Beyond Keywords: What an SEO-centric Content Strategy Looks Like in 2019

For more and more content marketing leaders, SEO results are becoming somewhat of a gratuity: never expected, always appreciated. It’s not hard to see why. Pick any priority keyword that comes to mind and pop it into Google. Even if it’s niche, your content still needs to out-algorithm tens of thousands of results to enjoy any sort of visibility.

Tough sledding and all, SEO remains a top priority. For it’s 2019 report, CMI and MarketingProfs asked B2C marketers which content marketing issues were most important to their organization in 2018. Changes to SEO and search algorithms topped the list.

Though the terrain is rugged and ever-changing, it’s easy to see why content leaders continue to make SEO a priority:

  • Brands that achieve organic search visibility are able to drive targeted traffic to their site at a much more attractive ROI than those forced to pay for visibility
  • Search visibility signals that you’re delivering a credible, well-organized and user-friendly content experience
  • Being highly visible in trusted search engines, combined with a high-quality website, is a sign of a strong brand
  • SEO can be a sustainable strategy

So…now to the million-dollar question.

How can we make it more likely that our brands are prominently featured in priority SERPs this year?

Here are three markings of a make-sense SEO strategy for the modern content marketing leader.

3 Prime SEO Opportunities for Content Marketers in 2019

You won’t find any highly technical SEO tips below. What you will find are approaches any content leader can easily adopt before the calendar flips to 2020.

1. Focus Less on Keywords, More on Clusters

Audience-centricity gets bandied about plenty these days. Those committed to making it a reality have found solace in topic clusters. People search with keywords, but what they’re after is information on a specific topic.

If your SEO strategy calls for building content to satisfy specific keyword queries, but doesn’t offer anything of value for searchers who wish to expand on the topic – if they’re searching, they’re curious – that’s like offering someone a tortilla when they’re hungry for a taco. They’ll eventually get that taco, and search engines will notice that, for someone to satisfy their hunger, they need to leave your site. So they’ll stop sending people your way because serving up unsatisfactory experiences is bad business for search engines, too.

The topic cluster approach is akin to offering your audience the full taco bar experience for a given topic. Searchers find what they had in mind when they started, plus gain convenient access to all the fixings other topic explorers like to feast on when it’s readily available.

In addition to helping serve up a better content experience, topic clustering also represents the future of content planning and organization. When we organize by cluster instead of keyword, we have a better feel for how our various pieces of content relate to each other. We can more easily identify the gaps and redundancies that exist in our current experience.

What’s more, we can make sure that our most important pieces of content are accessible via multiple pathways. That way, not everything has to “rank” to be found by the right people. Content clusters highlight opportunities to offer a synchronistic journey where a keyword-based strategy simply can’t.

If you use DivvyHQ, I recommend taking advantage of the customizable content types field to start organizing your content by cluster.

2. Know What You’re Up Against Before You Start Creating

Suppose a piece of content would need to achieve page-one visibility to pay for itself. Anything less wouldn’t make financial sense. Upon looking at the SERP you aim to appear in, you see a bunch of ads, a featured snippet, questions people also ask, and below all that, a few search results.

Upon seeing the results, you’re also unsure if you have anything unique to offer – you’re not convinced your content will stand out from what’s already available (at least until you can come up with a different idea). You can’t be confident your proposed content idea will garner enough engagement or earn enough backlinks to overtake the current page one occupants. (I realize page one is relative but stick with me here.)

If you can take your audience on a fulfilling journey without this piece of content, and you’re not going to reuse or repurpose this content as part of something else, why dedicate the resources to create it?

Checking out SERPs before you create content:

  • Clues you into what search engines perceive to be relevant for a given topic
  • Clues you into what search engines perceive to be related topics and queries
  • Gives you a much better idea of what it will take to gain search visibility, and how plausible that goal may be given your current situation
  • Shows which content you’re up against, making it possible to create something unique, superior or (ideally) both

3. Create Something Unique, Superior or Both

In explaining the importance of original content for SEO, Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt points to Google’s mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

She explains that being accessible and useful is about adding to the information that’s currently available on a topic. To gain visibility, your audience needs to find something in your content they’re not finding elsewhere on the internet.

Given this reality, before approving any content idea, it’s a good idea for content marketers to ask themselves, “Would I be adding valuable information to this topic or would I simply be adding more content to the topic?” If you’re adding valuable information, the content idea gets the green light. If you’re simply piling on more content, or you’re unsure, it’s a sign that the content idea needs greater scrutiny or differentiation before it makes sense to invest in the creation of it.

Searching for a Sound SEO Content Strategy

The combination of exploring SERPs and aiming to create something unique or superior opens up all sorts of strategic possibilities. For example, you might find that your audience is being exposed to the same themes or ideas on a given topic. Knowing this, you might choose to either bolster existing ideas by adding your own expertise or experience to the topic, or you might be convinced that your audience isn’t getting the full story and would benefit from a contrarian point of view.

A sound marketing strategy is one that takes its competition into account. Why should SEO strategy be any different?

Our aim is to create content that content marketing leaders find valuable and useful. Subscribe to the DivvyHQ blog below for easy access to all our ideas, and save your search time for studying the SERPs you want to show up in.