into the search bar. 

It’s always tempting for writers to use as many keywords as possible in an article to increase the possibility of that content showing up in search results, but it’s important to be strategic with keyword use to ensure that your content doesn’t read like it was written by a robot.

This is why from a content marketing perspective, you should write content that serves users first and search engines second. 

As algorithms become more intelligent with understanding the nuances of a user’s search query, content that’s written in natural language is more likely to rank higher than something that’s keyword stuffy or doesn’t provide good information.

The SEO Benefits of Content Marketing

You’ve likely started to connect the dots that doing SEO content marketing properly has effective benefits. These benefits can impact every aspect of your business, from visibility to sales. Let’s explore them further.

Gain More and Better Leads

When it comes to marketing priorities, 70% of marketers are focused on converting leads to customers. But first, you have to attract those leads to your website.

When a website can target a specific searcher’s intent through great content, that searcher is more likely to be a great lead.

Potential leads in the research phase can be captured with SEO writing that answers the more specific questions that prospects have, helping them become more confident with moving forward in the sales process.

Using intent data and keyword research, content marketers can gain more insight into the specifics of what their customers are searching for, and use that data to influence blog content strategy to push better quality leads to their website.

Build Brand Awareness

If nobody knows your business exists, how are you supposed to sell your product? Content marketing is a great way to showcase your business to potential customers by highlighting what makes your brand different from all your competitors, and what your values are as a business. 

In other words, content marketing focused on brand awareness isn’t about selling, it’s about education. You want to provide useful information to your customers about your company and your industry by injecting personality and opinions into your content that represent the image that you want your brand to be known for.

Position Your Company as an Authority in Your Industry

If you consistently produce high-quality content that helps people, then people will start recognizing your company as an authority in your industry. This requires more than just writing SEO-focused articles and posting them (although that DOES help a lot, or we wouldn’t be writing this article) you need influencers in your industry to amplify your content as well. You may have it happen organically over time, but the best way is to plan out how your content will reach your audience beyond search results.

This means asking the question, “Who will amplify this, and why? ”. You can start by reaching out to your network through social media or other means and encouraging them to read and share your content if they find it useful, and otherwise involve external stakeholders to raise awareness surrounding your content. In other words, the more people who share your content, the more people will see it.

Can Help you Achieve New Rankings

Especially through content writing, you can target a plethora of keywords to serve two purposes: provide useful and relevant information to your target audience, and increase your organic search rankings for more queries.

This directly affects the other three points in this section, because through writing articles that target a variety of keywords relevant to your business, you’re building brand awareness, increasing the likelihood of quality leads visiting your website, and positioning your company as an authority in your industry. 

This, in turn, will positively affect your rankings on search engines as more people engage with your content and your brand becomes more visible. See how everything comes full circle?

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6 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

Now that you understand the benefits of content marketing, let’s take a closer look at ways you can improve your content marketing strategy today. 

Identifying Your Searcher’s Intent Using Keyword Research

We touched a bit on keywords and what they mean earlier in the post, but how can you identify which keywords searchers are likely to use?

Through keyword research.

To perform keyword research for a blog post, you need to start by considering which blog topics you want to write about. These topics should be relevant to your business and match your audience’s interests. 

Before we even start doing keyword research for our clients at Roketto, we want to make sure that we have a comprehensive understanding of their business. We have a business discovery worksheet that each client fills out, giving us an effective summary of their business’s unique selling point and niche in their target market. From there, our digital marketers and writers use this information to give context to their keyword research and build an effective business blog.

Let’s say you’re a SaaS business that wants to build on your SEO strategy. What are you selling? What’s your unique selling point that differentiates your product from the competition? Who are your competitors? What are your company values? How would you like your brand to be perceived in your target market (e.g. a combination of fun and professional)?

These are just a few examples of questions we’ll ask to gain a better understanding of your business.

From there, it’s time to gather relevant keywords. We gather a list of keywords that have a high search volume and a low or reasonable keyword difficulty. Keyword difficulty just helps an SEO professional determine how difficult it might be to create content that will rank for a certain keyword.

Keyword difficulty score is defined differently depending on the SEO tool. For example, Ahrefs defines a difficult keyword as having a score of 50 and higher, with anything under 50 being reasonable to go for. 

With all that in mind, keyword research typically starts with topics. These topics are probably going to be broad at first, but that’s ok. To illustrate, let’s assume that we’re doing keyword research for a SaaS company that sells cloud storage solutions.

