Keyword selection has to be reasonable to be useful, according to Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures. In his presentation “Forget Keywords – What’s Next with Content Optimization” at the 2016 Content Marketing Conference, he takes Content Optimization to a very practical level. In creating a keyword strategy, he asks content marketing teams to consider, “Can you picture somebody actually searching for that?” This question becomes the focus of the content strategy, to research what content your customers need and deliver it where they can find it.
Types of Content that Work
Kuenn argues that before you can start driving traffic to your website, you must create content that has inherent, practical value for your readers. He identifies five types of content that help consumers make a decision on products or services. They are:
Kuenn notes that these content types are often difficult to convince managers to give you the resources to produce them, because they are at the bottom of the funnel. Rather than addressing the stage of consumers who are gathering basic information, the readers of these types of content are much closer to making a decision.
Kuenn emphasizes the importance of making sure this content is read on your site, not your competitors’. It does not matter if the content encourages readers to make a similar or the same conclusion as your competitors’ blog posts, although the content should certainly be unique. He cited examples of companies selling various types of products and services who were able to increase their site traffic by 600 or 800 percent simply by answering these common concerns.
Strategic Content Ideation
Beyond these five bottom-funnel content topics, Kuenn recommends that you do some research from within your own organization to identify the information that your most likely customers want to know. He notes that many marketing people do not realize that the best source of content ideation comes from the company’s salespeople. In fact, the most common questions may already be answered in salespeople’s sent mail. He suggests gathering together everyone who interacts with customers and prospective clients, including people who work in sales, customer service, assistance, product delivery and more. This comprehensive internal approach helps you to determine which questions your active customers are asking your staff, to guide and prioritize your content ideation plan.
Writing Content for Keywords
Creating content for future buyers requires you to do some outside research about keyword usage in your industry. Kuenn claims that you should consider expanding the length of keyphrases for your content optimization goals. People who use longer strings of keywords are more likely to click on content, and these keyphrases are less likely to be saturated by existing content from your competitors. He advises starting with Google Suggest, a free tool accessible to anyone. Set your browser to incognito, so that you do not receive suggestions based on prior searches.
As you explore, try common questions to identify the questions you are not answering, and the topics that are not adequately addressed by other sites. At the bottom of the first page of search, check out the suggested searches, with different keyword combinations. He advises doing the same searches on YouTube, if you maintain a channel or are interested in adding video to your content marketing campaign. Although keyword optimization is not always directly related to the topic of the content where the keyword is used, you should always make sure that the content you publish adds value for the customers making the search.
Comprehensive Content with the Hub and Spoke Model
Kuenn’s company, Vertical Measures, directs content creation using the hub and spoke model. This means that you build a piece of content, such as an article, eBook or white paper, which becomes the hub of other forms of content. These spokes could be blog posts or social media posts that link back to the hub. This model allows you to post nicely digestible pieces of content for readers, while directing them to the hub content for more information or analysis.
Creating a Culture of Content Marketing
Ultimately, Kuenn argues that you need to have a culture of content marketing within your business. There are opportunities to build or improve your content marketing strategy at every stage of the process, and on all parts of your site. Kuenn noted that many websites offer a live chat form on their home pages, designed to help customers navigate the site and answer their questions. However, he said that too frequently, businesses do not use these chat discussions to target their content marketing strategy. Questions that are asked repeatedly may direct the marketing team to create content to answer the questions for customers browsing the site. The chat may also reveal that some questions request answers that should be easily available on the site. In this case, the marketing team may need to address the way the content is promoted, to make it easier to find.
Content optimization starts with analysis of your customers’ search and the questions they ask, says Arnie Kuenn. With internal and external research of your target demographics’ concerns, you use keywords that direct your customers to content that helps them make a decision to choose your products and services.