Businesses create content for a variety of reasons - one of which is for search engine optimization.
To provide a comprehensive list of content marketing tips for SEO, Website Magazine called upon 52 Web professionals to share their expert opinions of what it takes to get content ranked. While some of the advice may be similar and still others very different, there's something to gain from each of the tips below. Have a look and if you have something to add, please sound off in the comments section at the end of the article.
"Use your website's own internal search data to see what site visitors already on your website are entering in the site's search box. Use frequent search terms as topic ideas and create optimized content for these terms."
- John Fairley, VP of Digital Services at Walker Sands
"Focus on one keyword phrase to optimize your content for and then make sure you include that phrase in the meta title, h1 tag and ideally the first sentence of your piece.
- Kate Harvey, Content & Search Marketing Manager at Chargify
"Create content that people are already searching for. There are lots of tools to determine search volume and competitiveness for a keyword. The obvious sweet spot is high volume and low competition and your article can rank quickly and get results."
- Dan Laufer of CEO RentLingo.com
"SEO is known as organic search for a reason. Content should entice readers organically, not through clickbait or keyword spamming. Make content that readers want to read and share. Search algorithms are getting smarter, so don't try to game the system. You may inadvertently blacklist your site if you do."
- Richard Heby, Head of Content at Hokku PR
"Thematically relevant content is key. Create an outline of your content with the Title Tag being the "primary topic." Heading and sub-heading tags(h1, h2, h3) should be used to further reinforce the Title Tag. The text in between these tags should reinforce both the Title and Heading tags."
- Jon Clark, Founder of Fuze SEO, Inc.
"We take exact match keywords from paid search marketing and use those as the basis for content. It is a true signal of what people are looking for in terms of content, since it is their exact search requirement."
- Will Schneider, FulfillmentCompanies.net
"My best tip is to link internally to relevant content throughout your own site. It's important, however, not to link excessively from pages and posts, as that is spammy and looks bad to Google."
- Celina Levin, Technical SEO Associate, Majux Marketing
"Answer the questions that your product answers. If your company is the solution to a certain problem, then your content should reflect the fact that you have the solution. Serve as a resource and help those who are looking for something that you provide. Ask and answer this question in different ways to make sure you help the most people who are looking for your solution, find you."
- Leeyen Rogers, VP of Marketing at JotForm
"Don't be distracted by optimizing an article nobody will read. Focus on the end game - finding a solution to the readers problems. You can optimize until the end of space and time, but begin by capturing the reader's attention with a powerful headline and continuing that engagement throughout the content."
- Mariah Menendez, SEO Account Manager for LocalWork
"The best content for SEO is rare content. That means your content covers an issue or problem that has not been covered anywhere else and that users are searching for. Google and Bing need to provide valuable and helpful responses to search queries for their users so if you can produce niche content that is unusual, hard to find but is in demand then you'll score really high in rankings, even over other high-ranking sites that might touch on the topic but do not do a good job of covering the topic well.
- Andy Walker, Senior Strategist at Cyberwalker Digital
"Creating content that ranks well in search is all about keyword research. Use tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to research relevant keywords that have high search volume, then include the keywords throughout your content in the title, URL and article body."
- Takeshi Young, SEO Manager, Optimizely
"Historical keyword data is an excellent place to start, but don't forget to use demand forecasting tools such as Google Trends.
- Conor Keenan, Digital Marketing Manager at Christine Waller Photography
"The SEO Yoast Plug-In for WordPress makes optimizing content for keywords, meta descriptions, readability, and length (title and post) simple. It's like having a search engine optimization consultant evaluating your work and making best practice suggestions before pressing the publish button."
- Tony Faustino, President of Faustino Marketing Strategies
Use Google Keyword Planner to find a keyword that can be the subject of a content piece that will naturally lead to conversions. With creative use of KW Planner, you can often find a phrase that has good search volume, low competition and flows well for a writer.
- Dan Flaherty, Outreach Coordinator at PeriscopeUP.com
"Google and other search engines are still pretty addicted to recent content, so an important aspect of content marketing SEO is your frequency of posts and updates. Don't let your content get stale.
- Jay Denhart-Lillard, Chief Marketing Officer of Yooniko
"Find a void, and fill it with big, beautiful pictures! If your target audience is searching for how-to, and articles are getting decent traffic then a bright, easily digestible, infographic will get as many or more shares, links and traffic. As people we're drawn to images and it's been that way since the beginning of time. From hieroglyphics to graffiti to infographics, images get noticed.
- April Jimenez, Digital Marketing Specialist at Huemor Designs
"SEO takes time. It's important in content marketing to anticipate and build content up before its peak period. If Valentine's Day 2016 is coming, start working on related content two months beforehand, hone it, and build it up as much as possible before it's officially "launched" with social media.
- Geoff Hoesch, Principal at Dragon Digital Marketing.
"To compete for rankings against the big players in your industry optimize your content and landing pages for local searches. The competition for big money keywords like car insurance is stiff, however there is great opportunity and less competition for Seattle car insurance."
