Why You Need a Content Strategy for Effective SEO

a pair of binoculars rests on a rock representing the idea of searching

Too many content creators think an effective SEO strategy is to write for SEO, with keyword density, backlinks and other SEO “tricks.” In fact, the most effective content for SEO speaks to an audience and gives them something they need that you can provide. To create this kind of content—and maximize your SEO efforts—start with a content strategy. Read on to learn how creating a good content strategy can drive SEO results.

Content Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

A content strategy thoroughly documents how you plan, create and deliver your content. A good content strategy covers all your content—from blogs, webinars, emails and social media to conferences, press releases and videos—and specifies topics that will be engaging for your audience and impactful for your organization.

Creating a content strategy includes a few crucial steps:

  1. Competitive analysis
  2. Content audit
  3. Audience analysis
  4. Setting goals and objectives
  5. Setting a measurement framework
  6. Creating a content plan

Once you know the lay of the land and understand your audience’s needs, you’re ready to develop a plan to make your content production more efficient and effective.

For a detailed breakdown, check out How to Create a Content Strategy in 6 Steps.

How Does Content Affect SEO?

Search engine algorithms are getting more sophisticated. While it’s still a good idea to follow SEO best practices, now, more than anything, the content on your website determines the traffic search engines drive to your site.

You’ll want to make sure the traffic that comes to your site is strategically related to your business. You want to attract visitors who are most likely to do business with you, so filling your site with the information your buyers want is your top priority. This is where your content strategy comes in. Your plan ensures that your content brand is unified and consistent and that every piece of content has an audience and a purpose.

Having a content strategy also leads to higher-quality content, and search engine algorithms reward quality, in-depth content. Highly engaging content has the added advantage of keeping visitors on your site longer and making them more likely to come back, increasing your chances of conversion.

3 Ways Your Content Strategy Can Drive Effective SEO Results

Here’s how a content strategy helps you focus on goal-oriented content.

1.     Lays a Foundation for Your Keyword Strategy

An effective content strategy includes the topics you need to cover to meet your business goals. These are closely tied to the products and/or services you sell. The words you—but more importantly, your customers—use to describe your products and services are your keywords. You can get ideas for related keywords and keyphrases by typing a keyword in a search engine and looking at the suggested searches or “people also ask” fields.

Some of your topics may be good candidates for the cluster topic model, which involves creating an authoritative piece of content that acts as a hub, and multiple pieces of related content branching off it. This content model boosts both SEO and your status as a thought leader.

2.     Defines Your Audience and Their Intent

As you develop your content strategy, take some time to figure out who your audience is. Your content strategy should include detailed information about your audience, their buying habits, how they consume information and how they make decisions. (Extra credit: Make a buyer persona.) If your buyers tend to have a long sales cycle filled with questions and research, it’s a good idea to plan for content that proactively answers the frequently asked questions your prospects pose as they consider making a purchase.

Meet Your Audience Where They Are in the Buyer’s Journey

You should also make sure you have content that addresses your audience’s questions and queries at each phase of their journey, from awareness to consideration to conversion. Your prospects will use different language in their search queries at each phase, so your web content will differ depending on where in the journey you are trying to meet your audience. For example:

  • If a prospect is curious about your product/service but unsure if they need it, you may write web content for the awareness phase that gives a broad overview of the topic. You might optimize the page for keyphrases that begin with “what is” or “how to.”
  • If a prospect knows they want the product/service you offer but is undecided about what company to purchase from, you may write web content for the consideration phase that addresses your key selling points, competitive advantage and points of difference from your competitors. You might optimize the page for keyphrases that begin with “why” or “which,” such as “Why see a board-certified physician?” or “Which association is best for mid-level professionals?”

Understanding your audience unlocks several benefits. It helps you:

  • Better position your content to reach your intended audience
  • Use terms and phrases that resonate with your audience
  • Communicate with your audience in an authentic voice and tone

These strategies help you write engaging, informative content that increases the SEO value of your site.

3.      Documents How Your Competitors Are Outranking You

An important part of the content strategy development process is a competitive content analysis—looking at what others in your industry are doing and how your organization compares. If your competitors are outranking you on key search terms, the analysis will tell you. The good news is that you can transform these shortcomings into quick wins toward more effective SEO.

Study your competitors’ successes for ideas. Experiment with small changes to differentiate your content where it is similar to your competitors. And identify content gaps—topics that are of interest to your audience but you haven’t addressed adequately. These gaps offer opportunities to revisit and update your content plan.