SEO. Search Engine Optimization.
Utter these words and you will hear all about traffic reports, traffic sources, traffic increases and so on.
And that is great.
We all love traffic and we all go to extensive efforts to get more of it. Organically, if possible.
But (and this is one big BUT) traffic alone doesn’t pay the bills or the employees.
Sure, popularity is nice. It’s great, in fact, to see that people flock to your website or blog and that they can’t get enough of your content.
However, that feeling passes and you’re still left with bills to pay. Sadly, you can’t pay them in traffic reports.
So you need SALES.
(Don’t we all?)
A lot of the clients we have onboard at Idunn, the digital marketing agency I run tell us about investing in both AdWords and SEO. While that is a good plan in the short run (until you get that SEO juice properly running), it should be pointless in the long run.
Why bother with SEO if you’re selling via AdWords?
Why invest in AdWords if your SEO is working as it should be?
I have come to realize that a lot of people treat SEO as something that has to be done, but they don’t really expect any sales from it.
And this puzzles me greatly.
Why would you invest in something with no ROI?
If you’re a regular on SiteProNews, you must already know that a lot of my articles speak against vanity metrics and urge marketers to think of all their tactics in terms of sales.
Will this tactic bring me more customers?
If the answer is “yes”, then go ahead and implement it.
If it’s “maybe”, go ahead and test it.
If it’s “no”, don’t do it at all.
And when it comes to SEO and content marketing, you should expect a lot of sales.
Here’s how we do it.
Sales through SEO: the fundamental guide
When I hire SEO copywriters for my agency I make sure that they have a marketing background. To me, this is by far more important than knowing the most recent Google algorithm updates.
Because the latter can be easily learned. For someone with a marketing inclination, it can take mere days to learn all they need to know about optimizing an article or web copy.
But to learn how to see everything through the inquisitive and critical eyes of a marketer takes a lot more time.
The combination of the two, however, makes our copywriting services very successful.
You see, we always tell our clients that we don’t do SEO writing for SEO’s sake. We do it to help them to get the right eyes on their content AND convert visitors into paying customers.
No compromises, no in-betweens.
SEO-friendly and conversion-friendly content rests on two main pillars:
Oscar Wilde once said that “All art is quite useless” (in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray). While that may sound incredibly romantic (and true), web writing isn’t supposed to be art.
Therefore, it should serve a purpose.
Before writing anything (blog posts, white papers, e-books or web page copy), we always think of whom we are writing for. And why.
This goes beyond “our client is the owner of a medium-sized business”.
Targeted content takes into account detailed buyer personas and their pain points, so that the writing can help them find a solution (or sell your solution). When personalization and relevance fail, the results can be as much as 83 percent lower than those of a well-targeted piece of content or campaign.
Aside from going in-depth and closely analyzing buyer personas, targeted content must also take into account their buyer journey.
Let’s look at a practical example.
If you were to sell a social media management tool (like Sendible, Buffer or Hootsuite), how would you address buyers in all these stages?
In the awareness stage, your goal is to create demand generation. Educate prospects, if you will. Thus, your content will tell them about the time and money they could save using such a tool instead of posting manually. You can also mention your advanced reports feature that not only helps them save time, but justifies social media investment, too.
In the consideration stage, your prospect knows what they are looking for, so they’ll be searching for options. It’s time for you to tell them how they can benefit from each feature and why they should never settle for a lacking solution.
In the decision phase, your goal is to make sure you beat your competitors. Case studies, testimonials and comparisons between your solution and those of your competitors are your best friends. The time to educate has passed. Your prospect now knows exactly what they need. You need to prove you can offer it.
This is the phase where your content should get truly promotional. Don’t be afraid of big claims (as long as you can support them) and of telling the world about your past success and amazing plans for future development.
Where does SEO fit in all this?
Glad you asked!
Enter the second pillar.
Targeted keyword research and implementation
It’s not just your tone of voice that should match each of the above stages. Your SEO strategy should also follow closely.
Once again, personalization is key to every successful marketing tactic. So don’t think about people who search on Google as faceless individuals. If your buyer persona is well-defined, then you should match your keyword use to each of the stages in the buyer’s journey.
Let’s continue with our example.
In the awareness stage, focus on problem-based search queries. “Measure social media ROI”, “Track social media engagement”, “Schedule social media posts” – all these are great places to start.
In the consideration stage, target those who may not have heard about your solution (don’t assume that this entire journey will pass through your website or blog. Be prepared to target potential buyers at any stage). Get more specific in your queries. “Advanced social media reporting tools”, “Social media management tool for agencies”, “Instagram post scheduler” – this is the type of query you have to focus on now.
In the decision phase, reviews, testimonials and comparisons are your best friends. Use queries like “Buffer vs Sendible”, “Sendible vs Hootsuite”, “Buffer reviews” to get the right content in front of the right people.
Now for the practical part.
If you’re unsure on how to find the right keywords for each phase, a tool like Soovle could help with that. What this tool does is aggregate keyword suggestions from Google, Bing, YouTube, Yahoo and others to provide you with the big picture on how to optimize each piece of content according to what people search for.
You can discover more tools like this one in my article on LSI keywords.
As I’ve said before, content marketing and SEO go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. They complete each other and, more importantly, help you meet your business goals.
Attempting to ace one without the other will most certainly cost you business deals and amazing opportunities. While neither SEO, nor content marketing work from day one, their long-term results are extremely rewarding.
The key to getting those results is being patient and having the right team in your corner.