How to optimise your content for search
The dramatic advantage that researching online has over other forms of media lies in our ability to search for specific information via a search engine. Users manipulate key word or phrase requests in order to seek out highly relevant results pertaining to that query. For some time we have known the power that search can bring but it also plays a huge part in how we need to construct our content assets in a Content Marketing program.
Thinking about the types of search query words and phrases people use when seeking different types of information is as important as ever. Marketers have known this for a long time in terms of how to optimise their own web sites and drive traffic through natural SEO but the same rules apply when creating content to distribute elsewhere on the web.
Content converts search
There is an art of sending the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. It has never been so important to drive branded content, dynamic creative and valuable information into relevant contexts where customers can (and do) choose to engage with them.
In this highly marketed world people have less and less patience for generality, they want to cut through the clutter. The key to good marketing content is relevance. Relevant content resonates with and matters to the individual reading it. It’s no longer enough to simply grab someone’s attention, the information needs to matter or it will be forgotten.
Content should be something your target audience would want to share, recommend or bookmark. Social is SEO and Content is Social. Search engines are starting to factor in social signals (such as Google's "+1" for their network and integration of Facebook likes for Bing).
Don’t rely on paid search alone
Valuable Content Marketing is the creation and distribution of high quality helpful and/or compelling content in a mix of formats to attract and engage customers. It isn’t as simple as perfecting your search queries and running your PPC campaigns. Sure, these will drive traffic and generate sales/ leads, and is an important part of many marketing strategies, but it is the work you put into your online and offline media channels that will provide distinction between your content and that of the competition.
Offline media channels are having a major impact on online searches and online purchase behaviour, 67% of the online search population is driven to search by offline media channels. The bottom line is that if you’re not using an integrated approach based on audience and their consumption habits, which could include a combination of TV, print, radio and online ads to reach customers, you’re missing a huge share of potential revenue – not to mention possible loss of ready to convert customers through compelling online ads. Companies that rely solely on one advertising medium are missing the mark. It takes a combination of offline and online advertising to make a true impact on today’s consumers.
Why social media is crucial for your content
Creating tremendously valuable content for your marketing is vital, but great content doesn’t spread itself. Without a ‘push’ strategy it can sit on your website, untouched by visitors, and not reach the desks and minds of the people it was written to engage with. Something is needed to get your content from A to B.
Social media is one of the biggest content distribution tools. If you Tweet, Facebook, Blog, you will lead people straight to your website, where they’ll find the article that caught their interest, and dozens more on subjects they may well be interested in too. The content works to demonstrate your expertise and build trust, which are vital to repeat traffic and advocacy.
The first step is to know what you are trying to achieve and why. What is the difference you are looking to make through marketing with valuable content? Greater awareness? More leads from the web? More referrals? More sales? Define the ‘from’ and ‘to‘– where are you now and where do you want your business to get to?
Know your subject and be clear on it
If you are going to create content you’ve got to have something to say. That something has to be relevant to your business and most importantly it must be meaningful to your customers too. Understanding who your customers are is key. What information will they value? What questions do they have about the company? What part of the story do you need to tell them at this point?
Make sure your website is tip-top
All this great content has to sit somewhere. You can share articles, videos, e-books and Tweet to your hearts content but if the website these pull people back to doesn’t convert interest into action – to return, to sign up to your newsletter, to contact you, to refer, to buy – then your investment will be wasted. Will your current website do your new marketing strategy justice? Make sure your website is the valuable, lead generating machine it needs to be.
Plan your content and use the collective knowledge of your team
Work out the themes you will talk about throughout the year and plan what type of content you will create/share and when. Without a strategy, content will fall by the wayside.
A commitment to valuable Content Marketing means harnessing the skills of those around you. Customer research, design, SEO, social media, email marketing, design, web development and mainly writing, there’s a lot to learn and do. Up-skilling your team and doing as much as you can in-house makes sound economic sense but many companies struggle to find the time, skills and resources. Outsourcing some activities to trusted partners can lighten the load.
Remember: success with valuable content takes top team commitment and company-wide involvement, for it’s the business’ knowledge that needs to be brought to the surface and turned into content. You can outsource parts of the process but it will need your own buy in and involvement.
Go! Measure, refine, learn rinse and repeat
If you take all of the above into consideration, you are ready to go. Create and share your valuable content and measure the results as you go. Be prepared to learn, change to adapt to your audience’s needs. Measure your success and optimise further.
And continue. If you focus your marketing communications on sharing high quality information that your customers or clients really value, you’ll reap the rewards in increased awareness, interest and sales.