SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase its visibility and ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. 

If you are working with a large company, I recommend working with SEO experts to optimize the site structure. Learn more here from Google.

For content marketers, balancing content strategy and SEO strategy is a bit tricky.

SEO teams want to ensure they get you good SEO results and content teams don’t want their content mucked up with SEO optimization that changes the engagement and user experience.

This balance is an art.

As a marketer, especially a content marketer, I recommend you keep up with the SEO trends so you understand SEO and can work successfully with SEO teams or optimize your content for SEO as you see fit. 

I will never sacrifice user experience or quality content for SEO optimization. Google says things should “read naturally and effectively communicate the topic” and “optimize content for users, not search engines.” 

Keywords, linking, site structure and metadata all matter for visibility. 

However, when it comes to the actual content, do not sacrifice adding a keywords just for SEO’s sake.

If the keyword isn’t the right fit for the content, forego the keyword.

Let’s talk about some specific strategies for building SEO while balancing content.


Step 1: Get Google Search Console

It’s important to be aware of what keywords you want the content to rank for. 

I start with Google Search Console to see what searches my client’s site is already coming up in. In an Excel spreadsheet, I start a list of keywords with these terms. 

Google Search Console also helps track and measure site performance and search traffic and identify site issues to fix. 

If your client doesn’t have Google Search Console set them up right away.


Step 2: Keyword Aware

Next, I bulk up the keyword list. 

Think of your keywords as your main topics. My content buckets are keywords. 

This way, I can set up my blog with my keywords as categories, I can create a webpage dedicated to that topic (keyword) and filter in all the blog posts about that topic, and include a paragraph or two at the top of the page talking about the topic to give the page an SEO boost.

All without sacrificing my content.

Remember, keywords aren’t limited to one word, longtail keywords, are also considered keywords. These are a string of words together or a sentence.

For example, “Asana for small teams” is a longtail keyword, as is “How to use project management in marketing.”

Researching and using the right keywords is a critical aspect of SEO. Ask yourself what searches are you targeting and what would people search for to find the product or service you are writing about or promoting.

Add those ideas to the keyword Excel list we mention in Step 1.

Next use free tools. My favorite is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest.  You can analyze a site and the competitor site to see what the sites are ranking for currently, find gaps and then you can dig deeper into the keywords you find and the ones on your Excel list.. 

Note – keywords are really a guessing game. Knowing the audience, offers, products and services will all be what will help you identify good keywords to use. 

Always start with your client’s products or services, add those on the Excel sheet and then head over to Ubersuggest to get details on those terms (search volume, ranking difficulty, etc) and to identify other related terms that may be relevant and easier to rank for. 

I work with attorneys and financial advisors – highly competitive industries making some keywords challenging to rank for.

For these clients, I start by looking up the highly competitive keywords (attorney, lawyer, law firm), checking the search volume, seeing what other ideas pop up, then creating a mix of the highly competitive keywords and other terms and words that may have lower search volume but are less competitive.

This process is how I also use to research Google Ad Keywords.

While the highly competitive terms might be hard to rank for, your clients may be targeting local areas rather than the entire US, and that will give them more of a chance to rank higher in their local area. Using this mix of keywords can help get them in the search results. 

If the content is quality and people engage with it, the content and the site will eventually move up the search results.

Once you identify a list of the keywords your target audience is searching for, incorporate them naturally in the content on webpages, blog posts, ads and more. 


Step 3: Quality

Search engines prefer high-quality and relevant content that meets the users’ needs first.

Create content that is informative, engaging, and valuable to your audience above anything else. 

Include SEO Where you can, and don’t sacrifice quality for SEO. 

I wrote a blog Why Are my Canva Designs Blurry? When I wrote this post I hadn’t done much, if any SEO work on my site. I had structured my blog post with Headers and a good Title I knew people were looking for. I filled in a Meta Description and then wrote the blog. 

The blog was a question I couldn’t find a quick answer to, I did some research and figured out the fix and shared it on my site and social. To this day it’s the #1 organic traffic driver to my site with over 5k visitors a month to my site through pure SEO. 

With absolutely no structural SEO on my site.

Not that I promote lack of site structure – I think it’s important and I now work on that on my site and content and help my clients do the same. 

However, this blog is proof that if your write for your audience first, the SEO will come.

The technical pieces of site structure along with making sure headings and descriptions are descriptive and ensuring the site is fast enough are things I lean on my SEO team to develop. 

But I push back when they want to change copy too much. 

This is where finesse comes in. 

Users go to a blog post to learn, walk away with useful information. If they come to a blog post or webpage that has a lot of keywords, they can detect it right away. 

Content and wording become unnatural or don’t make sense. You’ve seen this, you read a sentence and while a word might be “correct,” it’s not quite right and feels off. 

That is what adding keywords to content does. It stops the reader’s flow, maybe even their understanding. 

And overuse of keywords becomes repetitive and Grammarly will tell you that repeating the same words or phrases, isn’t great for the reader experience.

The user’s experience is priority number one. They are going to be who share your content, navigate further into your site and make the most impression on SEO.

Remeber, Google itself prioritizes content that is optimized for users, not search engines. 


Step 4: Site Structure

Site Structure is behind-the-scenes (sort of) content. The snippets that come up in search results, the description or answer to the question.

Site structure is important, and this is the more technical aspect of SEO. It’s great to know, especially as a content creator building a blog post on a website.

Here are some important pieces I keep in mind whenever I write a blog or build a webpage.

Create unique, accurate page titles that tell what the topic of a page is. This is also the URL slug, the end of the URL:

Create a meta description tag to give a summary of what the page is about. Making sure the description both “informs and interests users.” (According to Google)

Make sure the descriptions are unique for each page. If you use duplicate titles and descriptions on multiple pages, those pages will compete with one another and muddy your SEO on both pages.

Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3 etc.) to emphasize important text throughout the page or blog post. Be sure these headings to help define the structure of the page, don’t use a heading tag when you only want bold text.

Tools like Rank Math and Yoast are great to help you manage these parts of site content without engaging an SEO expert.

And if you want more technical information such as site maps, structured data, rich text, markups etc. learn more from Google


Step 5: Promote Your Content

Promoting and utilizing content is the best thing we can do to get our client’s seen and reach their target audiences.

Link building is an essential part of SEO that involves getting links from other websites to your site. You probably get hit up daily by people trying to help you get your clients more backlinks.

Don’t fall for it. 

This happens naturally over time, don’t rush it, or it could end up harming the site. 

Links help to improve a website’s authority and ranking on search engines, but if they aren’t linking from the right places, it’ll do you no good.

Instead, do things like share blog posts in emails, on social posts, and refer to them in other blog posts you write.

When a reader shares your blog post on social, it also helps your site’s authority. So encourage people to share with their friends.

Promoting new site content (blogs, podcasts etc.) will help speed up backlinks to the site. 

If your client’s business is local, claim their Google Business Listing right away and include their website to the listing. 

Remember to include offline marketing, too – include websites on letterhead, email signatures, business cards and print materials, these can raise awareness about the site too.

So there you have it! 

As a non-SEO expert or marketer, optimizing your client’s content for SEO can be simple. 

By following the strategies outlined above, you can strike a balance between content and SEO optimization and improve your content, website visibility and ranking. 

Remember to prioritize quality content that meets the needs of your audience first and foremost and you will be rewarded with SEO in the end. 

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