Content marketing can unlock opportunities to attract and engage key customers, while providing the authentic, valuable raw material that Google rewards with rankings.
Building a content plan that lines up with the specific goals and audiences is a powerful approach and ensures that the strategy is grounded in purpose.
We spoke to Yael Klass, Senior Director of Global Content & Social Media at Similarweb to find out more about how content and SEO can complement each other, the role of storytelling in marketing and how to create content based on creativity and authenticity.
1. How do you feel the role of content is changing in SEO, if at all? Any reasons for your answer?
What many years ago was divided by the more creative and the more technical is now blending together. Impactful content creators not only know how to incorporate SEO practices into their writing but also can run basic SEO research, at a minimum.
For SEO, I think content is becoming more of a partner than just a vehicle. Moreover, as we see ongoing optimization of high-performing evergreen content as a key content strategy, SEO and content must work together to identify the high-potential assets and run optimization in unison.
2. For companies with many products and services, what are the essential elements of an effective content strategy in SEO terms?
For companies with a significant product suite covering numerous verticals, it’s essential to be razor-focused on your core audience and build meaningful pillar content around the most relevant keywords that align with your unique value proposition.
It’s easy to get sidelined by brand terms or prioritize keywords based namely on search volume, but with so many areas to cover I’d recommend going farther down the funnel.
After that mapping has been done, you’ll need to find the high-impact crossover between audiences and areas that your brand can build out into each cluster, including numerous articles focused on the long tail keywords.
3. Do larger companies have an easier time when it comes to taking advantage of SEO opportunities, or are there areas where challenger brands have the upper hand?
The competition is not about the size of the company but rather the experts in the field that you have in-house to create the content. More and more Google can identify if the content is authentic and that real thought-leadership is being delivered.
For example, we chose to build out a content team that includes writers who have worked in that particular field and are specialists of their domain - not just exceptional writers.
We also hired industry consultants who both support our product division as well as our writers, to ensure we are constantly up-to-date on the trends in the fields they cover.
While smaller companies with a more niche product offering may have fewer keywords to cover in order to grab their core audience, the challenge for smaller companies, as opposed to larger companies, is they have fewer expert resources to establish themselves as authorities.
4. Do you welcome or worry about new Google updates? Why?
You think I’m going to speak unkindly of Google? *Shhhh they can hear you*
5. With Google raising plans to dynamically rewrite title tags and the like, do you feel SEO and content experts should push back?
I do, yes. This is moving content too far into AI and does a significant disservice to the creative work of brand, marketing, and storytelling. It also levels the playing field in a way that I don’t consider positive.
There must be some value to creating content humans want to read and write for humans, not just robots. But, after all, I’m not the head of SEO, I’m the head of content.
6. What are the best tools for marketers to measure the performance or reach of their content?
Of course, Google Analytics is key. I have used tools such as Clearscope and MarketMuse to assess the quality of our content in order to create objective scoring, as well as to identify areas we are falling just short of success.
In addition, I’d be remiss not to mention Similarweb. We use Similarweb daily to monitor our organic and paid competitors and review top ads.
With Similarweb, we can also conduct in-depth keyword research including generating new keywords for content planning, discover keyword gaps, and drill down into keywords by season and industry.
All of this data allows us to develop thorough publishing plans and comprehensive editorial calendars.
7. Is there such a thing as intrinsically 'linkable' content? Are some brands better positioned than others to organically earn links?
The best place to start is by writing something you’d want to read. Focus on how you write the article, not just what you’re writing. If you’re working of a brief, especially one incorporating SEO requirements, chances are there’s been a version of your content written before.
Ask yourself: What makes you unique? How can you write in a way that makes it a pleasure to consume? Things that make content likable are being eye-level, skimmable, including visual content, providing action steps, and ensuring the topic is covered in full. Focusing on creating high-value content that offers a positive user experience will position you well overall.
8. What do you feel will be the major content trends for brands in competitive niches in 2022? Will any specific industries be doing things differently?
Trends come and go. I say, focus on what works for your specific company. Discover what your customers consumed as prospects and reverse engineer it.
Beyond that, content is no longer just copy. It’s the whole package. Make sure you’re working closely with your SEO, designer, and ideally creating video collateral to round out your story.
It’s easy to get bogged down with all of the technical elements of content marketing, and it’s essential to have that checklist ready and available when building out your content. But if it reads like a robot wrote it, then give your job to the robots.
The only real power a brand has is the human experience. With more and more automation, keep your personality and let your personality shine through to stand out in a crowd.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to a young person looking for a career in content or SEO, what would it be?
Read read read. Find a content crush, or ten. Give yourself tasks like rewriting copy you’re not digging and see if you can make it better, cleaner, and easier to digest.
At the end of the day, we are creatives. We love sharing our know-how and it can all be found on the internet if you take the time to look and study.
Case studies on content marketing and tool tutorials are a great place to start. Then offer your services as a guest author in industries you want to break into to build out your portfolio.
In this interview, Yael touched upon significant subjects such as the need of aligning keywords with the unique value proposition of a company, building content based on core audiences and showing brand’s personality. As Yael rightly stated, ‘the only real power a brand has is the human experience’.
Google updates and SEO strategies have historically placed some limits on how content is constructed, impacting creativity and freedom of storytelling due to having to ‘write for search’ rather than for humans.
With E-A-T and successive Google updates, this has flipped – and authentic, reader-focused content is more important than ever. The best content markets go beyond SEO to deliver integrated content strategies that support ranking growth, but also a wide range of other marketing disciplines.
We can see that increasingly there is a need for a holistic, integrated, and goal-driven approach to content marketing.
To achieve such sophisticated integration content marketers, closely collaborate with other industry experts, creating user-friendly, high-value content that’s easily readable and captures people’s attention.
Yael illustrated how Similarweb have achieved significant results by having internal and external experts collaborate on specialist content, while also building a seriously talented in-house team.
At ICS-digital we take a similar approach to maximise value for our clients, working hand-in-hand with their internal teams on global content projects, along with many other service areas.
We work closely with industry experts, as we recognise the importance of delivering valuable and trustworthy content, that achieves powerful results for businesses.
If you are looking for an agency that delivers integrated content strategies on an international scale, get in touch!