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SEO Basics: 3. Learn how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy [with template]

In the next instalment of our SEO Basics series, learn how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy – from getting started with keyword generation to measuring results.

An SEO content strategy is a necessary component for any successful digital marketing campaign. You may have the best website in the world but if your content isn’t search engine optimised, you won’t be able to get found online!

How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy – Table of contents

  1. What is an SEO content strategy?
  2. What makes an effective Google SEO content strategy?
  3. How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy
  4. Google SEO content strategy template
    i. Establish your goals
    ii. Conduct an SEO audit
    iii. Research keywords to use
    iv. Create a content calendar
    v. Start writing and promoting
    vi. Measure, refine, update
  5. How long does an SEO strategy take to get results?

Last week we showed you how to write SEO content. In this article, you’ll learn how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy to make the most of those optimised words, complete with a template so you can get started easily today.

What is an SEO content strategy?

An SEO content strategy is a step-by-step plan for how you will write and publish content that optimises your website for Google.

This means selecting keywords that will get you found online, structuring your content so it’s easily readable by both humans and robots, and monitoring how well your campaign is going.

A blank page with a question mark and pencil and eraser -How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy - Copify blog

If you’re wondering ‘what should I include in my strategy?’ then you need to remember that SEO applies to all content on your site. Which areas you choose to cover first depends on your resources available and the greatest need.

Over time, you should be looking to ensure all areas of your website content are SEO optimised, including:

  • General web pages (Home, About, Services)
  • Location or service-specific pages
  • Ecommerce or product pages
  • Cornerstone content (guides and other static pages that will stay on your site to navigate visitors)
  • Blog content, articles, whitepapers, and so on…

Your strategy should include a list of keywords you want to target, a roadmap of the topics you want to cover, any existing content being found for those keywords/topics, plus a calendar to stay organised.

What makes an effective Google SEO content strategy?

A content strategy is only effective if it meets the goals you set at the outset (see step 1).

The main goal of SEO strategies is fundamentally to increase visibility in the search engine results pages for the terms you want to be found for. But you can deep-dive further into that.

Perhaps you want to:

  • Increase traffic for existing search terms
  • Target search terms that haven’t been associated with your brand previously
  • Get found for long-tail keywords that deliver fewer visits but the right kind of people
  • Or convert more readers: whether into signups, followers or enquiries

The benefits of a good content strategy are that you’ll get found online more easily by potential customers with the right level of interest who are looking for products or services like yours at that moment in time.

Therefore, creating an effective Google SEO content strategy requires you to think about what people want to find when they search for your product or service.

In order to know if you’ve met these goals you then need to monitor and measure the results from your activity. More on that later.

How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy

We’re using Google as short-hand for all search engines since we’ve already established that they occupy over 90% of the market share.

Nevertheless, the principles of this content marketing strategy for SEO is based on best practice tips that can be applied to your SEO content for success across most search engines.

Image of a hand pinning notes to a board -How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy - Copify blog

Here are the basic steps, which we’ll elucidate below in our template:

  1. Establish your goals
  2. Conduct an SEO audit
  3. Research keywords to use
  4. Create a content calendar
  5. Start writing and promoting your content
  6. Measure, refine and update

Before we start, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A website and blog
  • A Google Console and Analytics account set up and running
  • Access to keyword tools (we’ll provide examples below)
  • Spreadsheet software like Excel or G Sheets
  • Your business plan including buyer/audience persona profiles (HubSpot offers a comprehensive buyer persona guide to download here)
  • Time!

It pays to also have an overall idea of the conditions in which your business is operating at the moment. Before you start, grab a notepad and pen and jot down some answers to these questions.

Hopefully, they’ll be covered in your business plan, but it’s also important to reassess them before starting any strategy as circumstances can and do change suddenly (just look at the pandemic).

Questions to ask before you start

  1. What does the market look like (history, trends, forecasts, competition)?
  2. Who are my closest competitors in product/service and costs? (Research their websites and content output)
  3. What are the stressors and opportunities at a global, national or internal level? (Think about PEST challenges: Political, Economic, Social and Technological changes that might affect who your core target audience is and what they care about.)
  4. How much time and money do I have to commit to this project?

Google SEO content strategy template

Step 1: Know your goals

As entrepreneur and motivational speaker Tony Robbins said:

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

This applies as much to your online presence as building up the rest of your business.

