This article is a guest contribution – read more about the author at the bottom of the post.
The number one question we often ponder as SEOs and frequently hear from our clients is, “How do I increasewebsite traffic” — and rightfully so.
After all, the purpose of a digital property is to provide a solution to your visitors.
The more solutions you provide for your visitors, the more they want to come back.
Today, I’m excited to help you solve the challenges surrounding content strategy, as well as help you take significant steps forward in your technical approach to its implementation.
I hope that after reading this piece, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of how authority and relevance are built through beautifully crafted content and the strategy behind its creation, enabling you to drive traffic upwards across all your properties.
While many SEOs believe websites can only earn authority through backlinks and off-site signals, I invite you to consider a simple question — one I ask myself daily.
If I were a search engine, what would I want on the first page of my results?
Would you award pole position to a website that’s published posts on a topic once or twice in an attempt to gain traffic based on keywords and phrasing?
Or would you give precedence to a website that has covered the topic in-depth with multiple articles and resources?
In this article we will cover:
- How to plan your content strategy
- How to write for natural language processing algorithms
- How to scope your writer (for those of us who utilize freelancers or content creators on our projects)
Planning Your Blog Content Strategy to Increase Website Traffic
One of my favorite quotes from Diary of a Journal Planner is, “Planning for an hour can save you ten hours of doing.”
Once you become proficient in the process described below, you should be able to come up with content topics and a strategy within an hour of sitting down in front of the SERPs.
Getting there will take some time.
So, as a friendly reminder, take it easy on yourself.
Allow yourself patience as an SEO embarking on mastering a new process — anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Step # 1 – Finding Your Broad Match Topic for Your Blogs
The first step is identifying the specific topic related to your project that you want to drive traffic for.
So let me ask you: Do you want to drive traffic to an affiliate-based niche website?
Are you interested in gaining more visitors to a blog focused around a specific topic?
For what purpose exactly are you hoping to gain users and drive traffic?
Knowing your “why” is essential to this process.
It helps you not only define your topic, but remember the purpose for starting in the first place.
It’s commonplace for people to begin topic-hopping, as I like to call it, in an attempt to get a better search presence for high volume keywords in an expedited fashion — especially when they’re in a hurry.
For example, let’s pretend you own a camping website and want to drive 10k users to it monthly.
You’ve also landed yourself an Amazon affiliate deal, and you know that providing valuable resources, reviews, and articles can help drive users to your site and, hopefully, make sales.
So, it makes sense that the quickest route to obtaining traffic lies through targeting the keywords with the highest search volume in your niche.
Or does it?
Let me ask you this…
As an SEO, does it seem logical that I can launch a brand new website, and successfully go after terms with thousands of queries monthly, with no established presence or authority in the niche?
Hopefully, you’re smiling and thinking — “Well, no, I guess it doesn’t.”
I bet your next thought is…
”What if I get major backlinks to those articles? They’ll rank out of the gate in a few weeks.”
And you’re right…
If you get top-tier backlinks to your pages from in-niche websites that drive traffic and authority, then it is possible to go after large search volume phrases in the infancy of your blog or website.
I’m about to outline the strategy for the many people who lack the resources to gain those links — whether that’s due to financial limitations, because you’re a white hat SEO, or simply because you enjoy a puzzle.
Whatever the reason, you’re probably here today reading about this content strategy out of necessity, and it’s nice to have you.
So, where do we start?
How do we get 10,000 users in 90 days or less to our website?
The answer is: With a broad topical understanding that we turn into a granulated virtual silo.
To begin, let’s consult Google Keyword Planner:
As you can see, I’ve entered “camping tents” and “camping stuff” into the keyword planner to begin understanding our broad match keyword volume.
Our first step is to decide what topic/keyword or phrase we should use at the top of our silo.
(Source: Bruce Clay)
Then we need to understand its relational context to the other keywords we can utilize to drive visitors through more granulated topics until we earn authority.
