Improve your SEO and online presence with these 7 steps to supercharge your content marketing
Is one of your goals for 2018 (and beyond) to super-power your content marketing?
You’re not alone. Marketing as a whole is moving in the direction of authentic content versus pushy advertising.
Marketo gives us plenty of good reasons why this is true in their infographic comparing the two:
“Content marketing develops trust by providing the buyer with information that will help them make the right decision, thus reducing organizational and personal risk.”
It’s all about driving traffic, building trust, educating, informing, and nurturing leads. A 30-second advertisement can’t accomplish all that, but content marketing can.
In short, content marketing success is a worthy goal that could result in huge ROI for your brand.
But, is it an achievable goal?
Consider this famous quote related to goal-setting:
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” (Norman Vincent Peale)
I agree with the logic of this statement – with one caveat.
You can shoot for the moon, that big goal of content marketing success, and hope you land there.
Or, you can shoot for the moon with a content strategy and land squarely on top of it, dead-center.
That’s right. The key to hitting your goal bullseye is strategizing. That’s why I’m sharing 7 steps you can use to boost your SEO and online presence – they’re all part of a successful content strategy, which leads to content marketing ROI.
Steps to Implement a Content Strategy for Amazing Content Marketing
1. Understand the Fundamental Building Blocks of Content Strategy
To win at content strategy, and thus win at content marketing, you have to understand the basic fundamentals.
What is a content marketing strategy for?
- It tells you how to create strategic content that speaks to your audience, nurtures them, and warms them up for profitable action.
It provides a map to continue this creation into the future, including maintenance, auditing, and promotion.
- But, before you can lay out your strategy, you have to determine two fundamentals that will guide all of your other actions.
But, before you can lay out your strategy, you have to determine two fundamentals that will guide all of your other actions.
A. KNOW WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM YOUR COMPETITION
Your content differentiation factor (CDF) is what sets you apart from everybody else.
It can be something small or something huge, but it needs to be uniquely yours.
You’ll lean into this differentiator later when defining your brand audience, so you must get a handle on what makes you different before you do anything else.
B. KNOW YOUR TOPIC AREA
You also need to know your specific topic area or expertise before you lay out your content strategy.
What type of knowledge do you have that you can offer your audience, related to your industry? What do you have to teach them? How can you help them?
2. Understand Your Audience Intimately
The next step: Defining and understanding your audience on an intimate level.
Who will be interested in what you have to say? Who needs what you’re offering? Who will you be targeting in your content?
To find these people, you have to dig down deep and research.
Luckily, the internet makes it very easy to do just that.
- If you already have customers, research their similarities. What does your average audience member look like? Hootsuite recommends quantifying their likes, dislikes, personal stats, career stats, goals, habits, and demographics to distill them into audience personas.
- If you don’t have an established customer base, reach outward to discover who they might be. Google Surveys and Facebook Audience Insights are two tools that can help you with this. You can also do interviews and focus groups to narrow down the field.
3. Understand How SEO Boosts Content – and Use Current Best-Practices
To improve your online visibility as well as help your audience discover you organically through search, you need to use SEO in your content marketing strategy.
Search engine optimization is just what it sounds like: It’s a series of processes and actions that optimize your content so it’s ready to get crawled and indexed by search ‘bots. (This optimization mainly boils down to keyword and topic research for your content.)
After that, an algorithm determines the usefulness of your content based on what a user is searching for.
The more useful, relevant, valuable, and interesting your content is, the higher it will rank in the SERPs. This is crucial because a large part of internet traffic comes from search for most brands.
STAY CURRENT ON SEO NEWS AND TRENDS
The importance of SEO can’t be understated, but it’s also vital to use current, up-to-date best-practices.
Because the search engine algorithms change regularly. Google alone makes updates and tweaks to its proprietary algorithm at least 500-600 times per year. That means what works for ranking this month may not work next month.
To stay on top of changing best-practices and search algorithm updates, follow a reputed source for SEO news, like Search Engine Land, Moz, or Search Engine Roundtable.
You should also do keyword research on a regular basis, as the terms your audience uses in search may change over time. For the best results, focus on long tail keywords, which are less competitive but may be more profitable to target, as this graph from SEOPressor shows:
4. Map Keywords + Content Topics to the Buyer’s Journey and Your Goals
Along with laying out your topic areas, target audience, and SEO, a content strategy also can guide your content creation.
In particular, your strategy will help you determine what types of content to create for buyers at various stages of the buying cycle.
To do it, use the audience personas you created and determine which stage they’re hanging out in. There are three major stages:
- Awareness: The customer becomes aware that they have a problem/need and that you could potentially solve it/fulfill it.
- Consideration/Evaluation: The customer tries to figure out if you will meet this need (or not), and possibly compare you to other sources.
- Purchase: The act of making a decision and purchasing the solution.
There are content types that match up with each stage of the buying process. For example, blog posts, tip sheets, and guides are great for customers in the awareness stage:
You also can map the keywords you target to buying cycle stages. In general, the broader the keyword, the closer the customer is to the top of the funnel. Here are some examples:
- Awareness stage – “men’s running shoes”
- Evaluation stage – “Nike men’s running shoes comparison”
- Purchase stage – “men’s Nike Flex Experience running shoes blue size 10”
5. Build Your Online Authority on Your Own Turf
Where will you publish your content? Where will you stake your content marketing?
That’s the next question you need to answer for your strategy.
It’s essential that you build authority on the web so your major pieces of content have your name stamped on them, front and center – not a proprietary entity, network, or platform. Here are some reasons why:
- You want to build your online authority for you, not for the hosting network. (Often, the opposite will happen if you publish your content off-site.)
- You want to be able to control and manage your content on the micro-level. Letting a proprietary network do it is dicey (they’ll always be thinking about their business first, not yours).
- You’ll have fewer opportunities for lead generation tactics (think pop-ups and call-out boxes).
- You’ll have little to no control over the branding of the proprietary network (this ties into point a).
- There will be lots of other distractions on the host site, like links to other people’s content (it’s better for you, both SEO-wise and conversions-wise if they stick with your stuff longer).
So, part of your strategy should include staking your claim to your own domain name and publishing most of your content there. However, you can and should also look for guest-blogging opportunities to get your brand and content in front of a wider, built-in audience.
6. Create the Highest Quality Content You Can Afford
Only the highest-quality content will get the best results (rankings, traffic, engagement, conversions).
Consider a study by Havas Group as proof: They evaluated over 1,500 brands from all over the world, including 33 countries and 15 industries.
The key finding?
Strong, high-quality content is the number one factor that determines how meaningful a brand is to a consumer.
7. Promote Your Content, Update It, and Maintain Your Forward Motion
The final piece of your content strategy is keeping the cycle going through content promotion, maintenance, and updating.
- Promotion is how you spread the word about that great, interesting, useful piece you just sent out into the world, as well as that awesome blog you published a year ago that’s still relevant.
- Post a link to the content on your social media accounts.
- Send an email to your subscribers with a link to the content.
- Maintaining and updating your content keeps it fresh, relevant, and rank-worthy.
- Do a regular content audit.
- Check for thin or outdated pieces.
- Either scrap them, rewrite them, or update them so they’re better than ever.
- Fix broken links.
- Link to newer resources.
- Correct spelling or grammar errors.
- Rewrite clunky paragraphs and include more natural keyword usage.
Promotion gets more eyes on your content, and maintenance helps you keep it relevant for whoever discovers it in the future. Don’t skip these two crucial steps in a content strategy.
Content Marketing Can’t Succeed without a Strategy
You guessed it – a content marketing strategy is a lynchpin in this whole operation.
The strategy is what makes your content marketing move toward your goals.
Without it, you’ll be lost in the black depths of content obscurity. You’ll join the millions of content creators on the web whose stuff doesn’t get read.
And, as we know, the stuff that doesn’t get read doesn’t get traction.
Super-power your content marketing with a strategy, and get ready to go places. The strategy is the key to the ignition, so get one in hand.
Then start moving forward.