Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing a website or blog post to increase its visibility for relevant searches in search engine result pages (SERPs). This process involves optimizing website content, HTML, and associated coding and managing the website’s content to ensure it is crawled and indexed by search engine algorithms. The goal of SEO is to make the website more visible to the right people at the right time and improve the overall success of a website.
Research is an essential part of SEO. Researching relevant keywords and topics will help you create content that is more likely to be found by search engines and more likely to be shared and engaged with by readers. When researching for blog posts, it’s essential to understand the needs and interests of your target audience. Having good research will help you create content that is more relevant and engaging to them. Researching keywords and topics can also help you create SEO-friendly titles and content so it’s easier for search engines to understand what your blog post is about.
SEO and research go hand in hand. When creating content optimized for search engines and engaging for readers, it’s essential to do the research upfront. Researching relevant topics and keywords.
I often give my clients high-quality content marketing assets (essentially highly researched and authored as a subject matter expert would). Still, search optimization needs to be added to the whole equation once they get the content marketing on their websites. Sometimes there is a gap between the keyword recommendations my clients receive from their agency vs. the content I provide. Luckily, we are now in a world where keywords are an overused word, and searcher intent is more important… that gives us some latitude with how we approach content creation.
Some organizations may be hesitant to bring in outside researchers for various reasons. One reason is that it is perceived as an admission that the company needs to be adequately staffed or skilled to handle online research. After all, anyone can search Google. It can also be seen as an external party being brought in to judge the current processes, thus creating a feeling of distrust, fear, or insecurity. Furthermore, the associated costs and potential organizational disruption can be a deterrent. Additionally, some organizations may be reluctant to embrace change, and bringing in an outside researcher may cause an uncomfortable or unwelcome shift in the status quo.
Hiring an outside researcher can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. An external researcher can bring a fresh perspective and unbiased analysis of the content an organization might publish. We have expertise and access to resources that a typical business organization does not have. We can offer insights on how to keep content unique and different from the competition. Finally, an outside researcher can help an organization to save time and money by providing a cost-effective and more efficient way to gather data and analyze results since this is something we do consistently.
Professional researchers can connect disparate pieces of information, collect and analyze data from multiple sources, determine relationships between the data points, and then draw conclusions based on the connections made. These are the dots we connect that can make the content unique. By creating links between pieces of information, patterns and trends are identified to help make decisions or gain insights.
My clients often need to gain the skill set to optimize the content I’m providing, but if the content I provide is high quality, they should.
So recently, I teamed up with an SEO agency to provide a client with the ultimate content experience; the content had to be strong and fulfill relevancy. I wanted to provide them with optimized content they could use without changing.
It can be a complex process when two oppositional teams work together for the first time. Both sides may have preconceived notions about each other and their agendas and objectives that need to be addressed. Creating an environment where both teams can openly discuss their issues and concerns is essential. Creating this environment can involve setting clear ground rules and expectations and establishing trust and respect. Through open dialogue, teams can begin to understand each other’s perspectives and work together to develop a plan of action. Once trust is established, the teams can start collaborating on tasks and projects and hopefully create a better understanding of each other’s goals and objectives.
The process wasn’t without hurdles; It was clear that the agency had not previously worked with someone with my understanding and skill set. But the final article written by my team with Input from the marketing agency was stellar. The body of the article provided detailed analysis and evidence to support the main point and the critical keywords. It included evidence and examples from reliable sources, such as studies, case studies, and primary sources. The article synthesized the evidence, drawing connections between sources and ideas and explaining why each point was important. The conclusion summarized the main points and analyzed the implications for the reader were they to invest in my client’s product. It also included a list of references for further reading.
How Finding Common Ground Lead to a Positive Outcome
In a business leaders community where I’m a member, there are frequent discussions about SEO. I sometimes felt tension whenever I commented to SEO specialists from a professional researcher’s point of view. Some of my opinions sometimes could have aligned better with an SEO specialist’s ideas or point of view.
After having been in the same discussions about SEO several times, I reached out to Graeme Knight, an expert at keyword research, technical SEO, content creation, and link building. He helped me understand the SEO expert’s point of view, which was invaluable. Talking with Graeme gave me the confidence to work with my client and their marketing agency. I was delighted that he grasped and affirmed my perspective. After some discussion, Graeme provided recommendations as to how the process of working together should go, and I agree.
1. Let’s assume that this SEO effort is the main priority for my client – rather than beautifully crafted content marketing. In which case, driving it from an SEO point of view would be correct.
2. The SEO team would have already completed a content audit and keyword research and prioritized the keywords with the client.
3. Once prioritized, I expect the SEO team to create some documents for my team – the SMEs / writers. I expect a meeting with the client, myself, and the SEO expert to discuss the content creation plan.
4. SEO Strategy. What are we aiming to achieve with the content asset we are creating, the competing pages, how are the SERPs made up, and of what (videos, images, PPA, snippets, FAQ…), etc. As content creators, we need to understand the underline search intent in detail, the assets that rank, and how they are created. We can’t compete if we don’t know this (it’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping we channel Van Gogh).
5. A Content Brief. This would tell my team precisely the distribution of phrases and words we want in line with other content that ranks for this search intent. It would also tell us things like style and use of language and gear our result close to what would engage a reader. It would also include Word count range, primary keyword/phrase to target, title and descriptions, number of exact keyword mentions, the goal of content, who the audience is, formality and tone, intent, formatting, images (if we are responsible for this), links to include and anchor text, and general outline.
6. A competitor analysis is needed to explain who ranks for this search term in the top 5. Knowing everything about these pages at this time, including backlink gap analysis, word densities they use, domain strengths, page strengths, referring domains and strengths, as well as a qualitative competitor analysis –
What are their strengths and weaknesses that we can capitalize on?
Now, as the content creators, my team might only get the brief. Still, there should be enough information to create an excellent content asset satisfying search intent, precisely the level needed to compete, without any question at all. We need to know what is necessary to do an excellent job.
It’s essential to know the answer to one question:
What is my client’s endgame with my high-quality and well-researched content?
If it’s Google rankings, then I have an opportunity to take care of that for them before THEY kill our beautiful content themselves.
Graeme Knight is a Software dev by trade and also an e-commerce store owner and obsessive SEO consultant. Expert at keyword research, technical SEO, content creation, and link building. www.newroutedigital.com
Jodi Gregory is a professional researcher with over 20 years as principal of Seek Information Services. She can be contacted at [email protected].