Let’s use the topic of “Ozark Trail Tents” from our Google KW planner for three reasons:
- There are multiple ways we can take this topic and break it out into a virtual silo
- Ozark Trail tents are available on Amazon, which aligns with our goals for an affiliate website
- It gets 14,000 potential average searches per month as a broad match. That could translate to approximately 8,000 to 10,000 visits on our website if we can rank on page one for terms associated with the broad match topic.
Step #2 – Finding Your Granular Topics to Silo
Next, let’s continue our research and decide how we plan to silo this content out into smaller topics.
For this, we continue using keyword planner and narrow in on our long tail keyword(s) or phrases.
The above example shows there are many long tail keywords, each averaging about 50 – 70 searches per month.
I firmly believe that this is where you need to begin driving traffic to an unestablished website.
Once you build authority for long-tail search terms and begin to dominate the SERP for these entities, you’ll start winning preference for what Google has established as relational concepts.
Before going any further, let’s visualize our hypothetical website as a filing system or index.
campingnewstoday.com Resources /resources Camping Tents /camping-tents Ozark Trail Tents /ozark-trail-tents
Note: As you can see, we’re structuring the above silo as a virtual silo to keep the crawl budget low. Our testing shows that doing so allows your pages to rank quicker with shorter and more accessible URLs.
So how do our topics fit into our virtual silo?
First, let’s pick roughly five to eight topics from the above list we want to write articles for, then silo them off into the appropriate category.
Below is another example with our long tail keywords branched off their appropriate parent. Again, we recommend keeping your permalinks at the post/page level and the silo virtual.
campingnewstoday.com Resources /resources Camping Tents /camping-tents Ozark Trail Tents /ozark-trail-tents Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Dark Rest Tent Ozark trail 6 Person Tent With Led Lights Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Dome Tent Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent Dark Rest Ozark 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent With Built-in Led Lights
Reviewing this list, you’ll undoubtedly notice that most of these keyword(s) are distinctly long tail — and you’re correct.
That’s so we don’t accidentally begin to move into similar, much broader topics, thus changing the keyword difficulty level and the ability to rank for the keyword(s).
When writing the articles, it’s crucial to keep this in mind and remember that you’re purposely targeting a long tail keyword(s).
Optimally, the pages above should be written in one to two weeks, then indexed by Google.
In many cases, before launching your website, I’d recommend having these articles already completed so you can post them as soon as the site is live.
Ultimately, this should decrease your time to indexation by Google.
Step #3 – Scaling Your Content Silo
Now that we’ve discussed how to get started with your website’s content strategy and structure, when and how do we move into keyword(s) and phrases with higher search visibility, volume, and traffic?
After creating your first content silo, as demonstrated above, we next create what I like to call our “tier 2 silo,” by using the entities and contextual relationships to the words above for similar topics with slightly higher search volume.
Again, we consult the keyword planner.
Let’s take our first piece of content with its long tail keyword of “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent” and see if we can find a similar, related topic with higher search volume.
Keyword planner suggests that “Ozark Trail 2 Person Hiker Tent” receives more than double the search volume of the previous topic.
So if we can rank for that topic in the silo with an interlinking structure, we can begin to teach Google that:
- We can gain traffic for our entities and pages
- There is a relationship between Ozark Backpacking Tent and Ozark Hiker Tents.
So what’s that look like from the perspective of a silo?
campingnewstoday.com Resources /resources Camping Tents /camping-tents Ozark Trail Tents /ozark-trail-tents Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent (This interlinks to the below) Ozark Trail 2 Person Hiker Tent (This interlinks to the above) Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Dark Rest Tent Ozark trail 6 Person Tent With Led Lights Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Dome Tent Ozark Trail 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent Dark Rest Ozark 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent With Built-in Led Lights
Can you see what we’re doing here?
If we’re able to rank for all our tier 2 content and move into tier 3 content, we’re effectively shortening the keywords with every silo, gaining slightly more traffic, and increasing our authority on the topic as a whole.
Note: The number of tiers you need under each silo depends on the total keyword(s) volume you are attempting to “pyramid” up to.
For example, our broad match keyword of “Ozark Trail Tents” generates roughly 14,000 views per month.
