How to create a content marketing strategy for 2021?

A complete guide for marketers and PRs on how to create a content marketing strategy that will get more Google customers to visit your website.

After reading our guide, you will know how to achieve higher positions on Google. You will be able to decide what subpages are needed on your site and what content should be included in it in order to reach customers and the media.

We’ll share practical tips based on our SEO and PR experience over the past 12 months.

From our text you will learn:

  • • Why it’s still important to create your content strategy with Google in mind
  • • How SEO works, i.e. what influences the positioning of pages in the search engine
  • • What subpages and content your website needs
  • • How to promote content, in order to achieve higher positions on Google
  • • Bonus: What is SEO PR

1. Why should you create a content strategy with a search engine in mind?

Suppose you want to take a mortgage for an apartment. Or you are checking how much it costs to rent a motorhome for a vacation. Or you want to find a restaurant with traditional cuisine dishes for your mom’s birthday. Or maybe you are thinking of starting your own online store.

Where do you start?

Probably at Google.

This intuition is confirmed by available data:

  • 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search results, 10 percent from paid search results, 5 percent from social media and 34 percent from all other sources (by Brightedge report)
  • Even for bloggers i.e. people with their own active community, organic traffic from Google search is the second most important source of new users (after social media), according to a recent study conducted on a group of over 1,000 bloggers.

Google is usually the primary source of getting traffic to a website. But more importantly, it is a channel that generates high conversions, i.e. a large proportion of users who came to the page from the search engine – make a purchase, book something or register on the site.

Google vs. other traffic channels

Let’s take a look at where the traffic comes from on online stores (built on the Shoper platform; report for 2019):

Sources of Traffic

The dominant source of traffic is Google – every third user goes shopping through organic, i.e. free search results, and a little less (28 percent) through paid promotion in the search engine.

Transitions from social media (social), through links from other pages on the network (referral) or by entering the store’s address into the browser (direct) are much less common.

The analysis of e-shop revenues also shows that every third zloty is spent by customers who entered the store’s website thanks to Google’s organic results.

Sources of visits that ended in a purchase in online stores © Shoper

For comparison, let’s look at traffic sources on corporate blogs, regardless of the industry. The basic channel for acquiring users is … a search engine – according to the analysis carried out by Neil Patel on a group of 183 companies investing in content marketing.

Why is a company blog important?

Because as much as 24 percent of customers contact a given company for the first time through their blog.

What Portion of Your Customers First Found You Through Your Blog

Google itself knows best how important for the development of any business are people who use the search engine…. 6 percent of all the searches end up clicking on one of the websites owned by Google, according to an analysis by one of the most respected SEO experts Rand Fishkin and the Jumpshot analytical company.

If it doesn’t seem enough, imagine that your pages are getting 300-400 million visits every day! And this is the amount of traffic that Google sends back to its sister sites (e.g. Youtube, Google Maps, Google Play).

Snippet features – what is it?

However, it is worth being aware that almost half of the searches on Google start and end with entering the search engine page (the so-called zero-click searches). What are zero-click searches? You get your desired results by just entering search terms into Google like “pancake recipe” or “euro rate” and see the displayed answers (so-called snippet features).

Let’s add to that the important difference between SEO activities and most marketing activities. You buy an ad – you see impressions, clicks, more or less sales. On the other hand, positioning a website in organic search results, where no conscious positioning activities have been carried out before, is usually a long-term process (the first effects are usually visible after a few months).

This leads us inevitably to the question:

Is it worth investing in SEO if the effects are uncertain and delayed?

YES. From the examples above, the conclusion is that if you give up the fight for organic results, your business and website loses 30-60 percent of its business potential.

For every paid click on Google, there is an average of 11.6 clicks on organic search results.

In the case of paid advertising methods – AdWords, social ads, display – you have to pay constantly to see traffic on your site.

The results obtained from good positioning can last for years.

2. How does SEO work?

Since you are here, you know that it is worth investing in the development of your website to make it more visible in Google’s organic results.

Why do some pages rank higher in the organic search engines than others?

Although the details of Google’s algorithms are still a mystery, on the basis of many analyzes, we already know which factors affect the ranking of pages in Google to the greatest extent.

According to Rand Fishkin, these are in order:

  • • intent matching – matching the page to the intent (purpose) of the person seeking information
  • • brand authority – the credibility of the website (brand)
  • • link quantity – the number of links to the page obtained
  • • user/usage signals – indicators concerning user activity, such as time spent on the website, CTR, bounce rate, etc.
  • • comprehensiveness – the comprehensiveness of the website, i.e. whether it fully satisfies the user’s need.

