The constraints of achieving an effective Strategy
Creating an effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) content strategy can often prove challenging for a number of SME or small business operations. There are many barriers to the creation of a thorough and effective strategy and as such, the temptation is just to plough on, this, effectively creating a situation where budget is being wasted in the content creation. This content without an effective strategy is likely to be mis-aligned to the purpose and therefore not achieving the desired results. This is a costly cycle to get into and one that an SEO content strategy can help avoid, and when implemented correctly, will ensure your budgets and human resources are effectively employed in improving your real business performance, digital visibility and engagement.
Barriers to creating a SEO content strategy document
1. Limited Time for Strategy Creation:
Many Marketing Managers or website owners are pressed for time. How does this affect strategy creation?
Time constraints often lead to a rushed approach, skipping crucial steps like Brand storytelling and ethos, in-depth keyword research and audience profiling.
Try factoring in or scheduling monthly or quarterly reporting days – allowing the time to assess, evaluate, and continually monitor a key and pre-defined set of KPIs or objectives to gain more valuable insight.
The pressure for quick wins can lead to a focus on short-term tactics rather than a holistic, long-term strategy. Educate stakeholders about the time it takes for SEO efforts to yield results. Emphasise the importance of a sustainable, well-planned strategy for lasting success.
The rush for results might lead to a lack of comprehensive documentation, making it challenging to track and adjust strategies over time. This can be best addressed by looking at the Analytics of engagement over a period of 6-12 months and a period of 5 years. By looking at engagement levels both on-site and on social and comparing social accounts of competitors with your own, you will be able to identify if you are stuck on the treadmill just posting content. The key here is to distinguish how much harder your existing budget and resources could be working if the strategy was more aligned to purpose, your prospective customers, and client retention factors.
3. Skills Gaps and Constraints in Strategy Creation:
Without the right knowledge, there’s a risk of making decisions that may not align with best practices, potentially harming the website’s performance, additionally, the time it takes to analyse and define the performance and content strategies required may not be the best use of in-house resources if they do not have specialist skills in reporting and extracting actionable insights. This is further compounded if the expertise in campaign creation, content ideation, SEO and user behaviours is weak.
The best way to combat a skills shortage is to consider training in-house teams or hiring external experts for strategic guidance. Collaborate with professionals to ensure the strategy is well-informed and effective. Consider hiring a Marketing Manager or building out the marketing team or perhaps look at employing a consultant or freelancer, consider an SEO audit, employing a per-project freelancer for Quarterly reporting and performance setting, or alternatively, have them as a permanent but part-time addition to the team. Other options are to approach agencies, however, this can often be high initial and monthly cost due to the number of professionals and experts collaboratively working on your project strategy and delivery, you should however, benefit long-term from the improved performance achieved.
4. Limited Budgets for Marketing.
Closely related to point 3, having tight or limited budgets for marketing, often further exacerbate scenarios 2-3. A desire to increase performance quickly and skipping the essential planning steps can lead to a perpetual cycle of catch-up and this can be further amplified by choosing to advertise and recruit positions at lower salaries, therefore attracting less skilled individuals.
The UK marketing budgets of a SME tend to vary between 2% and 25% of annual turnover, in terms of what is a sensible budget, much of that will depend on whether the company is experiencing a natural state of growth, decline or performance change. If you are evaluating previous years budgets and wanting to reverse a downward trend, then it would be wise to allocate the budget into researching the performance trends experienced and attributing a reason and combative strategy to reverse the decline. Competitor analysis, engagement, site conversion rates, UGC and cart abandonment rates alongside repeat customer and new user information can allow you to build an accurate picture of the current time and set performance targets and assign marketing budgets that will help you to achieve growth in real-terms.
Marketing Budgets of the UK SME in 2022-2023
Towards the end of 2022 there was a survey completed of 1000 senior Marketing professionals in the UK. The survey was designed to gather some insight into the Marketing behaviours for 2023.
63% of those professionals expressed the biggest challenge as knowing how to attribute spend per channel, with 25% of them saying it was difficult to understand how to measure the performance of each channel.
In addition, 61% believed the key to success was having a clear strategy in place. 10% were recorded saying that they do not have a clear strategy in place.
