Content marketing requires consistent, committed efforts but pays dividends for years to come, contributing to the build-up of a profitable online business.
72% of marketers who have used content marketing say it increases the number of leads. So, if you use content marketing and sprinkle Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over it—you’ve got yourself a winning strategy.
If you’re marketing your business today, you can’t see SEO and content as independent entities. SEO determines where your content will show up, and quality content impacts your ranking and visibility—they complement each other in the best of ways.
But can you continue using the same tactics for SEO and content marketing as last year?
Probably not. The marketing industry changes rapidly with new trends and technology being introduced every day. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to analyze what’s new and trending to get closer to your customers and see significant results.
In this article, we’ll highlight six SEO-focused content marketing trends you can leverage and capitalize on in 2021 to stay relevant during changing times and grow your business.
SEO Content Marketing Trends
1. Content optimization for user intent
Google is one of the primary channels for content marketing which justifies the importance of SEO in every content marketing strategy. However, without understanding what your users are searching for, optimizing your content for ranking and driving traffic to the website is challenging.
User intent is identifying and recognizing the intent with which a user types in a search query. Since Google is committed to presenting the best search results to a user, their intent largely determines the websites displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Gone are the days when manipulative SEO tactics, keyword stuffing, and smart moves could help you rank better. Today, Google is smarter than ever, so to get an edge over other competitors in your niche, optimizing your content for user intent is a need, more than a choice.
Here's how you can do it:
- Change your approach towards keyword research from the keywords you want to rank for to the keywords your audience searches for on Google. Use this research to understand the type of content and keywords you should include to target a specific search query.
- Carry an audit of your existing content, and analyze metrics like bounce rate through Google Analytics to see if your users are satisfied with the content.
A low bounce rate would indicate your content solves their search query, while a high bounce rate would suggest that your content needs improvement in solving the user's pain point based on the search query.
- Analyze the top 10 websites that rank for a particular keyword using Ahrefs. These websites fulfill Google's ranking criteria, thus the high ranking. Notice gaps between their content and your content to identify where you can improve.
For example, if you search for “how to get fit.”
You'll come across websites that answer that question directly. And not the results that answer “how to lose weight” or “how to build muscle.”
The more your content centers around the user's pain point and search intent, the better chances you have at ranking and driving high-quality traffic to your website. Alongside, you can also use SEO software that helps with the technical part of on-page optimization to improve your site’s crawlability and thus, rankings.
2. Greater use of videos
87% of marketing professionals say video content gets a good Return on Investment (ROI).
And why not—with the rapid speed at which brands and creators are creating video content on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, this was quite anticipated.
Every platform today supports video, and Google is no exception.
Here’s what you can do:
- Create high-quality and on-brand videos on your website. These can be explainer videos, product videos, testimonials, or slideshow videos to give a gist of your product, process, or company culture. Make it engaging with powerful visuals and background music.
A great example of this is the video on Purple’s homepage.
- Optimize the video for SEO by including target keywords in the caption and descriptions along with an attractive thumbnail to get quality backlinks. You can also post the video on YouTube and embed the video on your website to get a greater reach. Strategically place the video where the users are most likely to watch it.
Cashing in on video content is one of the best investments for content marketing. Here are some ways in which you can include it in your strategy:
- Live stream on YouTube or Instagram to connect with the audience on a one-to-basis. Include a call-to-action in the end, like subscribing to the newsletter or visiting the website.
- An explainer video on the website or YouTube channel simplifying complex processes, thus engaging your audience while improving retention rate.
- Infotainment video content on Instagram reels to get a wider reach and divert traffic to the website.
- Bite-sized videos in newsletters to engage the users and provide additional value directly to their inbox.
There are “n” number of ways to include videos in your content marketing strategy, which can substantially increase your engagement rate and SEO score.
3. Focus on personalization and context
With so much content available and accessible to everyone—finding a personalized touch point can help your brand stand out.
Personalization refers to optimizing your content for different sets of users, offering them an experience that feels tailor-made and forms a unique connection between the brand and user.
For example, when you buy a product from Amazon and see suggested items near the cart based on your recent search or purchase history.
Although personalization can be a bit tricky to crack, here are some tips to help you out:
- Collect data through opt-in forms, lead magnets, contests, and surveys to understand your audience better.
- Use geolocation through location tags to present relevant data and help them find what they’re looking for easily. You can also segment country-wise experiences based on the data, like showing prices for your products in dollars, rupees, or pounds with an option to choose the country while browsing your website.
- Study customer behaviors through email engagement, social media engagement, purchase history, and other data points in your capacity.
But, how does personalization help SEO?
Personalizing your content and user experience for different users means accurate targeting, better keyword usage based on search intent, and a better customer experience with personalized touches on the website—all of which contribute to a better SEO score.
It can compel your users to keep coming back to your website and refer it to others just because the experience feels so personal and unique.
