SEO is a symphony of factors all coming together to make your website sing – or to fall into chaos. With so many aspects of organic search to track and manage, where can a content marketer or SEO expert make the most impact? We’ve helped clients rank for thousands of keywords, and we’ve found that the most powerful SEO strategies aren’t fast or simple. There are no shortcuts to success, but with some planning and some smarts, you can see radical changes in your search results. Today we’re going to share our top 5 most impactful SEO content marketing moves to improve organic traffic.
1. Technical Audit Clears the Way for SEO Content Marketing
Let’s start with a technical audit. It’s not a SEO content marketing strategy itself, but if the search engines can’t see your site, it can’t rank.
A baseline audit will ensure that your web page is visible, fast, and responsive. Google is your friend here – between Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, and Think With Google, it’s easy to get a baseline on your blog or site’s general health before moving forward with more detailed work.
A great way to process Google Search Console’s data is LinkGraph’s GSC Dashboard. With unique visualizations and page grouping options, you’ll be excited about using GSC again.
You’ll most likely need a few third-party tools as well, especially if you’re unsure whether the entire site has been indexed and tagged with the appropriate GA codes.
SEO Technical Audit Metrics
A technical SEO audit should cover a few standard metrics, including but not limited to:
Page speed as measured by total blocking time and largest contentful paint (LCP)
Current and accurate sitemaps
All pages visible in Google Analytics
Mobile rendering/AMP issues
You may find some surprises here, like new content that didn’t get published correctly, or a WordPress update that had the side effect of turning your page speed to molasses. Finalize your audit before starting to fix individual issues. It would be a shame to fix an issue just to find out that there are three other related items that all could have been solved simultaneously.
Once your site is running optimally and all your technical SEO issues have been resolved, it’s time to look at content. There are about as many ways to do a content audit as there are websites. You’ll want your content audit to cover a variety of aspects for each page, like:
Has keyword focus
Has meta title & description
No duplicate keywords
Optimized for keyword and includes additional focus terms
You may find a series of products that are missing meta titles due to an import error, or an old page of evergreen content that was written without a specific keyword focus. A piece may have used best search engine optimization practices at the time of writing, but SEO content marketing practices change as the web changes.
Not only is Google always upgrading its algorithm, competition is always adding new content. What ranked a year or two ago can get knocked off the first page at any time. It’s a best practice to take stock of your content on a regular basis and update it to new industry standards.
SEO Content Audit Tips
How you actually put this together is up to you. You can start with your clean, complete sitemap from your technical audit and expand it into a spreadsheet with your core data of content length, target search terms, etc.
If you’re using an on-site SEO dashboard, you may be able to view or download some of your SEO content data, like H1s and meta titles for all your posts and pages. There are also content inventory tools to compile your data quickly.
The audit can help you identify easy content strategy wins, like pages that are missing meta titles or descriptions. It’ll also show you more complex issues, like outdated content, pages written without a search query focus, or something that was quality content two years ago but doesn’t work now. Those types of pages need more analysis before you dive into revamping them.
3. Identify underperforming pages with GSC Dashboard
How do you determine which types of content are worth updating or improving? Each content marketer has their own thresholds for what makes a keyword, article, or blog post worth investing in. Usually you’re looking for those niche queries with a high search volume and low competition. But sometimes, those two metrics just aren’t enough.
LinkGraph recently launched a Google Search Console Dashboard that shows you the economic value of website traffic. Additionally, it lets you group pages. Together, you can use these features to see what types of content bring you the highest-value traffic. Then you can quickly choose what to improve and what’s already doing well.
Let’s use LinkGraph itself as an example.
Here’s a snapshot of our traffic:
Out of our five categories, our Free Tools take up the lion’s share of traffic. So we should optimize that great content, right?
Traffic is not all the same. The website traffic we’re getting is for free tools. That’s great, we love that SEOs and content marketers dig our tools! Do those terms also have a good value? How do you even determine a good value?
How The Economic Value of Traffic (EVOT) Influences SEO Content Marketing
We can take CPC as a neutral standard of value – if you could buy the traffic, CPC is what it would cost in ad dollars. What happens when we combine PPC data with traffic data? How does it change what our priorities would be?
There’s a massive shift when we look at the economic value of the traffic we’re receiving. Our blog has low traffic but an incredibly high CPC value for that traffic. We could either pay sky-high PPC rates for ads for the relevant keywords, or we can build out good content for a query that we’re just starting to tap into.
Now there is a caveat here – your keywords and pages all have to keep your business goal and target audience in mind. Our business is SEO consulting and optimization.
While our free tools help us and the SEO community work faster and more accurately, they don’t directly bring us conversions, even if they help with lead generation. This graph puts that valuable information into direct numbers.
The page grouping function is completely a manual process, so you decide which pages to group together. You can group by kind of content(blog vs eBooks vs “ultimate guides”), by content creators, by product category, or any grouping that makes sense for your business. The data pulls directly from GSC’s API, so you know it’s always current and accurate.
4. Improve underperforming content with Page Optimization
With your increased insight of our GSC data and a clear content marketing strategy, it’s time to get writing. Whether you use an in-house team or outsource your content creation, ensuring that the content is optimized for SEO is a headache for content marketers and writers.
It takes time for a writer to get used to the short, punchy style that keeps your target audience engaged online. Training writers to pay attention to keyword density and placement in subheadings is a whole other challenge. And now that Google’s adding NLP to its algorithms, there’s even more focus terms to pay attention to.
Content Optimization Tools
Theoretically, a writer should naturally hit on focus phrases related to your keyword. But humans are not algorithms, and we have a smaller sample size than we think. Do you want to leave your SEO up to chance, even if it is a very eloquent and educated chance?
When SEOs realized that keyword density was a search engine ranking factor, the industry created tools to measure it. As we learned what factors into content, we’ve developed ways to take the guesswork out of writing.
Now there’s a host of page optimization tools that all give you not just keyword density for your main term, but for a list of related keyphrases that pop up in content that currently ranks.