You might think your SEO goal is to hit the top spot for every search term. But even if it is, the reality is SEO is a long-term strategy that doesn’t get results overnight. Therefore you need to be thinking more holistically. The easiest way to reach your goals is to have smaller ones that contribute to the whole, such as:

  • Increasing organic traffic
  • Increasing conversions (to buy, sign up, enquire or trial your service etc)
  • Increasing your domain authority and backlink profile (this involves linking out to reputable sources, providing quality content and getting shared/linked to by credible sites)
  • Getting found on page 1 and even getting more Featured Snippets

You can find more SEO goals and how to go about them here.

The most important thing is that you aren’t vague. Draw up SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

A clear understanding of what success looks like will help shape the rest of your strategy so you can measure how effectively you’ve met those goals.

Read our post on the importance of goal planning for your content marketing.

Step 2: Conduct an SEO audit

If you have content already on your site, then you need to conduct an SEO audit.

An SEO audit looks at how well your site’s existing pages and content are optimised for appearing in the search results. It should identify potential gaps and issues so that you can remedy them down the line.

An audit will help you find which pages are getting traffic and which aren’t, any broken or redirecting URLs, and where the gaps in rankings are that need filling. The latter might include content that was written a while ago or not properly optimised.

It will also help you see how high you rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for the keywords you want to rank for.

You can use free tools like Screaming Frog and Google Search Console to complete an SEO audit.

Paid-for tools such as SEMrush can come in handy if you want to conduct competitor gap analysis – finding the keywords your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t.

Next week, we’ll provide a step by step guide on how to conduct an SEO audit. For now, we’re looking at the wider strategy for those who are creating an SEO strategy for the first time.

Step 3: Research keywords to use

This stage will be guided by the type of content you’re looking to optimise, whether product pages, website content or articles. The great thing about hitting all bases is you can get found for a richer diversity of keywords.

For instance, top-level web pages like your Home and Services pages allow you to weave in service and location-led keywords like ‘content agency UK’ (or whatever your industry is).

Product pages may be more specific, allowing you to mention a diverse range of keywords that relate to specific types of product or service, such as ‘professional content writing’, ‘ecommerce copywriting’. If you are in a retail space, you can use long-tail keywords that have specifics about colour, size or material.

For blog posts, you can hit those query-based search terms that users are actively entering into the Google search box, such as ‘where can I get SEO content writing?’ or ‘how do I create an SEO content strategy?’, as we’ve done with the strategy on the Copify blog.

Read last week’s post for advice on how to use keywords in your SEO content.

When searching for keywords, bear in mind that some of the most popular, top-level keywords will tend to be short-tail and as such much harder to rank for. These are OK but we also recommend using one or two related long-tail keywords. These are essentially just more specific so that you also get found by the kinds of people who are looking for exactly what you offer.

You often stand a better chance of ranking for longer tail terms which over time can raise your domain authority to the point you are also ranking for the shorter tail keywords.

Sort your keywords by those which have a lower keyword difficulty or which have a higher monthly search volume but fewer results targeted for those terms – these will be easier to rank for.

With free SEO keyword research tools like Answer The Public, Ahrefs Keyword Generator or Ubersuggest you can enter your head search term and find longer tail keywords. You can then export them to a spreadsheet or CSV to pick out the most relevant.

Here’s how it looks when you use Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest tool to find keywords:

Screenshot of Ubersuggest tool results - How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy - Copify blog

With these, you can toggle based on questions and use Ahref’s SERP Checker to view the top-performing pages for those terms.

These tools are free so you have a limited number of features and/or searches, but it’s useful if you’re only just starting out and aren’t ready to invest in pricier tools.

Step 4: Create a content calendar

This is a calendar of what content you need to publish and where, and it fulfils part of the Time-bound aspect of your SMART goals.

You should cover all bases you have planned, such as updating static website content, services pages, e-commerce pages, and blog/long-form content. It should detail when you will publish, where and how you will follow up with that content.

If you want to focus on blog content first, that’s fine. Or maybe you’d rather optimise your web pages before you begin posting. If you can, we’d aim to do a bit of both. The more comfortable you are creating content, the more you can step up your posting down the line.

There are many ways to create a calendar. Some people prefer using a spreadsheet or physical calendar, others may want to use a content management system like WordPress to create and schedule posts.

Here’s how our content calendar looks – you can find a template to download here:

Screenshot of the Copify blog content calendar

Note on posting frequency

There are so many ways to determine how often you should post, as Neil Patel highlights here. There’s no standard measure and your schedule and success can be based on things like freshness of content, keyword optimisation and quality, right down to the size of your team.

