If you’ve been following along the blog, you’ve likely started thinking about how to choose the broad topics for your content, so it aligns with the buyer’s journey. Hopefully you’ve had time to brainstorm some topic ideas and now you’re ready to get creative! In this post, I want to dig into a specific content strategy: an SEO strategy.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization: making it easy for Google to work out what you do, how well you do it, and whether it should put your web pages and articles on the first page of a search result (SERP…search engine results page).
If you’re totally new to SEO you can get started with our SEO Basics post. That’ll give you enough to get going. Come back to this post once you’re done…
What’s an SEO strategy?
Now that you understand what SEO is — and the basics of how it works — you can start applying more complex principles to help your content appear in SERPs.
For Google to show your content in a search result, it either has to consider your website to be an authority on the topic or find location-specific keywords on your site.
For example, if you have the keywords “dog training” and “San Francisco” on your pages, then anyone searching for a dog trainer in San Francisco is likely to see your website in their results.
If you only want in-person clients, then following local SEO best practices is the way to go. But what if you want a wider audience?
Build your authority to grow your wider audience
Maybe, in addition to in-person classes and packages, you have online courses or digital products to sell. You’ll want your content to be found far and wide, not just by people in your local area. The way you do that is by convincing Google you’re an expert in your field. And your content is what Google uses to decide how much of an expert you are.
This is where the content strategy bit comes in. Google judges your expertise by the quality and quantity of your content on any given topic.
Let’s say you have an online puppy training course. You’d like to be seen as an expert in this area so when people search for “puppy training” or any associated phrases, your content appears. Once they’ve found your website via a relevant blog post or video, you can lead them to puppy-related offers such as your online course or in-person class.
Google likes to see multiple pieces of content that cover different aspects of the same topic. One article on puppy training won’t cut it!
Kick start with a brain dump
Because you need multiple content pieces around your core subject (puppy training in this case) it often helps to start with a brain dump or mind map.
You’re looking to come up with several sub-topics that all relate to the main topic and sometimes to each other. Here’s a screenshot of an example for our puppy training topic:
The arrows show how you might have links between content pieces with the pink one being the core topic, or “pillar post,” as it’s sometimes known. Once you have this mapped out you can see that your pillar post needs to mention your sub-topics and those need to be written in such a way that you can link them back to the pillar post.
In this way Google can clearly see you have a lot to say about puppy training.
Think about keywords for SEO
Whether your medium of choice is blog posts or video (YouTube is a search engine after all!) you need to ensure appropriate keywords are used in the right way. (If you’re wondering how to include keywords in videos, check out Moz’s Keywords for YouTube videos guide.)
The keywords or phrase for your pillar post might be “everything you need to know about training your puppy.” That post would cover the generalities of puppy training. Things like consistency, rewards, management, daily routine, and maybe some quick tips as bullet points for easy wins. It may also link to your service and sales pages, but you don’t want to be too pushy at this stage.
From your pillar post your reader could find all the other, more specific, posts you’ve created around the topic of puppy training — some of which include details of your in-person class and online course.
Don’t confuse Google!
Use unique keywords for the sub-topic posts — don’t use the same keywords or phrase you used for the main pillar post.
Why? Because if you use the same keyword/phase for multiple posts, Google won’t know which is the definitive post about that keyword and the posts will compete against each other in rankings. By using the same keywords, you’ll end up reducing the SEO value of all the posts.
Keyword tip: there’s no need to stress about finding the perfect keyword. The examples I’ve given all contain a “long-tail” keyword — the sort of phrase someone would put into Google as a search query. If you think about how your clients search for information to solve their training problems, you’ll come up with keywords and phrases very quickly.
Need some ideas? Put “how do I teach my puppy to” into a Google search and look at the auto generated endings to that question:
You have your plan. You have your keywords. Next you need to put them together.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. Try both and see what works best for you.
- First write the piece as you normally would. Then go back and put your keywords in your title, two or three of the sub-headings (especially near the beginning) and a few times in the body text. Don’t overdo it! Google doesn’t like “keyword stuffing” — your text needs to flow naturally.
- Write the piece and use your keywords as you go. Follow the directions for good keyword placement mentioned in #1.
Once you have the piece written you need to add your keywords to your page title, meta description, and the file names and alt tags of images you’ve included. If you have Yoast or a similar SEO plugin, use that to help guide you through setting some of these.
Remember to include links between posts so readers can move around your mini topic library easily. Also make sure you’ve included links to your related offerings in at least some of the posts.
Back to the buyer’s journey
If you look back at the mind map example I gave you, you’ll notice that some of the sub-topics would lead directly to products or services you might offer. There’s one about recalls, one about loose leash walking and one on how to choose the perfect puppy class.
When people do searches like “good puppy class near me“ they’re not at the beginning of their buyer’s journey. They’re actively looking to sign up for a class. By creating content that both answers their question (what to look for in a puppy class) AND gives features and benefits of your specific puppy class, you’re much more likely to find they’ll actually sign up.
You now have a content strategy for getting found in Google. In other posts we’ll explore how to strategically create content for social media and ongoing engagement via email. Until then, happy writing!