How to Create an Effective SEO Content Strategy

Smiling man creating his SEO content strategy on his laptop.

If you’ve ever read any of my other blogs about SEO, you know it is my favorite way to grow a business online. So, I’m super excited that you’re curious about how to create an effective SEO content strategy.

The thing is before you can do this, you need to have a solid foundation. You need to have an overall SEO strategy for your website. If you just focus on your content, you’ll not have the framework necessary for successful SEO.

In my experience, an overall SEO strategy must cover the search space to support your business today and for the next 3-5 years. And, yes, I know, no one has a crystal ball to accurately know where their business will be in 3-5 years. However, you should have goals, and those goals are what you should think about as you build out or work with someone to create and implement the overall SEO strategy for your website.

So, let’s assume you’ve got your SEO foundation in place and you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and build your content strategy.

Here are the 3 steps you need:

1.    Identify your blog categories

The first step is to brainstorm the high-level topics that will be the basis of your content strategy. The topics should align with your products and services and resonate with your ideal clients. One way to approach this is to think about their main pain points and interests.

After you’ve got your list, narrow it down to the top 3 or 4 topics because you don’t want to spread your content too thin. It’s these that you’ll use to build out your SEO content strategy.

For example, if you run a health and wellness business, your topics might include nutrition, fitness, mental health, bodywork, energy work, holistic therapies, and relational health. Select the top 3 or 4 which could be nutrition, fitness, mental health, and holistic therapies.

Your top 3-4 topics are your blog categories. You’ll use them to guide your content creation, so it stays interesting and relevant to your audience.

2.    Research keywords

The next step is to conduct keyword research for each of your categories. This process helps you find the best keywords to support your ideal clients at different stages of their buyer journey.

I like to use SEMrush, but you can also use Ahrefs, Majestic, or one of the other keyword research tools out there.

When doing your research, pay attention to search volume, competitiveness, and search intent. You’ll also want to look for a mix of short- and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are more general, have higher search volume, and higher competition. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more specific, have lower search volume, and often have lower competition.

The key is to find keywords that are searched for frequently enough and aren’t too competitive. Once you find those, look at search intent to understand where in the buyer’s journey people searching for this term are.

Keyword research isn’t the most glamorous task. However, when you really get a feel for how people are searching for the topics you want to write about, you set yourself up to write content people will want to read. And this is the best foundation for an effective SEO content strategy that you could ask for.

3.    Draft a 3-month content calendar

When I provide content calendars to my clients, I like to work in 12-title blocks. For most, this is a 3-month content calendar because they plan on writing one blog a week, and there’s usually one week each quarter where writing just isn’t in the cards.

I really like the 12-title block because it offers enough of a roadmap to understand how the blogs fit together without being overwhelming.

My go-to tool for a content calendar is a spreadsheet. It’s easy for me to create and for my clients to follow. Here’s a screenshot of the template I use:

4-column spreadsheet with the column headers category, keywords, working title and pub date.

There are a few things I’d like you to notice.

First, the 4 categories are rotated through 3 times during the 12 weeks. This helps the search engines get used to you sharing your expertise across all the categories instead of appearing like you’re first an expert in one area and then changing your mind and focusing on something else.

The next column lists the keywords for each blog. I want you to remember that the keywords are the keywords. You’ll want to focus on the keyword exactly as you found it when you did the research. If you don’t, you’ll undermine the effectiveness SEO content strategy.

I recently found an absolutely amazing keyword for one of my clients: “blah-blah-blah coaches”. It fit her brand. It addressed a weak point in the buyer’s journey. It even had an incredible search volume and low competition.

But when it came time to write the blog, she wanted to change the keyword from “blah-blah-blah coaches” to “blah-blah-blah coach”.

On the surface, this might not seem like a big deal. However, there was a huge difference between the plural and singular forms of the two keywords. The singular form didn’t match the search intent we needed, had a much lower search volume, and much higher competition.

So I helped her reimagine how she could use the plural form and she easily wrote the piece that best fit into her SEO content strategy.

Then you’ll see the suggested titles to be used for each blog. You’ll want each title to contain its keyword. Outside of that, the titles aren’t carved in stone. In fact, I recommend you play with them a little bit to make sure you’re crafting suggested titles that are engaging. Headline Studio is a cool tool to help you create clickable blog titles. They even have a free version!

