Content Marketing 101: Your Comprehensive SEO Checklist
Written by LaFleur
At LaFleur, we’re passionate about content marketing. Almost no other form of marketing can match the return on investment delivered by high-quality, “evergreen” content. That’s why we encourage all our clients to post fresh, high-quality content consistently.
However, writing engaging content isn’t enough. You need a comprehensive optimization strategy that focuses on high-volume, attainable keywords, and incorporates on-page SEO best practices. Without these added layers, your blog articles and website pages may go unnoticed.
In this article, our content marketing experts explain some of the essentials of on-page SEO.
Why Do You Need to Optimize Your Digital Marketing Content?
Traditional paid advertising is a powerful digital marketing tool, but it requires an ongoing investment. In comparison, a well-written, targeted, and optimized blog involves a one-time cost and can perform well for years.
For example, we published a blog roughly two years ago for one of our clients that explained the settlement process for an injury case. Today, that blog attracts more than 990 monthly visitors, ranks in Google’s top 100 for 421 keywords, and has earned the featured snippet for 12 coveted keywords. Our client’s return on investment for this single blog is remarkable and shows no signs of stopping.
However, this blog’s success wasn’t an accident. Our content marketing team used industry experience, a keyword analysis, and on-page SEO to get these results. We targeted high-volume keywords that spoke to our clients’ readers, crafted information-rich content, and structured the content in a way that appeals to both readers and search engine algorithms.
RELATED: How to Rank for a Featured Snippet
What Is On-Page SEO?
Many businesses don’t realize there’s a science to optimizing content. When algorithms for Google and other search engines scour your website’s pages, they’re looking for signs that your content is valuable and on-topic based on a search query. Digital marketing agencies apply search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to help inform these algorithms and obtain the best possible organic rankings for webpages.
There are several types of search engine optimization:
- On-page SEO: Strategies that focus on a specific page’s content and structure
- Off-site SEO: Link building and other activities that can demonstrate the page’s value to search engines
- Technical SEO: Aspects of your website’s technical functioning, like site architecture and load speeds, that search engines take into consideration when ranking pages
While all three forms of optimization are incredibly important, we’re going to give our attention to on-page SEO best practices.
1. Start With Attainable, High-Traffic Keywords
You may want to rank #1 for a broad keyword, like “personal injury lawyer” or “senior living,” but it’s probably not attainable. Many of these short-tailed keywords are incredibly difficult to rank for due to a variety of factors. Instead, we recommend you try to compete for more targeted, long-tail keywords when you create blog topics.
For example, let’s look at a series of keywords related to personal injury law and their SEMrush data:
- Personal injury lawyer: Earns 74,000 monthly searches and has a 71% keyword difficulty. Wikipedia holds the #1 spot for this keyword.
- Back pain after a car accident: Gets 720 monthly searches and has a 61% keyword difficulty. FindLaw holds the #1 spot.
- Delayed back pain after car accident: Garners 320 monthly searches and has a 58% keyword difficulty. Currently, the top-ranking pages for this keyword include a chiropractor and a regional law firm.
You’ll have a hard time unseating a website like Wikipedia or FindLaw for a top spot in a search engine results page. However, “delayed back pain after car accident” is an obtainable keyword.
“Delayed back pain after car accident” gets a lot of searches — 320 every month. It also speaks to a specific problem that many car wreck victims experience even before they’re ready to hire a lawyer. However, with a 58% keyword difficulty ranking, it’s achievable to unseat the existing top pages. If you create comprehensive, optimized content, you have a chance to rank for this keyword.
We realize that most businesses and law firms won’t invest in data analytics software like SEMrush. But, you can still gauge your keywords using free tools like Google Trends, which will show you information about a keyword’s relative popularity. You can also scout your competition by searching a keyword, assessing the national reputation of the top-ranking sites, and reviewing the quality of competing content.
2. Include Your Keywords in the Page’s Title and Headers
Now that you’ve identified a primary keyword for your content (and some secondary ones for good measure), you’ll want to use that keyword in your title and headers. These on-page elements help both readers and search engine algorithms identify the most important topics in your content.
You should always try to include your primary keyword in the content’s title tag. This is the title that shows up on a search engine results page (SERP), and it looks like this:
In this example, “How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Legal Blog” is the title tag. The narrative content below it is the meta description, which helps attract clicks but does not improve your organic ranking.
Your H1 tag should be very similar to your title (if not identical). This tag serves as your on-page title; making it similar to the title in search will confirm to readers and algorithms alike that the content on your page is what they were promised. The H1 tag for our editorial calendar blog looks like this:
Next, you’ll want to include H2 and H3 tags within your content. While these headers have less of an impact on your organic page ranking, they are still important. Readers tend to skim website content. If you break up your blog content with headers and subheadings, it will help them stay engaged and find the content they’re most interested in.
For example, in a blog about featured snippets, our team broke up the content with a series of H2 and H3 tags that made the article more skim-friendly and easy to read.
While H2 and H3 tags have less of an impact on your organic page ranking, most SEO experts agree they help a little. It’s a good idea to include related terms and keywords in your H2s and H3s, but you shouldn’t awkwardly jam keywords into them in an attempt to boost your page rank.
3. Create Content That Is Rich and Informative
Now that you have attainable keywords and you’ve written headers that provide an easy-to-read framework for your blog, it’s time to write the body of your blog article. While we don’t prioritize arbitrary word counts at LaFleur, a 200-word blog rarely wins the #1 spot on Google. Today, search engine algorithms prefer content that’s more in-depth and exhaustive.
Depending on the nature of your topic, you may be able to accomplish that task in 700 words. But increasingly, we find ourselves building blogs that are closer to 1,200 to 1,500 words.
In short, don’t gloss over the issues you’re covering in a blog. Publish authoritative content that answers many of your reader’s common questions in language they can understand. Both website users and the algorithms will appreciate your effort.
4. Encourage Readers to Engage With Your Website and Your Brand
You don’t want a website visitor to skim a single blog article and move on. Ideally, your readers will go from page to page and learn more about your brand, expertise, and solutions. Eventually, they should contact you, either via your website’s contact form, by phone, or through another method.
To encourage this process, it’s a good idea to include a call to action, like “schedule a free consultation,” in each blog you publish. Additionally, offer internal links to related blogs and pages that may speak to the reader’s interests and needs. For example, our editorial calendar blog highlights other resources in a visually appealing way:
It’s also a good idea to link to a product or practice page that relates to your blog within the first 100 words or so. This will help the search engine algorithms understand the blog’s subject matter and show a coherent internal linking structure for your site.
5. Continually Track Your Content’s Performance
Even if you build a solid on-page optimization strategy, not every blog will be a roaring success. That’s why you should consistently track your blogs’ performance using tools like Google Analytics. Content needs time to build momentum, so don’t assume that a blog is a dud in the first month or two. However, if a blog shows low traffic or a very high bounce rate (90–95% or higher) after six months to a year, it may be worth revising that content.
When you rewrite your content, compare it to the top-performing pages for your targeted keyword and identify missing concepts. You should also reassess your headers, title, and other on-page tactics with the aim of crafting a more compelling and informative piece of content.
LaFleur’s Essential On-Page SEO Checklist
LaFleur: Brilliant Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
At LaFleur, we’ve been helping businesses grow and thrive since we opened our doors. If you have questions about how you can reach more leads and build brand awareness, we’d love to chat. Our team will get to know your priorities and suggest a practical, forward-looking plan within your budget.