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How to Balance Content and SEO

Whilst SEO should be at the heart of your content strategy, you’d be surprised how many people struggle to balance excellent content with the correct mix of SEO best practises. Content marketing is genuinely challenging, trying to make your piece of copy readable but also optimised for search engines everywhere.

There are countless blogs circulating around the web about SEO content tips, SEO strategy tips, content strategy tips, SEO shortcuts, and tactics. Allegadely, Pick a few keywords and put them in your blog and you’ll be ranking on Google. I wish this was true, although I’d be out of a job if it was. We’re a Content-Driven Agency (content marketing experts, basically) at Swordfish Marketing, so we’re in a strong position to talk about this subject.

What Is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, it’s the process of increasing visibility to a webpage or website through organic search results. Lots of different things can have an impact on how your site ranks on the SERPs (search engine results pages), the most common factors include:

  • Site speed
  • Domain Authority
  • How shareable it is
  • Relevancy to the search query
  • URL structure
  • Mobile optimisation (mobile friendly)

That’s not all, though. There are plenty of other ranking factors; we don’t claim to be SEO experts because it’s almost impossible to be. The industry moves too fast for such a bold statement to ever be true.

For more information on ranking factors (on-page specific), check out Moz’s list. Click here – it’s super useful!

Balancing the content

For creative content marketers, SEO is sometimes seen as “that thing” that ruins a piece of great content. This is something that constantly annoys our Lead Copywriter, Steve. You may write a fantastic blog and then find out it’s not optimised and must re-write parts to accommodate, only to ruin the way it’s structured. Not fun, is it? That’s why SEO should be considered before you even begin writing the content.

Try and solve a problem

Identify the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s always emphasised that your intended-ranking content is centred around your user problems. With content creation, capture micro-moments, answer questions you know people are asking and you’ll increase your chances of gaining shares and receiving more views.

What’s a micro-moment I hear you ask? It’s a moment that occurs when people search with the need of learning, doing, discovering, watching or buying something. Writing to be there when somebody has one of these moments can be very beneficial.

How do you figure out the problem? When writing SEO-targeted content, we turn to tools like Google Trends, SEMrush and AnswerThePublic to see what people are talking about.

Think of busy people

Everybody is busy, right? It’s more important than ever to take this into consideration when writing your content in 2019. To balance SEO and content, you should make use of bullet points and titles to separate it all out. People tend to skim read things; they may not read your full blog – just the main bits.

Additionally, you can consider using imagery throughout your content to add variation. This can also be useful because it gives you the opportunity to make use of Alt Tags, which should part of every SEO strategy. Make sure your Alt Tags are descriptive but include keywords where possible, this way you can take advantage of “Image SEO” (your content will rank throughout Google Images too).

Picking keywords

Of course, to rank your content you need to have a set of keywords that are being targeted. We’re assuming a keyword list has already been chosen before writing your content. You should then pick a handful of brand and non-brand keywords to target in your content; make a note of the primary few and then any secondary keywords too.

Your keywords should appear:

  • In the first sentence (if possible, don’t force it if you can’t)
  • In the title(s)
  • In the Meta Title and Meta Description
  • In the URL string
  • In the Image Alt Tags (as mentioned)

There isn’t really a proven answer to how many times you should include your keywords in your piece of body content. We just suggest, from our experience, that you refer to your set throughout but don’t indulge in keyword-stuffing. Use all sorts of variations and similar phrases.

Not thought of keywords?

If you haven’t thought about keywords, then we’ll briefly explain how to do some research.

  1. Pick an SEO tool; most of them cost money. We love using SEMrush, that’s our go-to for everything SEO.
  2. Collaboratively find a collection of keywords related to your business and what you do, then ensure they have reasonable search volumes.
  3. You should search for all sorts of modifiers; marketers tend to target navigational, transactional, commercial and locational categories.
  4. Then, once you have a list, pick a handful of relevant ones to target when you write your content.

As a marketing agency, we create all of our content with the optimum blend of SEO. When writing a piece of content, it’s vital that you take the above points into consideration.

A successful SEO strategy requires lots of content planning. But, that’s a topic for a different time, unfortunately. If you have any questions about balancing SEO and content marketing, send us a message and we’ll be happy to help. 

Charlie Wright

Written by: Charlie Wright

charliew@swordfish-marketing.com