Getting Started With SEO-led Content In 3 Days

SEO-led content

This article was originally published in the Elevate Your Marketing newsletter and has been repurposed and republished here with the author’s permission. Here is the link to the original article.

Everyone talks about SEO, and there is plenty of material online on how to do SEO. But over time, I have developed a step-by-step methodology that will help B2B companies – especially small and medium-sized businesses – reduce the barrier to entry when it comes to SEO-led content. You can get started with SEO-led content in as little as 3 days (or sometimes even less if you go that extra mile).

The method works for large companies too, but is the most effective for those who have not yet actively invested in SEO-led content or have not managed to make SEO work.

In this article, I will be discussing a step-by-step guide to kickstart your SEO-led content efforts in 3 days. Along the way, I will cover a ton of tips, tools, and tactics you can use to accelerate your results from SEO.

Misconceptions about SEO-led content

Before we dive deep into the topic, I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions founders and marketing leaders have about SEO-led content.

  1. SEO is not dead. It still works – only that you need to know how to do it right.
  2. SEO cannot work magic in a few days. Consider a period of at least 3 months to start seeing some spike in traffic. However, you could still see some pages ranking in as little as 1 to 2 weeks. But that’s usually an exception.
  3. Don’t blindly go by keyword volume and competition all the time. There could be keywords that don’t have a large volume today that can bring a ton of traffic. An example is a trendy topic in your industry that has not been discussed much in the past.
  4. SEO is not something you start investing in only after your organization attains stability. It’s a long-term game. The earlier you start, the better.
  5. SEO is one of the channels that has the least barrier to get started with. Making videos requires time. Building an email list organically can take months. Google ads might not work if you don’t have good supporting content on your website already. But you can get going with SEO in a few days (I will show you how today).

A few disclaimers before we start with the B2B SEO strategy

SEO is a broad topic. The objective of this article is not to cover everything you need to know related to SEO. We will not be touching upon topics like off-page SEO and technical SEO. The focus today is SEO-enabled content.

In addition, SEO-led content in general refers to any form of content such as text, image, or video that employs SEO techniques to grow. It can apply to your YouTube channel as well. But today, we will be focusing on a company’s biggest marketing asset – the website.

With these in mind, let’s start. Shall we?

A step-by-step guide on SEO-led content

Let us divide the entire process into 3 steps across the 3 days:

  1. Day 1: Research and content analysis
  2. Day 2: Topic ideation and detailed keyword analysis
  3. Day 3: Creating the first content piece

Looks simple? It might not once we dive deep into each of these in the upcoming sections.

Day 1: Research and content analysis

There are two types of website content that can help with SEO. The first one – and the most important of the two – is service or product pages, and the second one is blog. You can also add other key pages like the home page, case study landing pages, whitepaper landing pages, etc., to the first category.

Doing research and content analysis for the first category is relatively simpler, and would involve the following steps:

  1. Analyzing competitor pages – positioning, messaging, content, keywords, etc.
  2. Finding out what is trending in the industry and what others are talking about on various platforms.
  3. Identifying newer keyword opportunities.

Finding keywords for B2B SEO

This requires you to visit the key pages on all your competitors’ websites to understand how they have positioned their product, how they are expressing it in words, and finally what keywords they are using.

Keywords a specific page is ranking for can be found out using any SEO tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs. Here is a SEMRush screenshot of the top keywords the HubSpot meeting scheduler page is ranking for:

B2B SEO keywords
SEMRush – HubSpot meeting scheduler keywords

HubSpot is a popular brand, and as you can see, the page is ranking for a lot of brand-related keywords. Since you cannot organically target those keywords, what you need to do is look for category-related keywords like ‘meeting scheduler’ or ‘free meeting scheduler’. You can repeat the exercise for every competitor manually.

If you already have product pages and are looking to optimize them further for SEO, there is a faster method to find keywords than manually going to each competitor page. Any guess what it is?

It is nothing but a content gap or keyword gap analysis. It tells you all the keywords your competitors are ranking for but your page is not.

For instance, let me take a relatively less popular meeting scheduler Avoma, and compare it with the landing pages of HubSpot and Calendly (comparing with bigger players is likely to give you more keywords).

Here is a snapshot of the result SEMRush threw:

Keyword gap analysis
Keyword gap analysis

Using this method, you can easily find new keywords you can optimize your page for. As mentioned earlier, you need to ignore brand-related keywords of your competitors.

Finding trending topics

Finding trending topics in your industry is critical from an SEO standpoint. Here are a few resources you can rely on to keep track of the latest:

  • Online and offline magazines
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters
  • YouTube channels
  • Industry leaders and influencers on LinkedIn

Going to all these different platforms manually looking for information could be time consuming. Moreover, how can you easily find the ones that are the most popular?

There is a hack for that.

growth hacking
Source: Pinterest

Use a tool called SparkToro. It will help you find all those platforms and channels where your topics of interest are discussed.

Use the tool’s search function as shown below:

SparkToro search

When I searched using the term ‘meeting scheduler’, this is the result I got:

SparkToro search results
SparkToro search results

Go ahead and give it a try yourself. The tool offers 20 searches per month for free.

A few other tools to learn more about industry trends are:

  • Exploding Topics: This tool will help you identify trends even before they become a thing.
  • AnswerThePublic: This tool will give you questions and queries people are searching for and asking online related to your niche.
  • Google Trends: Google Trends is great for understanding how the trend for a particular topic has changed over a period.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo tells you the most popular stories and discussions happening online related to a topic.

Since we are discussing SEO-led content, once you find trending topics that might not have enough keyword volume already, there is a workaround to attract traffic using existing keywords.

Go find a group of related keywords to the trending topic and include them in your page or content to tap into keywords that people are already searching for.

Identifying newer keyword opportunities

This step is about finding newer keywords your competitors are not ranking for or have not targeted. There are several ways to do this, some of which we have already touched upon. Using AnswerThePublic to find related questions and leveraging SparkToro to understand what others are talking about online related to your niche are examples.

In addition to these, following are a few ways to do this:

  • Find blogs or online magazines that are creating good content in your space. Do a keyword gap analysis by comparing your website with them.
  • Use the related keywords method – we will discuss this in detail in an upcoming section. This involves feeding in existing keywords into an SEO tool to find related keywords.
  • If your product or category is something that has a lot of reviews on sites like G2 or Capterra, scrape all of them and create a word cloud out of it. The most frequent words that you see will give you some new keyword ideas.
  • If you have access to an intent intelligence tool like Demandbase or 6sense, you can use the same to find topics that are surging in your niche. You can find a ton of keyword ideas from them.
  • Look for different variants of your existing keywords. For example, instead of ‘meeting scheduler’, try ‘appointment scheduler’. It has a volume of 5.3K (just consider this an example. The keyword has a difficulty of 89 and it is going to be super hard to rank for this).

While finding keywords from other sources like reviews, make sure that you check their volume and difficulty using an SEO tool. There should always be a method to the madness.

Now let us move to the second category – blog. And this is my personal favorite too.

The key difference when it comes to blogging compared to the first category is that you need to discover what to write about, especially if you haven’t already invested actively in SEO.

Hence, the research and content analysis step you carry out on day 1 of the 3-day methodology for your blog would involve 3 steps:

  1. Comparing with competitors like the keyword gap analysis we did for the first category. Here, the only difference is that you compare with the entire website of your competitors instead of specific pages.
  2. Discovering industry trends.
  3. Identifying newer keyword opportunities.

We already learned how the first step is done. For example, if I compare Avoma with Calendly and Chili Piper using SEMRush, these are the top results I receive:

Keyword gap analysis
Keyword gap analysis

As we discussed in one of the previous examples, you need to filter out brand-related keywords (you can use brand-related keywords for Google ads though).

The second and third steps in the research and content analysis stage for blog are the same as those of the product or core website pages. You could use the same set of tools and techniques we discussed earlier in the article.

At the end of day 1, you should have a comprehensive list of keywords for the blog and core website pages along with their volume and difficulty.

Day 2: Topic ideation and detailed keyword analysis

Now that you have identified the keywords to target at a page and article level, it is time to take your SEO-led content game to the next stage.

Firstly, you need to convert keywords into topics. This step applies to blogs alone and not your product, service, or core web pages. Secondly, you need to perform keyword analysis for individual articles and web pages.

Converting keywords into topics involves 3 steps:

  1. Categorizing blog topics into relevant categories – such as educational, product-based, event-based, etc.
  2. Coming up with blog post titles.
  3. Grouping blog topics into pillar topics and topic clusters.

Depending on your industry and what you are selling, you can decide what categories to put your topics into. The next step is to create titles for each article you are planning to write. To understand this better, given below are sample topics and categories for the meeting scheduling app Avoma:

Content clustering

Please note that I did not consolidate the actual list of keywords to be used, and hence the topics I have listed in the table above are not optimized for keywords. When you do this exercise, make sure to come up with titles by considering the keywords you wish to target.

Next, you need to group these topics into logical pillars and topic clusters. I have discussed this process in detail in the below article. I recommend you check it out:

Content Clustering And Repurposing – Building A Scalable B2B Content Strategy

Jump onto the section ‘Creating a system for content clustering’ to learn the step-by-step process for content clustering.

Basically, the idea is to write multiple articles around a focused set of topics rather than creating standalone articles. As you write these, you internally link to relevant articles in the same cluster to improve topic relevance, which in turn improves the authority and ranking of your website.

