This article aims at helping online business owners move away from the old way of thinking about SEO by showing them the future of online marketing: content marketing.
First of all, let’s see what content marketing really is and how the practice became so important and so popular for today’s SEO.
What is Content Marketing?
The term is not new, although putting it into practice was incredibly underrated before the Farmer, Panda, and Penguin updates. What people did before was publish tons and tons of extremely low quality content just to gain links back to their website.
This was happening because Google was thinking that the more backlinks a website had, the more trustworthy it was. Well… as it turns out, this was false: it was very easy for SEOers to just publish an article on poor quality article sites or blog networks to get those much appreciated backlinks.
Not so long ago the online business world was taken by surprise: Google launched a major algorithm update [the Farmer Update] to tackle the issue of low quality content. Since then, the SEO industry was completely reshaped, with other updates being frequently released (such as Panda or Penguin).
Although these algorithm changes targeted mainly “content farms” and article marketing websites, many other websites lost their page ranks as a result of black hat link building.
What changed was that quantity became irrelevant, while quality became increasingly important.
Less content written and presented in a quality way is now more important and more relevant. At the same time, it stands great chances of attracting more links and of being shared by people on social media platforms, which helps build authorship.
So the clear message Google is sending us as online business owners is that we have to focus on creating high quality content and sharing it with their audience.
But of course, this is easier said than done.
Main challenges of content marketing
Many people have no idea how to create great content. Although they are extremely well trained in their field, they don’t know how to pass their knowledge to their audience.
Here is a list of the most common questions I hear people ask:
- What types of content can I write?
- What kind of information should I pass on to my audience?
- How much of what I know should I give away for free?
- How should I perform my research?
- What should my content strategy include?
- How can I come up with interesting topics and titles for my content?
- Where can I promote my content?
- How can I review and improve my content’s performance?
- How can I leverage off one piece of content to create multiple backlinks to my website?
…and of course, many more.
If you recognized yourself in at least one of these questions, then read on… this article is for you.
1. How to create your personalised content plan
Your business, if taken online, becomes a publisher. Adding a blog section to your website means you are an expert in your field. And when it comes to creating content, the only thing which limits your borders is your imagination.
The type of content you can create depends on a series of factors, such as:
- the time you can dedicate to creating content
- your business goals
- your needs
- your audience
Coming up with a plan for your content marketing strategy depends mostly on the types of content you are willing to create for your audience.
There are 4 main types of content, each with its subcategory:
2. Building an editorial calendar:
When thinking about content ideas, it is equally important to consider issues such as the publication dates or upcoming events. You can do this by building an editorial calendar for your content.
For example, you and your team can create blog posts on a daily basis. In addition to that, you can create weekly video tutorials and monthly podcast interviews with experts of your niche. You can also center your content’s topics around important events (The Olympic Games, The Night of the Museums, your country’s National Day, Earth Day, a special event in your company, and so on).
But don’t go beyond this limit. Trends change and new topics are born regularly.
Nonetheless, once you know the important events which could have an impact on your content, you can plan the content even half a year in advance.
When creating your content calendar, take into consideration the following:
- WHAT is the topic of your content?
- WHAT format type the content will be in?
- WHO is responsible with creating that content?
- WHEN should the content be ready for publication?
Since there are so many things to keep an eye on, you should organise your calendar using a software. We recommend using Google Docs for business, but an Excel document will also do just fine.
This content calendar will help you gain clarity over WHAT needs to be done and WHEN. It is also a great tool which allows you to visualise your set goals.
Speaking of goals, you will also need to pay attention on the content creation process: you need to know the progress status of each piece of content so you can see if your team respects the set deadlines.
Now that you know how to plan your content strategy, it is time to see how you can come up with topics and ideas for your content.
Read on to see what you need to do to create killer titles and how to find engaging topics.
First off, one thing needs to be crystal clear: there is no point in starting to write content like a romantic if you have no idea why you are doing it or how to do it.
What you need at this point is a solid content strategy.
1. Building your content marketing strategy:
Here are a few questions you must ask yourself:
Take a piece of paper and a pen, or open a document on your computer and start writing your answers to these questions. Once you know WHY you want to implement a personalised content marketing strategy in your business, you will gain clarity on WHAT you need to do next.
Research, research, research
A big part of your time will be spent researching the industry and evaluating your current actions. This research will help you pinpoint the kind of content which stands great chances of being published, of being successful.
Here are some things you can do to make an idea about the current relationship between offer and demand:
- Evaluate your actions
- Spy on the competition
- Find out what is the most shared type of content
- Create at least one portrait of your ideal customer (avatar)
- Perform keyword research
Once you completed your research, you have all the information you need to start creating a strategy for your content.
Coming up with ideas for content
Of course by now you will already have come up with some topics, but use these guidelines to make sure you will never run out of things to tackle:
Create at least one piece of content for each of the avatars if you created more than one perfect-customer portrait. For example, if your perfect customers are Amy – a makeup artist who uses makeup only at work – and Lucy – a regular makeup user – you will need content for both personas.
