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Let’s be honest: for most content strategists and other people working with online content, SEO is The Worst Part Of The Job.

It’s hugely technical, it’s shrouded in mystery, it seems to be focused on robots instead of people, there are unspoken rules, everything can turn on a dime, and it never, ever seems to end.

But SEO doesn't have to be this way. It’s time to begin a conversation between these two disciplines – they’re far more alike than you might think. And when they work together on behalf of users and customers, amazing things can happen that will drive your organisation forward.

I can’t promise to change your mind about SEO, but you’ll leave this session understanding how to build the essentials into your work in ways that are simple, make sense, and are pain-free. You’ll see what business impacts and wins for the customer SEO and Content Strategy have had at REI, a major retailer in the US. And you’ll have the vocabulary, understanding and tools that you need to talk with your SEO... or to take it for yourself.

Drive traffic, amaze your visitors, and Win the Internet -- with SEO and Content Strategy working together.

Originally presented at the 2012 Content Strategy Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.

You can learn more about Jonathon Colman at http://www.jonathoncolman.org/

Also see 200+ free Content Strategy resources at http://www.jonathoncolman.org/2013/02/04/content-strategy-resources/

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How to Build SEO into Content Strategy

  1. HOW TO BUILD SEO INTO CONTENT STRATEGY Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  2. JONATHON COLMAN PRINCIPAL EXPERIENCE ARCHITECT FOR REI WWW . REI . COM TWITTER @ JCOLMAN Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  3. CAN HUMANS LIVE WITH… Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  4. ROBOTS?! Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  5. Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  6. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  7. CORE VALUES MATTER. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  8. AT REI WE INSPIRE, EDUCATE, AND OUTFIT FOR A LIFETIME OF OUTDOOR ADVENTURE AND STEWARDSHIP. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  9. AT REI WE INSPIRE, EDUCATE, AND OUTFIT FOR A LIFETIME OF OUTDOOR ADVENTURE AND STEWARDSHIP. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  10. AT REI WE INSPIRE, EDUCATE, AND OUTFIT FOR A LIFETIME OF HEY, THAT’S CONTENT OUTDOOR ADVENTURE STRATEGY… RIGHT IN OUR MISSION! AND STEWARDSHIP. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  11. AT REI WE VALUE AUTHENTICITY, TRANSPARENCY, AND FRIENDLY EXPERTISE. Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  12. SO I HAVE A LITTLE CONFESSION TO MAKE TODAY… Logo copyright © REI - http://www.REI.com/
  13. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CONTENT STRATEGY.
  14. DON’T TWEET THAT! MY BOSS MIGHT FIND OUT.
  15. OK, OK… I MIGHT BE EXAGGERATING A LITTLE BIT.
  16. AFTER ALL, I DID READ THIS BOOK.
  17. MY BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE IS IN SEO Image copyright © Blyzz - http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyzz/5329087821
  18. YEAH. I’M ONE OF THESE GUYS. Image copyright © Blyzz - http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyzz/5329087821
  19. YEAH. I’M ONE OF THESE GUYS. A NERD. Image copyright © Blyzz - http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyzz/5329087821
