Marieke van de Rakt is the CEO of Yoast. Her main focus is on growing the company. She is really passionate about maintaining open and friendly company culture. Marieke is also heavily involved in the marketing of Yoast and with Yoast SEO Academy: the online courses platform.
A new year asks for a new and improved content SEO strategy! Are you also pumped and full of plans to improve your SEO strategy and start a brand new SEO campaign? In this post, I’ll tell you just how to set up a content SEO campaign and quickly improve your chances to outrank your competition in the search engines!
Step 1: Assess your current (technical) SEO fitness
In order to improve the SEO of your website, you need to make sure that your site is in good shape. Start with doing a small SEO audit of your own website. Use a few tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Majestic to check out your site speed and your backlinks are doing. Other technical aspects like 404’s and broken links should just be fixed!
You just need to take care of the technical aspects of your site. Before starting an SEO campaign with new and improved content, you should make sure that all the technical aspects are in good (enough) shape.
Step 2: Determine your most important pages
In order to increase the traffic to your site, you need to know what aspects of your website should be optimized the most. What would be smart to tackle first? Which improvements would increase the chances to rank in the search engines the most? In order to answer these questions you should determine the most important pages of your website.
Determining the most important pages on your website can be rather difficult. Ask yourself: which pages would I like to show new customers? Which pages are most close to my mission? Compare the answers to these questions to the results of your analytics: which pages have the highest page value? With which pages do you actually make money? With pages have a lot of traffic pointing towards them?
You should end up with a list of pages that are important to you, but that don’t have much traffic. These should be improved upon further. And, the pages that have much traffic, but were not that high on your ‘importance’ list should not be forgotten either. These pages are ‘successful use cases’ you can learn from. They’re performing well, even though they’re not the most important pages.
Step 3: Keyword research
You need to know what your audience is searching for. You need to know what words they’re using when they search in Google. Keyword research means getting inside the heads of your audience and making sure you focus on the right terms. If you offer a product, people might not be looking for your product or words that relate to the product. They might be searching for the problem your product is solving.
Talk to your audience, make sure you understand them. And use tools like Google Trends in order to make sure you’re focussing on the right search terms.
You should end up with a list of keywords you want to rank for. You’re probably already ranking for some of them. Divide the list in keywords you’re not ranking for yet and keywords you’re already ranking for, but for which you want to rank higher.
Step 4: Setting realistic goals for your SEO campaign
It’s impossible to start ranking for the most competitive keywords overnight. If you’re in a competitive niche, it will be hard to rank for certain keywords. You’ll need to focus on more specific and less competitive keywords in order to stand a chance of ranking. Take into account the traffic potential (how many people search for a certain keyword) and the ranking potential (how many big brands are already ranking on that term). Read more about how to determine a realistic goal in our ultimate guide to keyword research or check out our keyword research training.
Adapt your list of keywords according to the chances you have to start ranking or improve your rankings. You should start with keywords for which you have a good chance to outperform your competitors.
Step 5: Match content to keywords
Evaluate your content based on the list of keywords you have made. Does your current content match the keywords? Did you write articles that were optimized for the right terms? Perhaps you’ve used the wrong wording? And, which keywords do not have a post or page yet? Which articles need to be written from scratch?
It could well be that you already have content that is optimized for the right keywords, but that is not ranking as well as it should. Make sure to check out whether or not you’re suffering from keyword cannibalization. If you have been writing about similar topics, chances are rather high that you are in fact lowering your chances to rank for a certain keyword, because your competing with your own content. In that case, you should improve your internal linking strategy (more on that in step 7) or combine articles that focus on the same keywords.
You should end up with a list of articles that need rewriting and re-optimization and a list of articles that haven’t been written yet.
Step 6: (Re)Write content!
Write the articles and rewrite the articles that need to be improved upon. One way to do this is with the useful feedback you get from our state-of-the-art content analysis in Yoast SEO Premium. This analysis helps you improve the readability and rankability of your text, helping you write fresh and natural content that your users and search engines will love.
Make sure to start with the articles that have the highest chance of improving your rankings. Develop a nice social media strategy in which you can share your articles with your audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Your content SEO strategy could be a great social media strategy at the same time.
Step 7: Improve the internal linking
As websites get bigger, internal linking becomes more and more important. Your internal links are a guide to Google. Google follows links, so the way you internally link pages to each other, will give Google important clues which content is the most important. Especially if you have a lot of content on your site, you should make sure to take some time to improve the internal linking structure of your site.
Internal linking can be rather hard and the internal linking tool in Yoast SEO will make it that much easier. Read all about it in our article about internal linking. I’ll give you the most important information right here: Make sure that your most important articles have the most internal links pointing towards them.
Step 8: start all over again…
I would love to say to you that your SEO campaign will be over after step 7. Seven steps for a successful SEO campaign, that would be amazing. However, your SEO campaign is never over. It will be an ongoing process. Your website will change and grow, Google will change and grow and your audience will change and grow. So next year, you’ll need to start all over again. However, your chances to outrank your competition will most definitely be higher than, because of all the efforts you’ve made!
Read more: The ultimate guide to SEO copywriting »