When a company wants to create a page on its site or launch a new marketing campaign, dozens, if not over a hundred, questions come to mind that will affect the performance and outcomes.

This list isn’t fully exhaustive, but it should help convey the broader implications of adding new pages or marketing campaigns. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this adage applies to SEO more and more these days.

The business

  1. Is there a problem that’s being addressed?
  2. How is the problem solved?
  3. Does the company have proven success here?
  4. Is there demand around this problem?
  5. Are there subject-matter experts available to speak to this?
  6. Is there money in this? Meaning… is there value in pursuing this market?
  7. What does success look like 3, 9, 12 months out?

The customers

  1. Is there pain felt about the problem?
  2. Are there solutions to solve that problem (reaching demand)
  3. Can you articulate how a customer solved the problem with your solution?
  4. Are any customers willing to go on the record about it? (social proof)
  5. What segment or industry resonates the best with your solution?
  6. What does the research and decision-making process look like for this?
  7. How do customers rate your product over the status quo or competitors?
  8. What type of content will earn their trust to exchange their contact info?

The website

  1. Who owns this, specifically over the long term? Who’s driving the success of this content?
  2. Does the CMS support the content needs today and a year from now?
  3. Is the plumbing (forms, conversion tracking, lead routing, etc.) confirmed to be working?
  4. How should people discover the content?
  5. How will the content evolve over time; is there a plan for it?
  6. Does this conflict with existing content; can we avoid those conflicts?
  7. How will this affect site performance — embedding is fine, but are we thinking that through?

The opportunity

  1. What category does this content best align with? Example: call center software.
  2. Is this a high-stakes purchase? Are customers carefully evaluating purchases?
  3. How can the brand get ahead of other aspects of research?
  4. How can this content outperform the incumbents? (Content quality, backlinks, etc.)
  5. What original, unique angles can you add to the content out there?
  6. What tools or solutions do you need to unseat customers from?
  7. Which customers are not your target? Why?

The execution

  1. What does the market look like regarding content quality and credibility?
  2. Do you have the chops to deliver a premium experience?
  3. Do you have the underlying knowledge and intuition to determine success?
  4. Is the content resonating with the way customers and the market think?
  5. What media is used besides text? (Images, videos, tools, quizzes, etc.)
  6. Can AI legitimately help with this content? Or does it hurt?
  7. Can any partners or customers be included or referenced in the content?

The distribution

  1. What human angles can you add to the content that make it worth sharing?
  2. How can you get these ideas into a few videos at different stages of awareness?
  3. Can you repurpose existing videos and webinars around this?
  4. What level of investment can you put around distribution? (Influencers, paid social, etc.)
  5. Are there any guides or templates that can complement the content?
  6. Any other initial self-qualifying content upgrades you can add?
  7. Are you actually reaching who needs to be reached? How will you know?

The optimization

  1. At what intervals are we checking for content and business performance?
  2. Are you willing to review and improve this content at least annually?
  3. Are subject matter experts available to enhance the content’s relevance?
  4. For great-performing assets, can you replicate in adjacent markets/audiences?
  5. Are you willing to cut your losses and try again for underperforming assets?
  6. Are you pushing the envelope enough? What holds you back?
  7. Are you maximizing every content opportunity across the funnel?

What you’ll find that most of these questions must be answered LONG before pinging the SEO consultant or content marketer. Marketing execs and the like should help articulate a vision around how their solutions fit into the real-world for prospects. Illustrate examples of it working and be willing to scope out the work, opportunity, and even risks along the way — then go all in and do it.

When campaigns fail, there are a few primary reasons why:

  • Lack of understanding of the customer. You won’t stand out without truly knowing what customers want and how they seek your solutions. A good example is the brands that want to be known for their own category. Revenue intelligence? Tell me what that means. But tracking sales conversations – that’s closer to what someone is seeking out. Meet customers where they are, not what’s in your investor deck.
  • Underestimating the competition or execution. These days, you can get far with superior content, but you won’t win every battle. You need many content allies and quality backlink support to have a chance. Related, you also need to run more plays to get people to consume your content — reach people outside of search and ensure it’s share-worthy, at least for their teams.
  • Overreliance on one channel or an untested point of view. I’ve come to terms with the fact that search is only ONE distribution channel. And it’s increasingly competitive and moving swiftly toward paid distribution. The good ol’ days of ranking and dominating for months (or years) are fading … and now content hygiene and maintenance are becoming more of a requirement than a luxury. As far as the POV, too many companies play it safe and tend to only write about themselves in the story without taking a firm stance around a problem or trend in the industry — own your strategic narrative and weave it into your content from the get-go.

Next steps

For brands and companies — you don’t have to overthink all this. I admit that I’m usually in the weeds when it comes to fielding these requests and imparting advice on how to win through search.

Do yourself a favor: Write out your visions, ideas, pains (and quantify them), and the opportunities for how your brand fits in. It might not be perfect (nothing ever is)… but it’ll solve the vast majority of these questions and help you get primed for the long content journey ahead to attract and convert traffic into high-intent buyers.

Fellow SEO consultants — You probably have these questions and dozens more. Before you hit your client with a content brief with 100 fields, align on the process and expectations.

Figure out these answers early on so you’re not just taking orders, but helping brands work through these challenges together. Easier said than done, but consider probing them for the outlook for the next year ahead and see where SEO can help and where their energy is better focused elsewhere.

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