Content marketing is the fire that forges a connection between your business and its customers. But it only works if you have a targeted delivery system to bring it to the right people at the right time. Leveraging organic search to put your posts, pages, products, and case studies in the path of your target audience — when they’re looking for solutions — will help you build this untapped channel into a reliable pipeline to feed your sales funnel. That’s where a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy comes in.
Instead of approaching SEO and content marketing as separate functions, apply SEO best practices to your content creation to elevate your marketing efforts. In this guide, I’ll explain how an integrated SEO content marketing strategy can help you:
- Identify which topics to cover and guarantee demand for the content you create.
- Anticipate your audience’s needs to keep them engaged and generate high-conversion leads.
- Make sure search engines can categorize your content so it ranks well in search engine results pages (SERPs) and reaches your audience.
What Content Should You Integrate With Your SEO Strategy?
Any content that search engines can crawl — and that you want people to find — should be part of your SEO content marketing strategy. Web pages, articles, blog posts, case studies, videos, images, and product descriptions are all examples of searchable content to craft with SEO in mind so they appear prominently in search results.
How To Integrate Content Marketing and SEO
Ready to get started? Here’s a simple plan to align SEO and content marketing and maximize your reach through organic search.
1. Get Topic Ideas & Relevant Keywords From Your SEO Team
SEO professionals have a bevy of tools at their disposal to determine search demand (aka audience interest) in specific topics. The right technology combined with industry knowledge and creativity can reveal:
- Which existing pages are the most popular.
- What keywords customers use to find answers to their questions.
- Related search terms that may help your business reach a previously untapped audience.
- The keywords your competitors rank for.
- Trending topics you can leverage to get ahead of the competition in SERPs.
SEO strategists evaluate potential keywords based on the number of people searching for them (search volume), how difficult it is to rank for (keyword difficulty), and how they align with your overall SEO objectives.
This analysis determines which keywords are valuable to target with your content.
Once your SEO team delivers their keyword research, you can incorporate their findings into your content marketing research and integrate them into your content plan.
Add new content ideation to your editorial calendar to maintain a steady output of content for ranking purposes. I’ve found that an increased publishing cadence speeds the accumulation of topical authority, creating a virtuous cycle that boosts overall site performance.
How often should you publish? I’ve found that bi-weekly blogging is a worthwhile goal to aim for.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about how to translate your new keywords into an improved content marketing strategy.
2. Use Your New Keywords in Your Content
Now you’re ready to produce high-performing content. Let’s address how to incorporate keyword themes into your writing to broaden your reach and how to analyze user intent so your final product meets searchers’ needs. The following principles apply to creating net new content and updating older content.
Your writing will sound more natural if you incorporate a keyword theme into your content instead of repeating a single keyword. For example, if the primary keyword for your post is “graduation gifts,” your theme might include “grad present” or “gift for high school graduate” as secondary keywords.
These semantically related search terms lend variety to your writing and help you rank for additional keywords. Generally, I’ll use the primary keyword a few times in the body copy, plus add it to the h1 title and an h2. Then, I’ll use secondary keywords at least once elsewhere on the page.
Impactful content requires more than just dropping keywords into page copy. Align your content as closely as possible with readers’ expectations. Your top priority is to understand why searchers use specific keywords so you can meet them with the best possible answer. Pages that satisfy search intent enjoy a better rank and generate improved engagement, so consider the context and deliver the most helpful content for the situation.
Users have different reasons for their searches:
- The purpose of an informational search is to answer a question. For example: What is a French press coffee maker? How do I use a French press?
- Commercial investigation searchers want information to narrow down purchase options. What features are available? What brand is best? What are customers saying about this model?
- Customers conduct transactional searches when they’re ready to buy. They know exactly what they want and are looking for the best price or company to buy from.
- Navigational searches are used to find a specific website or page. Users rely on Google to deliver a clickable link rather than navigating to a website on their own.
One of the easiest ways to determine search intent is to review the already-ranking pages. Analyze how these pages answer the query. Then make your content stand out with a fresh angle and original information.
3. Add On-Page Optimization to Your Content Process
On-page optimization is a set of practices that refine elements of your website to improve search engine crawlability and indexation — both critical components of online visibility. If you don’t already have a system to optimize your content, create a pre-flight checklist to make sure every piece is fully optimized before publishing. Next, build a process to systematically review and optimize existing content to make the most of previously published pages.
On-page optimization includes tasks such as:
- Adding a unique page title and meta description to each page that incorporates a target keyword.
- Organizing body copy with h1, h2, and h3 headers that demonstrate information hierarchy.
- Creating skimmable content with simple language and short paragraphs, plus bullets and numbered lists that make it easy to locate key points.
- Including featured snippet-worthy copy and using markup text for rich snippets.
- Using short, descriptive page URLs that align with page content.
4. Use SEO Tools To Incorporate Semantically Related Keywords
There’s a lot to keep track of when leveraging SEO for content marketing, but you can make the process more manageable with the right SEO tools. For example, a platform like SurferSEO can suggest semantically-related keywords to add to your piece, plus track how many times you’ve used each keyword phrase on the page.
