Despite the benefits of aligning strategies, marketing and SEO managers don’t always have the same goals when it comes to promoting content, from what I’ve noticed with clients and partners.
More often than not, SEO professionals strive to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) on time, yet depend on the output of the marketing team to succeed.
Meanwhile, the Marketing department strives to deliver a long-term content strategy guided by the CEO’s broader goals and the CMO’s subsequent priorities of enhancing brand awareness and demand generation strategies, to name a few.
It is often the overall view of these goals that can lead to SEO not being leveraged to its fullest potential due to time to results or attribute value.
While SEO strategies are often long-term, they are key to maximizing your content marketing potential and ordering delivery performance to promote exponential growth.
In this article, I present a four-step strategy for aligning both teams and ensuring they meet their goals, as well as four best practices for aligning your SEO and marketing efforts.
A 4-step strategy for balancing your SEO and B2B goals
Avoid ambiguity and create clear protocols for your designs to make sure you meet your marketing and SEO goals.
1. Create a brand and style guide with SEO in mind
To ensure that your SEO and marketing strategies are fully aligned, it is important that brand and style guides consider your SEO.
In other words, rather than SEO being an afterthought, it should be a major component of the marketing process—especially for content marketing.
A dedicated SEO chapter in Brand Style and Content Guidelines will solidify this relationship and assign tasks to SEO professionals to enhance brand awareness.
This shifts the “adjust content to rank for SEO” mindset toward a more effective “optimize SEO for marketing” approach, which is especially important for businesses that rely on writers and freelancers to be accountable for their SEO efforts.
To maintain a friendly tug-of-war between your CMO and SEO goals, it’s also important that your marketing strategy allows for keywords that rank well but may deviate from grammar (or don’t use C-Suite’s preferred language).
An example of this is “top funnel” as an adjective, which ranks better for SEO than the grammatically correct “top funnel”.
Additional tips on what to include in your branding and style guidelines:
- Lists of suggested and blocked keywordsso managers, new hires, and freelancers can easily refer to directories to avoid ranking for keywords deemed irrelevant.
- A list of branded terms that cannot be modified for SEOso the CMO and marketing team don’t see their strategy affected by branded keywords and phrases that have been “tweaked” for better SEO ranking.
- Key Content Topics: Identify key topics in the guide to boost brand awareness and SEO ranking. Implementing this in guides (not just in the content calendar) makes the content strategy specific and provides forecasts for SEO managers to plan their long-term strategy.
2. Optimize each content asset for your SEO and marketing objectives
Ideally, all content should be rated for SEO.
However, the objective of each piece of content is likely to differ based on the topic being covered, the objective of the research, as well as its role in brand awareness and audience opinion formation.
Thought leadership, for example, can be a challenge to implement SEO, especially if the author is presenting an innovative and innovative idea to their audience that has no search intent yet.
In this case, it is better to prioritize and optimize your Marketing Goals to boost rankings where possible than to direct content creation with SEO. This ensures that the content fulfills its purpose.
Consider amplifying reach through paid content sharing and media to boost the impact of that content.
On the other hand, content that is highly influenced by search intent, such as FAQs or guides, should focus on SEO first and foremost to inform better content creation and ranking for highly searched queries.
While branding may take a backseat here, it is important that this content remains consistent.
Thus, to achieve both outcomes, planning each piece of content ahead of time with a focus on marketing or SEO helps identify KPIs for each asset – as well as directing content production and promotion to effectively achieve these goals.
However, it is important to strive for alignment between your CMO and SEO goals by creating common KPIs whenever possible and creating content that enhances brand awareness while also ranking for popular queries.
3. Survey your audience to measure the impact of SEO on your marketing
Survey your audience to assess whether your content marketing goals are being met, as well as the impact of SEO on your marketing strategies.
By asking questions about the values your audience associates with your brand as well as the top keywords that come to mind (to assess your SEO priorities), you can gauge whether the overall impression your audience is currently making of your brand is on par with the CMO and team goals. Marketing.
It is important to mention (especially in this step) that SEO should be seen as a promotional tool to increase brand awareness and long-term demand.
Therefore, if the survey results indicate SEO-based values or keywords, but do not meet the marketing expectations, it is important to modify the SEO-focused content to deliver the intended brand messages.
If you want to test specific assets or topics, A/B test a “marketing driven” and “SEO oriented” version to see which one attracts readers better, as well as survey their brand impressions.
This will provide plenty of information to guide future content creation for your book.
