Content marketing is increasingly important in a world dominated by the Google algorithm and for good reason. Google’s constant tweaks of its search algorithm seek to present users with the most relevant, timely, and valuable content to address their queries and defeat the aims of techno-nerds who try to game the system to get their crappy content to rank well. Bing does a similar thing with their algorithm. So, how can you dominate the Google algorithm despite frequent updates to drive more traffic to your website? Today, we’ll discuss the 9 essentials of content marketing that will deliver your content on top.
Why does content marketing matter?
- 78% of consumers prefer to hear about your products/ services through articles rather than advertising.
- 55% increase in web traffic when a company adds a blog to its website.
- 97% more inbound links (the most important element of traditional SEM campaigns) when a company adds a blog to its website (same source).
- 82% of consumers feel better about your brand and 60% of consumers seek your brand after reading your content.
- 80% of marketers say content marketing is their top priority
- More content marketing stats [source]
- Content marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional marketing
- Content marketing generates 97% more backlinks which are a major ranking factor for search engines
- The ROI of content marketing is higher than paid advertising
What is content marketing?
Before we jump into our discussion of the essentials of content marketing, let’s discuss what we mean when we talk about content marketing. Content marketing encapsulates a variety of content creation efforts and it’s not new. White papers, seminars, brochures, instruction manuals, and even advertising are forms of content marketing. In the digital age, content marketing has grown to be king.
So, who died and made content marketing king, you ask? Well, black hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for one. Before Panda and Penguin combined forces to foil black hat SEO operators, they abused the Google algorithm (which determines your rank in search results when users search using queries composed of keywords the search engine uses to identify user intent and matching content). Black hat SEO used tactics such as keyword stuffing (putting your keyword every other word rather than fitting it in naturally), buying links to irrelevant, high-ranking websites, and other dastardly deeds that meant content didn’t have to provide value to users, it just had to fool the Google bot into thinking there was value.
But, Google fixed that problem and many websites were REALLY hurt by the changes — my site saw a significant increase because I’d never worried about the Google bot, only my readers against the advice of my mentor.
Content marketing may involve any one of a number of content types including:
- Long-form content such as blog posts and recognize that gaining backlinks from other sites (a major ranking factor) and ranking better means creating increasingly longer posts. Backlinko recommends a minimum of about 1500 words as that’s the average from its analysis of top-ranked content. They suggest aiming for 1800 words although I’ve seen recommendations up to 3000 words, a number that seems to grow every year. Currently, I’m in the process of culling through my old posts to create posts based on more recent information as well as increase the word count (naturally) for older content that aimed for the standard 500 words at the time.
- Social media content consisting of shared blog posts as well as content created specifically for social media.
- Video that you embed on your website or use on social media sites like YouTube. The trend of short videos on TikTok and Instagram Reels is increasingly popular with some demographics.
- Images are a great way to convey information, especially instructions, as you can see below. Unique images and infographics attract more backlinks.
- Email marketing and SMS (short messaging services) like text.
- eBooks are a great tool for sharing large amounts of information and can act as a lead magnet to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email marketing campaigns.
- Podcasts are more popular these days as a way for commuters to spend their travel time and for distraction during exercise.
- User-generated content is a great way to easy the burden of creating fresh content all the time and attracts more attention than other forms of content marketing because it’s seen as unbiased and friendly.
Essentials of content marketing
These are great arguments for a sound content marketing strategy. But, how do you implement a content marketing strategy?
- Identify your target marketing and their pain points. Create content that addresses their pain points then share that content on your website as well as link to it in social media posts that match your target market.
- Focus on creating value by researching your posts. Be consistent by posting content on a regular basis.
- Discover who’s already talking in your market space and what they’re talking about. Also, which content appears to generate engagement among followers and comments on blog posts? Share their content on your own social networks and gather ideas to support your content marketing strategy. Remember, content marketing should be about both creating and curating valuable content for your target audience. Track trending content on your social media sites and Google Trends to create content that takes advantage of these trends.
- Plan an effective content marketing strategy that keeps creating fresh content for your blog on a regular basis. Brands with fresh, valuable content on a consistent basis (ie. once a week or more frequently) see higher conversion rates compared with those who post content less regularly. Email marketing, a subset of content marketing, offers up to a 4400% ROI.