The last step of day 2 is doing keyword analysis for individual articles. This involves coming up with keywords that you can include in the title, meta description, H1, H2, H3, alt tag, etc.

Here is what the keyword hierarchy can look like for this:

  1. Primary keywords: to be included in the title, description, and H1 (and if relevant, in the content as well).
  2. Secondary keywords: to be included in the description, H2, H3, alt tag, etc.
  3. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords: to be included in H tags, description, and content.

Primary keywords can be 1 or 2, and not more. Most of the time, you would have the primary keyword(s) with you by now from your consolidated list of company-level keywords after day 1. You might have to do further analysis to check if you need to add one more primary keyword.

Secondary keywords can be around 3 to 4 in number, while LSI keywords can be in excess of 10.

The related keywords method

Now, let us come to the process for conducting keyword analysis.

The first thing to do is to leverage the keywords you have consolidated after the keyword gap analysis. Many a time, you will get both primary and secondary keywords from that list itself. You might still want to add more to them. Here is what you can do to find more relevant keywords:

  1. Take each of those keywords and put them into a keyword tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
  2. These tools will give you a list of related keywords. Filter out the irrelevant ones and pick those that have high volume and low difficulty.
  3. Do this exercise for all the core keywords you identified during the keyword gap analysis.

For example, let us take ‘meeting scheduler’ as a core keyword. Here is a snapshot of the top related keywords Ahrefs showed:

Related keywords for SEO
Related keywords for SEO

If you wish to aid this with one more tool, you can try the same exercise with Google Keyword Planner – the key difference is that it will show competition (the ease or difficulty of ranking in paid campaigns) instead of difficulty against each keyword.

Once you have this expanded list of keywords, the next step is to map these with the topics/titles you have come up with.

To make sure you cover all the possible keywords for a topic, you need to do one more thing.

Take each topic and see which articles are ranking for the core keyword in SERP. Input the URLs of each of them into an SEO tool to find out all the keywords they are ranking for. Choose relevant keywords from the results and add them to your final list of keywords.

That’s all. By now, you should have a great list of keywords for every topic cluster and every article.

A couple of additional techniques you can use to ensure you cover all possible dimensions are to look for related queries and questions. You can use AnswerThePublic or the ‘people also ask’ section in Google search results for this.

Google people also ask
Google’s ‘people also ask’ section in SERP

Day 3: Creating the first content piece

This is quite simple and straightforward. But I wanted to list down a few best practices you need to follow when it comes to creating content.

Let us start with the first category – core website pages such as product/service pages. Here are a few tips and tricks:

  • Scroll depth and average session duration are metrics that send positive signals to search engines. So include components that increase engagement and retention on your page – such as videos, reviews, testimonials, and above all, a great copy.
  • Don’t have the page content mismatch with the title and meta description. Such clickbait tactics will hurt your SEO in the long run.
  • Optimize all on-page SEO elements properly, including title, description, H tags, alt tags, schema, image size, and the code. Use a combination of tools like core web vitals, Google search console, Ahrefs, etc., to do this.
  • Have a proper internal linking architecture. This will help search engines understand more about the pages you are linking to.
  • Optimize your title and description for more clicks. That will eventually improve your SERP rankings. Here is an article on optimizing titles and another one on descriptions.

Next, let us talk about the best practices for a blog. All the tips we discussed above for core web pages apply to blogs too. Let us look at a few additional ones:

  • Embed relevant videos, images, and GIFs in your content. Since these elements rank in SERP, they help attract more traffic. It also helps the video do better on YouTube. This is because a percentage of visitors to the page will click on the video, improving the total number of views of the video. This in turn will encourage YouTube to push the video further in organic results.
  • Keep Google’s search rater guidelines (EEAT) in mind. Given that AI has made content creation easier, showcasing subject matter expertise can be a differentiator.
  • Keep the number of words optimal. There is no standard for the right number of words to be used in an article. It completely depends on the topic and the depth you wish to cover. However, a minimum of 600 to 700 words is recommended per article. A thoughtful article usually has in excess of 1000 to 1200 words. But don’t limit yourself from writing long articles as long as the content adds value to the readers.
  • Balance the number of articles you publish. Again, there is no golden number when it comes to the volume of content you should create every week or month. If you want to be aggressive about your SEO-led content efforts, consider writing 3 articles per week. But 2 a week is a good start.

Final words on getting started with B2B SEO

One fundamental concept while choosing keywords for any type of content is to go for high-volume keywords with low difficulty. Even if you are going after medium-volume keywords, try to keep the difficulty levels lower.

For the purpose of brevity, I did not go into the very details of everything we discussed on SEO. You can find a ton of materials online that talk through these things in detail. In this article, I wanted to share my two cents on SEO-led content, which I think is key to long-term marketing success. And I hope the 3-day approach helped you structure your SEO-led content efforts better.