SEO and content marketing go together. Not that there should have been any confusion in the first place. You cannot have SEO without content, and successful content marketing always calls for SEO. The two are so blended together that they can hardly even be separated.
What makes content marketing and SEO so popular then? The answer has to do with both their effectiveness and the cost savings they can bring. When it comes to lead generation, for example, content marketing costs up to 41% less per lead than PPC. And as many as 90% of B2B buyers reported being impacted by online content when making purchase decisions.
With this in mind, you should make sure that you invest enough resources to make the most of your inbound strategy. To help you get started, here are five ways to increase organic traffic through SEO and content marketing:
1. Create in-depth content
Your audience determines your success in the search rankings, so it’s crucial that your content offer value to them. Superficial content that has no real value translates into zero audience interest and a low rank in the search engine results.
They say that “the safest place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.” And this is for a reason. Many of us rarely go beyond page one when we quickly search for something.
In the example below, all articles in the top results are 3,000+ words. While the appropriate length always depends on the topic, there is a general trend that favors longer articles. More high-quality and well-researched content means more value.
To create valuable content, you need to dig deeper. This means long and thorough articles. Be sure that you carry out proper research and include references to high-domain authority sites. And remember to check that all statements are accurate and backed up by relevant data.
Keep your content fresh and creative, and avoid repeating what other people say. Your goal is to provide a unique solution to a problem. If the same solution has already been offered elsewhere, you will have a hard time competing with those other websites. And for your content to remain fresh, you need consistent output.
2. Pay attention to all aspects of SEO
In addition to creating outstanding content with the right keywords and inbound links, you need to spend time on technical aspects of on-page SEO, such as metadata, tags, crawlability and indexability.
The idea behind SEO, whether on-page or off-page, is to make your website as appealing to search engines and users as possible. For example, when you write meta descriptions properly, it provides useful search results for readers, and helps you gain user click-through from the search engine results page (SERP). Also, take a look at your site header and title tag. Your goal is to optimize them for both users and search engines.
You can optimize your URL slug, too. This is the part of your URL that comes right after the domain extension. Keep it compact so that search engines can easily navigate relevant subpages and categorize different sections of your site. Use keywords when you can, and make it user friendly and readable with no generated strings. Use dashes and avoid underscores and hashtags.
Crawling and indexing are about evaluating how well search engine bots can crawl your site and index your content. Despite being intertwined, they’re separate concepts. Crawling is the process where Google bots analyze your code and content, while indexing means that your page is considered eligible to appear in the search results for certain queries.
3. Experiment with content
While your meta tags control the behavior of search engine crawling and indexing, getting to Google’s top results in 2019 has more to do with the relevance and reputation of your content.
Blogs are ideal for in-depth and well-researched content that helps you establish yourself as an expert in your niche and grow your organic traffic. But that doesn’t mean you cannot benefit from a multi-channel strategy where you take advantage of audio, video, and visuals, too. The choice depends on the preferences of your audience.
A survey carried out by HubSpot in 2018 reported that 54% of consumers would prefer to see more video content from brands. And when it comes to images, it’s original visuals, such as infographics, that perform best. In fact, people are 3 times more likely to share infographics than any other type of content.
Now that mobile’s share of online traffic has surpassed that of desktop, there is more diversity in our web usage. Being past that tipping point means the majority of your visitors might actually prefer some other type of content than text. This gives you all the more reason to test the waters with video posts, podcasts, and even webinars.
In other words, your content needs to be dynamic. It should adapt to various channels and respond to the content needs of your audience. Together, these other channels complement the written content on your blog. You can also repurpose the same content with small adjustments across different channels. This allows you to take full advantage of your content.
4. Step up your keyword and backlink game
Even if most marketers are familiar with the necessity of keyword research for SEO, there’s still room for improvement. You’ve created a keyword strategy for your content and are using keyword analysis tools on a regular basis. But it doesn’t end there.
You can also analyze your audience into segments and create targeted keywords for each of them. You can collect data about your users, for example demographics, interests and behavior. Use this data to tailor your keywords for different segments.
87% of consumers are positively influenced by personally relevant branded content. This is why targeted keywords can improve your customer experience and increase loyalty.
You can start by analyzing which phrases each of your segments is searching online. After you have enough useful data, you may identify relevant keywords that relate to your segments’ search intent, your product niche and your own expertise. Finally, you can choose the optimal topics for your content based on this keyword analysis.
Similar to keywords, the need for high-quality backlinks hasn’t disappeared. Here also the interplay between SEO and content becomes apparent. Effective SEO requires backlinks and content marketing can provide these valuable backlinks.
Given the high demand for visual data, you may also create infographics to get backlinks. Gather your statistical data and contact a designer who can make it visual. Once ready to publish, you can share it across your marketing channels, including your website, social media and email newsletters, or submit it to directories.
5. Be factual and authentic
Back in the early days when SEO was about achieving exact keyword matching, you would find pages that used your keyword phrase exactly as you wrote it. Now, after the inclusion of close variants, you find pages that discuss the general topic of your exact keyword. This means that exact match keywords will match the intent of your query.
This has shifted the focus of SEO to longer-form content that is unique, authentic, factual, and visual all at the same time. These features are seen as symbols of quality that help connect users to high-quality content. But it hasn’t eliminated the need for identifying the right keywords that people use to find their way to your content.
However, these new requirements mean that search users have higher expectations than before. For you to earn that click or conversion, you need valuable content written from actual experience. Don’t underestimate your audience. It’s about earning people’s trust. And that’s why SEO is about people, understanding their behavior and catering to their needs. Because trust is the foundation of getting traffic, clicks, and conversions.
What does it mean then to produce authentic content? Well, it means being accountable and factual and delivering your brand promise. This also leads to transparency, which adds a level of vulnerability. But being open about your brand doesn’t make it weak. On the contrary, consumers appreciate it and are more willing to engage with your content.
Additionally, you may want to consider taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC). It’s the most authentic form of content to 60% of consumers. UGC is often more compelling because people are more relatable than brands. Reviews are a good example of effective UGC.
After taking these five steps, you will hopefully reach the targets for your inbound marketing strategy. What all these steps have in common is that they place your audience at the forefront. When you dive into SEO and content, you can’t go wrong if you take an audience-first approach.