Optimizing Content Marketing

Optimizing content marketing strategy isn’t easy, but it’s REALLY important! You need to know that you won’t see results from optimizing content marketing immediately. In fact, it will likely take six months or more before you see your content marketing efforts produce a sizable lift in market performance. You don’t get results any faster with any form of marketing or at a lower price compared with advertising. But, when it’s all said and done, content marketing is one of the best long-term strategies when it comes to improving marketing performance without breaking the bank. In fact, check out the ROI (return on investment) you get from various digital marketing channels in the image below and you will see that optimizing content marketing, which is a key element of SEO, has the highest return of any other channel. BTW, if you think that the return is better through traditional channels like radio and TV, think again. The return on digital channels far outperforms those of traditional channels at a fraction of the cost.

optimizing content marketing
Image courtesy of First Page Sage

Why optimizing content marketing works

First, let’s take a step back to look at SEO (search engine optimization). When users query a search engine, the engine delivers content that addresses the user’s intent rank-ordered with the best content shown first. And you know from your own search behavior that you commonly choose one of the first links shown in the results. Showing up first delivers A LOT MORE visits to your website. We call this organic traffic and it represents about 53% of the traffic coming to your website. That probably explains why SEO delivers such high ROI.

SEO is based on a ranking algorithm that, for Google, contains 200 factors. Each factor has a weight associated with it. Here are some of the most impactful factors when it comes to your search rank:

  • Social media engagement, which involves sharing valuable content on social platforms
  • Backlinks and when you share great content, other websites pick it up and link to you.
  • Time on site and other metrics that show visitors like your content, which is greater when you have a lot of valuable content
  • Keyword and image optimization, which is related to your content
  • Content length and the current standard is 1500+ words
  • Providing a great user experience, which involves good navigation and creating content that answers visitor’s questions

As you can see, many of these are related to content and content is the single biggest factor impacting your SEO rank. Thus, your rank has a lot to do with optimizing content marketing on your pages.

Optimizing content marketing?

Optimizing content marketing isn’t something you do sometimes, it’s something you need as part of your everyday work processes. Here are some of the types of content you need to share on a consistent basis:

optimal post frequency on social media
Image courtesy of Plug and Play Tech Center
  • Blog posts – you need at least 1 post a week, I commonly try to do 5 a week. This increased my visitors by 5 fold. Strive for content that’s over 1500 words, contains a few images, has backlinks to high-quality content, and uses keywords related to your business effectively.
  • Social media shares based on the graphic above. Format content to optimize engagement with that community. For instance, you need images for Instagram (or videos for Instagram Reels), videos for TikTok, and hashtags for posts on some platforms but not on others. Most of your content should provide value versus prompting your business (at least 80% valuable).
  • Email marketing messages sent to a segmented list of subscribers based on their interests. Pay careful attention to the subject line and include content to help subscribers.
  • Digital advertising, especially on social media platforms as it provides great opportunities for targeting.

Here are some tips for optimizing content marketing strategy.

Don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket

Produce content in a variety of formats, including text, images, and videos. Not only does this variety break up your content, but it also appeals to a variety of different users. Choose a variety of topics (non-promotional content is key), plan content for each of your target market segments, and create content designed for visitors at various stages in the buying cycle.

Scheduling posts/ updates

Most marketers post several times a day with timing related to when your target market is online and the platform you’re using. Here’s some advice from experts on when to publish content, although you may find your optimal time is different due to your target market.

when to post
Image courtesy of Mentionlytics

Posting on the frequency recommended for each platform is a big part of optimizing content marketing and varies by platform, as shown in an earlier image. For instance, publishing less than 2-3 times per week on your blog results in much lower conversion and doesn’t help your SEO as much as posting every day or even several times a day.

Plus, you need to spread out your posts rather than bunch them all together at once. Marketing automation tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Hubspot make it much easier to meet these publication goals without driving yourself nuts. By allowing you to set up a schedule and create content for each slot in the schedule, these tools allow you to create a day’s worth (or content for an entire week or even a month) of content at one time. Automation tools reduce your effort, increase efficiency (because you aren’t stopping and starting other work every time you need to publish a post, you get more done in a day), and reduce the chances you’ll miss a publication slot.

Many of these tools now offer AI to help you write content starting with blog posts from your website or prompts you supply. These further enhance your productivity and help you stay on track, although you need to be careful as not all AI content is worthy of publication and some can damage your reputation.

Once scheduled, you shouldn’t ignore your content stream as you might want to add something topical, thus delaying scheduled posts or removing something already scheduled as events make this content inappropriate. For instance, after the plane took down the towers in NY, publishing upbeat content seemed jarring.

Content marketing calendar

Experienced digital marketers know the importance of a content marketing calendar. My own content marketing calendar includes mainly blog post scheduling and sharing on social media.

Why should you use a content marketing calendar when optimizing content marketing?

  • It reduces writer’s block because you’re not staring at a blank screen wondering what to write about.
  • It ensures you produce sufficient content to reach your goals.
  • It gives visitors a reason to come back if you produce fresh content on a reliable schedule.
  • It’s imperative if you have a team working on your social media because it lets everyone know what content is in the works and when it’ll be published.
  • It ensures you create a variety of content aimed at different target markets and different stages in the buying process.

You’ll find a wide range of content marketing calendars out there to help you get started in crafting your own content strategy. To help, I created a downloadable content marketing template you can use that contains columns for optimizing your content marketing. Below you can see some entries that demonstrate how you might use the calendar. I use color coding to help ensure the functionality of the calendar. For instance, at a glance, I can ensure I scheduled enough content for Twitter because it’s orange compared to other social media and my blog. I can also ensure I’m covering a wide range of topics rather than focusing too much on one of them.  Note that you might not need all of the columns I created.

content calendar templateElements for optimizing content marketing

Below are some elements to consider as you’re optimizing your content, including:

  • Headings, subheadings, and lists make your content more appealing to readers and more useful for those interested in your content. With these elements, you ensure lots of white space to encourage readers down the page and allow users to quickly find what they need. Reading a blog post isn’t like reading a book. Visitors don’t read from start to finish. In fact, only 29% of visitors will read the entire post while most will simply skim it.
  • Images — especially on Facebook you’ll get more engagement on posts with interesting images. Pinterest requires images and you need to ensure the image links to your page or you lose much of your effort. And, blogs should contain at least 1 image for every 350 words.
  • Hashtags — although overusing hashtags is annoying. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags although the platform recently began favoring posts with a much lower number of hashtags. Using hashtags on platforms where they’re not the norm, like Facebook, just shows you’re too lazy to create unique content for each platform.
  • Including social CTA — it’s ok, and even recommended, that you tell users on social media what they should do. Adding a line asking them to share or comment on the post rather than leaving them without instructions can hurt your engagement.

Conclusion

Try out some of these tactics. Rather than trying them all out, you’ll see better results by only choosing a few and doing them thoroughly. With the limited bandwidth common for most small businesses, that means choosing only one or two social media platforms rather than trying to be everywhere and not doing a good job in terms of consistency and uniqueness on any platform.

I’d love your feedback so share your results and questions with me in the comments below.

Good luck optimizing content marketing!

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