Lee Odden

10 Steps to Better Content Marketing & SEO

Lee Odden     Content Marketing, SEO

content marketing optimizationHow would you rate your content marketing efforts? How well are you incorporating SEO and Social Media? If you’re not sure or need to improve, read on.

We’re big fans of content marketing as you probably know and there’s a presentation on Content Marketing Optimization that I’ve been doing at search conferences lately (SES SF, SES CHI, Pubcon and soon SES London) that has evolved each time I give it. See the bottom of this post for an embedded copy of the latest version from Pubcon.

While there are an increasing number of definitions of what content marketing is, I tend to prefer:

Content Marketing: Aligning customer and brand objectives through content.

While the primary platforms for our application of this definition are online and more specifically, through search, social, online PR, email and certain kinds of advertising, I think a timelessly relevant definition needs to be general.

Content Connects – Consumer buying experiences increasingly involve interactions with content. Sales cycles are longer as consumers perform searches, read reviews, ask social network contacts for suggestions and eventually buy. Content in that scenario is created by marketers, fans & social contacts as well as by consumers as they ask public questions and even share purchasing decisions or reviews of products they’ve purchased.

For example: Imagine a consumer searching Google for “light bulbs” and finding an article, “5 Ways to Save Money with Light Bulbs” written by XYZ light bulbs. The consumer moves on the reviews written by other consumers and moves on to purchase. After the purchase, she shares on Facebook and/or Twitter that she’s found a great place to buy bulk, energy efficient light bulbs.  It’s easy to see how content connects the consumer with the merchant as well as other customers in this scenario.

The importance of the role of content in marketing and PR cannot be over-estimated. Marketing and Public Relations organizations whether consultant or internal, will need to not only become better content creators, but content curators, optimizers and promoters in the months and year ahead.

In order to be more effective at Content Marketing that incorporates SEO and Social Media, here are 10 steps:

  • Goals – You can’t score if you don’t have a goal. Numerous business problems can be solved in part, through content marketing (besides increasing sales).  This includes everything from recruiting to public relations to customer service.
  • Buyer Personas – What characterizes the customers you’re trying to reach? Who are you trying to engage? Empathize with customer needs and think about how to meet them while meeting your own as the brand.
  • Keywords – What search and social media keywords best represent demand for your products and services?
  • Content & Assets – Inventory the content and digital assets you currently have available for keyword optimization and social promotion. Map keywords to content so there’s accountability for keyword performance of content in search.
  • Editorial Plan – Your brand is now a publisher and that means an editorial calendar for content creation, optimization, promotion and measurement. If you understand how newsrooms work, you have an advantage here.
  • Operationalize SEO – Whoever is responsible or capable of content creation for the brand should have keyword glossaries available as well as SEO training on how to use them. SEO should be part of the content creation and publishing process.
  • Develop Off-Site Content – You’ve likely seen the hub and spoke publishing model we promote. Create content off of your web site to extend your reach and engage customers where they are.
  • Socialize – Connect with others and grow the social networks that will extend your reach and ability to engage.
  • Promote – Make it part of the editorial plan and content marketing process to promote content on the social networks and off site content destinations that you’ve created.
  • Measure & Refine – Identify the key performance indicators that represent progress in engagement and reach. Track what’s working and what’s not, testing and making iterative improvements.

There are many dimensions beyond these tips, especially when it comes to content curation and the planning of repurposing content.

If you’re a B2B Marketer, how have you implemented content marketing in your online marketing mix?  What challenges have you encountered trying to implement SEO and Social Media?

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (6 votes, average: 4.17 out of 5)

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 B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Wow!! This was the very first time I visited your blog and I am highly impressed by the way of your writing. I definitely agree that its all about relationship building whether its in content writing or any other marketing. The reader always tries to build a connection between what is he reading and what he expects. I will surely recommend your post in my next article. Keep on the good work..

  2. Hi,

    “You can’t score if you don’t have a goal.” Great stuff and the #1 reason why people fail when trying to incorporate SEO with Social Media.

    Set your objectives from Day 1 and stick to your goals. Without something to aim at your activities become aimless.

    Thanks for sharing your insight 🙂


  3. Great content. Thank for sharing.

  4. Lee, you hit the nail it on the head again. Especially in a time when well known bloggers try to juxtapose SEO and social media as better or worse than the “other”. Social media and SEO are intertwined and your content has to perform both SEO wise AND on social media to really succeed.

  5. Nice column, but I think you mean “The importance of the role of content in marketing and PR cannot be *over*estimated.”

  6. Thanks Lee for your great article. You are right, sales cycles become longer as consumers before buying products perform searches on the forums, blogs, read reviews etc. I particularly loved your light bulbs example. That is where content marketing and PR cannot be over-estimated.

  7. Muito bom.

  8. Hi Lee,

    I’ve seen your presentation many times and it gets better each and every time. Wish we could have chatted at Pubcon, but keep up the great work! Each of the ten steps you have identified are spot on. I cannot stress the importance of each of these especially the use of personas and proper keyword research and selection. You are entirely correct when you say sometimes the most obvious and simple things are the most neglected.

  9. Avatar SEO Freak Show says

    On-page/Off-page content synergy is a must. Great breakdown of the steps.

  10. It is true that the company will be more successful in marketing when they really know who the niche markets are. In the meanwhile, the marketing budgeting is extremely important. It is about the costs and I think it sets up the levels to meet the needs of each marketing task and then monitoring the results over time to make sure you remain on target. Failure to properly cost and budget your marketing plan could definitely cause some problems. For example, insufficient fund for some items such as equipment may immediately delay the whole process or business which would cause some loss or require more budgets. It’s a vicious circle. Lack of a properly constructed marketing budget will have a negative effect on many marketing plans and campaigns.

  11. We use social media SEO as part of our promotion and figure it into our clients’ plans. By far the most difficult thing to get them to understand is measurement. Not only is it difficult to explain, it is difficult to determine WHAT to measure and then tie it to sales.

  12. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand

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