Let’s try and silo our long tail phrases by the following search volume:
50 – 100 Search Volume on Tier 1
100 – 300 Search Volume on Tier 2
300 – 800 Search Volume on Tier 3
800 – 2000 Search Volume on Tier 4
2000 – 5000 Search Volume on Tier 5
5000 – 11000 Search Volume on tier 6
11000+ Search Volume at the top of the Pyramid
Note: This is an approximation, not a definitive formula. It’s how I would approach my keyword volumes, but it’s subjective relative to evolving website factors extraneous to content creation.
Hypothetically, even if we stopped here and ranked for all of the above terms through tier 1 and 2, we’re looking at gaining approximately 500 visitors per month, in two to three weeks.
Not too shabby, right?
Imagine if we did this for all six terms above.
We could be at over 1,000 monthly visitors with just 12 blog posts.
Now, what if we followed the same process with every manufacturer of tent Amazon offers?
Then, what if we did it with Sleeping Bags, Camping Accessories, Camping Hammocks, and other broad match camping terms?
Well, we’d hit our 10,000 searches per month goal pretty quickly with articles we can actually rank for and build authority with, don’t you think?
While building your silo and content strategy is important, what’s even more essential is ensuring your content is well written enough to accomplish our goals.
Up next, we’ll examine what search engines like to see in their NLP algorithms and how you can connect the dots on your content’s entities, proximals, inverses, and more.
How to Write For Natural Language Processing Algorithms
If you’re an SEO in 2020, you’ve probably heard the buzz phrase Natural Language Processing (NLP).
But what is NLP? Is it an algorithm? Is it a program for the Google search algorithm?
How does NLP work, and what does it have to do with writing content in virtual silos?
The answer is — all of the above and more.
“Natural language processing is a subfield of linguistics, computer science, information engineering, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.” – Wikipedia
In short, NLP is how a machine processes contextual data to understand human language, and, in the case of a search engine, search queries.
Note: NLP has become increasingly crucial to SEO, partly because many searches are now processed by voice analysis software on phones or smart devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, then communicated to the search engine as a query. Both voice analysis and voice generation are heavily dependent on NLP.
Let’s jump right in and examine some crucial components of NLP as it applies to SEO.
#1 – SEO Entities
I first heard of entities being discussed in SEO circles back in 2014.
But, to this day, many SEOs still have no idea what an entity is.
Likely, that’s due to the fact that entities are somewhat intangible concepts — predicated on mathematical principles and rules, stored on a server somewhere.
Allow me to make them more tangible for you.
Using our earlier example, let’s attempt to uncover what entities Google associates with our topic.
Google defines related entities to our keyword(s) of “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent” as follows:
- Vestibule Backpacking
- Tent Camping
- Lightweight Backpacking
- Hiker Tent
- Ultralight Backpacking
- Dome Tent
Notice offhand what we found?
“Hiker Tent” is not only seen as an entity, but is also part of our topic strategy with the keyword(s) “Ozark Trail 2 Person Hiker Tent”.
We can assume we’re on the right track if we searched the first blog topic and saw a tangible entity relationship to the second.
By understanding the related entities for a topic, you can write the article for your main keyword with them in mind.
Pro Tip: Connect your interior pages with interlinks (internal links) not only through keywords but entities and relational values.
#2 – Sentiment Analysis
Sentiment analysis is a machine learning and NLP process used to assess how people think or feel about content or a brand as a whole.
Additionally, sentiment analysis helps Google paint a clearer picture of what your page, website, product, or service is about — and predict how users might feel or think about it.
While you can improve your content by keeping sentiment analysis in mind, it mostly relies on user-generated content, like comments left on your blog under long-form articles, or from review platforms.
So, how can you adapt your content to reflect a positive sentiment without user-generated content?
Through emotive context and words.
Let’s use an example from right here in this post.
In the intro, I said:
“Today, I’m excited to help you solve the challenging topics surrounding content strategy and to provide a process…..”
With this sentence, I assign a positive sentiment to helping the reader, and alert Google that I intend to solve your query about content strategies.
