Senior SEO users: What's your process for planning SEO content?
Context \- I am trying to put together a rough process that the mid to senior-level SEO users in my team can use plan content and produce content briefs that can be executed by our content team.
The Question \- What are the tools you use to plan perfectly relevant content? and what does your process look like?
I'm talking 'bout:
👉 Google Natural Language Processing (NLP)
👉 Semantic Entity Analysis
👉 LDA Content Modelling
👉 Using Wikipedia/Wikidata to dissect entities and their relationships
👉 "Keyword Density" Optimisation and TF/IDF (I know, ickk)
👉 Analysis using Knowledge Graph Search Application Programming Interface (API)
👉 Content Models
There are some notable tools out there: Surfer SEO, ClearScope, Frase, AlsoAsked, Answer The Public, inLinks, nTopic, Siteimprove, BrightEdge, etc.
PS: Please restore my faith in SEO subs. Let's get some high-level discussions going. "Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)" is a dirty word, use it carefully.
Edit: Added more info to question.
Planning wise, I haven't used any of the things you mention above tbh.
https://twitter.com/KorayGuburmight have an answer on the how to implement these topics structurally.
Working both in-house as in agency, I have always found that having a 2 sprint deliveries per month works well, where the start and end of a project can be 1-6 weeks. With a big ecommerce site, plan out categories to run through the ringer. Smaller sites I would put a big focus on updating current pages regularly and doing detailed Search Engine Result Page (SERP) comparative research. See if you can expand on answering triplets etc. Google Search Console (GSC) combined with Data Studio, SEMrush, Ahrefs , ScreamingFrog and perhaps Keyword Minion for topic clustering are my main used tools.
Depending on your team structure, creating very detailed content SEO briefings is imperative, but I have always found that training your content writers in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is even better. Working of a briefing is much less motivating than working of gems you have discovered yourself. So involving content writers in the discovery process is always something I try to so as much as possible.
I'm going to try out some new affiliate projects this year for which I also want want use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) for content. But honestly haven't even used Jasper so far.
If anybody has any input on AI NLP tools, I am also all ears. For now I was planning to work with Jasper and Frase.io for textwriting, while using this free NLP python script to collect entities and topics (https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1PI6JBn06i3xNUdEuHZ9xKPG3oSRi1AUmusp=sharing)
So yeah, feeling generous today, here is my process:
Talk to Business, Customers and Market
Here, you wanna know what performance metrics matters, what value your customers are looking for and what trends are driving your business.
Create a big Keywords List
I use SEMrush but anything works. Look at existing ranking, competitors (both true and content competitors), and explore as you go to discover more keywords.
Use a Clustering Tool
I use KeywordsInsights which is amazing and not that costly. Nothing much to be said here
Refine the Clusters
I'll add 4 columns to the clusters: SEO, Business, Customers, Market. And score them between 0 to 10 for each. And then a fifth column with the total average.
Plan Content priorities
From there, choose what clusters you wanna focus on. Don't just look at your scores, but use them as a base for exploration.
Validate with Business and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME)s
Once you've chosen the topics, before going further, have a validation round with stakeholders and subject matter experts. Who it is depend on the organization.
Create Content briefs
When everything is ready, create detailed Content Briefs. I use Frase for that! Put a lot of useful informations in that: search intent, what to talk about, what structure for each piece of content…
Congratz, you now have a full SEO Content Strategy and you are ready to send briefs to writers.
If you wanna go further, some things are left to do: how to track performance, how to distribute this content (social, email, ads, Public Relations (PR)…), what additional content to create (infographics, videos…) and how to iterate (how to analyze and move the strategy and planning).
Can you explain those 4 columns in more detail? I'm guessing
👉 SEO – SERP competitiveness?
👉 Business – relevance to sales (expected conversion rate)?
👉 Customers -? Funnel stage?
👉 Market – is it trending?
I usually do SEO by hand if I don't have tooooo many clusters.