4. Create a content calendar and hold regular meetings between marketing and SEO managers
After you’ve assessed how your audience views your brand, it’s time to create a content calendar to address potential unintended brand associations generated by your audience—all while achieving your SEO goals.
Plan to calendar your content quarterly, setting “marketing” and “SEO” goals for each topic/asset.
For SEO content, such as pure search intent content, pre-select keywords to avoid unintended off-brand impressions after launching the content.
For content marketing, set goals to achieve engagement and the purpose of the content (to increase awareness or generate leads, for example), as well as branding goals and promotional methods—since SEO won’t be the primary option for driving traffic.
Hold regular meetings between Marketing Directors and SEO Directors to discuss campaign metrics and impressions as it continues.
Social listening tools can assess the impact of content and direct edits to writers before promoting their next assets.
By measuring audience impressions while a campaign is in progress, it becomes easier to adjust live content on a case-by-case basis, as well as change themes/assets to achieve goals if common KPIs struggle.
4 best practices for maintaining common ground between CMO and SEO needs
Use the following four best practices to keep your marketing and search engine optimization aligned:
1. Writers are on board with marketing and SEO and their must-dos
Onboarding writers, freelance or otherwise, is a critical task in maintaining brand voice and content goals.
Given this, it’s also important to create a book qualification guide that covers SEO tips and do’s and don’ts along with additional training resources.
Typically, new writers will not be familiar with the ins and outs of your brand and style guides, so showing you how to properly promote brand awareness (such as normative language, product descriptions, recommended adjectives, allowed/disallowed keywords) will provide guidance for them to meet Marketing and SEO goals.
2. Take advantage of social listening
As mentioned earlier, leveraging social listening tools can help determine how audiences feel about your brand and evaluate the results of your public messaging.
This, along with survey feedback, will help you make important adjustments.
As a result, social listening tools are probably the most valuable weapon in your arsenal for balancing your CMO and SEO needs, so use them frequently to gather ideas and guide your future content creation.
Another method is to manually search for your brand name and products in forums and social media channels, gaining insights from the way your audience is commenting on your solutions to assess if the rhetoric is in line with your intended messages and current SEO priorities.
3. Develop a detailed content strategy
To achieve your overall content marketing and SEO goals, develop a strategy based on your content calendar to ensure that any content produced has a major role to play in achieving your desired results.
This should include how the pieces of content relate to and support each other, regardless of whether it is driven by marketing or SEO.
For example, start by identifying an innovative thought leadership piece and link it to complementary videos, short blog posts, and podcast episodes.
As you analyze the performance of this piece of content, you’ll be able to expand the topic to match your ICP buyer’s journey and search intent.
This can take the form of a core piece that focuses on the SEO of the topic that matches the search intent and serves as a hub that connects to all the complementary content that also ranks for keywords to increase brand traffic.
This strategy, combined with a consistent publishing cadence for your editorial calendar, will ensure that you meet your intended marketing campaigns and SEO results.
While having content that talks marketing and SEO focused independently, tying and directing the content to a long-term strategy is essential.
The best performing pieces of content are those that blend both priorities, establish harmony in SEO keyword rankings and lead the way in your industry with innovative thought leadership.
If done successfully, this will create long-term demand generation for your business.
4. Develop common strategies and goals for paid media and social media
Bridging the gap between CMO and SEO by building on both with free paid media and social media goals/strategies.
Viewing both as marketing promotional methods and SEO goals, it is possible to time the use of paid media and social media to promote a variety of content pieces across a campaign that supports both SEO and marketing initiatives.
The more sophisticated your content strategy and calendar, the better connected your content will be, facilitating your ability to craft multi-channel campaigns that deliver on all KPIs.
Meeting the demands of both the CMO and the SEO manager requires a conscious approach that balances ranking in the search engine results pages with promoting positive brand awareness.
This article provides best practices and a four-step strategy for achieving this balance, however, there are additional elements you can incorporate into your content calendar to better achieve your CMO and SEO goals.
Developing a content strategy for the higher stage of the funnel (TOFU), where the search objective is less niche, is a good example of how to boost brand awareness while ranking for highly searched keywords.
You can then use this foundation to incentivize your lead to follow the buyer’s journey and consume innovative and thought-provoking content optimized with more specific keywords that enhance your marketing efforts.
By looking at content marketing and SEO as two sides of the same coin, you can better align content creation to feed each other, build an overall positive brand experience for your audience, and thus tap the full potential of your marketing efforts to drive demand.
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