Content marketing is growing at an impressive rate of 32%, and expected to reach $50 billion in digital by 2021, starting from $12.8 billion last year, according to research from Polar. It's no surprise that content-based advertising is expected to take almost 14% of the digital ad market by 2021.

While content can support all parts of the buyer's journey, the bulk of the digital content ad spend is centered around programs tied to upper-funnel brand objectives such as awareness and consideration. If your goal is to be on your customers' radar, SEO will undoubtedly be high on your list of content marketing objectives, since consumers across the board research online before making decisions about who they want to work with and what they want to buy.

B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch interviewed 300 expert and advanced B2B and B2C content marketers in the US and, unsurprisingly, found that 79% create content to increase their company's visibility either overall or in search engines. In fact, 30% of companies say ranking higher in search engines is one of their primary content marketing goals, surpassed only by brand awareness (49%). The trick, of course, is optimizing your content for search and discovery.

As Clutch wisely points out in its new Guide to Content Marketing for SEO, just getting out there and creating content is not a strategy. "You'll probably end up with a lot of articles that never get read. They'll just disappear into the Internet." That's definitely not what any marketer wants to happen to their content marketing investment.

So, based upon Clutch's Guide, here are three tips for creating content that accomplishes your SEO objectives:

1. Quality matters as much, if not more, than quantity.

The majority of content marketers surveyed (89%) said that the amount of content they produce is important to the overall success of their company's content marketing. However, as one respondent pointed out, consumers are flooded with content. Ultimately, the way to stand out is to produce content that is worth reading, both in quality of production, but also in terms of serving your specific audience's needs.

Aligning content creation with those consumers' desires, demands and expectations is the best way to rise to the top. It is also important to be a regular part of their content consumption diet, so a publication schedule that aligns with customers' expectations ensures that you'll be there when they need what you have to offer.

2. All content is not created equal.

Clutch found that companies focusing on brand awareness are most likely to create infographics (19%) and product reviews (18%), while those pursuing SEO and lead generation prioritize research/original data (21%) and infographics (14%). Interestingly, while infographics may be a darling of marketers, they are not nearly as appealing to consumers.

For SEO, focus on content formats that earn links, like long-form, research-based articles, opinion-forming features, or comprehensive why and list posts because they provide more depth for search (and readers, which will help you achieve tip three). In terms of Google's ranking standards, it is important to note that superficial answers will not rank as highly as what Rand Fishkin of Moz calls "10x content"--content that is ten times as good as anything else out there. Your content needs to be trustworthy, useful, interesting, and/or remarkable. However, there are a number of other factors in play including its ability to elicit an emotional response and the user experience in terms of context and consumption.

3. Your content must be comprehensive

The bar for comprehensive content is high. It must anticipate why someone searched for a word or phrase in the first place--the searcher's intent. This is a significant factor because understanding the reasoning behind a searcher's query is essential for SEO, especially as Google increases its emphasis on how effectively a piece of content answers all of a searcher's potential questions. Clutch's Guide offers a formula for comprehensiveness: Audience Intent + Context + So What Factor = Comprehensive Content.

I couldn't agree more. Start with understanding your audience, what they need, how they think about their problems, issues, concerns and desires. Effective content marketing is never about you and what you want to sell; it is always all about the customer.

Context matters a lot. Think about not just what you are saying, but where you choose to deliver what types of content. Yes, your website is terrific and your social following is valuable, but there's a proven halo effect for marketing that is delivered in specific contexts so keep that in mind as you invest in your marketing efforts. And that "so what factor" matters not only in meeting your customers' needs, but also in helping your information stand out in the content deluge we all face every day.

Stay stuff that matters, say it well, and deliver it when and where your customers need it most. That is not just an equation for comprehensive content, it is a formula for content marketing success.

Published on: Feb 27, 2017