How does a content strategy compare to an SEO strategy?
If you own or help manage a website, the chances are that you already know a fair bit about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how to encourage your website to be found 'organically' when users are searching for your products or services. Having an SEO strategy is important because it involves making conscious decisions about how you should develop your website to increase its 'visibility' in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Higher ranking in SERPs means more traffic to your website and increases the chances of your website goals being achieved. However, what you may not know is that search engines, like Google for example, analyse your website along with your competitors' to determine who is offering the most relevant, unique and valuable information to the user; and this where a content strategy comes into play.
A content strategy centres around understanding what purpose your data and media are trying to serve. Without a well thought out content strategy, too often website content can become bloated and meaningless, serving to satisfy search engines looking for the right keywords but providing no actual value to the user. Search engines are smart enough to see through this tactic nowadays. A content strategy will help to ensure you are providing useful content that prioritises the user's experience on your website or social media channel. The two strategies work together to bring the best of both worlds: meaningful content can be optimised to contain the right keywords and phrases that search engines are looking out for, but now they will be presented in a more natural way, which will impact how users' engage with your website.
Content can be in any digital form, from blog posts, images, audio and video, down to the metadata of the site. When creating content, keep referring back to your content strategy to ensure it's fit for purpose. If you are actually educating or entertaining your users effectively, it will keep them engaged for longer. Creating valuable content regularly will also help to improve your rankings as there will be more content for Google to index, which will contain those all-important keywords, and will also increase your chances of getting more links back to your website from other sources.
A good way to make sure your content is aimed at the right demographic is to research your audience, see which keywords they are using to find you and what they visit your website for the most. You can create a persona that factors in their age, gender, location, likes and dislikes, etc. and imagine you are writing your content for that specific person. Some people even like to name their demographic a real name, so they can really get personal when planning what to create next for “Bob”.
By having interesting and informative content you are more likely to build a sense of trust with your customers (and Bob), who will be more likely to believe that you care about your customers and to recognise your business as a source of expertise and authority in your field. A great tip when developing is content strategy is to try to answer the questions you think your customers might be asking, both consciously and subconsciously. Researching these questions across social media and the internet is a good place to start, and speaking to other team members who interact with customers can also bring up some valuable insight.
So to summarise, establishing a strong, well-researched content strategy and creating valuable content following your research can help build trust with your users, while in turn improving your SEO strategy and rating at the same time - so it's a win-win!