How to Execute an SEO Content Marketing Plan
Lots of people have an SEO content marketing plan, often by swiping one of the hundreds of frameworks or outlines from blogs and websites. Maybe you’ve even engaged an SEO company to do the research and analysis to tell you precisely what you need to do to get your website and content to rank.
Unfortunately, despite a good plan, most of you will fail.
Content marketing and the SEO strategy that often drives it is like most things in life–it requires diligent execution to get results.
In this article, we’re going to focus entirely on executing an SEO-driven content marketing plan.
8 Steps to Executing Your SEO Content Marketing Plan
- Assess Monthly Search Engine Traffic with Google Analytics
- Identify and Plot Out Monthly SEO Keyword Targets
- Decide What SEO Content Needs to be to Created. Task Writers and Schedule It
- Publish SEO Content in the Context of a Larger Content Series
- Ensure All Content has Good, Fundamental On-page SEO
- Support Content with Backlinks, Social Media Syndication, and Press Releases
- Organize and Optimize Content On Your Website
- Review Search Engine Traffic at the Close of the Month and Measure Progress
1. Assess Monthly Search Engine Traffic with Google Analytics
At the beginning of each month, carefully assess your search engine traffic patterns in Google Analytics. You’re looking to identify points of strength and weakness, growth or retraction, in your organic search data.
Here are a few of the things you’re looking for:
- Review your “Top Landing Pages” and look for new pages breaking the top 20 and old pages that may be dropping out of the top 20.
- Consider your search queries and find popular – or could become popular – search queries that you are not directly addressing (i.e., high impression, but low clicks)
- Look for pages or search queries that you want (need) to be popular to grow your business or support your SEO content marketing plan, but are notably missing.
Based on this review and your earlier baseline, develop your upcoming month’s editorial calendar. Focus on accomplishing specific goals with each piece of content.
When it comes to SEO-driven content creation, more is better. I know some will argue with me here, but they’re wrong. Google still needs to be convinced of your relevance on a topic, and density of content still seems to have a significant impact on Google opinion.
However, realistically any content generation effort has constraints–time, talent, and budget. Most often the budget is the biggest of those challenges. Your editorial calendar can help you overcome this limitation. Use your editorial calendar to track the plan and continue to execute on your objective(s) with consistency, while accommodating your budget constraints by extending the time horizon.
2. Identify and Plot Out Monthly SEO Keyword Targets
To ensure a proper balance in your content production and publishing we recommend using our ‘Rule of Three.’
- Frequency in content publication and blog posting.
- Consistency in your publication schedule and technical SEO of individual items of content.
- Diversity in the kinds of material published, i.e. white papers, simple page posts, guides and other types of written content.
Here’s a brief example of how this might be accomplished:
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Schedule SEO-specific, keyword targeted content. (Objective: SEO)
- Tuesday and Thursday: Schedule more reactive blog posts relevant to specific hot topics in your niche or the services you offer. (Objective: Influence and extending audience reach)
- Saturday: Create an aggregation of the best content on the Web, as it relates to your target industry. (Objective: Value-add to existing audience)
An editorial plan, like this one, would result in publishing about 24 high-quality search engine traffic-garnering posts by the end of a given month. Consistency in executing this plan will rapidly add audience, web traffic, and lead generation opportunity to your website.
3. Decide What SEO Content Needs to be to Created. Task Writers and Schedule It
At this point, we have keyword objectives and the framework for a productive editorial process. The next step is getting the content created.
There are a variety of ways to get this done. Here are a couple of clear options:
- Write and create all of the content yourself
- Hire and manage a few freelance writers
- Hire a ghostwriter to create content on your behalf
I recommend and use a hybrid of these distinct approaches.
I think it is important to stay authentic, but sometimes professional content creators are necessary to achieve the scale and depth required to build an effective SEO content plan.
Here is how we organize the production of content on the Kaleidico website:
- Team members, from time-to-time, create content. These pieces are often about some interesting project, innovative approach, or a unique perspective they have on a particular topic. And most importantly, are motivated and passionate to produce. This last part is important. I want our folks laser focused on acquiring and servicing our clients in a world-class way. For core team members, content creation is only a fun side project, not a job requirement.
- I create content every week. Unlike my staff, I have to create content. Clients and prospective clients want to know the creative philosophies of their agency. They expect to hear from the strategic and creative leads. I try to make this content production as organic as possible–varying media types, venues, and topic. This kind of content is more about direct audience development than SEO.
- Then we have the meat and potatoes of our SEO content. These are essential pieces of content that clients and prospects are often looking for when they are beginning to build their digital marketing strategies. Content like this requires expertise, but not necessarily differentiating strategic depth. For this kind of content, we hire professional writers and content creators. We still drive the concepts, topics, approach and sometimes even control the outline of the content, but the production is hired out.
