How to Build an SEO Content Strategy (in 7 Steps)

SEO and content marketing are one in the same thing. Good content marketing requires a solid understanding of SEO and SEO requires content marketing to reach its potential. Today we’re going to cover the basics of content marketing strategies for SEO and how to build a strategy that ensures you get results.

What is an SEO content strategy?

SEO content is content written with the primary aim of ranking high in search engines. An SEO content strategy is how you approach the process of researching, planning, creating, and publishing SEO content.

SEO content strategy is important because it helps ensure your content ranks well. Through careful planning of the keywords you’re targeting, understanding your targeting audience, and who you’re competing against, you’ll be able to create content that performs well in search engines like Google.

A successfully executed SEO content strategy provides many benefits, including:

  • Increased organic traffic
  • Higher rankings
  • Increased revenue
  • Better conversions
  • High-quality leads
  • Greater brand awareness

Here are 7 steps to building your content SEO strategy. 

1. Identify your target audience

The first step of any content strategy is to understand your target audience. It’s important to get as specific as possible. Who is your ideal target person? If you could only describe one person that you’d want reading your content, who would it be? What are their challenges? What are they seeking in the product or service you’re selling? Get in their mind and try to understand who they are, and what they want. This will help you create the most compelling and engaging content that stands out from the competition and more importantly provides people with the value they’re craving.

2. Pinpoint your topic area

After you know your target audience, it’s time to determine your focus area. For example, at Writing Studio, we provide content writing services, and so to come up with SEO content ideas, we start with broad core topics, such as “content writing” and “content marketing.

Try to define one specific, broad, and popular topic area that best fits your brand. This will help when it comes to researching audience interests, keywords to target, and how you’ll approach your SEO copywriting. Once you have a broad topic determined, you can start to narrow this down to find a list of topics to create content around. 

3. Do a competitor analysis

Understanding how your competitors’ SEO content is performing is essential. You probably already know some of your biggest competitors at this point.

If you don’t know who your competitors are, start by considering your target audience and core topic. Search for these terms on Google and see which websites and pages are ranking in the top search results. These are your SEO competitors.

Now list out your top competitors and refine the list down to the ones most similar to yours in terms of what they’re selling and who they’re targeting. 

Once you have a list of top competitors, sign up for an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. With these SEO tools, you can perform a competitor analysis to see the top-ranking pages of these competitor’s websites and which pages are getting the most traffic.

You can then use this information to start getting ideas for service pages, product pages, and blog topics to target once you are ready to select your target keywords.

4. Select your target keywords

Now that you understand who you’re targeting, what your core topic is, and what’s working well for competitors, it’s time to dive deep into keyword research and determine which keywords you’re going to target.

Here’s how to choose good ones. 

Step 1: Start with broad keywords related to your core topic. 

For example, If you have a ketogenic website, you would start with a broad keyword like “ketogenic diet.”

Step 2: Narrow your keywords 

The easiest way to narrow down keywords from your core keyword is to use a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. This will show you other keywords that contain your core keyword. 

In this example, these keywords include:

  • “ketogenic diet plan”
  • “ketogenic diet food list”
  • “what is a ketogenic diet”
  • “ketogenic diet for seizures”
  • “cyclical ketogenic diet” 

Step 3: Check for relevance 

Now it’s time to delete all keywords that aren’t relevant to your target audience. For example, if you’re focused on a target audience that wants to lose weight with a ketogenic diet, then “ketogenic diet food list” seems like a promising keyword, but “ketogenic diet for seizures” probably isn’t.

Step 4: Check for search volume

You want to target keywords that are searched often enough, also known as search volume. “Enough” is subjective though. A keyword for an enterprise B2B company could only have 40 searches per month, but each search is worth more money than 10,000 searches per month for a ketogenic diet-related keyword – so context matters.

A handy way to help you determine if there’s enough search volume is to see how much traffic top-ranking posts for that keyword are getting (using SEO tools). A keyword may only have a search volume of 60, but there could be 15 variations of that keyword with the same meaning. In reality, the search volume is 900 for that search intent. 

Step 5: Check for competitiveness 

Competitiveness with SEO keywords comes down to how many people are also trying to rank for that same keyword and how many backlinks a piece of content generally requires to be in the top results. The more competitive a keyword (called “keyword difficulty”), the harder it is to rank for that keyword.

The more authoritative your website, (in terms of backlinks and SEO authority in your topic area), the easier it will be for you to target and rank for more competitive keywords. You should be aiming to target keywords that are searched often and aren’t very competitive as this gives you a higher chance at ranking for that keyword, especially if your website is new. 

For example, “targeted ketogenic diet” is searched often enough (500 times per month US) and has a KD of 10/100 which is quite low, making it a good keyword to target.

The keyword “ketogenic diet plan” is searched more often but has a difficulty of 86/100, making it less ideal if your site hasn’t built up substantial authority yet.

