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How to Optimize Your Content Strategy for SEO

April 8, 2020
Table of Contents

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is the communication link between a web page and the search engine (Google, Bing, etc.). By integrating specific keywords and high-quality links into the web content, the search engine is able to connect search queries to relevant sites.

Digital marketers use SEO, this catch-all acronym, like a magician’s sleight of hand. They manipulate high-quality content, instilling more than what meets the eye.

The content on a webpage is meant to engage the reader, leading them further down the sales funnel. But without SEO (and its communication link to the search engine’s algorithm), the reader would never find the content. Instead, the web page would be lost amongst the thousands of other pages all vying for those precious top spots on the SERPs. 

To capture the attention of Google and your Readers, you need to optimize your content strategy for SEO.

Look At Your Content Strategy Through an SEO Lens

Before you can start on the nitty-gritty details, take off your rabbit-stuffed top hat and put on your thinking cap (as all good creatives do). It’s time to strategize your overall game plan.

SEO is more than just sprinkling in keywords and links, and none of the optimization techniques detailed below will work without the foundational content. To that end, let’s build this article, as you would build your well-formed SEO strategy.

In Part 1, you will learn how to optimize the content:

  • Understanding your audience
  • Coming up with your article’s angle
  • Considering the medium (where your content will live)
  • Building quality content.

In Part 2, the SEO optimization will begin:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Inbound and outbound link optimization
  • Semantic search platform optimization

In Part 3, it’s time to take a step back and look at your content and the SEO magic as a whole. Before you hit publish, you’ll want to answer a few fundamental questions:

  • Does your article answer the article’s title and prompt?
  • Does your article flow with an introduction, clear transitions, and a conclusion?
  • Does your article reflect the overall tone of the brand’s voice?

Once this is done, you’ll enjoy all the fruit of your SEO-inspired labor: increased site visibility, high-quality leads and traffic, and developed trust between you and your readers.

Remember: Your Readers are real people on the other end of a computer or phone. Treat them as such. Avoid excessive jargon and erudite vocabulary. Breathe life into your articles, create the narrative, and most importantly, make it informative.

Part 1: The Content

Considering Your Audience and Your Angle

You wouldn’t write a business pitch without considering who will be at the other end of the conference table for its debut. In the same way you wouldn’t prepare for a speaking engagement by walking on stage blindfolded.

No, in order to create engaging content, you must first be engaged. That means asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your audience? Maybe you’re writing business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-customer (B2C), but either way, you need to use the language of your audience. A conversation with financial analysts in a professional work environment looks and sounds a lot different than fitness junkies about to try a new supplement.
  • What is the tone of the brand? Homing in on the brand’s tone will give a sense of personality and relatability in a more casual context (B2C), or establish a persuasive and authoritative voice in a business-oriented context (B2B). What is the brand trying to accomplish? Relatability? Or do they want to be the industry’s thought leaders?
  • What are the goals of the piece? While long-form content gives more opportunities to weave in keywords, keeping your writing on task is important. Whether there’s a follow-up step, call to action (CTA), or point of sale, readers need to be led in some direction, and the core topic should be addressed immediately.

Consider the Medium | People Are Products of The Tools They Use

According to Statista, roughly 63% of Google searches in the US came from mobile devices in 2019. This means that not only does your site need to be optimized for mobile, but the content does too. 

How does one optimize content for mobile?

Shorter paragraphs. Digestible blurbs. 

Basically, if you’re fluffing up your content, your readers will look at your giant text paragraphs through their small screens and decide that this waste of time does not mesh with their on-the-go lifestyles. (Oh snap!)

Characteristics of Quality Content

Chances are, you’re writing long-form content (1,000+ words), but that doesn’t mean your writing has to be a tiresome, nondescript blocks of uninterrupted text. Besides the implied expectation of being grammatically correct, there are stylistic guidelines that can drastically ramp up the caliber of your content.