While I’m only scratching the surface here, I recommend checking out SEOButler’s Ultimate Guide to Sentiment Analysis, as it will give you a more thorough look at how this process works for NLP.
Note: One thing I’d like to make clear is that user-generated content related to your brand and articles tends to provide a clearer, more objective picture to Google of how people feel about it.
The above example is a useful way to understand the process and how it may help with NLP, but it’s a tiny piece of the puzzle compared to how the rest of the internet feels about your content or brand as a whole.
#3 – Proximals
For the sake of transparency, proximals are part of a theory that I’ve developed and used to help Google rank websites and pages for keyword modifiers in close proximity to the main keywords.
Think of proximals as modifiers, often adjectives, that searchers may insert into their query — especially when using voice search.
For example, if you’ve ever Googled something by speaking into your phone or smart home device, your queries probably use “natural language” — I subsimilar to how you converse with another person. As opposed to being truncated into shorter phrases, as we often see with mobile and desktop use.
With this in mind, the query “Plumber near me” may become “Who is the best plumber near me?” or “Who is the cheapest plumber near me?”
Best and cheapest are adjectives in close proximity to the keyword — hence proximals.
So how do we leverage this?
Do we continually add more headings to our page to cue Google that we’ve accounted for the adjectives in proximity to our main keywords?
You could, but you may end up confusing the search engine as to the actual intent of your page’s main, secondary, and tertiary keywords.
Write your text for humans with proximals in mind, anticipating the intent of the user.
Below is an example of a SERP result that we’ve achieved for the query, “Who is the best plumber in Tucson?”
Notice anything of interest?
Such as how “Tucson Plumber”, “best”, and “plumbing” is bolded by Google?
We did this by adding the verbiage for reviews from our Google My Business that included the word “Best” in them. And because Google is looking for relevancy to the search phrase, it’s adding the review to our meta description and ignoring ours.
Amazing isn’t it?
I need to impress upon you that to harness this tactic fully, it’s critical to understand what your most commonly searched tertiary keywords are.
In this example, we found ours by looking into the Google Ads search terms for this property and comparing the most common adjectives.
Another effective way to assess this information would be through client or consumer surveys inquiring what primary search phrase they used to find you on Google.
While the exact formula for how close your proximals have to be to your main keywords is unknown, I recommend within a six-word proximity, before or after.
For your convenience, here is a list of commonly used adjectives or proximals that we’ve uncovered in our studies.
You can use these to produce similar results to the example above:
#4 – Inverses
Simply put, the inverse is mathematical vernacular for something that is “opposite or contrary in position, direction, order or effect.”
As time goes on, and search engines become increasingly sophisticated, they attempt to serve similar pages for multiple queries.
It’s a best practice when writing content to help this process along.
Here’s how we can do that:
If we refer back to our keyword example, “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent”, we can examine the inverses by picking apart these keyword(s) and extrapolating different ways to say the same thing, while re-ordering the words.
- 2 Person Backpacking Tent by Ozark Trail
- 2 Person Tent for Backpacking Ozark Trail
- Ozark Trail Tent for 2 Person Backpacking
- Ozark Backpacking Tent for 2 Person
As you can imagine, there are tons of inverse variations!
But my assertion is that by varying the ways you say the same thing throughout your content, you give the search engine a more comprehensive look at what your topic or entity is, rather than just providing a singular instance of your keyword phrase.
I recommend doing so in:
- H2 Headings
- Picture Names
- FAQ Sections
- And more
By strategically implementing multiple inverses into your articles, blogs, or pages, you’ll see over time that you begin coming up for all these phrase variations.
As there are regional differences in how people speak the same language, using inverses helps account for multiple variations of a phrase, giving guidance to machines that aids NLP.
#5 – Synonyms
As with inverses, using synonyms helps give Google a more complete understanding of your topic.
We can easily determine what phrases or words Google finds synonymous with your topic.
Head straight to any search engine or thesaurus.com with our keyword(s) “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent” and use it to make a list of synonyms for each of the primary keywords in the phrase.
An example of how to do this would be:
Note: Ozark Trail is also a primary keyword, but it is a brand name. We want to leave the brand name as is.
