Are you a content fanatic, belting out great pieces of thought-leadership every week? Are you on the fence, trying to work out whether content is necessary or even relevant to your marketing efforts? Or maybe you’ve added content marketing to your digital mix, and you’re just not seeing the results your marketing team promised.
If any of these sounds like you, read on…
Why content matters
Content affects search rankings and results. The words on your website, blog, and social media account will all contribute to Google’s ability to find you online. If Google can’t find you, neither can your customers.
Google needs words to index content.
People look for words. They search using terms typed into their search engines. Without words (in text, not images), your website cannot be found.
What are the keys to content marketing that works?
- Technical SEO—get the basics right. Make sure your site is properly set up on the back end. And make sure content is loaded in the way that best suits the search engines trying to find your business. Web content should be easy to read, and free from spelling or grammar errors and typos.
- Fresh is best. In Google terms, new content is news. That makes it more relevant to searchers. Check that your site is sending the date of the content to search engines so that it is clear that the content is fresh.
- Metadata still matters. Use your chosen keywords in the copy. See that they are tagged on the back end. Most of all, craft great descriptions. The page description is the first thing the reader sees, and it affects whether or not they click the link.
- Give every page the “homepage treatment.” Remember: search engines rank pages, not sites. So every page needs to be optimized. Don’t copy and paste what you did for another page on your site. You will lose SERP points if you do.
- Ensure the content is original. Don’t steal content. Don’t duplicate content. Don’t plagiarize.
- Above all: Google wants content that is FRESH and ORIGINAL.
How content builds communities
The internet creates new communities in ways that never were available to most people before. Rather than being forced into a group based solely on chance factors such as where you live, your gender, or your age, people are now free to build their own communities. More often than not, these grow on shared interests. Even obscure or rare pursuits find a home of like-minded fanatics on the web.
What this means, to a degree, is that every business is now a global business if they address shared issues to any degree. This represents a phenomenal marketing opportunity.
Further, giving people a central spot to gather and find the answers they need serves a community in an intentional and meaningful way. It’s a great way to grow a loyal following.
Local communities can be developed around a business’ ability to answer specific questions. These could relate to a service the firm offers, or something related to what they do. Over time, this will develop a loyal fan base.
In the short term, answering these questions and weighing in on local discussions adds user-generated content to the marketing mix. It provides a rich source of questions to answer in blog articles or on social channels in visual memes and advice pieces.
How to implement content marketing in your strategy
Every victory starts with a clear strategy. You need to create a map that takes you from where you are now to where you plan to be. We like to base this audience journey on the idea of education as a platform for user growth. When you impart knowledge, you build trust and establish yourself as an authority—you demonstrate expertise that people come to rely on.
The first thing to identify is where is your audience now? How much do they know about you? How do they feel about your industry in general, and your service or product in particular? Are they loyal fans or only vaguely aware that you exist?
Next, you want to decide what the goal looks like. Where should the audience be at the end of your first campaign? How much should they know about you? How should their habits have changed?
Most important of all: What do they need to know to take them from where they are now to where you want them to be?
Map the journey
It’s time to get practical. Divide the journey into as many sections as there are weeks or months in the campaign. Create content to act as stepping-stones that lead your readers from their starting point to their destination.
Practical steps for creating great web content:
- Mind map the theme you’re writing about. Use an online tool so that you can rearrange your map until it flows logically.
- Use the mind map as an outline for your content. You just need to fill in the blanks!
- Articles can be between 300–1200 words long, or longer. Ideally, vary the length to cater for a range of different types of readers. This also keeps your content mix interesting.
- Do your SEO research before you start. Then use those keywords (especially long-tail keywords) to create content that matches what searchers are looking for.
- Use the language your clients use.
- Find out where they hang out online and share the content there.
- For web content ideas, find out where they hang out online and listen to their questions.
- Answer those questions in your content.
A question we’re often asked is, how often should I update my blog?
The first thing to consider is what you can achieve. It’s important to be realistic in your strategy. It would be better to update your blog once a month consistently, than aim for every two days and miss half the deadlines.
Having said that, the more current your site content is, the more likely you are to receive a nod from Google. Because of the way Google’s site crawlers index the web, you should not blog less frequently than every 90 days.
Ideally, share something new every week—more often if possible.
Why go digital?
UK online magazine Business Zone sums it up perfectly:
“Why is digital marketing so important? Because it is not only a rapidly growing force in the current marketing playing field, it is set to be the future of marketing, and it seems likely that digital media will soon replace more traditional forms altogether.”
Businesses that don’t take advantage of the online space to grow will soon be replaced by businesses that do.
Most of all, though, your clients are online. Why not join them?
Does it deliver? How to measure web content results
Before you start any digital campaign, decide what you want to achieve. List the KPIs that really matter.
The key things to measure in terms of digital marketing are:
- Brand awareness—to gauge this, monitor brand mentions and sentiment online.
- Customer retention and loyalty—look at your site traffic. How big is the audience you’re reaching? Who are they? Are they the RIGHT audience? Make adjustments accordingly to ensure the campaign stays current, relevant and effective.
- Engagement—what happens next? What do people do after encountering your content? Do they go to a specific page? Do they share the content? Do they download something or sign up for something?
Armed with this information, you can see what is working—and what to change. You will also be able to see which changes will have the best result.
Web content is key to search engine rankings. The good news is that it’s not as hard to create the right kind of content as some people believe. These steps will help you create the kind of content that speaks to your audience—and results in conversions.