Lee Odden

SEO Strategies for Content Marketers – Hub and Spoke Content Amplification

SEO Strategy Content Marketing

Hub & Spoke Content & Social Media Publishing

While there’s plenty of great Search Engine Optimization advice being published daily on blogs and industry websites, there’s not as much from a content marketer’s perspective.  Having been in the SEO game for over 10 years, I know there’s a tendency to give recommendations that focus on web pages, code, links and what those things mean, specific to search engines. There’s an increasing social media component to these audits too. Most SEOs will read that and say, “Of course, what else do you need?”

If you work for a company or agency that received a standard SEO audit, you may have experienced the need for the SEO advice to be translated into something meaningful for your specific area of responsibility.  This affects designers, web developers, copywriters, marketing, PR and other departments.  A lot of SEO audits are technical in nature or focus on keyword usage and links.   As the importance of content grows, it makes sense to package SEO advice in a way that considers the capabilities and constraints of content strategists, creators and marketers.

Here are some fundamental and practical questions to answer when developing a SEO approach for content marketing:

  • What are your goals? – Be specific. Sales, Awareness, Media Coverage, Customer Support, Attracting New Staff, Branding. Content Marketing affects a lot more than just sales.
  • Do you have access to editing current content? – Companies vary on their policies regarding editing existing content, especially if there’s an arduous process for getting anything published in the first place.  But you need to know to what degree can existing content be slightly edited for SEO.
  • Do you have access to website templates & code edits? – Most content marketers are not web developers so having access to IT or a web team is a pre-requisite for getting to templates.  Websites that use content management systems use templates to produce web pages. SEO edits that can be made at the template level can affect hundreds or thousands of pages. Having access to making those kinds of changes can result in a very significant impact on search engine visibility.
  • Can you provide SEO training for content creators? – Providing SEO best practices training to those in the company responsible for creating content helps create SEO scalability in the organization.  Try to get them together in person or virtually for SEO and keyword usage training.  Provide best practices and guidelines customized to the company Content Management System and content creation/review/publishing workflow.
  • What ongoing feedback can you provide?– Can you create a method to provide any kind of performance feedback on the content being optimized?  It can be very motivating for copywriters to know the keyword optimization tactics they’re using are actually having an impact.
  • Do you have access for new content creation and publishing? – Competitive industries can rarely rely on existing content alone to satisfy search engines’ appetite for content and links.  Companies are increasingly creating more content as part of their online marketing efforts and a competitive SEO approach to content optimization requires the ability and access to create new content. Such efforts should be driven by the desire to meet consumer needs first, then keywords for placement within search engines. Oftentimes, SEOs think the other way around. Hopefully, you’re not one of those companies that feels you have all the content you need and nothing more.
  • Do you have the ability to measure KPIs & outcomes? – In the end, marketing and tactics like SEO are about making more sales.  There are also key performance indicators with content marketing and optimization that can be helpful for refinement and feedback to those producing and promoting new, search optimized content.  Rankings are less useful but link acquisition, social references, keyword referring data, social media referrals, pre-sales activity, conversions and other outcomes are essential for understanding the impact of an effective content marketing optimization effort.

Based on an evaluation of goals, capabilities and access to resources and ability to implement, a particular approach towards content optimization can be developed.  Here are three common forms:

Optimize What You Have – Audit existing content & focus on refining current content & digital asset optimization

High Value Plus Planned Content SEO – Optimize priority content (doable and most profitable topics) and add new content according to already planned marketing and PR purposes following SEO best practices.

Holistic & Integrated Content SEO – You’ve heard about “being social”?  This approach is about “being optimized”.  Develop a new site content & editorial plan for adding content according to keyword/persona targets. Train all content producers on SEO corporate wide and implement SEO at the template and content publishing process levels.

Obviously these are not hard and fast strategies for approaching content marketing with a SEO focus, but they do provide guidance and can even be treated as a phased approach.

On Friday I’ll be giving a presentation on Content Marketing Optimization as part of MarketingProfs University “Content Marketing Crash Course” that drills more specifically into how to develop a content optimization strategy, best practices on developing searcher personas, an editorial plan, keyword glossaries and how to determine your mix of original content vs. curated content. I hope to see you there.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. No doubt that content is king. I think goals here are really important, the whole arena of content marketing is so vast and opens up so many possibilities that without firm goals and objectives it can feel overwhelming, especially if you are small business or a solo operation.

