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SEO Content: A Quick Guide to Content Types (and How to Use Them)

Content marketing is nothing if not these two things: pervasive and persuasive.

You probably read volumes of SEO content before you knew what it was. Now you want to grow your business and attract more leads, and you’re realizing that all those blog posts, how-to guides and expert-written articles that helped you in the past were components of content marketing.

The fact is that content marketing is pervasive. High quality content gets found in search engines and shared on social media. Shareable content does your networking for you. It sees more new faces than your salespeople do.

But the real trick is making your content persuasive. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for creating persuasive content. How you persuade your target audience—whether it’s through education, information, inspiration or conversion—is unique to your audience’s needs.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s start with a refresher. Content marketing is a massive umbrella under which most of your website falls. So, what is content?

What Is Content?

Content is everything on your page that contains information and contributes to the user experience.

Content can include images, videos and infographics. But for the purposes of this article, we’re talking about written SEO content and copywriting that will keep your reader coming back to your website until they convert.

The Most Popular Types of SEO Content

We’ve selected the 8 most popular types of SEO content to help you get started. These types of content are so popular because they’re effective.

Just remember that they are only effective if your reader deems them so. The type of content you choose depends on your goals as well as the goals of your reader.

Think of SEO content as a toolbox. Types of content are your tools. By the end of this article, you’ll know which tool to use and when to use it.

Visual Infographic of SEO Content - A Quick Guide to Content Types (and How to Use Them)

Here are the 8 types of content we’ll cover here:

  • Short Form Content
  • Long Form Content
  • Blog Content
  • Pillar and Evergreen Content
  • Holistic Content
  • Content for Social Channels
  • Data-led Content
  • Thought Leadership

In the following list of SEO content types, we’ll describe the content type, explain what situations might call for each type, and how and when to use it.

Short From Content

Sometimes, less is more. Short form content is any written content under around 1,500 words. You might use short form content for product descriptions, promotional email blasts, landing pages, and tight, to-the-point blog posts.

You may be wondering whether or not short form content is good for SEO. When trying to rank for difficult keywords, long form content is better. However, you can easily and inexpensively rank for very low competition keywords with short form content.

To use short form content for SEO, be sure to include headings, metadata and optimized images.

Long Form Content

Long form content is written content longer than 1,500 words. Long form content includes detailed blog posts and downloadable ebooks.

In general, longer content is better for SEO. Google’s crawlers like to see an in-depth detailed discussion of a single topic (read: keyword).

But you need to be sure your content is relevant and readable from the user’s perspective, too. Why? Because Google wants its users to find helpful answers.

For example, how many times have you wanted a simple recipe only to be visually battered by a 3,000 word post about the history of the zucchini or the chef’s personal life?

These posts aren’t user friendly, but they’re currently still pleasing Google’s web crawlers.

Instead of using long form content to stuff as many keywords into your document as possible, bring value to your readers.

Try creating an ultimate guide. An ultimate guide is an extensive, sometimes multiple page blog article that carries the reader through the topic from start to finish. Ultimate guides can even span multiple inter-linked posts, allowing you to target long-tail keywords within your content.

Blog Content

Blogs aren’t the same today as they were in 2000. No longer a public journal for your thoughts, a blog is your opportunity to introduce your brand to your readers, establish yourself as an authority in your field and rank higher in Google.

Use your blog to post strategic content as opposed to whatever is on your mind that day.

Your readers are asking questions about your product or service. Your blog is your chance to answer them before your competitor does. If your answer is high quality, relevant and helpful, your reader is more likely to trust you over your competitor. Moreover, they’ll know who to come to when they have more questions (and they will).

Pillar Content and Evergreen Content

Pillar content is a wonderful term. It sounds exactly like what it is: long form content that target higher level keywords, supported by shorter content that targets long-tail keywords.

You might be wondering, “If it’s being supported by other content, why is it the pillar?”

Pillar content is called such because it is the pillar of your website. You may have 4-5 pillar pages that create topic clusters around facets of your brand. These pillars should address the main ideas of your product or service.

Pillar content is long, in-depth, informative and optimized for your higher level keywords.

Pillar content should always be evergreen; that means it should stand the test of time. News articles, for example, tend to go out of date within a week. Pillar content can (and should) be updated periodically, but it should be valuable all year long for many years to come.

Holistic Content

Holistic content is a newer term, but it’s not a new idea. The theory behind holistic content is that each piece of content your team creates should work synergistically with all your other pieces of content.

A blog post written with a series of related social media posts in mind is an example of holistic content.

Alternatively, you might create a style guide across your company’s departments to ensure anyone creating content retains your brand voice and style.

In other words, holistic content is content written with the brand goals and SEO strategy in mind. Each piece of content works to boost the rest.

Content for Social Channels

Do social media channels contain SEO content? Yes and no.

Your Instagram posts won’t necessarily rank in Google, but you should still optimize them to rank in that channel.

Using your higher level keywords and long-tail keywords in your short form social media content helps readers find their way to your content. You can (and should) also use them as hashtags.

How does social media content help boost SEO? Social media does not directly affect your website’s SEO. However, it does help boost Google ranking factors that do affect SEO.

For example, traffic is a ranking factor. If your social channels are delivering your website more traffic, you may rank higher in Google. For content that is truly shareable, expect more backlinks to your content—another SEO ranking factor.

Data-Led Content

Fresh and reliable data can help you take your content from good to page one of the SERPs. Data-led content can be short form or long form. All that matters is that it’s informed by both data about your target audience and trends in search.

One of the biggest benefits of data-led content is that you can save time and money on content creation. You don’t have to shoot in the dark. Data illuminates exactly what keywords you should be targeting and when.

In other words, you’ll spend less time optimizing unhelpful content and more time creating content that will surely rank.

Thought Leadership

Readers can quickly tell the difference between content written by a layman vs. an expert. It’s in the data provided in the article as well as the cool, confident voice of the writer.

Experts exist within your company and community. Interviews or guest posts are excellent ways to create unique content that no one else has. Informed by the best, thought leadership content provides your readers with unique insights that will have them returning for more.

Thought leadership not only builds trust and helps you interact with your community. It also helps SEO.

Much like social media content, thought leadership articles tend to be highly shareable. Why? Because you are obtaining expert perspectives that impress your average reader. More shares means more traffic and backlinks to your valuable article.

Takeaway

SEO content isn’t going away. After all, the written word is among humankind’s greatest accomplishments. Google’s ranking factors simply tell you how to get your brand message heard in the most saturated sea of information in history to date.

Long form, short form, pillar or social; one thing remains the same: You need pervasive and persuasive content marketing or you won’t be found.

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