  20. BOTTOM LINE: BAD SEO IS A DISASTER.
  21. GOOD SEO IS VERY HELPFUL.
  22. SO LET’S BUILD A BRIDGE: BETWEEN CONTENT STRATEGY OVER HERE …AND SEO OVER HERE Image copyright © Francisco Diez - http://www.flickr.com/photos/22240293@N05/3849106201
  23. WHY? SEOs NEED YOUR HELP. SO DO THEIR CUSTOMERS. SO DO THE SEARCH ENGINES.
  24. WHY? YOU NEED HELP FROM SEOs, TOO * * YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET!
  25. CORE VALUES MATTER. SO WE’LL START BY EXPOSING A FEW OLD MYTHS Image copyright © jaredflo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredflo/219190131
  26. MYTH #1: YOU CAN SHORT-CUT YOUR WAY TO SEO Image copyright © David July - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mountsutro/4667697699
  27. REALITY: SUSTAINABLE SEO REQUIRES LONG- TERM INVESTMENT.
  28. REALITY: SUSTAINABLE SEO REQUIRES LONG- TERM INVESTMENT. IN LATE 2007, WE BEGAN INVESTING IN SEO. WE’LL FIND OUT THE RESULTS IN ABOUT 19 SLIDES FROM NOW…
  29. MYTH #2: YOU HAVE TO SPAM TO RANK Image copyright © alsis35 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/alsis35/7325200906
  30. REALITY: ENGAGING CONTENT IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR SEO THAN EVER BEFORE. Image copyright © unknown - http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/181jyg51mqy12jpg/original.jpg
  31. SPAM CAN’T DO THIS Image copyright © Radian6 - http://www.radian6.com/blog/2012/10/how-red-bull-stratos-successfully-soared-across-social-media/
  32. RANK MUST BE EARNED.
  33. RANK MUST BE EARNED. SPAM CAN’T GET THESE RANKINGS FOR A BRAND NAME SEARCH
  34. AS WELL AS CLICK-THROUGH.
  35. “RICH SNIPPETS” INCREASE USER CLICK-THROUGH BY UP TO 30% AS WELL AS CLICK-THROUGH.
  36. NOT TO MENTION CONVERSION.
  37. HERE’S THE STRUCTURED CONTENT DRIVING OUR “RICH SNIPPETS” NOT TO MENTION CONVERSION.
  38. HERE’S THE STRUCTURED CONTENT DRIVING OUR “RICH SNIPPETS” ORIGNAL, BRAND-DRIVEN PRODUCT INFORMATION WRITTEN BY OUR TEAM OF IN-HOUSE EXPERTS NOT TO MENTION CONVERSION.
  39. MYTH #3: SEO TAKES AWAY FROM MY OTHER EFFORTS Image copyright © dfb - http://www.flickr.com/photos/geodanny/7031816979
  40. REALITY: THESE ALL WORK BETTER TOGETHER THAN THEY EVER COULD APART. Image copyright © Rand Fishkin/SEOmoz - http://www.seomoz.org/blog/inbound-marketing-is-taking-off
  41. YOU CAN EVEN USE SEO METRICS TO CREATE BUSINESS CASES TO SUPPORT $$$ YOUR OTHER WORK. Image copyright © Rand Fishkin/SEOmoz - http://www.seomoz.org/blog/inbound-marketing-is-taking-off
  42. FOR EXAMPLE, WE USED SEO TO SUPPORT WEB PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS
  43. MYTH #4: SEO IS FOR ROBOTS, NOT PEOPLE Image copyright © whirledkid - http://www.flickr.com/photos/whirledkid/3263379234
  44. REALITY: ROBOTS DON’T HAVE CREDIT CARDS. SO THEY’RE NOT OUR AUDIENCE. Image copyright © 401(K) 2012 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6280507539
  45. BUT HUMANS DESIGN ROBOTS… Image copyright © unknown - http://i.stack.imgur.com/pcXBR.jpg
  46. BUT HUMANS DESIGN ROBOTS… THERE’S PART OF US INSIDE THEM. Image copyright © unknown - http://i.stack.imgur.com/pcXBR.jpg
  47. ROBOTS ACT AS OUR PERSONAL WAYFINDING AGENTS. Image copyright © Jonathon Colman
  48. WE USE THEM TO FIND THE THINGS THAT WE NEED Image copyright © Jonathon Colman
  49. DESIGN FOR REAL PEOPLE, ACCOUNT FOR THE ROBOTS Image copyright © bre pettis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/155276746/
  50. MYTH #5: SEO IS JUST ABOUT TEXT Image copyright © dwyman - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwyman/92490928
