How to Build a SEO Content Machine From the Ground Up
SEO Content Machine
As a business owner, one of your biggest challenges is attracting a steady stream of traffic and leads. Advertising can give you traffic at scale, but it is neither sustainable, nor cost-effective.
For most businesses, content marketing presents an exciting new way to attract leads at scale. By creating, distributing and promoting the right type of content, you can create a highly sustainable SEO content marketing machine powered by backlinks.
In this post, we’ll help you put together all the components necessary for building a content marketing machine. By the time you’re finished, you will know what kind of content to create, how to distribute it, and how to use it for meeting business goals.
Just as you need a blueprint to put together a building, you need a content plan to create a content marketing machine.
This content plan should have three components:
- Content goals
The first step is to figure out what you actually want to achieve with your content. For most businesses, their content goals fall within one or more of these categories:
- Capturing leads: A common goal for most B2B businesses – attract traffic and convert them into leads.
- Building the brand: For many consumer focused businesses, the content serves to help existing customers and extend the business’ brand.
- Establishing expertise: For consulting businesses, content marketing can help establish expertise and attract new clients.
Before you start a SEO content machine, sit down and identify your content goals. This will decide what kind of content you create, who you create it for, and how you distribute it.
- Audience personas
The next step after identifying content goals is to come up with a set of audience personas. This affects everything from your content depth, expertise level, format, style, tone and voice.
A well-crafted audience persona should include the following:
- Demographic data, i.e. age, gender, location, income and education levels.
- Interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc.
Once you have this data, create descriptions of your content’s ideal reader(s). It should include information on the reader’s demographics, interests, and existing relationship (if any) with your business.
- Existing expertise
Once you start putting together a content plan, you’ll realize that there are a few things you can do well, and a few you struggle with.
For example, you might realize that you have a bunch of talented bloggers on your marketing team, but lack quality design talent. This means that while you can lean on the marketing team to create blog content, you will have to hire freelance designers to help you create headers, infographics and blog graphics.
The key to creating a successful SEO content machine is to focus on what you already do well, and outsource the rest.
The next, and perhaps the most important component, is actually creating the content. It is also the part businesses struggle with the most.
When it comes to creating content, your first priority should be to deliver value to your readers. SEO concerns, content design, etc. comes later. Follow the steps below to create high-value content:
- Create a list of content ideas
Before you dive head first into content creation, take some time to create a list of content ideas. Try to divide these ideas into two broad categories:
- Search: This should include all search focused, keyword-rich ideas. The primary focus of this content is to capture organic traffic.
- Social: These are ideas that have greater social share potential, such as videos, infographics, listicles, etc.
For inspiration, use a tool like Buzzsumo.com to see what’s already popular.
- Map content to your buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey describes all the steps a prospect goes through before making a purchase decision. It usually includes three stages:
- Awareness of the problem.
- Consideration of possible solutions.
- Decision to purchase a particular solution.
The buyer’s journey provides a powerful framework for content creation. Follow these steps to find the right content type for each stage:
- Awareness stage: Create educational content that helps readers understand their problems. Focus on creating blog posts, eBooks, and guides.
- Consideration stage: Create content that helps buyers evaluate solutions. Whitepapers, tutorials, webinars, etc. work best.
- Decision stage: Help buyers decide what to buy. Create case studies, benchmark reports, reviews, product comparisons and testimonials.
Try to fit in the ideas you brainstormed in the first step into different stages in the buyer’s journey.
You ideally want a mix of high-impact (in-depth guides, webinars, eBooks) and low-impact (social media content, weekly blog posts, etc.) content. The high-impact content will help push leads into your sales funnel, while the low-impact content will help in nurturing existing leads and building out your brand.
Promotion is arguably the most important part of any SEO content machine. The strength of your promotion will often decide whether your content actually gets read.
As with most things, the Pareto Principle applies here as well – spend 20% of your time on content creation, the rest on content promotion. Follow the steps below to market your content better:
- Target the right distribution channels
The first step in content promotion is to identify the ideal distribution channels for your content. Some content types tend to do better on certain channels. B2B content, for examples, performs better on LinkedIn than Facebook, while visual content does well on Pinterest.
Follow these guidelines to get started:
|Content Type||Distribution Channel|
|Infographics||Pinterest, industry blogs, Facebook|
|Images, quotes, mini-infographics||Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram|
|B2B content||LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+|
|B2C content||Facebook, Twitter|
|Videos||YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram (short clips)|
|Webinars, whitepapers, eBooks||Own site|
|Guides, blog posts||Own site + other blogs (guest posts)|
While it may be tempting to target as many distribution channels as possible, you’ll often see better results by focusing your efforts on two-three target platforms.
You can also consider leveraging advertising on social platforms to give your content an initial boost.
- Measure and modify
Quantifying what works, what doesn’t is a fundamental part of content promotion. For every piece of content that you publish, measure its impact in terms of social shares, traffic, and leads. Of course, these KPIs will also depend on what you actually want to achieve with your content.
Once you have some data, use it to modify your future content creation/distribution plans. For example, if visual content distributed through Pinterest ads shows promising results, more of your content marketing budget should be aligned in that direction.
Creating a content marketing machine is a long-term undertaking. It also has multiple components, each with its own complicated parts. This post barely scratches the surface, but should give you an idea of what it takes to create a scalable content marketing campaign.
What does your content marketing machine looks like?