Read a Beginner Guide to Content Marketing & SEO. You will also learn the Best Content strategy. SEO and content marketing are attractive channels to new startups everywhere. But for most, the investment and timeline to ROI is daunting and potentially catastrophic if misapplied.
SEO content strategy isn’t simple. If it was, everyone would have websites that generate 250,000+ visits/month. Thankfully, the act of building and executing a successful strategy has a significant barrier to entry. That said, you can win with repeated, high-quality execution.
It also happens to be the same process I use to define the competitive landscape for every new client we work with and show them what’s possible with SEO-driven content marketing.
How do you think about a content marketing strategy that actually informs doing SEO in the best possible way?
We have potential clients that come to us and they think they want links, or they think they want content in some way. But in reality, they don’t know how to maximize those things for the highest impact.
Content strategy for SEO, in my point of view, is creating content in a way that helps you make that impact. It helps you get the best ROI. It also allows you to think about content and content marketing in a way that is high value, and of course hopefully in a way that has the highest impact for your business.
Step #1: Find Competitors Beating You
So the first thing we do for a beginner guide to content marketing or for a new prospective client, and you should do this for yourself too, is to look at the competitors who are beating you.
Using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, you might find that your competitors have a clear lead from an organic traffic point of view. If this is the case, do some comparison.
Maybe you’ll find that your biggest competitor is ahead of you by 300,000 visits. Plug your competitors website into a site like Majestic, Moz, Ahrefs and find out how many links they have compared to you.
Step #2: Identify Link or Content Gaps Between Targets
So if your competitor is 300,000 visits in front of you, or has 200 links more than you, that’s a pretty good quantitative metric to throw out there and utilize as a reference point. You know you need to catch up to these numbers in order to “get” them.
Most of the time if the gap is that significant, the number is not 200 links. More often it’s much larger than that. Other times you actually do have a link lead, and instead you just need more content, or you need better content.
Sometimes that happens if you’re a massive brand and there’s another publisher that is doing top or middle funnel content a lot better than you are. In those situations, what you can do is put that competitor into your tool of choice and then see the kind of strategy that they’re utilizing to beat you.
You can also use tools like Ahrefs. Say your competitor has a blog section or an ideas section that’s completely unique to you. You put that in to Ahrefs, you use the path functionality, and then you see how many visits and how many visitors they’re getting from search specific to that section as opposed to you, and you’ll now have a benchmark for the total opportunity there.
So you think of the links from that point of view, and a second point of view, you’ll now have this entire learn or blog section, and then you can then go to top content on Ahrefs to reference the number of results, and you’ll now know how many of those pages actually exist.
So if you know that there are hundreds of pages in their learn section and there’s 300,000 visits, you now have a benchmark for what you need to accomplish. If you know you need 300 pages and you need 200 links in order to gain 300,000 visits per year, you now have a quantitative way of thinking about where you need to get.
You need a certain number of articles in order to realize that traffic, if it’s top or middle funnel, and you need a certain amount of links in order to enable those rankings, whether it’s for the top or middle funnel or the bottom funnel content that you create.
The next thing to do if you’re thinking about those kinds of things and you have a competitor who’s actually thousands of links ahead of you, especially if you’re trying to convince a company to get on board with content marketing, you need to think about it in a way that is comparable or achievable.
For example, if you’re up against Apple.com and you’re some other computer manufacturer, you’re probably never going to gain on them in any kind of short-term fashion. What is more quantifiable in a shorter horizon is actually links per month.
Something I actually like about Ahrefs’ link velocity view is that it will show you what those people generated in terms of links in the last 30 days.
So if it’s not an achievable number in any kind of short timeline, I’ll instead look at a 30 day horizon and say, “How can we catch how many links they’re doing per month?”
Therefore, since they probably also have a massive traffic number ahead of you, you can now slowly jump them and gain ground on their massive lead. So if they’re generating 150 per month, you can now dictate a strategy that generates hopefully 160 or 165 in order to catch them over time.
It is easier to think about investing in SEO when you give management or whoever signs the check a number that allows them to win in comparison to their competitor. That’s why I like link velocity as a backup.
Once you have those benchmarks in place, you can now think about how you’re going to go about creating that content and acquiring those links.
Step #3: Evaluate How People Are Acquiring Links
So if you know you have 400 links that you need to catch, my first step is to look at the winners in that market and see how they’re generating them.
You can go to top pages on your link tool of choice, and you look at what kind of content they’re creating that’s actually generating links, if any at all.
Some competitors don’t use content. They have a massive brand and that’s their own content. Other markets, there’s tons of content being created, and you can use that to inspire the kind of content that works for that market.
It’ll often be a shortcut. So for example, if you’re in the credit card space, during a recent analysis, I came across a site that only did surveys and data studies.
So it was a clear signifier that this market works for a high-end press and that kind of content specifically, as opposed to infographics or something like that, because it’s a credit card space.
It is quick inspiration to do similar content that you know works, and it also gives you an idea for the time required and the quality to stand out, to actually beat that competitor.
It’s a good way to start thinking about beating them and catching them from a content perspective. Also, if you go to the top pages, you will know the kind of content they’re getting traffic from.
So if they spend thousands and thousands of dollars on content, you can know that it’s not going to be easy for you to catch them, or generally, you’ll be able to know what kind of effort is required in order to get there.
Step #4: Reverse Engineer Goals Against Labor to Execute
After that step, you should be thinking about reverse engineering those goals. In other words, how can you riff off the content that your competitors are finding success with? What can you do to achieve those goals.
So if you know that you need 200 links in a given month, or 200 links in order to catch your competitors, what you need to know next is your goals.
So if the executive team comes to you and they say, “We want to catch Visa.com in 12 months. How do we do that?”
You would then go to them and say, “They have 500 more links than us, therefore we need to divide 500 links by 12 months. That means we generally need to generate 60 links per month, or better than 60 links per month. Therefore we need to generate 65+ links per month.”
Then we can reverse engineer what kind of effort we need to generate 65 links in terms of content per month. From there, if you can look at Visa’s Traffic Value using Ahrefs or SEMrush, we can start to create to quantifiable value on a per link basis.
If we know Visa has $20,000,000 more traffic value and 2,000 more links, we can give a directional value per link by dividing the traffic value by the number of links to create an average link value of $10,000 per month. Of course, there is a lot more than links to SEO, but it’s at least a nice starting point to describe traffic value.
It’s a much more winnable argument to make when you’re pitching upper management to do content using traffic value/dollar signs like this. Also, it’ll generally give you the framework for what actually is required to catch and beat that kind of competitor.
So after that, if it’s not just a link-driven accomplishment, if it’s more content, and maybe you’re lucky enough to be a brand that’s leading and doing well, you would then look at how many pages that they have that are generating that kind of traffic.
So if you already have a good domain authority, and you see your competitor has 40,000 more pages than you to their content section, again, you divide it by 12 months, and whatever that number is, then you can say, we need to do X number per month in order to catch them if we’re going to be doing what needs to be quality work and of course better work, in order to really believe that we can catch Visa’s $40 million in traffic value in that time.
So you can see how those two arguments will get you executive buy-in, as well as the strategy to actually accomplish it. So if you use comparable competitors, that’s always going to be a good argument.
You say, “They’re doing this, they have this kind of content, their value is this. This is how we’re going to do it, here’s the time frame divided by this,” that’s how you get buy-in pretty frequently when you’re pitching these people.
Step #5: Decide How to Create That Content
So once you’ve gotten that framework and that buy-in, the next thing to think about is functionally how you’re going to achieve your goals. So if you’re in the credit card space once again, we’re talking about that as a reference point, you need surveys. You probably need content marketers. You probably need a great designer.
But if you’re in another market, say in a lifestyle market where everyone is doing original photography, and they’re doing video, you now need to think, “Hey, we probably need a videographer. We need a photographer. We also need a designer. We need a content marketer. We might need five bodies in order to generate 20 articles per month in order to catch that 12-month horizon.”
This is where strategic framework comes in, where you need to start thinking about: Should we hire those people internally? Can we hire those people internally? Will they be good enough to be better than our competitors? Or do we go towards an agency? Obviously we’re biased because we are an agency, but there are of course situations where it makes sense to go in-house, and situations that make sense to go to an agency.
But it’s that point, when you’ve thought about that kind of construct for strategy that you can then think about where you’re going to get the actual head time and the labor in order to achieve the goals that you want.
So from there, hopefully you have the team, you have the strategy, and you have the goals in place.
Step #6: Prioritize Topics Using Keyword Opposition to Benefit Analysis
Now it’s time to prioritize what you’re doing and how to do it best. My favorite strategy for that is keyword opposition to benefit analysis.
Originally popularized by Todd Malicoat, this idea is that you do something, you take your main keyword universe, and then you look at keyword difficulty against what people are willing to bid on that content.
If you’re lucky enough to have PPC data, you can also look at what you’re actually making from similar keywords to inform if the difficulty is low and the opportunity is high, you prioritize those first.
You’d be surprised at the speed at which content starts to perform when using the KOB process properly. Because of this, your budget has the potential to go up pretty significantly.
However, if you’re trying to go after content marketing as a term, or you want to rank for credit cards as a term right out of the gate, good luck. More likely you’re going to be stagnated in terms of the results and the budget your team gets.
Step #7: Use Content Gap to Identify Quick Wins
Another things you can do is use SEMrush or Ahrefs for identifying content gap opportunities. These two sites both have tools you can use to look at who your competitors are, and what kind of content your competitors have generated that you have not.
That is beneficial because if you’re a big brand, for example Visa, and there is a smaller player that you see has been publishing, and now you realize you should’ve been doing content marketing as well, you can just use content gap to find the keywords that you did not create.
So maybe your competitor somehow did credit cards for travel to Austin, for example, but you just didn’t have that page, content gap makes it a quick, easy way of identifying the keywords that you actually don’t utilize at all. It is a nice win to do that from a content strategy point of view.
Step #8: Decide on Ideal Content Marketing Mix
The next step to take is to think about the proper content calendar mix to satiate all needs of the organization. So if you have this massive keyword universe, and you’re a big brand, you suddenly understand that “credit cards for X” has a massive long tail opportunity.
There are credit cards for businesses, for travel, and say you don’t have that, but you have a pretty popular blog. Obviously, you should not just all of a sudden publish 95 articles on that section that are “credit card for X.” No one will read that. You’ll have the most unreadable blog of all time.
So instead what you should do is mix up those efforts. You should put a link effort. You should do a search effort. You should do different kinds of keywords, and create the mix that makes sense to achieve your goals at the end of the day.
That in total will give you the best total results when thinking from a content marketing perspective. So hopefully all of this gives you a good content strategy for your efforts as it comes to SEO.
If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up, subscribe, and let me know what you thought. Thanks for watching!