Here are some things to be mindful of as you write:

  • Use headings and bullet points to break up your intro, transitions, and conclusion
  • Be clear and educational, but also engaging
  • Make sure you’re positively and accurately reflecting the client and their services

Part 2: SEO Optimization

Now that you have your content written, it’s time to start the optimization process. (Magic top hats may be put on for this part, should it fit your fancy.)

Let’s Talk About Keywords

Keywords (and phrases) are arguably the most important tool in SEO-driven work. Integrating them naturally will make readers blissfully unaware that you’re executing a calculated tactic to “speak” to search engines. And better yet, it will keep your brand from sounding like it’s run by bots.

Here are some tips for optimal keyword utilization:

  • Don’t stuff your content full of primary keywords—create a variation with synonyms.
  • Make use of primary keywords in the first 100 words because Google puts more weight on terms that show up early in your page.
  • Keep your keywords up-to-date using keyword research tools.

Linking Like a Pro

“Because I said so” is the verbal equivalent of bringing a folding chair into the MMA Octagon, crowning parents everywhere the reigning champions of arguments with their children. And as it turns out, parents do know best, because internal linking (the SEO equivalent) says so

A more authoritative source option is the external linking of well-respected, reputable, and popular sites. This is not to say that your site isn’t any or all of those adjectives (you already know the proverbial folding chair is effective), but this is like having a Rolodex of on-call professionals to back you up whenever you write something factual.

Here are the two types of links explained in non-metaphorical terms:

  • Internal linking – Attaching a hyperlink to “anchor text” (text that a link is applied to), and linking to other articles within your website. Creating a web of internal links makes your pages more discoverable (thereby increasing your click-through rate).
  • External linking – Attaching a hyperlink to “anchor text” and linking to another website outside of the current site. This is best when linked to an authoritative source, like scientific articles, research, and primary sources. Be advised, it’s best practice to include these sources as footnotes to give full credit.

Strategic linking, even if you’re linking to other pages within your site, is a sign to Google that your site is a high-quality source. This boosts your site’s ranking, and, in turn, encourages other sites to link their content to yours, boosting your rankings even further.

Use Semantic Search Platforms to Further Optimize

Once you’re finished, run your article through a semantic search platform. This is where intent and context is used to determine what exactly a person is asking rather than looking for literal matches of query words.

These platforms will rank your content and compare it against competitors ranking on page one.

If you don’t have a competitive score, continue to upgrade, include keywords, and optimize until it hits the target mark.

Part 3: The Work Doesn’t End After the Content Does

After you’ve generated content, you should circle back and review your work. While you’ve already incorporated SEO practices, optimizing and re-optimizing them will make for an even better piece of writing. 

The old saying, “quality over quantity,” is a good thing to keep in mind every step of the way (crazy how your parents were right, again). This is not to say that volume isn’t important to SEO—in a lot of ways, it is—but meticulous addition of keywords and purposeful link selection will only get you so far. You need to ensure your content, at the end of the day, is of the highest quality you can manage.

Be sure to speak directly to your audience, use CTAs to emphasize products or services, incite awe, and lead with your brand’s voice. Targeting your Reader is more valuable than turning on a massive metaphorical vacuum and sucking in anyone that’s around.

To that end, ask yourself the final list of questions:

  • Does your article answer the article’s title and prompt?
  • Does your article flow with an introduction, clear transitions, and a conclusion?
  • Does your article reflect the overall tone of the brand’s voice?

Once you can reply in the affirmative, consider this final checklist of finishing touches:

  • Trim the fat—get rid of redundant fluff.
  • Be sure to rid yourself of redundant fluff.
  • Make sure your content is evergreen, meaning it’s canonical and remains relevant for a long time.
  • Read your work aloud to ensure everything is written well and the keywords don’t read clunky.

SEO Loyalty from Beginning to End

Optimizing content strategy for SEO purposes requires setting tone and intention beforehand, carefully integrating keywords and links during, and making structural revisions after (in that order). Optimizing content isn’t something you can do at the last second and expect everything to come together. 

Like all good habits, heightening the quality of SEO-driven content starts early—even before your writing does. And then, in the same way habits turn into a way of life, good SEO extends beyond the moment where your article ends and is carried with you to the inception of your next article.


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