SEO From a Content Strategy Perspective

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Why do SEOs and Content Strategists argue when they could be working together to inspire customers? …

Why do SEOs and Content Strategists argue when they could be working together to inspire customers?

In this presentation from the June 2012 Seattle Content Strategy Meetup, we look at the discipline of Content Strategy as seen by an SEO and learn about similarities between these approaches to the overall customer experience. How are these two disciplines alike and how can the best work together to drive value for the business and customers?

My vision is that SEO can be a key supporter of content strategy within an organization and that content strategists can work with SEOs to create a content lifecycle that takes findability into account.

Kristina Halvorson and her book "Content Strategy for the Web" both make several appearances in this presentation. If you haven't read it yet, why the hell not?! Go buy it now. :)

You can learn more about Jonathon Colman at

Also see 200+ free Content Strategy resources at

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  • 1. SEO from a Content Strategy PerspectivePhoto © Flickr user andercismo at
  • 2. A.K.A., THECONTENT STRATEGY OF SEO Jonathon Colman Twitter @jcolman Agile SEO for REI
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  • 5. This made me wonder…Photo © Flickr user Tony Aceves at
  • 6. How should Content Strategy and SEO work together?Photo © Flickr user Oberazzi at
  • 7. We both serve as advocates for people and their goalsPhoto © Flickr user Andrew Morrell Photography at
  • 8. We both use technologies that constantly evolvePhoto © Flickr user OscarUcho at
  • 9. We both manage, measure, audit, and govern contentPhoto © Flickr user SukiSuki at
  • 10. We both treat content as a core business assetPhoto © Flickr user SuperPope at
  • 11. We both have to argue just to do our jobsPhoto © Flickr user nouQraz at
  • 12. We both must constantly negotiate to “Yes!”Photo © Flickr user kuddlyteddybear2004at
  • 13. And we both seek to change the organization from withinPhoto © Flickr user chekabuje at
  • 14. How do the core tenants of Content Strategy fit into SEO?Photo © Flickr user SuperPope
  • 15. Content Strategy Creation Delivery Governance Information architecture Editorial strategy Web writing Metadata strategy Content management DistributionPhoto © Flickr user SuperPope Halvorson, K. Content Strategy for the Web (2010). Pp. 31-35
  • 16. CONTENTPhoto © Flickr user ►CubaGallery
  • 17. Quality content draws people from search engines to a web site based on their queries. Human visitors use content to make decisions and create an impression of a web site and its brand. Search engine robots and crawlers also consume content to build their indices.Photo © Flickr user ►CubaGallery
  • 18. STRATEGYPhoto © Flickr user avyfain
  • 19. We don’t just drive traffic; that’s just a tactic! SEOs build brand awareness, positive perception, and market share by shaping content and experiences to be found and used by people. We measure this in traffic, sales, conversion, pages crawled/indexed, links, mentions, fans,Photo © Flickr user avyfain followers, feedback…
  • 20. CREATIONPhoto © Flickr user Carolina Biological Supply Company at
  • 21. SEOs help search engines find, consume, index, and direct the right people to the right content. So SEOs want to be involved throughout the creative lifecycle, from conception to archival. We can offer insights that ease the creation process and drive more business value.Photo © Flickr user Carolina Biological Supply Company at
  • 22. DELIVERYPhoto © Flickr user lord enfield at
  • 23. If you’ve ever had to go back to your content to “fix it for SEO”, that’s a sign of workflow failure. SEO doesn’t have to be hard and it works best when it’s built into the process. SEOs can work with you to make content launches easy, efficient, and effective.Photo © Flickr user lord enfield at
  • 24. GOVERNANCEPhoto © Flickr user Crazy George at
  • 25. SEOs can play a core role in content standards, requirements, policies, maintenance, and archival. We ensure that search engines understand what content to consume at what point in time in order to direct users to the best experiences that meet their needs.Photo © Flickr user Crazy George at
  • 26. INFORMATION ARCHITECTUREPhoto © Flickr user Moyan_Brenn_IM BACK NOW at
  • 27. SEOs (and search engines) know that content lives within an ecosystem of structures. That includes on-page, on-site, and off-site factors, interfaces, and structures. SEOs seek to align these to create the best user experience and the best crawler understanding of relevancy and authority.Photo © Flickr user Moyan_Brenn_IM BACK NOW at
  • 28. EDITORIAL STRATEGYPhoto © Flickr user withassociates at
  • 29. SEOs aid in the editorial process and standards development by focusing on a human audience based on their specific use of language. But we also keep an eye toward the search engine robots and crawlers. We help remind the organization that people use language with robots as wayfindingPhoto © Flickr user withassociates at apps and utilities.
  • 30. WEB WRITINGPhoto © Flickr user Ivana Di Carlo at
  • 31. This is likely the single most misunderstood point of SEO. We’ve all seen the impact of poor writing labeled as “SEO”. SEO is not keyword spam. It’s not link spam. It’s not “writing for robots”. SEOs seek clear, meaningful content to be used by people. Why? Because robots don’t buy anything.Photo © Flickr user Ivana Di Carlo at
  • 32. METADATA STRATEGYPhoto © Flickr user sarah0s at
  • 33. Metadata is more than <meta> content, which is erroneously associated with SEO. Good SEOs know that metadata standards and policies influence both taxonomy and usability. Great metadata allows for interoperability and findability throughout the information ecosystem.Photo © Flickr user sarah0s at
  • 34. CONTENT MANAGEMENTPhoto © Flickr user Jukka Vuokko at
  • 35. SEOs are focused just as much on back-end systems, processes, and policies as they are on front-end code, IA, UX and content. SEOs can work with CMS tools, workflows, migrations, and policies so that content is single- sourced, defined semantically, and managed efficiently as a core business assetPhoto © Flickr user Jukka Vuokko at
  • 36. DISTRIBUTIONPhoto © Flickr user Mr. Wright at
  • 37. SEOs know that content doesn’t just live on our pages or sites. Content is part of an experiential ecosystem involving other publishers and their platforms. SEOs help build brand awareness, positive perception, and findability by earning attention from thesePhoto © Flickr user Mr. Wright at external venues.
  • 38. What do good content strategy and SEO (CS/SEO) look like?Photo © Flickr user andercismo at
  • 39. CS/SEO makes tacit knowledge explicit, findable, and useful Example:
  • 40. CS/SEO transforms content for traffic & engagementExample:
  • 41. CS/SEO links content with data to aid in wayfinding Example:
  • 42. CS/SEO builds real-world skills/communities across channels Example:
  • 43. That’s what Content Strategy and SEO did for REI They amazed and delighted the people we care about mostPhoto © Flickr user sean dreilinger at
  • 44. What will they do for you?Photo © Flickr user Oberazzi at
  • 45. Thank you! Jonathon Colman Agile SEO for REI Home: Twitter: @jcolman E-mail: