Getting SEO leads from your blog content isn't a surefire thing, especially when you're in a crowded niche and playing against SEO competitors who have been excelling at digital marketing for the past decade.
We feel your pain.
That's why we wanted to walk you through this hands-on guide to how we ranked a post in Google SERP, so you can see the process end-to-end and try it out yourself.
We're showing you how we ranked this blog post:
While SEO isn't the only purpose for your blog content, (blogs also drive website traffic from social media), SEO can help you generate traffic for years to come and increase the ROI of content marketing.
Here are the steps we're be covering in our hands-on guide to getting SEO leads from blog posts.
- Who are your desired SEO leads?
- Spot keyphrase opportunities for more SEO leads
- Pick the key phrase for your next post
- Write your post to satisfy the intent of the keyphrase
- Optimize the metadata and do an SEO check
- Distribute your blog post for more SEO leads
- Play the long game with getting SEO leads
Who are your desired SEO Leads?
The first step is to be really clear on who you're publishing for and why.
Content teams at startups are our primary audience. Small content teams are usually not just responsible for blog content, but also other formats like video and podcasts, and they are also in charge of content promotion via social media, employee advocacy, and other methods of distribution.
We recently launched new social media features to help content teams build powerful, multi-channel campaigns.
Even though the launch was recent, we started considering how to get the word out in November, which was five months ago.
We wanted to start talking about the social media aspects of content marketing and content management, share tips, and showcase our solution well before launch.
To put this into action here's what you need to get clear on:
- Who your audience is
- The information they already have available to them
- New information you can give them that is unexpected, rare, unique, highly valuable, and/or timely
You should understand not only your audience but the content landscape that surrounds them. What headlines or topics have they seen a thousand times? What would surprise them?
Even if you decide to cover something that's been covered before, you should put your own unique spin on it.
Spot keyphrase opportunities for more SEO leads
After you know your content audience and what you want to share with them, it's time to dive into the SEO keyphrase research.
Let's take "social media" as an example. Mangools shows us that this keyphrase has a difficulty score of 71, which is very hard and nearly impossible unless you have a high domain authority and are going to write something that is drastically more valuable than what already ranks.
Other affordable tools for content teams to use include Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhere. These will let you conduct keyphrase research without having to spend $100 per month on an SEO tool.
You can add filters to your keyphrase search. I've added a max score of "30."
You can also add volume, word count, and other filters if you want to get more SEO leads.
Depending on your domain authority, you might want to set the maximum to a difficulty score that is lower or higher than that. If you're not sure, 25 or 30 is a great place to start.
You should also look for key phrases that have at least 100 monthly searches. It doesn't make sense to rank for a key phrase that no one searches for.
With the filters in place, we see a whole list of longtail key phrases that we have a shot of ranking at.
Not all of these key phrases will be a fit for you. That's why you need to refer back to your audience:
- Who are they?
- What are they looking for?
- What topics do not appeal to them?
For example, "social media for dummies" has a very low competition score, but it most likely wouldn't be searched by a content manager. Probably, the highest amount of volume comes from small business owners.
Pick the key phrase for your next post
SEO is definitely a numbers game. It's difficult to know what is going to rank and how long you'll be able to retain the ranking. That's why producing a higher volume of posts is beneficial: that means you have more chances of getting traffic from SEO.
For that reason, you may want to create one or two posts per week, even more.
Using one of the following strategies can help you pick the best posts to write next.
- Low competition - In your keyphrase data searches, look for the lowest competition and the highest volume.
- Long-form guides - You can take on higher competition keyphrases with a long-form guide like this example if page one of the SERP doesn't include something similar.
- Current year updates - Take a higher competition keyphrase and add the current year to it so long as the previous year had search volume over 100. (These are best done before the New Year.)
- Different formats than what's in SERP - You have a chance at ranking for higher competition keyphrases if your content is a different format than what's already ranking, for example, if there are a lot of short home pages ranking, then you can have a shot with a well-written listicle.
We used strategy #3 for the specific post we're profiling today (Social Media Algorithms 2020: Updates & Tips by Platform.)
