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Thought Leadership & SEO: Why You Need Both

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SEO is a form of marketing that relies on search engine results to distribute a business’s ideas and generate leads. It is consistently ranked among the highest-ROI marketing channels. Thought leadership is a broader category of marketing than SEO, involving gaining prominence through one’s ideas. There is a special relationship between the two.  

While thought leadership can be conducted without SEO – via public speaking, authoring books, hosting a TV show, or podcasting – the reverse isn’t true. Successful SEO requires thought leadership. In this article, we explain the connection between Thought Leadership & SEO and how you can capitalize on it.

What is Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership is the process of becoming known for the quality of your ideas. In the digital context, it’s an elevated version of content marketing, wherein a company publishes its insights online in order to augment a brand’s reputation and sales. 

Since 2007 or so, publishing content that’s useful to your audience has been a key factor in Google’s SEO algorithm. Publishing 500-word blog articles weekly used to be enough to climb the rankings in your industry. Today, the web is so saturated with decent-quality content that it is not enough to simply create content; you must create the highest level of content – thought leadership. 

Thought leadership can take the form of blog articles, landing pages, research reports, videos, or other digital media. It is distinguished from other forms of content in the following ways.

Attributes of Thought Leadership

  • Thought-Provoking – Offers new perspectives or shares unique data that isn’t available elsewhere.
  • Succinct — Respects its readers time by sharing its insights quickly, without burying key information.
  • Original — Exists only on your website, directing attention directly to your business.
  • Actionable — Leaves its readers with actionable insights into their 
  • Authoritative — Uses a consistent confident tone that conveys the author’s expertise.

In the context of SEO, thought leadership directly answers the question inherent in the search query, and does so in an interesting-enough way to keep the visitor engaged.

How Successful SEO Employs Thought Leadership

As the chart below illustrates, consistent publishing of high-quality content is the most important ranking factor in the modern Google search algorithm

Thought leadership is, by nature, the kind of content Google wants to offers searchers. As a result, publishing thought-leadership content targeting commercially-valuable is the single best way of increasing Google’s trust in your website and earn increased rankings and traffic.

Thought leadership content also facilitates the off-page element of SEO, known as link building. When you create valuable content, bloggers and journalists naturally link to it, further increasing your site’s Google Trust. Our agency believes that thought leadership is one of the few truly effective link building strategies in modern SEO. If you can achieve a cadence of at least two thought leadership articles a week for 4-6 months, your website can attain news website status with Google, which gives it quicker indexing and higher rankings.

In addition to direct ranking impacts, thought leadership has a positive effect on engagement, resulting in:

📈Increases in:

  • Average session time
  • Time on page
  • Organic traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • ROI

📉Decreases in:

  • Bounce rate

In sum, using thought leadership as the foundation of your SEO strategy is the best way to maximize the KPIs of an SEO campaign.

How to Conduct a Thought Leadership SEO Campaign

Developing a thought leadership campaign to enhance your SEO is simple in concept but complex in execution. To do so, you must:

  • Identify your target audience and define your company’s voice and tone.  
  • Employ an SEO-focused content architecture to capture specific topic areas; such as the hub and spoke model, which includes a broad or container keyword based page that links to several long keyword spokes.
  • Analyze search intent to determine what type of content to publish, which will include blogs, landing pages, eBooks, or videos.
  • Determine how much content to create. Minimally, you should create and publish at least two pieces of high-quality content per week. 
  • Track key SEO metrics and adjust your strategy as necessary.

Following the above steps will help you attain high search rankings, and combined with an analysis of each keyword’s commercial value and conversion optimization best practices, will result in excellent ROI for your marketing investment.

Getting Help Implementing Thought Leadership & SEO Campaign

Implementing a thought leadership & SEO strategy requires time, expense, and niche expertise. As a result, many businesses look to an agency such as First Page Sage.

We were the first SEO agency to explicitly apply a thought leadership approach to SEO, and have refined our process over nearly 15 years. If you’re interested in learning more about partnering with us, reach out here

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.

Learn how Thought Leadership SEO can fit into your company’s marketing strategy