The SEO content strategy at a glance
Base your keyword research around the topics your audience are looking for at different stages of the typical customer journey. Produce content to rank and stand out at different stages of the journey. If you do this, you will be found when your prospective customers use search engines to do research and identify a need and find a product or service provider to satisfy it.
Before we cover the strategy though, let’s refresh our memories on what content does for SEO.
The purpose of content for SEO
Marketing content has loads of potential purposes. It can be used to engage social media followers, extend reach through sharing, increase email open and click rates or occupy native positions on content distribution networks (like Outbrain or Taboola). That’s just the start of uses for content.
For now though, let’s forget every use, except for its use as part of an SEO campaign.
SEO content is used for:
- Publishing on your own site to increase its visibility in search results (and acquiring organic traffic)
- Publishing on other websites to earn backlinks and referral traffic
- Being published or linked to by other websites who want to share your content with their audience
- Generating social media signals
- Having a reason to publish frequently
- Providing opportunities for internal and external links
There are six reasons to produce SEO content. They all point back to one outcome: Generating signals to increase search visibility of a website.
When you produce an SEO content strategy start by considering what topics you want to be found for in search engines. Next, consider what those topics tell you about the stage of the prospect in the customer journey (or marketing funnel).
The customer journey as part of an SEO content strategy
The customer journey covers the typical steps a customer will go through to become a customer. It’s a similar theory to the marketing or sales funnel. You want lots of people to start at step one (or the top of the funnel) because you know lots will drop off before making it to the final step (purchase). You also want to attract the attention at the people coming to the end of their journey (or bottom of the funnel). People at the end of the journey may have decided they want a product or service like yours, but not yet decided which brand or service provider to use.
Your SEO content strategy should include topics designed to acquire website visitors at different stages of the customer journey (keep reading, we’ll tell you how). It’s the same as a traditional sales and marketing approach. You should plan how many visitors you need to reach your goals at each stage of the journey and then produce content to get them.
Depending on market, product or service, the number of steps and the time it takes to complete a journey differs. I consider the one below quite typical:
- Prospective customer identifies problem or need that a product or service can solve
- Prospective customer researches the problem and identifies a solution
- Prospective customer finds and reviews options
- Prospective customer chooses a brand to solve their problem and becomes a customer
The problem I’m feeling could be a feeling of insecurity about my appearance and the solution I identify could be a new suit. It could be a need for a hotel in New York or it could be a leaky tap. Brands solve problems. An SEO Content strategy should also solve problems.
Let’s take a look at the customer journey and explore the different types of content you should include in your SEO content strategy.
Content creation for customer journey step 1:
Prospective customer identifies problem or need that your product or service can solve
Sometimes people identify a problem themselves, sometimes they develop it over time by researching. A typical self-identified problem is a leaky tap or a trip to a dentist because you feel pain. A problem developed over time is the desire for a new bathroom (provided your old one functions fine) or a trip to the dentist for cosmetic surgery.
A prospective customer doesn’t need a brand’s help deciding a need if it’s a self-identified problem, but they will turn to search engines to look for solutions and relief. If you offer a product or service where the user typically identifies a need themselves, you can jump to the next section.
People usually develop a need for a product or service based on the things they see, hear or read. When people start to think they have a problem, they often turn to search engines to find solutions. Helping them identify and manage those problems is a great way to be the first brand on their radar.
The owner of the house who wants a new bathroom has probably looked into bathroom trends, the best colours for small bathrooms, wood panelling vs tiles in a bathroom and various other pieces of content that provide advice (or steer needs).
The dentistry patient who wants a Hollywood smile will have probably researched DIY tooth whitening techniques and the top ten celebrity smiles. They didn’t just wake up self-conscious about their smile or with thousands in the bank to fix it. Their self-consciousness, and their willingness to part with thousands to fix it, developed over time. As they’re doing research and developing their opinions you can stand out and grab their attention as the expert in that field. When they’re ready, you will hopefully be the first brand they turn to.
Content creation for customer journey step 2:
Prospective customer researches the problem and identifies a solution
It doesn’t matter how the problem is developed, people turn to search engines for advice and solutions. This is the part where they collect information to manage their needs and decide the best way to solve them. Use the opportunity to offer some advice and in the process, stand out.
Back to the dentistry patient with toothache. Before they book an appointment, they’ll want to know the best painkiller to relive toothache, the cost of a root canal and how much time a dentist recommends they take off work after treatment. The patient interested in cosmetic surgery may want to know different types of surgeries and their outcomes, the costs for particular surgeries or horror stories about people who went to developing countries for low-cost dental work (if they’re cost conscious and thinking about that).
Even if the SEO content you’re thinking of producing is produced by others don’t worry. If your prospective customers are closer to your location than others you have a better chance of ranking for that reason and if they’re not, you’re just going to have to work a bit harder to compete on a national or international scale.
Consider what sort of questions your customers ask at this stage. They know they have a problem, but they don’t have a solution. An easy-to-understand example is internet security. Someone without a security solution knows they are vulnerable, but they will need to do some research to determine if they need anti-virus, email encryption, firewall etc. When they have decided what solution they need, they’ll research again to decide which provider they choose. If you stand out early, your brand is in a good position when they begin reviewing options.
Content creation for customer journey step 3:
Prospective customer finds and reviews options
This is when the prospect begins searching for keywords that demonstrate a purchase intent. “Dentists near me” / “Plumbers near me” / “Anti-virus software for PCs”.
If you get a prospect’s attention with content early in the customer journey, there’s a chance they will already know and trust you by the time they reach this stage. Although, even if you’re doing a great job of standing out early on in the customer journey, it’s useful to be found when they perform searches that demonstrate a purchase intent.
Remember, it’s possible that prospects could go through their journey with other brands. A search at this stage could be to find alternatives or do a final pre-purchase comparison. If this is the case, it is the last chance to get their attention.
Content creation for customer journey step 4:
Prospect chooses brand to solve their problems
After identifying a need and determining which brands can solve their problem most people have a shortlist. Their final decision will be based on factors outside of SEO, but SEO can help swing it in your brand’s favour.
At this stage, the prospective customer is going to choose the brand or product that suits their values, their price point and seems the most trusted. Your products and services will have been designed to meet specific needs and serve specific price points. SEO can help develop trust.
If you have consistently come up in prospects’ research, and your brand has been helpful and appeared knowledgeable on the topic, there is a good chance they will already trust you by the time they get to this stage. Social media engagement (follows, likes, shares) are SEO signals but they also help people develop trust in a brand. Checking out a brand’s social media page is becoming an important part of the buying process for most products and services. It’s important to design your SEO content to work on social media and to post it there.
Your reviews are an SEO signal too. The keywords included in reviews can help you rank for related searches. They are the go-to place for most consumers to make a decision. Collecting reviews and maintaining a good review score is important for SEO and trust. Giving clients example reviews is a great to encourage them to be descriptive in their review. If they’re descriptive, they will naturally mention the keywords you want to appear for in search engines.
The impact other marketing activity has on SEO
Bear in mind that SEO isn’t a standalone activity and its performance will be impacted by other marketing activity, brand sentiment and a range of factors. If you want to know more about the impact other marketing activity has on SEO read an analysis one of our Directors wrote for SEO Blog that covers the impact offline marketing has on organic click through rates.
If you need a hand coming up with an SEO content strategy, get in touch with us for a no obligation chat.