One of the truly magical features of SurferSEO is that it analyzes your content against top-ranking competitors. Content is rated by SurferSEO’s proprietary algorithm, which is based on patterns in keyword usage, headers, and other SEO elements. Keep in mind, this isn’t Google’s algorithm, but regardless, it can shed some light on how to close the rank gap between your page and those in the top spots.
5. Keep Writing for Your People
Great content marketing engages readers with well-written information that’s interesting and useful. Building trust with helpful content generates demand from the top of the funnel and nurtures customers toward conversion.
Great news! Google values the same trust-building content that your audience does! You don’t have to choose between SEO content and high-quality content when you write a blog post.
Google prioritizes content that delivers a comprehensive, satisfying reader experience. On the flip side, pages that are obviously generated to drive clicks and fall short of reader expectations ultimately can’t maintain top search positions.
Aim to create people-first content that:
- Appeals to curious readers.
- Meets the needs of your target audience.
- Draws on your expertise to share something of value.
- Shares enough information to satisfy searchers’ needs.
- Offers a fresh take on a topic instead of being derivative of other content.
- Is written or edited by a real person and not an AI platform.
Sound like a lot to remember? Streamline your content creation process with a blog template.
6. Transcribe Videos
The popularity of video content is on the rise. According to a survey by Wyzowl, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool by producing explainer videos, product demos, presentations, and testimonials.
But search bots can’t understand video content. Make sure your video content is searchable by sharing it with a transcription. Transcribing your video makes it possible for Google to understand its relevance to specific search queries and index it appropriately. Transcripts are also an opportunity to build internal links to other pages if there are relevant phrases to use as anchor text.
From a user’s perspective, transcripts offer a choice in how they can enjoy your content. Some people may want to read a transcript instead of watching a video if they don’t want to disturb others. Or people in a rush might opt to skim written content instead of sitting through a video.
To maximize the visibility of your videos, check out our video SEO post.
7. Use Alt Text for Images
Alt text is an HTML attribute that describes an image on a web page. It’s critical for accessibility and helps search bots understand what an image conveys — so they can index it for image searches. Properly indexed images can bring organic traffic to your site through image searches.
Alt text is written in this format:
- <img src=”image.jpg” alt=”image description”>
Use a relevant file name and a descriptive explanation with fewer than 125 characters. Avoid stuffing keywords into the description, and incorporate your keyword naturally.
8. Use a Content Audit To Find Old or Underperforming Pieces
A content audit is a comprehensive review of your website or blog that confirms each piece of content has a purpose and supports your business goals. A content audit gives you an overall picture of your site’s performance and how you can improve it.
To audit your content, create a spreadsheet containing each URL on your site, along with details like:
- Page title.
- Brief content summary.
- Type of content (article, video, infographic).
- Word count.
- Number of page visitors.
- Time spent on page.
- Bounce rate.
Look for pages that aren’t attracting or engaging visitors — or resulting in conversions. If the page covers a topic that’s relevant to your customers, improve its appeal by updating old content and optimizing it for search. At the same time, do some content pruning to streamline the site and make sure search engines don’t crawl and index pages with no value to searchers. Victorious offers a content audit as part of our SEO audit services if you need help.
9. Connect Your Content With Internal Links
Strengthen your topical authority by linking old and new pieces of content. Thoughtfully placed internal links help readers and search crawlers navigate your site to discover additional information and understand how your site is organized.
When you anticipate what your audience might be interested in and ensure it’s just a click away, you encourage them to stay on your site rather than find the answer elsewhere. Readers may appreciate links to resources that elaborate on the topic or products and services that solve their problem.
Internal links also help search bots gather information. Use descriptive anchor text that indicates where a link goes to help Google understand what’s on the destination page and how it relates to the page you’re linking from. Links can also help a new page build authority. For example, when you publish a new post, link to it from a high-performing page. Link equity from an established page will flow to the newer page to demonstrate its credibility and rank higher.
10. Track the Impact of Your Efforts
Once you’ve implemented your content marketing SEO strategy, use keyword tracking tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush to monitor your results. These tools track where your pages rank in SERPs for particular keywords over time. You can determine if your efforts are making a difference and adjust your strategies if you don’t see improvement.
Use Google Analytics to track how well your SEO content attracts traffic.
Ultimately, combining SEO and content marketing should offer the two-fold benefit of aligning your content to your business goals and bringing qualified prospects to your website. Use the Landing Pages report in GA4 to identify your highest-performing pages.
Goodbye, SEO vs. Content Marketing
Using SEO best practices to inform content creation empowers you to create valuable content that’s relevant to your target audience.
I’ve found that an integrated approach to search optimization has turned our organic traffic channel into an irreplaceable business asset that’s highly leveraged in meeting our lead gen goals. When paired with SEO, content is transformed from a nice-to-have to a reliable way to future-proof your sales funnel.
Ready to set aside the content marketing vs. SEO tug-of-war? Find out how our SEO content writing services can transform your content program into an engine that drives your company’s growth. Schedule a free SEO consultation to learn more.