Search engine optimisation (SEO) can sometimes be treated as an afterthought, but columnist Nate Dame outlines how keyword research can be instrumental in planning and developing an effective content calendar.
Too many marketers still bring SEO in at the end of a content marketing project. They finish a blog post or finalize a new marketing campaign, and at the end of the line, SEO comes in to find related keywords and plug them into content.

Unfortunately, this approach is outdated and completely ineffective.

Robust, modern SEO research can decipher who your real audience is online, where visitors are in the buyer’s journey, what information they’re looking for, and what content format they prefer. These insights lead to more effective content strategies.

But if SEO is only given a voice at the end of the line, it’s too late to utilize the insights it provides. To fully enjoy the benefits — and optimize every piece of content — SEO must be a foundational part of every project from the beginning.

1. Keywords should help determine content, not decorate it

Most online experiences start with keywords — so marketers should, too.
There are a lot of ways to source ideas and inspiration for a content calendar, but questions that come in to customer service and comments overheard in the office aren’t necessarily what digital users are looking for. Content with SEO value needs to be inspired by the questions and needs that are being asked online.

2. Keyword research should define content

When expanded to discover user intent, keyword research tells marketers how to create content: what type of information is needed, who needs the information, and where searchers are in the buying journey.

3. SERP analysis reveals Google’s ranking priorities

SERP analysis helps marketers decipher Google’s algorithmic preferences. In order to earn high rankings, marketers have to know which factors are priorities for their industry, content, niche, etc. Otherwise, they may waste time and effort pursuing things — such as certain keywords — that might not be important to their business.

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