When people type in search queries for topics directly related to your business or service, wouldn’t it be great if your website popped up among the top search results? They would click on it and voila! All their questions would be answered and you’d get potential customers to visit your site (and hopefully convert). The reality is, however, there are varying degrees of difficulty to actually show up in search results and bring people to your site, depending on what search terms you are considering.

Content strategy is a plan for generating content (articles, landing pages, videos, etc.) that will support your search engine optimization (SEO) goals of bringing more qualified traffic to your site. Keyword research can help you figure out what topics are most important to target for SEO. There are several things to consider between conducting the research and choosing topics to write about.

In this Digital Drop-In, I take a look at SEO-focused content strategy. This webinar is about taking the keyword research, and using it to come up with topic ideas that will help bring the people you want to reach to your site.

I’ve Done the Research: Now What?

Many people who have done keyword research are a bit confused on what to do with all the data they have gathered. How do we use this? What are we supposed to do? They want to optimize content on their site (whether they are creating a new website or revising an existing site), but they don’t know which terms to focus on. Below, I’ll go over four key points to target when looking at the keyword research:

  1. Volume (how many people are looking for this keyword?)
  2. Competition (how hard is it going to be to show up in Google results for this?)
  3. Match (how accurately the keyword represents the services/products you’re offering)
  4. Conversion (how likely is this keyword to get you the types of leads, clients, customers, or people you are looking for?)

It’s important to use the right words that people use when looking for your services or product. Perhaps there are areas that you should be covering on the site and the blog that you aren’t at this time.

What if the Competition is Tough?

You’ve used Ahrefs, Moz, or another company’s keyword difficulty tool. Or you’ve simply scoped out the competition in Google results. Let’s say you have a super competitive keyword that fits your business offerings perfectly, but it would be nearly impossible for your site to show up in the top search results on Google. Now what?

There are a couple of ways to approach this. If it’s super competitive, you may decide that organic search is not the strategy that’s going to work for you, or that organic search alone is not going to work for you, and you need to complement it with other strategies like social or advertising.

One thing to consider, if you really want to be bringing in organic search for this traffic, then look for where to start. Seek out those niche topics where you can compete. Return to the keyword research to look for those more detailed topics and find one that’s right for you where you can start bringing in the search that you’re looking for. And the better you do it, it just builds. You just get more authority, and you’re able to start ranking for more and more ambitious keywords.

What Keywords Are Most Important to You?

Why bother? Is it worth it? That’s #4, the conversion factor. The question is, “Are these keywords going to bring in the types of website visitors we really want?” If you succeed in bringing in site visitors but they’re not potential customers, then all your hard work might not translate into conversions.

At this point, you may move into a more subjective discussion, asking yourself: “What’s most important to us? What feels like a good match? Which of these types of visitors are the ones you really want to bring to your site? Which ones are your target audiences?” Once you’ve considered all four questions, create a content strategy that brings all the pieces together. You’ll probably also want to build your most important topics into your site architecture.

When to Say Goodbye to Old Content

Above, we looked at how to utilize the keyword research in thinking about how you would add content—how you would decide on new topics for which you really want to start building authority and attracting traffic. But when do you say goodbye to old content?

I advise erring on the side of keeping content because, in general, having a large amount of content on core topics that are important to you helps build the authority of your site. Having a bunch of material on that content is important, and in general we advise clients to try to archive posts or articles instead of deleting them. And yes, SEOs are hoarders—it’s like we have basements full of things that we think we may need later. But some content clearly does expire—events that have passed, job listings that are no longer current, products that you no longer sell, stuff gets old and it’s got to go. So what do you do? How do you decide when to say goodbye to your content?

One consideration is that some content is more valuable than others, and you can figure out what content is more valuable to you. Pages that have earned links from other sites, pages that are growing traffic to your site—you can see which pages are working for you, or are doing the most for your site. You really don’t want to throw those pages away; they are bringing traffic in, they’re building your site authority. For these super high value pages that you can see have a lot of links, that are bringing a lot of traffic, when they get old, consider updating them so the content is fresh and they can go on doing what they do.

If it’s a page that really needs to go, but it has links or it’s bringing traffic, use a 301 redirect instead of letting those pages 404. 404 is that nasty error message that makes everybody make a frowny face. Nobody likes to follow a link from Google only to find that this page doesn’t exist anymore. So instead, if you use a 301 redirect, people are going to go to a different page that is relevant to what they need, instead of getting that error message.

Start Writing Content!

After figuring out which terms are worth writing copy around, generate useful, well-written, and polished content. Optimize for your keywords but remember to avoid keyword stuffing! The key thing is to provide solutions to potential customers who would benefit from what you have to offer. Look at the Analytics for how your pages are doing and see what the most popular topics are (that keep people on the page and result in lower bounce rates). Write, test, tweak, repeat!