- Vary content types. The internet is increasingly visual so be sure to include a variety of visual format types. Create a YouTube channel and produce videos on a regular basis. Embed them on posts, but be sure to summarize the content as there’s little SEO value in just embedding a video. Create a Pinterest account. Currently, more traffic comes to websites from Pinterest than any other social network.
- Ensure quality content by researching each post and writing carefully. Edit your posts before pushing the publish button. Create a voice that resonates with your target audience and avoids jargon unless your target audience shares your vocabulary. Don’t write “teaser” copy that promises solutions that the content doesn’t provide — I find Hubspot particularly guilty of this.
- Write compelling headlines and snippets to entice readers to your posts. On social media, avoid using easy link sharing offered by some automation solutions or mashing the share button on a post. Instead, upload your feature image and write a short description that makes fans curious to read the entire post.
- Follow up by answering comments and thanking users who share your content. Your content marketing should be the basis for building your online community.
- Measure, analyze, decide. Don’t just post content and hope it resonates with your target audience. Analyze your posts to determine the best times and days to post and which content resonates most. Use Google Analytics to track the sources of visits as well as which pieces of content drove the most visits to make decisions about how to optimize your traffic.
Details behind the essentials of content marketing
I really want this post to provide values not just list the essentials of content marketing. The next sections go into more detail on how to implement the essentials of content marketing and provide some examples to get the creative juices flowing.
1. Essentials of content marketing: New, fresh content
Unique, fresh content creates significant value for visitors by solving their problems. Maybe their problem is how to paint a wall. If you’re a business that sells painting material, you might include some instructions and a video on your website. Maybe their problem is they’re bored. So, offer some entertaining content such as videos or interactive games to solve their problem. Gamification is a newer tool used to help engage users.
But, how do you create all that content? What should you write about? Answering these questions is one of the biggest essentials of content marketing as you want your posts to look fresh and unique.
Your first step is to create a content marketing calendar. Not only does a calendar make your job easier when it comes to creating content (no more staring at a blank screen trying to come up with a topic and resources) but it’s essential for marketing automation, which reduces the disruption to your day by posting at scheduled times. I like to create a monthly calendar and then upload content into my marketing automation tool (Buffer in my case) on a weekly basis.
AI has been a great tool for helping you create fresh content for both your blog and social media platforms. Many automation tools now include AI to help or you can use ChatGPT and the image creator, like Dall-E available on many different platforms. I NEVER use AI to craft my content but it’s a great tool for creating a draft. AI ensures you consider various perspectives before putting together your content and helps identify which are the most important points you should consider in writing your content. The main problem with AI is that it’s a machine so it doesn’t understand the nuances of your niche and it simply rehashes what it finds on the internet. It also doesn’t source its material.
And, become an expert on topics that solve problems faced by your target market. Or feature folks who ARE experts on these topics as guest posts. Creating content without a high level of expertise on the topic isn’t quality content.
I once read a statement that if you read 2 books on the subject, you’re an expert. Balderdash. Today, everyone thinks they’re an expert in the subject du jour. I write on digital marketing because I have a PhD in marketing, run digital marketing campaigns for clients, run my own digital marketing strategies, and teach digital marketing which keeps me on the cutting edge of related topics. I have potential guest contributors send me stuff and most of it’s crap because they can’t add anything to what I already published on my site. In most cases, what they send me is a rehash of an article they read and is too generic.
A key element of your content marketing strategy should be continuous learning and sharing of cutting-edge insights on topics your target audience needs help with.
2. Essentials of content marketing: Curate valuable content
Creating content is time-consuming and difficult, especially if you’re not a good writer or don’t have time to write. Curated content comes from scanning other sources out there — blogs, news sites, and social media sites. But, how do you find content?
- Invite others to contribute their RSS feeds. For instance, many repeat visitors to my site recognize that most of my posts are re-published by Business2Community and many are posted by Social Media Today (thanks for the vote of confidence for the value of my content). That’s their model. They curate content from a large number of related blogs and publish the ones they think are most appealing to their readers.
- Create Google Alerts for topics related to your products and services. Google Alerts grab content, mostly from blogs, press releases, and articles posted online, related to the keywords you enter and deliver them to your inbox. Because there are SO MANY posts, I ask to only get the top posts for a particular day. You can then share articles you think your audience will find valuable.
- Subscribe to the RSS feeds for blogs you think are high quality. Just like with Google Alerts, you’ll get posts from the blog delivered to your inbox and can share them with your network.
- Follow people who post good things on X, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Share their content when you think your audience will find it valuable. This is also a good way to build and engage a network to help share content you created and boost your content marketing strategy.
