Content is an integral part of search engine optimization. In fact, Google’s Andrey Lipattsev recently revealed that links, content and RankBrain are the top three ranking factors in their search algorithm. However, you can’t just put up any kind of content and expect people to link to it. You need to create content that people want to link to. This is where strategy comes into play. Below, we take you through how to come up with and an SEO content strategy and execute it to perfection. Step One – Set your GoalsSEO content strategy begins with goal setting. You need to define the results you want and then create a roadmap that gets you the desired results. Unless you do so, you will be like a rudderless ship. Setting goals ensures you have a much higher chance of success. It also keeps you focused. Goals could be anything from a ranking position for a specific keyword(s) to total traffic from search engines. Setting goals also helps you make a better analysis of what went wrong in case you fail to meet your goals. Step Two – Ensure your Technical SEO is OkTechnical SEO refers to aspects of your site that have nothing to do with content. These includes things like noindex/nofollow tags set in wrong places, blocking crawlers without knowing it, mobile usability, site speed and dozens of other technical aspects that can affect your SEO negatively. If you aren’t a techie, you may have to consult a website designer/programmer to ensure that your technical SEO is okay. Once you verify that your technical SEO is Ok, you can proceed to the next step. Step Three – Prioritize less difficult topicsThe next step in your SEO content strategy is to identify the topics you want to cover. This requires a great deal of research using a number of tools. Begin by analyzing relevant keywords and themes. There are a plenty of free and paid tools available to do this. When conducting your analysis, you should focus on three criteria: • Competition or keyword difficulty • Search volume • Traffic value or costWhen carrying out your research, you will be looking for keywords that have a high search volume and low competition. It is unlikely that all your keywords will fall within this definition, thus, you should prioritize less difficult topics. Google’s Keyword Planer provides an estimate of a keyword’s competitiveness though as mentioned before, there are numerous tools that can provide the same information. It is also possible to this manually by looking at the search engine result pages (SERPs). Take a look at the pages ranking at the top. If you see well-known brands or high-authority websites, then you can quickly deduce that the competition for that keyword is high. The converse is also true and provides you with an opportunity to create content that fills the gap. Unless you are already a well-known brand or have an authoritative site, you have no choice but to focus on less competitive topics to make the most impact. Step Four – Focus on Quality ContentYou have probably heard this a thousand times before. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. What exactly is quality content? Quality content is compelling. When people read or view quality content they feel the need to share it, bookmark it, link to it or take some other action. The more content is shared the more backlinks you get and that’s great for SEO. One of the ways of creating compelling content is writing long-form content. While long-form content isn’t necessarily a ranking signal, lengthy blog posts that are packed with tips and and advice tend to engage better with readers. You should also focus on “edutainment”. This is SEO speak for content that’s educational and entertains at the same time. Focusing on quality, compelling content can provide you with amazing SEO results within a short time. Step Five – Build Internal LinksInternal links improve content navigation. You don’t know which post someone will see first on your blog so you need to build internal links to help readers and Google navigate your content. Pages that people link to a lot also tend to be the best converting. Internal linking is also a great way to connect your audience to your best content and get them to stay on your site longer. Without internal linking a reader may land on a page, satisfy their information needs and promptly leave. However, when you link internally, they may find much better content and link back to it or even share it, boosting your SEO in the process. Step Six – Understand the Context of SearchAs mentioned earlier on of the three main ranking signals that Google uses is RankBrain. RankBrain is a machine learning technology that helps Google determine the most relevant results for specific queries. This context of search is technically referred to as semantics. Google is getting better at interpreting user intent and you need to take this into consideration when evaluating SEO success. Previously, Google would give a best guess of results based on your search query. However, with semantic search, Google is able to discern context and user intent and provide you with better answers. For example, two people could key in the same keywords but get different results based in their location, search history and host of other factors built into the algorithm. To put this into practice, find terms related to your main keyword and include them in your content in a strategic manner. Step Seven – Share Your ContentFinally, share your content and make it easy for people to share your content. Content is easier to share when you include social media buttons strategically. You can also make use of social scheduling tools to ensure your content is shared at the most optimal time of the day. Consider email distribution which can be a huge traffic driver. Sharing content improves its visibility. When you share great content, your readers are also likely to share it with their circles and you can generate a ton of backlinks that boosts your SEO. ConclusionSEO content strategy should be a long-term thing that you do and not a quick fix. To find out what works and what doesn’t, invest in tools that help you spot trends and identify gaps in your strategy. If you don’t want to spend money on analytics tools, you can always teach yourself how to use pivot tables to compare large sets of data and get some actionable insights.