- Adam Johnson SEO Specialist at QuoteWizard.com
"In the beginning it's better to understand that you are always going to evolve content to appeal to different things over time. Only by evaluation and re-evaluation can you improve on existing content to re-engage and capture your audience."
- Curtis Boyd, CEO of Future Solutions Media
"When it comes to writing optimized content: Place your keywords strategically. Putting keywords in the title and headings is effective, but be careful not to overuse them in the content itself. Search engines are good at estimating user experience, and are likely to view content with too many repetitions of a keyword as spam."
- Michael Miller, Digital Producer for Coalition Technologies
"My number one tip is to not over optimize your content. Yes, you need your target keywords in the content you're writing, but if you have too many instances of the same keyword it can actually damage your rankings. Try to write content that sounds natural to your readers."
- Brandon Howard, Owner of All My Web Needs
"Survey your current audience for new content ideas that satisfy a need that they have. It's worth the effort. Then, focus each piece of content around one unique theme or idea, always ensuring that the content includes a compelling title and description metadata."
- Kevin Gamache, Senior Search Strategist at Wire Stone
"Share new content on all social linking networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) and social bookmarking sites (StumbleUpon and Digg). Schedule the content to share again the next day, a week later and a month later. You'll gain valuable link juice and see high spikes in referral traffic from these websites."
- Christine Rochelle, Director of Digital Marketing & Operations at lotus823
"Search has changed. With long tailed queries becoming the norm, simply looking at what specific questions that users have and addressing that question as the foundation of the content give great results and, if broad enough, a foundation of getting into the knowledge graph."
- Brad Hall, President/Founder of EntertainmentCareers.Net
"Mind-blowing content is worthless if Google can't process it. Give your content an SEO advantage with article schema. Spoon-feed your masterpiece to Google with structured data markups. By doing this, Google will reward you by potentially placing your content into a coveted content carousel for maximum SEO bang and exposure."
- James Goodnow, Attorney at The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team
"Forget everything you think you know about SEO. Yes, optimize your images/alt-tags/headers/subheaders with targeted keywords and variations. But search engines are getting more intelligent. Now they prioritize quality over quantity, so go deep and write better, longer content that serves as the definitive piece on the topic."
- Brock Murray, Director of Web Marketing at seoplus+
"One solid tip for optimizing content to best position it on search engines is to make it not only relevant to the demographic of the consumers you are trying to target, but also well within the authority of the company as a whole. Writing content that is outside the wheelhouse of the company's expertise does nothing for either the content or the company."
- Alexander Ruggie, Public Relations Director at Milestone SEO
"Each phrase entered on search engines is a query, a question that needs answering. Creating content to address those questions is a great SEO strategy to drive targeted traffic that is primed to convert. This is pain point marketing content, you answer custom issues with content, before they arrive."
- Scott Benson, President & Chief Strategist for Benson SEO
"Don't write for Google. Write for your audience. In fact when it comes to creating content, ignore Google. The power of SEO comes from earning links from authority sites by creating amazing content."
- Ed Brancheau, SEO Expert at Goozleology SEO San Diego
"Create content that appeals to people who are just discovering your business for the first time, as well as returning customers. Diverse content creates the impression of authority and helps you better take advantage of secondary and even tertiary keywords. It'll also help convince Google you're providing value, not just going after a single keyword. And here's a bonus tip: Optimize your keywords, but always, always write with your human audience as your top priority."
- Melissa Johnson, Content Editor for Affilorama
"Know your keywords and incorporate them in your content. This includes adding them into the first words of your press release headlines, bylines, boilerplates and blog posts. You can also add keyword-rich scripts to videos and webinars. And ensure images have alt tags with optimized descriptions."
- Rory Carlton, Principal at Arketi Group
"Identify key subject areas and the keywords you want to rank for within them. Group content into physical or virtual 'siloes and only link content within the same silo, never out. This helps Google understand what your site's about and boosts your chances of ranking for your desired search terms."
- Carly Klineberg, Head of Content at Rebel Hack
"Creating optimized content requires going beyond basic keyword research and understanding search intent. Using the Keyword Planner to find highly searched keywords is important, but take it a step further to discover the type of content search engines prioritize for the particular topic to help you beat out the competition."
- Chelsea Neuman, Associate Director, SEO at Resolution Media
"Google focuses on answering searchers questions with valuable content. Find a common question your potential clients have and fully answer that question with a very high quality targeted content piece. Increase the quality of your content by adding interactive elements like lists, quizzes, etc."
- Matt Casady, Content Marketer and SEO for Big Leap
"Write longer content on the keyword you want to optimize. Add in images if you can (infographics are great if you can create them as they will create more social shares). Then, using the content, create a short video for YouTube as well as a PowerPoint to put on Slideshare with links back to your article. This will create more backlinks initially and help drive traffic.
- Louise Hendon, Co-Founder of Paleo Flourish Magazine
"Always make sure to check your keyword density AFTER you draft your content on your website. Often keyword density is inaccurate when checking in a word processor as you might have a navigation, widget or footer etc that includes your target keyword(s)."
- Gert Hattingh, Head of Digital Marketing at Oneclickhere
"Talk about other people. This makes your content interesting and shareable for them, giving you a headstart in social buzz and backlinks (which are the lifeblood of SEO)."