LinkGraph’s Landing Page Optimizer is easy to use and very effective. Log in, enter your keyword, and you’ll get a list of focus phrases and densities, along with a target length for your content.
The Landing Page Optimizer is an interactive tool that shows your progress both in the content and in a sidebar, ensuring that you get the right keyphrases for your content. You’re ready to capitalize on those high CPC keyphrases with stellar, relevant content. There’s only one thing left to do.
5. Consider a link-building campaign
Get your content some exposure! You’ve done your research, written quality content, and now it’s time to get those sweet, sweet backlinks. Mass placement on low-quality sites hasn’t worked for a long time, so a link-building campaign takes time and effort.
You can work on researching, vetting and contacting sites that meet your requirements. Even with our bulk DA/PA backlink checker, it’s still a lot of work to get in touch with the business owners of quality sites. Then there’s waiting for a response, negotiating the placement and actually delivering an article, if necessary. Link-building is hands-on, no doubt about it.
How do we know? We prove it every day by helping our clients rank for their target terms. And, of course, this is how we build our own link network – digital PR.
As your business enters another year, your team has likely settled in on new sales goals and KPIs. Your SEO performance should be no different, because increasing site rankings, organic traffic, and clicks are prerequisites for meeting your sales and revenue targets.
SEO is a long-game, and the only way to see your organic traffic continuously improve is to keep refining your SEO strategy. If you want to build upon last year’s search engine results, use these 8 strategies to get even better rankings for the search terms that bring your website the most qualified clicks.
#1: Check your Keyword Targets
Keyword research shouldn’t just happen at the outset of your SEO campaigns. Site owners need to occasionally revisit their keyword targets to see whether they are still the right keywords to go after. With more businesses expanding their online services and web visibility due to coronavirus lockdowns in 2020, it’s likely you have new SERP competition in 2021.
Take a closer look at your current keyword rankings and where your organic traffic is coming from. It’s possible that your original keyword targets have grown more competitive, or other companies have knocked your URL off the first page of organic search results for keywords you previously dominated. It may be time to take a different approach and find the specific keywords that present more ranking, traffic, or conversion opportunities.
It’s also possible that specific pages are performing better than you expected, or your website is ranking for search queries that are driving more qualified clicks to your website. If this is the case, focus on reinforcing the performance of those pages with backlink building, on-page optimizations, conversion-optimized CTAs, and more strategic internal linking structure.
Understanding which keywords are proving the most and least profitable for your brand is the first step to improving your SEO strategy in 2021. Identify the best performing pages on your website and capitalizing off the traffic they bring is key to elevating your website’s performance.
How to Improve your SEO Performance with Keyword Research
Review the top-ranking websites for your keyword targets. If it is unlikely you can compete, consider targeting less competitive keywords
Identify the pages on your website that are ranking well, and reinforce their quality with on-page optimization, conversion optimized design, and strategic internal linking
For pages that aren’t ranking well, re-optimize that content for different keyword targets. If the web page is getting no traffic or under-performing, consider making strategic revisions or deleting it altogether
#2: Optimize (or Re-Optimize) your Landing Page Content
On-page SEO involves more than just adding keywords into your title tags and heading tags. If you really want to elevate your SEO performance, your landing pages need to be high-quality, which requires original, in-depth, long-form, visually engaging content that performs well on desktop and mobile devices.
Putting some of your SEO effort into making your existing landing pages even more comprehensive is a great way to achieve even more SEO success this year. Focus on both the pages that are already performing well and those that are struggling to earn impressions. You may be able to improve your rankings by making your content more in-depth and comprehensive.
Take a fresh look at the click-through-rate (CTR) of your best performing pages as well. Are the meta descriptions written in a way that entices the users to click? If not, a quick revision could help improve organic sessions on those pages. The HTML elements of your site (also referred to as technical SEO) need to be properly optimized as well if you want to show up in the search engine results pages.
You can use a tool like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to improve the topical depth and relevance of your landing pages and web content. Our software scans the top ranking search results for your target keyword and identifies the relevant keyword phrases and topics that you should include in your site content. Try to get your content score over 80 to get better rankings.
How to Improve your SEO Performance with Content Optimization
Increase the topical depth and comprehensiveness of your landing pages
Add rich media, interactive elements, and jump links to improve user experience
Use LinkGraph’s Landing Page Optimizer tool to identify the necessary Focus Terms, or synonyms and related topics that Google associates with your target keyword
Google’s Page Experience Update will no doubt be the biggest change for search in 2021. Expected to roll out in the beginning of the year, the page experience provided by a website will be an official ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Factors like page speed, user experience (UX), load times, and cumulative layout shift will be determining factors in whether search engines rank your website over your competitors in the search results.
The performance and usability of your website is key to whether users will find your content valuable. Nobody likes a slow website, and long page load times and slow site speed can leave users feeling frustrated, an experience you don’t want any potential customers to associate with your brand. Slow page loads undercut your SEO efforts, decreasing total sessions, raising bounce rate, and negatively impacting other engagement metrics.
You can access key metrics about your site’s performance in both your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts. Google Analytics will provide important SEO KPIs like bounce rate, pageviews, average time spent on a given page, and more. These helpful metrics offer insight into user engagement on your website and how organic visitors may be experiencing your webpages and website design.
In your GSC account, you will find information about your website’s Core Web Vitals, or the key metrics Google uses to evaluate your website’s overall page experience. Google will identify these important metrics for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. If you don’t address the issues or improve on the best practices of page experience, your website could suffer a keyword rankings drop after the Page Experience Update is live.
Some site owners assume that increasing web page load times and speed can only be done by developers, but there are some simple optimizations that any site owner can easily implement on their own to improve their website’s performance. The best way to really diagnose the performance problems of your website is to get a complete SEO audit, but in the meantime, Google Search Console and the PageSpeed Insights tools will offer suggestions for how to improve on these key performance indicators.
How to Improve SEO Performance with Page Experience
Audit your page experience in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, or schedule a full UI/UX or SEO audit
In order to increase your organic search traffic, you have to have a nuanced understanding of your search KPIs and how your website is performing right now. In order to improve your SEO strategy, you need concrete performance metrics from which to measure the success of your SEO campaigns.
Metrics like pageviews, keyword positions, conversion rates, and organic sessions provide loads of insights about the strengths and weaknesses of your website. If you’re not tracking your SEO performance in tools like Google Search Console and your site traffic in Google Analytics, you’re missing valuable data points from which to measure the effectiveness of the optimizations you make to your site.
LinkGraph’s GSC Insights will help you understand your SEO performance at a more granular level. With more advanced data visualizations, you can see which individual pages, page groupings, or keyword groupings are driving the most traffic to your site. Unlike other software like Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush that have back-dated rankings, our dashboard gives you insights into the day-to-day fluctuations in your site’s performance.
With more granular insights and real-time metrics, marketers and SEOs can have a more comprehensive picture of SEO performance. With more advanced keyword tracking, it’s also easier to quantify the ROI of your SEO campaigns, particularly for new websites. For digital marketers who need to show the value of search engine optimization to executive leadership, the right tracking tools show how cost-effective SEO is to a company’s bottom line.
How to Improve SEO Performance with Better Analytics
Sign up for a Google Analytics Account and Google Search Console to start tracking your search KPIs
Request Access to LinkGraph’s GSC Insights and get even more advanced keyword tracking data
For B2Bs and B2Cs, link your Google accounts to your CRM platforms to track leads that come from organic search traffic
#5: Audit your Backlink Profile More Often
A URL’s backlink profile reveals a lot about the site owner’s off-site SEO strategy. A site owner who doesn’t monitor backlinks for linking site quality, anchor text diversity, and relevance will struggle to raise their overall site authority in the eyes of search engines. Google ranks websites that are well-trusted by other webmasters and users on the internet. One of the best ways to see quick SEO results is to focus on backlinks.
If you don’t monitor backlinks on a regular basis, it’s possible that your backlink profile has become populated with toxic or spammy links from low-quality sites. Use a SEO tool like our backlink analyzer to identify those questionable new links and generate the text for a disavow file. There is no way to remove those hyperlinks to your site, but a Disavow file tells Google not to count them toward their ranking algorithm.
Not all backlinks have the same value. Those from sites with higher Domain Authority and strong SEO metrics themselves will have the biggest impact. Performing a backlink audit every quarter can help you stay on top of your new links and ensure that your links are always working for you, not against you.
How to Improve SEO Performance with Backlink Audits
Perform a backlink audit once a quarter to make sure your website isn’t keeping company with questionable web properties
Generate and submit a Disavow file in your Google Search Console account to reduce the impact of low-quality links
#6: Create Blog Content that Targets Long-Tail Keywords
As more companies invest in SEO, keywords continue to grow more competitive in both organic search and Google Ads campaigns. Keywords with high levels of user intent are most likely dominated by well-established websites with huge backlink profiles. Long-tail keywords, however, are usually less competitive, and provide an opportunity for your website to rank for more relevant keyword phrases in your industry niche.
Long-tail keywords may not represent searchers who are looking to make a purchase right now, but they are users who may be searching for new information related to your industry that your brand has authority and expertise in. Getting blog content ranking for those keywords can be a great content marketing strategy that drives those users back to your website when they are ready to make a purchase decision.
Take for example a company that sells and installs closet systems. Most likely, that site owner would target “closet systems,” for their homepage and primary category pages. However, long-tail phrases like those listed below could also bring qualified traffic to their website.
These terms may have lower search volume, but creating an informative, useful blog post about the varying features, benefits, or costs of these different types of closet systems will simultaneously increase keyword rankings and build brand reputation.
There are so many ways that potential customers may search for the products or services your brand name offers. The benefit of blogs extend beyond just traffic. Having more landing pages on your site has shown to increase conversions. More quality content with natural internal linking gives more reasons for searchers to scroll and browse through your website.
How to Improve SEO Performance with Blog Content
Identify the relevant, long-tail search phrases in your industry
Create high-quality, informative, original content that is optimized for those long-tail keywords
Include internal links in your blogs to other relevant pieces of content on your website
Include relevant CTAs, scrolling CTAs, or a chat bot on your blog to increase conversions and transform organic traffic into leads or revenue
#7: Build Backlinks like a Boss
Creating backlinks to your url is key to elevate your site’s performance in Google. Backlinks are Google’s #1 ranking factor, and the more authoritative websites that link to yours, the more likely search engines are to trust and rank your web pages.
If you follow suggestion #7, you should have plenty of high-quality content assets on your site that are worthy of linking to. As you earn more keyword rankings and organic traffic, backlinks will come more naturally, but it’s important to perform manual outreach and seek out link building opportunities both in and outside your network. It’s possible that those top ranking websites in the search results have thousands of referring domains, meaning building links should be a consistent item on your SEO to-do list.
If you’re not sure where to try and earn links from, look to your competitor’s backlink profiles to see where they earn their links. Reach out to those same webmasters and see if they would be willing to link to your content. Or, offer to contribute content that serves the needs of their target audience (and includes links back to your site).
Other link building opportunities like guest blogs, local citations, contributor articles, interviews, podcasts, public relations campaigns and other strategies can help you build off-site signals.
How to Improve SEO Performance with Link Building Campaigns
Identify the high-quality content assets on your site that are worthy of links
Create original content that includes links to those landing pages. Use natural anchor text that has contextual relevance to your content
Outreach to other site owners and webmasters in your industry and pitch your original content
To truly take your SEO strategy to the next level, you have to take a nuanced approach to the changes you make to your website and how you measure their impact. A/B Testing is a great way to make gradual optimizations to your site and measure whether they have a strong correlation with better impressions, search traffic, keyword rankings, or organic sessions.
There are so many website elements that can be A/B tested, like title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, site structure, CTAs, fonts, and even colors. To perform a successful A/B test, you need to have clearly defined variants and the proper staging environment to test out two separate pages. Make sure to use canonical tags when testing out pages so Google doesn’t see the pages as duplicate content and penalize your website as a result.
SEO A/B testing is a more advanced SEO strategy, so if you are new to SEO, work with skilled SEOs, marketers, or an SEO agency before diving in head first. If you use a tool like the LinkGraph GSC dashboard, you will get daily rankings updates to measure which variant of your A/B test produces better SEO results.
How to Improve SEO Performance with A/B Testing
Choose two clearly defined variants that you want to test (e.g. two meta descriptions, two page titles, two heading tags, etc.)
Add rel=canonical link attributes to avoid a duplicate content penalty
What are internet users looking for when they use a search engine? Whether they want expert information, an in-depth analysis, a detailed product review, or a quick answer, they are ultimately on the hunt for good content. When they come across a piece of web content that they find valuable, they usually browse, scroll, click, share, and sometimes even link to it. If your company wants to grow it’s online presence, there’s no better way to do so then through content development — or simply providing great content to the millions of internet users who are constantly searching for it.
With 40,000 searches happening on Google every second, the search for content is not going away anytime soon. There is so much information and content available on the internet, but most of it is low-quality and doesn’t even get organic traffic from Google. The primary reason why is because Google’s algorithms prioritize content that is high-quality and will only show users the best of the best on the internet.
So if you’re a site owner that creates high-quality content, you have endless opportunities to grow your online presence, earn new customers, and reach your business goals. Content is an extremely powerful tool, but it’s hard work, and getting the most out of content extends far beyond simply doing keyword research.
Web content development is a strategic process that your business can deploy again and again. Even better, developing a solid content marketing strategy is more cost-effective than paid media, and when done well, can result in just as many clicks and conversions.
If you have a strong content creation strategy already in place but need help with optimizing that content to rank better in search results, look to our on-page optimization resources to learn how to improve keyword rankings for your best content assets.
Content development is the process of creating content from start to finish. It may sound simple, but a successful content strategy is informed by data analytics and executed with clear purposes and performance-based goals. A great piece of content will not only provide users value, it will rank for relevant keywords, generate engagement on social media sites, and most importantly, guide your website visitors toward conversion.
With its unmatched indexing power, Google dominates the search engine market share, meaning the majority of internet users go to Google first when searching for new content. Creating content then, is not only about appealing to users, but also appealing to the search engine bots that determine those top-ranking results. Google indexes every web page you create for your site, and its powerful algorithms equip those bots to not only understand what your content is about, but whether it’s high quality and relevant to what users enter into their search bar.
There are many ways to establish a content development process, but it will likely depend on the size of your team and the resources available to your brand. A single content writer or strategist will only be able to implement a modest content strategy in comparison to an SEO or digital marketing agency that has hundreds of content creators.
But regardless, it’s important for your business, whether small or enterprise-level, to have a content development plan. Thinking more strategically about content development and optimizing each step of the process can result in thousands of new keyword rankings for your website, meaning thousands of impressions that can bring more organic traffic, more conversions, and more revenue.
Content Development and SEO
One of the primary benefits of great web content development is that content can rank for multiple keywords in search engines, which can expand your market by driving new visitors to your website. However, Google’s algorithms are constantly being updated and refined, meaning SERP results fluctuate. You may have already earned a top-ranking spot for a high-value keyword, but a competitor could soon publish a more comprehensive piece of content on the same topic that Google finds higher-quality, and thus starts ranking above yours.
Google’s crawlers are advanced enough to understand not only what your content is about, but whether it is accurate, well-written, how much information and comprehensiveness it provides, and how it visibly looks and technically functions for the user in the internet browser or the type of device they are using. Site owners that want to consistently earn traffic from search have to be creating new content and updating their old content so it remains relevant to users. Google only wants to show its users the most valuable, relevant information, meaning a “set it and let it,” approach to content may work in the short-term, but not if you want to drive traffic to your website for years to come.
Creating quality content goes hand-in-hand with SEO engine optimization. There are so many SEO benefits that come from content marketing efforts. Here’s just a few of them:
Keyword Rankings: Every piece of content you create has the potential to rank for multiple keyword phrases in Google.
Backlinks: If you create a great piece of content, other webmasters will want to link to it. More backlinks increases your overall site authority, meaning Google will be more inclined to rank content from your domain.
Conversions: High-quality content can help you drive users to perform a specific conversion action on your website. According to a Hubspot report, websites with more than 40 landing pages increased conversions by over 500%.
E.A.T.: Google looks for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Great pieces of content help display E.A.T. for users and search engine crawlers.
Site Traffic: If you develop great content on a consistent basis, Google will continue to rank your content and users will continue to come back to your site again and again
Brand Awareness: Although more difficult to measure, content that includes your branding, logo, company name, or executive bylines showing up all across the internet helps improve brand recognition and reputation
Content and SEO go hand-in-hand in that there’s no point in creating a piece of content without optimizing it for search. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so if you want a share of that 93%, your content has to rank. Having more pieces of content on your site — as long as they are high-quality — gives more reasons for Google to rank your website and for all of the above benefits to start flooding in.
Content Development Basics
Don’t just create a piece of content without thinking about who will read it, what goals it can accomplish for your business, or what value it brings to users and learners. As stated at the outset, content development is all about clear, concrete goals. So for every piece of content you create, you should be asking some basic content questions.
Who am I Creating this Content for?
Who is the audience engaging with your content? A user who discovers your content in a search engine will have different needs than a previous client who clicks on a content resource shared in an email marketing campaign. It’s impossible to create your content to appeal to every single audience member, but you should have a central idea of the target audience that you’re creating the content for, and try to create value based on that audience’s needs or preferences.
What is my Goal of Writing the Content?
Your content needs to have some type of purpose so you can ultimately measure its value to your brand. Do you want to drive subscribers? Rank for a specific keyword? Get published on a certain website? Having clear, performance-based goals helps you quantify the value of your investment.
For those content marketers trying to prove the worth of their efforts to executive leadership or other members of their marketing teams, having concrete, performance-based benchmarks can really help you show the return on investment for your content efforts. You can use tools like Google Analytics to understand how much traffic your content is driving to your website from search.
What Type of Content am I Creating?
