One month in: How to create a good base for a SEO project

By Lisa Sundgren

One month in: How to create a good base for a SEO project

I have just finished up my first month at Zooma. It has been a very informative month, a bit heavy at times with lots of meetings, but it's been much fun at the same time. There's always something to do. 

New impressions? 

One of the things I enjoy the most about my internship is how free it is; you can usually do something of your own accord with the support of your supervisor. I still need to work on asking for clarification when not following a conversation. Still, it's encouraged all the time to do so even if the subject being discussed differs from what you are doing, which is a great learning opportunity both personally and professionally. 

What have I spent my time on? 

First two weeks were spent with onboarding and introductions to various parts of the internal processes, the start of a few continuous tasks, and meetings with some of the different teams. I also booked check-ins with the other interns to streamline and collaborate on similar jobs. For example, one of the tasks we're all working on is optimising the topic clusters for Zooma, so we created a small guide to help us look at keywords for that.

We began the third week by optimising a topic cluster. I have worked with SEO more than Sam and Alfred. During our optimising efforts, I realized that with our earlier instructions and the current structure of the topic cluster in question, we had run into the risk of accidental keyword cannibalisation. We spent the last hour of the day discussing how to bring this up with our supervisors; it's frightening to question your supervisors' instructions early in the internship. Unsurprisingly, not at Zooma.

When we brought up our concerns the next day, together with our suggestions of what to do to solve them, we were met with an understanding of our concerns and got the green light to go ahead with the suggestions we had made.  

So, what were the suggestions? 

We suggested that we pause the optimisation of the topic clusters until I have written a small guide on what you need to consider before writing SEO-friendly content, as well as some form of Topic Cluster Audit template and later a Cluster Page Audit template as well. The templates are mainly needed for documentation and to follow what changes have been made, so we can keep track of what has given results and see which cluster page has what keywords to avoid cannibalisation in the future.

The guide focused on the actual written content rather than the structural aspects that are more common to know about SEO, like header structures, links, meta-descriptions and such. Even if you have a page that follows all the current SEO guidelines, if your content is too generic or angled differently than the searcher intent for the keyword you are hoping to rank for, you won't rank as well as you could. The content itself is still an essential part of SEO. 

Most of my third week was spent researching and writing the guide, interrupted only by some more important meetings and passing two more certification exams. The fourth week was similar, with more meetings, content planning, and reviewing the guide. 

What did I write in the guide?

I found four things that should be considered or established before writing, structuring or optimising content with SEO in mind.

1. We write for humans, not search engines 

The primary purpose of a search engine is to provide a user with the correct information they are looking for. By writing content that the user wants, you are already helping the search engine prioritise your content. To do this, you must first identify your target audience. Remember, the audience for the various parts of the website also differs.

After defining the target audience, we need to look at why our audience's users could be interested in our posts. What are their pain points? Do they have goals or outcomes that we can help them achieve with our content (and offers)?

2. What are our goals with the content?

Do we want to increase brand awareness and organic traffic to new offers or more conversions from new and old customers? This affects how we approach the content. First, we need to define the goals and their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to know if what we did gave a result.

3. Keywords, searcher intent and the customer journey matter 

You can use a tool to find the keywords you currently rank for. The keywords you choose to focus on must be based on the following:
  • Search volume
  • Relevancy to your company and audience
  • The competition for the keyword

Then you can figure out the searcher intent for your chosen keywords; if it is an exact long-tail keyword, it is usually easier. A short keyword can be interpreted in more ways, e.g., if someone searches for "marketing automation", it could be informational or commercial. In contrast, if someone searches for "what is marketing automation", it is more apparent that the searcher's intent is informational. The easiest way to determine the searcher's intent for a keyword is by searching for it and seeing how the search engine interprets it. This should be done so you can see what format users prefer their content in as well for that query based on the top five results in the SERP (search engine result page).

The searcher's intent is closely related to the customer journey;

  • Informational queries are common in the awareness stage when a user realises they have an issue and want something informative and inspirational.
  • Commercial content is typical in the consideration stage, where they seek something share-worthy and helpful.
  • Transactional content is expected in the decision stage, where they want compelling content.

The stage can also affect the language and information you use and provide, depending on your target audience. For example, in the awareness stage, the user usually needs to become more familiar with your content, so the content should be easier to understand. However, the further along the journey they are, the more complex subjects can be touched upon.

The way your audience uses search can also affect the keywords you target and the way you angle your content, e.g., a common way today is to use voice search which leads to more conversational questions. In that case you should choose more questions to target with your keywords, and make sure to answer those questions within your content.

4. Audit the existing content

By now, there should be a clearer view of what topics to write about, whom you should write for, and how you should approach the content you produce. Before making more content based on the research, could you start auditing your existing content? There is a possibility that we have already written something about the topic we found in our research; if so, it might fall into four categories:
  • Need minor updates. E.g., improve the tone of voice or formatting. Important for high-priority keywords.
  • Need major updates. E.g., expanding the piece or optimising for a more niched audience or a new searcher intent.
  • Can be merged. E.g., pieces with several overlapping topics or where two keywords/queries are commonly used together in one post.
  • Can be deleted. E.g., the quality needs to be updated compared to the current standard, or the topic has gotten irrelevant.

Going through the existing content is vital to use your resources more effectively; optimising an old text is usually quicker than writing something new from scratch. It also reduces the risk of content duplication.  

With these things in mind, you now have a pretty clear view of whom you are communicating with, why you are optimising the pages you are working with, why keywords and their searcher intent is an essential parts to consider when creating your content, and why auditing your existing content is necessary.

Would you happen to know how to write content following these steps? No, not entirely, but that is one of the things I'm looking forward to learning during my time here. 

See you in a few weeks! 


Lisa Sundgren
Former Zooma-intern, now a configurations and content specialist. You can usually find her at a concert or creating colourful makeup looks on Instagram.
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