- David Mercer, Founder of SME Pals
"User-generated content (UGC) in the form of ratings and reviews can deliver powerful SEO benefits to your e-commerce site. The language used by reviewers is different than the language used in product descriptions. When you include this unique 'review language' in product detail pages, you create unique content.
Additionally, rankings get a boost from unique terms used in reviews. Search engines understand the language used by reviewers is not the same as the language provided by manufacturers. Search engines use review language to reinforce the topic of the product detail page. As a result, pages might rank better for phrases they already ranked for and they might rank additionally for phrases introduced via reviews."
- Helmut Berie, Product Manager at SLI Systems
"Target keyword phrases that have high search volume, high commercial intent and relatively low competition. Then for each keyword phrase, write compelling content that has those keyword phrases in the page title and body content, ensuring that it reads well for your readers."
- Goutham Bhadri, CEO of Marketing Samurai LLC
"Prioritize long-form content (aim for 2,000 words or more), based on a topic that has reasonable search demand and doesn't have much epic content already in place. Use a title tag that encourages click through, and build internal links to that page.
- James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing for WikiJob
"When I create content, I want the reader to be able to take something from it that they would have not otherwise been able to find. If I can give that value to the reader, Google and other search engines will recognize that and my rankings will improve."
- Daniel Orseno, E-Commerce Manager at PartyCheap.com
"People have become accustomed to querying search engines like they are talking to a person. I call this the 'Siri effect.' Instead of typing in keywords, we ask questions and type in full sentences. As a result, content marketers need to understand not just the keywords and terms that their audience are using (as opposed to the industry jargon or technical terms businesses use), but the way they frame their questions, and incorporate these questions as long tail keywords in the content they create.
- Kathleen Booth, CEO of Quintain Marketing
"It's easy to lose important intended audience perspective when writing with extensive knowledge about a subject. Use Google Trends and other search engine tools to determine what keywords and phrases your intended audience is using to find related content. You may find substantial differences in the way you and your audience describe the content."
- Brandon Rowe, User Experience Specialist and Creative Services Manager at DP250
"SEO success for content marketing assets really boils down to titles. If you name your content based on how you want to brand it, then it will only show in the context of that branding. Do this instead: Make the titles of your content the question that your content answers."
- Tad Miller, Vice President of Accounts for Marketing Mojo
"Create a hierarchy structure with H1s, H2s, etc. with optimized titles. Then, write your content within those headers, and completely ignore how often you are using keywords. Write freely, and use your keywords when appropriate."
- Steve Osborne, SEO Project Manager at Juris Digital
"Create contextual content which compliments the user experience (UX) of your website, providing users with solutions, not questions; and moreover, removing any thought or requirement to shoehorn keywords in at a later stage. The key focus should be writing high quality content for users and search engines, not just the search engines."
- Owain Powell, Digital Marketing Manager at Decibel Digital
"To show up on Google you must spend more time promoting content than creating it. Posting and hoping for people to find your content will fail. Reach out to influencers and people in your niche and ask for shares/links. Backlinks are the holy grail of content marketing."
- Ronnie Deaver, Marketing Manager at ICT Asset Recovery
"Spend a significant amount of time researching keywords and target audience information. Don't assume or guess at what your audience is searching. Be certain of terms and phrases through proper research. Then position your content there through SEO and promotion and get those conversions."
- John Heritage, Co-Founder of HADM
"Make sure that you spend time digging into what people actually search for. Whilst volume isn't important, knowing that you have an audience is crucial to creating content that can bring in sustained organic traffic. Scale this up with tools that mimic Google Autosuggest like Infinite Google Suggest and Answer the Public.
- Wayne Barker, Head of Online Marketing for Boom Online Marketing
"I'd worry less about search engines and more about getting my content to easily flow on social media channels and earning referral traffic. Marking up the content using social schemas, optimizing share buttons and then listening and participating in the social chatter will produce useful signals for the search engines while you engage with actual readers! Quality referral traffic and citations will further improve the value of what you create when its targeted to the right community. Both of these signals will win favor with search engines and ultimately earn you more traffic."
- Jason White, VP of SEO & SMM at DragonSearch
"Write your content as a human first – just as you would speak. Then, type your keywords into Google Search and note the recommended long-tailed keywords at the bottom of page one. Refine the keywords in your content using Google's recommendations to have human-focused search-optimized content."
- Shannon K. Steffen, CEO & Founder of Daymark Digital
"To attract the highest quality lead prospects from your content marketing campaigns, you need a plan in place that identifies the main keywords for the piece and your brand, and places these within the title, the meta tags and the content copy itself. These keywords also need to appear on each piece of promotional collateral that surrounds the main content (press releases, social media posts, blog posts, etc.). In addition, identify a number of synonyms, or similar phrases, for your keywords and include these in all of the promotional material. If, for example, you produce an accompanying series of blog posts, use these synonyms interchangeably in each post to ensure you get full coverage across the search funnel."
- Luke Rees, Digital Marketing Lead at AccuraCast