What is Strategic Content?
Strategic content is content with a special focus that boosts your visibility and rankings in search engines. For strategic content to serve your business successfully, it also needs to engage your target audience at every stage of the funnel.
Why is Strategic Content Important for Your Business?
Strategic content is also called “SEO content” because it is written specifically to create high quality, optimized content that will rank in the search engines and attract links. Put very simply, strategic content helps you rank higher in the search engines. And, ranking higher in the search engines will bring more traffic to your website, which increases leads and sales for your business.
Strategic content is evergreen, and therefore gives you freedom and flexibility to try out other marketing methods (like sponsored content and distributed content) to generate more revenue without compromising on leads from content.
How to Develop Strategic Content
There are 4 general parts of strategic content planning and execution:
- Put the topics that are easy to rank on at the top of your list.
- Create content for people across all 5 Stages of Awareness, especially stages 1-3, and link related content together.
- Create content that other people will want to link to and look for opportunities to build links.
- Keep your existing content fresh.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these elements.
Focus on easy ranking topics first
The point of starting with easy to rank topics is so that you end up with some “quick wins”, and build visibility faster. It all starts with keyword research! If you have already done keyword research, that’s great! If you haven’t done it yet, we have a great tip to guide you on how to do keyword research, because you can’t do strategic content without solid keyword research.
The best case scenario for your keyword analysis is to end up with high volume and value and low difficulty. However, not all your important keywords will fall within this ideal cross-section. That is why you prioritize lower difficulty topics.
Use a Keyword Research Tool
In our Keyword Research tip, we walked through using the Keyword Magick tool. It makes it super simple to see volume and difficulty for your keywords. SEMRush (our recommended and go-to tool for keyword research) provides color coding for keyword difficulty which makes it easy to see the higher volume, lower difficulty combinations. You’ll see in the example below that “bit inspection” has that perfect combination that we’re looking for. An example of what you wouldn’t want to tackle first would be ‘bit inspection form’ — its volume is good, but the difficulty is higher.
Analyze Search Results Pages
You can also manually assess difficulty by simply analyzing the search results pages. Look at the websites currently ranking on the first page for a given term — if you see well-known brand names or high-authority sites, it likely means you will face higher competition. On the other hand, if the results are low-quality then it means there is lower competition and a great opportunity to fill that content gap.
If you are still on your way up and working towards becoming an established and authoritative brand, prioritizing lower difficulty topics and concentrating your efforts on them will be where you can make the most impact as a brand.
Create content for all 5 Stages of Awareness
As you strategize and plan your content, cover each of the 5 Stages of Awareness because you want to reach people who are just realizing they have a problem you could solve (also called “top of funnel”) and nurture them through your funnel until they come out the bottom at your customer.
Many potential clients go through the 5 Stages of Awareness as they move from a point of being fully unaware that they even have a “problem” to becoming your customer. During these 5 Stages, they have different interests and needs, and therefore the content for each stage should be different in order to keep (or attract) their interest. When interacting with your clients, you first draw them into the “funnel” and then keep them engaged until they “exit” the bottom of the funnel as satisfied customers and raving fans.
When preparing strategic content, create a network of related topics. Link the pages across different parts of the 5 Stages creating a story line. This will improve your search optimization by raising the relevance and authority of the content in the middle stages. In the end, you want to have your content do the nurturing — in taking people from not realizing they have a problem to becoming your customer.
Content layering and optimizing internal links is important because it:
- Introduces shared authority. The content in the middle-of-the-funnel is more linkable than bottom-of-the-funnel content because you’re sharing valuable information about the problems you can solve, and how they are solved. When you create internal links, the search engines will see all of the articles as being connected to each other. This increases the authority of your converting pages because they are “connected” with pages that Google sees as being very valuable.
- Will increase your brand authority and recognition. When you rank pages for mid-funnel queries you build authority because you’re providing valuable information for people who are now on a mission to solve their problem. Having more traffic fill the top and middle of your funnel increases the number of people that will end their journey on your conversion pages (bottom of the funnel).
- Build links for converting pages. A page that has been promoted in the mid-funnel will yield links for bottom-funnel pages if you strategically and contextually linked to those pages.
The other benefit you get from creating content this way is that you’ll weave a basket to hold your potential customers. If you’re creating high quality content that is helpful, it draws them in further — building trust. And, once they do become your customer, you’re more likely to have raving fans.
Link building & strategic content
Links play an important role in your content ranking in the search engines and should be considered when planning your content. When content is “linkable” or “linkworthy” it means it has the potential for other websites to link to it.
The best way to determine the linkability of your content is to consider why another website would want to link to it. A good place to start when evaluating linkability is on who might be interested in sharing and linking to your content if you made them aware of its existence.
Some important factors to take note of while analyzing your potential outreach audience include:
- Search volume for your keyword. If nobody is searching for keywords around your topic, very few people will want to link to it.
- How many unique domains are linking to top search results. If the top results in a search can’t yield many links, your content will likely go through the same struggle as well.
- The types of pages that are linking to top search results. Do a quick review of the links and from there determine if you can get these types of links for your site.
As you analyze who is linking to content and what type of content it is, you should also remember to evaluate link opportunity. This means determining whether you can create something better than the content that is currently ranking.
Brian Dean from Backlinko.com shares how he was able to do a major increase in traffic to his website by taking an article that had good ranking and rewriting it to improve it. He calls it The Skyscraper Technique and gives 3 steps you need to follow:
- Step 1: Find link-worthy content
- Step 2: Make something even better
- Step 3: Reach out to the right people
“Here’s why this technique works so well (and what it has to do with a skyscraper): Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself:
“Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.”
Of course not.
It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.
And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.
All of a sudden YOU have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to).”
Check out his case study and YouTube video where he explains the entire process.
Some common options for improving on what’s already ranking are:
- Creating a page title that flows with your client’s thought process.
- Improving content readability and general formatting (headers, sub-headers, numbering and bullet lists, etc).
- Referencing authoritative sources (also provides built-in promotion opportunities).
- Refining a topic or exploring it further to give more information on it.
- Sharing the findings of original or new research.
- Adding extra formats to the content (video, animation, adding original photography).
- Optimizing your website for faster page speed.
Regularly update and maintain existing content
As you identify potential link opportunities and content gaps in your content strategy, remember to also analyze your existing content. You may find it sometimes easier (and more effective) to update existing content rather than coming up with new content.
A few ways in which you can do this are:
- Add extra content types or formats to upgrade existing content. For example, you can add a video to a long ‘how-to’ post to add extra value and linkability, and take advantage of the bonus traffic and attention that you may find on YouTube.
- Repurposing underperforming content into something that better responds to your audience’s needs. You can look through the search results that you want to rank in, and match the format of the best ranking content type.
- Add a “Last updated” tag at the top of the webpage. This tactic not only serves as social proof, letting your audience know how current the information is, but it also allows you to continuously update and improve a page as its theme evolves, keeping your page competitive in search.
Summary of an Effective SEO Content Strategy
Here is a summary of what you need to do when creating strategic content:
Put your initial focus on topics that have high volume and low keyword difficulty.
Analyze opportunities based on search volume, keyword difficulty and traffic value. Manually review the search results pages to remove gaps and low-competition phrases.
Create content across your 5 Stages of Awareness and link it together.
This creates a solid basket as you nurture people through the process to become your customer. It also provides Google with high quality content, and shows that your conversion pages are related to the high quality content.
Create content others will want to link to.
Consider who you want to have link to your content. What would be important to them? And, once you create content, reach out to the people you thought about and ask for links to your content.
Regularly update and maintain existing content.
Improve and upgrade existing pages with updated content. Repurpose existing content into something more linkworthy and useful for your audience. Include a “last updated” function to maintain content relevance.
Your Online Partner… for Success
Strategic content plays a vital role in both your marketing strategy and as a part of any good Search Marketing plan. You can tackle it on your own… but if you’d rather run your business and hand it off to a professional as a part of a holistic SEO plan, let’s chat. Book an exploration call with Christy to find out how we can help you grow.