Content is king, let us not debate about that. The Internet was founded for the purpose of exchanging content. Sure, it already sprouted several other uses today—e-commerce and social media, to name two—but the need for information is still the foundation of every online move we make. We search, we click on links, we bookmark web pages—all to get the information relevant to our interests.

It then comes as no surprise that content is indeed king, and one that rules over search rankings as well. After all, a search engine’s main purpose is to choose which site is most relevant to what the user is looking for. The more quality content your site has, the more likely it is that search engines will put it on top of their lists when users start searching.

Given how important those user clicks are, websites today are banking on SEO (and even hiring an SEO company) to keep their sites search-friendly. SEO is one of the key points of any online marketing strategy. It dictates whether your website will rank high on search engines, and therefore be seen by more users. And the key to that? Well, we believe it’s great content.

Here’s a handy beginner’s guide on how to harness the power of content marketing to boost your search rankings.

1. Create content that your target audience will benefit from.

The primary aim of content marketing is to capture the interests of your audience through articles that answer their questions and provide them with information they need.

This means that when you’re writing a newsletter or blog post, it shouldn’t come off as an advertising spiel for your product. Rather, it should be a well-thought-out piece that your customers will benefit from.

What topics do you think your target audience would like to read about? What questions do you often receive from customers?

Make a list compiling those topics and questions, then start writing posts about them. This way, when other users start asking the same questions or looking for those topics, they’d find your site ready to provide them with just the information they need.

2. Pick the right keywords.

When users search online, most don’t take their time writing long sentences detailing what exactly it is they’re looking for. They don’t search, “How do I remove this pimple? What product should I use?” but simply “pimple removal tips.”

Often, it all boils down to keywords. Good thing that online tools (such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Soovle, Jaaxy, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, and KeywordTool.io) are now available to help you determine which keywords your target audience are typing.

Infusing high-ranking keywords in your content increases its chances of climbing up the search rankings. Backlinko’s Brian Dean also says that his site has seen a 62.2% increase in organic traffic over a course of six months when he used the aforementioned keyword tools.

But keep in mind that keywords should be used sparingly and within context, not sprinkled on every sentence you write. You want search engines to tag your content as relevant, not as spam.

Search engine algorithms are smart enough to determine the frequency of the keyword and the presence of other relevant terms within the article. So, more than picking the right keywords, be sure to use them naturally as well.

3. Don’t forget the SEO basics.

The basics of on-page SEO (meaning SEO efforts that are confined within your website) are there to provide a foundation for a search-friendly site. These elements will give your content the additional boost it needs so that online users can find them easier. Here’s a quick recap of the basics you shouldn’t be missing:

  • Title tag. When a search engine lists your web page as a result, it does so by displaying the page’s title tag. This will be your first hook for visitors to click through your site, so make sure that it’s definitive of what they can expect from the link. You can even place a keyword in it, so long as it doesn’t sound forced.
  • Image Alt tag. By now, the idea that a picture speaks a thousand words has become a truism already. However, search engines are still not capable of fully “reading” what your picture is saying. The best way to make your pictures search-friendly is to add image alt tags to function as captions.
  • Meta description. A quick summary of your content can increase the possibility of a user clicking through your site. So, don’t forget to write clear meta descriptions to further boost the possibility of users reading the content you’re posting.
  • Tagging. If you’re managing a blog for your website, make sure that the entries are categorized or grouped through content tagging. It makes your blog more user friendly to new readers since clicking on a particular tag lets them browse through content related to that topic.
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4. Create pillar pages and topic clusters.

Let’s begin by defining what pillar pages and topic clusters do in the context of content marketing and search visibility.

Pillar pages allow you to cover a broad enough topic by creating content on related subtopics or topic clusters, which are linked to each other and to the pillar page itself.

Instead of creating individual blog posts to rank for specific keywords, you can use the topic cluster model to let search engines know about that single page on your website, which branches out into multiple content pages. The result is that Google is able to rank more pages from your site, while also helping visitors find the information they’re looking for on your website with ease because of the way your pages are linked together.

5. Build inbound links to your posts.

You already know that getting inbound links or backlinks is key to a successful marketing strategy. The more links, especially quality links, you receive from other websites, the more that Google thinks of your website as a source of helpful content.

There are several ways that you can build links to your site. There’s email outreach, for one. At first, you may be disheartened to learn that 91.5% of outreach emails are ignored or discarded, according to a study done by Brian Dean. However, Brian’s team also found that outreach emails related to link building have a 21.9% response rate.

Some of the best practices that are known to generate inbound links through email outreach include reaching out to people or brands that already know you. They may have mentioned you in one or two of their previous posts, or they may be following your LinkedIn account.

Aside from the familiarity factor, you may also look at someone’s interests when reaching out to your prospects. Joining groups on social media can give you access to people who may be engaging with blog topics that you would typically write about.

Read more: Building Engaging Content That Attracts Links

6. Make use of the power of internal linking.

Likewise, never underestimate the power of internal linking. If you mention in an article a topic that you’ve discussed before, link back to your previous post. This gives new readers a chance to explore past content and generate discussion even on old posts.

7. Be a thought leader!

You probably knew this already, even before you started your content marketing plan. It does bear repeating, however, because it’s tempting to give up on thought leadership because you may think that there’s too many thought leaders online already.

How can you discuss the same topics in a new light? That’s the challenge, and one you can solve by keeping your target audience in mind. For example, if your target market are CEOs, then writing content that caters to, say, house wives won’t do. Your visitors will surely appreciate an article more if they find it relatable.

Don’t be afraid to inject anecdotes and humor in your posts. If there’s something that will set you apart from others, your collection of personal experiences and stories is definitely one of them. Be sure to incorporate them in your content to make them unique.

Content Marketing—The Smart Way

The road to boosting your search rankings is paved with great content. Keep in mind that content marketing not only improves your chances of gaining visitors and customers, but also adds value to the products and services your business offers. We hope this beginner’s guide helped you get started

While you’re minding your on-page SEO strategy, don’t let your off-page SEO slack off. This includes building external links and nurturing your own content with internal links. External linking is when the power of your content really shines. After all, if it’s great content, people would surely link to it, either as reference or for recommendation.

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