December 1, 2022

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5 Ways To Balance SEO and Content Synergy in 2023

Rightly or wrongly, for many content marketers, 2022’s turbulence led management to issue a new directive: Do more with less.

Dramatic shifts in consumer behavior and an instant need for information added more pressure to an already increasing demand for content marketing. Furthermore, Google’s focus on the person behind a search accelerated the convergence and the need for content marketing and SEO initiatives.

New shifts in consumer spending disrupted the status quo, and individuals turned to the companies they trust for answers.

All that combines to elevate the importance of content marketing once again. (Seventy-one percent of marketers say B2B content marketing has risen in importance since last year.) At the same time, spending on paid content distribution channels declined, and brands look to organic and less expensive ways like SEO to inform and ensure their content performs.

Marketers are spending less on paid distribution and looking to organic distribution like #SEO to boost their #content’s performance, says @jimyu via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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In 2023, marketers must balance their SEO and content best practices. Here are five ways to do that.

1. Balance keyword research with understanding consumer intent

Do not miss out on understanding intent. Keyword intent falls into the following categories:

  • Awareness: informational and navigation; non-commercial and non-transactional; What is XYZ?
  • Research and discovery: oriented on a call to action or implied conversion; XYZ v. ABC
  • Purchase: explicit intent to complete a conversion action; transactional; buy XYZ

The nuances of the meaning behind a keyword are evaluated by looking at existing results, seasonality, and location.

Always include intent in interpreting keyword research, says @jimyu via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

For example, an information-intent phrase would be “what is the best laptop.” In the discovery/consideration phrases, the search term is “MacBook Air 2022 review,” and the transactional intent phrase is “Buy MacBook Air.”

Planning and creating content that speaks directly to intent requires understanding what people search for and why:

  • Use real-time search insights to better understand the intent of your prospects today.
  • Find halting points, information gaps, and other intent-based keyword opportunities that currently disrupt the customer journey.
  • Create content that effectively addresses each searcher’s purpose. Use intent, subject, keyword, and competition research.

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2. Balance data-driven insights with content creation and creative

The volume of data quadrupled between 2015 and 2020 and is expected to triple again by 2025. Given that, the days of manually tracking and evaluating all the buyers’ touchpoints and interactions are long gone.

Unfortunately, 61% of marketers say their organization hasn’t acquired the right technology or isn’t using the technology they have to its potential.

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Your approach must:

  • Put in place systems, tools, and personnel – content cultures – to assess data, take appropriate action, and inform content all year.
  • Focus on upskilling staff members or outsource to bolster your team with data-driven creatives.
  • Document effective workflows and processes to make your efforts repeatable and scalable.

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3. Balance content creation and search optimization and the SERPs

It’s not simple to persuade Google that your material is the best response to a pertinent inquiry. This is especially true in its modern era of helpful content.

Start by making sure you adhere to Google’s rules. You also need to pay attention to the numerous alternative results – videos, images, people also ask, quick answers, local three packs, etc. – in addition to the standard blue link listing to rank highly on search engine results pages.

If you only think of search results success in terms of blue link listings, you’re missing out, says @jimyu via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

This chart illustrates that while regular listings still dominate, local three packs, quick answers, people also ask, images, and videos now make up about 25% of SERP.

Image source: BrightEdge research

As we head into 2023, consider more diverse content opportunities by:

  • Examining the SERPs where you want to show up and tailor your content formats that will lead you there.
  • Examining and updating your older content while optimizing for new types of rankings and opportunities.
  • Using the necessary schema markup to ensure that Google fully understands what your content has to offer.
  • Avoiding over-optimizing your content with keywords and actions to just rank.
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4. Balance how you write with what you automate

Creativity and personal connection are more crucial than ever, even though content production and some areas of SEO are increasingly automated.

Without compromising the empathy that helps the best content sink into the hearts of its consumers, clever content marketers make use of the efficiencies and intelligence of machine learning and AI:

  • Use SEO insights to inform your content strategies. Look for data analysts or technology that can automate these insights for you.
  • Make sure you work with experienced and knowledgeable authors and writers.
  • Ensure the technical staff you hire understands the importance of content.
  • Use content automation tools intelligently.

Among the key areas where automation can save time and resources:

  • Identifying duplicate content issues
  • Improving content vocabulary
  • Finding broken links and automating internal linking
  • Addressing website infrastructure issues

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5. Balance what you measure with how you report

Looking at CMI’s latest B2B research report, it’s great to see that 86% of marketers measure website traffic. Evaluating this metric is the No. 1 way to identify where and why your content is doing well or underperforming.

Setting key performance indicators and understanding how each contributes toward conversions is the best way to evaluate performance, particularly for enterprises with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of site pages.

By focusing on metrics, you can more easily report content’s performance to C-suite and other leaders who want to know about the following:

  • Brand reach
  • Engagement
  • Conversions
  • Revenue

Sharing the content data most relevant to the business goals will help you get buy-in for future content marketing budgets.

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Ready for 2023?

Consumer tastes for content are changing due to several variables, including the shifting nature of search and the continued disruption brought on by economic, generational, health, and social change.

While this presents challenges, it also provides an opportunity to go above and beyond what searchers and consumers expect due to this shifting behavior.

The bar has been raised: Mediocre content and poor SEO is no longer acceptable to your audience or Google.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute