Content Marketing: 15 Top Search Optimization Tips

Content Marketing & SEO

Searching for content marketingContent marketing and search optimization are intricately interwoven. Content provides context to better understand products and services.

Going beyond text descriptions, Content marketing answers consumers’ questions at every step of the purchase process. Great content enriches your audience persuading them to choose your firm’s product through a variety of different formats and keywords.

Sixteen experts give their advice for leveraging content marketing to support your search optimization plans. 

  1. Go beyond the content. Simply having great content doesn’t mean you will succeed in SEO. It is your job to go beyond simply publish great content and working hard to distribute that content via social media. Network with with others in your industry for opportunities for guest blogging and cross promotions as a way to building inbound links and search engine authority for your content. Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Strategist at HubSpot (@KippBodner) and Jeffrey L. Cohen, Social Strategist at Salesforce Radian6 (@JeffreyLCohen) Co-authors of The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More.
  2. Tie in with the trends, be interesting and real. Add your commentary to trending news and take trending news and make it your own news. Lisa Buyer – The Buyer Group (@LisaBuyer).
  3. Determine your goals for your content marketing and related search optimization. This informs the content’s topic and format. Know your audience and what questions they have related to your offering to better develop effective content. Create marketing personas to aid content creation including social media. Not sure what their questions are? Ask your customer service representatives and put a link on your website. Create an editorial calendar to ensure that you create sufficient content on a regular basis. In addition to integrating one to two keyword phrases per piece of content, include photographs, videos, audio and presentations with related search information. Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies @HeidiCohen.
  4. Proper measurement through link  tagging. Make sure you tag any links you post to social media. Use Google URL builder or Piwik’s URL Builder or whatever tracking parameters your  analytics package supports. If you don’t tag your inbound links properly, you can’t best measure which social media campaign contributed to a conversion. Whether you’re talking social media, any shared content or advertising of any kind (display, affiliate, email, etc), if you don’t tag your inbound links, it’s nearly impossible to determine exact acquisition costs and attribute conversion properly. Google Analytics now has impressive reports for both social and multi-source attribution. It allows you to see which channels contribute at what visit number. These reports prove that the money and efforts you spend on your various content marketing activities works. Thom Craver – Rochester Institue of Technology (@ThomCraver)
  5. Kick start your imagination, and brainstorm related key phrases – all with the aim of creating a richer body of text that will attract more visitors on a broader range of related key phrases. Don’t just choose your main key phrase and repeated umpteen times. Ric Dragon – Dragon Search and author of Social Marketology (@RicDragon).
  6. Aim high.  Over the next few years we are going to see massive changes in search and social.  The Panda algorithm and the Search, plus Your World releases by Google are just the beginning.  Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate a very high level of visibility that makes you truly stand out.  Did you know that many major regional newspaper sites accept guest articles from quality writers?  Note that they will only take really solid content, but, from a search engine perspective that is exactly the point!  Net-net, a trusted link from an authoritative source.  There are many other places to find links of this value too, so don’t take the easy way out and do lots of low value guest posts.  Put in the extra effort.  It is worth it. Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting Corporation  and co-author of The Art of SEO with Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin (@StoneTemple).
  7. Always think of and put the needs of your customer ahead of trying to game the search engines.  When your content marketing is relevant to the customer, it will be relevant to the search engines, too – but it doesn’t always work the other way round. Marc Engelsman – Digital Brand Expressions (@marc_engelsman).
  8. Create content primarily for humans, with search engine considerations a secondary concern.  People buy your products, inquire about your services, and like, share or embed your videos.  So, create content primarily for the people who use search engines and not just for the crawlers that visit a page.  This means using emotions as well as search terms.  As Lorraine Twohill, Google’s vice president for global marketing, told Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times on Jan. 1, 2012, “If we don’t make you cry, we fail.”  Ms. Twohill added, “It’s about emotion, which is bizarre for a tech company.”  Greg Jarboe – SEO-PR and author of YouTube Marketing An Hour A Day (@gregjarboe).
  9. Use your keyword research and predictive keyword tools to identify relevant and trending content that will engage your visitors. Then map to relevant content and keywords on your landing pages. Ron Jones – Symetri Internet Marketing and author of Keyword Intelligence (@Ron_Jones)
  10. Create unique meaningful optimized content in multiple formats – think outside the written word! Embedded videos and images on your site should include keywords in the filename and in content surrounding it. And, while on-site content should be the main focus of content marketing, you should also be syndicating optimized content in press releases, white papers, videos, infographics, slideshows and images (photos).  This content will help build engagement with consumers as well as indexable content for Search Engines.  Chris Keating, VP, SEO and Conversion Optimization – Performics.
  11. I just complete a research report on content marketing. Part of our findings is that marketers are becoming less reliant on text content (blogs, articles, etc.) in favor of video, mobile and visual content such as graphics, images and infographics. This may meet the needs of users, but it’s important to bear in mind that all search engines understand is plain, old-fashioned text. Titles, metadata, labels, transcripts – using words is critical, otherwise it’s not “content” as far as Google or Bing are concerned.  Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group and author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization  and Content Marketing (@lieblink).
  12. An editorial plan inspired by customer segment information and even buying cycle characteristics for those customer groups can be very helpful for great content SEO. Knowing when and why prospects use search helps content marketers decide what types of content, media and keywords to use.Using web analytics, conversion data, social media monitoring and other SEO metrics, we might be able to determine the following path for a particular customer segment:
    1. Awareness: Difficult problems solved by product X – contributed article in relevant publications read by target audience. Keywords are used in the title and within the article.