Synonyms for Backpacking
Synonyms for Tent
Synonyms for Person
- Guy / Girl
Once you have a list of relevant synonyms, dive deep into your content and use them to provide various secondary keyword(s) that should further increase the understanding of your core topic in machine learning systems — especially when combined with inverses.
#6 – Interrogatives
Last but not least, we’ve made it to our final NLP component — interrogatives.
Now, you may be wondering what the heck an “interrogative” even is.
Up until a year or two ago, I also had no clue.
After all, most of us aren’t high-school English teachers.
In a nutshell, interrogatives are the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” statements that typically form the beginning of a question in search engine queries, voice search, NLP — the English language in general.
Take our keyword(s) “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent” — we can add interrogatives to form various queries relevant to our topic.
- Where to buy an ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent
- How to set up an ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent
- Who sells ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent
- What is the best ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent
- Why is the ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent the best
By incorporating interrogative keyword phrases like these into your articles, you make it easier for Google to understand the intent of your content.
Now, I can guess what you’re going to say at this point ?
Something along the lines of:
“Schieler… these could be content topics in and of themselves!”
And you wouldn’t be wrong.
So how should we be using these interrogatives on our articles, pages, posts, or blogs?
A People Also Ask section.
You can append a section to the end of your content that briefly answers these questions for your users and allows you to get them on-page.
From a technical standpoint, append each question to the section as an H3, and follow it with the answer.
Pro Tip: When answering the question, use short, direct answers and only then expand on them. This leads to the possibility of ending up in 0 position SERP results and allows you to answer the question for your reader fully without diverging off-topic.
People Also Ask About Ozark Trail Tents
Who sells an ozark trail 2 person backpacking tent?
Amazon sells an Ozark Trail 2 person backpacking tent. There are also many other variations of their tents, including a 4 person backpacking tent and a 6 person backpacking tent.
The query is answered directly then briefly expounded on, allowing you to also account for questions that are sub-topics of your topic.
You can even interlink off-page if you want to discuss “who sells Ozark Trail 2 person backpacking tents” even further.
Leading, once again, to more traffic for your blog.
#7 – Pulling It All Together
Now that we’ve examined components of the algorithms that help inform NLP, how can you bring it all together into one cohesive, well-structured body of text?
I’ve created an example below, using the keyword “Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tent”
Ozark Trail 2 Person Backpacking Tents
If you’re looking for a backpacking or hiker tent that accommodates 2 people, and prefer the Ozark Trail line for your next journey, then look no further.
Our guide below aims to help you decide which tent will work best for you while wandering and exploring the great outdoors, all while meeting your needs.
We’ve broken our article down into three categories that we’ll be rating each tent on to help your decision. While most 2 person Ozark Trail backpacking tents are similar, some do have a canopy or other extended features.
Those categories are: Durability, Appearance, and Features.
What are the best Ozark Trail Backpacking Tents for 2 People?
Relational Entity for Internal Link to Next Longtail Keyphrase
Sentiment / Proximals
In just a few sentences above, we’ve structured our content in a succinct, unified manner that should give machines a thorough understanding of our topic.
We’re teaching the algorithm what we want it to do, rather than sprinkling keywords in various locations and hoping it does what we’d like.
Please note: the above example isn’t intended to be a full article, it’s an example of how you can structure your wording throughout a post.
How you structure your content is critical, but there’s something that’s arguably even more essential.
Finding the right writer and scoping the work correctly so that your blog, article, or page has the best shot at ranking well.
Scoping Your Writers and Helping Them Create Great Content
As Jonathan, SEOButler’s founder, recently pointed out:
“Many people struggle to order content efficiently. As a result, they end up either delaying content production altogether or give writers insufficient guidance in haste, just to get something on the page.”
People often resist pulling the trigger on ordering content because they’ve failed to do two things:
- Create a content outline for their project (which you can do with confidence after reading this post)
- Effectively communicate their expectations to the writer (and I don’t just mean giving them keywords)
These all too common scenarios usually result in wasted time, effort, goodwill, and money for both parties.
So — what should you be doing?
