Time-strapped, budget-conscious B2B and B2C marketers can’t afford to make unwise choices with SEO and content marketing.
You won’t find a do-everything-for-me software product, but you can make excellent progress by continually asking these questions:
- Am I confident that my team and I understand SEO?
- Do we have the time to shape SEO strategies and put them into motion with content marketing?
- Are we using the right third-party SEO tools and resources to support our efforts?
- How do our business objectives relate to SEO and content marketing?
- How can I best measure our ROI?
It’s tough to answer all of the questions if you aren’t sure how to deal with the first question – do we understand SEO?
Marketers love SEO because it seems like they don’t need to “pay” for the website traffic derived from SEO – at least not like they do with advertising. Most SEO expense is tied up with people resources – internal wages and fees for freelance writers and consultants.
Website traffic is critical for B2B marketers – 63% say it’s the metric they review more than any other to evaluate success, according to CMI’s B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America. Thirty-nine percent of B2B marketers also cite SEO rankings as a key metric. Similarly, 62% of B2C marketers monitor website traffic and 39% view SEO rankings as important metrics, according to CMI’s B2C Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America.
If website traffic matters to you, the following SEO tools and content marketing principles and tips can help you make good decisions and use your marketing dollars well.
What does your website bring to the table?
You can research keyword phrases all day, but ultimately the chosen words and phrases will make the difference.
Some business executives with whom I speak honestly believe they can just pick whatever words appeal to them. They shouldn’t. Keywords should be selected based on your website’s strengths and weaknesses, including how well they match keyword relevance, and searcher intent, including:
- Existing content
- Planned content
- Website age
- Domain name (It helps to include a keyword or phrase.)
- Website structure (whether search engines can index the content)
- Page URLs (Use dashes to separate three to five words.)
- Inbound links
- Ability to add SEO page titles
- Meta descriptions (helpful if they include clear calls to action)
- Amount of website traffic for competitive keywords (Google Webmaster Tools provides some details you might not see in Google Analytics.)
- Relevance of keywords used to reach your website
- Current rankings (Your website’s ability to rank well for keywords will affect your SEO strategy.)
- Website design and navigation (including mobile)
- Calls to action (to leverage organic and other traffic)
Go low and grow keywords
Should you use a keyword phrase that receives 10,000 monthly searches or 2,000? Sometimes, you’re much better off using a keyword phrase searched less than 2,000 times a month – and maybe even as little as 100 to 500.
Given the number of other results on a search engine page, you might think that low search traffic for a keyword phrase is not likely to generate any website traffic. But you’re not just targeting one phrase in your content.
Even if you focus on something like “CRM solutions,” the presence of that phrase and other words on the subject in the content itself can give rise to any assortment of keyword phrase searches, including synonyms and close variations.
It simply doesn’t make sense to pursue a keyword phrase that’s searched 5,000 times when you don’t even rank No. 199 for it today. Could you pull it off? Sure. It may require several pieces of related content, not just one article.
The following example from Google’s Keyword Planner offers a sense of how often some keyword phrases related to CRM software are used and how suitable they may be for a business.
Pay a writer
Whether you rely on in-house talent or freelancers, you need someone to write SEO content that can be reused in email, social media, SlideShare presentations, etc. Good copywriters don’t just write well; they shape and guide content.
You can enter 72 characters including spaces in a page title. Don’t waste them by using your company name or a navigation label like Our History. Use keyword phrases in the title.
You still can separate keywords with commas, but using a headline format is more common (and looks better, too, when SEO titles appear among the search engine results and social media). Maybe take a blended approach. I sometimes use SEO phrases after a colon. It’s an easy way to showcase the most critical phrase early in the SEO title. Here are a few suggestions (primary keyword phrases in bold):
- Bathroom Vanities for Your Home (The presence of “home” can help produce other high rankings for a number of keyword phrases.)
- Sweaters for Women: Women’s Clothing, Tops
- Compression Molding Presses: Powder Compacting, Heated Platens
I get that some marketers hesitate to fill pages with too many words because they don’t want to turn off website visitors. Or they fear that the content will educate the audience too much and give them no reason to call or complete a contact form. But long content can complement the design. If your content is short, search engines aren’t as likely to rank it well.
Based on your SEO-related business needs, you can focus on several writing options, including:
- Write short, hope for the best.
- Write long and break up the text about your products and services with notable quotes, subheads, images, charts, etc.
- Mention calls to action high on the page.
- Create a growing set of how-to evergreen articles on specific topics that target specific keywords.
Years ago, online marketers favored a minimum of 250 words per page, and then consensus seemed to be 500. Lately, experts say at least 1,000 words are needed to maximize SEO content – which is what I recommend, too.