    2. Interest: Demonstration of product X to solve Y problem – video of product on YouTube, embedded in blog post, uploaded to Pinterest, G+ and Facebook all optimized with relevant keywords.

    3. Consideration: Reviews of product X – pitch industry publications and blogs to review X and used keywords in the product data, descriptions provided to reviewers.

    4. Purchase: Where to buy product X – create a store locator with geographically specific pages optimized for location keywords + product X attributes.

    By planning content and keyword optimization across the buying cycle, brands can attract consumers whether they follow a linear path or at any point in between. Lee Odden – President, and author of Optimize (@LeeOdden).

    • Producing great business content that builds rankings, drives traffic and generates inbound links requires a unique blend of capabilities. Put together a dynamic content team (whether internal or outsourced) able to deliver content that is strategic, brand centric, buyer-persona focused, optimized for search engines, technically sound and results driven.
    • Know what your prospects and customers want to achieve, and then create content that meets their goals. Understand how your audiences consume information, and choose the content tools that speak to them. Blog posts, email newsletters, and video are the obvious choices, but consider the potential of press releases, original reports, case studies, white papers, e-books, content curation, webinars, streaming video, infographics, photos and podcasts.

    Paul Roetzer – CEO, PR 20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Insider (@paulroetzer).

  13. 1. Recycle your content correctly. A press release can be reworked to become a promotional blog post, which in turn can be posted to your Facebook wall or Tweeted about. A white paper can be sliced into a dozen blog posts; a webinar can turn into a year’s worth of 2 minute videos for your video marketing campaign. Keep in mind that content recycling is not that same as article spinning—you are not submitting the same piece of content to a dozen sites. They key is to keep the messaging consistent but change the style/formatting to fit a new medium.

    2. Don’t over think topics! There is always something to talk about. Have your sales reps/customer service reps write down every question they get asked. Use blog comments are starting points. Expand on bullet points in a webinar or white paper. Most site owners are so worried that no one is going to be interested in what they have to say that they get stuck. Your audience is going to be interested in your content! 

     Nick Stamoulis – President, Brick Marketing  (@NickStamoulis).

  14. My answer might seem overly simplistic. But I’ve noticed that website usability is often about “overlooking the obvious.”Talk to your customers and prospects. Ask them what content they would like to see on your website. Then organize and label that content appropriately.As a part of our usability, information architecture (IA), and SEO research, we like to interview the people that answer the phone. What questions do you keep getting over and over again? The website should address many of those questions. Is there a tool that might help customers or prospects make easier and better choices (both for the business and for the customer)?Overly simplistic? Yes. Incredibly effective? Absolutely.  Shari Thurow – Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive and author of When Search Meets Web Usability (@sharithurow).

The bottom line is that integrating search optimization into your content marketing maximizes your marketing efficiency. But, you must focus on developing content your prospects and customers are looking for, not just feeding the search engines.

What would you add  in terms of the biggest mistake you see marketers making with search optimization? What do you recommend they do about it?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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