Another well-known SEO specialist – Cyrus Shepard also points to very similar elements in his analysis.

What do all these factors mean in practice?

Some of them – page loading speed, readability for crawlers or website structure – are so-called technical SEO. 

The remaining factors – and it should be noted that they prevail – concern the quality, relevance and comprehensiveness of the content published on the website.

Strategic SEO Areas

Let’s move on to some practical tips.

If you want your website to grow in organic Google search results, start by refining three key areas:

  1. 1. Satisfy user intent – understand the intent (goal) of the user who enters a given word, phrase into the search engine.
  2. 2. Create site stickiness – create a “sticky” website by building tools and content that will keep the visitor on your site for longer.
  3. 3. Link building & citations – make your website credible in the “eyes” of the search engine through the obtained links and mentions of the website/brand.
Content & SEO Strategic SEO Areas

Understanding Internet Users’ Intentions

It’s the ultimate goal of SEO.

Why does the user enter the given password/phrase into the search engine? What information does one want and expect to find on Google?

To answer this question, let’s do a quick SERP analysis (search engine result page).

  • Who is advertising for the phrase? What keywords are repeating in the ads?
  • Are there so-called rich results (e.g. info panel, graphic links to YouTube, articles)? If so, how do you end up in these “featured” results?
  • What types of pages does Google display in organic results (e.g. news portals, blogs, landing pages on company websites, wikipedia, etc.) and why?
  • What words are repeated in page titles and descriptions, also in advertisements (meta title, meta description)?

Example: Pages featured in Google Organic Results in response to the search term “mortgage”:

First Findings: The presence of snippets of articles indicates that users are concerned about up-to-date information on mortgage loans and… want to know what it actually is.

Google presents creditworthiness calculators, which means Internet users expect such tools.

The development of personas is also helpful in understanding the intentions of Internet users.

  • Who is the person currently looking for a mortgage? 
  • What is their socio-demographic status? 
  • What is the person struggling with? 
  • What are their goals in life? 
  • What information regarding the loan do they look for?

The most frequently asked questions and answers that appear on Facebook groups, forums, and Reddit are also valuable sources of information.

3. What content and subpages does your website/company need?

The first step is understanding the purpose a person has in mind while entering a given topic into the search engine.

In order to plan effective content marketing activities, you have to realize what the typical search paths for information are in your industry for a given problem and issue. 

And also what are the conversion paths on your website, i.e. what the next steps of the user entering your website should be.

It is helpful to analyze your competitors’ sites that rank high in Google’s results.

  • What is the nature of a given page or website (e.g. information, sales, advice as a dominant content)?
  • What is a likely conversion on this page and what is the conversion path?
  • What kinds of tools and content types (e.g. guides, listings, video tutorials) do these pages contain?
  • Which elements on the website keep the user “retained” for longer (the so-called long clicks)?

Example: The home page of one of the highest positioned pages for the keyword “mortgage”:

First conclusions: the top pages are constructed according to the scheme: 

  • • top for the user (mortgage calculator)
  • • bottom for the search engine (extensive content) 

Additionally, the pages display helpful information in response to the current events – a pandemic – which in the “eyes” of users and search engines emphasizes their topicality.

Selecting and matching keywords

The analysis of SERP and other competitors’ websites makes it easier to choose keywords, i.e. phrases that are most often typed by Internet users looking for answers to their questions.

Remember that we all want to read well-written texts. 

Articles that are artificially inflated with keywords, written exclusively “for SEO”, make no sense in the long run. Google algorithms are getting “smarter” and appreciate valuable, thoroughly refined, and directly answering questions content.

The keywords are there to help you understand what the text is about. But they are not a substitute for good editorial work.

How do I find the right keywords? Ready-made tools can be used.

  1. Google Keyword Planner – it allows you to analyze the search potential (i.e. how many times a month users search for a given phrase) and the competitiveness of keywords, and suggests additional keywords that may be related to the topic.
  2. Google Trends – indicates current and seasonal interest in a given term.
  3. Ubersuggest – suggests ideas for new keywords and topics.
  4. Answerthepublic – a map of the most frequently asked questions and terms around a given phrase; especially helpful for blog entries.
  5. Ahrefs – a paid tool for analyzing linking of pages and their positioning for given keywords.

Types of subpages and content types versus business goals

Knowing the intentions of Internet users, matching keywords and converse paths on your website, we can start to determine which subpages and content types fit.