Step 6: Understand search intent

Search intent is the intent behind a user searching for keywords — e.g “buy coffee” is searched by people who want to buy coffee.

Many keywords are written differently but have the same search intent. For example, people searching for “what is the keto diet” and “keto diet” are going to land on very similar search results, since people searching for “keto diet” probably want to learn what the keto diet is. The same goes for “hire technical writers” and “technical writers for hire”.

The takeaway here is that you shouldn’t create different content pieces to target these “different” keywords.

Instead, find the most searched keyword of specific search intent, and if you fulfill that search intent with good content, Google’s algorithm will naturally over time rank you for multiple keywords with the same meaning.

The easiest way to determine search intent is to simply Google a specific keyword against another and compare the search results to see how similar they are. 

Step 7: Putting it all together

To summarize how to find an ideal focus keywords content:

  1. Start with a broad keyword 
  2. Narrow down and list keywords within that broad one

Then, select keywords that are:

  • Relevant
  • Searched often
  • Non-competitive

Repeat this process to find good keywords worth targeting.

Note: Remember to only select one focus keyword per piece of content, and make sure your focus keyword doesn’t compete with the focus keyword of another page, or your website may suffer from keyword cannibalization.

5. Write your SEO content

Now it’s time to write your SEO content. Great SEO writing starts with creating a clear HTML heading structure for your content.

To start, take the focus keyword you’re targeting. Let’s say that the focus keyword is “SEO content strategy”.

First, Google your focus keyword, and take a look at the top-ranking pages. What type of content is being ranked, blog posts, or product pages? After you know what type of content to create, take a look at these top-ranking pages and see what their heading structure is like.

You should create a blog post outline with a similar structure to the top-ranking posts since that’s what’s Google’s ranking high (obviously don’t directly copy it). However, keep in mind that Google’s not perfect, and so if you can think of other relevant subheadings to include that provide more value for users, then include them.

After you’ve got a clear outline for your content, it’s time to write it. Whether you’re writing the SEO content yourself or you’re using an SEO content writing service, make sure that the content you’re publishing provides more value than the #1 ranking post for the keyword you’re aiming to outcompete.

6. Optimize for on-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of factors that affect SEO “on” the page itself. It’s not enough to just write content. You have to optimize it so that search engines can understand it. 

Here’s an on-page SEO checklist you can use to ensure your content is optimized for SEO.

  • Select one focus keyword for each page of content
  • Write content to fulfill the search intent of users
  • Optimize images for SEO (write optimized filenames, titles, and alt tags)
  • Write a 50 to 60 character meta title, ideally with your focus keyword near the start
  • Write an 80 to 160 character meta description that describes what’s on your page
  • Add internal links between your content using anchor text
  • Add external links to relevant and authoritative sites
  • Use simple language appropriate for the intended audience
  • Where possible, prioritize active voice over passive voice 
  • Write comprehensive content for the subject 

7. Track and measure results 

The most overlooked step of an SEO content marketing strategy is tracking and measuring the results of your campaign.

Make sure to track content marketing KPIs and SEO KPIs such as organic traffic, unique visitors, ranking positions, and conversion rates, so that you can accurately understand the return your investment into SEO content is providing. Setting clear goals and tracking results will also help you make more intelligent decisions when planning future content.

Some important tools for tracking progress include:

  • Google Analytics to track visitors to your site
  • Google Search Console to specifically track SEO performance for your content (impressions, conversions, positions, indexing, etc.
  • SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush track keywords, and how you’re performing against your competition. 

The bottom line

SEO content is one of the most effective ways to increase your online presence. It’s also not as easy as writing a bunch of content and hoping for the best. That’s why having a clear SEO content strategy is crucial for success.

Here’s a summary of how to build a strategy for your SEO content. 

  1. Identify your target audience – know exactly who it is you’re targeting.
  2. Pinpoint your main topic area – select a broad core topic for your content creation.
  3. Do a competitor analysis – see which keywords within your core topic are working well for competitors.
  4. Select keywords – target keywords that are searched often, non-competitive, and relevant 
  5. Write your SEO content – write content that provides immense value and fulfills search intent.
  6. Optimize for on-page SEO – ensure your content is has optimized meta tags, anchor text, internal links, etc.
  7. Track and measure results – after you publish your content, be sure to track how it performs to figure out what’s working.

SEO optimization is important for content, but don’t forget to write for humans! Gone are the days of stuffing keywords in content and ranking at the top of Google. Write content about topics people are searching for, but write to people, not to algorithms.

Lastly, stay consistent. SEO content is a long-term play and it takes time to get results. Give yourself at least 6 to 12 months before expecting any results. It takes years to get the most out of SEO content marketing, so stick within and trust the process.

Hopefully, this article has given you a good starting point. If you need professional help, try our content strategy services

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