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SEO Content Strategy: Building a Holistic Content Planning Framework

In the past few months, Google has rolled out various broad core algorithms and other updates which focus more and more on user-centric results, yet when it comes to designing an SEO content strategy, even good SEO minds are just thinking from the search engine’s perspective. Most people just keep sticking to direct competitor research and identifying keyword gaps & ideas, which again is not a bad start but there are certain other research areas as well that every SEO professional should focus on before creating any strategy or proceeding towards execution.

This article does not emphasize generic SEO strategies and content planning, but the strategies that actually work and can drive the results that you expect. Here we are not just talking about the traffic that you would be generating organically; we are also focusing on the kind of traffic which can get you quality leads and converts at the end of the funnel. This would require careful study of your audience, in-depth research, and a thoughtful content planning framework. Once you have all the research and you understand your prospects, only then will you be able to devise the right content framework which serves the purpose of your SEO Strategy.

Here are a few tried and tested tactics that can help you target the right keywords for the right audience and plan an SEO content strategy that can for all intents and purposes help you win over SERP.

Exploring Google Search Trends

It’s crucial to have knowledge and understanding of what your audience is searching for. Most people conduct keyword research based on the generalized idea of the brand, competitor research and keyword gap analysis, but not the trends, accelerating searches, emerging searches, and moreover how searches for the particular query have happened over time and what is expected in the upcoming months. Exploring Google trends for your content strategy can provide you with some amazing ideas to start with. An added benefit of using trends to improve your keyword selection can be getting better search results. Let’s say, you are targeting a query just by looking at the search volumes, this query might have depleting or lower trends as compared to a query with comparatively lower search volumes but better search trends, choosing the latter query would make more sense and get better results.

For example:
Considering 3 queries - online mobile recharge, online recharge, and mobile recharge. Avg. monthly search volumes for these queries look like this:

Exploring Google Search Trends

Search Trends:

Google Keyword Planner
Source: Google Search Trends

Even though search volumes for the query ‘mobile recharge’ are significantly higher than ‘online recharge’, when we look at the search trends, it remained constantly lower for the past 1 year. If we compare queries ‘online recharge’ and ‘online mobile recharge’, although the volume difference is not great but search trend for the latter query is significantly lower. (search intent for all the 3 queries remains the same).

Identify and Understand Your Target Audience

How Consumers are approaching from being informed to getting empowered?

Directly jumping to target keywords and creating long content plans and strategies, would not be that impactful if you don’t understand how your audience is approaching search results. Audiences have evolved from being ignited by curiosity to being excited to find answers to getting empowered to drive action. Once you have a clear understanding of the information your target users are seeking and getting from different sources, you would be able to plan a better funnel-based SEO content strategy for your audience.

Here are a few recommendations to help you understand your audience better.

1. Create User Personas

Understanding your audience and their search habits would be easier once you have their profiles in your hands. If you’ve worked in user experience design, you must have heard of the term user persona before.

“User persona is typical mapping of characteristics and goals of a user which ideally represents a larger group of your varied audience.”

This remains a widely used tool in the design industry, but in the SEO industry as well this can prove to be a great tool to empathize with your audience and plan the content accordingly.

User Persona Matrix which can sync with your content planning framework

You should look at both quantitative and qualitative data of your audience, from age groups and gender to their behavior and overall search engagement. Create user personas based on this data and make correlations on how curiosity, excitement, and empowerment look different across age groups and map a few keywords in the matrix.

Here is a sample matrix that you can use to better understand your target audience and their behavioral tendencies.

Sample Matrix

2. Understanding General User Behavior Patterns

Now that you already have an understanding of your target audience, try looking for general user behavior patterns related to the domain you are working for. For example, if you are working on a domain that deals with sleep-related content, one user behavior that can be looked at is - 57% increase in Indians staying late at night due to ‘Droom Scrolling’. This user behavior can be used to plan out a varied set of keyword universes to develop a variety of content topics and show your audience extremely relevant content.

3. Leveraging Consumer’s Intent Stages:

Being a digital marketer, you must have come across consumer intent stages at some point in time, but how many of us truly make use of this while planning our SEO content strategy? Before making a purchase or using a service many users tend to educate themselves. There are 4 consumer intent stages that you can consider.

  1. Discover/AwarenessThe user is looking to get information and knowledge to resolve curiosity and be aware.
  2. Consider The user gets information about the product/service/offering and brand and is mostly seeking recommendations.
  3. Decide The user is looking to compare products/offerings/services which meet their need and decide which one to go ahead with.
  4. Prepare/Purchase The user looking for the best prices and selling points.
    Customer Intent Stages

How to activate these findings to SEO Content Strategy

Devising a Full-Funnel Content Planning Framework

After creating keyword buckets based on the models discussed above, it’s time we decide where we would want to stand for these keywords and map content topics. From the user’s search queries, devise themes and map them into acquisition segments that exhibit a pattern.

Here is the 3-Step SEO content strategy that you should implement while designing your framework –

  1. Participate (Upper-Funnel) Use searches to connect with your high curiosity relevant audience who are in the discovery phase. Make sure you are visible to this set of users.
  2. Compete (Mid-Funnel) You would want to be present in a highly competitive space where your target audience is in the consideration or decision phase and comparing your product/service/offering with your competitors.
  3. Own (Lower-Funnel) Capturing the universe of keywords where your demand is being generated through upper-funnel and mid-funnel.
    Content SEO Strategy

Bonus Content Planning Tips

  1. Develop content plans based on the audience persona and make keyword buckets to improve awareness, drive traffic and improve relevance.

  2. Help your audience by acknowledging and understanding their knowledge and invest your time in researching about generic curiosity-solving keywords and create high-quality skyscraper content or infographic or any other content types which remain relevant for you.
  3. Tap into the decision-making phase of your user/consumer journey. Research for direct conversion-based keywords which drive your user to the page where the actual transaction is going to happen.
  4. Research for associative keywords. For example - the Association of ‘Music’ with ‘Sleep’.

Wrap Up

Ensuring that your brand has a strong SEO content strategy in place can drive amazing traffic and leads for your business. You should revisit your pages and identify the areas that can be updated with the latest trends and serve the relevant audience.

In the end, I am sure you’ll be amazed by the results coming your way if you put these ideas into practice.