20 October 2020

SEO Content. Marketing and communications

What does it mean to write content from an SEO perspective? What are the main rules to follow when writing web content that will improve the positioning of a brand? 

Pietro Casciello, Content Manager of the Mashfrog Group, answered these and other questions in the webinar on SEO Content as part of the “Mashfrog Digital Youniversity”, a project aimed at sharing the various business skills of the Group.
This article is taken from his speech, during which Pietro helped us to understand not only the more operational aspects of the work of the Content team, but also how to get the most out of this essential tool within a digital marketing strategy.

For starters...

First of all, Pietro explained to us that there are four types of keywords:

1.    Commercial keywords. They are the ones that bring people who may have the intention to buy a product or service to the site e.g. "system integrator".
2.    Transactional keywords. They are similar to commercial keywords but much more targeted e.g. “system integration Rome”.
3.    Navigational keywords. They make a direct reference to a brand, which can be a supplier of services or goods e.g. “Mashfrog integrated communication”.
4.    Informational keywords. SEO Content uses this type of keyword.

Informational (or informative) keywords

Informational keywords or keyphrases have a high search volume and are typed in by users looking for specific information on a specific topic, be it a product, a service, or an in-depth study on some specific topic. Those who search for these keywords have a need that must be satisfied: the SEO content manager intercepts this need and brings users to the client's site. In fact, the SEO content aims to intercept these searches with the aim of generating qualified traffic, positioning the site contents with informational keywords.

Publishing

What must be done to intercept informational keywords? First of all, Pietro explains that this work takes place within an editorial area managed by the client. Before proceeding with the work, categories are created, which are used to organise the contents into macro-topics, which can be hosted on:

•    A blog on the site.
•    A third level domain, which is used when it is not possible, for technical reasons, to create an editorial area within the site or when there is a need to create a specific and very vertical section on a specific topic.  
•    Theme-based external sites, when it is not possible to write directly about the product or service offered by the brand on the client's own site. This happens, for example, in the pharma sector: if the product cannot be named, the SEO work must be carried out in a more indirect way, to intercept the user's request for information without making a direct reference to any specific product.

Once the editorial area in which the activity will take place has been created, an editorial plan is sent to the client, at regular intervals, which contains the topics that will be worked on and the dates of publication. This phase of the editorial proposal must always be preceded by a careful analysis of the keywords on Google, that is, by the analysis of the searches that are objectively carried out for a specific topic. The choice of keywords is made on the basis of the affinity of the topic with the product or service provided by the client.

After the plan is approved, the actual content is created. Pietro explains to us that the trend in recent years has been to offer long-form content, instead of short articles of around 300 words. Long-form content has three main characteristics: 

-    A length of around 1,000 words.
-    A mix of textual and graphic elements, including photos, videos, and charts.
-    A table of contents with text anchor links that allow the user to jump directly to the part of the text that interests them.

Analysis of results and other activities

The last part of the SEO content manager's job is the analysis of the results. The most important tools used are: 

-    Google Analytics, which shows the traffic trend. 
-    Google Search Console, to identify keyword traffic volumes and for suggestions on related keywords. 
-    The SEOZoom platform, which shows how the targeted keywords are performing.

In addition, other things can be done that contribute to improving the search position of a site using informational keywords, including:

-    Text Optimisation, both on the pages already online to try to improve their position in searches, and in content written by the client, which is published after the optimisation phase. 
-    Developing information sections, i.e. pages on specific topics that are added to the site (this is done either to create a very defined thematic substructure within the site or to try to make the content much more effective from an SEO point of view). 
-    Sending out newsletters, using a marketing platform, and selecting content that may be more engaging, adding a UTM tracking code to get feedback both from Google as well as from the analysis of the results provided by the marketing platform itself. 

Content promotion: to integrate the SEO content work

Technically, SEO is a content promotion strategy, which can be integrated with other similar and complementary tools and strategies, such as:

-    Google Search and Google Display, because informational keywords can also be intercepted through paid ads on the Google Search and Display network, and cost less than commercial ones. 
-    Google Grants, a platform dedicated to ONLUS (Organizzazione non lucrativa di utilità sociale - non-profit organisation for social benefit), NGOs, and non-profit organisations, to promote information content relating to these sectors. 
-    Social Media Ads 
-    Content promotion platforms, such as OutBrain and Taboola, which promote content through their network of partners (including Ansa and Il Messaggero). 

Delivery, timing, and methodology

How can I explain SEO content to clients? There are some specific details you need to give them so that they can fully understand what kind of service they are purchasing. 

1.    This is a marketing strategy, not a communications strategy: in order to be positioned high in the SERP (search engine results pages), the content must be informative, that is, it must provide the information that the user is looking for. The contents must therefore describe the client's business, not just declare how good a brand is at doing a certain thing. The abilities of the brand will become evident in a less direct way, because if the informative content gives the user the information they need, the user will inevitably have a positive perception of the brand, and they will remember the product or service provided by the brand when they need it.
2.    SEO content is for everyone. There are no sectors for which it is not worth investing in SEO, although not all of them have the same research volumes and the same potential.
3.    SEO content is always delivered on a regular basis and never in real time. SEO work requires time, perseverance, and structuring of the work with precise deadlines. It cannot be carried out on a one-off basis, whenever the client requests it.
4.    Content does not convert (or, at least, not directly). SEO is not used to generate leads or conversions (or, at least, not directly - it is not uncommon to find one or more articles in the conversion funnel), but is aimed at bringing qualified traffic and improving the qualitative metrics of the site (bounce rate, number of visits, time spent on the site). Furthermore, the continuous updating of the editorial area, and of the site in general, is a factor that Google considers positively and helps to position both the information content and the product or service pages high on the search results page. 
5.    The content is sent in advance, to give the customer time to read it and suggest changes or additions. 

To close, Pietro reminds us of a famous quotation by Bill Gates who said, “Content is king”. Today it is still true, but no longer in the same way as it was 24 years ago, when he said it. In the early days of SEO and search engines, it was actually enough to write short and minimally optimised content to get results. Today, content alone is not enough, but must be integrated with other activities as part of a broader optimisation strategy. However, good content, well written and targeted at the right audience and through the right channels, still makes a difference.

 

Pietro Casciello, journalist and web content manager, graduated in Communications. He worked for several years as a journalist and press officer, then took the skills he had acquired on the web and adapted them to the communication needs of the web and SEO. In ten years of working in the digital field, he has acquired both communication and marketing skills. Working for Mashfrog since 2017, he deals mainly with SEO content.