Content Marketing Is The New SEO
If you’ve run a business at any point in the last ten years and browsed around online a bit, then odds are you came across the mention of “SEO.” SEO, or search engine optimization, is basically a strategy to help attract more traffic to your website by increasing your website’s ranking on search engines such as Google. It’s still a strategy used today, although it has recently become overshadowed by strategies such as content marketing and social media. Want to know why? SEO was a strategy that was easy to take advantage of. Tricking Google into ranking a poorly put together website high on their search results page wasn’t exactly rocket science. However, new algorithms not only make this very hard to do – but they’ll punish you for trying to take advantage of old SEO loopholes, instead rewarding websites that put effort into the creation of content. This means that some creativity needs to go into your SEO.
While all this talk about algorithms may make it seem like you can just automate everything, this is simply not true. The success of your website depends more on what I like to call “human being optimization” more than it ever has. Optimizing your website for humans before you optimize it for the search engines. Think of it as working with search engines instead of simply trying to trick them. You provide them with good content and a great website so that their search results page provides users with high quality search results, and they provide you with more visitors to read your content. It’s a mutualistic relationship.
Why Content Marketing Is Integral to Inbound Marketing
To answer this question, I should probably explain exactly what inbound marketing is. So, a long, long time ago – before the existence of the “Internet” – businesses relied on outbound marketing to attract customers. Outbound marketing is a nice term for basically shoving information into the faces of unsuspecting consumers. Examples would be TV commercials, radio ads, print ads, flyers and – the absolute worst offender of them all – phone calls. There was nothing quite like having dinner interrupted by someone attempting to sell you insurance. When it comes down to it, outbound marketing is the equivalent of being informed about a product or service without having asked to be informed about it.
This is where inbound marketing differs. Inbound marketing allows the consumer to do the research by him or herself. The process goes like this: you put your company out there and expose your brand and offerings so that it’s easy for consumers to find you. Once they do find you, you provide them with information about your company and your products or services that they can educate themselves on their own time. You supply them with the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision on their own. You are not informing them about your products or services, they are informing themselves. This has proven to be an incredibly effective way to market to consumers since it takes away the pressure levied against them to buy right away. Instead, you’re nurturing them before, throughout and after the sales process, which leads to more long-term customers – exactly what you want.
Now you’re probably wondering, “what does content marketing have to do with all of this?” Because your prospects are more informed, it’s easier for your sales team to have a meaningful conversation with them. You are basically setting up more than half of the sale. Your content helps to attract readers, educate them, and exchange some information or a special offer for their personal information (such as name and email address). This means that your sales team doesn’t have to waste resources on pitching a product to someone who not only knows nothing about your solution or product – but has no interest in it either. Instead, your sales team will be dealing with educated prospects. All because of your content! This also brings us back to “human being optimization”. The quality of your content has everything to do with the person reading it. Content is no longer just about the keywords you use being tracked by search engine algorithms. What is more important is what you are writing and whom you are writing for.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
So let’s break down how your content will actually get your leads to the point where your sales team is ready to convert them into customers. The following are some of the benefits that your content will provide that will assist in obtaining high quality leads for your sales team:
- Increase Brand Awareness – Obviously you want as many people to know about your company as possible. The more often you release content on your website, the more exposure you’ll be providing for your company. If someone reads a piece that they enjoy, they’ll probably come back to read more, thereby becoming more familiar with your brand. There’s also a chance that they will share that content with friends and family. Their friends and family could turn around and share the content with their social circles – and so on. Not to mention that the more quality content you release, the higher your web ranking will be, exposing you to more potential web traffic.
- Increase Brand Trust and Loyalty – There are some businesses out there that release a tremendous amount of content in an attempt to draw in more traffic. But if you are writing crappy content, then who is going to read it? Readers will be able to tell if your content is bad by the opening paragraph – and there’s no way they are going to waste their time finishing it. And they’re definitely not going to come back to your website. Your content has to be good. In order to be good, it has to provide value to your readers. By giving them something they want or need, you’ll help to build both trust and loyalty over time.
- Establish Yourself as a Leading Authority – Another reason that you should focus on the quality of your content is the fact that you’ll eventually establish a reputation for knowing what you’re talking about. Not only does this help build trust and loyalty in your brand, it also helps foster a reputation as being an authority within your industry. You know you’re putting out some good stuff if other websites begin linking your content to their website. Those links are going to help tell search engines like Google that your content is good, which will boost your website in search results.
- Increase Social Engagement – By putting up a blog on your website, you’ll allow readers to comment on your content. Even if someone disagrees with your content, it’s a great way to get people talking.
- Increase Lead Captures – Good content will eventually convince readers to fill out your conversion forms, thereby capturing them as leads. This isn’t happening if they don’t trust you or your content is just bad. And obviously, the more leads you are capturing, the more potential customers you’re getting.
Why Good Content Is Important
So I’ve kind of gone over this already in some respect. Bad content is going to drive away potential customers since nobody wants to ready crappy content. But what if you’re trying to take advantage of SEO by just stuffing your content with keywords in order to draw more web traffic? Well, that’s where Google’s (as well as other search engines) updated algorithms come into play.