The way that you choose to develop content for an infographic versus a long-form article will differ based on the accepted rules of the content type. Nothing is worse than an article that doesn’t answer the question set out by the title, or an infographic that doesn’t deliver on the visual expectations people and learners have for that medium. Every content creator needs to understand the expectations their audience will have for each piece of content type and follow those rules accordingly.
How Can I Make this Content More Valuable for the User?
We have all seen bad pieces of content. Nothing turns off a user more than a poorly written article, a badly designed infographic, or a video tutorial that doesn’t deliver on the promise laid out in the video description. Just publishing content is not enough — it needs to be high-quality.
Google’s webmaster guidelines are very clear about what they considered to be high-quality content. Review them and ask yourself whether or not your existing content assets meet the quality standards set by search engines. If not, you can’t expect that your content will magically start ranking. But if you use their guidelines as benchmarks for what every piece of content on your website should look like, there’s a better chance that your content will rank well and often.
The Content Development Process
In reality, the content development process can be as short or long as you make it. If you simply want to publish a blog post on your site and never revisit it, that’s fine, but you will miss out on so many opportunities to drive website traffic and conversions.
A good piece of content is a gift that keeps on giving, but only if you’re willing to follow a thorough process that maximizes the value of each piece of content you create. At LinkGraph, we break down the content cycle into eight essential steps.
Ideate: Determine your topic, subtopics, audience, content type, and the specific purposes or goals for the content, whether ranking for a particular keyword, generating email addresses or subscribers, getting video views and shares, or some other performance-based goal.
Research: Gather the sources and information you need to produce a quality piece of content. As you create, include outbound links to the external sources that you reference and internal links to the relevant content that already exists on your own website.
Create: Transform that research into an informative, structured, readable, engaging, and valuable piece of written, visual, audio, or interactive content. Make sure the content includes solid information architecture and interactive elements like jump links, rich media, or expandable content modules.
Optimize: Optimize your content for the keyword target you want the content to rank for. Use a tool like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to identify relevant Focus terms or Latent-Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms that Google will see as relevant to certain keyword phrases. Make sure the content is optimized on the front-end and also on the back-end with HTML tags and technicals like heading tags and meta descriptions.
Publish: Publish the content on your website or pitch your content to a reputable, authoritative website in your industry niche.
Promote: Promote the content through social media channels, email marketing, and link building campaigns. If your budget allows, you can also use social media advertising or paid media to drive traffic to your content.
Repurpose: Find ways to repurpose the content into other pieces of content, whether expanding a blog post into an ebook, creating an infographic from a section of a long-form article, or using clips from your webinar to share as social media posts.
Repeat: After time has passed, promote your content again to users who may have missed it the first time or now have new reasons to find the content valuable. After 6 months, make sure you update the piece of content with any necessary numbers, figures, or information so it can stay evergreen and meet Google’s content quality-signals.
Content Development and On-Page Optimization
When it comes to optimizing your content for search engines, you can reference our ebook for a more detailed guide. Optimization is a crucial step in the content development process if you want your content to rank and accomplish your strategic goals. We don’t cover optimization in-detail in this post, but here are a few key highlights to keep in mind when thinking about how to improve your overall content development strategy for SEO.
Keyword Targets vs. Topic Clusters
For years, general SEO wisdom has stated that every piece of content on your website should target the specific keywords or search phrases that you want to rank for. This has guided content strategy across industries, and most SEO writers still optimize the pieces of content they create for a single keyword target.
This is still an appropriate strategy for sites who want to rank and can prove successful, but keywords continue to grow more competitive and difficult to rank for. Also, Google crawlers no longer just see the keyword target located in your page titles and heading tags, but they are advanced enough to really understand your content semantically. Google also understands the various subtopics and long-tail keyword phrases users enter into the search bar that have a close relationship to those primary keywords.
For this reason, topic clusters — or content clusters — are a better way to frame your overall content development process. Think about the primary services that your business offers and has expertise in — those will form the “pillar pages,” of your website (most likely a home page, your service pages, category pages, etc). To form the content cluster, create multiple pieces of content that explore subtopics of those primary categories with detail, nuance, and a lot of topical depth. Then, make sure you link back to your primary pillar pages with every new piece of content your create in a cluster.
For example, if you provide financial planning services, you’re topics of expertise may include stock trading, retirement planning, or family trusts. Content you may create for each cluster could include, “Best ETFs of 2021,” “How to maintain your standard of living in retirement,” or “How to set up a Nevada Asset Protection Trust.”
With multiple high-quality content clusters linking back to your pillar pages, Google crawlers will associate your entire website as an authority on those key parent topics. Here’s a visual example of what topic clustering looks like:
And here’s an example of what those pieces of content may look like in a specific industry:
Topic clusters are a way to think about your content development process for the long-term. Google’s algorithms have changed and grown more complex over the years, but Google’s desire to rank high-quality, authoritative content from experts hasn’t. Topic clusters are a way to establish your authority and expertise, and therefore get Google associating your brand name not just with a single keyword, but with the thousands of keyword phrases that have relevance to your related field.
In order for your content to rank in search engines, you need to make sure that it is optimized on both the frontend and backend. This is why good website developers are so important. When it comes down to it, Google is a robot, and making sure the HTML side of your website clearly communicates what your content is about is a way to help Google help you.
Uploading an XML sitemap in Google Search Console is also very important as you scale up your content development. The more landing pages and content assets that you add to your site, the more important a site map becomes so Google crawlers understand which web pages of your domain are the most important.
It’s also necessary to think about what users see in search engines before they click and engage with your content. Title tags, meta descriptions, and even features like schema.org markup will change how your SERP results visually appear on the page in comparison to your competitors. Remember, users won’t really get a grasp of the quality of your content until after they have already clicked on the SERP result, so make sure that you optimize the title tag and meta description so users are encouraged to click.
11 Types of Content your Brand Should be Creating
There are so many types of content your business can create to use for digital marketing and SEO purposes. Most likely, the types of content you choose will be limited by the resources of your team. Infographics will require a skilled illustrator or graphic designer. Video tutorials will require quality A/V equipment and video editing software. In general, the ideal content development team will include content writers, UI/UX designers, graphic designers, videographers, illustrators, web developers, software developers, and a skilled digital PR team.