I’ve created a list of steps below to help you, help your writer, and streamline your process.
Hiring a Content Writer
- Strategize Your Keywords: Throwing random keywords at Google and hoping they stick just won’t cut it in 2020. Create virtual silos for the first 50-100 pages on your website and adhere to the strategy. If you did your research correctly, it will work. Plan accordingly, starting with lower-tier content and moving up as time progresses.
- Play to the Writer’s Strengths: Typically, you have a choice of two types of writers. Those who write for SEO and those who are “just” good writers.
The following factors can help you determine what kind of writer you’re looking for:
- How “technical” does your content need to be?
- What is the appropriate tone?
- What level of existing knowledge or research do your topics require?
- What style of writing do you seek?
Chatty and engaging with a whimsical smattering of emojis and gifs? ?♂️
Or so dry and technical it would make an engineering professor weep? ?
Providing examples of publications or blogs you admire or want to emulate is essential here.
In a perfect world, you could hire a proficient and engaging writer who writes with technical SEO in mind, but the two don’t often go hand-in-hand.
Strong technical SEO writers who haven’t nailed their voice or CRO, or talented and engaging writers unadept with advanced SEO concepts are far more common.
Unicorns that can do both exist, but accept that their fees may be beyond your means.
- Create a Project Scope: At a minimum, answer the following questions for your writer when you’re creating a project scope or brief:
- Who is your target audience?
- What action do you desire the reader to take? (Click buy? Subscribe to your email list?)
- Target word count
- Desired turnaround time/deadline
- Examples of suitable content
- Share Your Content Strategy: At this point, you should have a content strategy to share with writers you are interviewing, helping to determine if they feel comfortable with your niche, and your expectations.
- Expectations: This may be the most crucial (and underrated) part of this process: share your expectations.
After reading this article, if you want a writer who can marshall all of its intricacies — let them know!
Unleashing your writer with a keyword and a prayer, hoping they deliver what you want, won’t get the job done.
It may even sour your relationship with the writer — perhaps they could have met your expectations, if only you’d made them known
- Budget: As the old saying goes — you get what you pay for.If you’re expecting a top-performing article, post, or blog that hits all of the points above, expect to pay for it. Consider that you’re not only paying for expertise, if the writer is expert in your niche, but the knowledge and experience that they’ve accrued over time.I’ll be forthcoming, dear reader — this article took me ten hours to write.And it will likely take ten more after the editing, polishing, formatting, ordering graphics and publishing are complete. (Editor’s note: more like
1520!)It’s unreasonable not to have a healthy budget for content creation.Unless, of course, you plan on doing all the writing and polishing yourself.
- Feedback: Ensure you provide constructive feedback to your writer — the good, the bad, or the ugly.
If you’re planning on using the same writer for multiple articles, invest in building a mutually beneficial and trusting relationship. You’ll find them far more likely to meet your expectations of deliverables.
The process of scoping your project, hiring the right type of writer, managing expectations based on budget and the writer’s expertise — and moreover, having a detailed strategy in place from the get-go — will yield the best results.
Final Thoughts About Driving Users With Content
Driving more traffic to your website with a content-only approach isn’t necessarily difficult.
It’s all about researching, planning, and executing your content creation strategy in a succinct and organized manner.
I hope this article helps get you there, but only your dedication can carry you triumphantly across the SEO finish line.
Stay patient, stick to the plan, follow these steps, and I assure you it will work.
Questions on what you’ve read?
Any places you feel stuck?
Please let us know in the comments.
After all, sharing your viewpoint contributes to Google’s sentiment analysis of SEOButler — so please, make your comment a positive one ?
Until next time – Remember to SEO today with the future in mind.
[author_bio image=”https://seobutler.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Schieler-Mew-Headshot-Cropped-150×150.png” name=”SCHIELER MEW”]Schieler Mew is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Comprehensive SEO consultant that has worked with Fortune 500 companies all the way down to local SMB’s. He specializes in advanced SEO theory and technical concepts to help online businesses thrive in evolving and volatile markets. Schieler is the owner of Viictory Media[/author_bio]