Running a business already requires wearing a lot of hats. Being an SEO (search engine optimization) expert?
Not a hat that most of us want to wear!
So what do we do? Well, I have a simple strategy to help you create an SEO content strategy to increase blog traffic, draw in the right audience, and ultimately land you more sales!
Why you need an SEO content strategy
Simply put, search engine traffic = engaged traffic. If someone is searching for a specific term and finds your site, they’re already primed to absorb the content – plus any offers that you have that fulfill their needs!
Search engine traffic also improves your business visibility. Ranking high on Google’s search algorithm is a great way to ensure that people see your business at exactly the right time. The more relevant traffic you’re getting to a page, the better it ranks, too!
How to start an SEO content strategy
There are a few things you should ask yourself before we jump into the actual content strategy planning. Ask yourself these questions:
1 | What does your reader need?
Your content exists to fill a need. If it doesn’t fill a need, why create it in the first place? That need could be anything from getting a laugh, answering a question, or living vicariously through someone else. Whatever the need your audience has that you can fill, make note of it.
2 | How can you fill that need?
As you were thinking about your audience’s needs, you probably already thought of ways that you could fill that need. This is important because when you know your mission, you’re better able to fulfill it!
3 | What are they searching for to answer their questions?
Now that you know the audience’s need and how you’ll fill that need, you need to think about how they’re going to be searching for an answer. What words will they use? How search engine savvy are they? How specific will they get? Keep all of this in mind as we move into creating the actual SEO content strategy.
How to create your SEO content strategy
Okay, now comes the fun part! We’re going to dive into the strategy to actually create your SEO content plan. I’ve broken it down into five steps for you:
1 | Create a reader profile (or three!)
Break down your audience into a few different people. For example, my audience could consist of Claire, an artist who specializes in painting; Matt, a graphic designer who’s ready to grow his freelance career; and Terry, a jewelry designer who wants to take her ‘fun money’ sales and start a legitimate side business.
Each of these fictional people will represent a different segment of your audience. You may only have one segment or you may have five or more. Whatever number you land on, don’t feel like you have to encompass every aspect of every person in your audience. Paint these segments with relatively broad strokes!
Whoever is in your audience, it can be helpful to give them that name and maybe even a stock photo face. I know that client avatars are talked about seemingly everywhere these days, but it really is a great exercise! Knowing who these fictional people are can help you zone in on the different segments of your audience so you know who you’re speaking to.
As you create your readers, flesh them out a bit and start thinking about where they are in their journey that will eventually bring them to you.
2 | Outline those journey stages
So now that you know who’s in your audience, so to speak, you need to create their journey. Your audience segments may start in different stages, too! For example, maybe Claire has never sold a piece of art before but hates her day job; Matt has been freelancing for about a decade but feels like he could be doing more; Terry has made some sales but wants to go pro. This is great – it means that you can reach different audience segments at different stages and still yield the same result!
Give each stage of the journey a name and outline what’s going on for your audience at that stage. For example, Terry starts out hustling, moves to the Etsy stage, starts wondering why it’s not working, gets the resources she needs to fix it, and eventually makes it happen. Each of those is a stage in the journey (there are a few in between). By outlining it in more detail, though, you can get inside your audience’s head a bit more, which is crucial for the next step.
I should also note that I’ve adapted the amazing Reader Journey idea from Hailey over at Your Content Empire to create my initial audience journey maps. If you want more details about the reader journey map, I highly recommend checking out her post!
3 | List reader’s search terms and questions for each stage
Grab a piece of paper and start scribbling! The way I do this is to write down the header for the first journey stage (e.g. The Day Job) and ask myself what this person would be searching for during this stage. So for Claire, who wants to quit her day job to become a full-time artist, it might be things like:
- How to quit your day job
- Can you make a living as an artist?
- What to do when you hate your job
- How to be a successful artist
Just list these things out under that journey stage header. These are the topics that you’ll want to address in your content to reach the audience segment that Claire would be in.
Do this for each stage that you outlined for your audience segment. Some may have a LOT of search terms and questions; others may only have two or three. That’s okay. I like to keep these lists handy, either on paper or digitally, so that I can add to them as I come up with new ideas. Inspiration can strike anywhere!
4 | Choose from these topics for your next content batching session
Now that you have a lovely list of search terms and questions for each of your audience segments, you’re ready to start planning! Currently, I don’t make an extensive content plan unless I have a launch or some other upcoming event that requires foresight. Otherwise, I tend to pick 4-6 topics during each batching session and go from there. (I’ll write a post about my content creating batching soon!)
Regardless of how you approach your content strategy, the topic lists that you created through the process I outlined can help you do so many things! They can ensure that you’re answering your audience’s questions, creating content that will show up in their search results, and have a nice big inventory of topics to keep you going for a while. The best part is that this content inventory tends to expand with time, so just keep adding to it and you may never run out of content!
If you’ve been struggling with SEO and coming up with relevant content for your audience, I hope this helped. By mapping out your audience segments and getting inside their heads, you can easily enhance your content SEO and get found by more people! Just make sure to keep your topic lists handy so you can refer to them and add to them as needed.
Leave a comment with your thoughts on SEO-based content strategy! Here are some ideas:
What was your biggest takeaway from this post?
What is your favorite SEO-related content strategy tip? Share with the class!
Tell us a little bit about your favorite audience segment avatar!