- Finally, we do use researchers and ghost writers occasionally. Agencies are inherently surging and retracting business models. And when we’re in a full tsunami of client priorities we can get behind in our organic content production. However, we know that frequency, consistency, and voices are often more important that the origin of each piece of content. Therefore, when we’re behind, we’ll use the assistance of researchers and ghostwriters to do the heavy-lifting of content production. Then the author simply reviews and tunes the voice in a quick rewrite of the assisted piece and we’re back on track.
4. Publish SEO Content in the Context of a Larger Content Series
The type of content you choose to publish is an editorial decision.
Blog posts can, of course, assume some different looks:
- Educational articles delving into a dense topic and explaining it with little to no explicit lead-generating purpose;
- Creative resources, such as ebooks and special reports, which might both capture an email address for future use as well as groom a visitor to consider your services at a later time;
- Shareable content, like infographics, diagrams, and video that entertain as well as inform, while using social media to garner brand impressions
Our recommendation is to start by scheduling and publishing keyword-rich blog posts of an “educational” nature. To ensure a cohesive and engaging message to your audience and Google I often recommend using a content series approach. A framework like this will help you to cover a concept in a clear and complete way, for both your audience and Google.
With this tactic, you focus on a very specific SEO term or goal and create chapter-style posts covering all the various elements of the keyword concept. Using your editorial calendar, plot out and publish weekly posts focused on your content series’. Each published article can then be rolled up into a larger online compendium, which becomes a cornerstone piece of content with lots of helpful internal links to go deeper into specific topics.
Each bundle of content can also be published on the website in other convenient formats, like a downloadable presentation or ebook (PDF). These kinds of meaty content pieces can also serve as a content upgrade and email capture opportunity.
5. Ensure All Content has Good, Fundamental On-page SEO
As your brainstorming, scheduling, and creating all of these great pieces of content, don’t forget the last mile in your SEO journey. Make sure that each piece of content adheres to some basic SEO fundamentals, like proper page length, titles, descriptions, H1, H2, bold, and internal link structure.
I recommendation that a typical blog post should be, on average:
- 500-1200 words in length,
- Title your content with less than 70 characters and your target keyword towards the beginning of the title,
- Add a compelling description of around 155 characters.
- Use H1, H2, bold and italics to create hierarchy and easy to read and scan pages, and
- Link to other relevant internal pages to give your content more depth and your reader more information, if they’re curious to learn more.
Download my Simple SEO Checklist for more details on the fundamentals of on-page SEO.
I also strongly recommend that each piece of content be dedicated to a single keyword, rather than trying to cover too much ground in one piece of content. It confuses readers and Google–missing both objectives. This will also help keep track of what keyword targets have been ‘hit’ and which ones remain unaddressed.
6. Support Content with Backlinks, Social Media Syndication, and Press Releases
Keywords and content are the building blocks of any SEO strategy, but backlinks and syndication are the razzle dazzle that makes the plan yield lots of web traffic.
Research organizations, publishers, and online communities that are relevant to your business. Add them to your regular reading list and become familiar with the topics they cover and the style they cover them. If possible, get engaged as a community member. Then look for opportunities to support them with content that you’re creating. This approach is sure to get you backlinks and new audience from these channels.
Published content should also be shared out and syndicated using various social media channels. Social sharing does two crucial things for your SEO content marketing program: 1.) It initiates the process of gaining social signals, which Google loves, and 2.) It proactively gets your new content out into your audience to promote direct web traffic and social sharing.
I know this is an old fashion tactic, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of supporting some of your content with a press release. As you begin to bundle your content into dense, high-quality cornerstone content on a particular concept, consider announcing the new resource with a press release.
Publishers, journalist, and bloggers are often looking for quality resources to cite in their articles. A press release could easily place you on their radar, inspire a new story, and end up linked to in their next story.
7. Organize and Optimize Content On Your Website
Most websites already have some form of site architecture that organizes your content for readers and search engines. Many of these architectures could benefit from significant optimization. A simple reorganization of content, clustering like articles into relevant categories and be a big help to readers and search engines.
The basics of this site architecture optimization looks like this:
- Each page of content should be limited to one particular keyword.
- If any covers more than one keyword, you should break the page up into multiple pages.
- Each keyword-specific page should be nested under and linked to the most logical category page.
- Each category should be discrete and not have overlapping pages, i.e., pages in more than one category
8. Review Search Engine Traffic at the Close of the Month and Measure Progress
At the end of the month, it’s time to review and analyze your search engine traffic results, as compared to the benchmark of the previous month.
This analysis should repeat the cycle of looking for strengths, weaknesses, and new opportunities.
Every site is different in terms of the time it takes to reflect the impact of any SEO changes you’ve made. Typically it will take at least a few days to a few weeks to see changes in the SERPs. However, the more your site publishes, and the more credible search engines find your website, the faster the search engines will crawl, index and reflect its opinions on your changes.
Following these eight steps will give you a good process for continually executing and optimizing your SEO content marketing plan.
Do you have questions? Are you struggling to get your SEO or content plan to perform properly? Maybe you just need a plan period.