There’s no doubt content marketing provides competitive advantage. To achieve real success, however, you need a three-part strategy to ensure your goals are being met and you get a return from the time and money you’re investing. When all three parts are aligned, you hit a sweet spot for maximum effectiveness.
Original content: why it’s important
The first part of a content marketing strategy is content — original, high-quality content relevant to the interests of your audience. In 2012, Google changed direction and altered their search algorithm. It wasn’t a huge surprise because they’d been warning website owners for a couple of years it was going to happen. Still, hundreds of thousands of websites were caught unaware. They patented the change — calling it Google Panda — and it changed search rankings forever. Google Panda affected the ranking of an entire site rather than individual pages on a site.
Google’s goal is to deliver the best quality search results to their customers, much like tire dealers want to deliver the best quality tire products and services. As a result, you can no longer “game” Google. They penalize duplicate content, poor quality or poorly written content, content stuffed with keywords, content full of links, and spammy content.
You can influence search ranking through content production. They reward good writing, original articles and things written to appeal to a human audience. This means you can no longer buy better search engine rankings through SEO services. The future of SEO is quickly being realized as nothing more than paid advertising like PPC (pay-per-click). In fact, most legitimate SEOs are now advising customers to create content.
Original content needs to be published at a consistent frequency — just like any newspaper or magazine — to establish trust with your audience and signal to Google you’re a serious publisher. This assists in pushing your content up in organic search rankings which, over time, allows you to reduce your SEO spend.
What do you mean by ‘content’?
Content comes in many forms and can be anything your company creates, produces and publishes. A lot of content is published online for obvious reasons of cost and ease. In-person events, webinars and video tend to be the most effective forms of content across industries. The workhorse of content marketing is the blog because it’s easy to publish, allows businesses to control the editorial direction quite easily and offers a way to add new pages to a website with relevant keywords on a frequent, consistent basis. Content can also be printed and we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in print magazines, books and newspapers.
A good content initiative will see your marketing spend turn into long-term business assets that will continue to drive traffic to your website long after the original publishing date. You can re-use, recycle or repurpose your original content for other uses over time. For example, a blog post might later be converted into a script for a video. Anything you publish online can also be printed and distributed through the mail or handed out in your tire store.
The second part of a content marketing strategy is distribution. There’s a myth that says good content rises to the top. You may have heard the “content is king” mantra. Believe me, it’s not true. The internet is littered with great content that’s never been seen because no one can find it. You need to distribute your content through channels like social media, email newsletters and press releases. You can use paid distribution methods by boosting and sponsoring posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Unfortunately, a Field of Dreams approach never works for content marketing. If you build it, they will not come. It’s up to you to figure out how to put it in the hands of your customers and the people who might be your customer the next time they buy tires.
The biggest reason most content marketing programs fails is because the distribution of the content isn’t thought through. It’s why building a database of subscribers for your marketing is a vital goal of content marketing.
The third part of the content marketing strategy is amplification. Every piece of content should take Google, Bing and Yahoo into account. You need to consider the science of how search engines find and rank your content. Ask yourself these questions:
• Is every piece you’re publishing optimized for search?
• Are your titles search engine friendly?
• Do you have the right headings and subheadings?
• Is your content categorized and tagged properly?
• Is your meta description written in a way to influence Google AND attract reader attention?
Once you have the attention of search engines, you have the ability to obtain far better organic search rankings. Organic rankings are the most coveted because you don’t have to pay Google for them and readers trust them more. This is how Google rewards businesses that produce good content; they push their websites up higher in search results.
Until your organic search rankings are delivering all the business you need, paid search techniques are essential to ensuring your phone keeps ringing. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing including PPC and Facebook advertising contribute to amplification techniques. You can also use syndication and aggregation tools like Outbrain or Taboola to widen your reach.
Mature content marketing strategy
When you have all three components present in each piece of content, your content is going to help you build trust with a highly targeted audience. It will help you get noticed and create buzz with people that know you and people you want to know about you. It will keep you front-of-mind for people in the market to buy tires in your location or from your online tire shop. And that content will continue to drive traffic to your business for weeks, months or years after you’ve made the initial investment. In fact, a good blog, podcast or video series can become a brand in its own right. And that’s the sort of sweet spot we can all get behind.
If you’d like to know more about how to develop your own content marketing strategy, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.