Increasing your search engine rankings is not a one-off task. Marketing and branding strategies built around increasing traffic and authority require constant and consistent effort.
If you’re reading this article, you probably already know that content marketing is a primary way to go about increasing your search engine rankings. As relative marketing and branding strategies go, DemandMetric says that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional B2B marketing and can generate 3X as many leads.
Building out content can be overwhelming. What keywords should you use? How does your content work together? What content will be shared the most? How long should your content be? What should you write about? How do you get your content found by your users?
Phew! So many questions.
First things first, start by looking at your brand development strategy. It should reflect a number of things. Primarily your goals, who your customers are, what search terms they’re using (when searching for companies like yours in Google), and how to organize the information so customers can find it.
Once those questions are answered and you’re armed with your brand development strategy, begin grouping your content into topic clusters. These topic clusters will act as your “pillar pages” or “skyscraper” content. Being your most in-depth pages. They’re the ones you want to show up at the top of Google SERPs.
So what’s the right recipe for creating better content and increasing your search engine rankings? Let’s take it from the top.
1. Map out your topic clusters.
First, let’s get one thing straight. What is (or should be) a key component of all marketing and branding strategies? CONTENT. We can’t stress this one enough. You need to create and promote content that’s more valuable than anything else out there.
And you need to map and organize that valuable content into topic clusters.
Here’s what a mapped-out topic cluster looks like:
The easiest way to map out topic clusters is by drawing a mind map. It’ll get all of the ideas out of your head so you can group them into clusters. Brainstorm different questions, topics, services & products that are in line with your brand strategy. Then cluster them logically, shooting for 3-5 main topic ideas that represent what your website is about.
Here’s an example to help guide you. Our website—really our agency as a whole—focuses on the subject of “b2b marketing.”
Our main topic clusters
- Brand Development
- Digital marketing
- Strategic Planning
From here, we dive into keyword research. We strive to find significant search volume for these core topics. We then collect and generate a list of 10-40 keywords around each topic cluster. Then, we break the core topics down into supporting content.
Here’s how our topic clusters shake out:
- Branding process
- Website design
- Growth driven design
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- PPC (Pay Per Click)
- Social Media Marketing
- Strategic planning template
- Strategy workshops
- QUAD Model
See how easily core topics break down into subtopics? The idea here is to take a core topic and build a comprehensive, or “skyscraper,” web page around it.
It’s true that there’s no exact, predetermined content length to gun for across the board. But one thing we do know is that, in order to be effective, marketing and branding strategies must be tied to goals. So where and how do goals and content length cross paths?
Well, with the goal of increasing your search engine rankings, we can say for sure that 1,500-4,000 words will include a ton of keywords and cover a wide range of subtopics. And again, in the end, always aim to produce content that’s superior to what already exists when you search for the core topic keyword.
2. Support the core.
Your core topic is exactly that: the “core.” It’s authoritative. Supporting content can take the form of a wide range of media and should always point back to the core. In terms of increasing search engine rankings, you want to be very deliberate in letting Google know that your core content topics are the most important sections of your site.
So what’s your supporting content? Great question!
Supporting content could be shorter blog posts that aren’t as in-depth. It could also be infographics, videos, podcasts & other digital media. Supportive pieces should target long-tail keywords and always, always, always point to your “pillar” content.
Now we’re getting deeper into what works to strengthen and solidify marketing and branding strategies. The next step can be tricky, but it’s crucial for increasing ranks, gaining topic authority and trust & outgunning your competition.
3. Get backlinks.
Getting high-quality backlinks is a critical part of all solid marketing and branding strategies, period. This is one of many digital marketing tactics that will absolutely lend to increasing your search engine rankings. After all, backlinks are one of the 200 key factors that Google looks for with their search algorithm.
According to Google, backlinks must have two things: quality AND quantity. A large number of high-quality backlinks is ideal.
Understand quality vs quantity.