Work your target keyword phrase into the SEO title, the URL, on-page headline, and throughout the content. Find natural opportunities to incorporate the phrase (no need for overkill).
For more data and insights, check out The Ideal Length for Blog Posts, Tweets, and Everything Else in Your Marketing.
Seek inbound links
It’s frustrating to hear over and over that you just need to create great content and SEO will take care of itself. It’s naïve. Your content must be pitched or found before anyone can think about sharing it. Only a few people may see your original 1,200-word blog post if you’re not using a keyword phrase that your website’s authority is strong enough to support. You can help influence your website’s search rankings over time by obtaining links to your site from other sites.
I’m a big fan of Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. He’s effective at creating content that attracts links.
He’s a master at SEO, link building, and all things marketing. On his Quick Sprout blog, you’ll find countless posts that generate links, SEO rankings, and thousands of comments. He also attracts links by showcasing infographics and extensive guides like The Definitive Guide to Conversion Optimization.
Like Neil, your team can create valuable content that people will want to share.
Here are some simple ideas that may inspire you to create content that people may link to from their blogs and other websites.
You can present them as long blog posts or other website content that’s immediately available to visitors. Or, take these or other concepts and turn them into a four-page PDF that anyone can download if they provide a name, email address, and phone number. Although a PDF can be gated content, you can improve your odds of ranking well by including a free excerpt (or several excerpts) that can be indexed by search engines. Consider maximizing your content by summarizing key points in an infographic that others might link to from other websites.
The following suggestions may help you think of some content topics that you can develop to encourage others to link to your website.
B2B Content Ideas for SEO
- Manufacturing in 2015: Best Insights, Tips and Innovations
- 12 Ways Businesses Fall Short With Investment Strategies
- How to Put the Best Applicant Tracking Systems to Work
B2C Content Ideas for SEO
- 10 Best Holiday Travel Destinations for Families in 2015
- Don’t Buy the Fitness Hype: Set Your Pace with Practical Meals, Exercises
- Gone Forever? 20 Fashion Trends from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s
To influence SEO, you can build inbound links by:
- Promoting your content through websites, email campaigns, social media, advertising, and business relationships
- Writing for online publications (Get a link to your full piece or bio.)
- Registering with industry online directories
- Reaching out to influencers (see 6 Tips for Influencer Marketing from an Influencer)
- Asking related blogs, newsletters, and magazines to link to your content
- Reviewing competitors and other websites to scope out the link sources they already found and following up with those sites to post your content (If you’re researching competitors and industry websites, the MOZ Open Site Explorer is a good place to start.)
Measure SEO the right way
Some businesses still look at search engine rankings to define part of the ROI. I check search engine positions to chart progress in view of other data, but it’s not the best way to assess ROI. Here are some suggestions on how to measure SEO effectively after you establish search engine visibility, visitor, page view and other performance goals:
- Create a how-to guide for SEO as it relates to content marketing and track how many leads are created in a year. You can even assign a value to each lead by estimating how many leads are needed to land a sale. For example, if it takes 20 leads to close an average $10,000 sale, each lead is worth $500.
- Tie your efforts to marketing automation products like HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On software, and Infusionsoft, which help grow and manage details about new and existing email contacts (including whether new leads are based on organic searches).
- Leverage Google Analytics to track your response forms, e-commerce, and more.
- If you’re not collecting an email – and simply giving away content – you can still monitor a website PDF and other downloads through Event Tracking.
- Use call tracking services offered by Mongoose Metrics, Marchex, LogMyCalls, and others that can tie calls to organic searches.
Use tools for technical and competitive analysis
Brands can get insights about SEO trends and capabilities of major enterprise SEO tools and platforms with this free gated resource, Market Intelligence Report: Enterprise SEO Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide. It’s a good way to size up leading vendors that help marketers manage, understand, and use vast amounts of SEO data.
Other useful SEO tools include:
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider
- Majestic SEO
- SEO Site Checkup
- Keyword Tool
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Here are some additional perspectives on search engine optimization:
- The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 15 Steps to Optimize Your Content Marketing Plan
- 10 Most Common SEO Pitfalls
- 14 Checklists, Scorecards, and Worksheets to Set Up Content Marketing Success
- More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
- A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO
- Don’t Ignore SEO Strategy in Favor of Content
What techniques and tools work best for you? How do you set and revise your SEO content strategies based on what you need to accomplish?
Want to expand your content marketing best practices? Start with these two free e-courses, which are part of CMI’s comprehensive Online Training & Certification Program. It contains over 19 hours of must-know strategies, tactics, and best practices, delivered by leading experts. Sign up now.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).