Content Strategy Basics
Create and deploy keyword-optimized content.
1. What is a Content Strategy and why is it important?
If you’ve ever wondered how Google is able to find the best webpage for your search query, the short answer is this:
They compare the words you type, with the words that appear in their database of all the websites of the Internet.
Basically, Google has downloaded the text of almost every website in the world. And they have organized these sentences into a large database. So, when you search Google, their computers crawl through this database and fetch the URLs of the websites that contain your search words.
This is, of course, an overly-simplistic summary of what’s really going on. Search engines are much more sophisticated these days, and the mere presence of the word on the web page is only one factor in determining search rank.
Still, you can see why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is taken so seriously. Because, in the least, a web page that does not contain the user’s keywords, is less likely to actually be about the user’s keywords.
So when we refer to the creation of a “Content Strategy,” this typically entails the development of a group of keyword-optimized information articles.
- First, the SEO guy (sometimes pretentiously called the “Content Strategist”) will examine a body of keyword data, and select the keywords which he feels are conducive to the marketing of the product that the website caters to.
- Then, a lot of time, money, and effort are attributed to “Content Writers” (“Content Developers”) who create articles that satisfy (or partially satisfy) the spirit of the user’s search query.
Such content is created for a couple reasons:
- In a product-based web business model (e.g. a company selling baby toys or video courses), the site owner hopes that a visitor will serendipitously stumble upon his website, and, will be so impressed by the images, video, or content that he will ultimately become a paying customer.
- In an advertising web business model (e.g. a magazine or blog), the site owner hopes to attract as many visitors as possible to his website. Because he knows that some percentage of these visitors will view an advertisement or (even better) click on an ad. The more clicks our site owner gets, the more money he makes.
2. Finding Keywords
Of foundational importance in the creation of a content strategy is the generation of list of keywords that people are actually searching for on the internet. This usually means starting your journey at the infamous Google Keyword Planner and typing various “seed keywords” into its search box.
If you’re not familiar with the Google Keyword Planner, it’s a web interface (owned by Google of course) that allows you to download a body of keyword data (in the form of CSV files). These files contain a wealth of important information like:
- The Keyword Search Volume (The number of times the keyword is queried per month)
- The Keyword Cost-Per-Click (The approximate amount that an Adwords publisher is paying–when his ad is displayed for this keyword.
So you can see why this information if valuable. Because, thanks to the Google Keyword Planner, we can actually see:
- What types products or services people are searching for
- The exact phrasing that people are using to search for products or services
- And, how many people are searching for these products or services
Working with a large batch of CSV files from the Google Keyword Planner can be tricky. And that’s why Keyword Researcher was invented. It takes in all this great keyword data, and consolidates it into workable database.
3. Selecting the right keywords for your website.
So how do you know which keywords to use?
This is one of the most difficult questions in SEO. And the answer is different for every business model.
Simply put, you should use keywords on your website that are conducive to the marketing of your product or service. Ultimately, the keyword-selection task is much easier if you have a deep understanding of your target demographic–prior to ever sitting down to look at a keyword spreadsheet.
But once you’ve gathered all your keywords together, it is sometimes best to try to “put yourself in the shoes” of the person who has just typed this phrase into Google.
You might start out by asking yourself:
- Does the product or service I sell solve this person’s problem?
- Am I the answer to this person’s question?
- Do I personally know how to answer this user’s question?
- Can I ascertain what this user is looking for, based on the keyword phrase itself?
- Can I create content for this query that will leave the user satisfied that they have completed their search successfully?
- Do I have experience with people asking this question?
There is, of course, no perfect algorithmic method for deciding which keywords you will ultimately target in your web content. So if you’re just starting out in your Search Engine marketing efforts, you might want to start small. Simply pick a dozen keywords and create a few articles that genuinely cater to the searcher’s needs.
4. Plan a Content Strategy and Cluster your keywords.
After you’ve chosen a batch of keywords to target, it’s time to assign these keywords into distinct article groups.
Typically, a few keywords will pop out at you, and you’ll notice that they are similar enough, such that they’d fit nicely together into the same article.
Consider, for example, the following list of keyword phrases:
- how to organize keywords
- organize keywords for a website
- arrange website keywords
- keyword organization
- Keyword Researcher software
Now it should be pretty obvious that such keywords should be clustered together and placed into one article. (Namely, the article you’re reading right now.)
There wouldn’t be much utility in fracturing this little keyword group into five individual articles! Rather, it is in my interest to simply make sure I cover “the letter and the spirit” of these five keyword phrases on this one web page.
The keywords in the above example are pretty easy. But, the subjective and stylistic nature of Content Strategy Planning becomes apparent when the keyword phrases are more ambiguous.
Take for example the phrase “web content writing.” Now at first glance, it may appear that my web page may satisfy the commercial intent of this searcher. Helping people write web content is exactly what Keyword Researcher does!
But if we dig into this phrase a bit more, we’d probably find that the majority of people who type in this phrase are looking to either:
- hire a web content writer
- get a job as a web content writer
- or to simply learn more about web content writing itself
It is unlikely that most of these searchers would be interested in actually purchasing Keyword Researcher at this time.
Hence, it would not be in my interest to actively pursue the keyword phrase (“web content writing”) in my on-site and off-site content marketing efforts.
It would be much more beneficial for me to angle the content of this web page toward keywords that are more reflective of a person who is actively seeking a keyword organization app.
In any case, this is the thought process you must go through with each keyword you choose for your website. If you’re familiar with your target market, then this task usually goes pretty quick. You should be able to glance at most keywords, and decide (in a couple seconds) if the keyword is (or is not) conducive to the marketing of your product.
When this part of the content planning process is done, all of your keywords will be arranged in nice little clusters (sometimes called “Keyword Groups”). And then it’s time to start thinking of some article titles.
5. Create your article titles
Every internet document is indeed just that–a document. And all documents need a title.
So your next task is to create a unique title for your web document. This is an important step, because the document’s title sets the theme for the entirety of the content. And is the most important single SEO element on the page.
As you glance at any given keyword group, you’ll find that they often lend themselves to the creation of a rather obvious title. Consider this group:
- low carb snack foods
- best low carb snacks
- no carb snacks
- low carb snack recipes
Right away, we can see that we’re going to be using the words “low carb snack” in our article somewhere. And this is the point where your copywriting skills come into play. We’ll need to create a title that encapsulates most of our target keywords, and yet also has an alluring ring to it.
Creating a psychologically alluring title is important–because search engines will rank our document (in part) based on how many clicks the title is getting–relative to other articles on Google’s Search Results Page (SERP). Hence, a title that has some stylistic panache, will (in theory) ultimately rank higher than a title that doesn’t have anything eye-catching about it.
So, instead of just titling our document “Low Carb Snacks,” we might try something like this:
“10 of the Best Low-Carb Snacks that you can make in 10 Minutes!”
6. Write your article and use your keywords in the article content.
Now that your keywords are arranged in logical groups, and each group has a unique article title, it’s time for the hard part… You have to actually write something.
It is very easy to let the keyword data hinder the creative writing process. So be wary of this. Keywords can be very distracting and you don’t want to let all this data hinder your writing efforts.
So let the keywords merely act as the locus for your article theme. Just casually glance at your keywords before writing. And then craft your articles into a useful web content article. An article that you know will be beneficial to your target demographic.
Then, once the writing process is nearing completion, that’s when you pull out your keywords. And you carefully “pepper in” your keyword phrases into your article content. This usually involved merely replacing an occasional word, or adding additional headings between paragraphs.
It’s easy to tell if all your keywords are reflected in your article content with Keyword Researcher. Because, as you type your content into the Keyword Researcher article text editor, the article’s associated keywords will change color.
- The color green means that the whole keyword is in the article.
- The color orange means that portions of the keyword phrase are in the article.
- The color black means that the keyword phrase hasn’t been used in the article yet.
So you can see how this is particularly useful when creating article content. Because Keyword Researcher is constantly watching your document while you type, and it visually depicts your keyword’s location in the article content. So it’s an essential tool if you’re in the business of creating SEO-optimized (keyword-rich) documents.