What worked once doesn’t always work again. It happens!
For the last decade-plus, many complex B2B companies have counted on search engine optimized content to drive organic traffic (and leads) to their websites. But as search engine algorithms have evolved, and the number of companies competing for search traffic have grown exponentially, it’s become more and more difficult to rank organically.
According to research from Content Marketing Institute, 62% of survey respondents cited creating content that appeals to different stages of the buyer’s journey as a major challenge.1 And that was just one difficulty, with achieving consistency with messaging and differentiating their products from the competition among other notable challenges in the report.1
At the same time, companies who’ve only recently jumped on the inbound marketing train often only consider brand awareness or product-focused keywords as a means of attracting visitors.
Creating helpful content that aligns with the buyer’s journey as well as content that goes beyond simple products and brand awareness is possible with a complete SEO content strategy in play.
So, how can complex industries leverage a modern SEO-driven content strategy to make successful gains in organic traffic?
Four Buckets of Content Keywords & Topics
A modern SEO strategy should be developed around four main areas of focus, or “buckets,” that in turn drive the content you create — including web pages, blog posts, advanced content, and more.
Those four buckets are:
- Brand Awareness
- Lead Generation
- Thought Leadership
- Purpose-Driven / Authority Building
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these entails.
Brand awareness is the SEO “bucket” that’s most familiar to digital marketers. This is content that seeks to introduce people to your brand — your company and products — by making your website appear high in search results when prospects are searching for similar products and services. The primary goal of brand awareness content is to generate traffic, and in a sense it’s going after the low-hanging fruit with certain target keywords.
This is where a lot of product-focused keyword research comes into play. If you’re selling reams of paper to other businesses, you’ll dig into what those businesses are looking for in their paper products to see what keywords are coming up in searches and conversations. From there, you can develop content using those keywords to draw attention to your business as one with its hat in the ring and build up steam with organic traffic.
It’s a great place to start, but it’s only the foundation of good SEO-driven content, not the whole structure.
Lead generation SEO is the “bucket” of content that should be developed with high-quality traffic in mind — targeting specific personas and their challenges outside of your brand awareness (products/solutions) keywords. There are two components to this bucket that we’ll break down:
- Top-of-the-funnel content — This is the content that you generally wouldn't think to create when approaching your topics from a Brand Awareness perspective. It's looking at your specific personas and thinking about their interests and problems holistically, not just with a focus on the elements that are directly related to what you sell/provide. In essence, it's creating hyper-targeted content that you know matters to your qualified audience, regardless of search volume for keywords that may be related.
Here’s an example: a manufacturer of structures built with shipping containers writes Brand Awareness content focused on keywords around shipping containers, which are high volume and bring a lot of traffic — and help with domain authority — but a lot of that traffic is never going to be a customer. Their Lead Gen content then focuses very specifically on one persona within a specific industry because we know someone who is interested in that topic would benefit from our offering. A great example of this type of topic is “X Pro Tips for Perfect Construction Site Prep” — our persona cares about this, but our offering doesn't have a direct solution for prepping a construction site.
- Once that qualified persona is on your site, you also need to have highly relevant middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content and conversion offers to keep them around and encourage them to start a relationship with you. These are the “bottom line” or “brass tacks” pieces of content, created for the visitor who’s genuinely seeking out a transaction and is actually qualified to buy or request more info on a product or service (rather than simply getting to know you).
Keeping your buyer’s journey in mind throughout the content development process will help you create these offers. There should be a synergy between the top-of-funnel content you created to draw that persona in and these middle- and bottom-of-funnel offers. Since this advanced content drills deeper into what a visitor is going after, you’ll want to think of which of your personas you’re specifically targeting in the top-of-funnel content and present a call-to-action for a next step conversion offer based on their buyer’s journey.
Thought leadership content isn’t necessarily meant to attract all kinds of organic traffic on its own but, instead, to establish the company as an expert in its field. It may end up ranking for certain keywords anyway, but the real objective here is generating buzz on social media and snatching up backlinks.
Publishing thought leadership content is a great opportunity to differentiate your company from your competition. Demonstrating market awareness and discussing current trends in your space can set your brand up as a leader within even the most competitive industries.
Purpose-Driven / Authority Building
The key to content meant to drive purpose and build authority is expression. This is where you can tell your story, explain your mission, and explain why you believe in what you’re offering. Authenticity here is vital, as visitors and customers will see right through anything less. This kind of content helps you connect with like minds and gain backlinks, which positively affects your SEO.
Content topics under this umbrella can also discuss social causes or charitable work a company has done, as this is an important part of many brands.
The other key factor here is that it opens up a whole second SEO landscape you can strategize around. In writing about sustainability, for example, you can rank for those topical keywords and become an authority on this tangential subject, in addition to whatever main product-related topic clusters you're going after. It's like an entire bonus SEO strategy with twice the opportunity!
Learn More: 7 Free SEO Tools for Website Improvement
Tying it All Together
Taking all four of these aspects of SEO-driven content creation into consideration can bring your SEO strategies and achievements to a new level. If you’ve found yourself losing ground in terms of traffic or viable leads, review your SEO strategy and incorporate these four key areas into the mix.
With SEO being an ever-evolving beast, finding the right strategy can be tough. Between Google’s frequently updated algorithms, changes in people’s searching habits, and everything in between, getting SEO just right takes flexibility and understanding.
We’re here to help! Check out our on-demand webinar, Demystifying Search Engine Optimization. In this free webinar, Frank Isca of Weidert Group (hey, that’s us!), discusses how modern search engine optimization works, where businesses should focus to improve their SEO, actionable tips, and more. Just click to access your free recording today!
1Content Marketing Institute, 3 Top Content Marketing Challenges in Manufacturing [New Research], November 16, 2022