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7 Simple Ways Content Marketers Can Sharpen Their SEO

7simplewayscontentmarketerscansharpentheirSEO.jpgI've always been more of a right-brained thinker than a left-brained thinker. Growing up, my math worksheets were covered in doodles and designs. Numbers bored me; I wanted to spend my time being creative. In fact, that creativity is what led me to marketing. My introduction to the industry came through design and creation.

But with a little will power, I've learned to embrace the art and science of digital marketing. I've grown from designing logos and infographics to looking at the bigger picture and focusing on the overall marketing strategy for my company.

Not long ago, my opinion of SEO left it lumped into the website analytics and development area of marketing. It sounded so technical, complex, and intimidating! But I was wrong.

What SEO and Content Marketing Have in Common

As someone who loves the art of content creation, I've found that the science of strategic SEO goes hand in hand with the process of creating content. If you're a good content marketer, some SEO essentials probably come naturally to you, too. Don't believe me? Consider this:

  • Content marketers who are good at their jobs write about topics their audience wants to consume. Content will not appear on SERPs unless it relates to terms and queries that people are actually searching for and want to consume.
  • A good content marketer strings pieces of content together via relevant links, which just so happen to be essential to SEO. Without high-quality content, building high-quality external links will be difficult, and organic search visibility will also be limited.

7 SEO Best Practices for Better Content

Optimizing content for search can be a full-time job; a lot of behind-the-scenes effort goes into ensuring your site and all its content are optimized for your audience. But that shouldn't keep your content marketing team from implementing a few best practices along the way. Here are seven ways to help you create content with search visibility in mind:

1. Incorporate keyword research into your topic ideation and content creation.

One of the first and most important steps in creating a successful piece of content is topic ideation. You can come up with new ideas for your blog or guest-contributed content any number of places, but a great place to start is to look at what people are already searching for.

You can use a tool like Moz to get a better idea of what your audience is looking for and incorporate those terms into your content topics. For example, when our marketing team was deciding between the terms "content marketing software" and "content marketing technology" for an article on our blog, we let the data guide us.

After some quick research on Moz, we discovered that "software" was much more popular than "technology." And when we learned that our audience is looking for software, not technology, we opted for "content marketing software" in that article — and future pieces, too.

2. Diversify your strategy with different types of content.

As a content marketer, your goal should definitely be creating (and leveraging!) high-quality content — but that shouldn't limit your format to written articles only on your own site. Expand your horizon by exploring other content types, such as earned and paid media, and various formats.

This approach gives you additional chances for your content to show up in search. Plus, when you publish guest posts on reputable sites, you have the opportunity to link back and drive traffic to that high-quality, high-converting content on your blog.

Some ways to diversify your content include guest content published on external sites, infographics and SlideShare presentations, and video content on YouTube and other platforms.

3. Optimize for search and conversion.

Use a tool like Google Analytics or HubSpot to identify which of your blog posts are getting the most traffic. Now, drill down a little deeper. Where is that traffic coming from? If it's organic traffic, that post is probably showing up in search. Great job!

Don't stop there, though. How do the conversion rates of those high-traffic articles compare to the rates of your average articles? Another round of high-fives to your team if your most-viewed and highest-converting articles are the same posts! If they're not, it's time to optimize for conversion. Experiment with new calls to action, and track how well different offers entice visitors to convert.

Now, give the opposite approach a try. Examine your highest-converting posts, and compare how consistently they're brining in traffic. If you've got a golden blog post that converts at a really high rate, you've got to do all you can to get eyes on it. Optimize posts like that for search (as opposed to conversion).

Remember your keyword research, and see whether you can find ways to include relevant keywords in the headline, metadescription, or H-tags. Find ways to link to it in the guest content you're using to diversify your approach. A few small changes could give your naturally high-converting post a boost in organic search traffic.

4. Write for humans, not crawlers.

OK, so you've heard me mention "keywords" a few times now. You know how to research them, and you know how they can be used to inspire and guide content creation. That's really great, but please do not go overboard on this!

Keywords are important, but dropping them into your content without a strategy isn't going to land you a spot on the first page. Remember to write for your human audience, not crawlers. Google cares way more about whether your content is relevant and helpful to your audience than whether it's included your keywords an arbitrary number of times. (In fact, keyword stuffing can backfire and negatively affect your SEO.)

5. Don't forget the details. 

While you're writing for humans, don't forget about the fine details: the aspects of your content that make it easier for people to find your work and consume it across devices. Include optimized title tags, metadescriptions, alt-tags, and H-tags. The important thing to remember is this: Be strategic. No one likes a stuffer.

6. Keep a pulse on what content of yours is ranking.

As part of our regular marketing meetings, our content team receives a monthly report on our SEO efforts. It includes a list of all the keywords we're going after, along with their current placement and the URL on our site that shows up.

This kind of tracking allows our team to keep a pulse on what's ranking well and continue linking to those articles in future blog posts, as well as our guest-contributed content, to increase internal links and backlinks pointing at that page.

7. Refresh old content.

We've been publishing content to the Knowledge Bank since way back in 2013. That might not sound super old, but in marketing years, those early posts are pretty dated. However, their age doesn't make them unimportant; a lot of those posts have actually built up impressive authority.

Rather than take those dated posts, rewrite new versions, and publish those newer articles, we update and republish the original articles. This keeps our page authority intact while ensuring the content is still relevant for audiences that find the page today.

Content marketing truly is more than an art; it's also a science. It takes data, consistent testing, and measurement to achieve results. And you've got to use both your right brain and your left brain to make it work.

Looking for more ways to master the art and science of content marketing? Check out our "State of Digital Media" report for data-driven insights to fuel your content strategy.

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About Taylor Oster

Taylor Oster is the marketing director at Influence & Co. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn, and see other articles that she's written here.

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