    • I think a lot of content is created without any thought whatsoever towards its purpose, intended audience and intended outcomes. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate process but at a minimum, thoughtful. That way the content has purpose, reaches more of the right people and can be better managed.

  2. When you are writing content in SEO you should add your keywords with home page link..You can change that content frequently.

  3. Great advice here, optimizing your content at the start and then recycling and promoting it through different channels is important in content marketing. There is so much more to search marketing than the just the basic SEO piece and content marketing can be quite effective if approached correctly.

  4. This is a very detailed article regarding SEO strategy content marketers. I’m going to implement them to my site. Thank you!

  5. Great post, Lee. Too many overlook the importance of content strategy in building the business. As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to integrate content strategy into the overall marketing strategy, as the content can be used across the entire spectrum of the hub and spoke system this post’s image depicts. Editorial calendars are a an important part of that, but developing them (as well as putting a content strategy in place) is also very easy to put on the back burner.

  6. Great tips, especially “Optimize What You Have – Audit existing content & focus on refining current content & digital asset optimization”.
    I have noticed that some content is written for SEO without even considering the actual client that the business owner is trying to market to.

    • I agree, it’s a sad state of affairs when copy isn’t readable by people but great for search engines. It serves no meaningful purpose for the reader or the brand.

  7. I didn’t see anything in this article on the amount of time it can take to produce an effective content marketing campaign. Not just the time spent planning well-written content, but the times before search engines catch on and traffic starts coming from your articles.

    Lee, any specific recommendations for making the process “quicker”? I’m a realist, I know these things take time, but I thought I’d ask the pros.

    • There’s a quality and quantity element in the answer to your question. Experience, talent and process can make it quicker while retaining quality. Sometimes that means using an outside resource to do it for you, train you or help you ramp up and then provide support. If it has to be all DIY, then education on process is the key, but no matter what, the creative talent has to be there. If not, then someone else that does have it needs to play a part.

      Besides creating content worth reading, the most important things you can do to attract traffic to that content is let people know about it. Inspire people to link to your content and Google will see those links and understand the signals of interest as one of many reasons to display your content in search results. Those same links can drive traffic directly as well. Social sharing of relevant content to an eager audience can also speed up the time it takes to attract traffic to your articles.

  8. I work with a number of small companies, and you’d be amazed at how many have no idea if they have access to make code edits. It seems they just get their website up and then they let it be, never thinking about what they would do to the website if they moved, marketed a new product or service or had news to promote. It’s one of the first questions I ask about now. Not because it is the most important, but sometimes it takes the longest to get an answer to.

  9. we are shifting to being a content management and strategy company with an seo partnership. we know this stuff works and it is shocking how many small businesses in the 1mm to 10mm revenue range are just flat out doing it poorly. big opportunities here. thanks for info.

  10. SEO keyword the more you use in your articles and content, the better the outcome may be. It may take a little time on your side to move forward, and if you do not have much experience, you may consider hiring a professional copy writing service to do it for you.

    internet marketing

  11. Fleurfavs10 says:

    SUCH GOOD INFORMATION!

  12. After reading all of the points, there are a few clear things. Yes, there are a lot of different aspects of a website and managing that website from an SEO perspective. Summing all of the points up, it is easy to see how having a good team is very important to make sure that all aspects of SEO are covered. The content marketer should be able to communicate with the programmers, the webmaster and any other members who play a part in the technical aspect of the website. It is important for those in charge of the IT stuff to understand the purpose of the content marketer and vice versa. That makes it easier for changes to be made and a level of respect and trust to be formed.

  13. I find a lot of content is wasted!
    You see the site ranking and click!
    All you see is garbage and you know it is written for the search engines and not for the reader, researcher, consumer or the surfer.
    Why not write less and give more, then for sure you will gain credibility and credits.
    The problem isn’t being able to reach the first page, but reach the audience and the rest will follow.
    Eventually honest content is going to be verified or audited by Google and the serp’s in general and by ratings by watchdog social media traffic auditors and again there will be a cleansing of sorts of the wannabe’s that couldn’t care less and the qualified content writers will prevail.