Here are some broad keyword topics for this client:

  • Cloud storage 
  • Google cloud storage
  • Best cloud storage
  • What is cloud storage
  • Best cloud storage for photos

If you use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner, you’ll see that each of these topics has a super high keyword search volume. That’s because they are general topics that would yield a ton of different search results. Targeting giant keyword topics like these by themselves usually isn’t a good idea, since they are so broad. Instead, taking a more granular approach and targeting more specific keywords within these topics is a better idea.

After all, people don’t often type in just one keyword into a search. They want specific information, so they’ll use a variety of words in their query. This is why SEOs often target “long-tail keywords”, which are multiple keywords that are typically used in one search. Even if a disseminated topic has multiple keywords, it is still viewed as one entity. In a blog, we call this topic a core keyword, and it’ll be the main keyword we’ll target throughout the content.

You’ll want to use a variety of tools to help you target keywords that people are searching for in each topic and what is the most relevant for you to write about. Keyword research tools like Ahrefs (which we’ll talk about more later in this post) are good, but you can also use Google search results and free tools like Answer the Public to help you choose more nuanced keywords. 

After comprehensive research, a core keyword is chosen as the main topic for a blog post.

To illustrate, let’s say we decided to write posts about cloud storage, the first topic on our list. We want to break that topic down further by typing that broad keyword into our various tools and considering the results.

Here’s a quick example from a Google search. See how the “People also ask” box gives us more information about what people typically search within this topic?

Judging by this, it looks like a lot of people are searching for information about how cloud storage works. Let’s investigate further by checking the same “cloud storage” keyword on Answer the Public:

We can see that there are a lot of questions about cloud storage popping up. From the Google search and the Answer the Public results, it looks like it would be a good idea to write an informational post about cloud storage, as that would fulfill common search intent for this topic, and matches what our client sells.

This is just an example of a small step in the keyword research process, but it gives us a good starting point for blog topics. Our digital marketers will use a variety of powerful tools to research the best keywords to target for each client.

Writing Top of the Funnel Blogs

As we said at the beginning of this article, everyone is a researcher. When we take a look at a typical marketing funnel, the top of that funnel is the research phase. If you can target prospects at that stage, you have a better chance of getting them to stick with us as they move through the funnel. Focusing on writing Top of the Funnel (TOFU) blog posts for clients alongside an inbound marketing strategy that includes targeted campaigns helps attract prospects at every other stage of the funnel.

TOFU posts should generally be non-branded (not self-serving) and be written to educate and provide information on a topic. It’s also a good idea to include several internal links (links to other pages on your website) to help increase the visibility and importance of other pages on your site.

Here’s an example of a TOFU blog post from Money Crashers.

Source: Money Crashers

Aside from the content of the post, there’s some great technical SEO going on in the background. The author has used a variety of internal links to support the content (without being ham-handed) and has also taken the time to write an effective meta description and title tag, and used appropriate headings and subheadings to structure their post effectively.

Structuring your Posts

Proper post structure is important for helping search engines understand the importance of each part of your content (starting at the top) as well as helping readers find information within your post quickly and easily.

Let’s face facts: not a lot of people read online content these days. The majority of readers skim content to find what they are looking for. This is even more evident in how Google approaches search results, as they implemented a feature that highlights text in search results so when you click on a link, it takes you directly to that text rather than starting you at the top of the page.

This means that structuring your content properly is even more important. At Roketto, we follow the logical structural hierarchy template below for all our blog posts:

  • Heading 1 (H1) is used for the blog title, representing the most important piece of text on the page. The H1 should always include the core keyword.
  • Heading 2 (H2) should be used for subheadings, that is any heading that comes after the H1 in the blog post.
  • Heading 3 (H3) should be used under any H2 headings when you want to break down the section further.

Don’t go beyond H3 with your headings, as your text can quickly become a jumbled mess. If you’re tempted to keep putting content into more and more granular hierarchies, it could be a sign that you could split your blog into two posts instead of one.

When you perform a search on Google, the search results page that you see shows two pieces of information for each link: a title tag and a meta description. The title tag is the blue part of the URL, and the meta description is the text underneath it, as seen in the image below:

In most cases, your title tag should be the same as your article’s title. Why? Because it gives the user the best idea of what to expect when they click on the link in search results, plus it hammers home the importance of your title to Google. You’ll have to write your meta description yourself, which should also include your core keyword. 

Meta descriptions entice users to click by giving them an idea of what your article is about. The typical meta description should be between 155-160 characters. If you go over you’re not penalized in any way, but your text could be cut off in search results.

Internal Linking

When writing content, you should always link to other pages on your website. This is important for website navigation, but also to help establish link equity or ranking power for different pages on your website. If Google sees that a particular page on your website is linked from a lot of different internal pages, then it will use that as an indicator of the importance of that page.