Create a list of events and seasonality; it will help you craft new content when those events approach. For example, if you are an online bike shop, you can launch a content strategy around the Tour of France.
Create a list of the common problems your prospects might have. Think about providing a solution for each of the problems in a separate piece of content or a separate content format. Coming back to Amy and Lucy, you could create a video tutorial for Lucy (who is not a professional makeup user) and a PDF document with your professional products and their benefits for Amy.
Analyse what your competitors are doing. Search for content which is successful for your competitors. Think about what you could bring new which could become as successful as their content. Using the online bike shop owner example, you could work with a team of app developers to create a bike app; the app tracks down users’ routes and at the same time it collects users’ email addresses at signup. You can send them email newsletters about their workouts, accompanied by product suggestions from your online store.
2. Researching ideas
You want your content to be entertaining, engaging, and unique. How can you find the perfect balance between the two? First, you engage your audience with a catchy title and then you entertain them with the choice of your topic (which is, ahem, unique).
Let’s see some tips on how you can find titles which engage and topics which entertain:
a.) Crafting Titles
An original title can differentiate you from other competitors. It also draws the line between a successful campaign and a failure.
So how can you come up with titles which perform? Here’s a tip which spares you lots of time and effort…
From an SEO point of view, you are somehow compelled to include your keyword in your content’s title. Fortunately, this is good for you because it means you have a starting point:
- 1. Check title ideas for a certain keyword using Ubersuggest
- 2. See what are the most popular search terms for your keyword with the help of Analytics
- 3. Have a look at the types of content which gets lots of shares – what titles do they have?
- 4. If you run out of ideas for titles, you can always use the following effective words: Tips, Tricks, Secrets, List, How to’s, [number of] [keyword] [activity] [benefit], Tools, etc.
- 5. End your content with some open ended questions if you want your audience to interact with your content; also you can create controversion around your topic (but be careful not to harm your brand though)
- 6. Craft your titles around current news; use Google Trends or Ubersuggest to perform searches for topics which are rising in search queries
- 7. Create pieces of evergreen content; check out Google Analytics to see which are the pieces of content that can deliver traffic to your website on a consistent basis.
- 8. Use trustworthy resources. If you are using statistics or other research data, make sure your sources are competent (you can quote research councils, research companies, governing bodies, etc.)
b.) Choosing Content Topics
Much of the tips shared above can apply to choosing your content topic.
In addition to that you can also:
Plan a series of similar topics to be published around a period of time. This will help you establish your expertise. Your website rankings will also increase for a specific set of similar keywords.
Ask your clients. Listen to what they are asking for. After all, you are publishing this content for them, so it would better serve their interests. For example, you can check any feedback emails you are getting from your collaborators, or you can have a look at your blog’s comments section. What are the predominant questions people ask?
You can use Google Ripples to make an idea about the kind of content people react to and interact with. Can you come up with a different approach to a topic which is already successful?
Develop more around a specific topic. Check your data from your Google Analytics account and see which are the keywords that drive people to your website. See what articles are of great interest for them. Perhaps you can create another piece of content around that topic and link the two so that they offer even more information about the issue.
You now know your goals, objectives, you know how to research the industry, how to create catchy titles and how to come up with topic ideas. You learned how to create an editorial calendar and you also know what are the 4 main types of online content.
Now that you have a blueprint for creating a content marketing plan and a content marketing strategy, it is time to move on to the third chapter of this article, the creation process.
1. Putting Pen to Paper
By now you should have tons of information laid aside. Your content is planned, your strategy is ready. All there is left to do is start writing your content.
Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of writing content:
2. Promoting your content
Publishing your content on your website is a starting point but unfortunately it is not enough to bring visitors in. Thankfully, today we have tens of online outlets which we can use to promote our content.
Depending on the topic and type of content you created, you can:
- Promote it on social media platforms – the main social media platforms are:
- Google Plus
- Add your website to your Google Plus profile (more about Google Authorship here)
- Send an email newsletter to your subscribers
- Allow comments on your website
- Create content on the same topic in different formats:
- Slideshow Presentation
- Use Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising. LinkedIn also offers paid promotion.
1. Monitoring your performance
Using Google Analytics you can review the success of your content. You can see how many people accessed your content, where they came from and how long they stayed on your website. You can check the keywords which brought them to your article as well as demographics information.
On Facebook you can use Facebook Insights to see if the posts linking to your website went viral. You can also check how many people appreciated your posts and how many shares they got. Plus, you receive useful information about your audience (age, sex, geographic location, and so on).
And voila! Now you have all the information you need to create your own, 100% personalised content marketing strategy.
And now, enjoy the infographic I created on this topic:
Do you use content marketing in YOUR internet marketing strategy? Did you read any tips in this article that you are going to apply in your content strategy?
What is the most popular piece of content you published? Why do you think it was so successful?
I am looking forward to receiving your opinions on it – I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you are going to implement some of the tips you have just read. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends and colleagues if you liked it!
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