  51. REALITY: THE GOOGLE KEYWORD TOOL IS NOT AN EDITORIAL DICTATOR.
  52. KEYWORD VOLUME IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EDITORIAL GOVERNANCE.
  53. WRITE AND DESIGN FROM YOUR AUDIENCE’S NEEDS OUT, NOT FROM THE KEYWORDS IN. Image copyright © Note Booker, Esq. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/notebookeresq/4798286779/
  54. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO KEYWORD RESEARCH CAN’T DO THIS. Video copyright © Dollar Shave Club - http://www.dollarshaveclub.com/
  55. SEARCH ENGINES REWARD YOU FOR BUILDING BRANDS, NOT FOR USING KEYWORDS Video copyright © Dollar Shave Club - http://www.dollarshaveclub.com/
  56. MYTH #6: SEO IS JUST ABOUT LINKS Image copyright © ravages - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ravages/2831688538
  57. REALITY: GOOD LINKS ARE IMPORTANT, BUT GOOD EXPERIENCES ARE ESSENTIAL.
  58. NEED TO BUILD LINKS? START BY BUILDING OUT GREAT CONTENT.
  59. MYTH #7: YOU HAVE TO BUY LINKS Image copyright © 401(K) 2012 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6355388579
  60. REALITY: THIS IS, FINALLY, NO LONGER TRUE.
  61. GOOGLE’S PENGUIN UPDATES PENALIZE PAID LINKS Image copyright © unknown - http://www.gifbin.com/981126
  62. …BUT IT DOESN’T HELP THAT LINK SELLERS ARE STILL IN THE INDEX.
  63. MYTH #8: SEO IS DEAD Image copyright © howzey - http://www.flickr.com/photos/howzey/2129104204
  64. REALITY: YOU CAN BELIEVE WHAT YOU LIKE…
  65. REALITY: YOU CAN BELIEVE WHAT YOU LIKE… BUT I’LL BELIEVE THE DATA.
  66. REALITY: YOU CAN BELIEVE WHAT YOU LIKE… BUT I’LL BELIEVE THE DATA. LOOKS LIKE THAT EARLY INVESTMENT PAID OFF!
  67. STOP BELIEVING THE MYTHS. Image copyright © nadi0 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nadio/385590715
  68. SEO WORKS BEST WHEN IT’S BUILT INTO CONTENT STRATEGY Image copyright © ludovicp - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludovicpoitou/4598981013
  69. SEO WORKS BEST WHEN IT’S BUILT INTO CONTENT STRATEGY YES, SEO IS THE CAN OPENER. Image copyright © ludovicp - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludovicpoitou/4598981013
  70. 8 WAYS TO BUILD SEO INTO YOUR DAILY CONTENT STRATEGY WORK Image copyright © 60 in 3 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/60in3/2334883075
  71. STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS • ASK HOW THEY FIND AND SEARCH THE WEB SITE • ASK THEM TO KEEP A DAILY SEARCH DIARY • ASK THEM ABOUT THE KEYWORDS THEY CARE ABOUT, LOOK OVER COMPETITION’S CONTENT Image copyright © David Boyle in DC - http://www.flickr.com/photos/beglendc/290713888
  72. CONTENT AUDIT • DO NOT INCLUDE RANK; INCLUDE TRAFFIC AND AVG. CONVERSION • INCLUDE METADATA, NOT JUST <META> CONTENT; DO NOT INCLUDE <META> KEYWORDS • INCLUDE COMPETITIVE LINK-GRAPH AND SOCIAL- GRAPH DATA Image copyright © GenBug - http://www.flickr.com/photos/genbug/4309890987
  73. PAGE TABLES • INCLUDE FINDING/ENTRY METHODS, WHETHER OR NOT THEY INVOLVE SEO • THEN REVIEW ALL THE POINTS OF ENTRY TO THE PAGE BEING DESCRIBED • ADD DETAILS ON YOUR CONTENT’S PRIMARY COMPETITORS AND DIFFERENTIATORS Image copyright © Relly Annett-Baker - http://24ways.org/2011/extracting-the-content
  74. TEMPLATES • INCLUDE VARIABLES FOR SEARCH AND SOCIAL METADATA (SUCH AS FACEBOOK OPENGRAPH, RDFa, OR SCHEMA.ORG) • DO NOT REQUIRE <META> KEYWORDS • ENSURE ALL CONTENT PUBLISHED IS ADDED TO AN XML SITEMAP Image copyright © litlnemo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/litlnemo/3296424414
