Lee Odden

An Optimized Framework for Better Content Marketing & SEO

Framework Content Marketing OptimizationThe pressure of competition and desire for business growth pushes marketers towards tactics that promise quick wins. Pundits advocate strategy first (been there) but doing so in a comprehensive way isn’t always practical, especially when it comes to areas like social media and content marketing.

For marketers in need of practical advice on customer-centric, practical content marketing, a solid framework can be invaluable for an adaptive approach that is thoughtful about overall direction and measurable short term impact at the same time.

An increasing number of Search Engine Marketers are advocating both Content Marketing and Social Media in concert with achieving SEO objectives which is a great sign, but often lacking a customer-centric approach.

Here’s a Content Marketing framework that proves to be customer-centric as well as SEO and Social Media savvy that I think any smart online marketer can follow.  Keep in mind, with a holistic approach, this 4 part framework can be applied to any type of online content that a company produces: HR, Customer Service, Public Relations, etc.

Optimize - Content Marketing Optimization

I talked about this approach at Content Marketing World recently and will be elaborating on it at several future events as well. Of course I drill down even deeper in “Optimize“.  But since that book won’t be out until the first part of next year, here is a bit of an elaboration.

Customers – Optimize for keywords or optimize of customers? It may be semantics and it’s certainly not a mutually exclusive situation with customer segments and individual search keywords. Many online marketers focus on keywords that are popular and relevant to products and services without ever considering things like customer pain points, behaviors and position within the buying cycle and how that manifests as a search query.

Content Marketers organize their campaigns according to customer needs and how to influence those customers to buy. Add keyword optimization (SEO) to that mix and you have a very powerful combination.

  • Identify customer segments – What do they care about? What is their context?
  • Document pain points & information needs during buying cycle.
  • Build a path of content including triggers that inspire purchase and social sharing.

Keywords – As you understand the language of your customer, the opportunity to optimize content for search “findability” becomes very important. What better place to connect with customers than at the moment they proactively seek a solution? Build relevant keywords according to customer interests into a content creation plan with key messages and you’ll be one step closer to “relevant ubiquity” .

Besides search keywords, it’s worth considering social topics. The interplay between searching and social referrals is becoming more standard as buyers navigate information resources online.

  • Brainstorm and research keywords with tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Wordtracker and Ubersuggest.
  • Tap into social media monitoring tools to gauge what topics cluster together on social networks, blogs and Twitter, relevant to your search keywords.
  • Organize search keywords and social topics into a keyword glossary shared with anyone in your company that creates online content.

“Content – is King and Creativity is Queen”, according to Pan Didner of Intel. I happen to agree. Content Marketing is growing and soon “everybody will be doing it” but certainly not doing it well. Through a combination of keen customer insight, analytics and smart creativity, online marketers can stand out amongst the 27 million pieces of content shared in the U.S. each day or the 5 Exabytes of information created every 2 days around the world.

Keywords and topics can fuel a Content Plan that provides a calendar of planned content publishing, topics, optimization focus, promotion channels and planned repurposing. Allow for wildcards and spontaneous content creation according to real-time opportunities and current events.

  • Plan content according to customer segments, keyword topics and business services/product offering.
  • Leverage search keywords for content optimization on the website, blog and on social media sites.
  • Create modular content that can serve its purpose individually, as part of a matrix of topics and as repurposed content in the future.

Optimize & Socialize – Armed with customer insight, a keyword glossary and a content plan, it’s time for those Social SEO smarts to see some action.  With content staff and social media teams trained on SEO best practices, new content will be easier for prospects and customers to find – when it matters. They’re looking for it!   Monitoring search analytics for refinement of on-page optimization helps keep your investment in optimized search and social content high impact and current.

In today’s online marketing world, there is no “Optimize” without a smart dose of “Socialize”.  Social network development and content promotion is essential to inspire sharing, traffic and links. Social links and web page links to your content provide a powerful combination for search engines to use when finding and ranking helpful information that leads your customers to buy and share.

  • Train copywriting and social media staff on keyword glossaries and SEO best practices. Keep social topics up to date!
  • Optimize web and social content on and off the corporate websites while engaging and growing social networks.
  • Create, optimize and share useful content that will inspire customers to buy and share with their social friends.

The particular strategy, goals and methods of measurement will vary according to your situation of course, but as I mentioned above, this framework is applicable to any area of online content that a company might be publishing: Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Human Resources, Public and Media Relations.

Have you seen examples of companies doing a great job of going from basic SEO to more robust content marketing optimization? Have you implemented or observed some great examples of “optimize and socialize”?

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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 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. Good blog . I agree with your approach of use a two pronged  attack.
    This is what we do.
    Don from LocalOnlineMarketingBC

  2. Internet marketing is all about a good and relevant content(competent keywords are also important to be competent enough). Content is the most important part of the process of SEO. An expert content writer is a big help in optimization.

  3. How true! You should optimize for your customers. See what they are searching for to find your kind of business. Great tips!. I saw some of them and related on one of the seminar in FSJ (BC) from one company called The Creative Patch (www.thecreativepatch.com). One additional thing I learned from them is to use google places.

  4. This totally informative Lee. I do referral marketing myself and I’ve been trying to integrate content marketing and SEO for it.

  5. You articulate well how SEO, which used to be all about ‘tricks’, is growing up to become part of a marketing strategy that needs to be focused on what all good marketing has always focused on — the customer’s needs and pain points.  Great article.

    • Thanks Clavoie – it’s great to finally see the SEO industry start to evolve from technical tactics to a meaningful role in overall online marketing strategy.

  6. Very informative article, sir. This page has earned a spot in my bookmarks toolbar, so I can reference it often. I write SEO content for The Content Factory ( http://contentfac.com ), so this is right up my alley. Thanks!

  7. Avatar Declan Declan says

    Great blog and really well explained in detail. Especially the keywords paragraph – that really gave me some ideas. Just starting to try and put them into action for Clicca Qui, an SEO company.

  8. Social Media and Content seems to be integrating as technology progresses. I have found some really good twitter tools that help to shape content. Prior to my knowledge curve I was using twitter primarily to promote my content. Social Media will continue to rock. I am currently enrolled in the University of San Francisco’s internet training marketing classes. Social media and mobile marketing are a couple of programs offered I am looking forward to.

  9. About the keywords. Are keywords in domain names even important anymore? I’ve heard from a couple of places that google really dropped the advantage given to keyword domain names. Im not sure if this is true, but if it is would you say it’s a bad thing or a good thing? Not having to worry about getting keywords domain name and end up seeing it taken, saves a lot of time I would think. If keyword domains have really been dropped, it’s probably good because all the good keyword domains have already been taken, but now the one who puts in the effort and time will be the one who succeeds.

    • I think if keywords are in the URL – not just the domain name, but in the folder and/or file name, there is a user experience advantage as well as an increased chance that the URL will serve as anchor text in an external link. Ex: brandname.com/pages/q2123.htm vs. brandname.com/keyword-category/keyword-product.thm

      • Oh, that’s a neat little trick there, putting keywords in the URL of the pages on your site. Makes sense. Thanks.

  10. Identify customer segments and document the pain points is key!  One tip is we like to ask our customers to setup a rewards program with their customer service reps! What most business owners forget is that the customer service reps are the best source of content creation ideas!  They are the ones talking to customers all day long and they know what people ask all the time!  If they business owner sets up a system such as a simple google form to collect the questions and answers that the customer service reps are giving each day, then they will have a huge file of questions and answers that can be handed over to the content development team to develop faqs, improve product descriptions, blog posts and more!