- Trends. X posts trending topics. So does Alexa and several other sources. If they fit the interests of your target audience, sharing content related to these trends gives you a little lift.
3. Essentials of content marketing: Know your platform
You need to understand the nuances of your chosen platforms and what users expect (reward) on the platform. For instance, blog posts should contain elements of on-page SEO, images, and elements that make it easy for readers to skim your pages. Social media pages are varied so you should choose ones that are used by your target market, meet your content goals, and fit your ability to create content. Below is some advice to help you choose social platforms.
What NOT to do in your content marketing
- NEVER, NEVER copy content you found somewhere else. It’s illegal as it violates copyright laws and Google doesn’t look favorably on people who cheat. BTW, if you’ve copied this content illegally (and you know who you are) STOP!
- Don’t SELL. Sure, your goal is to sell something, but your content marketing strategy shouldn’t involve selling. If you provide value, you’ll attract more visitors and convert more because you gave them the tools to evaluate a purchase and they feel obligated after you solve their problem. So, don’t sell. Solve.
- Never write about something you don’t know about. Don’t just try to fake it. Spend the time necessary to learn about something before you write about it. And, keep learning.
- Don’t just keep writing the same thing over and over again. Branch out or find different angles or topics your audience will find valuable. It’s okay to periodically update an old post, but never just republish it- Google will slap you.
- Don’t write superficially. Try to give value to your posts. Your content shouldn’t look like teasers designed to get visitors to buy your book or training program to get in-depth information. Give…..
More essentials of content marketing
Is it the quality of your content marketing or the variety of your content marketing that makes for great content?
While it might sound simple, the answer may not be so simple.
The reality is that searchers look for content that solves their problems. So, that implies the quality of the content is much more important. But, searchers must first FIND content before it solves their problems.
So, while quality content is obviously better for solving searchers’ problems, having content on various platforms, such as YouTube, Scribd, and other content management platforms helps make content easier to find as each platform enhances search with its own tools and metrics.
To be valuable, content must be in a form that’s usable by the searcher. That means you need multi-format content to address different learning styles as well as solve different types of problems. For instance, if I’m looking for information on creating a blog, detailed instructions are less valuable than a YouTube video demonstrating step-by-step how to create a blog or a checklist of tasks that I need to accomplish in creating my blog. To see the value of video for aiding understanding, see my video on installing the WordPress SEO plugin. Or, if you want to give a lot of information, creating an ebook on your site is much better than a series of posts that break up the content into little snippets. For instance, check out my ebook on creating a website without a developer that embeds this video along with a bunch of others, images, and text to walk you through the process.
Content marketing must also support your brand
But, your content really must do more than solve searchers’ problems. Your content marketing strategy should also support organizational goals, such as:
- Build your brand reputation
- Inform readers about your ability, competitive advantage, and other information that motivates purchase
- Move visitors toward a purchase
- Encourage visitors to develop a relationship with your brand
- Improve brand sentiment
- Bring more visitors to your website or e-commerce platform
Luckily, with a robust content marketing strategy, you create both value for searchers and brands.
Content marketing 101
Sales don’t just happen. You must first attract prospective buyers and then ease them down the conversion funnel to nurture them toward a purchase. That means you must create unique content for each stage along the journey from awareness to post-purchase. Below is a nice image that’s easy to digest (it’s a cake) and spells out the content needed at each stage in the conversion process.
That’s why my content marketing calendar template has a place to enter the stage in the buying process forming the basis for the content you’ll create. Aim for creating content across all the stages in the buying process for each type of prospective customer and the different product lines you offer. Also, recognize that some platforms work best at certain stages in the buying process. For instance, social media is especially valuable at the awareness stage although it’s useful at several other stages as well. Email marketing is great for nurturing leads after a prospect raises their hand. By segmenting your subscriber list and sending targeted email messages that resonate with the subscriber based on their product interest and stage in the buying cycle you can optimize your performance.
I have another post that goes into much more depth regarding matching content to the stage of the buying process.
Some final thoughts to help your content marketing strategy
- Proofread. Use a spell checker and grammar checker to help.
- Make your content visually appealing by using breaks and images.
- Invite commentary — BTW, you’re ALWAYS invited to comment on my posts.
- Make content easy to share.
OK, enough to digest for 1 day. Stop back for more content marketing strategies and other marketing tactics to make your marketing SIZZLE.
Have a great day
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