Similarly, when you focus on context—the topics or concepts surrounding the subject, you offer a better understanding to both users and the search engine. When you create content that answers the user's questions beyond the search query, you win their trust, and they keep coming back to you.
For example, if you're writing an article on Ecommerce fulfilment service centres, it's only natural to talk about—what’s the importance of choosing the right fulfilment centre, how it will help, and how to find the ideal one for your requirement.
Context elaborates on the content to answer the most natural questions related to a user's keyword. Doing this also helps Google understand your content more precisely, thus helping you rank better for multiple keywords and search queries.
4. A balance of short-form and long-form content
For a long time, people believed long-form content is the master key to unlock SEO growth. Lengthy landing pages and 5000-word guides were just one aspect of it. But, with the constantly changing trends in the marketing industry, it's safe to say that content length is a matter of debate.
Today, attention span is low and social media is overflowing with content. Stories on every social media platform, like bite-sized content on reels and TikTok, point towards the relevance of short-form content today.
But does that mean you should have either long-form or short-form content in your content marketing strategy? Absolutely not—a sweet spot between the two is where the strategy hits the home run.
Let's see why both of these are important:
- Long-form content helps retain the audience, drive traffic to the website, and earn quality backlinks. It also plays a significant role in building authority in the industry and solving the audience's problems, thus building trust. Examples include blogs, case studies, guides, eBooks, etc.
- Short-form content engages the audience and helps convert them faster by only providing crucial information. Examples include infographics, reels, YouTube shorts, Snapchat stories, etc.
A balance of both in a content marketing strategy will help engage the user and build trust, ultimately helping you drive them to your website, consume more of your content, and also convert into customers—a win-win proposition from all ends.
5. Optimizing content for featured snippets
Featured snippets or rank zero on Google is the holy grail for marketers and provides a massive opportunity to drive tons of organic traffic to your website.
Ranking for featured snippets has been relevant for years, but what's the possibility of ranking for it in 2021?
Ahrefs did a study in 2020 which revealed that out of 112 million queries, only 14 million are featured snippets. That's just 12.3% of the total queries ranking for these snippets—which is quite less and shows the massive scope of ranking for them.
Apart from ranking on top of SERP, optimizing your content for these snippets can make your content crisper and relevant to the audience. It should end the search journey by answering all the questions in one place, thus also building trust.
Here's you can optimize your content for featured snippets:
- Find hidden opportunities by analyzing the ranking of your existing content. Use Ahrefs to see if you're ranking for some target keywords. If you're in the top 10 results, optimize your content better by analyzing the competitors, and get that featured snippet from them.
- Use long-tail keywords, and satisfy search intent with every paragraph in your content.
- Include lists that answer questions concisely to make it feature-ready.
- Focus on context, and answer related search queries.
Tapping into these featured snippets will help you gain more visibility on Google and make your content razor-focused—all of which contribute towards a high SEO score.
6. Increased role of influencers in distributing content
2020 saw increased use of influencers in brand campaigns, promotions, and other marketing activities. Apart from being conversion-focused, influencer campaigns also focus on brand awareness, positioning, and getting the audience in the brand funnel.
In 2021, influencer marketing saw an even significant rise as small-medium brands started using them for branding and marketing activities. What was earlier restricted to big brands like Sephora and Nike now moved on to medium-sized brands too.
At the same time, the number of creators and influencers, especially on platforms like Instagram. TikTok and YouTube saw a huge spike which offered more opportunities for collaboration.
71% of marketers say customers gained from influencer marketing are of higher quality than those acquired from other marketing channels.
Since influencers hold the power of influencing their audience's opinions and buying decisions—brands can benefit a lot from these collaborations, and the track record speaks for itself.
But, how is influencer marketing relevant to SEO?
- Influencers help distribute the content to a broader segment of your target audience on multiple channels, thus improving the chances of conversion and increasing traffic from different platforms.
- Most of these campaigns direct the audience to the brand's social media channels or the website, ultimately driving more traffic to the website.
- By interviewing these influencers or creating a blog post or case study on the campaign, and the results you saw—you can get quality backlinks. The blog will also get indexed under the influencer's name on Google, thus getting you more traffic.
Using influencer marketing is like hitting the nail on the head since it can significantly increase conversion, traffic, reach, brand awareness, traffic, and trust.
Every year, or rather every other month, there are changes in technology and trends, especially in the content marketing area. It can get overwhelming and hard to keep up with them, but the key is maintaining agility in your content marketing strategy to make space for trends and keep up with them.
Doing this will help you stay relevant, updated, and tap into new opportunities to connect with your audience. By leveraging these trends, you'll get a first-mover advantage which is always beneficial to get an edge over competitors.
Use these six SEO-focused content marketing trends to improve your distribution and content creation game and pave the way towards greater results, impact, and business revenue.