11 October 2017

Content Strategy & SEO: Separated at Birth

by Stephanie Lummis

I saw a tweet recently about how content strategy and search engine optimization should be friends.

Cheekily, I commented that they should be more than that: “friends with benefits and handcuffs.” But it made me wonder, how was their relationship called into question in the first place?

Words are the Building Blocks

Words are at the core of both content strategy and search engine optimization (SEO). I know SEO is bigger than just keywords — I am not discounting code, site speed, mobile and linking. However, you cannot optimize successfully without words. Why? Because at the end of the day you aren’t really writing for search engines, but searchers. Your words answer their questions. So understand your searcher and plan your messaging around their needs. Use the vocabulary they use – the words they type into Google.

When it comes to content strategy, the goal is to plan messaging and distribution so that content will be consumed by your target audience how, when, and where they will be most receptive to it. Right place, right time. But this is only effective if you have the right words. These words – the same set of words — are the foundation of effective SEO and content strategy. In fact, digging into search performance in Google Analytics is a great way to identify gaps in your content strategy:

  • What keywords do people type into your on-site search field that result in poor or no results, and a lost visitor?
  • What keywords do people search in Google, see your page in the results, and choose not to click?

And subsequently, search metrics become excellent Key Performance Indicators of the effectiveness of your content strategy.

Content Complexity

I understand that these are distinct disciplines and someone who is good at content strategy may not excel at SEO. But if they are separate roles on a project, those team members need to work together from the start, along with the writers and information architect. From your navigation labels, to your headings and hyperlinks – all of these content elements need to work together to create a clear and cohesive story.

Perhaps all this slicing and dicing of content creation is why it is often under-valued and under-resourced on web projects. It adds complexity for clients and clouds the basic need for words. And so the words are taken for granted because they have always been there, just in a different form. But it’s the words that persuade people down a path to do business with you. It’s in your best interest to keep content strategy and SEO happy together.

Do you need a hand with SEO or content strategy? Let’s talk.