You’re probably wondering why I call this column “Suggested Titles”. Sometimes my clients are struck by inspiration and want to change the title to better suit what they want to write about. They were hesitant to do so until I told them the titles were just suggestions. I want you to feel good about leaning into any inspiration you have, too.

Finally, let’s talk a little about this being a 3-month content calendar.

Breaking your SEO content strategy into 12-title blocks doesn’t mean each block has to last you 3 months. It could cover 3 months or 24 weeks or 36 weeks or even just 1 day if you have a large team of writers. How long it takes you to get through the 12 titles depends on your situation and SEO goals. Whatever you choose, just be sure the timeframe allows you to publish consistently since Google seems to reward consistent publication.

These 3 steps are what it takes to create an effective SEO content strategy. However, the strategy is just the beginning. You’ve got to actually write and publish the blogs (or have someone else write them for you).

Yeah, you probably already knew that. Although, over the years, I’ve seen way too many people (including myself) learn something or pay for a service they never implemented. I don’t want that to happen here.

So here are a few ideas to make it even easier for you to start publishing the blogs you need for your SEO content strategy.

This might sound like a comment from Captain Obvious, but I don’t want to make assumptions. You’ll want to optimize your blog posts for search engines. This means a lot of different things like using your keyword naturally within the content, making sure the content is easy to read and skim, writing a blog that people want to read, and more technical things like links, page titles, alt-tags, and meta descriptions. If you’re not used to writing for SEO, this can be a lot to deal with.

Right now, all my websites are WordPress-based. The same is true for most of my clients. Luckily, there are several SEO plugins for WordPress. My favorite is Yoast Premium. After a quick tutorial, it’s easy to understand and even my tech-phobic clients quickly pick up how to optimize their content with Yoast Premium’s analysis.

Regardless of which platform your site is built on, you’ll want to use whatever SEO tools are available on your platform.

One of the things that most forget when implementing their SEO content strategy is the importance of internal linking. Internal linking is any link from on page or post on your website to another page or post on your site. When you’re writing, you’ll want to link to other relevant posts on your site.

As an example, let’s say that 2 weeks ago you wrote a blog post with the keyword “best keyword ever”. And this week you’re writing a blog post with the title “How to Find Keywords for Blogging”. As you’re writing this blog, you find a way to work the phrase “best keyword ever” naturally into it. You would then hyperlink “best keyword ever” to the blog you wrote 2 weeks ago.  

Internal links provide 2 primary benefits. First, they help visitors naturally visit more pages on your site. They also help search engines better understand your site’s structure, which improves your SEO.

If you’re just beginning to blog on your website, you’ll want to incorporate an external link from a more authoritative website into each blog post.

An external link is a link from a page or post on your website to a page or post on another website. External links help you to build your site’s authority by showing your knowledge that the other website is the primary authority.

And, in case you’re wondering, you can choose whatever text you’d like for the hyperlink of an external link.

After publishing a new blog post, submit the link to Google Search Console. This will help Google index your content faster and improve its chances of appearing in search results more quickly.

Even with the previous tip, just because you’ve posted a blog to your site, doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly have tons of visitors flocking to your site to read it. You need to help spread the word as you’re building the effectiveness of your SEO content strategy. The easiest way to do this is by sharing your blog posts on your social channels. And of course, you’ll want to use the appropriate hashtags to reach a broader audience.

You’ll find more information about the ideal symbiotic relationship between your website and social channels in 5 Compelling Reasons You Need a Website and Not Just Social Media.

Finally, you don’t want to do all this work without keeping track of your progress. Because SEO is a slow burn, I recommend looking at your KPIs (key performance indicators) monthly. You can use Google Analytics (GA) to track things like traffic, engagement, and keyword rankings.

Although, I don’t think GA tells the whole story. I like to use SEMrush too. It helps me quickly get a gauge on the number of keywords associated with each blog. This info helps me decide which blogs would benefit from optimization for another keyword.

In other words, monitoring will help you to thoughtfully adjust your content strategy to better meet your SEO goals.

Remember, creating an effective SEO content strategy starts with a solid foundation of an overall SEO strategy. By combining this foundation with the framework and tactical steps above, you have the tools to dramatically improve your website’s visibility.

Need a little (or maybe a lot) of help creating your content strategy? We’d love to help! Schedule a conversation with me today.


Karen Finn, PhD