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Content remains at the core of successful consumer interactions, engagements, experiences and conversions – especially in a new era of advanced generative AI technologies.
Today, we are looking at a new content landscape. This is where content production is exploding to epic proportions making it harder for content to stand out, be discovered and convert.
Humans and machines must work better together to ensure content is relevant, differentiated, and helpful for the reader.
This also includes balancing SEO and content best practices to ensure that content and sites are optimized for human help rather than robot rankings.
The challenge: Despite the tremendous resources devoted to content creation, much of it could fall flat and fail to engage audiences. This disappoints creators and deprives consumers of experiencing something new, helpful, or meaningful.
The opportunity: Marketers with a strong understanding of SEO and content best practices and the ability to utilize AI for their strategies and tactics – from creation through optimization – will quickly gain a competitive advantage. They can achieve outstanding results by striking the perfect balance between human insight and AI applications.
Content marketing is expected to experience a massive surge in growth, estimated at over $584 billion by 2027.
The use of AI for SEO and content is set to grow 5x this year.
This article will explore content through the SMART goal-setting framework, which stands for:
S: Being specific and answering with speed wins every time
Consumers crave information that is helpful, relevant and delivered at speed.
As a result, today’s content marketers need insights delivered faster than ever, so they have specific insights to power their content.
Content is not about what your marketing team wants to say. It is about providing insight and information that your audience wants to hear and read.
SMART content is designed for a specific audience based on your understanding of their needs, preferences and intent.
1. Understand your audiences and the markets they operate in detail
From keyword and conversational keyword (more on that later) research to understanding the intent of your consumers – where they live, what they’re searching for, when and where in the purchase funnel – and how they interact with your brand on social media.
Knowing who you are writing content for is paramount to creating SMART pieces that serve a real purpose.
How well do you understand the competitive environment in the verticals you’re creating content for? Today, you compete more than ever for attention, eyes and clicks.
Your competitors may be other companies, but you could compete for space in the SERPs against media brands, bloggers, influencers and more.
Without that bigger picture, a bird’s-eye view of relevant search and social spaces, you’re flying blind.
By assessing how your competition is neglecting to address specific topics and identifying those gaps, you can capitalize on creating compelling content which resonates with people in the right way at the opportune time.
2. Understand and embrace generative AI, but also exercise caution
Conversational AI is revolutionizing how marketers interact with their customers for the first time. ChatGPT, Bing and Bard will allow content strategies to reach unprecedented scale.
After only two months of launch, ChatGPT achieved 100 million monthly active users – showing just how powerful these tools can be when implemented correctly in a content marketing strategy.
To ensure your content is engaging and successful, experiment – but do so carefully while considering your current goals.
Exercise caution when relying on Generative AI as a tool. Always make sure that technology has human oversight to prevent unintended consequences.
Finally, remember who it’s being crafted for when crafting content: the reader!
AI usage is set to skyrocket, and experienced content marketers will be responsible for experimenting, selecting, and overseeing its utilization. Ensure you know its limitations and risks.
3. Choose content formats wisely and utilize the images and video
Which media will you incorporate to illustrate your message best, engage your audience and reach people across platforms?
Don’t limit yourself. A single content can incorporate several media types, including socially shareable images, quick video clips, and embedded media, like SlideShares.
Visual content is becoming increasingly important for online businesses, from SEO visuals to infographics and images.
Offering alternatives to plain text-based information can help simplify complex topics and provide deeper consumer engagement – with new trends like short-form video quickly emerging as powerful tools for B2B marketers across platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts.
M: Measurable content delivers on the metrics that matter
Content marketers are still challenged to prove the business value of their activities. In addition, 42% say they are challenged to develop consistency with measurement, according to CMI’s report.
How can you make your content marketing efforts measurable?
4. Choose metrics that matter and align with your business goals
When seeking to understand the effectiveness of content, it is essential to assess its performance across all stages of the funnel – from lead generation and audience-building through conversion and sales.
Generally speaking, B2B marketers monitor key metrics such as site traffic, lead quality ratings, social shares and time on site.
At the same time, their counterparts in B2C focus more heavily on measuring post-sale retention and evangelism rates alongside conversions.
5. Make search engine optimization a core component of content creation
Make sure you stand out and maximize your engagement, time on site, sharing and conversions with meticulously optimized content.
Employing readability standards to enhance title tags, meta descriptions, subheadings, imagery, and text is still necessary for SEO success.
Ensure visitors stay around longer and keep coming back by smartly linking internally. This improves user experience and resurfaces the most popular or highest-converting pieces.
Make your content stand out by optimizing it to take advantage of featured snippets, a powerful tool that can give you an edge in visibility and click-through rate.
Enhance your user experience and search rankings by prioritizing Core Web Vitals to boost loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
Utilize topical research on conversational search phrases that align with user intent so your content is relevant and stands out to engines and people.
Connecting with local customers is key to growing many businesses. Enhance your brand’s visibility through improved search rank locally and build traffic towards your website or store.