If you want to automate that, it's possible but there is no perfect solution. I'd do something like that:
SearchVolume * Click Potential * (100 – Keyword Difficulty) = Number
And then, I'd just rank the clusters from this number, where Highest = Better. It is clearly not perfect and you need to iterate to find the good maths.
For the 3 others, I'll just copy/paste an extract of the article I'm currently writing on the topic:
👉 10, this is an absolute priority. All the customers/stakeholder/market reports talk about this.
👉 6, this is something that popped up during our discussions, but not enough to be a 10. It's a secondary priority for most of the people you talked with.
👉 3, this sometimes gets talked about but rarely. Might become interesting in the future but is nowhere near consideration today.
👉 0, this is completely out of focus and no one mentioned that at all during the discussions/market analysis
But how are the "customers" and "market" columns different
For "Customers", it's your existing customers.
For "Market", it can be several things:
👉 Potential customers
👉 External Market research (like Gartner reports, Forrester study etc…)
👉 Internal Market research (if you happen to have a team doing that in-house)
I agree those can be close, but it can also be different, as sometimes existing customers and market evolution might have different focus.
I've been doing this for quite a while and your post is "extra". Meaning, first and foremost, understanding your audience and their search intent should always be paramount. Reinforcing your sites E.A.T. signals, (if relevant,) is also at the top of the list. Competitor analysis can be done in a myriad of ways- SERP reviews, tools like SEMrush, AHREF's, etc can also help. Personally, Google trends has been helpful too, (again- depending on your industry.)
ETA: My content briefs are simple- target keyword's and their volume, optimized meta data, optimized page heds and subheads, and so on.
Here is my high level process, working in an enterprise with many different products, target groups and locales.
We do this in EN and focus on non-brand keywords only.
👉 Define Personas: who is your perfect customer, age, education level, B2B or B2C, how many people are involved in the decision process (often many in B2B), what are their motivations etc.
👉 Brainstorm: get colleagues from all relevant fields together for 2h, like from product management, R&D/lab, field sales, customer service, digital marketing. Have all the relevant brochures, flyers, presentations handy. Think about generic names for your product, how they are used, what problems they solve, what solution they provide, etc.
👉 Own data: do we have similar researches done before, what are current organic rankings, which keywords are active for paid search campaigns Uand how do they perform?), what is used on our internal website search?
👉 Competitor data: use previous collected keywords as seed lists to find similar sites and their other rankings.
👉 Collect similar keywords, questions, suggestions etc.
👉 Add keyword volume and average Cost Per Click (CPC), calculate a relative "economic value" for each keyword by SV*CPC
👉 Cluster keywords into topics by first leveraging the Google algorithm (basically put keywords that have a high overlap in same URLs ranking for them into one group), then rework and refine the clusters using common sense, product know-how and SEO experience. Then prioritise these clusters by economic value and business priority (how valuable is someone who is searching for that specific topic based on our portfolio, margins, competitiveness etc, what's the demand and what are others paying for this type of traffic). Define relative keyword relevances within the cluster.
👉 Create a logical and relevant information architecture based on the topics. Determine whether you need one, two or four levels, a product catalog, a knowledge hub, both or whatever fits best. Define important elements per page and what the one clear Call to Action (CTA) for each topic/page will be.
👉 Split the IA into content creation flights and build out a roadmap for these. Already localise all target keywords into needed languages, still keeping their topic mapping.
10 – Repeat flights) Brief, content creation, content UAT, translation, translation review, inject localised keywords into the translated content, build out pages, technical Quality Assurance (QA), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) QA, page UAT, publish.
Finally, measure and optimise constantly and learn from failures and wins to make the next project even better. Share knowledge, best practices and success with each other.
Interested in learning more from OP and others about their approaches. We are not at that stage yet where we look at much of the stuff OP has mentioned. Are there examples of embedding these into the process and with which results? How do you use them?
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