For many years, marketers and SEO practitioners have said that “Content is king”, and with good reason; the statement is as true now as ever before. Though the importance of content has rarely been disputed, it is less universally understood how to handle content marketing. This post will address how to develop a content marketing strategy that get’s maximum exposure and gives a boost to the site’s SEO efforts.
A good place to start developing a content marketing strategy is to ask the 5 W questions:
Who is the target audience for this content?
What is the goal of the content (i.e. what response or actions should be expected from consumers)?
Where will the content be featured (e.g. company blog, industry blogs, press release services, etc.)?
When will content be released, as in daily, weekly, or monthly? (Sometimes, less is more).
Why and how will the content produced inspire audience to take action (e.g. well-written blog posts, informative infographics, entertaining videos, etc.)
The next part of developing a successful content marketing is integrating the content into the organization entire communication strategy. While many of the people who will read the content may find it through search engines, marketers can greatly speed things along by ensuring that engaging content is sent to their current fans and supporters. That means including links to content on social media networks and email newsletters. This gives the content the best chance to spread virally. People who already like the organization are more likely to spread engaging content to their friends and family. Additionally, with the promotion tools built in to social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, marketers can pay to promote their individual pieces of content to their target audience directly in a way that isn’t possible with search engines.
A key element of a successful content strategy is a functioning feedback loop. It’s important that the audience has a clear opportunity to engage with the content and that they feel they have some influence on the content to be produced. People are far more likely to return to a site when they feel like a part of the site or the overall community. There are several ways to accomplish this. Comment sections are a good choice for building a community among readers, but the organization has to be prepared to combat spam comments as well as monitor the conversations to keep it civil. It may be worth the effort in some cases, but business owners should just be aware of the possible problems that come with comments on a blog. Another way to encourage feedback is to have forms on the page for feedback to the author or for suggestions for future content. Marketers can also include questions about the content when they conduct traditional market research with focus groups and surveys. By including feedback loops in the content marketing strategy, business owners can ensure that their content becomes more relevant to their audience as they continue.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about content marketing is that freshness matters. Search engines weight new content more heavily than older content when creating search engine results page, as people most often want the most up-to-date information possible. This means that any content management strategy should include a schedule for continually posting new things. Besides helping the content to rank higher in relevant searches, it also makes the website look viable to the viewer. If a person clicks on a link from a search and finds that the last article on the blog was published a year ago, they can’t be blamed for wondering if said business is still operating or to question their abilities if they can’t handle their own site.
Freshness also counts for keywords. The keywords that people use to search for a particular topic, product or industry changes based on many factors. Part of a content marketing strategy should be constantly check to see what target audiences are searching for and write new articles focusing on those keywords. Businesses can even take old articles, reword them so they contain the new keywords and then republish them so they get indexed with the better content, since freshness counts in search engine results. To illustrate, if a company released a new product in the spring, and wrote a blog post about it then, they may want to write a new blog post that focuses on how said product would be the perfect Christmas gift for 2013. People will be searching for that phrase more than they would anything spring related.
The last thing that a content marketing strategy needs is something that is often forgotten by business owners: goals, metrics, and benchmarks. The thing about content marketing is that in many cases the benefits are difficult to quantify. It’s rare, though conceivable, that a customer will come and say that they are choosing a business because they read their blog. The benefits come in the form of brand awareness, increases web traffic, and better public perception about the organization. So the best way to track the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy is to include metrics tools, like Google Analytics, and set benchmarks based on much traffic a site currently gets. Then the business owners can set goals for the effects of the strategy, such as a 5 percent increase in total web traffic or 5 percent more mentions on social media channels. Always be sure to set realistic goals, good content can do a lot for a business but don’t expect net profits to double because the company started a blog.
Content is definitely still the king, but it takes effort for businesses to use content to their advantage. A well thought out content marketing plan will help a business choose the best content for their audience and provides them with the tools to measure their goals. By planning ahead, business owners can lay the foundation for a successful content marketing campaign.