Depending on the needs and intentions of people visiting your website, we can distinguish three main types of pages:

  •  sales – when I want to do (usually buy or hire) something specific (I enter, for example, “a place for a birthday in Downtown Bristol”),
  • • information – when I want to know something (I enter, for example, “how much does PR cost”)
  • • guidebooks – when I want to learn something (I enter, for example,” how to get out of debt”) 

The content on the website can take various forms. The most common formats:

  • • guides – eg “How to set up an online store. Step by step”
  • • listings – eg “13 ideas for a corporate Christmas Eve 
  • • news
  • • video-tutorials
  • • case studies/success stories
  • • checklists
  • • calculators
  • • presentations
  • • infographics

Due to the fact that Google promotes voice search, the content of the “questions – answers” type is gaining more importance: how much does it cost, how to make, where to find, etc – because people ask such questions while voice-searching.

Remember that the content strategy does not only concern blogs. It is primarily the refinement of the content and tools on transactional (sales) websites that brings the best long-term results.

Example of content strategy [editable version]:
Type of subpageNature of informationDescription, examplesCTA → conversions
what should be the user’s next step on this subpage?
Probable traffic potential SEOConversionsLinks and mentions 
Landing page –
per
sales and information servicePresentation of a given serviceAsk for an offerSelect the scope of services to receive a quoteLow or MediumHighDifficult
Landing page –
perindustry
sales and guidePresentation of services for a given industry Check the services and a tool that will increase your incomeLow or ModerateMediumHard to
Blog – hubs informationinformativeExtensive studies describing the problem in a comprehensive way, step by stepSubscribe to our newsletter and get XYZMedium or LargeMediumMedium
Blog – success storiesanalytical – informativeStoriesSave subscribe to the newsletter and you will receive XYZAverageAverageAverage
Blog – reports,researchanalytical and informativeReports prepared together with a research company and / or industry partners;Analyzes based on own dataEnter email to download full reportLow or MediumLowEasy

4. How to promote content?

When creating your content strategy, make sure you have a promotion plan.

For years, Google has “awarded” websites for the fact that other websites independently from us refer their readers to our site. The more external sites do this – the better for our site.

How to promote your content so that as many websites as possible would like to link others to yours?

Quality meets efficiency. 

Quality content – answering directly Internet users’ questions – will always defend itself. But that is not enough. It’s also important to be effective in letting the world know that we’ve produced great content.

E-mail outreach

Work hard on the list of people who would actually be interested in linking to your content. Or at least the ones that will be ready to share your materials on their social media.

Who should be on this list:

  • • bloggers in your industry who have posted on similar topics;
  • • key opinion leaders and industry experts;
  • • creators of company blogs that match the subject matter of your text;
  • • representatives of industry associations and organizations with their own websites;
  • • journalists writing on similar topics (more on this later).

Don’t make this list sloppy.

Take the time not only to find the right people but also to research what to attract them with. Why would they be ready to share your text with their readers/audience? 

Do not spam. Do not use the same forms for all of them. 

Demonstrate that you took the time to reach out to the person and that you care if they respond.

Media relations

Due to the changes in link attributes, announced by Google last fall, in 2020 and 2021 the importance of not only dofollow links to the site but also contextual brand mentions is growing.

In particular, in acquiring mentions of your website/brand, three types of media relations activities work:

  • press releases based on news or unique data – journalists are ready to “pay back” with a link for providing them with qualitative and unique data;
  • arranging interviews and articles about the company – positioning the website in a broader yet appropriate context;
  • arranging expert comments – positioning reliable experts speaking in the media on behalf of the brand (website), and thus building the credibility of the brand/website.

Guest posting

Find sites that would be interested in benefiting from your knowledge.

Offer them topics for guest positing.

Websites for which you would like to write your guest texts should be thematically relevant to your website.

Promotion in social media

If you are convinced that your text is very good, invest in its paid promotion. 

Select the social channels in which customers/recipients of your content and influencers of your industry are. 

5. Bonus: SEO PR, or PR tactics supporting

SEO PR is not only another name for media relations activities combined with obtaining dofollow links to the website.

The experience of PR agencies in creating substantive texts that are created to interest journalists first, and readers through the media, is very valuable.  

A good PR agency can:

  • find topics for texts that can be written much better than those already existing on the Internet (content gap analysis);
  • develop compelling content for thematic landing pages and blogs (landing page content);
  • obtain links and mentions about the website in the media and among the so-called opinion leaders (link building, outreach & citations);
  • refine catchy descriptions under Google (title tags).
T-Shaped SEO © Zuzanna Szybisty | Enterie.com
Zuzanna Szybisty
Zuzanna Szybisty

Zuzanna Szybisty is the expert in communication and SEO PR. Co-managing the PR agency Profeina, co-founder of the Briefly website. Works with brands such as Blue Media, Autopay, Shoper, Audioteka.

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