Google’s new algorithm, which is called Hummingbird, is focused on finding websites that provide good content and rewarding them with higher search rankings. Why does Google care? It’s competing with other search engines, which means that it wants to provide only the highest quality websites on their search pages. If you search for something like “new movie reviews” and all the websites that are listed on its first page are terrible, there’s a chance you’ll try out another search engine.
So how does it decide what websites are worthy of a high search engine ranking? Basically, it’s implemented a few different features to spot good content and to filter out bad content. First of all is Google Authorship, which allows content to be recognized by a single author. This makes it easier for Hummingbird to sort through content that you’ve written. Additionally, it judges the quality of content by measuring social activity. Social media has become incredibly important in this day and age. If a piece of your content is shared or liked on social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, then the algorithm will pick up on that.
Single word SEO keywords are no longer as effective anymore either. Instead, it picks up on phrases such as “how to.” Long-tail keywords, which are phrases that contain more than just 3 or 4 words, are expected to become much more valuable. An example of a long-tail keyword vs. a regular keyword would be “learn how to speak German like a pro” instead of “learn German.” The algorithm has become much smarter and will weed out keyword stuffing for the sake of SEO, rewarding content that uses relevant long-tail keywords instead.
The Elements of Good Content
Okay, so I’ve been driving home the point of how important “human being optimization” is in terms of content. Now you’re probably thinking, “give me some pointers already!” So here you go, a few tips for creating high quality content:
- Create eye-catching titles – Guess what? The very first thing a visitor is going to read is the title of the content. If it’s boring, they’re not going to bother with it. If it was shared on social media, nobody is going to click it. The title needs to not only provide information about what the content is, but also why the visitor should read it. Simplicity is key here too – a run-on sentence as a title will not work. Readers will forget what the title is trying to say by the time they finish reading it! Consider using numbers, something along the lines of “5 Elements of Amazing Website Content”.
- Break up your text – What’s the first thing you do when you stumble onto a website with a giant wall of text that you have to scroll down? If you’re like me, you’ll click on that back button like your life depends on it. Break up your text using headers, bullets and numbers to prevent your readers’ eyes from bleeding.
- Use visuals – Visual content is considered the most effective type of content – this includes photographs, videos, graphs and charts to name a few examples. They just make it easier for visitors to consume information instead of sitting there reading. Remember, people who use the Internet have short attention spans. Wait a second, where was I? Oh right…
- Create effective calls-to-action – At the end of every piece of content you produce should be a call-to-action. A call-to-action incites the reader to do what you want them to do, whether it’s to schedule an appointment with your company or fill out a form. The call-to-action should be no longer than a sentence and should use effective language that incites action, such as “download now”, “visit us”, “contact us”, and more. Words such as “now” and “today” also help to create a sense of urgency that can drive them to action.
- Provide incentives – To encourage readers to click your call-to-action, provide an incentive. For example, you can provide them with a free downloadable eBook, whitepaper, or special offer in return for filling out your form. If your content is good, then they’ll be tempted to do what you want them to do in return for more in-depth content – especially if it’s free!
The Biggest Misconception of Content Marketing
The benefits of content marketing are real – and they certainly look good when you look at them all at once. But one of the biggest misconceptions that businesses have is that they assume that all they will have to do is implement a decent content making strategy into their marketing campaign and sit back and watch while their web traffic increases exponentially, leading to more leads being captured than they know what to do with. What you have to keep in mind is that most content won’t go viral. In fact, it’s going to take time for your content strategy to show results.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy, which means you have to be patient and diligent. Even if your content is of incredible quality, it’s not going to suddenly jump from a dozen views to a thousand over night. Even if you’re doing everything right in terms of marketing your content over numerous channels, it won’t gain that type of readership. It’s going to take time for people to click your links and check out your content. And odds are they won’t fill out your form right away – the most you should realistically hope for is that they will return to read more content. Eventually, as trust and loyalty build, they’ll share your content and possibly sign up for one of your offers. But this is the foundation you want, and the success of your content marketing will only build on this foundation over time.
Using Other Marketing Strategies to Compliment Your Content Marketing
Just because content marketing has taken over as the go-to online marketing strategy does not mean that other strategies, such as SEO or social media, should be abandoned. In fact, SEO and social media are critical components to the success of your content marketing strategy. By optimizing your content using carefully researched and relevant keywords, you can further bolster your website’s web ranking. And because your content needs exposure in order to be successful, social media is a necessity. Not only can you post content or links to your social media channels, you can also add social media buttons to the content itself. This will help increase the chance of your content being shared, thereby increasing its exposure.
So there you have it, content marketing has become a vital part of any online marketing strategy. While SEO is still important, search engines have made it clear that they are focusing on the quality of the content provided. This means that optimizing your website for humans before search engines has become more important than ever. If you’re ignoring content marketing as part of your strategy online, its only a matter of time until Google sends your website back to the stone ages or keeps it there.
Have any questions? Please share your questions, expertise, opinions, or tips in the comment section below!