7 Basic Principles of Content Marketing and SEO that Actually Work

content marketing seo

The basic principles of content marketing and SEO are almost too obvious.

  1. Use keywords literally and deliberately
  2. Deliver more value than your audience expects
  3. Do it often and consistently

Yes, this is an incredibly watered down version of content marketing and SEO but if you had no other information on which to build your inbound marketing strategy these principles, in time, would take you to the promise land.

Deliver value with prejudice.

…for human SEO trumps every tactic you can learn from Rand Fishkin and the SEOMoz community. That’s in no way a knock on Rand or SEOMoz for I hold that organization and everyone that contributes to it in the highest regard.

That being said here’s a few basic principles of technical SEO that will have an immediate impact on your ability to get found in Google Search.

1) Target mid-tail and long-tail keywords first.

Targeting mid-tail and long-tail keywords will not yield the highest traffic volumes to begin with, but will instead return the most qualified traffic.  It may seem counterintuitive but this strategy is designed for “Early wins.”  If you are just testing content marketing and SEO as an online strategy for your business and you have to report results to a boss targeting, mid-tail and long-tail keywords would be a strong recommendation.

Your boss doesn’t have to know you only got 50 hits on your blog if five of them turned into sales…

2) Use keyword synonyms throughout your articles and website.

Try to stay away from repeating the same keyword phrase over and over again.  The Penguin and Panda updates to Google removed the necessity to keyword stuff.  Google is looking for natural keyword density, written with the purpose of delivering value.  No one in the natural course of writing or speaking would use the phrase “New York Workers Compensation Insurance” 15 times in a 450 word article.

Use variations like, “NY Workers Comp,” “Workers Compensation in New York,” “Workers Comp Insurance,” where those variations make sense.

3) Build upon your successful articles and pages.

If you find that a certain blog post or page on your website is performing extremely well, consider going back and adding onto the article. Take the subject deeper, make the article even more value than it already is…

This does two things: First is freshens up the post letting Google know you keep the information up-to-day adding to it’s importance, Second it creates an even deeper more in-depth article adding weight to the quality of the content from the viewpoint of Google.

This strengthens the specific keywords that post is ranked for.

4) Do not focus solely on one keyword or keyword phrase throughout your entire site.

Even if you are writing about a very focused niche, say taxidermy with a specialty in owls, there are a variety of phrases that rotate around that topic which are important to address in addition to your primary keyword or keyword phrase.

When I am creating content I put keywords into three categories:

target keywords

5) Internal linking tells Google that your old content is still important.

Internal linking may not deliver the same “Google Juice” as external linking, however, using a consistent internal link strategy is important for sending Google bots deep into your website to older posts which still contain value, as well as describing those internal pages and the keywords that should be associated with them.

This can be incredibly valuable if you have a page specifically dedicated to one keyword phrase that converts web traffic into new leads well.  Use internal linking to reinforce both the technical and human SEO of that page by sending more and more traffic there.

6) Build a natural mixture of external links into your highest converting content.

There are many different types of external links including strong, relevant keywords from sites ranked well for a similar keyword or keyword phrase all the way down to cheap, shallow link farms with a thousand links on one page.  Though I would encourage you to stay away from the very bottom of the external link spectrum (as that gets into the fuzzy blackhat SEO region) it is very important to diversify your external links.

I would however, if possible recommend a strong emphasis towards links from targeted sites with a long history and deep content structure.  These are obviously harder to get as everyone targets websites of high quality, (a good example in the marketing industry would be Copyblogger), but they do hold a lot of weight.

As these websites often take quite a bit of work to get featured on and quantity of links is also important, I recommend targeting sites with a lower barrier of entry as well.

7) Use words for their literal meaning

For as sophisticated a system as Google has created, to the best of my knowledge Google Bots still don’t sarcasm.  I enjoy an intriguing headline as much as the next guy, but if you’re writing content for the purpose of getting found in search you need to use deliberate, literal language.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use funny headlines meant to entertain your audience.  By all means… be funny.  Just understand that those aren’t the headlines that are going to help you get found in search (though legitimately those types of headlines may help you with social sharing…)

The Basic Principles of Content Marketing and SEO

Done right content marketing and SEO allow your business to get found in search at the exact moment consumers need your product.

Remember how this article started.

Deliver value with prejudice.  Before all other things create content that is valuable to your target audience.  Master that skill first then focus on best practices for content marketing and SEO

Understanding the basic principles of content marketing and SEO builds a solid foundation to generate more inbound leads but everything always comes back to value.

Below you’ll find the slides for a recent presentation I gave (you hire me as a speaker here).


The Basic Principles of Content Marketing and SEO to Generate More Inbound Leads from Ryan Hanley

The Rub

Here’s the deal… If someone tries to oversell you on content marketing and SEO tactics… run.  If you haven’t mastered delivering value yet anything beyond the basic principles outlined in this article is a waste of time and money.

So… focus you mental effort on telling your unique story of value in exceptional ways.

Good things will happen.

Thank you and Good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley and if you enjoyed this article you’ll love the Content Warfare Newsletter, get it here.