    • Good point Kal, “write less and give more”. It depends on capabilities. A skilled copywriting team can create a quantity of quality content. I agree, there’s far to much content “over optimized” in Google search results. Google might be dealing with the rapid increase of such content but from a user perspective, there’s still a lot of poor information getting premium positioning.

      As for “reach the audience and the rest will follow”, I see that advice all the time, but people often neglect to say how to reach the audience. Information discovery and engagement platforms like Google would probably prefer that method be advertising. There are many marketers that refuse being herded into this channel, that great content requires advertising to attract traffic to it.

      Great SEO and social media marketing is a win for all. Poorly executed SEO is the poor quality that you’re talking about and my opinion is a combination on quality SEO and Social Media Marketing can drive substantial attention to quality content. Adding advertising to that mix is fine but its not the only way to reach audiences.

      • I concur!
        SEO is free for the taking and you know what happens when you get something for free….it goes unappreciated and the flood gates are open.
        Then of course you have the quality and I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for” in most cases with some exceptions to the rule!
        A team well trained will overcome any obstacles, beat out and persevere over any antagonism between the “do gooders and wrong doers” in the SEO world because they are the elite, if they are truly a “dynamic” team, that is!

        Great post and tips!
        Thank you

  14. I think the best way to do content marketing today – so far – is through link bait. However, many are being misled by the concept of making content over or too controversial, that sometimes value from the content is at risk. For me, the best way to market a business through content is to educate your traffic to give meaning to each visit. Make sure that the title of the content matches the body, or much better put heart into it, in which will exceed the expectations of your targeted audience, since sometimes marketers often misuse titles of their pages/posts just to optimize their targeted keywords.

    • Linkbait gets them to the door, but it doesn’t convert visitors to buyers. Content marketing is about attracting customers and especially about persuading them to buy.

  15. I am so glad to see a good post about content marketing. All of the stuff that I read about SEO seems to always revolve around external links, and while they are important, most people (including self proclaimed SEO consultants) simply miss the boat when it comes to creating dynamic content.

    When you have great content you can leverage it to create a strong interlinking structure, while at the same time syndicating it through various media outlets. It just amazes me how so many people, and SEO companies fail to realize this. Blog commenting and forum posting is not a full blown SEO strategy. Smart content marketing is (almost)!

  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a great post about the importance of good, solid website content in helping your SEO efforts. I don’t mean to say that backlinks and link-building aren’t important because they are. But I agree with you in that links may drive people to your site but what you say about yourself, what you are, makes people stay.

    Keep up the great writing!

  17. Good job on a thorough post. You deftly covered a lot of territory in a few short paragraphs. What I see from this is a need for deep collaboration between writers and developers and it’s interesting to see writers mentioned as “trainers” — that means we have to come out of our creative holes and interact with people! All in all I see SEO as having elevated the status of and demand for writers. 20 years ago when you graduated with a liberal arts degree in writing people would ask what on earth you would do with it. Nowadays writing is a mainstream business from social media to SEO content development. Thanks again for the post.

    • Yes indeed Kennerly, writers contributions have been undervalued historically. SEO and content marketing have brought needed attention. When I hire for our agency, I expect everyone to have good writing skills.

  18. Good job on a thorough post. You deftly covered a lot of territory in a few short paragraphs. What I see from this is a need for deep collaboration between writers and developers and it’s interesting to see writers mentioned as “trainers” — that means we have to come out of our creative holes and interact with people! All in all I see SEO as having elevated the status of and demand for writers. 20 years ago when you graduated with a liberal arts degree in writing people would ask what on earth you would do with it. Nowadays writing is a mainstream business from social media to SEO content development. Thanks again for the post.

  19. Anonymous says:

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    This will automatically send you to the bit.ly statistics page for that link, which gives you conversation history, clicks and regional analysis.

    Not only is this a great way to yank out and measure the effectiveness of your tweet history, but it also gives you the opportunity to analyze your competitors!

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  20. marketing iconwebservices says:

     Outstanding strategy….

    http://www.iconwebservices.com

  21. Thanks Luke – it’s definitely a journey. 

  22. Content marketing is the most important element for any successful Internet marketing or SEO strategy. In a ways its good that Google is getting increasingly adept at recognising malpractices. The new Google link warnings will further push businesses to focus more on genuine content marketing than waste time and energy on building unnatural links.