Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about understanding user behaviour and ultimately creating content that’s best suited to your target audience.
This is why your content strategy should be united with SEO and look far beyond simply the realms of keyword placement.
In the early days of SEO, it was all about keywords.
You might recall websites which had literally hundreds of keywords stuffed into their footers in an attempt to be noticed by Google.
Back then, it often worked.
However, Google’s far too smart these days to be fooled by such tactics. It still values keywords in meta descriptions, titles and body copy, but it now understands topics and what makes quality, original content.
Google can no longer be fooled, but that’s good news for all of us.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a content team in-house, you probably rely on a mixture of internal and external people to write for your website.
This can work brilliantly, but the challenge lies in aligning individual writers, so they’re working towards common goals while still contributing to the SEO strategy.
With so many people across the organisation creating content, how do you get them to play nicely together and optimise their content without overdoing it?
To create quality content, you need to ‘think SEO’ from the outset. By working from keyword research, you can come up with content ideas that have a real purpose and align that strategy across the business.
Anyone tasked with creating content should love SEO, because it’s the research phase that provides inspiration for ideas that are more likely to produce results. If a blog post has been written off the back of solid SEO research, it has a far better chance of performing well.
If that blog post drives a significant volume of traffic to the website and gets seen by people who take action, it’ll contribute more to the business. This is why content creators are usually better off taking advice from an SEO professional or team from the outset - it works out better for everyone.
Very few businesses have in-house SEO teams. Unfortunately, this can result in the content and SEO strategies becoming completely disconnected - even if an external team are on the case with the latter.
Despite this, your content team can become self-sufficient with SEO if they receive some training on the basics.
The non-technical aspects of SEO can be undertaken by pretty much anyone with the right knowledge. For instance, understanding that there are SEO benefits in linking from a blog to an existing piece of content on the website will help the writer contribute to the broader strategy.
It’s also useful for the SEO team (be it in-house or external) and the content team to report to the same person. That might be the director of marketing or an external consultant, but their role is to ensure both teams have an equal say and the opportunity to work closely together.
The more self-sufficient you become with SEO, the more likely your SEO person is to become a checkpoint for technical queries and additional keyword research.
SEO is often tacked onto the end of web design projects, but it’s something that should be ever-present through the entire spectrum of the content development and strategy.
If you’re building a new website, the SEO strategy should begin before the wireframe takes shape. This is why most SEO companies and professionals prefer to get involved right from the start when the site is being mapped out. The keyword strategy should inform the layout of the site and help make decisions about the placement of content.
The benefit of this approach is that content ideas (for instance, blog posts) will begin to form very early on. This isn’t to say that SEO should always drive the content strategy, but it should undoubtedly fuel it with inspiration.
If you already have a website but have been struggling to generate decent traffic, it’s a good idea to call on some expertise sooner rather than later.
It’s not uncommon for content teams to throw away ideas for being too dull, but an SEO expert might spot an opportunity within a search term that isn't too competitive.
Imagine a hot tub manufacturer that’s struggling to rank on Google. If it publishes a blog post titled ‘How to make your hot tub look great on your patio’ which was conceived during SEO research, it’s likely to appear within searches for terms like ‘hot tub ideas’. On the face of it, the blog post title isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s likely to have less competition on Google while still ranking highly.
SEO-drive research should help your business create excellent content that drives people to the website. Is it time you started to align your SEO and content strategies?