Make entities – especially AI – understand content and context using schema markup. This will enable search engines to comprehend better and effectively present more engaging results.
6. Accelerate with automation for insights and distribution
As data sets become more expansive and dynamic, machine learning becomes an increasingly vital asset for identifying relevant real-time patterns.
Harnessing automation technologies enables businesses to increase the impact of their efforts while cutting time spent on repetitive tasks – resulting in faster business growth at scale.
Additionally, insightful reporting helps pinpoint valuable opportunities that can further fuel success.
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A: Actionable content is always on and ready for activation
By actionable content, I mean that which is prepared to answer users’ questions but also is valuable way beyond the initial period of promotion after publishing.
7. Empower your content creators with technical SEO support
As search accelerates, technical SEO is growing in importance.
You can have the most beautiful front end and even do many things with keywords correctly, but if some of those behind-the-scenes things aren’t doing their job – you’ll never have a fully optimized page or site.
Site structure and hierarchy, metadata, mobile readiness, internal linking, site speed, coding errors, and other technical SEO factors can all affect your content’s ability to rank.
Further, they can affect readers’ ability to access and enjoy the content and then take the next steps. Get your technical and non-technical SEO to set your content team up for success.
8. Optimize for activation across multiple channels
Search engine marketing is the second-most commonly used paid content promotion tactic, next only to social advertising.
Push your content to social channels like Twitter and Facebook, but don’t forget other media like LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
Staying ahead of the curve demands you understand your audience on each platform and tailor messages accordingly.
In addition, to maximize outreach potential, optimizing content for every channel is essential.
Reposting the same copy (and content types) does not guarantee success across different multi-media landscapes and parts of the customer journey.
R: Resonate in relevant channels
Even if you build it, they will not come until attracted. With the explosion of AI-generated content, the competition for eyes and minds is fierce.
Increase the efficacy of your organic efforts and promotional spending by targeting the right people in the right places at the right time.
9. Adapt content strategies and processes for next-gen content marketers
AI technologies present a new content battleground where the challenge of balancing quantity with quality lies.
However, humans can still offer something that technology cannot: differentiation!
Content marketers and writers now have an opportunity to use their expertise to bridge this gap between organizations willing to embrace modern tech and those who need help integrating it into processes while optimizing risk.
Harnessing both human creativity and AI will be critical to staying ahead.
You can see which audiences are engaged and converting if you track and measure correctly.
That’s where you want to allocate your content-promotion budget, rather than having some predetermined amount of spend per channel that runs its course regardless of performance for each piece.
10. Syndicate and use paid promotion to reach targeted audiences outside your existing network
Syndication takes content you’ve already published on your site and republishes it elsewhere, exposing you to another publication’s audience.
You might be able to find organic syndication opportunities, and there are plenty of paid syndication services in the market.
11. Prioritize E-E-A-T and helpful content guidelines
More than ever, ensuring your content is genuine, authoritative and helpful is paramount to ensuring your content is found and converted.
We are seeing a new generation of search experiences evolving, integrated into search engines and as standalone applications.
In many ways, the extra E in E-A-T shows that experiences matter.
Adding human experiences and leveraging AI to assist and inform will ensure your content is unique and differentiated from the competition.
T: Tangible business results are derived from SMART content
KPIs like social interactions and site visits give you a great idea of how well your content performs in search and social, but you need tangible business results to prove value.
12. Make content profitable with CTAs that drive performance
What action would you like readers to take? Which of your site’s conversion pages converts best and generates the highest-quality leads?
These insights will help guide your CTA selection but remember, your CTAs should also match the consumer intent you’re targeting with each piece.
Finally, don’t forget to include embedded performance tracking for both site traffic and conversions.
13. Incorporate elements that support multiple business functions
Make your content multidimensional with elements to build brand authority and inspire or educate users on a product or service. It will encourage engagement and more.
Enhance your content by adding customer testimonials to showcase the positive experiences others have had with your brand.
Create author personas to bring life and trustworthiness to key employees’ profiles, thus enabling them as knowledgeable industry subject matter experts.
14. Improve ROI with ongoing content management and optimization
How much content does your organization have sitting on-site and around the web? Each piece is an opportunity for ongoing traffic and lead generation, but only if it’s kept in line with constantly changing SEO standards.
Updating your entire catalog of content every time Google releases an update.
15. Ensure that humans and machines work together
SMART content today incorporates AI. Working together with human inputs, supervision, and empathy ensures content is helpful, is discoverable and (most importantly) converts.
AI is here to augment human success, not to replace it. Therefore, it will not take your job. However, other content marketers who utilize it the right way might.
Success lies in balancing AI with human input, supervision, judgment, and skill.
AI can’t replace:
- Emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Creativity, human experiences and connection.
- Contextual understanding and common sense.
Intelligent marketers are beginning to move the needle on content performance by embracing SEO, content, and AI.
While these disciplines have certain degrees of specialization (for example, technical SEO or branded content and AI use cases), the most prolific and tangible results come from a combination of all.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.