63% also advised they were planning to grow their marketing teams in 2023.
According to Statistica, a Q2 report of 2023 recorded that just over 6% of marketers in the UK increased their overall annual marketing budgets, this spend went to sales promotion, the biggest reduction in spend was on market research budgets.
Source: Statista Research Department
Documentation is the roadmap for success. It helps in tracking what works, and what doesn’t, and making informed adjustments. It’s an investment in long-term success. Balancing the demands of time, results, budget, and expertise can be challenging. It’s crucial to communicate the importance of a well-thought-out SEO content strategy for sustainable growth, even in the face of immediate result expectations and resource constraints.
The workflow of implementing a SEO content strategy
Creating an effective SEO content strategy is crucial for improving your website’s visibility in search engine results and attracting organic traffic. Here’s a list of workflow tasks to develop a successful SEO content strategy
- Business and Brand Objectives
Define ethos, brand values, tone of voice, USPs and owned channel purpose
Define events and CTAs that indicate highly engaged users
Define conversion events
Analyse Site content performance and structure including traffic figures of each page and existing keywords. Want to know how to do this? Content Planning with the SEO Colour Wheel
- Persona creation and audience profiles:
Define key and hero profiles.
Define their challenges, desires, and interests.
Document their sources for learning and acquiring the knowledge or inspiration to make a purchase or follow.
Document their sales journey.
- Keyword Research:
Identify relevant keywords related to your business or niche.
Utilise keyword research tools to find high-volume and low-competition keywords.
Focus on long-tail keywords for more precise targeting.
- Define Your Audience and their Needs:
Know your audience and potential audience and create buyer personas and hero personas.
Understand their needs, preferences, and the language they use.
Tailor your content to provide value and address their pain points.
- Content Planning:
Develop a content calendar to organise your publishing schedule.
Plan a mix of content types, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, and more.
Align content with your business goals and seasonal trends.
- On-Page SEO:
Optimise title tags, meta descriptions, and headers with target keywords.
Ensure content is well-structured with the proper use of headings (H1, H2, etc.).
Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs.
- Quality Content Creation:
Prioritise high-quality, valuable, and engaging content.
Solve problems or answer questions that your target audience may have.
Incorporate multimedia elements like images, infographics, and videos.
- Mobile Optimization:
Ensure your website and content are mobile-friendly for a better user experience.
Optimise images and use responsive design to accommodate various devices.
- Internal and External Linking:
Include internal links to connect related content within your website.
Run a backlink checker or audit to assess the backlink profile of your site.
Build external outreach backlinks through outreach, partnerships, and guest posting.
Link to authoritative sources to enhance credibility.
- Social Media Integration:
Share your content on social media platforms to increase visibility.
Encourage social sharing by including share buttons and compelling CTAs.
Leverage social media for community engagement and brand building.
- Monitoring and Analysis:
Use analytics tools to track the performance of your content.
Monitor keyword rankings, organic traffic, and user engagement.
Make data-driven adjustments to optimise your strategy over time.
- Stay Updated with SEO Trends:
Stay informed about the latest search engine algorithms and updates.
Adapt your strategy to changes in SEO best practices.
Explore new content formats and emerging trends.
- User Experience (UX):
Prioritise a positive user experience with a clean, easy-to-navigate design.
Optimise page load speed for both desktop and mobile users.
Increase engagement rates by providing relevant and valuable content aligned with your business and brand strategy.
- Local SEO:
Optimise your content for local search if applicable to your business.
Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing.
Encourage customer reviews and testimonials.
By incorporating these elements into your SEO content strategy, you’ll be better positioned to improve your website’s search engine rankings and attract a targeted audience. Remember that SEO is an ongoing process, so regularly assess and refine your strategy based on performance metrics and industry changes.
Author: Annie Veale
Bio: A professional freelancer based in the UK, specialising in SEO and WordPress development. Annie has worked for more than 20 years both client-side and within agencies, offering a mix of digital marketing services.
Additionally, throughout this period she has successfully launched several new projects online and developed leading resources providing interactive guides and tools.
Currently, she is launching a site called build-links.club – a networking and backlinks tool and working on data visualisation techniques for the purpose of growth marketing and measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns.