May 2, 2022

8 Steps to Creating a Blog Content Strategy that Improves SEO

Table of Contents

1. Define the Blog Content Goals

I used to have a colleague that would say this step is described as, "Who are we trying to get to do what?"

In other words: What keywords are we trying to show up for in SERP (search engine results pages)? And what content are we going to use to convert SERP clicks into conversions?

What are the end goals of the content strategy?

This is the question that must be answered first, before any other steps in building a content strategy. Skipping any step of the blog content strategy design will likely result in failure, as we will not have aimed, only fired.

When trying to answer this question, we need to think vary granular. We want to clearly separate and define our SEO goals for the strategy.

Example: SEO Goals of a Roofing Contractor

  1. Improve the visibility of our website for "roofers near me"
  2. Improve the visibility of our website for "types of roofing"
  3. Improve the visibility of our website for "cedar shake roofing"
  4. Improve the visibility of our website for "vinyl siding installation"
  5. Increase website lead forms submitted
  6. Increase calls generated from the website

Later we will design several blog articles aimed at funneling users to our goals, by winning variations of targeted keywords in SERP.

2. Examine the Current Content's Performance

After we define the goals of the content strategy, we must consider how the current content (if any exists) is meeting those goals. This is important for many reasons, but primarily this is helpful when determining the order of importance for new content.

We can also use this information to design relevant internal linking relationships as we build our new content.

Review Current SERP Rankings

Where does your site's current content rank in SERP now for terms that you hope to improve with the blog content strategy?

Review Analytics Conversion Goals (if possible)

In order to fully understand our user interaction with current content, and the efficiency of current conversion funnels, it greatly helps to have conversion goals already established within all Google Analytics.

If you do have conversion goals established, make sure to note any content that is leading to conversions, and the paths that users are taking to convert.

Where does current content fit into the new strategy?

When creating new content, its important to consider the value old content could have. For example, creating new content is chance to internal link carve by internally linking to older content from the new content, and vice versa.

What is link carving?

Link carving is the practice of strategically designing the path that both website users and search engine spiders (bots) take when interacting with or crawling your content.

For example, the most basic form of link carving for SEO purposes, is probably the practice of internally linking blog content to pillar pages of a website that are designed to create conversions.

3. Build a Keyword Map

Ok, so now you know your blog content goals and you have a good idea of the internal link carving opportunities each content piece may present. Now what?

Now its time to build a keyword map.

What is a keyword map?

A great keyword map will define several metrics relative to keywords of interest in SERP. At minimal, you will want to define search volume, organic difficulty, competitive paid search landscape, and searcher intent.

Lets define the most important data on a keyword map:

  • Search Volume
  • Organic Difficulty
  • Paid Search Landscape
  • Search Intent

Search Volume

Search volume will illustrate the average number of queries for a particular keyword over a particular period of time.

Depending on which tool you use to pull your keyword data, you may see different running average time periods. Lets say you use SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, for example, you would be viewing monthly average keyword data from the previous 12-month period.

Organic Difficulty

This metric illustrates the expected difficulty to organically rank new content for a given keyword in SERP.

With SEMrush, this metric is called "Keyword Difficulty," and is on a scale of

Paid Search Landscape

This metric will illustrate just how crowed with advertisements the SERPs are expected to be for any given keyword. This can be insightful when deciding paths of least resistance, as winning keywords with less advertisement competition can increase the probability of organic results being selected by the user.

With SEMrush this metric is defined as "Competitive Density".

Search Intent

Searcher intent can be interpreted by search engine algorithms based on the keywords entered in the search.

For example, if you were to enter "roof types" into a modern search engine, you will likely get many informative articles explaining the types of roofing, as this query is interpreted to have informational search intent.

However, if you were to enter "roofing", you will likely see business listings for roofing contractors in your area as search engines understand this query to have commercial search intent.

Search algorithms are programed to understand a searcher's intent, so that they can display the most relevant results possible.

The four types of search intent are:
  1. Navigational (Eg: "beacon roofing supply")
  2. Transactional (Eg: "roofing companies near me")
  3. Commercial (Eg: "roofing companies")
  4. Informational (Eg: "roof types")

Keyword Buckets

Before we do the actual research, using a machine to export data, we need to think logically to create buckets of keywords that are likely to be important to the organization. When conducting this exercise you want to consider the most important SEO goals from Step #1. The best way to explain this practice is with an example.

We recently completed keyword mapping for a general contractor. After learning that roofing installations, gutter installations, siding installations were all primary sales goals for his business we were able to loosely determine our initial keyword buckets. See our example here.

Two Tools Needed to Build a Keyword Map:

Spreadsheet

When using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to build your map, it makes for a good practice to list your keyword buckets of interest as tabs on the sheet.

Keyword Research Platform

We use SEMrush and ahrefs both when building keyword buckets. There are also many other tools available. Its often best to shop any free trials that are currently being offered with these analytic tools, and then choose your personal favorite before committing to a subscription.

Export Data from Tool to Spreadsheet

Once you have outlined your keyword buckets with spreadsheet tabs, you can start your keyword research. If you are using SEMrush, this would likely start with their "Keyword Magic" tool.

Anytime you have data worth adding to your bucket, export the data to a CSV file, open the CSV file, and copy/past the relevant data to your keyword bucket on your keyword mapping spreadsheet.

Pro Tip: If your website has low Authority Score, filter results for keywords with a Keyword Difficulty less than or equal to your Authority Score. This will provide keywords that offer paths of least resistance.

4. Select Target Keywords

Choose Target Keywords

After carefully examining each keyword bucket, filtering each column not just by volume, but also keyword difficulty (KD) and competitive density (CD), logical target keywords should begin to present themselves.

You will notice keywords that are relative to your goals that do not have as of high KD or CD as some of the other terms. These are great starting points. Note lists of these terms from each bucket.

Pro Tip: Typically, the longer the keyword, the less competition it tends to have. If your competition is too high for short-tail keywords, look at longer tail variations.

Target keywords should not just be keywords with high search volume. Look for paths of least resistance.

Again, in addition to having search volume, target keywords should:

  • Have low organic competition (path of least resistance)
  • Have low advertisement competition (path of least resistance)
  • Touch on each area of search intent within each keyword bucket

Adding Target Keywords to a SERP Tracker

Once we know all of our target keywords we should immediately enter them into our SERP tracker of choice so that we can see our current position for these terms.

If you need help finding a SERP tracker, you can probably find a free trial online.

This will be important when considering the priority of each targeted key term.

For example, if you already rank on page one of SERP for a particular term, but low on the page, this would typically be considered "low-hanging fruit". This is an opportunity to move from bottom of page one, to the top. This is considered much lower hanging fruit, than trying to move a position from page ten to page one.

Prioritize All Target Keywords Into One Master List

Once you know the keywords you are interested in winning within each bucket, its time to rank the order of importance into one master list. To rank the order of keywords of interest, you should consider the goals of your content strategy, the site's current visibility for the keywords, and the metrices outlined in the keyword map.

Typically, you want to prioritize the keywords related to improving your goals, and in the same order of importance as your goals.

5. Design Relevant Article Topics

There are many topic research tools available, but it is also possible to conduct good research manually with search engines.

Topic Research Tools

SEMrush and ahrefs both offer topic research tools, and there are many other resources available online.

https://www.semrush.com/topic-research/

Manual Research

If you don't have a SEMrush or other research tool subscription you can still easily research topics. Just by entering your target keywords into a search engine, one at a time, you can easily find inspiration for article topics. Just be sure not to plagiarize.

Take note of the keywords that are being used in title, h1, and subheading of the top articles in SERP. This information will give your writers a great starting point.

Topic Tactics to Consider

Original Compelling Content is King

Whether you find inspiration from a research tool, or from manual research, keep in mind that original compelling content is king. So not only do you not want to plagiarize, but you also want to be as compelling as possible.

Think Trending Topics

Think of creative ways to make a current trending topic a bit more compelling, by reporting on it from a slightly different angle, or with new components.

But Don't Forget Evergreen Content

Trending content can be fantastic, but only for a short time. Don't forget to weave evergreen topics into your content strategy as well. Evergreen content will hold value long into the future as it contains keywords that have a consistent history of search volume.

6. Establish a SAP (Strategy Action Plan)

A content strategy action plan will not only illustrate with a calendar view, the order that content is to be authored, but also the internal linking relationships that should be formed with each articles creation.

7. Evaluate the Results

Evaluating the results of your content strategy will involve SERP tracking and Analytics KPIs.

SERP Improvements

You will use SERP tracking to see which new content pieces end up ranking in SERP for your target keywords.

Were all of keyword gaps filled?

When evaluating the SERP results of a content strategy, first look to see if all target keywords are at least "on the board." In other words, do all of your target keywords now rank somewhere between 1 and 100 in SERP? Or do you still have some target keywords gaps?

A keyword gap for "gutter installation"

If you still have keywords that don't rank at all, we likely want to consider trying new articles in order to win these terms.

The content pieces that have succeeded in "getting on the board" in SERP should now be a focus of on-page and off-page optimization efforts, in order to move them as high as possible.

Goal Completions

You will use Analytics conversion goal tracking to gauge the effectiveness of each new content piece. Other KPIs to consider: CTR and bounce rate.

8. Adjust the Blog Content Strategy as Needed

Look for keyword gaps that still exist in SERP or conversion goals that still need to be improved. Repeat steps #2 through #7 in order to fill keyword gaps and meet conversion goals.

Contact Us for Assistance

This article is a very brief run-through on how to build a great content strategy that will improve SEO.

Contact us for more details about this process, or to learn more about our SEO Services.

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