That being said, it’s important to not inject internal links where they don’t belong, or otherwise stuff them in your content. A good rule of thumb is to use at least three to five internal links for a 3,000-word blog, and use the same wording in the URL slug for the text that you’re hyperlinking. This keeps internal linking focused and not spammy, and keeps the core keyword (the word(s) you’ll be hyperlinking) of the linked blog as being associated with only that post.

Creating Evergreen Content

Evergreen content from a content marketing perspective means content that is always relevant, whether it was written a year ago or yesterday. If you write your content from an evergreen perspective, you’re giving it the best chance of ranking over time. That’s why at Roketto, we try to always write evergreen articles for our clients.

With SEO, content can take three to six months to rank on search results, with some websites taking longer. The generally accepted rule is that the longer a piece of content is indexed, the higher it will climb in rank—provided that it serves the search intent properly.

Think about news stories. They get a ton of search traffic while the news topic is relevant, but quickly drop off once people move on to the latest news. Evergreen content is the opposite, it’s always relevant and can always show up in search results to answer a query—provided a better article doesn’t take its place.

More Content Equals More Keyword Opportunities

It’s simple math: the more content you produce, the more opportunities you have to rank for different keywords. In addition, long-form content tends to rank higher in search results, since you’re able to go more in-depth about a topic and flex your expertise more so than with a shorter article.

So you should always write longer articles, right?

Not so fast. Of course, it can’t be that easy.

First, what constitutes long-form content varies depending on the topic. Generally, it’s around 1,000 words , but obviously, more complex topics could be more. You should be able to get a good idea of how long your article should be during your keyword research process. The other articles that show up in search when you Google your topic should give you a good ballpark to follow. 

However, you should also consider what information those articles are providing as well. Can you provide more insight, clarify information, or otherwise describe something better than these articles can? Maybe there’s critical information that most of the articles on the first-page miss, but are relevant to your topic. 

For example, let’s say you want to write an article about the Transportation of Dangerous Goods rules in Canada and the United States. There’s a ton of information on the first page about each country’s specific rules, but nothing comparing the two. This would be a critical section that you could include in your article that might increase its length, but also differentiate your piece from the other articles on the same (or similar) topics out there. More information equals more relevance to more search queries, and perhaps a better chance to rank higher in search results.

Publishing Content on a Consistent Schedule

Posting one article on your website and then calling it a day just won’t cut it. You might be serving your audience good information with that article, but if you post one article a year, they won’t have much reason to come back. We want our clients’ websites to attract fresh new readers as part of their content marketing blog strategy, but also serve existing ones. Part of building brand awareness and solidifying your company as an industry authority is providing consistent, quality content to your audience.

Top Content Marketing Tools and Resources

Effective content marketing requires the use of great tools and resources. From keyword research to keeping track of Google algorithm updates, the below content marketing tools and resources will help you create content that sets you apart from your competition.

Here are five top content marketing tools that you can start using today to create better, more effective content:

Content Marketing Tools and Resources

Ahrefs  

By analyzing petabytes of data gathered from the web, Ahrefs gives you search result information for keywords, helping you choose the best topics and variations for your blog posts.

Search Engine Land

Keeping up-to-date on what’s happening in the SEO world is important for any content marketer. Search Engine Land has great articles written by experts on every SEO topic you can think of.

Clearscope

Content writing tools are a dime a dozen, but Clearscope is among the top pieces of software for writing blogs and website copy. It combines keyword research, competitor research, and outline creation into one tool, making the process of creating content faster and easier overall.

Rusty Brick/Barry Schwartz 

Google is always updating its algorithm to make search better and more effective for users. Barry does an amazing job breaking down the updates and helping you understand how they may (or may not) affect your website.

Sparktoro  

Audience research is the name of the game when it comes to writing effective content, but researching and finding those hidden gems can be difficult or impossible if you aren’t entrenched in an industry. Sparktoro combs the web and gives you essential audience information, including influencers, trending topics, and more.

While this is a great start, it’s far from an exhaustive list. There are a ton of different content marketing tools that can help with everything from blog articles to social media posts and more.

Boost Search Engine Rankings with Content Creation

Creating effective content that delights users requires careful planning, a lot of homework, and a focus on SEO. By using content marketing, you can boost your web presence through higher rankings in search results, build brand awareness, and gain more leads and more conversions. 

There are a multitude of benefits to using content to promote your brand, so if you haven’t started a content marketing plan for your business yet, the best time to do so is today.

This article was written by Lisa Hoffart and originally appeared in https://upcity.com/experts/how-content-marketing-boosts-your-seo/.

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