SEO content strategy

Content that boosts your business online

How to create a better SEO content strategy

Every business in the world wants to increase search ranking and online performance. Securing a coveted first-page position can be the difference between business success and failure. So, how do you get there? It’s all about quality content.

The (not so) secret to sustainable SEO success is high-quality content. Publishing a 500-word blog post every week won’t help your SEO (sorry). Nor will buying random backlinks or throwing money at PPC.

Instead, you need to develop a long-term SEO content strategy that’s driven by keywords and delivers value. Even if you’re incorporating AI into your content production programme, it should all be led by an SEO content strategy that will deliver success.

In this in-depth guide, we’re going to walk you through how to build an SEO content strategy. You’ll learn why content is king, why creating content with value is vital, and the steps you must go through to build a successful content strategy.

Who is 42group?

If you’ve landed on this page and don’t know who we are, first we’ll say: hello!

42group is Bristol’s leading SEO content agency, producing the kind of keyword-rich content that’s critical for search engine ranking. We’re Google Partners, which means we have a vital insight into what the world’s search engine is searching for in content.

We’ve built our business by providing SEO content for global brands, SMEs, and fast-growth start-ups. We’ve won awards, secured funding, and helped businesses use SEO content to connect with their customers.

It all comes down to results though, doesn’t it? Check out how we transformed Flowrite’s search engine performance, reaching over a million organic visitors in a year.

We’ve done it for them, and we can do it for you.

SEO content services


SEO keyword research


SEO content briefs


SEO content strategy


SEO content creation


SEO content editing


SEO content updating


SEO content analysis


AI content checks for SEO

Why content is still king in 2023

Over 50% of all search clicks come through organic search, stats show. That’s because we trust Google results more than we do ads.

We’re not going to run you through the mind-boggling stats on the billions of Google searches each day or the complexities of its algorithm.

Instead, reflect on how you search for anything (or. if you’re like us, everything). We flick or click open our browser and let Google do the work for us. And, 99 times out of 100, it’s the first few results that capture the attention and clicks.

“Search engines exist to help people find what they are looking for. To do that, search engines must provide a diverse set of helpful, high-quality search results, presented in the most helpful order.”

That’s what Google does, and it uses content to help it make the best choices for its billions of daily users.

There are no shortcuts to ranking on Google. There are myriad factors, including technical issues, on-page factors, and off-site links – that will affect your SEO ranking, including:

  • Website speed
  • Page titles and meta tags
  • Content structure (including headings)
  • Links

One of the most important ranking factors is still content.

Why? Because content demonstrates several things all at once:

  • It shows you’re investing in your website
  • It shows your website delivers value to readers
  • It answers questions your clients or customers are searching for
  • It demonstrates that you’re an authority in your subject

Successful SEO uses content strategically

If content is so important, then the more, the better, right?

There’s a logic to that, but randomly posting blog posts (particularly those written by machine learning programmes like Chat GPT or Bard) won’t help SEO. In fact, doing so could damage your site and negatively impact your ranking.

Companies that succeed in SEO use content strategically. They spend time understanding what customers or clients are searching for, shaping content that delivers value and establishes authority.

Successful SEO is about spotting opportunities and identifying keywords that will capture clicks but have low competition.

10 steps to developing an SEO content strategy

Step #1        Do you really know your audience?

Too many businesses approach content in broadcast mode. They want to say something and expect their audience to want to read about it.

But they don’t care.

Too many businesses, brands, corporations, and companies take their customers for granted. They make assumptions about their audience that are reflecting in their content.

Firstly, you can use analytics on your site to give you a real understanding about how people use your site and the content they’re accessing. Any great content strategy is based on analytics and driven by an understanding of how your current users navigate your site and the content they find useful.

Step #2        Set goals

SEO is all about delivering more visitors to your site, which, in turn, should help you sell more products or services.

That’s a given. But it’s a poor way to start a content strategy.

Increasing sales is the aim, but problem-solving should be your goal.

In this guide, we’re showing you how to create an SEO strategy. The goal here is to educate you, provide valuable insights into our process and demonstrate our experience. You can (and should) contact us if you want us to help you, but that’s not the ultimate aim here.

We know that many people, from experienced marketers to start-ups and SMEs struggle with content. We can help you. We’ve created this guide to give you the tools to create your own content strategy. We’ve not paywalled it, gated it, or created some complex structure to restrict access. It’s here, it’s free, and you’re reading it.

Why? Because this piece plays a small part in our overall SEO strategy to increase our ranking for key search terms (can you guess what they are?). But we’re trying to create content with value to help us achieve this.

In time we hope we’ll start ranking for SEO content strategy and the associated terms. To get there, we know we need to provide content that fulfils Google’s E-E-A-T requirements.

Step #3        Think about people, not personas

Marketing agencies will charge you a fortune to develop personas. These are pen portraits of your typical (or ideal) reader. They’ll provide some examples of who they are, their motivations, pain point, income, and interests.

They look great, but they’re pretty much useless when it comes to content.

Personas pick up on some of the key attributes of your audience, but they’re reductive. They distil things down to soundbites and ignore large parts of a person’s personality – and that’s dangerous.

If you focus too much on personas, you’ll create dull and uninspired content for an audience that may only exist in your marketing agency’s imagination.

Instead, you need to develop a content strategy that’s shaped around real people. When you do, you’ll be able to write the type of conversational content in this guide.

Step #4        Analyse keywords

Google keyword planner is a powerful tool that’s critical to a content strategy. We’re not going to explain how to use it, but thankfully, it’s pretty simple.

When we use Keyword Planner, we’re looking for the top line search terms (SEO content strategy, in the case of this guide). When we look, it’s obvious it’s quite competitive, so we’ll need to work hard to rank.

Scrolling down through the list we can see associated keywords that are less competitive but cumulatively could deliver the same number of users (with similar search intent).

That could include:

  • How to write an SEO content strategy
  • SEO content strategy tips
  • SEO content writer
  • Content for SEO

…and thousands more.

What’s also useful is seeing how you can recontextualise keywords into articles titles, questions, or guides.

We can’t give away all our secrets, but our insights come from analytics, audiences, and keywords.

Step #5        Research (and get social)

SEO agencies will start with Keyword Planner, and base everything on this. It’s an incredibly useful tool for any SEO pro, but it’s only going to tell you half the story.

We worked with one of the world’s biggest pharma businesses on a global content strategy for a new drug launch. Of course we kicked off with keywords, and that formed the spine of the SEO content strategy, but we also explored social channels looking for the questions and concerns of the audience.

This type of “user-generated” content is powerful. It taps directly into your audience, including what motivates and inspires them.

The best content writers use every connection with a customer to generate content ideas.

Step #6        Study competitors

SEO is about getting one up on the competition, so always check out and see what they’re doing. You can – and should – look at your competitor’s websites, social channels, blogs, and even the sort of promo content they’re generating to get a flavour for their content, customers, and culture.

While you should check out competitor’s websites for inspiration, you should never copy what they’re doing. Some unscrupulous SEO practitioners will promote the idea of copying other content.

We don’t need to explain why this is a bad idea, but ask yourself: does it meet Google’s E-E-A-T requirements for valuable content? (Er, no!)

Step #7        Generate quality content ideas

So, how do you generate quality content ideas? This is part experience, part inspiration, and part using the research you’ve done to help you create content with value.

We’re not going to give away our secrets here, but thankfully we’ll be tackling this in another in-depth guide which will naturally be 100% free.

Quality content ideas are at the core of your strategy. In fact, they’re pretty much the only thing that most people will engage with.

Step #8        Answer questions

We’re solution-focused searchers, which means we want answers. How did you get to this page?

I can bet you didn’t write:

“Guide on how to write an SEO content strategy”

And instead typed something a little similar to this

“How to write an SEO content strategy?”

Answering questions is a bit of an SEO superpower. When creating your content strategy and generating content ideas, think about the questions that your audience is searching for.

One effective way of answering questions (and capturing large amounts of search traffic) are FAQs. As well as answering questions, it demonstrates authority and provides essential information for your audience. It’s an SEO strategy win-win-win.

Step #9        Create banging content briefs with an SEO-friendly article structure

The best SEO content is well-structured with a clear and obvious purpose. That starts with the page title, meta tag, and H1. If you’re working up a content strategy, these parts are critical.

When developing a content strategy, you should ensure you’re creating all the elements – including titles, tags and at least the H1. If you’re focusing on an SEO term with high competition, you may also want to provide details on H2s, H3s and even H4s to help your writer.

If you’re writing this in-house, you can brief your writers however you like. If you’re working with an external agency, we recommend that you create a bespoke content brief template that spells out everything you want to include in every single article.

We can help you develop an SEO content brief template if you need our help.

Step #10      Test, learn, review, and improve

You won’t create a 100% successful SEO content strategy straight away. That’s not us being negative, but being realistic.

Every great SEO expert will tell you that you need to test content and learn what’s working. They review the content that’s being viewed and update and improve it.

In terms of this guide, we’ll come back to it regularly to update pieces of information, or links to resources, that are outdated. This ensures it’s relevant and continues to offer value to you, the reader. You’re welcome!

Every SEO content strategy must have key points (monthly, quarterly, etc.) where you review content, update, and amend it. In SEO, it’s all about accuracy, authority, and relevance.

Explaining E-E-A-T

When the Google algorithm analyses your content, it uses four factors. They call them their “quality raters,” and they’ve provided some helpful guidelines for creating better content.

Google assesses your content for:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

We’re not going to try to second-guess Google (or repackage its own words back to you), but ultimately, Google is looking for content with value.

Let’s use an example of this guide to SEO content strategy to show you what we mean by each of these factors:

  • Experience – At 42group, we’re been working on content strategies for over 15 years. Yes, we were there at the start of SEO when it was all about loading up content with keywords. When we write this guide, Google can see from the structure and the content that it’s written by people who know what they’re talking about – and that’s experience.
  • Expertise – They may seem the same, but expertise is about providing useful and practical guidelines that deliver value. We’re demonstrating our expertise through content, and that’s powerful.
  • Authoritativeness – We would have preferred “authority” but it’s all about establishing why you’re the best person to provide the information. Content – like the guide you’re reading – provides knowledge and insight from a source that Google (and you) can trust.
  • Trustworthiness – Do you trust us and believe what we’re saying? That’s what Google is asking itself when assessing content. This guide is supported by case studies and examples of our work and hosted on a website that’s been around for 10 years (and written by journalists with a lot longer experience than that!). Can you trust us? Absolutely.

When we look at this list, there’s one thing that’s missing, and that’s originality.

In a world where Chat GPT or Bard can knock up a blog in seconds, Google is fiercely protecting the integrity of its algorithm. That means that all content will be assessed for originality, and AI-generated content will fail miserably on this metric.

OK, so the words may be rearranged into a different order, but the content is going to be derivative, and that’s highly damaging to your website.

Yes, using AI may deliver a short-term boost, but that’s potentially at the risk of sustainable SEO gains.

Case study – Supercharging SEO for AI-start-up Flowrite

Flowrite is using AI to transform the way we write emails. But when the start-up needed to supercharge its SEO and content marketing, they asked 42group to add the human touch.

We’ve provided almost 100 pieces of super SEO content for the brand, packing them full of keywords, and delivering exceptional value.

Has it worked? You bet…

“We’ve grown monthly organic traffic from 100K to over 1M in 15 months. There’s a good reason 42group has written over 80% of our content during that span. They are simply superb,” says Saku Kahkonen, Head of Marketing at Flowrite.

Read the full Flowrite case study here.

42group – Creating successful SEO content strategies  

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve just read 3,000 words of solid gold SEO strategy advice (apart from the bit about the string).

Writing an SEO content strategy isn’t easy, but you must follow each stage of the process, or you’ll end up with a poor-quality end product. That’s the bottom line. The investment you make in understanding your audience will pay off. The proof is top-quality content that meets every one of Google’s content tests (remember E-E-A-T, and you’ll be fine).

If you’re struggling with your SEO content strategy, or want professional support to deliver at scale, then contact us. At 42group, we’ve been helping businesses to grow online and connect with their clients and customers for nearly 20 years. We can help you too. The answer is 42.

Get in touch

Your SEO content strategy questions answered

By now, you should understand the basics of building an SEO strategy – but there’s more you might want to know. Here, we answer some of the common content strategy questions we’re asked by clients.

(If we haven’t answered your question, message us at hello@42group.co.uk and we’ll happily help you out.)

What is SEO content strategy?

An SEO content strategy is a professional document that brings together your research, insights, and understanding of your audience and provides content suggestions on how you will connect with them. Content strategies can include details of blog posts, whitepapers, social media content, animations, video, and more.

Why do I need an SEO content strategy?

Posting a random blog post every week won’t deliver any long-term results. It’s basically a waste of time. Sorry if this is your strategy. Instead, you should invest in a long-term plan to promote your business online, with content at the core of it. A content strategy brings clarity to your digital marketing and will deliver success in improving your search ranking.

How long will it take to create a content strategy?

How long is a piece of string? (The one we have is 38.4cm). Joking aside, there’s no set time to develop a strategy. It depends on a range of factors, including how competitive your search terms are, the amount of content you can produce, the duration the plan covers and more. We’ve created content strategies that have taken weeks to complete, whereas others have taken a few hours. The answer is: it depends.

Can anyone write a content strategy?

Yes. It doesn’t mean it will be effective. The best way to write a content strategy for SEO is to follow the guidelines set out in this post or to pay us to do it. Either way, the end result should be similar. 

How much will it cost to develop a content strategy?

Sorry, can’t answer this one. See the answer above!

How do I get access to Google Keyword Planner?

The simplest way (in fact, the only way) is to sign up for Google Ads. It’s free, easy, and takes a few seconds. You can use Keyword Planner for free. You don’t need to sign-up and pay another provider for this (they just scrape Keyword Planner anyway).

Can I get AI to create a content plan for SEO?

Great question! If the results you’re after are poor-quality content that’s 100% focused on where your audience was a year ago, then absolutely. If you want to futureproof your SEO, then pay a real person to do it properly. The end.

Should I get my digital marketing agency to create an SEO content plan?

Difficult question. Some SEO agencies are great, others are rubbish. Some will work on the plan themselves others will outsource it. You’ll need to trust your intuition here (or message us at 42group).

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