  75. METADATA • MOVE BEYOND <META> CONTENT INTO METADATA • BE FORWARD-THINKING AND PROGRESSIVE; SEARCH ENGINES ARE JUST BEGINNING TO CONSUME AND USE THIS • BEGIN THINKING ABOUT HOW METADATA WILL BE PERCEIVED WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF CONTEXT Image copyright © sarah0s - http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahseverson/6245395188
  76. THE CONTENT LIFECYCLE • INCLUDE SEO WHEN WORKING ON AUDITS, TAXONOMY, METADATA, STANDARDS, AND QA/QC • MAKE SEO A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY; ONE PERSON CAN’T DO IT ALL • BUILD SEO ADVOCATES IN OTHER DISCIPLINES Image copyright © Erin Scime - http://uxmag.com/articles/content-strategy-and-ux-a-modern-love-story
  77. GOVERNANCE • DOCUMENT YOUR SEO STANDARDS, BUT DON’T STOP THERE • INCENTIVIZE STAFF TO SUPPORT STANDARDS, INCENTIVIZE MANAGERS TO EVALUATE THEIR STAFF’S SUPPORT • MEASURE THE IMPACT BY PAGE TEMPLATE FAMILY, NOT BY KEYWORDS Image copyright © Jonathon Colmant - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcolman/542404001
  78. EDITORIAL CALENDAR • GIVE SEO LOTS OF LEAD TIME • INCENTIVIZE PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN SEO AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN CONTENT CAMPAIGNS • INCLUDE TOUCHPOINTS FOR MEASUREMENT AND REPORTING Image copyright © DonnaGrayson - http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnagrayson/94131371
  79. NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING… Image copyright © @boetter - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakecaptive/3205277810
  80. “ WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
  81. CORE VALUES MATTER. WHAT ARE YOURS? Image copyright © Oberazzi - http://www.flickr.com/photos/oberazzi/318947873
  82. YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY CAN DRIVE EVEN MORE TRAFFIC AND BUSINESS GROWTH Image copyright © ndot – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndot/320119213
  83. YOU CAN IMPROVE DISCOVERABILITY, FINDABILITY, AND USABILITY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS Image copyright © andercismo – http://www.flickr.com/photos/andercismo/2349098787
  84. YOU CAN USE SEO TO GET MORE RESOURCES FOR YOUR WORK Image copyright © Narisai - http://www.flickr.com/photos/narisa/105039934
  85. YOU CAN BETTER MEASURE THE IMPACT OF YOUR EFFORTS… Image copyright © janGlas – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kokjebalder/2348461718
  86. …AND USE THAT DATA TO SHARE YOUR STORY. Image copyright © Thos003 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/thos003/6026477089
  87. ARE YOU LOOKING FOR WORK? WANT TO GET PAID MORE? Image copyright © krissen – http://www.flickr.com/photos/andercismo/2349098787
  88. ARE YOU LOOKING FOR WORK? WANT TO GET PAID MORE? LEARN SEO. Image copyright © krissen – http://www.flickr.com/photos/andercismo/2349098787
  89. HERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO START SEOMOZ.ORG/BEGINNERS-GUIDE- TO-SEO Image copyright © SEOmoz
  90. WHAT CAN SEO AND CONTENT STRATEGY ACCOMPLISH TOGETHER? LET’S FIND OUT…
  91. WE MADE IMPLICT EXPERTISE EXPLICIT AND FINDABLE HUNDREDS OF “EXPERT ADVICE” ARTICLES DRIVES HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF NEW PEOPLE TO DISCOVER REI
  92. WE TRANSFORMED THAT CONTENT INTO VISUAL, SHAREABLE DATA AND OUR CREATIVE AND MERCHANDISING TEAMS WERE ENGAGED BY THIS INFORMATION DESIGN CHALLENGE
  93. WE REACHED NEW AUDIENCES WITH EARNED MEDIA CONTENT MARKETING SHOULD BE PART OF EVERY CONTENT STRATEGY – AND YOU SHOULD BE FLUENT IN THE ANALYTICS