We don’t expect you to spend every waking minute blogging, especially if you’re just starting out, but blogging with strategy and consistency is likely to yield better results.

As we mentioned last week, we recommend posting at least weekly, but it needs to be quality content.

On the Copify blog, we saw tremendous results in our traffic by publishing weekly to a set keyword plan. Over the past two years, we stepped this up to twice weekly and now publish three times a week, but you can still make great gains even posting fortnightly.

Step 5: Start writing…and promoting!

We’ve already covered how to write SEO content in our previous post, so you might want to revisit it after you’ve finished here. The key reminders are:

  • Feature the keyword strategically
  • Use engaging headlines
  • Set out your content so it’s clear and easy to read
  • Link to other useful and relevant pages
  • Include other media to add visual interest and context

Once you’ve published any blog or article content, make sure you promote it via your social media channels. You can also add this to your content calendar so you know how often and when you’re going to publicise them and you can correlate any upswing in traffic to this repurposing.

Other ways to repurpose content are by publishing it on high-profile publishing platforms such as Medium. Only do this after your content was originally cached on your site and ensure you mention at the top of the article that it was originally published on your blog.

Step 6: Measure, refine, update your content

Remember those goals? Well now is the time to see if you’ve hit them.

Useful metrics to measure the effectiveness of your Google SEO content strategy can be tracked in Google Analytics and Console.

Closeup of stats on a laptop screen - How to create an effective Google SEO content strategy - Copify blog

Ahref’s Keyword Rank Checker can show you where you rank for a particular keyword or paid-for tools such as SEMrush make this much easier (you can also perform a manual search for long-tail keywords to see if you’re ranking on page 1).

Measures to check include:

  • Old and new ranking position
  • % difference in organic traffic
  • % difference in conversions

Schedule time into your calendar to check back on results and update content.

Three-monthly reviews are good benchmarks to see how your efforts have impacted your traffic. You can of course check back on blog and social posts as often as you like to see whether they’re gaining traction or if they can be tweaked and republicised.

This is all part of the measuring and refining part of your strategy.

It’s also not enough to just create content and hope it succeeds. At the very least a poorly performing post was a waste of time, money and effort. But even with well-performing posts, Goggle values freshness, so there will come a time (usually around the 6+month mark) where you’ll want to go back through those old posts or pages and update them for accuracy, dead or broken links and layout.

When you update content, make sure you put a note at the top or bottom to state that it was updated and republished on the new date. You can also flag it for indexing in Google Console, but we’ll provide more tips on how to update SEO content later in this series.

How long does an SEO strategy take to get results?

SEO is a long-term strategy that can take months and years to come to full fruition and needs constant attention. It isn’t a quick fix, and search engine algorithm updates can throw your success off-kilter temporarily.

There are several reasons for this so pay attention to algorithm updates and what the search engines are looking for from content as this does change with the advancement of new technologies and ways of searching.

It’s important to manage your expectations and be aware of any organisations trying to sell you overnight success. This is usually built on black hat SEO that could see your site penalised if not blacklisted.

We recommend staying with your strategy for at least six months to begin seeing any improvements.

SEMrush estimates you should expect to see results within six to twelve months. This tallies with our own results on the Copify blog.

With a steady SEO strategy in place, our organic traffic increased five-fold over four years. However, we have continuously tweaked our SEO strategy and layout, as well as updated old posts, to ensure we’re making content as informative, engaging and accurate as possible for readers and Google.

Be prepared to refine your strategy if something isn’t working and go back to the drawing board to find new topics and keywords as your business, and the world, change.

A final word

With a strategy and content calendar in place to help you publish and update your content regularly, it’ll be much easier to track your SEO success. However, it does take time, and if you’re not sure where to start you might feel better leaving your SEO strategy to a professional.

At Copify, we can offer SEO strategy with our blog packages, meaning you don’t need to lift a finger or navigate your way around the keyword research tools.

✏️ Next week on the SEO Basics series, we’ll be looking more deeply into how to perform an SEO content audit, so don’t forget to check back!

Also in the SEO Basics series…

1. What does SEO content writing mean?

2. How to write SEO optimised content that gets you ranking in Google

Header image: Nathana Rebouças 

Embedded images: Mark Fletcher-Brown, Alvaro Reyes, Ubersuggest screenshot, Copify blog calendar screenshot,  Agence Olloweb

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.

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