If your business doesn’t have the ability to employ all of these people right away, that is okay. If your business only consists of one core product, you may not need to be developing all 11 types of the below content. However, because users have so many options when it comes to content on the internet, it’s easy to lose their interest quickly. Thinking creatively about the content you create, and producing a variety of content types, is more likely to produce the clicks, page views, sessions, and conversions it takes to reach your business goals.
Here are 11 different types of content that your brand can create in your content development process.
Adding a blog to your website is one of the simplest and best ways to start implementing a content marketing strategy. Most content management systems make regularly publishing a blog post simple, and have the features to help you add rich media, jump links, or design elements that elevate the overall page experience for users. If you don’t have a content writer or strategist on your team, a digital marketing agency like LinkGraph can provide blog writing services.
In some ways, you can think of an ebook as a really long blog post, but ebooks are more technical and often include design elements that encourage a user to engage with the content for a longer period of time. Ebooks are meant to be instructional in nature and provide the audience extensive information on a topic in a specific industry niche. Ebooks can also serve as reference sources that other writers want to cite or link to in their content, and therefore can be easily used for link building campaigns.
When your content team needs a break from all of the writing, you can offer live webinars to your existing leads. Holding a live webinar provides an opportunity to offer a more personalized experience with question and answer sessions, demos, or other features. Recording those webinars and putting them on YouTube or a video page on your site means those previous live events become permanent content assets that can drive future organic traffic and conversions.
Like webinars, tutorials are video assets that provide instructional value and are more often than not connected to a specific product or service that you offer. For B2B and SaaS companies in particular, tutorial videos can help highlight the unique features and the multiple applications of your products. If you provide a software or business intelligence product, tutorials are a crucial way to also establish your expertise and authority in your vertical and to make sure customers are getting the most from your services. Tutorial videos are a great way to build customer loyalty and encourage email and YouTube subscribers.
Another engaging visual asset that is great for content marketing purposes is an infographic. Infographics can exist on their own or be paired with blog posts and long-form articles, but they provide engaging data visualizations and usually include custom graphic design or illustrations. Google also loves visual representations of data, and informative, optimized infographics often rank for multiple keywords in Google image searches.
Case studies are detailed, data-driven documents that examine how your products or services have produced concrete results for a customer or client. Case studies often follow a “Problem/Solution,” structure, and show improvements based on metrics and industry-specific KPIs like sales, website traffic, customer-acquisition costs, and more.
White papers are similar to ebooks in that they are authoritative, comprehensive explorations of topics, but they are usually more tied to specific moments in time, current events, or present day issues (e.g. “Digital Marketing in the time of Coronavirus”). White papers most often include original research or methodology, executive summaries, charts and graphs, and are organized with a top-level structure that makes for easy scanning.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Consistently reaching out to your existing customers, leads, and subscribers is a great way to show the value of your products, services, and brand. Emails that are too sales-focused often go unopened, ignored, or unsubscribed to. However, using email marketing to make your contact list aware of your content resources–also called information marketing–helps emails feel less annoying and more valuable to the user.
Social Media Posts
Having a consistent social media presence is beneficial for brands of all sizes. Although it’s not as easy to build an organic following on social media sites as it once was, social media provides another platform through which to share the content that you create and drive traffic to your website. If you run paid media campaigns on social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, your advertisements can promote or link to content on your site that provides value to your target audience.
Slideshares are visual presentations that can be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Like infographics and webinars, slideshares provide a visual experience for internet users who respond well to visually engaging experiences. Slideshares can focus on many topics, but turning your reports, white papers, webinars, and tutorials into Slideshare presentations can be a great way to maximize the value of that previous content and present it through a new medium.
Another increasingly popular type of content that more brands are creating are podcasts. For B2B and B2C brands in particular, podcasts are a great way to display expertise, highlight the applications of your products, as well as create value-for-value exchanges by featuring other industry experts through interviews or guest speaker opportunities. You should offer your podcast on the Apple podcasts platform and have a dedicated page on your site for your recent podcast episodes.
Off-site Content you should also be Creating
On-site content is important to bring traffic to your website and help guide users toward conversion, but creating content for off-site purposes like reputation management, public relations, and link building is equally important in your content development process. Off-site content provides you the opportunity to link back to the content assets that live permanently on your site while also elevating your site authority in the eyes of Google.
Many online publications accept guest posts submissions from experts in their same industry or field. Guest posts provide the opportunity to reach a new audience, to earn backlinks, and to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other webmasters. Site owners are always looking for great content, and if you can provide them with a high-quality piece of content, it’s considered a win-win for both parties.
Most content marketers prioritize evergreen content because it ranks well in Google for the long-term, but the news cycle often brings opportunities for experts to weigh in. Opinion pieces are a great way to get published in high-domain authority sites like online newspapers that would otherwise be hard backlinks to acquire. Pay attention to the major breakthroughs, stories, and newsworthy events that happen in your industry so you can find the perfect time to weigh in.
Long-form Articles/Original Research/Reports
Like guest posts, long-form articles provide you the opportunity to provide a piece of content to another site owner. Although long-form articles are great for your own site as well, sharing that research with other members of your industry is a great way to build your expertise and reputation as an authority in your vertical.
Tips for Scaling your Content Development Strategy
The ability to grow your content development will ultimately be limited by the scope of your resources and/or team members. Creating high-quality content is a lot of work, which is why many businesses outsource their content creation to digital marketing or SEO agencies like LinkGraph who have the infrastructure and resources to produce content at scale. Here are a few tips for scaling up your content development.
#1. Hire Content Writers and Strategists
If you are just starting to improve on your content development process, adding a full-time content writer or strategist should be one of the first steps. If you cannot bring someone on full-time, there are freelance writers who can create blogs and on-site content on a part-time or contract basis. Ultimately, you will want a writer who is a skilled researcher and has familiarity with your industry, audience, and knows how to optimize for SEO.
