Know Your Keywords
The first step is to build a master keyword list – a large set of keywords that defines your strategic keyword universe. Think about what language you want to define and own.
Build a Search-Informed Content Plan
Take each of your keywords and turn them into the title of an article, video, or blog post that people might care about. It isn't enough to write a post about the "best computer mouse". Instead, write about the "best computer mouse for shooters" or "best computer mouse for lefties".
For each piece on content on the editorial plan assign a destination URL for conversions. Examples include product page, a lead capture form, a registration form, or campaign messaging.
Create, Publish, and Distribute
At this point, you start creating or repurposing content that aligns to your larger keyword strategy. Make sure that each piece of content has an optimized title tag, keyword-focused copy, strong meta description, and optimized inbound links from related content. And, of course, you should cross-link and cross promote each piece of content using the target keyword in anchor text on each platform and distribution network.
A good analytics package will allow you to track referrals for each content piece. Couple this report with time-on-site metrics, pages viewed, and a traditional SEO ranking analysis that shows keywords and ranking URLs. If you can, track conversions and new customers that are generated from organic search landing pages.
Once you have metrics flowing in, you can go back to your editorial plan and start dropping in performance numbers for each piece. If you really want to get fancy, include the number of inbound links to the content (it’s easy to get this from services like Majestic SEO and SEOmoz).
As content moves to center stage, it’s imperative that brands become master of this new style of content marketing. Consider this the final step in the evolution of search. Make search and keywords a foundational part of an integrated content marketing strategy. It’s survival of the fittest in the search results, and only the strongest – and keyword-driven and link-worthy – content will survive.