High quantities of high quality content is probably the most important aspect when it comes to search engine optimization. In fact, it is the most important aspect of any facet of Internet marketing as content is the only thing there is to consume online. Even real-time communication is a form of content; audio, video, text, and graphics are all content. Search engine optimization is a practice of convincing the big dumb robots in Silicon Valley (not so dumb anymore) that your content is the most relevant and authoritative content available on the subject. Of course, there has been a balancing act of trying to favor the algorithmic discernment of search engines and have enough human friendly content left over to not scare people off after they use the search engines to find your content. In more recent months and years it has been less of a balancing act and a lot easier to just create good content geared more towards human consumption. That means Google et al are getting smarter, and SEO practitioners need to be less geeky and more savvy with real marketing messaging discipline most in marketing and advertising have spent their careers studying and perfecting as their primary craft.

As for those that call themselves exclusively “content marketers” as if there is a difference between you and any other kinds of marketing; umm no, especially when it comes to Internet marketing; umm (double) no. If you are playing online and your content isn’t up to snuff enough for your content to get picked up by the search engines, its time to get over yourselves and put in a little extra work to make that content really fly online. Here is a list of things to consider so your beautiful content is more likely to get picked up and displayed in the SERPs.

1. Know How Your Web Users Search

Your audience, the users and consumers of your content, are the start and the end of any content marketing strategy. Obviously, your ultimate objective here is to increase the amount of leads, sales, or at least the number of visitors to your site target content. The best way to achieve this is trying to keep the users in mind from beginning to end. This includes:

  • Behavior
  • Expectations
  • Interests
  • Ultimate Objective

Make sure that you have an understanding of why your target audience would be searching for your content in the first place. Instead of guessing and testing random assumptions that you may have about your audience, I recommend looking at what your competition is already doing.

  • Go to their websites.
  • Look at what types of content they are publishing.
  • Explore how active they are on various social networks.
  • Use tools like ahrefs, Majestic, and the SEO Chat social media tools to get an idea of how their social activities are carrying over to their website activity.
  • Also, doing a Google News search to see how much media buzz they are getting could really help.

NOTE: To be clear on this point, if your competition isn’t getting much buzz on news websites or getting talked about by the industry influencers, this is usually the best way to get the most bang out of your content marketing and SEO agendas alike. A few phone calls, direct Tweets, and press releases can go a long way.

2. Examine and Identify User Trends

It is very important to check the current data from search, social, plus all other owned assets in order to identify the latest trends of users. This data includes top content, demographic data, as well as sharing and engagements. Find out what is currently appearing in the search engines first, and also what your different competitor content users usually see when they search for similar keywords.

Check out the different strategies implemented by your competitors so as to know what your audience is currently seeing in searches. Try to find out what your audience expects from your particular brand and create a story from the data you have collected to identify the trends, interests, and behaviors of your audience and develop personas for the different audience segments.

Based on your findings, you can easily determine where to go against the gain, be “zany,” and stir the pot a little bit. That’s right, think of ways you can stand out and maybe even cause a little bit of controversy. Doing all this research isn’t so you can figure out how to be exactly like the competition, it is so you can learn how to out-pace them and attract more online audience share.

3. Optimize The Content For Users

Now, even though I’m encouraging going against the grain, you’re not doing it to tick off your competition (although, if you do it right, it very well may). Your content should be developed keeping users in mind. The content should be created along the lines of the interests of the various audience segments, in order to add more value than what is currently available to them. This strategy is called targeting. Targeting will draw a much stronger following and consequently deliver more quality leads. Achieving higher ranking in searches for the keyword targeted content is definitely vital, but, speaking to your audience is essentially what drives engagement as well as conversions. And it is the engagement and conversions that will rank your content, and keep it there.

Again, being different for the sake of being different isn’t the end game. You want to education and entertain in your content. Create content that is worth consuming and sharing; and absolutely build your content around the key search phrases or topics that your audience is searching for, supporting your ideas with references for validation and external sources to increase authority and credibility. Think like Wikipedia; but prettier.

Don’t forget to establish a tone and a voice for your brand in individual channels to build content that will contribute to the overall strategy and focus. Check out different content mediums and determine which methods can generate very high engagement levels. Keep the limitations as well as the unique features of mobile devices in mind when creating your content, to make sure the same consistency in quality of each user experience is maintained.

4. Measure and Improve

Get reports from all the owned, paid, and earned channels to examine what patterns of interest and engagement exists. Use the tools in Google Analytics to find out what kind of content drive more traffic or action from the audience. Monitor how each content affects your conversion funnel as well as the sales cycle. Look out for site errors that may negatively affect your exposure.

I hope this helps create some perspective on creating content that your users will actually engage in to a degree that you can generate real tangible results for your business.