Content and SEO teams are too often separated. Here’s how to write content humans and bots will love.
Questions about developing content have changed. Writers and editors have always wondered if a story idea had merit, or how they would secure sources. These concerns are still top of mind for writers and editors everywhere, but a new set of questions are in the mix — especially for content marketers:
- Do you see any search for information like this?
- What’s the monthly search volume for queries related to this topic?
- What are your thoughts on this from a search perspective?
Content today is often too concerned about these search-focused questions. People stop worrying about whether their audience will find content useful, and only about how many keywords they can stuff. At that point, is the content really for the reader?
We know content quality suffers when content teams and SEO specialists clash, either unable to make content that will show up in search or unable to make content that people actually want to read. (Surprise: People don’t want to read the same words and phrases 10 times in two sentences.)
So how do you align these two sets of skills in a cohesive effort to create content humans love and bots rank? Here’s some advice.
1. Think like the reader: What do they want to read and how would they search?
While your content team is developing ideas and story angles, your search team should tackle keyword research at the same time. From that keyword research, they should develop at least half as many content ideas as your content team. You might be asking, “Why would they develop content ideas from the keywords? Isn’t that something for my content team to do?” While a fair question, your SEO team should be thinking about search intent. They should ask themselves questions like:
- Why would someone search this query?
- What information do they expect to see?
- What do the top results show, and how could we create better content than those results?
These questions, and others like them, are naturally part of an SEO specialist’s mindset, leading them to content ideas that effectively answer queries.
2. Swap content ideas and collaborate.
Your content and search teams should have big lists; now’s the time to swap them. The content team can begin refining ideas submitted by the search team or developing other ideas based on the list.
Your search team should take the ideas your content team has developed and use them to complete additional keyword research. This lets your search team borrow the creative skills of the content team to identify keywords they may not have otherwise found in their initial search.
It’s up to your search team to verify that content ideas have search value; if not, they can re-align content ideas with search trends. Here’s an example: Your content team might want to write, “How to Select a Caterer for Your Wedding.” After some keyword research, and finding that people use broader search terms like “how to find wedding vendors,” your search team might suggest writing “How to Select Vendors for Your Wedding” instead.
3. Put it all together with keywords.
Good news: At this point, you will probably have way more content ideas than you need. Choose the ideas you want to use for that month and save any other favorites for future months.
Your search team should then make sure that all the necessary keywords are selected and supplied to writers with the assignment. This is incredibly helpful because it allows your writers to use the keywords as they write, making it more natural than having your search team go in after the article has been written to update the content.
Did some keywords get missed? The SEO team should always review content once it’s done to make sure it’s actually optimized. We suggest highlighting keywords so the editor can pinpoint additions and make sure everything looks good. Remember, it shouldn’t be obvious that you added keywords after the fact. Like every step of the way, don’t be afraid of some back and forth. It can take a couple tries to get it right, but it’s worth the extra effort.
When your editors and search team work together, your SEO efforts and content development become a seamless process— one that’s sure to upgrade your content’s quality from both a search perspective and an editorial perspective.
You won’t have a frustrated search team seeing content for the first time after it’s been developed, limited by the initial direction. Your editors won’t have their carefully crafted words muddled by a keyword happy search specialist.
Instead, you’ll have content that started with the user in mind — content that is consciously focused on what they search and what they enjoy reading. Ultimately, it’s content that grows your business.