Write your post to satisfy the intent of the keyphrase
The next step is to write your blog post. Make sure the structure of your post matches the intent of the keyphrase.
Let's take a look at some examples to help you better understand the concept of intent:
- Marketing websites - When someone is searching for this, they're probably looking for ideas and inspiration. A listicle with the top marketing websites that have blogs, courses, videos, and podcasts to learn about marketing would satisfy this query the best.
- Blogging process - Someone who is searching for this most likely knows what blogging is already, so avoid basic stuff like "What is blogging?" They probably have started a blog and want to know how to improve their process or move faster. A how-to article or step-by-step rundown would make the most sense.
- Blog traffic - For this query, a guide with everything the reader needs to know about blog traffic would be best: how to track blog traffic, how to identify trends in blog traffic, and how to increase blog traffic. This is also good for getting more SEO leads.
The structure of your article (and how well it matches the intent of the key phrase) is a huge SEO ranking factor.
In our example post that we ranked, we went into the algorithm factors for each major social media platform: how the algorithm works, updates, and tips.
Don't just write an article and stuff the keyphrase in the title. Think about what searchers want to know when they're searching for that phrase. What are they really looking for? Base your article around that.
Optimize the metadata and do an SEO check
When writing blog posts to get more SEO leads, you should do the following:
- Put the key phrase in the title and meta description
- Include the key phrase a couple of times throughout the body of the text
- Include the keyphrase in one or more subheadings
- Add both internal and external links
- Add alt attributes to the images
- Make sure the length of the post is 900+ words (probably longer if you're targeting high competition keyphrases)
StoryChief makes it easy for you to do an SEO check during the writing process. We give you an SEO score and a readability score for every post alongside recommendations for how to improve.
Here are some additional checks that our SEO tool does for you:
Distribute your blog post for more SEO leads
Next up, it's time to publish and distribute your blog post. We added ours to our main blog and promoted it via our social media channels and some of our employee's social media channels via approved employee advocacy.
You can also distribute your post via Medium, LinkedIn articles, email marketing, direct outreach and more.
We recommend creating different social media post sets for each blog. A post set is essentially the same post concept but tailored for each network. So let's say you had one post set that was a quote and it went to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in slightly different formats (adding or removing hashtags for example).
And then another post set might be interesting statistics, which you edit for the appropriate length on the different platforms.
Alongside SEO traffic, organic social media posts can keep traffic coming to your website again and again. As you can see, we've scheduled our post sets very far in advance. When we publish a blog, we continue to promote it every few months.
Play the long game with getting SEO leads
While all of the above are essential to getting SEO leads from blog posts, there are even more things you can do to succeed in the long term.
Keep launching more SEO posts
Even when something ranks, you need to keep posting and you can't rely on that one piece of content. Google wants to see fresh content from your website at least once a month or it will downgrade the existing rankings of your site. If you want even more SEO leads than what your current rankings provide, you should aim to post at least once a week.
Increase your domain authority
By increasing your domain authority, you'll improve your chances of ranking for any keyphrase you target.
Here are the top ways to do this:
- Guest blogging - Write guest posts for reputable companies in your industry that serve a similar audience in exchange for a backlink to your site.
- HARO responses - Submit responses to HARO queries to increase the likelihood of getting backlinks to your site when your response is chosen to be featured.
- Podcast guesting - Reach out to relevant podcast hosts to be featured. You'll likely get a backlink to your site in the show notes.
- Expert roundups - When you see people looking for experts to interview in social media posts or Facebook groups, offer to help. When you get featured in expert round-up articles, you typically receive a backlink.
- Backlinking outreach - Like the example below, reach out to bloggers and website owners. Request a backlink to your main site or a specific SEO post in exchange for something valuable.
Update content strategically
You might also want to update your blog content to get more SEO leads. Let's say you have an old post that is ranking on page 2 of SERP. You could see what is ranking on page 1 and determine how to improve your post, then update it, and see if it makes it to page 1.
You could also look for old blog posts that don't have a target keyphrase and update them according to our SEO check for the new key phrase.
While SEO rankings can be challenging to win, they're definitely worth it. It only takes a little extra time to optimize posts for SEO, and the results can last for months or years to come.