5 Things You Need to Know About Content Marketing
No matter if you’re just getting started on the great digital plain or you’ve been here a while, but are still kind of scratching your head in wonder, you’ve probably already been told that you need content marketing. You need it. Without it, your site/business/life will shrivel up and die like so many tender wildflowers left out in the summer sun. Nothing that dramatic is likely to actually happen, though some people take this stuff real seriously.
Anyway, content marketing, you know it’s a thing you want, but maybe you’re not necessarily sure what it is. To put it really simply, content marketing is literally placing content (of any variety) online and waiting to see what happens. We do this a lot, whether it’s a bunch of social media posts or blogs like this one or even videos on YouTube. We just kind of stick stuff out there and hope someone visits. That’s content marketing, in a nutshell.
Content Marketing and SEO
To take this conversation about content marketing one step further, we’re going to mix in search engine optimization, because they really are like peas and carrots. While content marketing is a very non-aggressive form of advertisement, SEO is more abrupt and to the point. SEO gives your content a framework to start with. It’s a strategy that’s technical and specific, so it’s good to have your SEO in place before you start working on content.
Step 1: SEO
Step 2: Content Design
Step 3: Profit!
Here’s an example:
You’ve got a painting company in Flower Mound, Texas. You want people to see your blog with before and after pictures of client projects and a discussion of the techniques you used. You’re smart, it’s going to be a hit! You generated some keywords using your favorite tool (or had someone do this for you), they included things like “tape free painting,” “oil based paint flower mound, tx” and “best painter flower mound, tx.” Just with these we can plan some content!
Easy, off the top of your head kind of content would answer simple questions like “What is tape-free painting?” and “How do I find the best painter in Flower Mound, TX?” You know what to do with those. Now, just create the content, keeping those keywords that were generated in mind. You should have a primary keyword and other related keywords for each blog you do, that way you get more even coverage and the content feels more natural.
Gently weaving keywords and concept all together without taking anything away from your content is the key to everything. Now your content isn’t just lazing around, waiting for someone to read it. It’s actively trying to get the attention of search engines, as well as humans. Good job!
5 Reminders for Content Marketers
Of course, it’s never that easy, is it? There’s always some kind of kicker or a catch or an ancient curse you have to deal with before things will run smoothly. With content marketing, there are fewer opportunities for adventure, but never say never. In my opinion, these are the five most important things to keep in mind if you’re going to step into the world of content marketing:
Publish or perish. Just like in academics, the internet demands a constant stream of data to sustain itself. If you don’t post consistently and regularly, your site will slowly slip further and further down the search engine results page (SERP) until it falls off the edge of the flat Earth. Bare minimum, you should be posting to your site twice a month, once a week is better. If you’re using social media, this is a double opportunity to create content you can share both on your page and from your social media account.
Write to humans, encode for computers. The one thing that Google keeps repeating (and no one seems to be hearing) is that content should be written to humans. It doesn’t take kindly to super outdated practices like keyword stuffing, content scraping (also known as “stealing other people’s work”), or deceptive hidden text of any variety. All it asks is for high quality content that sounds natural and isn’t full of typos, grammatical errors or other signs that the content may lack credibility.
Backlinking is important, but watch your neighbors. With content marketing, you’re going to eventually start backlinking, like I’m doing right here. Backlinks enrich your content and help the search engine crawlers better understand what you’re talking about. On my other blog, Waterworth Writes, the search engines feel helpless and afraid because I often link to think that aren’t really related to anything in particular.
My other site is an example of really awful backlinking, but one that’s more common and dangerous is when you or your marketing team buys links from a link farm. These are often low-quality links that may break pretty easily. These links have a reputation, you know what I mean? When you hang out with those guys, Google gets the wrong idea and instead of just being confused, you get labeled as one of the bad kids, you know, a highly disreputable site. You might even be blacklisted if you have enough issues. Blacklisting is like being in solitary confinement. It’s not fun for anyone.
Content should add to the conversation. I have written on this topic again and again, both for myself and for my clients. There are too damn many blogs out there that don’t say anything. The writers involved just go out and hunt up some information and basically reword it to create a brand new blog that’s not new at all. I’ve seen this less with video, but in the written world it’s everywhere.
This is why it’s so important to have a pro’s voice in the content somewhere. You know things and have had experiences that are entirely different from others in your trade, those are the tidbits people come back for again and again. If you plan to hire your content out, choosing a team that has actual hands-on experience in your field can make all the difference between content that’s useful and a lot of empty words that say nothing.
Mixed format content is good, too. I mostly discussed written content here and that wasn’t because it’s naturally superior. It’s just easier for Google to figure out written content, though it is getting smarter all the time. Video, however, does really well for things like social media and YouTube channels can be great for DIY stuff!
I’ve never actually even seen anything on the value of music that’s not tied to a video, so you and I can both be stumped on that one. My one and only caveat is that when you do video, make sure there’s some related written content to go with it — it’s just a little safety net to ensure you’re being indexed properly.
Content marketing can be an effective way for a local business to build its brand online. Since you’re interacting with real people every day, you can pass your social media accounts, YouTube channel or blog site along on business cards, brochures or flyers. When you’re ready to delve a little deeper, there’s plenty of space to probe under the surface of this sort of basic mishmash of SEO and content marketing.