CM World 2017: Connecting the Dots Between SEO and Content

Why an integrated content and SEO strategy serves your content now, and will help it weather industry changes ahead.

Hope is not a content strategy.

So said Kevin Bobowski, SVP of marketing for BrightEdge, at Content Marketing World in Cleveland this week during his session on search-driven content marketing.

Instead, brands should use search insights to discover customer intent—at different points across the customer journey—and then create smart content that meets these needs.

And smart content takes collaboration. No longer should search nerds and wordsmiths sit separately; the capabilities are converging, an idea 97 percent of content marketers agree with, according to BrightEdge research.

By pairing the disciplines, content can work harder and use data to support traction toward business goals. Content marketing is no longer a shot in the dark.

It’s how we at Manifest operate, and our clients and team members have seen the value of this approach—a must in the crowded content marketplace.

"We use performance marketing insights to drive our editorial content planning process," said Melissa Bouma, SVP of performance marketing at Manifest. "Contextual signals, such as digital behaviors and psychographic information allow us to craft content that will actually help deliver the right message in the right place at that right moment."

After Ideation: Steps to Take

A search-driven idea is just the first step, Bobowski said.

Next, content should be crafted with creatives and performance marketers working in tandem—positioning the piece for search performance at publication.

Blogs should also be primed for performance. This includes optimizing key SEO elements such as the meta title tag, description tag, H tags, alt tags, and implementing canonical tags where necessary and interlinking between related content pieces on the site. Site speed, Google AMP pages and HTTPS security are also increasingly essential, particularly when capturing mobile readers.

As part of this optimization, calls to action should be appropriately positioned to support your organization’s larger business goals. Ultimately, smart content is content that performs.

Then, distribute the piece fully across social, email and other relevant channels. Monitor the performance of your content and use these insights to inform future content ideation and to identify additional areas of optimization. This helps content gain continued traction—giving marketing teams a bigger bang for their buck per piece of content.

The ‘Post-Mobile World’

A robust search strategy isn’t only imperative to reach today’s mobile-first readers. It’s also what will help content maintain relevance as we enter the “post-mobile world.”

Already, 20 percent of searches in the Google app are through voice devices, according to BrightEdge data. But 62 percent of marketers have no plans to address voice search.

Similarly, Google searches containing the query “near me” have doubled in the past year. Thirty percent of mobile searchers are seeking something related to their locations—an increasing opportunity for marketers. Yet again, most marketers aren’t targeting these changing, highly contextualized SERPs (search engine results pages).

“Google rewards mobile marketers,” Bobowski said. “SEO is the secret to the post-mobile world.”

Another future trend in search optimization: streaming. 

"I believe that understanding the algorithms that drive on-demand content streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon Video, is the next step in search optimization," Bouma said. "Not only will we be able to optimize content as a whole, but also we foresee video content being broken down into micro-sections that contain meta information, allowing the user to navigate to any exact destination in a video."