What makes a backlink high quality?
In a perfect world, you’d have a pile of .gov and .edu websites pointing to your site. These particular links are often the most valuable because they carry weight. Government and educational websites are vetted sources; typically, it’s super difficult to get backlinks from them.
So if you can grab some up, great!
Next would be quality .com links from popular websites. Ideally, these popular websites will share your same subject matter. A link buried on your site that’s hardly visited and outside of your market yields little to no ranking value.
Oh, and don’t buy links. Just don’t. Most of the time, they’re total crap. Worse, they could harm your ranking.
Know what you’re up against.
There are a handful of tools out there to help you determine how many backlinks your competitors have. These tools also offer insight into how difficult it’ll be to get the same or similar backlinks. You can even get an idea of how many backlinks you’d need to outrank your competition for specific keywords.
Leverage the power of these tools. They can help improve your website and your business in half the time.
Here are a few:
What a backlink points to is important.
When you’re able to secure a backlink to your site, make sure it points to more than just your homepage. Pushing power to other pages on your site will help boost additional pages. This, in turn, will promote increases in your search engine rankings.
The anchor text of the backlink also makes a difference. Anchor text is the actual words that are linked on a page. In the example of our agency, “click here” anchor text doesn’t hold nearly the same value as “B2B marketing agency.”
4. Funnel your traffic to an action.
Ok, so you’ve been working hard and are finally increasing your search engine rankings.
You have real, measurable traffic coming to your site. So… now what? What’s the next step? While there are many marketing and branding strategies built around increasing traffic in particular, our process rounds off with compelling that traffic to convert. Our ultimate goal is to convert visitors to buyers.
You should strive for your website to function beyond being a brochure on the internet. For that to happen, it’s essential that you create a clear funnel for conversions.
A conversion page is designed to do one thing: convert leads. Sounds simple, right? In reality, it’s as much an art as it is a science. By getting into the heads of your customers, you can identify where they are in the buying cycle.
- Nurture the conversation
- Utilize helpful customer relationship management (CRM) tools
- Create value for your audience
- Appeal to your target audience through strategic messaging
- Compel further action and turn views into clicks and conversations
5. Measure and learn from your efforts.
Truth is, not all marketing and branding strategies are created equal. Some tactics work better than others. Some need to be tweaked in order to reach their full potential. Still, others need to be adapted as your audience evolves.
Marketing, in particular, is a cause and effect methodology. Defining and measuring marketing and branding efforts and their collective impact is critical for long-term business growth.
But given all the different marketing and branding strategies out there, how do you know if the path you’re on is working?
First and foremost, you can determine it by seeing your Google search rankings increase. You can also measure key data:
- The conversion rate on your core topic pages
- Traffic to those pages
- Backlinks to those pages
- Backlinks from reputable sources
By tracking and measuring this data in relation to your KPI’s, you can further direct and refine your content marketing strategy over time. The value of integrating content into your marketing and branding strategy is huge. You can establish long-term customer relationships, brand loyalty, increase traffic & more.
With over 90% of B2B businesses taking advantage of the power of content marketing, the importance of strong content is more apparent than ever. Without it, you’re losing SEO opportunities. You’re also missing out on business.
Customer-centric content marketing and branding that actually works is a reality. What it’s not is a one-off project. Marketing and branding strategies have to be monitored, tested & tweaked. Most importantly, you have to learn from them and plan accordingly as you move the needle forward.
If you still have questions about marketing and branding strategies to increase your SERP rankings, we can help.
Without a doubt, you can increase your search engine rankings to the first position across a multitude of desired keywords. You do it by creating quality content that users are looking for and delivering it in a clear and compelling way. This is at the heart of all viable marketing and branding campaigns.
The overall strategy—including strategic implementation—is what gets you to where you want to be. If your strategy lacks clarity or feels less than solid, contact us.
We’re ready to get to work. Are You?