#2: Think Bigger About your Content Strategy
Every single piece of content that you create isn’t just one piece of content — it’s multiple pieces of content. A blog post about one topic can be expanded into an in-depth ebook. A single concept covered in an ebook can be visualized in an infographic. An infographic can be shared on Instagram, LinkedIn, or can be pitched to other publications in a digital PR campaign.
Having duplicate content on your website can result in Google penalties, which is why step 7 in our content development process is called “Repurpose.” Once you create a high-quality piece of content, you can use it as a foundation to create other new types of content that provide similar information or topics, but in a different medium or content type.
Thinking about each piece of content you create as multiple pieces of content is a great way to scale up your content development process so you can be a brand that is not only known for your products and services, but known for creating tons of great content and resources.
#3. Develop an Editorial Calendar
Getting on a schedule and setting deadlines is essential to scaling your content development process. Editorial calendars are publishing schedules that include topics, deadlines, and target keywords, and guide the process of creating content across multiple channels.
Whether you want to publish new content once a week or twice a month, an editorial calendar can help you plan out the topic clusters that will elevate your keyword rankings and brand expertise. Think about the goals you want your content to accomplish, and then set performance benchmarks with rankings, traffic, links, or social shares alongside your content deadlines.
#4. Outsource your Content Development to a Digital Marketing Agency
If you don’t have the resources in-house to operate content development at scale, that’s where an SEO and digital marketing agency like LinkGraph comes in. With over 1000+ pieces of original content per month, our 50+ editorial team knows what it takes to create content that ranks and to do so on a tight schedule. Brand new websites that want to grow quickly can benefit from outsourcing the content development process, as well as corporations or enterprise-level organizations that need optimized on-site or off-site content at scale.
Closing Thoughts on Improving your Content Development
When done right, improving your content development process can have so many positive results for your brand. It’s possible that your business has mastered certain stages of the process like research and content creation, but could benefit from streamlining or revamping other parts of the process like promotion or repurposing. Maybe you’re at the stage where you need to hire your first full-time writer or maybe your brand has grown large enough where you need more content than you can realistically create in-house.
Regardless of where your content development process currently stands, a site audit can help you pinpoint the areas where your process needs the most improvement. Content creation is such an essential part of your marketing and SEO strategy, and it’s worth taking the time to measure your current progress so you can direct your efforts to those areas that need the most attention.
Remember that content development is one of the most cost-effective ways you can grow your business or brand. If you start investing more time in your content development strategy, you will begin to see the rewards at every level of your organization. And if you’re ready to start scaling up your content strategy, talk to one of our experts.
With each day, it seems as though a new digital marketing platform promises to revolutionize the way you reach consumers. From chatbots and paid ads to social media and influencers, there are plenty of ways to reach your customers; however, with such a wealth of options, the question becomes which method (or methods) are actually effective.
The latest outreach methods certainly have their pros; however, we often forget one of the oldest yet most effective marketing channels: email. When used correctly, targeted email marketing can be an easy and accessible digital marketing approach for anyone trying to grow their business.
Not sure how to get started with targeted email marketing? Keep reading to learn more about this tried-and-true marketing strategy and the best way to make it work for your brand.
What is Targeted Email Marketing?
Consider this: there are 3.9 billion daily email users worldwide. That’s a lot of accounts and emails ripe for the picking. However, as consumers, we all know the annoyance of waking up to an inbox full of messages that we have no plans to read. As a business owner, how can you ensure your email messaging stands out? How can you craft content that resonates with your consumers, demanding to be read, rather than flagged as spam?
This is where targeted email marketing can help. The idea of targeted email marketing automation is simple. All you have to do is send a specialized email to a group of interested subscribers. This can be done using list segmentation, the act of splitting up your subscribers into different “pools” based on their demographic, interests, location, and website behavior.
Think of it this way––when you send targeted email marketing, you’ll be sending the right message to the right email subscribers at the right time, which increases the likelihood of the customer opening the email, clicking, and making a purchase. When done correctly, your customer will feel catered to, leading to increases in retention and conversions.
Targeted Email Marketing Vs. Traditional Email Campaigns
Think back to the last time you checked your inbox. How many emails did you get throughout the day? Chances are, you’ve put your name on some merchants’ email lists and now receive dozens of emails per week offering sales and general store updates. This type of email comes from a traditional email campaign, one set up by a company to promote brand awareness and grab impulse buyers.
Sure, there are benefits to traditional email campaigns, but these may not be appropriate for your business’s audience and may require you to spend too much time and money for a proper ROI.
Traditional email campaigns reach a mass audience with more generic content that does not speak to the individual consumer. This choice can be great for larger brands that may not need to reach specific customers; however, even these brands utilize targeted emails. For example, if you subscribe to a clothing store’s email list, they’ll likely only email you about sales and updates for the fashion of your gender.
Targeted email marketing reaches your customers with a more individualized approach. Naturally, there are many approaches to targeted emails; however, the most effective ones share these qualities:
Urgency: Instead of sending the same content to millions of subscribers, you send a specific newsletter or promotion to a targeted set of consumers that have already expressed interest in your product or service. After all, a vegan will likely have little interest in your new line of leather home furnishings.
Call to Action: The goal of these targeted emails is for your clients to respond in some way; whether it be making a purchase, completing a survey, signing up for an email newsletter, or calling your store. Be sure that, in addition to information, you’re also providing your readers with a way to convert.
Human Touch: In a world where everything is primarily done online, it is more important than ever that your customers feel like they are talking to an actual human behind the screen. It’s always a good idea to write and sign the email from the perspective of an actual team member.
So you’ve drafted your emails, fine-tuned them with a personalized flair, and sent them to the appropriate consumers. With all that said, how will you know if your strategy works?
What to Know About Targeted Email Campaigns: Open Rates, Clicks, and Conversions
The most important thing to know about targeted email marketing is that you constantly need to experiment, examine your data, and adapt based on your findings. You never know exactly how readers will react to your messaging. Think about it. If a company’s email doesn’t interest you, are you going to take the time to draft them a response explaining why?
Luckily, there are a few metrics that can help monitor your targeted email marketing campaign. If you read them carefully, you can figure out how to hone your strategy.
An email’s open rate tracks how many subscribers opened the email you sent. This is the most important metric to check; after all, if no one is opening your email, how will your message get out?
In a world of digital distractions, there’s a need to make your email’s subject line really pop and get attention. For example, studies show that email subject lines using the subscriber’s first name are 26% more likely to be opened. In a world where the average open rate of an email is about 16%, an increase of a few percentage points can mean hundreds of additional eyes on your brand.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Click-through rate (CTR) measures how many consumers clicked links in your email. So if your email included a link to your website’s homepage, it measures the number of people directed there via your message. At just above 7%, the average CTR for a targeted email marketing campaign may seem low, but when you translate that percentage into number of views, the figure can be impressive.
There are some easy ways to increase your email’s click-through rate;
Putting a link within the first sentence of the email’s copy.
Add links to specific product pages under pictures of the product itself.
Including an eye-catching and unique call to action (CTA) at the end of the email with a prominent link to your optimized website.
Remember, you’ll want to be strategic with your links. More than a few will likely either confuse or overwhelm your reader. We’d recommend placing one key link near the beginning and another towards the end, likely where you’ll bring up your call to action.
A conversion measures when a potential customer becomes a consumer. While your CTR measures how many people clicked on a link, the conversion rate measures how many consumers actually completed something. What you consider a conversion can vary depending on your business goals. A conversion can be making a phone call, signing up for a workshop, or participating in a certain sale by entering a promo code.
At the end of the day, no matter what your specific conversion is, this metric will give you a unique insight into your ROI. When you figure out how many people are buying from you, compared to how much you are spending to acquire them, you will be in a better place to see whether or not your targeted email campaign is successful.
Collect Customer Data to Create Targeted Email Lists
If collecting all of this data sounds like a daunting task, then fear not! Assuming your company has existing customers, you likely already have a ton of unused consumer data at your fingertips. But before you can do anything with it, you need to proceed strategically to help you measure your success and get the best results. You will want to:
Set Specific Goals: Similar to the conversion metric, your goal can be anything you want it to be, from having a customer make a phone call and completing a purchase to promoting a new product, free plan, or collecting email signup forms.
Choose Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):Depending on the goal you come up with, your key performance metrics could be batch, open rate, downloads, signups, and/or sales. Be sure that the KPIs you privilege correspond with an increased conversion.
Analyze Your Data: Testing your data is exceptionally important, so make sure to frequently check your results to understand if they align with your original goals. The easiest way to do this is by using customer relationship management software (CRM) and email services, which can track everything for you.
Not all data is created equally when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Now that you have a process to manage the success of your targeted email marketing campaign, you’ll want to start segmenting your data.
You’ll want to start off with some basic demographic information like age, sex, and geographic location. This information is easily collected during a sign-up or time of purchase. Use it to your advantage when you want to send personalized emails to your target audiences such as millennials, parents, or those who live on the East Coast, for example.
Different customers have different sensibilities, and you’ll likely have a wide array of customers that visit your site through its tenure. You will have returning customers who are loyal to your brand, new consumers who are considering products or services like yours, or those that just need something on the fly without requiring brand loyalty.
Understanding these customer types and their user behavior can help you determine how to accurately target them; whether it is via a retargeting campaign to get already converted consumers to buy, offering a new customer discount, or even sending a thank you note.
It is incredibly important to track behavioral data because it tells you what about your website piques user interest. It will show you not only product trends but also how many customers are filling up a cart and then leaving the site mid-purchase.
This “bouncing” is incredibly common, and understanding the data behind it can give you insight into your next steps. For example, if a specific group of consumers is leaving the site right before they put in their credit card, you can consider adding a one-step payment system like PayPal to your site. Or, if you are noticing that your consumers rarely press “check out,” you can email them a coupon code or some other special offers enticing them to return to your site and hopefully convert.
Best CRM & Email Marketing Softwares for Targeted Email Campaigns
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software simplifies life for business owners, as it tracks dozens of data metrics and presents them in one dashboard. Plus, these CRMs seamlessly integrate email marketing platforms to help you manage, store, and track your data.
There are plenty of CRMs available depending on your needs and goals. Here are some of our favorites. Each of them simplifies the work of targeted email campaigns.
The HubSpot CRM is great for a beginner as it has everything you may need in a CRM, email marketing service, and email service provider––all in one place. With HubSpot, you can draft emails from a series of templates or make your own from scratch. You can even send emails and track analytics through this platform. They’ll provide you with information such as open rate, click-through rate, and they’ll even tell you which links were clicked.
Salesforce is a great CRM for small business owners. For beginners, it’s a simple way to approach targeted email marketing due to its intuitive interface. Salesforce also offers advanced reporting of website visitors and lead assignment routing, as well as the ability to track new and inactive subscribers
If you have an e-commerce business, Keap is the way to go. It is an all-in-one software tool that generates leads, develops, and sends out automated email campaigns throughout the United States. It also allows you to sell your goods in an online store.
Successful Email Marketing Campaigns and the Power of Personalization
In order to conceptualize how targeted email marketing works when done correctly, it’s important to look at some successful national email marketing campaigns with brands you may know.
Chatbooks is a photo book service that offers custom prints and binding at the click of a button. They go the extra mile in their email marketing by sending emails that evoke powerful emotions such as love or nostalgia. For example, they have been able to target new mothers, suggesting that they commemorate this sentimental time with a photo book chronicling their new baby’s first year. Ultimately, this strategy proved highly successful for them.
To retain customers, this tea company sends thank you letters following every purchase. By sending these emails with a personalized message about the consumer’s purchasing history (i.e how many cups of tea the consumer bought from them), the user starts to feel important and remembered, ultimately leading to further purchases down the line.
Loft is an apparel brand that approaches their email marketing with transparency. They promote the fact that users can manage their email preferences in order to receive content that truly resonates with them. This self-selecting strategy boosts their click-through rate, as their emails only go to the consumers who have chosen to get them.
As you can see from these three brands, the power of personalization can really go far when it comes to connecting with your customers and encouraging them to convert.