  94. WE LEVERAGED NEW METADATA FORMATS FOR INTEROPERABILITY THESE ARE ACTIVE ACROSS OUR ENTIRE PRODUCT CATALOG, DRIVING TRAFFIC RIGHT WHERE WE WANT IT: OUR PRODUCTS!
  95. WE CONSTANTLY PROVE THE VALUE OF STRUCTURED PRODUCT INFO. ADHERENCE TO GOVERNED SEO STANDARDS IS PART OF THE WAY OUR IN-HOUSE TEAM IS EVALUATED
  96. WE HELP BUILD SKILLS AND COMMUNITIES ACROSS CHANNELS REI IS THE LARGEST OUTDOOR EDUCATOR IN THE UNITED STATES BY NUMBER OF PEOPLE TAUGHT
  97. WE LINKED DATA WITH CONTENT TO AID IN WAYFINDING AND GREW OUR HYPERLOCAL AWARENESS AT THE SAME TIME BY PROVIDING A VALUABLE SERVICE
  98. WE AMAZED AND DELIGHTED OUR CUSTOMERS PRO-TIP: SO CAN YOU! Image copyright © Sean Dreilinger – www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/4208435158
  99. CONCLUSION AND FINAL THOUGHTS
  100. CORE VALUES MATTER.
  101. CORE VALUES MATTER. I’M AN SEO WHO VALUES CONTENT STRATEGY
  102. BUT I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE. Image copyright © gardenskate - http://www.flickr.com/photos/gardensk8/6273808719
  103. WE WANT TO BUILD A BRIDGE TO THE CONTENT STRATEGY COMMUNITY Image copyright © State Library of South Australia - http://www.flickr.com/photos/state_library_south_australia/4536634199
  104. BRIDGES BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER, HELPING US TO SHARE AND LEARN Image copyright © Gane - http://www.flickr.com/photos/gane/5229616694
  105. BRIDGES BREAK DOWN OUR MYTHS ABOUT THE UNKNOWN Image copyright © Jon Person - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonperson/3952343914
  106. AND BRIDGES MEAN BUSINESS. A LOT OF BUSINESS. Image copyright © tsnoom - http://www.flickr.com/photos/28438611@N05/5467944943
  107. FINALLY, BRIDGES HELP US START CONVERSATIONS. Image copyright © m.prinke - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mprinke/370602038
  108. FINALLY, BRIDGES HELP US START CONVERSATIONS. LET’S TALK. Image copyright © m.prinke - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mprinke/370602038
  109. JONATHON COLMAN PRINCIPAL EXPERIENCE ARCHITECT FOR REI WWW.REI.COM TWITTER @ JCOLMAN LET’S TALK.
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Let’s be honest: for most content strategists and other people working with online content, SEO is The Worst Part Of The Job. It’s hugely technical, it’s shrouded in mystery, it seems to be focused on robots instead of people, there are unspoken rules, everything can turn on a dime, and it never, ever seems to end. But SEO doesn't have to be this way. It’s time to begin a conversation between these two disciplines – they’re far more alike than you might think. And when they work together on behalf of users and customers, amazing things can happen that will drive your organisation forward. I can’t promise to change your mind about SEO, but you’ll leave this session understanding how to build the essentials into your work in ways that are simple, make sense, and are pain-free. You’ll see what business impacts and wins for the customer SEO and Content Strategy have had at REI, a major retailer in the US. And you’ll have the vocabulary, understanding and tools that you need to talk with your SEO... or to take it for yourself. Drive traffic, amaze your visitors, and Win the Internet -- with SEO and Content Strategy working together. Originally presented at the 2012 Content Strategy Forum in Cape Town, South Africa. You can learn more about Jonathon Colman at http://www.jonathoncolman.org/ Also see 200+ free Content Strategy resources at http://www.jonathoncolman.org/2013/02/04/content-strategy-resources/

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